Category: News

Go West, Young Microbiologist

“Yuritzi went out of her comfort zone when she joined my chemical engineering research lab, even though she is a biological science major,” Caryn Heldt says. “My lab is biochemistry focused, so her expertise fit well. She has added depth to my lab, and I have enjoyed working with her.”

“I am really excited that Yuritzi was able to present her research results at SACNAS,” Sue Bagley added. “This is a premier venue. Hopefully other Michigan Tech students will be inspired to the same in the future.”

Read more at Tech Today, by Dennis Walikainen.

Tackling the Last Taboo

Photo by Stacey Frankenstein-Markon
Photo by Stacey Frankenstein-Markon

Article by Jennifer Donovan

How a Peace Corps volunteer from Michigan Tech helped women in Uganda take charge of their periods and control of their lives

They use what?” Stacey Frankenstein-Markon gasped. A graduate student in Michigan Tech’s Peace Corps Master’s International program in applied science education, she had just arrived in Uganda as a Peace Corps volunteer. And she’d just found out that girls in her African village of Bukedea used rags, old socks, or wads of newspaper to do the job of sanitary napkins.

[ Read More ]

Wolf Man

Photo by Dan Stahler/NPS
Photo by Dan Stahler/NPS

Article by David McKay Wilson

Eco-tourists are lined up on a roadside in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Canyon to witness two wolf packs jockeying for territory, and wildlife biologist Doug Smith ’88 is nearby with a TV crew shooting footage of the predator that has captivated mankind for eons.

It’s been seventeen years since Smith helped launch the effort to restore wolves to the 2 million-acre park. Today, an estimated ninety-eight wolves in ten packs thrive in Yellowstone. On this crisp February morning, the lanky Smith, dressed in his green wool Park Service uniform with a pair of Nikon binoculars dangling from his neck, talks about how wolves have reacted to the decline in the park’s elk herd, their prime prey.

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Shekhar Joshi Named Interim Chair

Shekhar Joshi
Shekhar Joshi

Professor Chandrashekhar Joshi has been appointed as the interim chair of the Department of Biological Sciences for the 2012-13 academic year, while the department conducts a search for a new chair.

According to Bruce Seely, dean of the College of Sciences and Arts, the college and the department are “borrowing” Joshi from the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science for the year to insure that the department continues the progress made over the past three years in revitalizing its program of graduate education and research.

“Shekhar is perfectly positioned for this responsibility,” Seely said. “He is a molecular biologist so he’s already a member of the diverse profession of biological scientists. The courses he regularly teaches clearly show the connection between his work and that of the department–molecular genetics, genomics and bioinformatics.” Joshi’s research interests include bioenergy and cellulose biosynthesis in trees.

Seely said that Joshi has been “extraordinarily successful” in securing external funding to support his scholarship and research, as well as that of his graduate students.

Joshi received Michigan Tech’s Research Award in 2011, was the director of the Biotechnology Research Center (BRC) and routinely offered a course on grant writing for graduate students from across the campus.

“Shekhar has been a marvelous ambassador for interdisciplinary activities,” said Seely, noting that Joshi played a key role in the “Wood to Wheels” program; establishing the transatlantic MS in Forest Resources; providing various summer programs for high school science teachers; and setting up a multi-year collaboration with bioenergy faculty at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea.

“We’re excited to have Shekhar join us in the role as department chair in biological sciences,” Seely said. “He is a perfect role model and mentor for the numerous faculty hired in the department over the past several years. He exemplifies the college’s desire for chairs who lead by example, demonstrating excellence in teaching, scholarship and professional and institutional service.”

At the same time, Seely added, “Shekhar will fulfill the demanding role of department chair–mediating between faculty and staff and the administration.”

Outstanding Young Alumni

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is presented each year by the Alumni Association to alumni under the age of 35 who have distinguished themselves in their careers. The award recognizes the achievement of a position or some distinction noteworthy for one so recently graduated. The following Biological Sciences alumni have previously received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award:

  • James L. Voogt (1966)
  • James D. Brodeur (1968)
  • Jeffrey M. Jentzen (1975)
  • Douglas G. Harris (1986)
  • Darla I. Olson (1993)

SURFing at Tech

Felicia Nip, a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology major at Michigan Technological University, is immersed in the world of fruit flies this summer. Through a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) and with mentor Thomas Werner, assistant professor of genetics and developmental biology, Nip explores how certain fruit fly strains evolved resistance to deadly mushroom toxins. Read More here.

Bioathlon 2012 Results

Contact: Jeff Lewin, (906) 487-3435

The twenty-third annual Department of Biological Sciences Bioathlon for high school biology students was held on Wednesday, May 2, 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.

Dean’s List 2012

Please join me in congratulating our Biological Sciences majors (13) and one Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major who were recently honored on the Dean’s list. It is gratifying to have almost one-half of the Dean’s List represented from Biological Sciences. Everyone in the Department, including Staff, Faculty, Grad and Undergraduate Students, should be proud of this accomplishment.

K.M. Gibson, PhD, FACMG
Professor and Chair
Department of Biological Sciences
Michigan Technological University