Archives—September 2015

Lake Superior Water Festival

IMG_4231aby Joan Chadde

Nearly 500 high school students, in 19 classes from 11 schools in Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic and Ontonagon Counties will flood Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center today. The GLRC will be a hopping place on from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. today for the Fourth Annual Lake Superior Water Festival. More than 15 different sessions will be offered throughout the day, presented by Michigan Tech faculty, staff, students, community organizations, government agencies, authors, artists and photographers.

The Water Festival provides an opportunity for students to learn about and celebrate our most precious natural resource – clean, fresh water. The Festival also serves to inspire interest in STEM careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

The 2015 Water Festival is made possible with funding from Earth Force, Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, and Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative.

See the 2015 Lake Superior Water Festival Photo Gallery

Lake Superior Water Festival Sep 30, 2015 at Great Kajes Research Center at Michigan Tech
Lake Superior Water Festival Sep 30, 2015 at Great Kajes Research Center at Michigan Tech

Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar: Air Pollution in Iran; A Case Study

sep21Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar: Air Pollution in Iran; A Case Study
Monday, September 21th; 202 Great Lakes Research Center

Hossein Tavakoli, PhD Student, Michigan Tech Department of Environmental Engineering

Biography – I am a PhD student in Environmental Engineering with focus on air pollution. studying Environmental Engineering, I could see how air pollution had surrounded millions of people and it seemed policy makers were incapable. Picturesque Alborz hillsides, in which Tehran (Capital City) is located, were lost in smog. In the last 3 years, up to 7000 deaths in Tehran are caused by Airborne Particles. As a part of my research I have investigated the effects of air pollution of a steel complex -a case study- on surrounding area using air pollution dispersion modeling (AERMOD and CMB8.2); I have then investigated concentrations of PM10 in ambient air and Arsenic in air, water, soil, rice and meat downstream of the steel plant. In addition, I have studied lifetime risk assessment of Arsenic due to inhalation, ingestion and dermal exposure for residents.
Environmental issues regarding air pollution in Iran include, especially in urban areas, vehicle emissions, refinery operations, huge dust swirl from Iraq and industrial effluents which contribute to poor air quality. Industrial nature and the status of its environmental issues, regulation and management in Iran will be presented to expand the world vision of a developing country.
A regularly updated seminar schedule and download capabilities for Roundtable Discussion papers is available on CANVAS under ENVE5991 R01 Fall 2015.



Environmental Engineering Seminar: Environmental Systems Biology of Marine Oil Biodegradation

sep14Environmental Systems Biology of Marine Oil Biodegradation
Monday, September 14th 3 pm
202 Great Lakes Research Center

Dr. Stephen Techtmann , Assistant Professor
Michigan Tech Department of Biological Sciences

Biography – I am an environmental microbiologist who studies microbial communities in diverse ecosystems. Microbes (Bacteria and Archaea) are ubiquitous in the environment and play essential roles in the cycling of elements. These environmental microbes are capable of catalyzing a wide array of chemical reactions, many of which may have industrial applications. I study how complex microbial communities can cooperate to perform functions of industrial interest. The majority of microbes in the environment are difficult to grow in the lab. Furthermore, many industrially-relevant pathways are found in microbes not yet grown in the lab. I seek to employ both culture-based and culture-independent methods to understand how these microbial communities respond to anthropogenic activity and environmental change and how we might leverage these microbes for a biotechnological application. In the past, I have investigated how microbes from hot springs and geothermal vents could be used for biofuel production. Most recently, I have focused on microbial communities that respond to and aid in the clean up of crude oil contamination. I am also interested in engineering environmental microbes and microbial communities for enhanced biofuel production. I employ a combination of geochemical techniques, next-generation sequencing and other ‘omics approaches, with microbial physiology and biochemistry to better understand these microbial systems.

