Category: Outreach

Paul van Susante: Multiplanetary INnovation Enterprise (MINE)

Dr. Paul van Susante’s Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (PSTDL) at Michigan Tech, home of the Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber. It’s about as close to moon conditions as one can get on Earth!

Paul van Susante shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, 10/3 at 6 pm. Learn something new in just 30 minutes or so, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Paul van Susante

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 10/3 at 6 pm ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Paul van Susante, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering—Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech. Joining in will be several of his current Michigan Tech students, all members of MINE, the Multiplanetary INnovation Enterprise: electrical engineering majors Brenda Wilson and Gabe Allis; and mechanical engineering major Parker Bradshaw.

Wilson, Allis and Bradshaw—along with about 50 other student members of the MINE team—design, test, and implement robotic technologies for extracting (and using) local resources in extreme environments. That includes Lunar and Martian surfaces, and flooded subterranean environments here on Earth. Prof. van Susante helped launch the team, and serves as MINE’s faculty advisor.

The award-winning Enterprise Program at Michigan Tech involves students—of any major—working in teams on real projects, with real clients. Michigan Tech currently has 23 different Enterprise teams on campus, working to pioneer solutions, invent products, and provide services.

“As an engineer, I’m an optimist. We can invent things that allow us to do things that now seem impossible.”

Paul van Susante
Students in the PSTDL work on the T-REX rover

MINE team members build and test robotic vehicles and technologies for clients in government and the private sector. They tackle construction and materials characterization, too. It all happens in van Susante’s Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (PSTDL) at Michigan Tech, a place where science fiction becomes reality via prototyping, building, testing—and increasing the technology readiness and level of tech being developed for NASA missions. The PSTDL is also known as Huskyworks.

Prior to coming to Michigan Tech, Prof. van Susante earned his PhD and taught at the Colorado School of Mines, and also served as a NASA Faculty Fellow. He has been involved in research projects collaborating with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, TransAstra, DARPA, NASA Kennedy Space Center, JPL, Bechtel, Caterpillar, and many others.

Prof. van Susante created the PSTDL’s Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber himself, using his new faculty startup funding. It’s a vacuum-sealed room, partially filled with a simulated lunar dust that can be cooled to minus 196 degrees Celsius and heated to 150 degrees Celsius—essentially, a simulated moon environment. In the chamber, researchers can test surface exploration systems (i.e., rovers) in a box containing up to 3,000 pounds of regolith simulant. It’s about as close to moon conditions as one can get on Earth.

Students in the PSTDL move a testbox into position for testing in the Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber.

The NASA Artemis program aims to send astronauts back to the moon by 2025 and establish a permanent human presence. Building the necessary infrastructure to complete this task potentially requires an abundance of resources because of the high cost of launching supplies from Earth. 

“An unavoidable obstacle of space travel is what NASA calls the ‘Space Gear Ratio’, where in order to send one package into space, you need nearly 450 times that package’s mass in expensive rocket fuel to send it into space,” notes van Susante. “In order to establish a long-term presence on other planets and moons, we need to be able to effectively acquire the resources around us, known as in-situ-resource utilization, or ISRU.”

“NASA has several inter-university competitions that align with their goals for their up-and-coming Artemis Missions,” adds van Susante. 

Huskyworks and MINE have numerous Artemis irons in the fire, plus other research projects, too. We’ll learn a lot more about them during Husky Bites.

LUNABOTICS

A peek at the integrated system of MINE’s Lunabotics rover.
Six members of the Michigan Tech Astro-Huskies (plus Dr. van Susante) at NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, during the 2021-22 Lunabotics competition

Electrical engineering undergraduate student Brenda Wilson serves as the hardware sub-team lead of the Astro-Huskies, a group of 25 students within MINE who work on an autonomous mining rover as part of NASA’s Lunabotics competition. It’s held every year in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center with 50 teams in attendance from universities across the nation. This is the Astro-Huskies’ third year participating in the competition, coming up in May 2023. 

This year the Astro-Huskies are designing, building, testing, and competing with an autonomous excavation rover. The rover must traverse around obstacles such as mounds, craters, rocks; excavate ice to be used for the production of rocket fuel, then return to the collection point. By demonstrating their rover, each team in the competition contributes ideas to NASA’s future missions to operate on and start producing consumables on the lunar surface. 

DIVER

Mechanical engineering undergraduate student Gabe Allis is manager of the MINE team’s DIVER project (Deep Investigation Vehicle for Energy Resources). The team is focused on building an untethered ROV capable of descending down into the Quincy mine to map the flooded tunnels and collect water samples. The team supports ongoing research at Michigan Tech that aims to convert flooded mine shafts into giant batteries, or Pumped Underground Storage for Hydropower (PUSH) facilities.

Beneath Quincy Mine, an illustration courtesy of Michigan Tech’s Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

“Before a mine can be converted into a PUSH facility it must be inspected, and most mines are far deeper than can be explored by a conventional diver,”Allis explains.

“This is where we come in, with a robust, deep-diving robot that’s designed for an environment more unforgiving than the expanse of outer space, and that includes enormous external pressure, no communication, and no recovery if something goes wrong,” he says.  

“Differences in water temperature at different depths cause currents that can pull our robot in changing directions,” adds Allis. “No GPS means that our robot may have to localize from its environment, which means more computing power, and more space, weight, energy consumption, and cooling requirements. These are the sort of problems that our team needs to tackle.”

TRENCHER

During Husky Bites, Bradshaw will tell us about the team’s Trencher project, which aims to provide proof-of-concept for extracting the lunar surface using a bucket ladder-style excavator. “Bucket ladders offer a continuous method of excavation that can transport a large amount of material with minimal electricity, an important consideration for operations on the moon,” Bradshaw says. “With bucket ladders NASA will be able to extract icy regolith to create rocket fuel on the moon and have a reliable method to shape the lunar surface.” Unlike soil, regolith is inorganic material that has weathered away from the bedrock or rock layer beneath.

