Category: Research

In the News – Charles Kerfoot and Buffalo Reef Stamp Sands

Charles Kerfoot, Biological Sciences Emeritus Research Professor, and Professor Emerita Carol MacLennan of Social Sciences appeared in a Great Lakes Now episode titled “Reef Rescue and Wild Edibles.” The episode included a segment on Copper Country’s Buffalo Reef — a high-value fish spawning ground in Superior Grand Traverse Bay. Kerfoot and others explained in the segment how threatened the reef is by millions of tons of stamp sands, also known as mine tailings, and summarized what’s been done so far. The Buffalo Reef Task Force put together a long-term multiphase plan of action this year, which was also featured in the Great Lakes Now episode.

Charles Kerfoot in the field near Buffalo Reef.
Charles Kerfoot

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest happenings.

Undergrad Research – Abe Stone Functional Forest Fungus

Abe Stone is an undergraduate majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology. He came to Michigan Tech’s Biological Sciences Department, already with a great interest in learning more about and working with fungus. Once he enrolled at MTU, he decided to get involved in undergraduate research and start down his fungus research path.

Abe Stone in forest working with invasive buckthorn and propagated fungus.
Abe Stone in the field.

Through his research, Stone found a way to effectively and practically propagate silver leaf disease—a fungal forest pathogen—and use it as an herbicide to attack the invasive tree species, buckthorn, while sparing native species. Stone has been working with Biological Sciences’ Dr. Erika Hersch-Green to learn more about how plants and fungi interact with each other, as well as advisors in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES).

To learn more about Abe Stone, how he began this journey, and his work, visit Abe’s “Fungus Among Us…” story—featured on MTU’s Unscripted Research Blog.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest happenings.

New Funding – Jill Olin and Stony Brook University Shark Research

Jill Olin (BioSci/GLRC) is the principal investigator (PI) on a project that has received an $82,917 research and development contract from Stony Brook University.

The title of the project is “Defining foraging hotspots of finfish and sharks in the New York Bight: linking trophic dynamics with spatiotemporal trends in species distributions.”

James Junker (GLRC) is a co-PI on this potential two-year project.

Jill Olin
Jill Olin

Jill Olin is a community ecologist who studies the processes that affect the stability and structure of ecosystems. She studies these issues in freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems because of the diversity and economic importance of species inhabiting these environments; and, toward the fact that they are under threat from anthropogenic influences. Olin uses community assembly, food web, and fisheries theory to explore the following research areas; (1) the intra- and inter-species interactions and trophic structuring of communities within a hierarchical construct; (2) the distribution patterns of organisms and the mechanisms that drive these patterns and; (3) the relative influence of anthropogenic threats and climactic drivers on ecosystem dynamics and resilience. She combines dietary biomarkers techniques with ecological and modeling approaches to explore questions with the overriding aim of providing data for conservation across multiple levels of organization.

Currently Jill teaches courses in Marine Ecology, Ecology and Evolution, and Ecogeochemical Tracer Techniques.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest happenings.

In the News – Michigan Tech’s Tick Talk

MTU’s Tick Talk project was included in a WKAR News story, considering the escalating tick populations in Michigan. Michigan Tech’s Tick Talk project utilizes the power of crowdsourcing tick collection to advance research on tick populations and tick-borne diseases in the Copper Country. 

man walking in woods with dog
Man walking in the woods with his dog in the Copper Country.

Faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students across Michigan Tech departments ranging from Computer Sciences to Biological Sciences are coming together to work on this project and make it successful. Members from our department who are contributing to this project include Dr. Stephen Techtmann (Biological Sciences Associate Professor, Great Lakes Research Center Associate Director), Dr. Aimee Marceau (Research Scientist, Genomic Surveillance Facility Lead), and Trisha Colling (Sequencing Laboratory Scientist).

Dr. Aimee Marceau was previously interviewed in a  WLUC TV6 story about the Tick Talk project, which was featured on our blog.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest happenings.

In the News – Trista Vick-Majors Interviewed on ParAqua Podcast

Trista Vick-Majors (BioSci/GLRC) was interviewed on a science podcast supported by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, the ParAqua Podcast. The ParAqua Podcast highlights new and interesting research in aquatic and marine ecology. Episode 5 of the ParAqua Podcast, released May 19, focused on Vick-Majors’ research in the polar regions on aquatic ecosystems.

Trista Vick-Majors conducting winter microbial research at MTU's Great Lakes Research Center.
Trista Vick-Majors conducting winter microbial research at MTU’s Great Lakes Research Center.

Trista Vick-Majors is a microbial ecologist who studies the reciprocal relationships between microbial communities and biogeochemical processes in aquatic ecosystems. She is interested in understanding how chemical and physical characteristics interact with microbial communities, and influence or are influenced by microbial metabolism and diversity. Trista’s work is also aimed at understanding energetic constraints on microbial metabolism that could result from seasonal or ecosystem change change, such as the formation of ice-cover. Her field work locales span temperate environments with seasonal ice-cover, where rapid environmental change is affecting ice duration and thickness, and polar environments where ice-cover can be a permanent fixture. Vick-Majors’ research happens at the interface of biogeochemistry and microbial ecology.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest happenings.

In the News – Aimee Marceau and Tick Disease Surveillance

Aimee Marceau (BioSci) and Kristin Brzeski (CFRES) were featured in a  WLUC TV6 story about Michigan Tech’s Tick Talk project, a crowdsourced tick collection to aid research on tick-borne diseases and tick populations in the Copper Country.

Crowdsourcing Ticks for Disease Surveillance

Tick Talk, the crowdsourcing tick collection project that was conducted at Michigan Tech last year, has returned for a second year. Tick collection has already begun for 2024.

