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Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research

2018-19 Songer Award Recipients. Pictured Left to Right: Abby Sutherland, Billiane Kenyon, Jeremy Bigalke, Rupsa Basu, Matthew Songer, and Laura Songer.

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 second 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. In the Spring of 2019, the Songer’s 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.

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 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 22. Applications may be emailed to djhemmer@mtu.edu.

The selection committee will consist of Matthew Songer, Laura Songer, Shekhar Joshi (BioSci) and Megan Frost (KIP). The committee will review undergraduate and graduate proposals separately and will seek additional comments about the proposed research on an ad-hoc basis from reviewers familiar with the topic of the research proposal. Primary review criteria will be the originality and potential impact of the proposed study, as well as its feasibility and appropriateness for Michigan Tech’s facilities.

The committee expects to announce the recipients by early May of 2019. This one-time research award will be administered by the faculty advisor of the successful student investigator. Students will be expected to secure any necessary IRB approval before funds will be released. Funds must be expended by the end of spring semester 2020; extensions will not be granted. Recipients must submit a detailed report to the selection committee, including a description of results and an accounting of finds utilized, no later than June 30, 2020.

Any questions may be directed to Megan Frost (mcfrost@mtu.edu), David Hemmer (djhemmer@mtu.edu) or Shekhar Joshi (cpjoshi@mtu.edu).


Amato-Henderson Elected Chair-elect of AHDP

Susan Amato-HendersonSusan Amato-Henderson, chair of the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, attended the Association of Heads of Departments of Psychology (AHDP) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia Nov. 2-3.
AHDP is a professional development organization for heads and chairs of academic departments of psychology. At this year’s meeting, Amato-Henderson was elected chair-elect, which she will hold for two years prior to then serving a two-year term as chair of AHDP.
AHDP first began with a small, informal gathering of chairs at an annual Southeastern Psychology Association meeting in 1967. The first annual meeting of AHDP was held at an Atlanta airport Dec. 5-7, 1968.
Since that time, annual AHDP meetings have been held every fall in Atlanta. The association hosts leadership training and professional development seminars at its annual meetings, where a broad range of educational concerns as well as the research and service missions common to institutions of higher education are discussed. Membership includes representatives from very large and very small departments in both private and public academies.

Research for Teachers Poster Session

Group of Teachers present posters on mobile chalkboards to attendeesA poster session for the Michigan Tech 2018 Research Experiences for Teachers was held from 3 to 5 p.m. yesterday (Aug. 9) in the Great Lakes Research Center Second Floor Atrium.

The poster session concludes the NSF-funded Teacher Professional Development summer institute, “Computational Tools and the Environment.”  Twelve in-service teachers were paired up with civil and environmental engineering graduate students to research topics such as water quality, lead contamination, aquaponics and renewable energy.

The results of their research have been translated into curricula for science and mathematics classes. They will present the results of their research and curriculum development at the poster session.

New Funding

Kevin TrewarthaKevin Trewartha (CLS/RICC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $455,884 research and development grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/National Institutes of Health. Shane Meuller (CLS/RICC) is the Co-PI on the project “Motor Learning as a Sensitive Behavioral Marker of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Early Alzheimer’s Disease.”

This is a three-year project.


Michigan Tech’s Mi-STAR kits to be supplied by Nasco

Mi-STAR’s curriculum and its associated professional learning program were designed and developed in full alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Michigan Science Standards. The curriculum is unique in that it integrates content and methods across the traditional disciplinary boundaries of Earth and space science, life science, engineering and physical science. Engineering principles are fully embedded in the curriculum; engineering is not treated as an afterthought or add-on by Mi-STAR.

Although the curriculum is still being developed, all of the 6th-grade units will be available in time for the start of school in fall 2018. Several 7th- and 8th-grade units will also be available for the fall. When completed, the entire middle school curriculum will address all of the middle school standards.

Mi-STAR’s curriculum and associated professional learning support student-centered instruction in middle school classrooms. Each unit in the Mi-STAR curriculum addresses a real-world problem that is of wide interest to 21st-century society. By maintaining a focus on real-world problems, the curriculum helps students understand how science and engineering are used to design solutions to issues that are relevant to their communities and the world.

“By partnering with a major corporation to produce and deliver kits to schools, Mi-STAR will be able to expand its reach and provide better service to educators and other users” says Jackie Huntoon, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Michigan Tech. Huntoon noted “anything a STEM-focused University like Michigan Tech can do to increase students’ interest in science before they graduate from high school will ultimately benefit our state and the nation.

“Michigan Tech scientists and engineers have devoted a lot of time and effort into making Mi-STAR the best it can be—and these efforts are really having a positive impact on Michigan’s teachers and students.”

Mi-STAR was founded in 2015 through a generous gift to Michigan Tech from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. In 2017, Mi-STAR was identified as a promising program by STEMworks at WestEd.

School districts partnering with Mi-STAR have been successful at obtaining support from the Michigan Department of Education to enhance their teacher’s professional learning and to improve science learning outcomes among their students while using the Mi-STAR curriculum and professional learning program. In 2018, Michigan Tech received funding from the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program that will be used to increase the number of teachers proficient with Mi-STAR’s NGSS-aligned curriculum and who are prepared to lead reform efforts in their schools, districts and the state.

As of January 2018, Mi-STAR was used by more than 450 teachers in more than 100 schools/districts with an estimated 45,000 students. Nasco was started in 1941 by a vocational agricultural teacher, Norman Eckley. Starting as a simple operation in a two-car garage, Nasco has grown to an enterprise publishing more than 35 different catalogs, with an annual circulation exceeding 5 million, to customers in education, agriculture, healthcare training and lab sampling worldwide featuring materials available for a wide array of educational, training and production needs.

by Jackie Huntoon, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs



Transdisciplinary: Working Across the Campus

Michigan Technological University’s transdisciplinary researchers reach across disciplines and institutional boundaries to solve complex problems that are bigger than a single specialized field.

Kelly Steelman, an assistant professor of cognitive & learning sciences, says diversity is good for problem-solving. If you only have a spoon, the only food you’ll want to eat is soup.

“The more tools you have available to your research team, the more likely you are to consider a variety of solutions and not get stuck always trying to use the same approach to every problem… The more perspectives we bring to the table, the better opportunity we have to create innovative and transformative solutions.”

Read the full story on the Michigan Tech News Website.



On the Road

PhilartpicMyounghoon (Philart) Jeon (CLS/CS) and his three graduate students are attending the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2017 International Annual Meeting, which began October 9-13th, in Austin, Texas.

In addition, Jeon attended the International ACM Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications, held in Oldenburg, Germany, Sept 24-27th. For this year’s conference, Jeon chaired the video program, served as the international panel for the student doctoral colloquium, co-organized the Workshop on User-Centered Design for Automated Driving Systems and served as a chair for the Automated Driving session.

Jeon also presented two work-in-progress papers and one video at the conference:

  • “Blueprint of the Auditory Interactions in Automated Vehicles: Report on the Workshop and Tutorial”
  • “Eyes-free In-vehicle Air Gesture Controls: Auditory-only Displays Reduced Visual Distraction and Workload”
  • “Design Process of Sonically-enhanced Air Gesture Controls in Vehicles”