Parker Bradshaw, also a mechanical engineering student, is both a member of MINE and member of van Susante’s lab, where he works as an undergraduate researcher. “Dr. van Susante is my boss, PI, and Enterprise advisor. I first worked with him on a MINE project last year, then got hired by his lab (the PSTDL) to do research over the summer.”

Bradshaw is preparing a research paper detailing data the team has gathered while excavating in the lab’s Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber, with a goal of sharing what was learned by publishing their results in an academic journal.

The PSTDL’s field-rover HOPLITE gets ready for field-test last winter.

“An unavoidable obstacle of space travel is what NASA calls the ‘Space Gear Ratio’, where in order to send one package into orbit around Earth, you need nearly 10 times that package’s mass in expensive rocket fuel to send it into space, and even more for further destinations,” van Susante explains. “So in order to establish a long-term presence on other planets and moons, we need to be able to effectively acquire the resources around us, known as in-situ-resource utilization, or ISRU.”

In the world-class Huskyworks lab (and in the field) van Susante and his team work on a wide variety of projects:

Paul van Susante served as a mining judge during the 2018 Regolith Mining Competition at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center

NASA Lunar Surface Technology Research (LuSTR)—a “Percussive Hot Cone Penetrometer and Ground Penetrating Radar for Geotechnical and Volatiles Mapping.”

NASA Breakthrough Innovative and Game Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge 2020—a “Tethered permanently shaded Region EXplorer (T-REX)” delivers power and communication into a PSR, (also known as a Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer).

NASA Watts on the Moon Centennial Challenge—providing power to a water extraction plant PSR located 3 kilometers from the power plant. Michigan Tech is one of seven teams that advanced to Phase 2, Level 2 of the challenge.

NASA ESI Early Stage Innovation—obtaining water from rock gypsum on Mars.

NASA Break the Ice—the latest centennial challenge from NASA, to develop technologies aiding in the sustained presence on the Moon.

NASA NextSTEP BAA ISRU, track 3—”RedWater: Extraction of Water from Mars’ Ice Deposits” (subcontract from principal investigator Honeybee Robotics).

NASA GCD MRE—Providing a regolith feeder and transportation system for the MRE reactor

HOPLITE—a modular robotic system that enables the field testing of ISRU technologies.

Dr. van Susante met his wife, Kate, in Colorado.

Dr. van Susante, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

Helping people and making the world a better place with technology and the dream of space exploration. My interest came from sci-fi books and movies and seeing what people can accomplish when they work together.

Hometown and Hobbies?

I grew up in The Netherlands and got my MS in Civil Engineering from TU-Delft before coming to the USA to continue grad school. I met my wife in Colorado and have one 8 year old son. The rest of my family is still in The Netherlands. Now I live in Houghton, Michigan, not too far from campus. I love downhill and x-country skiing, reading (mostly sci-fi/fantasy), computer and board games, and photography.

Dr. van Susante has been a huge help—not just with the technical work, but with the project management side of things. We’ve found it to be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome as a team this past year.

Brenda Wilson

Brenda, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

My interest in engineering began when I was a kid when my dad, who is a packaging engineer, would like to explain to me how different machines work and how different things are made. My interest in electrical engineering began with the realization that power is the backbone to today’s society. Nearly everything we use runs on electricity, and I wanted to be able to understand the large complex system that we depend so heavily upon. Also, because I have a passion for the great outdoors, I want to take my degree in a direction where I can help push the power industry towards green energy and more efficient systems.

Hometown, family?

My hometown is Naperville, Illinois. I have one younger brother starting his first year at Illinois State in general business. My Dad is a retired packaging engineer with a degree from Michigan State, and my mom is an accountant with a masters degree from the University of Chicago.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

My passion is for the great outdoors. I am an extremely active person and try to spend as much time as I can outside camping and on the trails. I also spend a good chunk of my time running along the portage waterfront, swing dancing, and just recently picked up mountain biking.

I got involved in the DIVER project in MINE, and have enjoyed working with Dr. van Susante. He’s a no nonsense kind of guy. He tells you what you need to improve on, and then helps you get there.

Gabe Allis
Gabe Allis

Gabe, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I first became interested in engineering when my great-uncle gave me a college text-book of his on engineering: Electric Circuits and Machines, by Eugene Lister. I must have been at most 13. To my own surprise, I began reading it and found it interesting. Ever since then I’ve been looking for ways to learn more.

Hometown, family?

I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan, the oldest of nine. First in my family to go to Tech, and probably not the last. 

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to play guitar, read fiction, mountain bike, explore nature, and hang out/worship at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church.

“Doing both Enterprise work and research under Dr. van Susante has been a very valuable experience. I expect to continue working in his orbit through the rest of my undergrad degree.”

Parker Bradshaw
Parker Bradshaw

Parker, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I was first introduced to engineering by my dad, who manufactured scientific equipment for the University of Michigan Psychology department. Hanging around in his machine shop at a young age made me really want to work with my hands. What I do as a member of MINE is actually very similar to what my dad did at the U of M. I create research equipment that we use to obtain the data we need for our research, just for me it’s space applications (instead of rodent brains).

Hometown, family?

I grew up in Ann Arbor Michigan, and both of my parents work for the University of Michigan Psychology department. My dad is now retired.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have a variety of things to keep me busy when school isn’t too overbearing. I go to the Copper Country Community Art Center Clay Co-Op as often as I can to throw pottery on the wheel. I also enjoy watercolor painting animals in a scientific illustration style. Over the summer I was working on my V22 style RC plane project.

Michigan Tech MINE team photo (taken last year). The constraints of the pandemic complicated some of their efforts, but still brought out the best in them!

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To the Moon—and Beyond

Watch

Mine Video for Michigan Tech 2022 Design Expo

SWE, Aerospace Enterprise Represent MTU at Women in Aviation Day

Women in Aviation Day banner with image of Amelia Earhart.

