Category Archives: Research

Collaborative Research Funding for Extreme Hydrometeorological Events

 

Landslide El Salvador terrain map
El Salvador’s Volcán San Vicente showing landslide scars from 2009 torrential rains. NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, based on data from the NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

John Gierke (GMES/EPSSI) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $582,752 grant from the National Science Foundation. This is a potential three-year project.

Luke Bowman (GMES), Alex Mayer (CEE), Fengjing Liu (Forestry), and Angie Carter (SS) are Co-PI’s on the project titled “IRES Track III: Collaborative Research: Coupling Participatory and Hydrological Research for Adapting to Extreme Hydrometeorological Events in Agricultural Communities, El Salvador.”

Extract

In this project, graduate students from US universities obtain international research experience in social and hydrological sciences while working on a scientific problem with real-world implications.

Changes in climate cause communities to adapt to enhance resiliency and foster practices that are more appropriate for new conditions. In regions where dry seasons are increasingly long, the shorter rainy seasons experience more severe storms.

Rural and agricultural communities are especially vulnerable to new seasonal conditions and their resources for adaptation are limited.

The Dry Corridor of Central America (spanning parts of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) is an important region for agriculture and needs adaptation strategies. The project location is ideal because of its many-decades history of changing climate.

The project participants work with local farmers and agricultural stakeholders to gain experience in adapting to climate change. The interdisciplinary scientists and development professionals work together in participatory research in communities experiencing water scarcity and extreme rainfall events.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


INCE-USA Beranek Medals

Leo Beranek MedalAndrew Barnard (ME-EM) presented students with the Leo Beranek Student Medal for Excellence in the Study of Noise Control through The Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA (INCE-USA). Barnard is the Vice President – Student Activities and Education for INCE-USA.

Sunit Girdhar (ME) won the graduate pewter medal for his work on IIC test method improvement and Josh Langlois (EE) won the undergraduate gold medal for his work on real-time signal processing for CNT speakers.

INCE-USA allows universities to award the INCE-USA Beranek Medal for Excellence in Noise Control Engineering. Congratulations to Sunit and Josh for their excellent research in Noise Control Engineering over the past year.

By Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.


EPIC: A New Way to Observe Volcanic Eruptions from Space

America’s first operational deep space satellite orbits one million miles from Earth. Positioned between the sun and Earth, it is able to maintain a constant view of the sun and sun-lit side of Earth. This location is called Lagrange point 1. (Illustration is not to scale) Credit: NOAA
DSCOVR, America’s first operational deep space satellite, orbits one million miles from Earth. Positioned between the sun and Earth, it is able to maintain a constant view of the sun and sun-lit side of Earth. This location is called Lagrange point 1. (Illustration is not to scale) Credit: NOAA

Michigan Tech volcanologist, Professor Simon Carn (GMES/EPSSI), is principal investigator on a new project, “Exploiting High-Cadence Observations of Volcanic Eruptions from DSCOVR/EPIC,” funded by NASA.

Portrait of Volcanologist Simon Carn
Volcanologist Simon Carn

Carn and his team will use a satellite instrument, the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) onboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), which is parked in space a million miles from Earth.  EPIC provides global spectral images of the entire sunlit face of Earth, as viewed from an orbit around Lagrangian point 1 (L1)—the neutral gravity point between Earth and the sun.

“The unique feature of EPIC is that it can provide more satellite images per day of volcanic eruptions than other ultraviolet sensors we have used before,” Carn explains. “Our goal is to use this ‘high cadence’ imaging to improve understanding of volcanic eruption processes and impacts.”

Last Fall 2018, in an open-access article published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), Carn and his collaborators shared their first observations of volcanic eruption clouds from EPIC. The team developed and used an EPIC SO2 algorithm to detect every significant volcanic eruption since the DSCOVR launch in 2015.

“Although relatively small, these 16 eruptions, in places including Indonesia, Japan and Alaska (USA), have demonstrated EPIC’s sensitivity to moderate volcanic eruptions at a range of latitudes,” Carn noted. “EPIC should provide exceptional observations if still operational when the next major stratospheric volcanic eruption (VEI 4+) occurs.” VEI is short for Volcanic Explosivity Index. The team also demonstrated EPIC’s ability to track volcanic cloud transport on hourly timescales; a significant advance over low earth orbit UV sensors, such as the Ozone Monitoring Instrument, OMI—the visible and ultraviolet spectrometer aboard the NASA Aura spacecraft; and the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) on the NOAA polar satellite system.