MTU’s Genomic Sequencing Lab wants ticks from you, your family and your pets. The goal of this project is to identify the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses in the Copper Country. Please bring any ticks you find to one of two collection boxes on the Michigan Tech campus:

  • Great Lakes Research Center — First Floor
  • U. J. Noblet Forestry Building — Main Entrance

Current Results

Results from the community tick submission so far are available on the Tick Talk Dashboard. If you have any questions, please contact lab lead Aimee Marceau at ahmarcea@mtu.edu.

  • 174 blacklegged ticks and four brown dog ticks have been collected.
  • 20% of the blacklegged ticks submitted tested positive for Lyme.

How to Remove and Preserve Ticks

  1. Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause its mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers. If you cannot remove the mouth easily with tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by:
    1. Placing it in a sealed plastic storage bag. Multiple ticks from the same location can be placed in the same bag.
    2. Once the tick is sealed inside the plastic storage bag, bring it to a drop-off point within eight hours or place the bag with the tick in a freezer until dropping it off at Michigan Tech.
  5. Follow the directions at the drop-off site to ensure the tick is properly preserved.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest happenings.

In the News: Vick-Majors on Winter, Ecosystems, and Agriculture

Trista Vick-Majors (BioSci/GLRC) was interviewed in a WLUC TV6 segment about how a continuing lack of winter ice cover could change ecosystems, the Great Lakes, and the future of agriculture. It also touches on how these changes could impact small businesses and outdoor winter activities–such as ice fishing and snowmobiling. The WLUC TV6 story mentioned the project launched by Trista Vick-Majors to gather winter-specific lake samples for comparison to summer data, with researchers around the Great Lakes participating in sampling this month. The story was picked up by more than 300 news outlets nationwide, including the Washington PostHouston Chronicle and Seattle Times.

Trista Vick-Majors
Trista Vick-Majors

Dr. Trista Vick-Majors is a microbial ecologist who studies biogeochemical processes in aquatic ecosystems and microbial communities. She is interested in how microbial communities and their diversity are impacted by physical and chemical characteristics. In addition, her work focuses on how seasonal change or ecosystem change, such as the formation of ice-cover, has an effect on these microbial communities. The interface of microbial ecology and biogeochemistry is where her research takes place.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest happenings.

In the News: Trista Vick-Majors and the Associated Press

Trista Vick-Majors (BioSci/GLRC) was quoted by the Associated Press, Canada’s National ObserverABC News, MLive, Daily Mining Gazette, and Yahoo! News U.K. in a story exploring how an ongoing lack of winter ice cover could change the Great Lakes. The story mentioned a project launched by Vick-Majors to gather winter-specific lake samples for comparison to summer data, with researchers around the Great Lakes participating in sampling this month. The story was picked up by more than 300 news outlets nationwide, including the Washington PostHouston Chronicle and Seattle Times. Vick-Majors was also interviewed in a WLUC TV6 segment about the impact low snow totals and ice cover have on ecosystems and agriculture.

Trista Vick-Majors
Trista Vick-Majors

Dr. Trista Vick-Majors is a microbial ecologist who studies microbial communities and biogeochemical processes in aquatic ecosystems. She is interested in how physical and chemical characteristics interact with microbial communities and their diversity. In addition, her work focuses on how seasonal change or ecosystem change, such as the formation of ice-cover, impacts these microbial communities. The interface of microbial ecology and biogeochemistry is where her research takes place.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest happenings.

New Funding: Stephen Techtmann’s Ice Control Co-Op

Stephen Techtmann is the principal investigator (PI) on a project which has received a $798,426 research and development co-op joint agreement from the U.S. Department of Defense, DARPA. The title of the project is “Ice Control Compounds from Bacterial Isolates and Functional Metagenomics.”

Stephen Techtmann
Stephen Techtmann

Trista Vick-Majors is the co-PI on this potential two and a half year project.

Dr. Stephen Techtmann is an environmental microbiologist who studies microbial communities in diverse ecosystems. In addition to ice control compounds, he studies how complex microbial communities can perform functions of industrial interest. He seeks to use culture-based and culture-independent methods to understand how microbial communities respond to anthropogenic activity and environmental change, in addition to how we can leverage these microbes for a biotechnological application. 

Techtmann has experience in teaching Environmental Microbiology, Microbial Physiology, Applied Genomics, Modern BMB Laboratory, and Principles of Computational Biology.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or read the Biological Sciences Newsblog for the latest happenings.

New Funding: Olin Nets Great Lakes Fishery Commission Grant

We are pleased to announce Jill Olin is the principal investigator (PI) on a project that has received a $193,533 research and development contract from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The project is titled “Assessing population structure and the role of burbot (Lota lota) in coupling nearshore and offshore habitats of Lake Superior.”

Jill Olin
Jill Olin

Gordon Paterson and Kristin Brzeski are co-PIs on this potential two-year project.

Dr. Jill Olin is a community ecologist who studies the processes that affect the structure and stability of ecosystems. She studies issues in freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems due to the diversity and economic importance of species inhabiting these environments and the fact that they are threatened by anthropogenic influences. She teaches courses in Marine Ecology, Ecology and Evolution, and Ecogeochemical Tracer Techniques.

About the Biological Sciences Department

Biological scientists at Michigan Technological University help students apply academic concepts to real-world issues: improving healthcare, conserving biodiversity, advancing agriculture, and unlocking the secrets of evolution and genetics. The Biological Sciences Department offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. Supercharge your biology skills to meet the demands of a technology-driven society at a flagship public research university powered by science, technology, engineering, and math. Graduate with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to solve real-world problems and succeed in academia, research, and tomorrow’s high-tech business landscape.

Questions? Contact us at biology@mtu.edu. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or read the Biological Sciences Newsblog for the latest happenings.