Picture of Michelle Gaedke, All Academic Excellence
Sophomore, Biological Sciences
|by Ian Marks, assistant director of athletic communications
Michigan Tech had 18 student-athletes named to the 2012-13 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Winter All-Academic and All-Academic Excellence Teams recently.
All-Academic Teams are comprised of those student-athletes who meet the criteria and carry a cumulative GPA of 3.0-3.49. All-Academic Excellence Teams are comprised of student-athletes who have a cumulative GPA of 3.50-4.0.
From 19 June 2013 Tech Today:
The US Geological Survey’s Research Vessel Sturgeon is coming to Michigan Tech next week to help scientists from the Great Lakes Research Center conduct three research missions.
While the R/V Sturgeon is here, GLRC researchers will study the terrestrial fingerprint of dissolved oxygen, with Assistant Professor Amy Marcarelli (Bio Sci) as chief scientist; the Upper Great Lakes Observing System buoy mooring retrieval and redeployment, Professor Guy Meadows (GLRC), chief scientist; and the Gay stamp sands, Professor Charles Kerfoot (Bio Sci), chief scientist.
The scientific expeditions are scheduled from Saturday, June 22 through Wednesday, June 26, including two weather days. The R/V Sturgeon will return to Cheboygan on Friday, June 28.
The research vessel is the newest ship to be added to the current fleet of four research vessels operate by the USGS Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The boats are used to conduct fisheries and aquatic research across the Great Lakes basin. The R/V Sturgeon is a 101-foot vessel with a crew of three. It can support a scientific staff of seven for up to a 15-day mission (see online).
“This is the beginning of what we hope will be a long-lasting collaboration,” said Guy Meadows, director of Great Lakes Research initiatives at Michigan Tech.
|Bruce Seely, dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Sciences and Arts, has announced appointment of three new department chairs. Cary Chablowski will join the Department of Chemistry as chair and professor of practice as of July 15. On July 1, Anne Beffel will assume chairmanship of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts (VPS), and Chandrashekhar Joshi will become chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.
Chablowski is a computational chemist with an interest in quantum chemistry. He comes to Michigan Tech from the Army Research Lab, where he was chief strategy officer/associate director for plans and programs. He will replace Sarah Green, who stepped down after nine years to spend a year as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the US Department of State.
Chablowski brings with him a deep understanding of the most exciting areas for emerging research in chemistry and a good ability to help faculty develop stronger research proposals, said Seely. “I’m excited to have a pair of fresh eyes helping the department frame its goals and objectives, someone with the administrative skills to help the faculty realize those goals.”
Beffel is an artist who works in many forms and media, including the visual and performance arts. She replaces Roger Held, who is completing seven years as chair of VPA. Beffel joins Michigan Tech from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, where she has taught since 2000. She defines herself as a “time artist” which she says means that she is deeply interested in connecting art and social context in time, using all forms and media.
“Anne’s interests as an artist intersect with every area of expertise and emphasis within the department,” Seely said. “She seems an almost perfect fit to guide the department forward.”
Joshi, a plant molecular biologist recognized worldwide for his research and teaching, has been serving as interim chair of biological sciences for the past year, on leave from his position as a professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. He has been on the faculty at Michigan Tech since 1996. He has chaired the University’s Biotechnology Research Center, and in 2011, he won Michigan Tech’s Research Award for his investigation into how trees make cellulose.
Joshi takes over the chairmanship as the Department of Biological Sciences celebrates its 50th anniversary, Seely noted. “It is more than fitting that Shekhar’s appointment will continue a process of strengthening the department’s efforts in graduate and undergraduate education and research, for no institution these days can claim to be a research university without a strong presence in the biological and life sciences. Shekhar is arriving at an exciting time in the biological sciences.”
All three new department chairs, Seely added, have had distinguished careers that demonstrate academic and administrative accomplishments and a commitment to education that promises success in their new roles. “I am deeply gratified at their willingness to take on one of the hardest roles in academic administration. But I am even more excited about the chance to work closely with these three energetic and enthusiastic new chairs,” the dean said. “I ask the campus community to help them feel welcome as they arrive in Houghton over the next month.”
|by Travis Gendron, student intern, Tech Today, June 3, 2013
Success is all in the planning–just ask the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award recipients.
For assistant professor of genetics and developmental biology Thomas Werner, who won the award in the assistant professor/professor of practice/lecturer category, each semester starts an entire year in advance. “People think I’m crazy to start planning my courses so early, but I like to check all of the material to ensure that it’s accurate,” he said. “I spend about twelve hours preparing for each fifty-minute lecture.”
