Author: twakeham

Sarah LewAllen, MLS Clinical Practicum Spotlight

Sarah sitting in hospital laboratory.
Sarah LewAllen recently completed her clinical practicum at Beaumont Health – Royal Oak.

Where are you currently completing your practicum?

I completed my practicum at Beaumont Health – Royal Oak. I am currently certified through ASCP and working full time at Beaumont Health – Farmington Hills as a generalist.

What is your favorite aspect of your practicum?

The opportunity to work with experienced technologists was my favorite part of my practicum. Each tech had stories of interesting cases they’ve worked on and shared valuable tips and tricks that I currently use out on the bench. Getting to see how the theory covered in our classes applies out on the bench was also really rewarding!

Why did you choose a career in Medical Lab Science?

A career in MLS offers a broad spectrum of possibilities, even outside of healthcare. The versatility of the degree was a huge reason why I chose to major in medical lab science. I’ve always loved human physiology, so MLS was the perfect hands-on career to apply that knowledge in the healthcare setting with less patient contact.

Share something interesting with us about your practicum!

I got to observe and assist with a few bone marrow aspirations, both adult and pediatric! It was so fascinating seeing that procedure done firsthand. There aren’t many opportunities to work directly with the physicians and nurses, so it was a very cool experience.

What is something you think others should know about MLS?

Because medical lab scientists are behind the scenes, many people are unaware of the critical role we play in patient care. It is up to the lab to ensure the results we release to the physicians are accurate, so attention to detail, communication, and solid problem solving skills are essential. There’s a huge shortage of certified technologists, so this career is always in demand!

What advice would you give to students entering their practicum?

Study during your practicum like you did during your undergraduate courses. It’s so important to stay on top of the material you’ll need to know for the BOC exam. It will make reviewing for it much easier and less stressful when it comes time to take it! Also, never be afraid to ask questions. I learned so much from the technologists I worked with, in both bench skills and career advice. They are a huge asset to you!


Rashi Yadav, Biological Sciences Graduate Student Spotlight

Rashi Yadav is a final year PhD candidate in Department of Biological Sciences working on L2-based virus-like particles (VLPs) against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and also, production of thermostable VLP platform. In addition to research, she has taught Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Environmental Microbiology and General Biology as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

HPVs are associated with 90% of cervical cancer and 25% of oral cancer. Infected individuals clear the infection within two years, however persistent infection can lead to cancer and genital warts. Fortunately, there are two L1- based prophylactic vaccine against HPVs that offers protection against 7 cancer causing HPV types (high-risk HPVs) and 2 low risk HPV types that can cause cutaneous and genital warts. However, there are 19 cancer causing HPV types and current vaccine offer limited cross protection. The outer shell (capsid) of HPV is made of two proteins- major capsid protein (L1) that is not conserved and minor capsid protein (L2), on the contrary, is conserved among different types of HPVs. Rashi’s research is focused on assessing the ability of L2-based VLPs against different types of high-risk and low-risk HPV types. Overall, L2-based VLPs can protect against 12 oncogenic HPV types causing cervical and oral cancer in addition to protection against HPV 5 that causes Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis. Rashi’s second project is on development of novel thermostable VLP platform that can be exploited to expose antigens on the surface against cancer or virus as vaccine.

Rashi won the first prize in 3 Minute Thesis organized by Health Research Slam where students from various departments participated and was awarded a check of $300. The topic of her presentation was “”Oral immunization with bacteriophage MS2-L2 VLPs protects against oral infection with multiple HPV types associated with head and neck cancers ”

Rashi is also working in MTU Covid-19 diagnostic lab. She is one of the few students who joined the lab and helped set up the lab including training and supervising students in RNA extraction of samples. She also prepares viral transport media which is exported to number of health facilities around the city to obtain samples for testing.


Student artist Mara Hackman (MLS) – Outdoor Sculpture 2020

This summer, Lisa Gordillo (VPA) is teaching Michigan Tech’s first fully-online sculpture class. Students focus on making works or art outside, and use the landscape around them as their studio. Because we’re several months into “social distancing” and many folks are longing for connection, Gordillo worked to make a class that creates connections with community (even at a distance). Student sculptors consider art, ecology, and social connection as they make new works of art this summer. 

