Larkin Hooker-Moericke is an Exceptional Leader in Student Governance

Larkin Hooker-Moericke
Larkin Hooker-Moericke

Outstanding students, staff, and a special alumni were honored Friday (April 16, 2021) during Michigan Tech’s 27th Annual Student Leadership Awards Virtual Ceremony.

Nathan Ford, a graduate student, and Larkin Hooker-Moericke, an undergraduate student, were recognized as Exceptional Leaders in Student Governance. Both have collaborated on numerous projects and contributions for their constituency over the past year. With the unconventional year, they have shown to pivot and jointly work together to serve the students of Michigan Tech. They have advocated for modifications to various academic policies that have made significant impacts, formed several new committees to address student concerns, and worked tirelessly to minimize disruptions to the student experience. Their nomination states that the list of all the specific things they have done is just too long, but what is really important is that at no point have Larkin and Nathan lost sight of their job: the well-being and success of all students.

Larkin, President of Undergraduate Student Government, is a chemical engineering major.

27th Annual Student Leadership Awards

Utkarsh Chaudhari Takes First Place in GRC 2021 Poster Session

Utkarsh Chaudhari
Utkarsh Chaudhari

Poster Session

First place was won by Utkarsh Chaudhari from the Department of Chemical Engineering for his presentation titled “Systems Analysis Approach to PET and Olefin Plastics Supply Chains in the Circular Economy.”

View the Poster Presentations, Group 2, and the PDF.

This year’s Graduate Research Colloquium organized by the Graduate Student Government was hosted virtually due to COVID restrictions. There were in total 48 presentations — 17 poster presenters and 31 oral presenters.

Poster presentations took place in a pre-recorded video style and the oral sessions were hosted live via Zoom. You can watch all the poster videos and recordings for the oral sessions here. Each presentation was scored by two judges from the same field of research.

Participants were able to gain valuable feedback from these judges before presenting their research at an actual conference. It was stiff competition amongst all presenters.

A hearty congratulations to all the winners at this year’s Colloquium. The Graduate Student Government would like to thank everyone: presenters, judges, volunteers, and GSG supporters, for making this a great event despite COVID-19 restrictions. GSG would also like to hear ways in which this event could be improved next year using this feedback form.

By Graduate Student Government.

Circular Economy Award Announced by DOE

Recycling symbol.

Michigan Tech has received notification of a new award valued at $1,027,008 from the REMADE Institute, a public-private partnership established by the United States Department of Energy and the first institute in the U.S. dedicated to accelerating the nation’s transition to a Circular Economy.

“Along with our partners, we are excited to receive this award for the project ‘Dynamic Systems Analysis of PET and Olefin Polymers in a Circular Economy'” said David Shonnard, PI, Robbins Chair in Sustainable Use of Materials, Department of Chemical Engineering.

The total funding amount is cost-shared between REMADE and Michigan Tech, along with partners Idaho National Laboratory, Yale University, Chemstations Inc., Honeywell UOP, and Resource Recycling Systems.

The project is expected to result in multiple positive impacts, including: 

  • New process models and datasets for systems analysis of a circular economy for plastics
  • Optimized plastics circular economy designs to minimize emissions and costs
  • Case study applications to plastics circular economy designs for the state of Michigan

This award is the second and the largest REMADE awarded to Michigan Tech, and involves co-investigators Robert Handler (Sustainable Futures Institute) and Distinguished Professor David Watkins (CEE).

The project is expected to begin on Sept. 1, 2021. Please send any questions or comments to David Shonnard.

By David Shonnard.

Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Recipient Josie Edick

Josie Edick
Josie Edick

Annually, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Section at Michigan Tech awards scholarships to students who are active in the organization to help with their university expenses.

Josie Edick, a junior in Chemical Engineering met or exceeded the scholarship criteria: “we are looking for students who share the same values as SWE, and will or have made a positive impact on our school and organization. Remember the SWE Core Values and the SWE Motto: Aspire, Advance, Achieve.”

She also received an SWE National Scholarship, the 2020 Bayer Scholarship. We greatly appreciate Bayer’s support of SWE collegiates. Edick has not only completed a co-op at Shaw Industries but she has served as our section treasurer for the past two years.

“Congratulations, Josie on your scholarships and accomplishments.”

Gretchen Hein, SWE Advisor

Faith Morrison Recognized by Fraternities and Sororities

Faith A. Morrison
Faith A. Morrison

Last Sunday (Jan. 24), more than 160 computer screens of students, faculty, staff and community members gathered for the 15th Annual Fraternity and Sorority Life Awards Ceremony held via Zoom.

In addition to the many student awards presented, Order of Omega, the Fraternity and Sorority Life Honor Society that coordinates the awards, took the time to recognize some exceptional faculty and staff members.