News Briefs from CEE


Michigan Tech’s Tribal Technical Assistance Program has won a Tribal Excellence Award from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The award will be presented at the Wisconsin Tribal Transportation Conference on Nov. 3 in Green Bay. Award recipients are recognized for providing exemplary contributions and services to building and enhancing partnerships with the Wisconsin DoT and Wisconsin’s tribal communities. TTAP provides technology, training and information on tribal roads and bridges, tourism, recreation and related economic development to tribal transportation and planning personnel. It is part of a nationwide program sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Alex Mayer (CEE/CWS) is the principal investigator on a research and development project that has received a $599,590 grant from the National Science Foundation. The three-year project is RET Site: PLACE-Promoting Learning About Computational Tools and the Environment. Noel Urban (CEE) is the co-PI for this project.

John Velat (CEE) is the principal investigator of a project that received $18,000 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The public service project contract is for the 2015 Minnesota Tribes and Transportation Conference. Amanda Kerttu (CEE) is the co-PI on the project.

Martin Auer (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that received $33,200 in additional funding from Ajax, Ontario. His team has been examining the nuisance growth of Cladophora, a filamentous green alga, in Lake Ontario.
The large quantities of rotting alga on the shoreline has been a growing concern for the community. Auer and his team have been studying the problem in Ajax since 2013. The project has totaled more than $320,000 in external sponsored funding. The primary objective is to identify and quantify the contributions of phosphorus from various sources to the nutrient environment that supports nuisance growth of the alga. Pengfei Xue (CEE) is a co-PI on the project.
Tess Ahlborn (CEE) was an invited key note speaker at the Fourth Asian Conference on Ecstasy in Concrete hosted by the Indian Concrete Institute and the 1st International Symposium of the Asian Concrete Federation on Ultra-High Performance Concrete, Oct. 8-10 in Kolkata, India. As a Fellow of the American Concrete Institute and the Chair of ACI 239- UHPC, she served as the ACI Ambassador.

Tim Colling (CEE/MTTI), is the principal investigator on a project that has received $446,685 from the Michigan Department of Transportation for the “2016 Michigan Local Technical Assistance Program.” John Kiefer (CEE) and Christine Codere (CEE) are Co-PIs on the project.

Colin Brooks is a senior research scientist for the Michigan Tech Research Institute. His background is in remote sensing and GIS, and his area of expertise is in satellite imagery analysis, aerial imagery analysis and integrating geospatial data. Read more at Roads & Bridges

The U.S. DOT first approached Brooks to do environmental assessments on highway bypasses and look at vehicle crossing times at international borders under the agency’s Commercial Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Program.

Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program led the organization of 3rd Annual Rail Conference that took place in Grand Rapids in August. The event was supported by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the National University Rail Center (NURail). The event attracted a record-breaking 170 participants and 16 industry sponsors and included a half day of field visits to local rail facilities, followed by a full day of technical sessions and panel discussions. The keynote speech was delivered by Joseph Szabo, the executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (past Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration). Pasi Lautala (CEE/MTTI) co-chaired the event and organization team was led by David Nelson and Amanda Kerttu. Two students, Sumanth Kalluri and Aaron Dean were also at the location to assist in the organization. Next year, Michigan Tech will bring the Michigan Rail Conference for the first time to the Upper Peninsula. The conference will take place on August 17-18, 2016 in Marquette. For more information, visit the conference website.

The Detroit Free Press quoted Pasi Lautala (CEE) in an article on a plan to create a special logistics and supply chain district near the new bridge to Canada and downtown Detroit.

A story “Michigan Tech project looks to improve U.P. roads” related to research work by Dr. Zhanping You appeared on TV6. Another story “Rubber to the road: Tech’s experimental pavement put down for testing” related to research work by Dr. Hand and Zhanping You also appeared on the Daily Mining Gazette.

WNWN-FM, WHTC-AM, WKZO and WVIC radio all covered the 3rd annual Michigan Rail Conference in Grand Rapids last week, hosted by Michigan Tech and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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