On September 17, 2022, eight students from the Aerospace Enterprise and Society of Women Engineers represented Michigan Tech at the first annual Women in Aviation Day in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Participating students were:

From Aerospace: Heather Goetz, Seth Quayle and Nolan Pickett (mechanical engineering); and Zoe Knoper (cybersecurity).

From SWE: Sophie Stewart and Katherine Rauscher (mechanical engineering); Kathryn Krieger (environmental engineering); and Cailyn Koerber (engineering management).

This event was hosted by the Learn Build Fly organization, which does incredible volunteer work in engaging their community in aviation. As summarized by Wausau’s WSAW-TV News Channel 7, “The event aimed to get more women involved in recreational and professional aviation. Children had the chance to participate in ‘Young Eagle Flights’ by going for airplane rides, while other aviation organizations gave information about their programs.”

Visitors to the event had the opportunity to see a 3D model of the newest Aerospace Enterprise satellite design and learn how these students were designing and building satellites to go into space, while the SWE team worked with visitors on an outreach activity, Paper Circuits.

Participants’ comments included:

Nolan Pickett: “Our Enterprise was given the opportunity to not only celebrate the women in our program, but also promote STEM to the next generation of college students — and fly in a WWII era B-25!”

Kathryn Krieger: “I loved being able to see so many young girls getting excited about STEM. It was really inspiring to see the many ways kids are getting involved with aviation and other STEM disciplines from such a young age.”

Both SWE and the Aerospace Enterprise teams enjoyed volunteering at Women in Aviation, learning more about the history of aviation and meeting with folks interested in aviation careers. This was a unique outreach opportunity and they appreciated the support they received from Admissions and the College of Engineering.

By Gretchen Hein, SWE Advisor.

Pasi Lautala: Railroads—Back to the Future

The US rail network comprises nearly 140,000 miles of track—and more than 200,000 highway-rail grade crossings. Photo credit: Eric Peterson.

Pasi Lautala shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, 9/26 at 6 pm. Learn something new in just 30 minutes or so, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Dr. Pasi Lautala

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 9/26 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Pasi Lautala, associate professor of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering at Michigan Tech.

Lautala directs Michigan Tech’s innovative Rail Transportation Program (RTP), preparing students to thrive and succeed in the rail industry—something he has done for the past 15 years.

Joining in will be Michigan Tech alumnus Eric Peterson, retired assistant chief engineer of public projects at CSX Transportation, who helped establish and grow the RTP at Michigan Tech.

During Husky Bites the two will share the secrets behind the energy efficiency of rail, and guide us from past railroads to what they are today. They’ll also discuss how railroads are securing a future in the era of rapid technology development. 

“Rail is considered more energy efficient. In many ways it is a more sustainable transportation mode compared to highway and air transport, says Lautala. “However, in order for rail transportation to keep up with the other modes of transportation, it must keep developing alongside them—and with an equal amount of passion. In the US, some of those challenges (but also opportunities) include long asset lives, non-flexible structures, and private ownership.”

Pat and Eric Peterson

Before moving to the US from Finland, Lautala worked for several summers with the Finnish Railway system. After graduating from Michigan Tech with his MS in Civil Engineering, he worked for five years as a railroad and highway engineering consultant in Chicago, before returning to Michigan Tech for his PhD in Rail Transportation and Engineering Education.

Michigan Tech’s Railroad Engineering Activity Club, aka REAC, is “for students interested in establishing contacts with, learning about, getting involved with, and a hair’s breadth away from being obsessed with the railroad and transportation industries in the United States of America and beyond.” Lautala and Peterson are honorary members.

“I first met Eric as a young consultant,” Lautala recalls. “He was one of the managers for our client, CSX Transportation. Once I returned to campus as a doctoral student, I learned Eric was a former classmate of my PhD advisor. Eric became an influential force and tireless supporter of our efforts to start the Rail Transportation Program. He still teaches some signals and communications lectures for us.”

“My wife, Pat, and I supported the startup of the Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program with Pasi as the leader,” adds Peterson. “At the time, we were hiring engineers at CSX for all types of jobs, including field supervisors—people comfortable working both in the field and in the office. The rest of the rail industry was hiring, too.” 

“The railroad industry is still hungry for young people with interest and education in rail transportation,” says Lautala. When he first came to Michigan Tech from Finland in 1996 to earn an MS in Civil Engineering, Lautala brought the railroad bug with him. The son of a locomotive engineer, Lautala grew up in a culture that embraced rail transportation as a sustainable public transit alternative, as well as an efficient way to move freight.

While the US has the most extensive and efficient freight rail system in the world, the development of railroads had been on the back burner for decades, while the rest of the world kept moving forward, he observes. 

In 2007 Lautala established the RTP at Michigan Tech in order to advance rail education to a wide range of students, with integrated coursework, for both undergraduate and graduate students, and a minor in rail transportation. CN, Canadian National Railway Company, quickly came on board as a major sponsor of the program. The RTP also collaborates closely with many industry companies, associations and alumni. Their involvement provides professional networking, education, field trips, conferences, and guest speakers for Michigan Tech students involved in the Railroad Engineering and Activities Club (REAC), the first student chapter ever established by the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA).

“Students can also take part in hands-on rail industry-sponsored research projects across disciplines. Some topic areas include grade crossing and trespasser safety, materials research on railway equipment, locomotive emissions, the impact of climate change on railroads, and more,” says Lautala. Learning by doing is a central component of RTP’s approach to rail education.

Rail companies actively work with RTP to fill openings with Michigan Tech RTP students, whether for for full time jobs, internships or co-ops. And the RTP Experience wouldn’t be complete without the Railroad Night, an over 15 year tradition at Michigan Tech.

“Rail just makes sense, and it’s something this country needs.”