There are more than 460 students in fraternities and sororities at Michigan Tech, and Order of Omega wanted to emphasize that these awards were coming directly from the students.

The following faculty and staff members were nominated by members of the Greek community and recognized at the 2021 Fraternity and Sorority Life Awards Ceremony (winners are in bold type):


  • Gordon Parker (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Faith Morrison (Chemical Engineering)
  • Glen Archer (Electrical & Computer Engineering)


  • Alan Turnquist (Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success)
  • Jessie Stapleton (Student Leadership & Involvement)


  • Laura Bulleit (Dean of Students)
  • Alyssa Fredin (Student Financial Services)
  • James Schmierer (Forest Resources & Environmental Science)
  • Jannah Tumey (Center for Educational Outreach)
  • Jeannie DeClerck (Instructional Design & Assessment)
  • Joe Cooper (Interim VP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students)

These nominations were written by individual students and were supported by an entire fraternity or sorority. Congratulations to all of these faculty and staff members who were nominated and thank you for inspiring and motivating students. A complete list of all the award winners can be found on the Student Leadership and Involvement web page.

by Fraternity and Sorority Life

Steve Wisniewski Goes Above and Beyond

Steve Wisniewski
Steve Wisniewski

The Staff Council is celebrating the 2020 Staff Council Making a Difference awards winners. Among the winners is Stefan (Steve) Wisniewski, Research Associate, Chemical Engineering.

Above and Beyond Award

Stefan’s nominator says that the “knowledge and work ethic that Steve brings to the department is unparalleled. Steve is dedicated to our students’ education. He has taken the initiative to add to the students’ experience in the Unit Operations lab, including adding troubleshooting exercises, teaching how to build a control loop in DeltaV (commonly used software in the field of chemical engineering), showing lockout/tagout procedures (safety protocol), and providing opportunities for students to learn about designing, ordering, and installing equipment. Steve’s work with the students is outstanding, and I hear from the students how valuable Steve’s positive, steady presence has been to their education.”

“The knowledge and work ethic that Steve brings to the department is unparalleled. Steve is dedicated to our students’ education.”

Stefan’s nominator

A letter of support states that “It is Steve’s background in chemical plant maintenance and operation and his willingness to do whatever is required to provide a world-class educational experience for our students that makes him deserve this recognition.”

SFI Director Hosts EPA Region 5 Webinar

US EPA Region 5 States
EPA Region 5
Serving Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 Tribes

David Shonnard (ChE), director of the Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) and the Robbins Endowed Chair in Sustainable Use of Materials hosted a webinar and panel discussion on environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) on August 13, 2020.

The webinar was part of an ongoing project funded by the US EPA Region 5 to disseminate best practices in EPP and is a collaboration between SFI and the Great Lakes Environmental Infrastructure Center, directed by Tim Colling.

The webinar also featured two prominent guest panelists and EPP professionals from the states of Minnesota and California. The webinar video, associated documents, and Q&A can be found on the EPA site. Those with questions/comments may contact David Shonnard.

Julia King Retirement

Julia King
Julia King

The Department of Chemical Engineering wished a warm farewell to the esteemed professor, Julia A. King, the Lorna and James Mack Professorship of Continuous Processing, on Tuesday (June 30, 2020). After nearly 24 years of dedicated service to Michigan Tech, the Chemical Engineering Department, its students, faculty and staff, King will be setting her sights on a well-deserved retirement.

She has been an exceptional leader and mentor during her tenure at Michigan Tech. Her commitment and enthusiasm to her work, research and instruction will be irreplaceable.

Department Chair Pradeep Agrawal commented, “As director of the Unit Operations Laboratory, she has fostered its growth to become one of the best in the US and the pride of Michigan Tech.”

It is with great fortune for Tech and the Engineering world that she has decided to continue on with future research endeavors. She will be sorely missed and her contributions to the University will not be forgotten. We wish her happiness and success in the next chapter of her life and future endeavors.

NSF Funding for David Shonnard on Waste Plastics Conversion Project

David Shonnard
David Shonnard

David Shonnard (ChE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $50,000 Federal grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project is entitled, “I-Corps: Process Intensification in a Multi-Product Waste Polyolefin Refinery.” Ulises Gracida-Alvarez (ChE) and Nate Yenor (Innovation & Commercialization) are Co-PI’s on this project.

By Sponsored Programs.


The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of a low-cost and energy-efficient conversion of mixed waste plastics into an intermediate product that the petrochemical industry can convert into new polymer resin.

This new technology will revolutionize the plastics recycling industry and will allow for closed-loop plastic material flows. The process technology will improve recycling of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics from materials recovery facilities (MRFs), significant because PE and PP comprise over 50% of global plastics production and post-consumer waste generation.

The technology is based on rapid conversion at elevated temperature in a reactor with precise control over the molecular conversion mechanisms.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.