Category: Undergraduate

Lilly’s journey from pre-health to medical lab science and a rewarding career beyond

Shadowing physicians at Dickinson County Hospital was a favorite past-time for Lilly Van Loon ’22. She experienced the hospital: the ER, pediatrics, physical therapy, social work. A career in medicine appealed to Lilly. The pre-health program at Michigan Tech was her choice to begin a journey to medical school. However, she soon realized she did not enjoy the pre-med journey. Maybe it was not the right destination for her.

Image of Michigan Tech Medical Lab Science student Lilly Van Loon
Michigan Tech Medical Lab Science student Lilly Van Loon

But a visit from Karyn Fay, former program director of medical lab science, to her classroom was the redirect she needed. She took the next exit and headed straight to medical lab science (MLS). She loved the analytical nature of MLS. It had process, order and fine detail to master. As she has found, “When you get a sample, you have to problem-solve. You get to help with the diagnosis of the patient. You work independently but you get to collaborate with others.” Lilly enjoyed learning about the different panels, gaining expertise. She knew she was headed in the right direction.

Undergraduate research is a key factor in choosing Michigan Tech

Working in research as an undergraduate was an important factor in selecting Michigan Tech in 2018. She knew she wanted to take part in research. Research came up during an early conversation with an advisor in biological science. Experiential learning from research would increase her knowledge level and round out her resume. She mastered skills like pipetting in the lab. She gained a deeper understanding of different tests and techniques. The repetition gave her confidence. The lab has been an important part of her journey.

Investigating the impact of high salt diets

Lilly’s lab in the Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology department focuses on “The Role of Orexin A in Salt Sensitive Hypertension”. Lilly says “Hypertension is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death in the US.  There are many mechanisms that contribute to hypertension, and hyperactivity of orexin signaling is one of them.  Our goal is to see if a high salt diet increases activity of peripheral orexin in Dahl-Salt Sensitive rats. Also, if there is a difference in the expression of orexin between male and female rats. This is super interesting because this condition is so common in the US, and I am excited to understand more about the physiology.”

“Lilly joined our lab in 2020 and learned molecular techniques. She also did animal study including taking care of rats and measuring blood pressure by using a noninvasive tail cuff method. Blood pressure was measured once a week and Lilly seldom missed the measurements,” says Dr. Zhiying (Jenny) Shan, associate professor, kinesiology and integrative physiology. “In our lab we never had blood pressure data of Dahl salt sensitive female rats and Lilly helped us collect this data which fulfills our research. Besides animal work, Lilly dedicated a lot of her time in molecular-based research and worked hard from last summer till now. The PCR and Western blot data that she collected was useful for our future study and will be present in our future publications.”

Image of Western blot analysis of a Dahl-Salt kidney
Western blot analysis of a Dahl-Salt kidney

Lilly sees the benefits of research

Lilly knows the benefits of research for society. She says, “We can identify the limits and strive to learn more…. Without that curiosity and research, our society would remain stagnant and would miss out on a lot of amazing innovations.”

Personally, her research helped her manage time. She loved the research, but it was time consuming. Lilly estimates she committed 10 hours per week as a lab assistant in her sophomore and junior years, and increased it to 15-20 hours per week as a senior. She admits, “You forget this is an extracurricular thing. There’s so much to consider. Balancing research and school work, your mental and physical health, and social life. Thanks to my research I’ve been able to grow my skills in managing time.”

Dr Jenny agrees. “I think Lilly is also a self-disciplined person. Besides research, she has a lot of coursework and a job, but she can handle multiple tasks very well which definitely is due to her discipline and initiative. In addition, Lilly learned things fast, so I really like to work with her, and this is another reason that makes her successful in our lab.”

Lilly receives Undergraduate Research Internship Program grant at Michigan Tech

Receiving an Undergraduate Research Internship Program grant proved exciting. Awards of up to $1,600 are available to all Tech undergraduates interested in engaging in a research experience in a faculty member’s laboratory.  It took a lot of time, sweat and tears to apply for that grant. But it paid off in the end. Her one word to describe the experience: rewarding.

Award recipients are required to present their research at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. She accomplished this in March on Friday of Preview Day Weekend with her poster “The Role of Orexin A in Salt Sensitive Hypertension”.

Image of Michigan Tech students presenting research poster
Sophia Bancker(right) presents “The Role of Orexin A in Salt Sensitive Hypertension” at The Pavlis Honors College’s 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium, along with Lilly Van Loon (left).