Pasi Lautala
Michigan Tech RTP students conduct field work

Lautala initially founded RTP’s innovative Summer in Finland program, which integrated an international component to rail education. It was an intensive five-week program, a collaboration among Michigan Tech, the Tampere University of Technology, and the North American and Finnish railroad industry. “That program created sufficient interest from the students and industry to officially launch the Rail Transportation Program,” Lautala says.

Outside Michigan Tech, Lautala serves as chair of National Academies’ Research Transportation Board Rail Group. “There are so many research possibilities—everything from infrastructure, with automated track-monitoring systems and recycled materials in railroad ties, to energy efficient equipment and operations,” he says.

Team Lautala!

Lautala’s own engineering research currently involves connected and autonomous vehicle communications at grade crossings, with fellow Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Associate Professor Kuilin Zhang. The two are working to develop safe and efficient driving and routing strategies for autonomous vehicles at railroad grade crossings. Reduced energy consumption, emissions, and potential time delays are some of their goals. Their research is supported with two separate grants from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Dr. Lautala, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

Prof. Lautala likes to fish, hunt, and play the accordian.

Probably my early summer internships, first at a rail construction site, and then with Finnish Railways.

Hometown?

Kangasala, Finland. I have split my life evenly between Finland and the US, twenty-five years each. I recently spent a year in Finland with my wife and two rascals (children): Olavi (10) and Ansel (8).

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Hobbies, you name it…..soccer (including coaching), hockey, golf, and many other sports. Three accordions and an equal number of bands. I’ve done some acting, too (though that’s been pretty quiet recently).

A rail adventure!

Eric, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I saw the Mackinac Bridge while it was under construction. A few years later when our subdivision was expanded, I spent the summer watching the grading contractor.  

Boating is another hobby. We have a 17’ boat for water skiing and a 20’ sailboat we use each summer for a few weeks on Crystal Lake near Frankfort, Michigan, when our family vacations together.

One of your most memorable accomplishments?

Training as a locomotive engineer.

Hometown?

I was born in Detroit and moved to Bloomfield Township when I was in the 4th grade. I am an only child. I married Patricia Paoli in 1970.

Eric and Pat thus far have three married adult children, and nine grandchildren.

What do you like to do in your spare time

My dad exposed me to both model railroading and real railroads. My primary hobby is model railroading in O Scale 2 rail, which is 1/48 scale. My work was all in the railroad industry.

Read more:

See Tracks? Think Train!

The Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan Operation Lifesaver are partnering together to raise rail safety awareness. Most Americans today know the dangers associated with drunk driving, distracted driving or texting while crossing the street, But many are unaware of the risks they are taking around railroad tracks.

Husky Bites: Join Us for Supper This Fall!

Husky dog with plaid shirt and glasses sitting at a table with a bowl of dog bones
What are you doing for supper each Monday night at 6 pm ET this fall? Join us for some brain food, via Zoom or Facebook Live. Get the full scoop at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Craving some brain food? Join Dean Janet Callahan and special guests each Monday at 6 p.m. ET this for a 20-minute (or so) interactive Zoom webinar, with plenty of time after for Q&A. Grab some supper, or just flop down on your couch. This family friendly event is BYOC (Bring Your Own Curiosity). All are welcome. Get the full scoop and register⁠—it’s free⁠—at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Guests include Michigan Tech faculty members, who share a mini lecture and weave in a bit of their own personal journey to their chosen field. Also invited to join in during the session—their colleagues, mentors, former students, or current students.

“We created Husky Bites for anyone who likes to learn, across the universe,” says Callahan. “We aim to make it very interactive, with a ‘quiz’ (in Zoom that’s a multiple choice poll), about every five minutes. Everyone is welcome, and bound to learn something new. Some entire families enjoy it,” she adds.

Those who join Husky Bites via Zoom can take part in the session Q&A, one of the best parts of Husky Bites. But there are a few ways to “consume” the webinar. Catch the livestream on the College of Engineering Facebook page. Or, if you happen to miss a session, watch any past session on Zoom or youtube. (Scroll down to find the links on mtu.edu/huskybites).

On Monday (September 26), we’ll launch the season with “Railroads—Back to the Future, with Dr. Pasi Lautala, alumnus, director of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program, and associate professor of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering. Prof. Lautala will be joined by Eric Peterson ’70, ’71, retired former assistant chief engineer of public projects at CSX—and one of Michigan Tech’s greatest supporters and advocates of railroad activities and education.

About Husky Bites

Dean Callahan first launched Husky Bites June 2020, after the the first few months of the pandemic. Since then, she has hosted attendees from Michigan Tech’s campus community, across the US, and even attendees from various countries around the world. “There’s something of interest for all ages,” she adds. “A lot of folks turn it on in the background, and listen or watch while preparing, eating or cleaning up after supper,” she says. Dean Callahan awards some really great prizes for attendance. Also, high school students qualify for a nifty swag bag.

Get the Full Scoop

Want to see full schedule details? Just go to mtu.edu/huskybites. You can register from there, too. Husky Bites is presented by the College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

Pamela Rogers Klyn to Deliver First Year Engineering Series Lecture at Michigan Tech

Pam Klyn ’93 is Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations and Sustainability at Whirlpool Corporation

Pamela Rogers Klyn, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations and Sustainability at Whirlpool Corporation, will deliver the First-Year Engineering Series Lecture to more than 1,000 Michigan Tech’s incoming engineering majors on Monday, September 26 at 6 pm on campus at the Rozsa Center Auditorium.

The title of Klyn’s lecture: “Effort Creates Opportunities.”

“The First-Year Engineering Series Lecture provides an exciting opportunity for our students to learn how they can use their new technological education to positively impact the world, by hearing from some of the nation’s most innovative engineering leaders,” says Mary Raber, chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. “We look forward to learning more about Pam’s engineering journey as our students begin creating their own.”

“Pam’s dedication to continuous learning and developing others as a part of her own career journey are important keys to her own success and the success of many others. Her words of wisdom will be especially helpful to our new students,” adds Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering.

