Category: Features

When you mark something as “Features” you are forcing it to the top of the news page on news and events.

Accelerated healing—Understanding physical and chemical cues in tissue repair

Rajachar Research

Rupak Rajachar
Rupak Rajachar
Biomedical Engineering

Made of fibrous connective tissue, tendons attach muscles to bones in the body, transferring force when muscles contract. But tendons are especially prone to tearing. Achilles tendinitis, one of the most common and painful sports injuries, can take months to heal, and injury often recurs.

Michigan Tech researcher Rupak Rajachar is developing a minimally-invasive, injectable hydrogel that can greatly reduce the time it takes for tendon fibers to heal, and heal well.

“To cells in the body, a wound must seem as if a bomb has gone off,” says Rajachar. His novel hydrogel formulation allows tendon tissue to recover organization by restoring the initial cues cells need in order to function. “No wound can go from injured to healed overnight,” he adds. “There is a process.”

Rajachar and his research team seek to better understand that process, looking at both normal and injured tissue to study cell behavior, both in vitro and in vivo with mouse models. The hydrogel they have created combines the synthetic—polyethylene glycol (PEG), and the natural—fibrinogen.

“Cells recognize and like to attach to fibrinogen,” Rajachar explains. “It’s part of the natural wound healing process. It breaks down into products known to calm inflammation in a wound, as well as products that are known to promote new vessel formation. When it comes to healing, routine is better; the familiar is better.”

“To cells in the body, a wound must seem as if a bomb has gone off.”

Rupak Rajachar

The team’s base hydrogel has the capacity to be a therapeutic carrier, too. One formulation delivers low levels of nitric oxide (NO) to cells, a substance that improves wound healing, particularly in tendons. Rajachar combines NO and other active molecules and cells with the hydrogel, testing numerous formulations. “We add them, then image the gel to see if cells are thriving. The process takes place at room temperature, mixed on a lab bench.”

SEM image of the fibrinogen-based hydrogel

Two commonly prescribed, simple therapies—range of motion exercises that provide mechanical stimulation, and local application of cold/heat—activate NO in the hydrogel, boosting its effectiveness.

“Even a single injection of the PEG-fibrinogen-NO hydrogel could accelerate healing in tendon fibers,” says Rajachar. “ Tendon tissues have a simple healing process that’s easier to access with biomaterials,” he adds. Healing skin, bone, heart, and neural tissue is far more complex. Next up: Rajachar plans to test variations of his hydrogel on skin wounds.

Virus Hydrophobicity is a Science360 Top Story


The Michigan Tech News story “Virus Hydrophobicity Can Help Purify Vaccines” concerning the research of Caryn Heldt made the top story of the online news magazine Science360. Heldt is an associate professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Tech.

The vaccine story, written by Michigan Tech science and technology writer Allison Mills, appeared in Science360 five days after it was published. This multimedia source is edited by the National Science Foundation in order to gather breaking STEM news from scientists, universities, and science and engineering centers.

Science is Spelled Excitement during STEM Awareness Month

Children running around with huge smiles on their faces, the sound of laughter and tons of exclaimed “whoas” is typically a scene from an amusement park. Or in Michigan Technological University’s case, a Science and Engineering Festival.

October is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Awareness month in Michigan. All month long, events have been held across the state, and right here in the Copper Country, to help youth become more interested in STEM subjects.

Lake Superior Water Festival Shows Students Careers in STEM

2013 Lake Superior Water Festival at Great Lakes Research Center on Thursday, October 17

High school students from the five western UP counties will spend today at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, learning about the Great Lakes, water research and careers they might consider in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Water Festival is sponsored by the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, based at Michigan Tech.

Presentations start at 8:45 a.m., in the GLRC and continue until 2:50 p.m.

More than a dozen scientists, students and representatives of groups involved in Great Lakes conservation will make presentations to the high schoolers. They include professor Marty Auer (CEE); Associate Professor Nancy Auer (BioSci); Assistant Professor Nina Mahmoudian (ME-EM); Operations Manager Robert Handler (SFI); director of operations Mike Abbott (GLRC); Adam Johnson, assistant director of corporate partnerships; Andrea Bal, Engineers Without Borders; Chad Norman, environmental science educator; Anika Kuczynski and Jen Fuller, environmental engineering graduate students; Karena Schmidt, laboratory supervisor (SFRES); SOAR Dollar Bay High School Enterprise students; Lake Superior kayakers Matt and Hannah Abbotts; and Nathan Miller and Pat Toczydlowski, Keweenaw Land Trust.

The goals of the Water Festival are to motivate high school students to study STEM fields in college, to introduce them to a variety of STEM and Great Lakes-related careers, to encourage Great Lakes stewardshp and to showcase Michigan Tech’s new Great Lakes Research Center.