Gallery image from NASA DSCOVR: EPIC, Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera.
Gallery image from NASA DSCOVR: EPIC, Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera.

“It is clear that the EPIC observations have great potential to provide new insight into the short‐term evolution of volcanic SO2 clouds, and also to enable more timely detection of volcanic eruptions. The potential value of frequent UV observations of volcanic clouds has been noted in the past, and with EPIC this has become a reality,” adds Carn.

 

 

Simon Carn has received multiple research grants totaling more than $2.8 million from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, the Royal Society and the European Union. His research focus is the application of remote sensing data to studies of volcanic degassing, volcanic eruption clouds and anthropogenic pollution. His main focus: SO2, a precursor of sulfate aerosol, which plays an important role in the atmosphere through negative climate forcing and impacts on cloud microphysics.

See daily images of Earth from EPIC.

Read more about EPIC.


Michigan Tech—at the Intersection of Engineering and Medicine

Undergraduate research in the Biomedical Optics Laboratory at Michgan Tech
Undergraduate research in the Biomedical Optics Laboratory at Michgan Tech

There’s a lot of cutting-edge, health-focused research going on at Michigan Tech, in areas that engage undergraduates in hands-on research. This is because we care deeply about improving the human condition, and we teach this “first-hand.”

If you are interested in medicine, possess a desire to help others, and enjoy creative problem solving, read on. Michigan Tech researchers tackle genetics, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, just to name a few. Still more areas focus on improving health, fitness, clean water, sleep, medical imaging, and more.

In the College of Engineering alone, we have over 30 faculty—in biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, environmental engineering, materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering—who engage in health-aligned research, engaging both undergraduates as well as graduate students in research.

Catching Viruses in the Lab
For example, in Chemical Engineering, students in Prof. Caryn Heldt’s lab “catch” viruses by understanding their sticky outer layers. The complex structures making the surface of a virus are small weaves of proteins that impact they way a virus interacts with cells and its environment. A slight change in protein sequence makes this surface slightly water-repelling, or hydrophobic, causing it to stick to other hydrophobic surfaces. Using this knowledge, they are finding new ways to detect and remove viruses before they make people sick, and also reduce cost and development time for new vaccines.

“I’m interested in how water around a virus can be controlled to decrease the cost of making vaccines and other medicines,” says Caryn Heldt. Her team conducts research using parvovirus because it’s small and chemically stable.

Accelerated Healing
In Biomedical Engineering, students in Prof. Rupak Rajachar’s lab are developing a minimally invasive, injectable hydrogel for achilles tendinitis, one of the most common and painful sports injuries. “To cells in the body, a wound must seem as if a bomb has gone off,” he says.  The team’s hydrogel formula allows tendon tissue to recover organization by restoring the initial cues that tendon cells need in order to function. Two commonly prescribed, simple therapies—range of motion exercises and applying cold or heat—boost the effectiveness of the hydrogel. Even a single injection can accelerate healing.

Prof. Rajachar and his team culture tendon cells with a bit of their injectable hydrogel in a petri dish, then watch under a microscope to see just how tendon cells respond over time. “In the presence of the hydrogel, cells of interest (called tenocytes) maintain their tendon cell behavior,” he says.

Human-Centered Monitoring
In Mechanical Engineering, students in Prof. Ye Sun’s Human Centered Monitoring Lab are turning embroidered logos into wearable electronics. Health monitoring devices like FitBit, apps on cell phones, and heart monitors are seemingly everywhere, but what if embroidery on clothing could replace these devices altogether? By using conductive thread and passive electronics‚ tiny semiconductors, resistors and capacitors‚ Prof. Sun and her team do it with stitching—lightweight, flexible, and beautiful embroidery. They’re also building a manufacturing network and cloud-based website for ordering.

Ye Sarah Suns hands are show holding a prototype of a flexible electronic circuit, where the stitches themselves become the circuit.
“I hope flexible, wearable electronics will interest a new generation of engineers by appealing to their artistic sides,” says Dr. Ye Sarah Sun. She is holding a prototype of a flexible electronic circuit, where the stitches themselves become the circuit.

