Category: News

Portage Library Hosts Presentation on Butterflies and Moths of the U.P.

From Tech Today.

4. Portage Library Hosts Presentation on Butterflies and Moths of the U.P.
The Portage Lake District Library will host assistant professor Thomas Werner (BioSci) on Monday, June 30, from 7–8 p.m. for his slide show presentation on “Butterflies and Moths of the Upper Peninsula.”

Werner’s program will illustrate the difference between butterflies and moths, describe their complete life cycles and explain how to mount them for collections. His presentation will cover 30 common species of the Upper Peninsula including the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Monarch, Red Admiral, White Admiral, Luna Moth and Wooly Bear. Participants will have time to ask questions and browse through Werner’s favorite books on this topic.

Werner studied biology in Jena, Germany, and got his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology and insect immunology in Umea, Sweden. He later moved to the United States as a postdoctoral fellow in Madison, Wisconsin. Werner is now an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Michigan Tech where he studies animal color pattern evolution and the evolution of mushroom toxin resistance in fruit flies.

Library programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information please call the library at 482-4570 or visit Portage Lake District Library.

25th annual Bioathlon a huge sucess

May 7, 2014


The twenty-fifth annual Department of Biological Sciences Bioathlon for high school biology students was held on Wednesday, May 7, at Michigan Technological University.  Simultaneously, a workshop was held for the accompanying biology teachers.

The Bioathlon serves as a means to stimulate interest and problem-solving in biology among our area youth.  Teams from 16 Upper Peninsula Michigan high schools participated.  The three top scores go to these schools.

The team winning FIRST PLACE was Hancock High School from Hancock, MI.

Team members:  Shannon Nulf, Ruth Venegus, Mary Jarvis, Alexis Aho

Instructor:  Brian Rajdl

The team winning SECOND PLACE was L.L.Wright High School from Ironwood, MI.

Team members: Margaret Meyer, Kathleen Mieloszyk, Corissa Mattson, Leah Braucher

Instructor: Paul Mattson

The team winning the THIRD PLACE was West Iron County High School from Iron River, MI.

Team members: Madiline McNamara, Emmy Kinner, Michelle Wiegand, Izaya Bengry

Instructor: Joel VanLanen

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:

The four problems for the competition include:

Dissection: designed by Biological Sciences Graduate student Robert Larson and assisted by Travis Wakeham and Jenna Edwards with input from Dr. John Durocher.

Molecular Biology: designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Emily Geiger, assisted by Jennifer Connors.

Field Identification: designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Ashley Coble assisted by Tony Matthys and Troy Long.

Medical Laboratory  Science: designed and proctored by Medical Laboratory Science undergraduate students, Alyssa Elegeert, Rebecca Kurt, Roger Ellis, Sarah Westdorp, Danielle Dawson and Misty Brouilette with input from Professor of Practice Karyn Fay[j1] .

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: The Fungus among Us

In this workshop teachers explored some of the different roles of the fungi and conducted several simple, inexpensive activities to help students overcome their mycophobia.  The workshop was designed and taught by Stacy Cotey, Academic Advisor of Biological Sciences. Lynette Potvin, Ecologist for the US Forest Service Northern Research Station also provided a view of below-ground fungal processes with a tour of the Rhizotron and Mesocosm facilities.


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.,

Students funded with SURF awards working in Biological Sciences

Reprinted from Tech Today

This summer, the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program will fund 23 students from across the University with funds from the Vice President for Research and the Honors Institute. The total funding for the program this year is $80,500.

Congratulations to:

Jessica Karwosk working with Dr. Rupali Datta

Mark Keranen working with Dr. Thomas Werner

Jade Ortiz working with Dr. Amy Marcarelli

Additional SURF recipients,their project titles, and their advisors are listed online.

Biological Sciences Announces Medical Laboratory Science Scholarship winners

Karyn Fay, Director, Medical Laboratory Science Program in the Department of Biological Sciences, is pleased to announce the 2014 Medical Laboratory Sciences Scholarships.

This year’s scholarship winners are:

Jack Holland Endowed Scholarship: Larissa Kramer

Medical Technology “Tech Is” Award Scholarship: Luke Dalton

Soldan 4+1 Annual Scholarship: Brook Bedore

Congratulations to the recipients and many thanks to all who applied.

A brief description of the scholarships is as follows:

The Jack Holland Endowed Scholarship, established in honor of Dr. Jack Holland, Professor of Medical Technology (1966–1988), is awarded to an outstanding first-year medical technology/medical lab sciences student, based on professional attitude, communication skills, and academic grade point. Former students, upon Dr. Holland’s retirement, originally set up the endowment.

The Medical Technology “Tech Is” Award Scholarship was originally funded by three monetary awards received by the Society of Medical Technologists for first-place awards in the “Tech Is” student competition (1981, 1983, and 1986). The “Tech Is” program no longer exists, however the endowment provides a small scholarship to a junior-class student based on participation in the Society of Medical Laboratory Scientists (formerly Society of Medical Technologists), extracurricular activities, grade point, and faculty interviews.

The Soldan 4+1 Annual Scholarship will be awarded to a qualified senior Medical Laboratory Science student who is beginning their last semester at Michigan Tech.  They must be able to document acceptance into an accredited “+1” practicum and be enrolled in one of the following concentrations.

