Category Archives: Research


Spotlight on Becky Ong

Rebecca Ong
GLBRC and Michigan Tech Researcher Rebecca Ong

Love of plants and problem-solving drives bioenergy researcher Rebecca Ong

Growing up, Rebecca Ong was one of the youngest garden club enthusiasts in northern Michigan, a science-loving kid who accompanied her grandparents to club events like “growing great gardens” or “tulip time.” When she wasn’t tending the family garden, she was mucking about in nature, learning from parents who had both trained as foresters.

“My parents really instilled in me the importance of conservation,” says Ong, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University and researcher at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC). “From an early age, I had this idea of sustainability and the importance of finding sustainable sources of energy.”

Read more and watch the video at Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center News, by Krista Eastman.

New Funding

Rebecca Ong (ChE/SFI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $32,050 research and development grant from the University of Wisconsin-Madison/Department of Energy. The project is titled “Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.”

This is the first year of a potential five-year project totaling $1,316,434.

By Sponsored Programs.


Andre Da Costa on Process Safety

Andre R. Da Costa
Andre R. Da Costa

We don’t know yet what caused the explosion and fires at the Superior, WI oil refinery. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), an independent, non-regulatory federal agency, is investigating the incident and it could take weeks to months before the causes of this incident become public information.

What Andre Da Costa, Herbert H. Dow Chair in Chemical Process Safety at Michigan Technological University, says he can tell you is that incidents like this – with an uncontrolled release of energy and chemicals with the potential to cause injuries to the employees and the public, damage to the environment and to property – can be prevented by effective implementation of risk-based process safety principles.

Read more at DOE Science News Source.


NSF Funding for Caryn Heldt on Vaccine Development Study

Caryn Heldt
Caryn Heldt

Caryn Heldt (ChE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $300,000 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled “Driving Forces in Aqueous Two-Phase Systems for Vaccine Development.” This is a three-year project totaling $300,000.

Extract

Worldwide, there is a need for less expensive vaccines. To achieve better vaccine coverage, vaccine production processes need to be low-cost and allow for continuous operation, which is not possible with current vaccine production technology. A primary objective of this project will be to explore aqueous two-phase systems (ATPSs) to fulfill the need for new viral particle purification processes that could reduce the cost of vaccines and be run as a continuous operation. ATPS could also reduce the development time for a new vaccine, allowing for pandemic vaccines to come to market sooner. In addition to vaccines, a better understanding of ATPS could aid in future cell separations for advanced cell therapeutics.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


Caryn Heldt Collaborates on Awarded Paper

Caryn Heldt
Caryn Heldt

Caryn Heldt (ChE) and her collaborators Christian Nwamba and Barbara Radecki from Wayne County Community College were awarded second place in the Best Paper Competition at the 2018 ASEE North Central Section Conference at the University of Akron on March 24. This work was based on Heldt’s NSF CAREER Educational Plan.

Heldt’s group presented “Environmental research to engage community college students.”

Extract: In order to better serve the students that desire a four-year degree and to increase their knowledge of job opportunities with different four-year degrees, a research project was created between a university and a community college. The community college students take weekly water samples over the course of a summer project and test the water for biological and chemical components. This is the first time these students have been exposed to an open-ended laboratory without known results.

Award Presentation
Award Presentation

NSF REU Site at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago

REU Site: An Interdisciplinary Research Experience for Undergraduates in Food Safety, Food Engineering, and Nutrition
June 4, 2018 to August 10, 2018, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL

Are you an undergraduate student interested in exploring myriad opportunities in food safety, food engineering and nutrition? Food science is a STEM area which produces far fewer graduates than the job opportunities. Would you like to undergo a rigorous mentoring and professional development training along with a paid research internship to fine-tune your skill sets required to become successful scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs? Wait no further and apply for this paid internship program. You will be trained by eight mentors from Illinois Institute of Technology and Food and Drug Administration for a 10 week period. The selected students will be given a stipend totaling $8,900 by this program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Award # 1757989).

The goals of the REU program are
1) to provide hands on research experiences to undergraduate students in food safety, food engineering and nutrition to provide exposure to the field (special emphasis will be given to students without previous experience, minority students and students from community colleges)
2) to systematically train the students in transforming basic research ideas into practical applications aimed at solving real world problems for improving the safety and nutrition of our food supply through interactive seminars and discussions
3) to systematically mentor the undergraduate students to hone their research and professional skills through mentoring workshops, student presentations/discussions, interaction with graduate students, and K-12 outreach
4) to expose the students to broader fields of food science to enhance their knowledge in this field (with special emphasis on food safety, food engineering, and nutrition) through seminars and tours, and
5) to train the students on research and professional ethics.