Fighting Cancer with Fruit Flies
And in Biological Sciences, students in Prof. Thomas Werner’s lab perform transgenics, where they insert pieces of foreign DNA into fruit fly embryos, to determine the role genes play in the pigmentation of fruit flies. Biologists use fruit flies to study wing spots, metabolism, and aging. This is important because the same genes and major metabolic pathways in fruit flies affect cancer and other diseases in humans.

five fruit flies with striped bodies are shown. The genes that govern abdominal colors and patterns in fruit flies may provide insight into human cancer genes.
“There are a few hundred toolkit genes that all animals share and they build us as embryos and continue to help us as we develop,” says Prof. Werner. “But the differences in their regulation—when and where and how much they function—brings about the diversity of life.”

Engineers Go to Medical School
In case you are a student who is considering medical school, engineering majors stack up very well in acceptances to medical school, especially when considering research experiences and the associated research publications that our students co-author. In our Department of Biomedical Engineering alone, in 2017-18, BME majors had an 86% acceptance rate to med school.

I Followed My Heart
As a personal anecdote, my first university degree was a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. My curiosity about materials (especially metals) led me to a PhD in Materials Science. This multidisciplinary background led me to start a company with a cardiologist who needed my expertise. He had a vision for an improved angioplasty device to treat restenosis, which is when heart stents become narrow or blocked. Our company was based on my invention, related to applying tiny doses of radiation to a blockage to help in-stent restenosis. In all my career, this two years of work on this angioplasty device—it captured my imagination, my attention, and my heart (no pun intended). This intersection of engineering and medicine—it’s a life-changing experience to get personally engaged.

Now, if you’re interested in health care or working in a research lab, and you want to know more, please let me know—Callahan@mtu.edu

Janet Callahan, Dean
College of Engineering
Michigan Tech


Williams Seed Grant Funds Underwater Acoustic Communications Research

Zhaohui Wang
Zhaohui Wang

Underwater acoustic communication has been in use for decades, but primarily for military applications. In recent years, private sectors such as environmental monitoring, off-shore oil and gas exploration, and aquaculture have become interested in its possibilities.

But existing research about underwater acoustic communication networks often relies on human-operated surface ships or cost-prohibitive autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). And these cost barriers can limit academic research evaluation to computer simulations, constraining research innovation towards practical applications.

Recognizing the above gap, Michigan Tech Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) researchers Zhaohui Wang, assistant professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Nina Mahmoudian, adjunct professor, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, saw an opportunity to combine their areas of expertise: for Wang, underwater acoustic communications, for Mahmoudian, low-cost marine robotics and AUVs.

Also part of the research team were PhD student Li Wei, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and post-doc research engineer Barzin Moridian, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. The team also collaborated with scientists at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center.

With a $50K seed grant from Electrical and Computer Engineering alumnus Paul Williams ’61, the team took the research beneath the surface to develop a low-cost marine mobile infrastructure and investigate the challenges and possible solutions in engineering a leading-edge AUV communication network.

Download a summary of the research from the ICC website at icc.mtu.edu/downloads.

Read more at ICC News, by Karen Johnson, ICC Communications Director.

Related:

Zhaohui Wang Wins CAREER Award


2019 Research Excellence Fund Recipients in Engineering

Congratulations to the 2019 Research Excellence Fund recipients. Awards are given by the Vice President for Research Office in various categories, with the following recipients awarded in the College of Engineering.
Total Organic Carbon Analyzer

Infrastructure Enhancement (IE) Grant

Paul Fraley (MSE/IMP) – Induction Power Supply Replacement for Melt Spinner
Cory McDonald (CEE/GLRC) – Acquisition of a Shimadzu TOC-LCPH
Stephen Kampe (MSE) – Moisture and Oxygen Analyzers for Inert Atmosphere Glove Boxes

Research Seed (RS) Grants

Lei Pan (Chem Eng)

Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Research Seed (RS) Grants

Smitha Rao (Biomed)

Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Mid-Career (MC)

Jingfeng Jiang (Biomed)

A big thanks to the volunteer review committees, the deans, and department chairs for their time spent on this important internal research award process.


ASTM Award for Glass Strength Researcher Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse ASTM Award 2019
Stephen Morse (left) accepts the ASTM Award.