The Water Festival is funded by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society, and Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and coordinated by Michigan Tech Center

More information

Students will define wastewater, identify the drains in their home and the variety of wastes that go down the drain, then become “environmental engineers” as they try to clean the wastewater
GUPPIE & ROUGHIE: Autonomous Underwater Swimmers: Meet our favorite two new members of Michigan Tech’s Nonlinear and Autonomous Systems Laboratory ‐ GUPPIE (a Glider for Underwater Problem‐solving and Promotion of Interest in Engineering) and ROUGHIE (a Research‐Oriented Underwater Glider for Hands‐on Investigative Engineering).
Remotely Operated Vehicles: SOAR Dollar Bay High School Enterprise (Student Organization for Aquatic Robotics)
Students will identify phytoplankton and zooplankton, and benthic organisms collected from the Portage Waterway and discover what they tell us about lake health with Dr. Marty Auer

Lake Superior Water Festival
Students heard presentations from Matt and Hannah Abotts about Kayaking Around Lake Superior and Lake Baikal in Siberia
Students view live sturgeon and examine the sampling gear used in scientific research. They learn about sturgeon ecology---food preferences, reproduction, life stages, and habitat requirements.

Hand Crank Cycle Student Design Teams Featured

Michigan Tech’s Mechanical Engineering Hand Crank Cycle Senior Design Team was featured in news stories and videos from GM. Links to the News articles and video are below as well as links to previous articles.

A video by Vehicle Planet features GM Chairman and mentions the Michigan Tech student team

Chevy, Michigan Tech Reveal Cycle for Wounded Veterans

GM Video of Hand Crank Cycle Team: Chevrolet and students from Michigan Technological University reveal a new hand cycle designed to make it easier for wounded veterans to compete in racing events, including marathons.

Michigan Tech ME-EM Video of Hand Crank Cycle Team

Autoweek Magazine News Video mentions Michigan Tech

Here is a Chevrolet ad about the Achillles Cycle: What Moves Me | Army vs. Navy Game | Chevrolet

Previous Articles:
Daily Mining Gazette News Story: Huskies helping heroes; Hand-crank cycle developed to aid veterans
Michigan Tech article: Student-designed Hand-cranked Cycles Unveiled at Army-Navy Game
Michigan Tech article: Engineering Better Bikes for Wounded Vets

Photos Sharing: Michigan Tech student engineers and the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans at the 2012 Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon

Hand-Crank Cycle Team 1: Team Members: Kellene Perry, Nicholas Ragsdel, Steve Schaenzer, Chad Zunich; Advisor: Michele Miller; Sponsor: General Motors

Hand-Crank Cycle Team 2: Team Members: Bethany Aebli, Gregory DeVillers, Jacqueline Kukulski, Elizabeth Reinke, Alicia Walby; Advisor: Paul van Susante; Sponsor: General Motors

César Chávez Banquet at Michigan Tech

“Tribute to César Chávez: Living The Legacy Banquet,” was held Monday, March 26, in the Memorial Union Ballroom, featured Marc Grossman, a longtime Chávez associate, and Uziel Mendez, an Hispanic student at Tech.

Grossman was César Chávez’s press secretary, speechwriter and personal aide and directed international media coverage of Chávez’s 1993 funeral in Delano, Calif. He still serves as a spokesman for the United Farm Workers of America and is communications director for the Cesar Chavez Foundation.

Mendez, a Tech undergraduate pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, will speak about his own experience as a migrant worker. He is president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Chapter at Michigan Tech

The Memorial Union Ballroom menu featured nopales salad, stuffed poblano chile (chicken and vegetarian), traditional “flan” and “tres leches” cake.

The event is sponsored by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and its Hispanic Heritage Committee, Housing and Residential Life, Student Affairs, the President’s Office, Institutional Diversity, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, the Alumni Association, Student Activities and the Parents Fund of the Michigan Tech Fund.

César Chávez Banquet at Michigan Tech Page of pictures and video

For more information, contact Madeline Mercado Voelker, assistant director, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, at 487-2920 or at .

Green Film Series: Carbon Nation – Documentary about climate change SOLUTIONS

April 19 Carbon Nation – Documentary about climate change SOLUTIONS. The film is an optimistic, non-partisan film that shows tackling climate change boosts the economy, increases national & energy security and promotes health & a clean environment. (82 min.)
Discussion facilitator: Dr. Sarah Green, Michigan Tech Dept. of Chemistry Dr. Sarah A. Green earned her PhD in marine chemistry from the MIT/Woods Hole Joint Program. She currently works on the Great Lakes and is chair of the Department of Chemistry at Michigan Tech.
Location: Atrium & G002 Hesterberg Hall in the Michigan Tech Forestry Building
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm, movies will be followed by coffee, tea, dessert and facilitated discussion
Credit: Teachers may earn 0.6 SB-CEUs for attending 4 films
Cost: FREE! $3 Suggested Donation

About the Series