Lilly finds community at Michigan Tech

Lilly found the MLS program to be a tight-knit community where students helped each other. The student chapter of the Society of Medical Lab Scientists (SMLS) was a big part of the community. Lilly was responsible for public relations for SMLS. “SMLS has given me so much. I met some of my best friends through it. They will be in my life forever. You do study groups. It’s a great opportunity as an underclassman. You get advice from upperclassmen. As an upperclassman I get to return the favor. They are a great support system. We help each other with registration and studying, getting over the stress of school. We do the blood drive too.”

In looking back at her time at Michigan Tech, she says “This is a place I think you can thrive. I see all my friends, even from different majors, and many are thriving. I don’t think everyone can make it here, but big props to you if you can make it here.” She loves the community at Michigan Tech. “Everyone here welcomes you with open arms. Everyone is so open and friendly, especially in this major. People I met here in my first week are still some of my best friends.”

What’s next?

For Lilly college was always on the radar. She looked forward to exploring interests in science and preparing for that career in medicine. And now she is closer to the destination, with a practicum at Marshfield Clinic this summer as her next stop. Lilly beams when discussion turns to Marshfield Clinic. “There will be cool tests. Because Marshfield Clinic is so well known and brings in patients from all over, there will be things you don’t see every day. I will have three months in the classroom and then 6 months in the lab. Students that have gone through there have done well on their BOC (certification exams) and I am lucky to be one of those people to be a part of it. They have a 100% passing rate for their students.”

Image of Lily smiling with two thumbs up
Two-thumbs up from Lilly on this test result!

Of course, having great students like Lilly in their practicum keeps that passing rate high. Claire Danielson, medical laboratory science program director and academic advisor says “Lilly is a joy to have in the classroom and lights any room she enters! Her positive attitude and strong laboratory skills are going to make her an excellent Medical Laboratory Scientist. We have no doubt that Lilly will make us proud during her practicum at Marshfield Clinic!”

Once she is BOC certificated Lilly will continue her career as a medical lab scientist. She hopes to find a specialization and become a lead technician. Beyond that, she does not rule out returning to school for a masters. Pathology school to become a pathology assistant or entering public health are other options. Lots of exciting stops ahead on Lilly’s journey!


Human biology students win top awards at Michigan Tech

It is rare that a student in one department wins major end-of-year awards at Michigan Tech. So imagine how excited we were to have two! Congratulations to our outstanding award-winners in the biological sciences department who are also part of our pre-health program. 

Christian Johnson wins the Provost’s Award for Scholarship

First to Christian Johnson, winner of the Provost’s Award for Scholarship. The Provost’s Award for Scholarship is given “to a senior who best represents student scholarship at Michigan Tech. This outstanding student is considered excellent, not only by academic standards, but also for participation in research, scholarship activity, levels of intellectual curiosity, creativity, and communication skills.”

Image of Christian Johnson, the Provost's Award for Scholarship winner
Christian Johnson, the Provost’s Award for Scholarship winner

“I am thrilled to see that Christian was selected for the Provost Award for Scholarship.  I have had the honor to work with Christian over the past 3 years as his Pre-Med Advisor,” says Nicole Seigneurie, director of pre-health professions and instructor of biological sciences. “I can’t say enough how outstanding a student Christian is. He has always impressed me with his passion, commitment to community service, work ethic, and servant leadership. On top of that, he is a very kind and compassionate individual who I know is destined for great things. This award was well-deserved!” 

Stephanie Carpenter, assistant professor of creative writing describes Christian as “an inventive, dynamic writer and an engaged, generous participant in discussions of published and student works” who is “a stand-out in our department and at Michigan Tech.” Christian added the English major, a move that he feels will help him to be a more empathetic physician and to develop the critical thinking and writing skills he will need to be successful in medical school.

And Travis Wakeham, lecturer and undergraduate academic advisor in biological sciences adds, “It has been an absolute pleasure watching Christian grow into an empathetic leader through his involvement in a wide variety of activities. Few students can balance conducting research in cardiovascular physiology, pursuing various artistic endeavors (including actively working on two novels), assisting people through a crisis as a volunteer at Dial Help, while finding time to play through a Dungeons and Dragons campaign between all of his schoolwork. He truly represents some of the best scholarship at Michigan Tech.
Pursuing a double major in English and human biology with a pre-health professions minor, Christian’s diverse passions and accomplishments led to his selection as the Departmental Scholar for both Humanities and the Pavlis Honors College. We thank Christian for his scholarship and academic accomplishments, as well as his tireless commitment in serving the Michigan Tech community.