Stephen Morse was awarded an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Committee Award of Appreciation for his outstanding contributions to the Standard Practice for Determining Load Resistance of Glass in Buildings (E1300) and the Subcommittee (E06.52) on Glass Use in Buildings.

He was recognized for his work on greatly improved design methodologies for architectural window glass.

Morse holds a joint appointment as an assistant professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Civil and Environmental Engineering.


Engineering Students Take Top Prizes at 2019 Graduate Research Colloquium

The Graduate Student Government (GSG) hosted the 11th Annual Graduate Research Colloquium March 27 and 28, to celebrate the hard work and outstanding achievements of our graduate students. The event has grown from a one-session event with a handful of participants into a two-day event with a record 85 participants, representing 17 academic schools and departments. The event ended with an awards banquet honoring presenters, award nominees and three new awards recognizing departments for supporting graduate education. Congratulations to the 2019 graduate student recipients for their outstanding accomplishments.

Janna Brown
Janna Brown

Top three GRC poster presentations:

  1. Janna Brown, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  2. Laura Schaerer, Department of Biological Sciences
  3. Avik Ghosh, Department of Chemistry

Top three GRC oral presentations:

  1. Nabhajit Goswami, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  2. Nicholas Gerstner, Department of Humanities
  3. Jeremy Bigalke, Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology
Nabhajit Goswami
Nabhajit Goswami

The Graduate School sponsors three awards to honor students that have committed an extraordinary amount of time to their studies, instructing others or serving the graduate community. These awards include: Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award, Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Graduate Student Service Award.

Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award:

Chemical Engineering

  • Aaron Krieg
  • Daniel Kulas

Chemistry

  • Vagarshak Begoyan
  • Charles Schaerer

Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Dongdong Ge
  • Christa Meingast
  • Mohammadhossein Sadeghiamirshahidi
  • Darud E Sheefa
  • Sarah Washko

Cognitive and Learning Sciences

  • CatherineTislar

Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • Mehdi Malekrah

Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

  • Brandi Petryk

Humanities

  • Elizabeth Renshaw

Mathematical Sciences

  • Jacob Blazejewski
  • Nattaporn Chuenjarem

Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics

  • Ahammad Basha Dudekula
  • Siddharth Bharat Gopujkar
  • Cameron Hansel
  • Erica  Jacobson
  • Luke Jurmu
  • Mingyang Li
  • Si Liu
  • Niranjan Miganakallu
  • William Pisani
  • Samantha Swartzmiller
  • Upendra Yadav
  • Zhuyong Yang

Physics

  • Lisa Eggart
  • Nicholas Videtich

Social Sciences

  • Sun Nguyen
  • Daniel Trepal

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship:

Atmospheric Sciences

  • Janarjan Bhandari
  • Kamal Kant Chandrakar

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  • Jeffrey Kiiskila

Biomedical Engineering

  • Anindya Majumdar

Chemistry

  • Mingxi Fang
  • Shahien Shahsavari

Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Mohammadhossein Sadeghiamirshahidi
  • Xinyu Ye
  • Shuaidong Zhao

Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • Wyatt Adams

Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

  • Priscilla Addison

Humanities

  • Nancy Henaku

Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

  • Jeremy Bigalke

Mathematical Sciences

  • Matthew Roberts

Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics

  • Sampath Kumar Reddy Boyapally
  • Oladeji Fadayomi
  • Hui Huang
  • Xian Li
  • Miles Penhale
  • Nikhil Appasaheb Shinde
  • Rahul Jitendra Thakkar
  • Mitchel Timm
  • Xiucheng Zhu

Physics

  • Chad Brisbois
  • Dolendra Karki

School of Business and Economics

  • Garrett  Mitchell
  • David Renaldi
  • Gina  Roose
  • Dylan Steman

Social Sciences

  • John Barnett
  • Erin Burkett
  • Robert Zupko

The Graduate Student Service Award is given to graduate students nominated by the Graduate Student Government Executive Board for their outstanding contributions to the graduate community at Michigan Tech.

Graduate Student Service Award:

  • Daniel Byrne, Department of Computer Science
  • Nabhajit Goswami, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Ami Kling, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Michigan Tech is a member of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS), which solicits nominations for its Excellence in Teaching Award and Distinguished Master’s Thesis Competition.

The MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award participating schools are able to nominate one master’s and one doctoral level graduate students who exemplify excellence in the teaching/learning mission of our university.

Excellence in Teaching Award Nominee:

  • Jacob J. Blazejewski , Mathematical Sciences

The MAGS Distinguished Master’s Thesis Competition recognizes and rewards distinguished scholarship and research at the master’s level.

Distinguished Master’s Thesis Competition Nominee:

  • Sagda Osman, School of Technology

Michigan Tech is also a member of the Council for Graduate Schools/ProQuest and recognizes nominees for having completed dissertations representing original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline.

Council for Graduate Schools/ProQuest Nominee:

  • Erin C. Pischke, Social Sciences Department
  • Lauren N. Schaefer, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences Department

New Graduate School Awards to Graduate Programs Innovations to Enhance Graduate Student Recruitment and Enrollment Award:

  • Significant Enhancement in Recruitment and Enrollment Award – For creative strategies to enhance growth in graduate programs. Awarded to Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Graduate Research Colloquium (GRC) Participation – For highest participation at the GRC. Awarded to Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry
  • Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Participation – For highest participation at the 3MT competition. Awarded to Biological Sciences

The GSG sponsors an Annual Merit Awards Program consisting of four awards that honor the exceptional work of one staff member, one graduate mentor and two graduate students. The recipients of these awards were nominated by their fellow graduate students and selected by the Graduate Student Government Executive Board.

Exceptional Staff Member Recipient:

  • Brittany Buschell, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Exceptional Graduate Mentor Recipient:

  •  Melissa F. Baird, Social Sciences

Exceptional Student Leader Recipient:

  • Karina Eyre, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Exceptional Student Scholar:

  • Miles Penhale , ME-EM

Congratulations to award recipients and nominees and a huge thank you to all the presenters, judges, volunteers and GSG supporters for helping make this one of the largest colloquiums in GSG’s history.

By Graduate School and Graduate Student Government.


Engineering Students Sweep the 2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium

URS 2019The 2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) was held on Friday, March 29th, in the lobby of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts from 1-5 p.m. The URS highlighted the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students.

The Pavlis Honors College hosts undergraduate researchers and scholars from all departments, schools and programs to present abstracts for presentation at the URS.

VIEW THE PHOTO GALLERY

The winners of this year’s symposium, based on the assessment of faculty and staff judges from across campus, ARE:

First Place: Ceily Fessel Doan, Environmental Engineering, “Comparison of Nannochloropsis and Chlorelle Vulgaris Algae to Energy Efficiency in the Rio Grande Watershed” working with Alex Mayer

Second Place: Jacob LeBarre, Chemical Engineering, “Improvement of Virus Purification Method using Cation Exchange Chromatography” working with Caryn Heldt

Third Place: Kaylee Meyers, Biomedical Engineering, “Nitric Oxide Releasing Composite Hydrogels for Tendon Repair Via Matrix Metalloproteinase Controlled Pathways” working with Rupak Rajachar

Honorable Mention: Brenna Rosso, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, “Assessing the Expression and Purification of Arg-Tagged MS2 Coat Protein by Cation Exchange Chromatography” working with Ebenezer Tumban

Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Polega, Biomedical Engineering “Antibacterial Properties of Mussel-Inspired Polydopamine Coatings Prepared by Simple Two-Step Shaking-Assisted Method” working with Bruce Lee

Ceily Fessel Doan, CEE, First Place
Ceily Fessel Doan, CEE, First Place
Jacob LeBarre, CHE, Second Place
Jacob LeBarre, CHE, Second Place
Kaylee Meyers, BME, Third Place
Kaylee Meyers, BME, Third Place
Elizabeth Polega, BME, Honorable Mention
Elizabeth Polega, BME, Honorable Mention

Pennington to Conduct Research in Australia

Wayne Pennington
Wayne Pennington

Professor Emeritus Wayne Pennington (GMES), has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to conduct research at Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines: Minerals Energy and Chemical Engineering.

Pennington, a research professor of geophysical engineering, retired from his position as Dean of the College of Engineering last year. He was awarded the 2019 Fullbright Scholar Award in Resources and Energy.

His research at Curtin, where he is based until June, will aim to improve existing methods of observing and measuring the depletion of oil and gas fields and the storage of carbon after removal from the atmosphere.

Read the full story on Market Screener.