Klyn grew up in Auburn, Michigan and joined Whirlpool soon after graduating in 1993 with a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech.

“I chose engineering because it provided a strong foundation of problem-solving skills for whatever it was I would choose to explore in the future,” Klyn says. “I originally thought I would pursue medical school. Instead I decided to enter the professional world.”

“The engineering education I received at MTU was a strong stepping stone to my career success at Whirlpool Corporation.”

Pam Klyn ’93, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations and Sustainability at Whirlpool Corporation

Klyn has held advancing roles in engineering, product development, global innovation, and marketing at Whirlpool. Its vision: “Be the best kitchen and laundry company, in constant pursuit of improving life at home.” World-class Manufacturing, IoT (Internet of Things), environmental and social responsibility, leading-edge design, craftsmanship, and digital technologies all drive innovation at Whirlpool.

Whirlpool reported approximately $19 billion in annual sales in 2020, with 78,000 employees and 57 manufacturing and technology research centers. Its iconic brand portfolio includes Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, JennAir, Indesit and Yummly. The company had 472 patents awarded in 2020 alone. (Klyn was named on one that same year).

The Whirlpool Corp. site in Cassinetta, northern Italy, reached its zero waste to landfill goal a year ahead of schedule, and reduced its carbon emissions by 38 percent in just four years. Whirlpool is aiming for carbon neutrality at all of its 54 sites around the world by 2030. Photo credit: Whirlpool Corporation.

After her first year at Whirlpool, Klyn earned a master’s degree in engineering at the University of Michigan. Later she earned an executive MBA from Bowling Green State University.

Klyn is now a member of the Executive Leadership team at Whirlpool, and reports directly to the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, Marc Bitzer. 

“Pam has been an outstanding leader at Whirlpool. She brings not only a strong technical understanding of the products and the types of purposeful innovation that exceed our customer’s expectations, but also a commitment to bettering the communities around her,” Bitzer said.

Klyn describes herself as hardworking and focused—while being grateful for the support she was given throughout her youth and early in her career. “This has fueled my strong desire to give back and leave things better than I found them in everything I do,” she says.

Klyn has excelled in a number of business and engineering leadership roles at the company. She lived in Milan, Italy as vice president, products and brands for Whirlpool EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), then led all washer, dryer and commercial laundry platforms globally as senior vice president of global product organization. Klyn was accountable for developing the product plans and long-term strategy to drive profitable growth in all regions.

In 2011, the Wall Street Journal profiled Klyn in an article, “Finding Their Way to the Fast Track, Rising Stars to Senior Managers,” about the initiatives that saved her company $854 million. “Be confident in your approach,” states Klyn in the WSJ article. “Look your senior leaders in the eye and say, ‘Here’s my plan, and here’s why it will work.’”

As the first female technology director for Whirlpool, Klyn has made it a point to serve as mentor to a number of individuals, seeking to provide tools and guidance for emerging female leaders. “I want to support their career growth and to give them the confidence to pursue roles at the highest levels of the organization,” she says.

She was elected to the Michigan Tech Presidential Council of Alumnae in 2012. Last year she was welcomed into the Michigan Tech Academy of the Department Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Academy. Selection into the Academy recognizes excellence and leadership in engineering and civic affairs. 

Klyn also serves on the College of Engineering Advisory Board as part of her ongoing connection to Michigan Tech. 

Closer to home in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Klyn is a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs Board of Directors. She has served as the co-lead of the Whirlpool United Way Campaign for multiple years in support of her community. She’s also a trustee on the Whirlpool Foundation Board. Klyn is also a member of the Board of Directors for Patrick Industries, a $5 billion-plus publicly traded company. 

In her spare time, Klyn is an avid runner (24 marathons and counting) and a devoted landscaper. She lives with her husband, Steve, near Lake Michigan. She has two step-children, Parker and Cara.

Read more:

Providing the best leadership: Pam Klyn takes on new communications role at Whirlpool

John Lenters: Eyes On the Water—Great Lakes Research from Buoys and Lighthouses

First deployment of a “Spotter” wave buoy near Stannard Rock lighthouse on Lake Superior, with fishing boat shown in the background. Photo credit: John Lenters

John Lenters, associate research scientist at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center will share his knowledge on Husky Bites Live during Alumni Reunion 2022. The session takes place Friday, August 5 at 4 pm ET at the Great Lakes Research Center, Conference Room 201/202. Everyone in attendance will learn something new, with plenty of time after for Q&A. 

Can’t make it in person? Join us remotely. Use this link to join the Zoom webinar on August 5 starting at 3:45 pm.

Dr. John Lenters retrieves a wave buoy near Grand Marais, Michigan.

Environmental research on the Great Lakes—the largest lake system on the planet—is challenging. Even basic information such as weather conditions are largely invisible to mariners due to massive data gaps across vast expanses of water. 

Dr. John Lenters will explain how Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center and collaborators use scientific instruments on buoys and lighthouses to better understand the physical processes of the Great Lakes, such as wind, waves, circulation, evaporation, and ice cover.

Dr. Lenters, when did you first get into atmospheric science? What sparked your interest?

I was always interested in weather and science as a kid, and I grew up downstate near Lake Michigan. So after I got my PhD in Atmospheric Science at Cornell, I returned to the Great Lakes region and began a postdoc position at UW-Madison to study the impacts of weather and climate on lakes.

Satellite image of stamp sands near Gay, Michigan and the track of a Spotter buoy drifting to shore on November 16, 2021.

I deployed my first “weather buoy” on Sparkling Lake (in northern Wisconsin) in 1999. I’ve been conducting similar studies on a variety of lakes ever since. This includes saline lakes in western Nebraska, Arctic lakes in northern Alaska, and the Great Lakes region.

Family and Hometown?

I grew up in Holland, Michigan and still have family down there (both parents). I have two sisters, one in Massachusetts and one in Wyoming. My fiancé, Amanda, is a wildlife biologist and forester with the Wisconsin DNR. We’ll be getting married in Copper Harbor on New Years Eve.