One student artist in the class is Mara Hackman, an undergraduate student in Medical Laboratory Science. Hackman’s first sculpture, titled “Line,” was created with a “wave of trash and flowers”. Her sculpture follows the path of a stream near her home. To make this sculpture, Hackman walked her favorite nature trail and gathered the trash she found along the way. She gathered flowers from the trail and her garden, and combined them into this wave to “signify life and repair.” She hopes people will look at this piece and think about both the beauty of nature and the destruction humans can cause.

The second scupture is titled “Space,” as described by Hackman, “I started off by blowing up 240 balloons and started by tying (them) together. You think 240 balloons is a lot, and they almost completely filled up my grandma’s living room – but once I took them all outside in the field, the balloons looked small. The field was very spacious. I did different things with the balloons, pilled them up and made a line, and randomly had them spread out around the field.

I took inspiration from Tierra (2013) by artist Regina JoseGalindo. In Tierra, (the artist stood) in a field as a bulldozer dug out around here leaving less and less space. Having balloons staked around me, made me feel claustrophobic and I felt all this pressure around me. That is where I came up with the idea that all these balloons and their different colors represented the different pressures of my life … which is represented by the balloons surrounding (my sister) Kylee and only leaving her boots left.”

View more on the Outdoor Sculpture 2020 Online Gallery.


Students Earn Honorable Mention in 2020 Virtual Michigan Physiological Society Annual Conference

The first ever Michigan Physiological Society Virtual Conference just wrapped up! It was a great collection of speakers with impressive work. Several of our students and faculty participated, including two students from Dr. John J. Durocher’s research group that earned awards for their presentations!

Thomas Basala (Undergraduate Student, Biological Sciences) earned an honorable mention for his presentation: “Applied Human Physiology Fitness Trail Project: Benefits for Local Residents and Undergraduate Students.”

Aditi Vyas (PhD Student, Biological Sciences) also earned an honorable mention for her presentation: “Effects of 8-Week Active Mindfulness and Stress Management on Anxiety and Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.”

Congratulations, Thomas and Aditi!




Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research 2020-21

Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) have generously donated funds to the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) to support a research project competition for undergraduate and graduate students.

Remembering their own eagerness to engage in research during their undergraduate years, the Songers established these awards to stimulate and encourage opportunities for original research by current Michigan Tech students. The College is extremely grateful for the Songers’ continuing interest in, and support of, Michigan Tech’s programs in human health and medicine.

This is the third year of the competition. Students may propose an innovative medically-oriented research project in any area of human health. The best projects will demonstrate the potential to have broad impact on improving human life. This research will be pursued in consultation with faculty members within the College of Sciences and Arts. Awarded in the Spring of 2020, the Songers’ gift will support one award for undergraduate research ($4,000) and a second award for graduate research ($6,000). Matching funds from the College may allow two additional awards. The research will be conducted over the Summer of 2020 and/or the following academic year.

Any Michigan Tech student interested in exploring a medically related question under the guidance of faculty in the College of Sciences and Arts may apply. Students majoring in any degree program in the college, including both traditional (i.e., biological sciences, kinesiology, chemistry) and nontraditional (i.e., physics, psychology, social science, bioethics, computer science, mathematics) programs related to human health may propose research projects connected to human health. Students are encouraged to propose original, stand-alone projects with expected durations of 6 – 12 months. The committee also encourages applications from CSA students who seek to continue research projects initiated through other campus mechanisms, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, Pavlis Honors College activities or the Graduate Research Forum (GRF).

Funds from a Songer Award may be used to purchase or acquire research materials and equipment needed to perform the proposed research project. Access to and research time utilizing University core research facilities, including computing, may be supported. Requests to acquire a personal computer will be scrutinized and must be fully justified. Page charges for publications also may be covered with award funds, as will travel to appropriate academic meetings. This award may not be used for salary or compensation for the student or consulting faculty.