4+1 Medical Laboratory Science

4+1 Cytotechnology

4+1 Histotechnology

More information on these and other Departmental scholarships are available on our Department’s giving page

Tenth Annual ESC/BRC Research Forum Awards Announced

The Ecosystem Science Center and the Biotechnology Research Center announce award recipients of the Tenth Annual ESC/BRC Student Research Forum held March 19.  60 posters presented

Graduate Research

$100 Merit Awards

Biotechnology Research Center
Yiping Mao (Bio Sci) for “Overexpression of microRNA-30d increases insulin biosynthesis and protects against high-fat diet induced glucose intolerances,” Advisor Xiaoqing Tang.

Ecosystem Science Center
Cameron Goble (Bio Sci) for “Assessment of Fish Communities in Tributary Streams of the Big Manistee,” Advisor: Nancy Auer.

Other award  Department’s award winners are highlighted in “Tech Today.”

Participants Needed for a Research Study

If you have made plans to exercise more, diet or lose weight in 2014 you may want to consider joining a 12-week research study. Please see the attached flyer to determine if you qualify. Those that qualify may receive free consultation from a Registered Dietician or personal training from a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified professional. You could also receive a free 12-week pass to the SDC Fitness Center as part of this study. Please contact John Durocher at if you are interested.

approved flyer M1088 Durocher

Morton Harwood – 1st place winner in the oral presentations for the 2014 Graduate Research Colloquium

Oral Presentation Award Winner: Morton Harwood from the Department of Biological Sciences was awarded the first place presentation award at the 2014 MTU Graduate Research Colloquium.

“The Acute Cardiovascular Responses to Marathon and Ultra-marathon Competition”

Morty is a Ph.D. student in Dr. John Durocher’s laboratory.

Komal Raja, Biological Sciences, 2nd Place Posters, Graduate Research Colloquium 2014

Komal Raja, Biological Sciences, 2nd Place Posters, Graduate Research Colloquium 2014

Komal Raja, Biological Sciences,

Title: The Role of Toolkit Genes in the Evolution of Complex Wing, Thorax and Abdominal Color Patterns of Drosophila Guttifera –

Graduate Research Colloquium 2014 at Michigan Technological University

Original picture (courtesy of Emil Groth) and more winners at the Graduate Research Colloquium 2014 page.

Komal works in Dr.Werner’s lab and more about their research can be found in Dr. Werner’s lab page.

Follow Undergraduate Kelley Littlefield as she takes a semester to study abroad

I made it to San Ramon, Costa Rica! Finally. I took a group flight with about 40 other students.  We were supposed to arrive in San Ramon at 8:30pm last night, but unfortunately there were plenty of delays so we arrived in San Ramon at 4am this morning.  It was a really long day of sitting in the airport, but I made some new friends so it wasn’t too bad. Just really tiring!

See the rest of this post and her new ones at:

Her blog site.

Ken Kraft Passes away

Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences Ken Kraft passed away on Jan. 12 at his Chassell Township home.

Kraft’s research was in invertebrate ecology, particularly in aquatic environments, and some of his work was used by the Army Corps of Engineers and Cleveland-Cliffs (now Cliffs Resources) in their environmental studies.

“He was well respected in his fields of study—entomology and aquatic environmental studies,” said Professor Emeritus Bob Keen. “He was also a mentor to a number of graduate students, including some who went on to attain PhDs and did very well.”

Professor Emerita Janice Glime recalled him as a “rather gentle, quiet person. You could always count on him. He was in his office from 9 to 5, when he wasn’t in class. His lab and library were adjacent to his office, and he was always there.”

“He was a very soft spoken gentleman who had a great smile,” said long-time staff member Pat Asselin. “He was a pleasure to know and work with.”

Kraft’s career at Michigan Tech actually began in forestry, where he was taught zoology, and he joined the biological sciences department when it was formed in 1962. He eventually rejoined the forestry faculty before retiring.

“He was the nicest guy I knew,” said Professor Emeritus Jim Spain, also of biological sciences. “We did work together on Lake Superior. We once took a boat and a student to Rabbit Island to find a heron rookery. Well, we searched all over and couldn’t find it. We went back to the boat to discover that we had parked it right underneath the rookery!”

Kraft was instrumental in setting up Tech’s first research program on Lake Superior through his connections with faculty at Minnesota-Duluth.

Spain also credited Kraft with creating the “rock pasty”—pebbles surrounded by a cloth—that was lowered into the lake and became a home for invertebrates that they were studying. “We published that one,” Spain said.

Spain said Kraft also led a seminar where he had everyone, including the faculty, read “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. “We grew our enrollment exponentially at the time, because of the environmental movement,” Spain said.

Kraft was one of the founders of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Houghton, according to fellow church member Harriet King.

“He served as president, did our newsletters, and always brought fresh eggs from his farm,” King remembered. “He would have church and community members out to his farm to see the orchards, gardens, and chickens.”

Kraft received his PhD in Entomology and Botany from the University of Minnesota. He taught at Minnesota, Moorhead State and Bemidji State before coming to Tech. He retired in 1996 after 34 years of service.

Kraft was preceded in death by his wife, Susie, in 2009 and is survived by two daughters, Jennifer Turner and Karen Miller, and grandchildren, Jessica Turner and Alexander and Andrew Miller. The O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home in Hancock is in charge of arrangements. A summer memorial service is planned.

Original article published in Tech Today