Bella Menzel-Smith wins William and Josephine Balconi Community Service Award

And congratulations to Bella Menzel-Smith for winning the 2022 William and Josephine Balconi Community Service Award! The William and Josephine Balconi Community Service Award is “presented to a student who demonstrates community service with lasting and meaningful impact during their time at Michigan Tech, regardless of background or area of study.”

Image of Bella Menzel-Smith William and Josephine Balconi Community Service Award winner at Michigan Tech
Bella Menzel-Smith, the William and Josephine Balconi Community Service Award winner

Dr. David and Marie Blum initiated this endowment in memory of Marie’s parents, Josephine and William Balconi. David and Marie remember Marie’s parents as “kind, gracious, warm, and always helpful. They were always involved in helping others.” Marie’s parents lived in the Houghton area.

“I was so honored to be able to nominate Bella for the Willman and Josephine Balconi Community Service Award,” says Nicole. “Bella embodies everything this award stands for. She has a real passion for helping others through service and she’s left such an incredible impact on both the Tech and Houghton community. I am excited to see where the future takes her as she embarks on her next chapter, Physician Assistant School. I am confident Bella will continue to have a positive impact on her future patients and the communities that she will serve in the future.” 

Travis adds, “Bella energizes any room that she walks into with her positive attitude and dedication to serve others. She has made a tremendous impact within our community through her initiatives, including creating a pre-health mentoring program to connect new students with upperclassmen. Her work has helped empower others and bettered their well-being. I have no doubt that she will excel in the Physician Assistant program at Marquette University next and continue to serve others as a healthcare professional.”Bella is a pre-physician assistant student who is majoring in human biology. You can read more about her pathway to Physician Assistant School. We thank Bella for her tireless commitment to community service and passion for helping underserved communities.


The impact of high levels of research on an undergraduate student at Michigan Tech

Research helps Sophia Bancker complete her goals

Sophia Bancker wanted lab experience. Along with her medical laboratory science (MLS) major and minors in international Spanish and public health, it was an important step on the journey to graduate school. So when Dr. Zhiying (Jenny) Shan asked for undergraduate students to do research and Sophia saw a fit with her schedule, she did not hesitate to raise her hand. This is not surprising for this ambitious Minnesotan who by her own admission does not like to sit still.

Image of Michigan Tech students presenting research poster
Sophia Bancker(right) presents “The Role of Orexin A in Salt Sensitive Hypertension” at The Pavlis Honors College’s 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium, along with Lilly Van Loon (left).

Research Focus: Understanding the Impact of a High Salt Diet

She works with Dr. Shan and PhD student Xinqian (Sherry) Chen to better understand the impact of high salt diets on hypertension. “What interests me the most about my research is learning what different indicators of hypertension look like and how we test the different body organs to look for identification of Orexin A,” Sophia says. In the lab, she observes the adrenal glands, kidneys, heart, pancreas, and livers, isolates the RNA, and then runs diagnostic tests like PCR and western blot to see if Orexin is present or not, and at what level.

She sees first-hand how high salt diets affect the body and brain. Her work in the lab supports understanding of how the presence of Orexin A is related to high salt diets. She looks at impacts by gender too. Thanks to Sophia’s contributions, we know adrenal gland orexin receptors may be involved in salt-sensitive hypertension. More in vitro research will be done this summer.

The Benefits of Sophia’s Lab Experience at Michigan Tech

Sophia enjoys the lab experience too, particularly in Dr. Shan’s lab, where it is unique that all the faculty and students are women. She finds it to be a comforting environment, where it is safe to ask questions. “I had been kind of shy, so asking questions here was easy. Knowing how much innovation there is and research that has been and still needs to be done is exciting. And I got to be part of that process. I got to jump right in, working in the lab in the spring of 2020, my second semester of freshman year, starting the research right away. I did not have to wash lab dishes for anyone other than myself!” she says.

Sophia gets deep into the science, including the methodology and findings. “I’ve been able to read scientific articles and present them. It was really hard the first time I did it, but it keeps getting easier. I am gaining more confidence in my public speaking skills through it.” But that’s not all. “And I am getting a lot of practice with pipetting, more than I ever would have otherwise.”

Her contributions have not gone unnoticed. Sherry Chan observes, “Sophia is a self-disciplined and self-motivated individual. She attended the lab meetings, as many as she could, and presented in the journal club. She likes to learn everything from the lab and enjoys the lab work even though it is not related to her project. In addition, any lab work that I gave to her she would finish at her earliest convenience. As a researcher, one of the most important capabilities is to test the scientific hypothesis as soon as possible without procrastinating, and Sophia has this precious ability.”