Nilufer Onder, associate professor of computer science, won the award in the professor/associate professor category. She also tries to plan her courses far in advance.
“I always look at the semester as a whole so I can avoid surprises and navigate the busy points more easily. It’s a matter of looking for patterns and trying to evenly distribute the workload for students,” she said.
Onder came to Michigan Tech in 1999, after receiving her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in the same year. The former Middle East Technical University systems programmer teaches Formal Models of Computation and Artificial Intelligence courses, and advises the Women in Computer Science and Upsilon Pi Epsilon computing sciences honor society.
Students in her Formal Models class wrote, “Dr. Onder really cares about her students. She frequently asks for student input during class to make sure we truly understand what she is trying to teach us”; “She promotes online and offline learning and gives every student great opportunities to succeed. You can tell she truly puts her heart into the course and wants everyone to succeed”; “She is far and away the best teacher I’ve had in my five years at Tech. She consistently goes above and beyond.”
What earns her such acclaim? “I always try to be accessible,” she said. “Sometimes that means acting like I have all the time in the world even when I’m rushing.” She also makes a great effort to challenge students without overwhelming them. “People need to get stuck in order to learn, so I try to avoid spoon-feeding students the answers. That being said, I always make it clear that I’m there to help them through any problems.”
Onder’s favorite part about teaching is working with so many dynamic and motivated students. “Our motto here at Michigan Tech is create the future, and I get to teach the people who are going to do that,” she said. “Everything relies on computers, and it’s my job to enable my students to produce the most reliable, secure, and quality software that they can.”
“My students are a motivated and diverse group of people,” Onder added. “They all want to contribute to society in one way or another. It’s my job as a teacher to help them do that.”
* * * *
Werner came to Michigan Tech in 2010, after serving as a postdoc in molecular biology University of Wisconsin Madison and completing his PhD at the Umeå Center for Molecular Pathogenesis. He teaches Genetics, Immunology, and Genetic Techniques.
His favorite thing about teaching is the energy that comes from working with the students. “I’ve found that in research you can give 100% and only get 10% out. With teaching, if you give your students 100%, they’ll return the favor,” he said.
It appears his efforts pay off. Students in his Genetics course wrote, “Despite the large class size, he creates a comfortable atmosphere where I am never nervous to ask a question”; “He can joke, but at the same time teach. He is a gifted instructor”; “He can make a student go from hating a subject–like genetics–to genuinely enjoying it”; “He is by far the best professor that I have had in my three years at Tech. He is funny, kind, and very passionate about the subject that he teaches, and he is always ready to help students learn.”
Trying to make learning fun not only helps his students, but also motivates him to be an even better instructor. “Once I notice that students like what I’m doing and are engaged, I really get fired up and try to surprise them by being even better,” he said.
“My teaching style is that I’m an entertainer,” he added. “I’m there to teach them, but more importantly to hold their attention and to make them want to learn.” Werner has a slightly unconventional–yet effective–way of measuring his success. “My goal is to have students laugh one time in each class, otherwise I’ve failed,” he said.
To ensure that students are getting the most out his classes, Werner consistently seeks feedback from his students and tries to adjust his teaching to meet students’ needs. “After the first week or two of the semester, I routinely pass out feedback forms to see what students are thinking. I sort and group all of the comments and send out an email to the class summarizing what’s working and what isn’t,” he said. “When I do that, they know I’m paying attention to their expectations and can hopefully see that I’m trying to meet or exceed them.”
Putting forth so much effort to be in tune with his students’ needs stems from Werner’s teaching philosophy. “People don’t always remember what you say, but they never forget how you make them feel,” he said. “My goal isn’t to have students look back ten years from now and recite my lecture. I want them to think about my class and how it made them feel good about genetics.”
A course covering such a complex topic can turn many students off, but Werner has a strategy for dealing with the often-confusing content. “I admit that the topics are complicated right up front. Then I try to break it down with the students and let them know that it’s ok if they don’t understand it all right away,” he said.
He doesn’t want his students to view genetics as strictly business. “It’s important to let students have some fun because it helps them learn,” he said. “They need to enjoy the material in order to really want to engage with it. I treat my classes with a sort of ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality,” he added.
The Graduate School is pleased to announce that two students have earned fellowships from The DeVlieg Foundation. The DeVlieg Foundation has generously provided support for graduate students pursuing research in engineering, wildlife and biology at Michigan Tech.
Current and past winners can be found at the Graduate School website.
From the Tech Alum News letter:
In the second of our new series: we chatted with Faculty Emeritus Bob Keen, pulling him away from his home in Chassell on one more chilly May day.