“Captain Dingo” (aka John and Amanda’s dog, Copper) pilots their pontoon boat on Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My hobbies include cross-country skiing, kayaking, birding, storm chasing, and playing the drums. Amanda and I have a dog named Copper who we think is mostly an Australian shepherd, but we call her the dingo, because she looks exactly like one!

In my spare time I like to travel, play music, take our pontoon boat out on the lake, and get some exercise (I run, swim, ski, kayak, and go on plenty of dog walks). I’ve done some triathlons in the past. My last one was the Copperman, many years ago.

Hungry for some brain food? Join us for a bite during Husky Bites!

More about Husky Bites

Launched by Dean Janet Callahan in 2020 near the start of the pandemic, Husky Bites is an interactive Zoom webinar that takes place each fall and spring.

“Feel free to invite a friend,” says Dean Janet Callahan about her Zoom webinar series, Husky Bites. “Everyone is welcome!”

During the semester, every Monday at 6 pm ET, each “bite” is a suppertime mini-lecture, presented by a different Michigan Tech faculty member who weaves in a bit of their own personal journey, and brings a co-host, as well—an alum or a current student who knows a thing or two about the topic at hand.

The Fall 2022 Husky Bites weekly Zoom webinar series resumes starting Monday, Sept. 12. “We’ve had attendees from nine countries, and a great mix of students, alumni, our Michigan Tech community and friends,” says Dean Callahan, who mails out prizes for (near) perfect attendance.

Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

OHM and Michigan Tech Alumni team up to Lead Family Engineering Nights in Detroit Schools

Fifteen OHM staff helped present the Family Engineering Night sessions, including several Michigan Tech alumni.

From May 10-12, Michigan Technological University teamed up with OHM Advisors to provide STEM outreach at five schools in Detroit. 

The program they presented, Family Engineering, engages K-8 students and their families in engineering investigations. Family Engineering was created by Michigan Tech and partners in 2011 with a grant from the National Science Foundation. A key outcome of the program was the publication of the Family Engineering Activity & Event Planning Guide, published in 2011.

Sessions took place at the schools, followed by free pizza at Mackenzie Middle School, Clippert Multicultural Magnet Honors Academy, and Adams Middle School. The event began with short opener activities that adults and children explore together. These included: Glue is the Clue, Domino Diving Board, Who Engineered It?, Let’s Communicate, Boxing Beans, Picture This, Solid Ground, Hoop Glider, Inspired by Nature, Shifting Shapes, All The Right Tools, and Thrillseekers.

Next, families took part in three Engineering Challenges:

  1. Stop & Think – Why was this object designed? What need did it address? Can you make it better?
  1. Team Up – Discover why engineers work in teams. What helps a team work well together? How can we address challenges?
  1. Give Me Hand – How can an engineer help a person who has lost their hand, or some other part of their body?
Family Engineering Night took place recently in Detroit, with volunteer help from OHM Advisors.

Fifteen OHM staff helped present the sessions, including several Michigan Tech alumni.

Ron Cavallaro, Vice President of OHM Michigan, echoed the value of introducing kids to engineering at an early age. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Michigan Tech and is now a member of the Michigan Tech Department of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering’s Professional Advisory Board. “Many of the families that attended the events brought younger siblings,” said Cavallaro. It was awesome to see the middle school students, their parents and siblings helping each other on the challenges.”

“OHM Advisors has been seeking out ways to get younger children interested in STEM fields. We are fortunate to have had MTU reach out to us to help with this program.”

Ron Cavallaro, Vice President of OHM Michigan

Chandler Park Academy High School and UPrep Science & Math High School hosted another Michigan Tech alum, retired Lt. Colonel Otha Thornton, chair of Michigan Tech’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) Alumni Advisory Board, formed in Fall 2021. 

Lt. Colonel Otha Thornton

Thornton presented at four student assemblies as part of the outreach effort. He shared how students could find their own pathway to STEM and described STEM careers. Thornton also described highlights of his own career⁠—working directly with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Biden in the White House, along with Congress, to promote passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Act supports STEM education in K-12 schools. 

Thornton’s STEM work is preceded by a 21-year career with the U.S. military. He earned the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional performance in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His other military assignments included working with the White House Communications Agency and U.S. forces in Iraq. As the 53rd president of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Thornton was the first and only African American male to serve as President in the National PTA’s 125-year history. 

Any school can access the Family Engineering Activity & Event Planning Guide to provide positive engineering experiences for K-8 students and their families. For more info, contact: Joan Chadde, jchadde@mtu.edu or 906-487-3341.

Michigan Tech Partners with Lockwood STEM Center: Expanding Educational Access in the Great Lakes Bay Region

The Lockwood STEM Center in Hemlock, Michigan opened in 2020, a fantastic place for students to learn and practice robotics.

This month, Michigan Tech launched a partnership with the Lockwood STEM Center, part of Hemlock Public Schools in Hemlock, to provide educational outreach and opportunities to its students.

As part of the partnership, Michigan Tech established a scholarship program for Hemlock students who participate in robotics activities while in high school and then enroll at Michigan Tech as first-year students. The award provides $1,000 and is renewable annually. Two students will begin receiving the scholarship in Fall 2022 (still to be announced).

Students work on a robot in the Blue Marble Security Enterprise. It’s one of 25 different student-led Enterprise teams operating at Michigan Tech

At Michigan Tech a variety of options exist for students who want to pursue robotics. The University also has a new BS in Robotics, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Several Enterprise teams are focused on Robotics, including the Robotics Systems Enterprise, advised by Michigan Tech Professor (and alumnus) Jeremy Bos.

“Our partnership with the Lockwood STEM Center is in recognition of the incredible academic opportunities it provides to Hemlock Public School District students. We are thrilled to show our support for the Hemlock community and Great Lakes Bay region,” said Cassy Tefft de Muñoz, Executive Director of Enrollment Initiatives at Michigan Tech.  