To apply:

  • Students should prepare a research project statement (up to five pages in length) that describes the background, methods to be used, and research objectives. The statement also should provide a detailed description of the experiments planned and expected outcomes. Students must indicate where they will carry out their project and attach a separate list of references/citations to relevant scientific literature.
  • The application package also should provide a concise title and brief summary (1 page) written for lay audiences.
  • A separate budget page should indicate how funds will be used.
  • A short letter from a consulting faculty member must verify that the student defined an original project and was the primary author of the proposal. The faculty member should also confirm her/his willingness to oversee the project. This faculty letter is not intended to serve as a recommendation on behalf of the student’s project.

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4 p.m. Monday, March 30. Applications may be emailed to djhemmer@mtu.edu.


Bioathlon celebrates 30 years!

The 30th annual Bioathlon was held on May 8, 2019. A total of 52 students from 13 high schools across the U.P. and Wisconsin came together to compete in this year’s event.

Calumet High School claimed first place again, following their victory during last year’s competition! The team was comprised of Emma Aho, Hanna Tuoriniemi, Serenity Snyder, and Gracia Perala. Second place was awarded to Negaunee High School, and Houghton High School took third.

First, second and third place teams were awarded a plaque to display at school and each student on the team was awarded $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. All Bioathlon competitors received a certificate of participation and a t-shirt sporting this year’s competition logo.

Funding is provided by MTU Admissions, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Michigan Tech Fund, and MTU Alumni Mark Cowan, M.D., Robert C. and Kathryn DellAngelo, M.D., Olive Kimball, D.Ed., Ph.D., Nancy Auer, Ph.D., Janice Glime, Ph.D. and Jeffery and Sandra Lewin.

1st Place: Calumet High School


Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research

2018-19 Songer Award Recipients.
2018-19 Songer Award Recipients. Pictured Left to Right: Abby Sutherland, Billiane Kenyon, Jeremy Bigalke, Rupsa Basu, Matthew Songer, and Laura Songer.

Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) have generously donated funds to the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) to support a research project competition for undergraduate and graduate students. Remembering their own eagerness to engage in research during their undergraduate years, the Songers established these awards to stimulate and encourage opportunities for original research by current Michigan Tech students. The College is extremely grateful for the Songers’ continuing interest in, and support of, Michigan Tech’s programs in human health and medicine. This is the second year of the competition.

Students may propose an innovative medically-oriented research project in any area of human health. The best projects will demonstrate the potential to have broad impact on improving human life. This research will be pursued in consultation with faculty members within the College of Sciences and Arts. In the Spring of 2019, the Songer’s gift will support one award for undergraduate research ($4,000) and a second award for graduate research ($6,000). Matching funds from the College may allow two additional awards.

Any Michigan Tech student interested in exploring a medically related question under the guidance of faculty in the College of Sciences and Arts may apply. Students majoring in any degree program in the college, including both traditional (i.e., biological sciences, kinesiology, chemistry) and nontraditional (i.e., physics, psychology, social science, bioethics, computer science, mathematics) programs related to human health may propose research projects connected to human health. Students are encouraged to propose original, stand-alone projects with expected durations of 6 – 12 months. The committee also encourages applications from CSA students who seek to continue research projects initiated through other campus mechanisms, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, Pavlis Honors College activities or the Graduate Research Forum (GRF).

Funds from a Songer Award may be used to purchase or acquire research materials and equipment needed to perform the proposed research project. Access to and research time utilizing University core research facilities, including computing, may be supported. Requests to acquire a personal computer will be scrutinized and must be fully justified. Page charges for publications also may be covered with award funds, as will travel to appropriate academic meetings. This award may not be used for salary or compensation for the student or consulting faculty.

To apply:

  • Students should prepare a research project statement (up to five pages in length) that describes the background, methods to be used, and research objectives. The statement also should provide a detailed description of the experiments planned and expected outcomes. Students must indicate where they will carry out their project and attach a separate list of references/citations to relevant scientific literature.
  • The application package also should provide a concise title and brief summary (1 page) written for lay audiences.
  • A separate budget page should indicate how funds will be used.
  • A short letter from a consulting faculty member must verify that the student defined an original project and was the primary author of the proposal. The faculty member should also confirm her/his willingness to oversee the project. This faculty letter is not intended to serve as a recommendation on behalf of the student’s project.

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 22. Applications may be emailed to djhemmer@mtu.edu.

