Category Archives: News


6th Annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting

Ten graduate students, seven undergraduate students, four faculty members, and two recent alumni from Michigan Tech recently participated in the 6th annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting held on the campus of Central Michigan University on June 27-28.

John Durocher (BIO) served as the president of the society and Ian Greenlund (KIP) served as the trainee committee chair. Four MTU graduate students completed oral presentations, with Jeremy Bigalke (KIP) winning one of the top oral presentation awards.

Another thirteen MTU students were active in poster presentations, with Sarah LewAllen (BIO) winning one of the top poster presentation awards. Finally, two graduate students served as moderators for oral presentations.
In conjunction with the annual meeting, the 3rd annual Michigan Physiology Quiz competition was held. Michigan Tech competed against six other teams from around the state. Team members included Jana Hendrickson (KIP), Sarah LewAllen (BIO), Jill Poliskey (BIO), and Colleen Toorongian (KIP).

The Michigan Tech team was very competitive through four rounds but missed making the final round between the top three teams by a single question. All team members did a great job with the intense questions.

Michigan Tech was one of only three universities from around the state to achieve Diamond-Level Sponsorship! This was possible thanks to the College of Sciences and Arts, Michigan Tech Graduate School, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, and Department of Biological Sciences. Additional faculty and staff members from Michigan Tech also made individual awards that contributed to the cash prizes for the quiz competition, oral presentations, and poster presentations.


New Funding

Casey HuckinsCasey Huckins (BS/GLRC) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $114,445 research and development contract with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The project is titled, ” Salmon Trout River Restoration and Coaster Brook Trout Confirmation.” This is a potential three- to four-year project.


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).



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.

Top 10% Biological Sciences Instructors in Fall 2017

Heartiest congratulations to the following seven faculty members and one graduate student from the Biological Sciences Department who have been identified as one of only 96 campus-wide instructors who received an exceptional “Average of 7 dimensions” student evaluation scores during Fall 2017 semester. Their scores were in the top 10% of similarly sized sections university-wide that had at least a 50% response rate.

Provost Jacqueline Huntoon recently congratulated them for their outstanding accomplishments in teaching.

The following faculty received the recognition based on average of 7 elements of university-wide class size group with response rate of >50% on student evaluations of their lecture classes:

  • Dr. Stephen Techtmann, Assistant Professor (Nominated for teaching award, 2018)
  • Ms. Brigitte Morin, Lecturer (Nominated for teaching award, 2017 and 2018)
  • Ms. Karyn Fay, Professor of Practice (Winner of teaching award 2016)
  • Dr. Ebenezer Tumban, Assistant Professor (Nominated for teaching award, 2018)
  • Dr. Thomas Werner, Assistant Professor (Winner of teaching award in 2013)
  • Dr. John Durocher, Assistant Professor
  • Dr. Amy Marcarelli, Associate Professor (Nominated for teaching award, 2018)

The following instructor received recognition based on “average of 7 elements” of university-wide class size group with response rate of >50% on student evaluations of their classes:

  • Lukai Zhai, Graduate Student Instructor

4 Biological Sciences Faculty Announced as Distinguished Teaching Award Finalists

The Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award is presented annually. Since 1982, an award has been given in each category: 1. Associate Professor or Professor and 2. Lecturer, Professor of Practice, or Assistant Professor.  Based on more than 50,000 student rating of instruction responses, 12 finalists have been identified for the 2018 awards. Out of the 12 finalists, 4 of them are from the Department of Biological Sciences!

This year’s finalists are:

Assistant Professor / Lecturer / Professor of Practice Category

  • Andrew Barnard (MEEM), Assistant Professor
  • Lisa Johnson de Gordillo (VPA), Assistant Professor
  • Heather Knewtson (SBE), Assistant Professor
  • Brigitte Morin (Bio Sci), Senior Lecturer
  • Stephen Techtmann (Bio Sci), Assistant Professor
  • Ebenezer Tumban (Bio Sci), Assistant Professor
  • Jeffrey Wall (SBE), Assistant Professor

Associate Professor / Professor Category

  • Andrew Burton (SFRES), Professor
  • Ann Maclean (SFRES), Professor
  • Amy Marcarelli (Bio Sci), Associate Professor
  • Christopher Webster (SFRES), Professor
  • Richelle Winkler (Soc Sci), Associate Professor

This is the second year in a row that Brigitte Morin has been nominated for the award. She instructs foundation courses in our Medical Laboratory Science program and has also created a popular new course on the practice and science of yoga. Stephen Techtmann teaches environmental and advanced microbiology courses. Ebenezer Tumban teaches our general microbiology and virology courses. Amy Marcarelli teaches a variety of ecology courses and created a new professional development course for graduate students in science.

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning seeks input for the finalists. Comments on the nominees are due by Monday, March 26, and can be completed online. The process for determining the Distinguished Teaching Award recipients from this list of finalists also involves the additional surveying of their spring classes.

The selection committee makes the final determination of the award recipients. The 2018 Distinguished Teaching Awards will be formally announced in May.


Dr. Durocher Leads PhUn Week Activities

Faculty, staff, and undergraduate students from Michigan Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences led Physiology Understanding (PhUn) Week activities last week for LeAnn Larson’s 4th grade class at the E.B. Holman School in Stanton Township. PhUn Week is a nationwide outreach program organized through the American Physiological Society (APS) aimed to build connections between scientists and their local K-12 schools.

The events were organized by Dr. John Durocher with the assistance of several outstanding undergraduate students, including: Cassie Cecchettini, Erin McKenzie, Justin Mitchell, Chance Sherretz-Hayes, and Colleen Toorongian. Some of these students are part of the new Alpha Epsilon Delta – Health Preprofessional Honors Society at Michigan Tech.

Dr. Durocher also particpated in the exercise to show proper wall squat form (and to have some fun)!
Dr. Durocher also particpated in the exercise to show proper wall squat form (and to have some fun)!

On Tuesday, students learned about careers related to physiology from Dr. Durocher. Undergraduate student volunteers then helped teach the students how to take vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate.

On Wednesday, students formed their own hypotheses about physiological responses to several different types of exercise. Then they hit the gym to test their hypotheses by using the techniques they learned the previous day.

On Thursday, Travis Wakeham (Laboratory Supervisor) led students through a heart dissection. Afterwards, Dr. Durocher demonstrated how he measures aortic blood pressure on the school’s principal and several students!

Students had a lot of fun while learning about possible careers and how their own body works throughout the events. They each received a bag filled with a physiology coloring book, scientist trading cards, and a foam heart provided by the APS.