“Who has robots? We have robots,” says Michigan Tech’s Robotic Systems Enterprise team, open to all majors on campus.

The Lockwood STEM Center was the vision of Tom and Dana Lockwood, teachers at Hemlock High School (HHS) who sought to advance STEM educational opportunities in the community. The state-of-the-art facility is truly a community effort with support from local individuals, industry and Hemlock Public Schools.

Former HHS student Gary Gariglio earned two bachelor degrees at Michigan Tech—one in electrical engineering (’86), and the other in business (’87). He is now president of Interpower Induction in Almont, Michigan. He delivered a keynote address to students and attendees during a special event on May 4 celebrating the new partnership. Gariglio highlighted the value of his Michigan Tech education and emphasized the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity—giving special acknowledgement to Matt Pumford and Greg Turner of Pumford Construction for their commitment and support in the oversight and construction of the Lockwood STEM Center. Pumford earned his bachelors degree in civil engineering at Michigan Tech in 1988.

The collaboration with Hemlock Public Schools is a continuation of Michigan Tech’s strong presence in the Great Lakes Bay Region. This includes a longstanding partnership with Hemlock Semiconductor supporting educational outreach and student attendance at Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs (SYP).

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Read More

Jeremy Bos: What’s Next After First?

STEM Center Named: See photos and learn more about the new Lockwood STEM Center.

Registration for Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs is open and more information is available at mtu.edu/syp.

Michigan Tech SWE Section travels to Wisconsin for ‘Spring Forward’ Professional Day

Michigan Tech SWE section members and alumnae gather for a photo at Spring Forward 2022.

Nine student members of Michigan Tech’s section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and their advisor, Gretchen Hein (MMET), recently attended Spring Forward, a professional development day in Kohler, Wisconsin, hosted by the SWE-Wisconsin.

Laura Kohler, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Stewardship and Sustainability at Kohler Company gave the keynote address. She spoke about her career path, the importance of diversity, and leadership. 

Michigan Tech SWE Section members toured the Kohler Design Center after attending SWE-Wisconsin Spring Forward 2022

Mechanical Engineering alumna Jackie (Burtka) Yosick ‘14 also works at Kohler. She was on hand to discuss her work with engines and generators.

“We were also pleasantly surprised to meet Helene Cornils, director of the Advanced Development Kitchen and Bath Group at Kohler and the parent of a current Michigan Tech biomedical engineering student,” said Hein.

Two former Michigan Tech SWE Section presidents, Katie Buchalski ’19 and Andrea (Walvatne) Falasco ’12 were also present at the event. Buchlaski is an environmental engineering alumna now working at Ruekert-Mielke, where she designs municipal road and utility projects with a focus on modeling the stormwater runoff from individual sites to city-wide studies. Falasco, a mechanical engineering alumna, is lead mechanical engineer at Kimberly Clark, where she designs new equipment to make products that include Kleenex, Huggies, and Kotex. 

Numerous Michigan Tech students won SWE awards at the event, as well. One of those was biomedical engineering major Kathleen Heusser, who won a first place scholarship from the GE Women’s Network.

“Receiving the first-place 2022 GE Women’s Network Scholarship was an incredible honor,” said Heusser. “In addition to the tuition assistance it provides, the scholarship affirms my confidence in the value of my resume, my education, and my professional references, as well as my scholarship essay on what being an engineer means to me,” she explains. “The last paragraph in my essay shares how my work as an engineer will be motivated by my love of others in order to work hard–creating solutions to the problem of an individual, a company, or a society.

Michigan Tech biomedical engineering student, Kathleen Heusser, receives the GE Women’s Network Scholarship

Another highlight of the day: Michigan Tech’s SWE section received the SWE-Wisconsin President’s Choice Award.

After the conference, each Michigan Tech student in attendance reflected on their participation and what they learned:

Aerith Cruz, Management Information Systems: “It was a great opportunity for Michigan Tech SWE members to bond and connect with one another. Being able to travel as a section and experience professional development together is a fulfilling experience. We are able to share learning opportunities and build long-lasting connections with one another. It is also incredibly fun getting to know each other while exploring the area.”

Kathryn Krieger, Environmental Engineering: “It was inspiring to hear the paths of various women, and the impacts they have made. I really enjoyed hearing about modern, female-centered design that benefits women in impactful ways–rather than the stereotypical ‘pink and shrink’ method.”

Natalie Hodge, Electrical and Computer Engineering (dual major): “Laura Kohler shared this quote in her presentation, attributed to Cassie Ho: ‘Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s like comparing the sun and the moon. The sun and the moon shine at their own time.’” 

Katherine Baker, Chemical Engineering: “I especially enjoyed attending the session, ‘Navigating Early Stage Careers: The First 10 Years’. It had a great panel that gave a ton of advice on how to advance as an engineer in the workplace.”

Maci Dostaler, Biomedical Engineering: “Women are necessary when it comes to inclusive design, which was covered during one of the sessions, ‘Breaking the Glass Ceiling’”.

Alli Hummel, Civil Engineering: “Laura Kohler talked about the importance of making time for your personal life and how that is necessary to succeed at work. She is a great example of a woman who succeeds in prioritizing both work and family life.”

Lucy Straubel, Biomedical Engineering: “I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was great to hear all the advice everyone else could give me. And making friends and memories was a bonus, too.”

Amanda West, Mechanical Engineering: “One of the things I liked most about the conference was keynote speaker Laura Kohler’s speech, where she mentioned the importance of having and maintaining relationships with your mentors, an important part in developing your career and professional skills.”