The selection committee will consist of Matthew Songer, Laura Songer, Shekhar Joshi (BioSci) and Megan Frost (KIP). The committee will review undergraduate and graduate proposals separately and will seek additional comments about the proposed research on an ad-hoc basis from reviewers familiar with the topic of the research proposal. Primary review criteria will be the originality and potential impact of the proposed study, as well as its feasibility and appropriateness for Michigan Tech’s facilities.

The committee expects to announce the recipients by early May of 2019. This one-time research award will be administered by the faculty advisor of the successful student investigator. Students will be expected to secure any necessary IRB approval before funds will be released. Funds must be expended by the end of spring semester 2020; extensions will not be granted. Recipients must submit a detailed report to the selection committee, including a description of results and an accounting of finds utilized, no later than June 30, 2020.

Any questions may be directed to Megan Frost (mcfrost@mtu.edu), David Hemmer (djhemmer@mtu.edu) or Shekhar Joshi (cpjoshi@mtu.edu).


Calumet High School places first in the 29th annual Bioathlon

Third time’s a charm! After being in the top three scoring teams in the last year, Calumet High School was able to place first in the 29th annual Bioathlon. The team was comprised of Ada McDonal, Molly Helminen, Nick Djerf and Sam Oja. Second place went to A.D. Johnston High School from Bessemer, and West Iron County High School took third.

First, second and third place teams were awarded a plaque to display at school and each student on the team was awarded $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. All bioathlon competitors received a certificate of participation and a t-shirt sporting this year’s competition logo.

The competition was held on Wednesday, May 9th. The four problems the four-student teams tackled:

  • Dissection: Designed by undergraduate students Jessica Benson, Becca Riffe, and Chance Sherretz-Hayes. This activity will be the dissection of a
  • Microbiology: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Tim Buttler, assisted by undergraduate student Paige Webb.
  • Field Identification: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Taylor Zallek assisted by graduate student Bailey Duxburry and undergraduate student Hannah Mckinnon Reish.
  • Medical Laboratory Science: Designed by undergraduate Kaycee Kolar and assisted by Medical LaboratoryScience undergraduate students, Eleia Kozminski, Kayla Bates, and Jarett McClanahan.

Funding was provided by MTU Admissions, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Michigan Tech Fund, MTU Alumni Mark Cowan, MD, Robert C. and Kathryn DellAngelo, MD, Olive Kimball, D.Ed., PhD, Nancy Auer, PhD, and Janice Glime, PhD.


MLS Program Passes NAACLS Accreditation Site Visit

MLS Faculty & Staff: Kelsey Johnson (MLS Clinical Practicum Coordinator), Karyn Fay (MLS Program Director), Brigitte Morin (Lecturer)
Pictured Left to Right: Kelsey Johnson (MLS Clinical Practicum Coordinator), Karyn Fay (MLS Program Director), and Brigitte Morin (Lecturer)

The Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program recently had a Site Visit by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS). On April 9-10, three reviewers from NAACLS were on campus intensely evaluating curricula, laboratories and outcome measures and talking to University administrators, current students, recent graduates, clinical affiliates and the MLS advisory board. They were especially interested in evaluating the support the administration has shown to accredit the MLS program at Michigan Tech.

The accreditation procedure has been a four-year process, starting in 2014. It began with a preliminary study, a self-study and finally a successful site visit. The MLS program passed without deficiencies, which is unheard of for a first-time program accreditation.

The final step is the NAACLS Executive Board meeting in September, upon which the accreditation will be conferred. This accreditation will allow the MLS program to grow, send more students to clinical sites, and help alleviate the critical need for medical laboratory scientists not only locally, but across the country.

NAACLS logo


Kelsey Johnson Selected as Career Ambassador for ASCP

The Medical Laboratory Science program has a long history at Michigan Tech, but many high school and college students are not aware of all of the opportunities available to them in allied health.

In order to continue promote careers in the medical laboratory, Kelsey Johnson (MLS Clinical Practicum Coordinator & Instructor) has joined a volunteer network though the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) as a career ambassador. The program provides free resources to accepted ambassadors to make engaging local students easy. We are excited by this new opportunity to connect and engage with future medical laboratory scientists!

Kelsey Johnson demonstrating how to use an medical analyzer to students.
Kelsey Johnson demonstrating how to use an medical analyzer to students.