The former biological sciences professor’s career at Tech extended from 1977 to 2010, and he saw many changes over those years. He also experienced some things that stayed the same.
“The students here are self-selected and they have been for awhile,” he says. “I think Tech’s reputation is such that students coming here are really hard working and are better than the average university student.”
That can also mean many will struggle initially, he says, because they are used to succeeding in high school, and it is much harder here.
“Their first chemistry, biology or calculus class can be a rude shock to them,” he says.
They are more collegial, too, he says, having experience at other institutions where students attempted to get ahead at the expense of their classmates.
The Biotechnology Research Center announced its Spring 2013 Travel Grants. Recipients include:
Post-doctoral Research Scientist Presentation:
*Kaela Leonard (ChE) Advances in Microfluidics and Nanofluidics (podium)
Graduate Student Presentations:
*Patrick Bowen (MSE) 2013 Minerals, Metals and Materials Society Meeting (podium)
*Katrina Bugielski (Chem) 245th ACS National Meeting and Exposition (poster)
*Weilue He (Bio Med) Gordon Research Conference-Nitric Oxide (poster)
*Na Hu (Chem) American Geophysical Union 2012 (poster)
*Robert Larson (KIP) Experimental Biology (poster)
*Yiping Mao (Bio Sci) Keystone Symposia on Molecular & Cellular Biology (poster)
*Sandra Owusu (SFRES) ASPB: 2013 Midwestern Section Annual Meeting (poster)
*Alison Regal (KIP) North American Society for the Psychology of Sport & Physical Activity (poster)
*Rafi Shaik (Bio Sci) Plant and Animal Genome XXI (poster)
*Ashley Shortz (CLS) IEE Annual Conference and Expo (podium)
*Amy Sieloff (ChE) AIChE 2012 Annual Meeting (poster)
*Srinivasa Rao Sripathi (Bio Sci) Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (poster)
*Huan Yang (KIP) Experimental Biology (poster)
*Nazmiye Yapici (Chem) 245th ACS National Meeting and Exposition (podium)
Undergraduate Student Presentations:
* Michael Bobian (Bio Sci) C. elegans Development, Cell Biology and Gene Expression 2012 (poster)
* Hal Holmes (Bio Med) Materials Research Society Annual Conference (podium)
*Angelea Young (Bio Sci) Experimental Biology 2013 (poster)
The team winning FIRST PLACE was A.D. Johnston High School from Bessemer, MI
Instructor: David Rowe
The team winning SECOND PLACE was Hancock High School from Hancock, MI:
Instructor: Kristin Raisanen Schourek
The team winning the THIRD PLACE was Houghton High School from Houghton, MI
Instructor Alex Gerborkoff
Each team was composed of four students who have not had formal class work in biology beyond the traditional sophomore high school general biology course. All teams tackled the same four problems:
Dissection: designed by Biological Sciences undergraduate students Shannon Twomey and Travis Wakeham with input from Dr. John Durocher and assisted by Komal Bollepogu
Molecular Biology: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Emily Geiger, assisted by Aparupa Sengupta.
Field Identification: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Ashley Coble assisted by Ramana Pidatala and Jamie Olson.
Medical Laboratory Science: Designed and proctored by Medical Laboratory Science undergraduate students, Claire Meneguzzo, Christjana Nichols, Brooke Bedore, Kelly Hanes and Misty Brouilette with input from Senior Lecturer Alice Soldan and Professor of Practice Karyn Fay.
Through these exercises, students needed to demonstrate organizational skills, knowledge of facts and concepts, laboratory skills and creativity.
Each member of the first, second and third team will receive a small cash award along with a plaque. Each student participating in the competition will also receive a certificate of participation and a Bioathlon T-shirt.
The teacher activity was:
What’s up with the Weather? Climate Change and Aquatic Life in the Great Lakes. This was an interactive workshop developed and taught by Stacy Cotey, Academic Advisor of Biological Sciences.
In the morning, they toured the newly opened Great Lakes Research Center. The center is an interdisciplinary facility that studies the processes, function, and issues of the Great Lakes. They discussed how climate change may alter this dynamic ecosystem. In the afternoon, they conducted activities suitable for the classroom that explored the effects of a changing climate on aquatic organisms in the Great Lakes. They collected and analyzed water samples from the dock at the Great Lakes Center and at Prince’s Point.
Funding was provided by MTU Admissions, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Michigan Tech Fund, MTU Alumni Mark Cowan, M.D., Robert C. and Kathryn DellAngelo, M.D., Olive Kimball, D.Ed., Ph.D., Nancy Auer, Ph.D. and Janice Glime, Ph.D.