Kathleen Heusser, Biomedical Engineering: “In one session called Navigating Early Stage Careers: The First 10 Years, Tess Cain of DSM, among others, gave insightful tips about saying ‘no’ to a project or demand from management that’s just not feasible. She pointed out that how others accept your ‘no’ depends a lot on how you say it. You should use a response that includes ‘I can’t/Here’s why/Here’s what I would need to make this work’ in order to go in a doable direction with the project. And another inspiring quote, overheard during the Nonlinear Careers and the Versatility of Engineering Degrees panel, was that ‘100 percent of candidates are not 100 percent qualified.’ Raquel Reif of Kohler, in particular, stressed that already having expertise in a job field is not a necessary prerequisite to apply for the job you want.”

Tom Werner: Butterflies, Moths, and Fruit Flies in the Keweenaw

Butterly or moth? Find out during Husky Bites!

Thomas Werner shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, April 4 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 30 minutes (or so), with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Dr. Thomas Werner

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 4/4 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Biological Sciences Associate Professor Thomas Werner. Joining in will be one of his former students, alumna Tessa Steenwinkel.

Tessa Steenwinkel

Steenwinkel earned her BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and her MS in Biology/Biological Sciences, all at Michigan Tech. She works now as an Educational Assistant at Madison Country Day School near Madison, Wisconsin, and she will start a PhD program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, this fall.

During Husky Bites, they will share the most beautiful butterflies, moths, and fruit fly species of the Keweenaw Peninsula. And we’ll learn much more about their Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids. Be sure to bring your questions!

Dr. Werner started studying insects as a childhood hobby, at age 10, when a beautiful butterfly flew in the window of his family’s 9th floor apartment in Erfurt, in East Germany. Many years later, his interest in insects is still strong, as he leads a fruit fly research lab at Michigan Tech. 

Werner’s research bridges the miniscule and the massive in an effort to better understand the mechanisms behind several unique features of fruit flies, such as the developmental genetics of color pattern formation as well as those of mushroom toxin resistance, among several other questions. Some of their research questions aim to provide insight into human cancer development.

For being so small, fruit flies have had a large impact on genetic research, thanks in great part to Dr. Tom Werner at Michigan Tech.

Werner also teaches courses on general immunology, introduction to genomics, developmental biology, and he used to teach genetics and with a genetic techniques lab. He’s been bestowed with the state-wide Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award 2021 and won Michigan Technological University’s Distinguished Teaching Award twice (both in the non-tenured and the tenured categories).

Callout quote:

“Werner is the epitome of the scholar-teacher. His enthusiasm in the classroom is remarkable, as is his devotion to mentoring more than 100 undergraduate researchers,” says David Hemmer, dean, College of Sciences and Arts.

“Thinking about the long winters here, I would call teaching a powerful antidepressant.”

Dr. Thomas Werner

Steenwinkel started at Michigan Tech in the fall of 2017 by joining the Pavlis Honors College. She majored in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-Biological Sciences with a minor in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Originally from the Netherlands, Steenwinkel has lived in the United States since she was 12 years old.

“On Michigan Tech’s annual Preview Day in March 2017, Tessa visited my lab at Michigan Tech as a high school student,” Werner recalls. “I offered her a job on the spot, because I felt that she would become the best student I have ever mentored. And I was correct about that: As my undergraduate research assistant and master’s student, she has published two books and 10 papers with me, while she won 8 university-wide and national awards!”

Tessa at work in the Werner Lab

“When I walked into the lab, I knew that this could be the place for me,” adds Steenwinkel. “After getting started at Tech, I immediately reconnected with Dr. Werner and essentially started working in the lab the next day. I worked there for over four years, working alongside grad students, leading my own project, and managing the lab even when Dr. Werner went on sabbatical in Singapore. I was always so grateful to have Dr. Werner as a mentor.”  

During her first year, Steenwinkel went from assisting in Werner’s research lab to becoming a co-author on his book, Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast, with John Jaenike, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester. The three later published a second book together “Drosophilids of the Southeast”, published under the umbrella name “The Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids.” Both books welcome researchers, teachers, and young students alike into the amazing world of flies and the diversity of their potential use in research.  

The Encyclopedia of North American Drosopholids, Vol 1: covers the Midwest and Northeast.
The trio’s second book covers the Drosophilids of the Southeast.

The books also include a significant outreach component that speaks to young children about science and nature in the form of a bedtime story about fruit flies written by Steenwinkel. Open-access books, they can be downloaded for free here and here.

While at Michigan Tech, Steenswinkel became the first recipient of the Soyring Foundation Scholarship. John Soyring, Tech alumnus and Pavlis Honors College External Advisory Board member, established the scholarship for Pavlis Honors students expressing interest in research and innovation related to water quality management, renewable energy, or solutions to prevent and cure cancer. 

Prof. Werner, what sparked your interest in biology, fruit flies and genetics?

I am a biologist by heart. It all started in former East Germany when a butterfly entered my bedroom on the ninth floor in the middle of the city. On that July morning in 1981, I started collecting butterflies as a 10-year-old boy. This moment defined my life, and today I am associate professor of genetics and developmental biology.

Family?

I have a wife Megan, a daughter Natalia (10), and two sons: Oliver (7) and Oscar (5).

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

As a hobby, I collect and rear butterflies and moths. I like camping (and collecting fruit flies on these trips for my next field guides). I also have a dog named Frosty, who also likes camping.

Tessa, what sparked your interest in science?

My brother with Down Syndrome first got me interested in biology. From there, I started to learn about genetics, development, and diversity. This is what brought me to Michigan Tech and to start working in Dr. Werner’s lab, where he was using fruit flies to model human cancer. When I started working there, he had just published his first book on fruit flies, and I was immediately fascinated by the beauty and diversity of these small bugs. 

Hometown, family?

I’m originally from the Netherlands. I grew up there with my parents and two younger brothers. In 2012, we moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before moving to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2014. In 2017, I decided to start college at Michigan Tech, where I obtained my undergraduate and master’s degrees.

Any hobbies or pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy running outside and teaching ski lessons to the local kids. When you live in Houghton, you have to make the best out of it. I’m currently getting ready to start my PhD. I currently have two very enthusiastic turtles.