Projects (major focus of the project is given within the brackets)
1) Energy-efficient design of sterilization of foods using pressure assisted thermal sterilization using COMSOL (modeling and simulation)
2) Low moisture food safety of legacy technologies (microbiology)
3) Shedding light on food safety: Application of a novel pulsed light treatment for inactivation of pathogens (engineering and microbiology)
4) Physiological chemistry of plant bioactives in humans (nutrition)
5) Application of cold plasma for enhancing safety of sprout seeds (engineering and microbiology)
6) Understanding transport processes in food processing using COMSOL (modeling and simulation)
7) Affordable nutrition through kinetic hydroponics (engineering design and microbiology)
8) Repurposing food ingredients for controlling biofilms of food-borne pathogens (microbiology)

Requirements
• Be a U.S. Citizen or green card holder currently enrolled in an UNDERGRADUATE program in a science or engineering discipline within the United States
• Available for the entire duration (June 4, 2018 to August 10, 2018) in Chicago for the training
• GPA ≥ 3.00 (if proper justification is provided, a GPA of 2.75 will be considered)

Application procedures
Send the following documents to Kathiravan Krishnamurthy (kkrishn2@iit.edu) by 5:00 PM CST on Monday, April 30, 2018.
• Completed REU application form
• Transcript (unofficial transcript)
• Resume
• Two letters of recommendation (at least one of them should be from a faculty)
• An essay detailing i) why are you interested in this REU program?, ii) what are your goals in participating in this training program?, and iii) what are your career goals and how does this training program will help you in achieving your career goals
• List the projects you are interested in

REU Application Form

Name

Academic year (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior)
Name of the current institution

GPA

Anticipated graduation date

Date of birth

Citizenship status (US citizen, Green card holder)

Address

Telephone

Email

Gender identity (optional)

Ethnicity (optional)

Race (optional)

Do you have disability? (optional)

Preferred REU project(s) – if you do not list any specific projects, you will be considered for all the projects

Would you like to be considered for other projects if your preferred REU project is not available (yes or no)


EPA Funding for Lei Pan

Lei Pan
Lei Pan

Lei Pan (ChE/ASISC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $15,000 research and development grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The project is “Separation and Recovery of Battery Components.”

This is a one-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.


Tech Faculty to Participate in Kraft Lignin Forum

Verso QuinnesecSeveral Michigan Tech faculty members will be on hand this week at a forum in Iron Mountain to discuss the future of the paper industry.

The Kraft Lignin Innovation Forum takes place Wednesday and Thursday (Oct. 11/12, 2017) at the Verso Quinnesec Mill, just outside of Iron Mountain.  The event is coordinated by the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute (MIFBI). Mark Rudnicki (SFRES), executive director of MIFBI, says the forum intends to bring researchers and companies from across Michigan, and beyond, to learn first hand the availability and opportunities surrounding residual black liquor from Michigan’s largest pulp producer.

Among the Tech faculty presenting are Rebecca Ong (ChE), David Shonnard (ChE), Michael Mullins (ChE), Xingeng Xie (SFRES) and Wen Zhou (ChE).

For more information and for a complete schedule of the conference, visit here.


Rebecca Ong and Newly Funded Bioenergy Research Centers

Rebecca G. Ong
Rebecca G. Ong

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Rebecca G. Ong is named in a proposal for the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. The center is one of four to receive part of the estimated $40 million in Department of Energy awards.

DOE SELECTS GREAT LAKES BIOENERGY RESEARCH CENTER FOR NEXT-PHASE FUNDING

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) for an additional five years of funding to develop sustainable alternatives to transportation fuels and products currently derived from petroleum. The past recipient of roughly $267 million in DOE funding, the GLBRC represents the largest federal grant ever awarded to UW–Madison.

Established by the Biological and Environmental Research program in DOE’s Office of Science in 2007, GLBRC is based at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Wisconsin Energy Institute and includes a major partnership with Michigan State University (MSU).

Read more at GLBRC News, by Krista Eastman.

Department of Energy Provides $40 Million for 4 DOE Bioenergy Research Centers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry today announced $40 million in Department of Energy awards for the establishment of four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs), which will provide the scientific breakthroughs for a new generation of sustainable, cost-effective bioproducts and bioenergy.

The centers—each led by a DOE National Laboratory or a top university—are designed to lay the scientific groundwork for a new bio-based economy that promises to yield a range of important new products and fuels derived directly from nonfood biomass. Initial funding for the four centers will total $40 million for FY 2018, with plans for a total of five years of funding.

Read more at DOE News.