Dr. Shan adds, “Sophia is a hard-working student with strong curiosity. She is eager to learn new techniques. She has a very busy schedule, but she has been trying her best to attend lab meetings, lab Journal clubs and do presentations in the journal club. Her hard-working and curious nature enables her to learn a lot and make great progress quickly.”

Learning about high-salt diets is eye-opening. But Sophia admits understanding what the day-to-day in a research lab looks like, the importance of asking questions and learning by doing, and how to read and present information from scientific journals has been the most gratifying component of her research.

The influence on her future has been as great as the impact of a high salt diet on your heart and kidney. “My experience changed my career choice. I had thought of medical school, but as I studied for MCAT and thought about the sacrifice (many years of medical school), I decided it wasn’t for me. I have decided to apply to PA (Physician’s Assistant) school instead.” Working as a PA is much more appealing to Sophia as knows she will “be more hands-on with people, connecting with them, and still provide the medical care they need. There’s also more work-life balance.” And she will get to do it sooner.

Her academic advisor Claire Danielson believes Sophia is well prepared for PA school. “Sophia is an extremely driven student in the medical laboratory science (MLS) program. She works hard to achieve her goal of going to PA school. Her valiant effort in our program and in undergraduate research does not go unnoticed. Sophia is an excellent role model for students in the MLS program. We wholeheartedly support her future goals and successes.” 

Another outcome of her research is that she was named first-place winner in The Pavlis Honors College’s 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium for her work on “The Role of Orexin A in Salt Sensitive Hypertension.” Sophia shares, “it meant a lot to be rewarded for the effort and time doing the research, as well as preparing for the presentation. I took a lot of pride in the fact that I was able to readily relay all that I had learned! Public speaking  has not always been one of my finest skills.”

Image of Michigan Tech student Sophia Bancker enjoying the Keweenaw outdoors
When she’s not in the lab, Sophia enjoys the spectacular views of the Keweenaw.

Sophia’s Advice for Undergraduate Students Wanting to do Research

Michigan Tech is a STEM school with many labs for undergraduate students to do research. So the idea of a first- or second-year student doing research is not unusual here. Sophia’s advice for students looking to get involved in research at Michigan Tech is simple. “Talk to a professor. If you have an interest in a specific area and they cannot accommodate you in their lab, they likely know someone else who may need you in their lab.”

Sophia’s advice does not end there. She encourages students starting out at Michigan Tech to “join a fun club. Even just one. I really enjoyed the ski club. My friends and I started the pickleball club, too. There are about ten of us and we are looking to expand.” 

This summer, Sophia will study abroad in Ecuador and Peru with MedLife.  Working in South America at a mobile clinic focusing on treating Covid-19 and improving general hygiene. She looks forward to a hands-on experience in general medicine and public health, areas she thinks she will be working in many years down the road.

As Sophia looks back on her college experience, she reflects “I wish I did not put so much pressure on myself. Every exam did not have to be an ‘A’. A ‘B’ on your transcript is not the end of the world.” This leads us to conclude pressure and high salt diets are not good; terrific research experiences equals great!


Sarah LewAllen, MLS Clinical Practicum Spotlight

Sarah sitting in hospital laboratory.
Sarah LewAllen recently completed her clinical practicum at Beaumont Health – Royal Oak.

Where are you currently completing your practicum?

I completed my practicum at Beaumont Health – Royal Oak. I am currently certified through ASCP and working full time at Beaumont Health – Farmington Hills as a generalist.

What is your favorite aspect of your practicum?

The opportunity to work with experienced technologists was my favorite part of my practicum. Each tech had stories of interesting cases they’ve worked on and shared valuable tips and tricks that I currently use out on the bench. Getting to see how the theory covered in our classes applies out on the bench was also really rewarding!

Why did you choose a career in Medical Lab Science?

A career in MLS offers a broad spectrum of possibilities, even outside of healthcare. The versatility of the degree was a huge reason why I chose to major in medical lab science. I’ve always loved human physiology, so MLS was the perfect hands-on career to apply that knowledge in the healthcare setting with less patient contact.

Share something interesting with us about your practicum!

I got to observe and assist with a few bone marrow aspirations, both adult and pediatric! It was so fascinating seeing that procedure done firsthand. There aren’t many opportunities to work directly with the physicians and nurses, so it was a very cool experience.

What is something you think others should know about MLS?

Because medical lab scientists are behind the scenes, many people are unaware of the critical role we play in patient care. It is up to the lab to ensure the results we release to the physicians are accurate, so attention to detail, communication, and solid problem solving skills are essential. There’s a huge shortage of certified technologists, so this career is always in demand!

What advice would you give to students entering their practicum?

Study during your practicum like you did during your undergraduate courses. It’s so important to stay on top of the material you’ll need to know for the BOC exam. It will make reviewing for it much easier and less stressful when it comes time to take it! Also, never be afraid to ask questions. I learned so much from the technologists I worked with, in both bench skills and career advice. They are a huge asset to you!


Student artist Mara Hackman (MLS) – Outdoor Sculpture 2020

This summer, Lisa Gordillo (VPA) is teaching Michigan Tech’s first fully-online sculpture class. Students focus on making works or art outside, and use the landscape around them as their studio. Because we’re several months into “social distancing” and many folks are longing for connection, Gordillo worked to make a class that creates connections with community (even at a distance). Student sculptors consider art, ecology, and social connection as they make new works of art this summer. 

One student artist in the class is Mara Hackman, an undergraduate student in Medical Laboratory Science. Hackman’s first sculpture, titled “Line,” was created with a “wave of trash and flowers”. Her sculpture follows the path of a stream near her home. To make this sculpture, Hackman walked her favorite nature trail and gathered the trash she found along the way. She gathered flowers from the trail and her garden, and combined them into this wave to “signify life and repair.” She hopes people will look at this piece and think about both the beauty of nature and the destruction humans can cause.

The second scupture is titled “Space,” as described by Hackman, “I started off by blowing up 240 balloons and started by tying (them) together. You think 240 balloons is a lot, and they almost completely filled up my grandma’s living room – but once I took them all outside in the field, the balloons looked small. The field was very spacious. I did different things with the balloons, pilled them up and made a line, and randomly had them spread out around the field.

I took inspiration from Tierra (2013) by artist Regina JoseGalindo. In Tierra, (the artist stood) in a field as a bulldozer dug out around here leaving less and less space. Having balloons staked around me, made me feel claustrophobic and I felt all this pressure around me. That is where I came up with the idea that all these balloons and their different colors represented the different pressures of my life … which is represented by the balloons surrounding (my sister) Kylee and only leaving her boots left.”

View more on the Outdoor Sculpture 2020 Online Gallery.


Students Earn Honorable Mention in 2020 Virtual Michigan Physiological Society Annual Conference

The first ever Michigan Physiological Society Virtual Conference just wrapped up! It was a great collection of speakers with impressive work. Several of our students and faculty participated, including two students from Dr. John J. Durocher’s research group that earned awards for their presentations!

Thomas Basala (Undergraduate Student, Biological Sciences) earned an honorable mention for his presentation: “Applied Human Physiology Fitness Trail Project: Benefits for Local Residents and Undergraduate Students.”

Aditi Vyas (PhD Student, Biological Sciences) also earned an honorable mention for her presentation: “Effects of 8-Week Active Mindfulness and Stress Management on Anxiety and Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.”

Congratulations, Thomas and Aditi!




Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research 2020-21

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 third 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. Awarded in the Spring of 2020, the Songers’ 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. The research will be conducted over the Summer of 2020 and/or the following academic year.

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 p.m. Monday, March 30. Applications may be emailed to djhemmer@mtu.edu.


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.


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


Students Present at the 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Several undergraduate students working in biology research laboratories presented at Michigan Tech’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium this year. The event highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on our campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students!

Michelle Kelly URS 2017

Michelle Kelly from Amy Marcarelli’s laboratory challenged the assumption that variation of biological nitrogen transformation rates within streams are small. Her findings suggest that these rates can actually significantly vary and may not be estimated by a single study site per reach. Michelle’s research was funded by a Research Experience for Undergraduates through the National Science Foundation.

 

Hannah Marti URS 2017Hannah Marti from John Durocher’s laboratory explored the potential health benefits of acute mindfulness meditation. In her pilot study, she observed a reduction in anxiety, heart rate, and aortic pulse pressure after the one introductory hour of mindfulness mediation. Hannah’s research was funded through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program sponsored by the Portage Health Foundation. Hannah earned an honorable mention for her presentation!

 

Jacob Schoenborn URS 2017

Jacob Schoenborn from Xiaoqing Tang’s laboratory studied mice to understand the influence of blueberries on the function of pancreatic beta cells, which regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. His results suggest that the bioactive substances in blueberries can improve beta cell sensitivity. Jacob’s research was funded through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program sponsored by the Portage Health Foundation. Jacob earned an honorable mention for his presentation!

 

David Trine URS 2017David Trine from Thomas Werner’s laboratory reviewed the abdominal pigment pattern of Drosophila guttifera by through five toolkit genes. His findings will help to understand the evolutionary process of color patterns on animals and also may lead to future cancer research. David’s research was funded through a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.