Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Oudumbar Rajput

I obtained my Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Pune in 2013.I started my graduate studies at Michigan Technological University in Fall 2015. During my master’s degree program, I joined Dr. Youngchul Ra’s research lab (Reacting Flows and Fuel Research Lab) at Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics department and started my Ph.D. program in January 2017. The focal point of my research is to use in-house computational fluid dynamics tool to numerically develop a novel six-stroke gasoline compression ignition (6S-GCI) engine cycle to improve fuel consumption, reduce emissions, extend the operating range of conventional four-stroke GCI, and stabilize the engine operation at low loads.

A high compression ratio engine with two intake/exhaust valves is used for this work. The first task completed focused on understanding the impact of valve opening/closing timings on the overall combustion behavior in 6S-GCI engine. It successfully demonstrated that the 6S-GCI cycle improves fuel consumption compared to corresponding four-stroke operation. An important finding is that both kinetically-controlled mode (KCM) and mixing-controlled mode (MCM) of combustion could be achieved in the second power stroke maintaining low soot levels. Next, attention was paid to understand the underlying physics of combustion regime change (KCM/MCM). To achieve this, the impact of the variation of split ratio (ratio in which total fuel was divided amongst both the power stokes), fuel injection timings, intake temperature, boost pressure, EGR ratio, and injection pressure on overall combustion and emissions performance was analyzed. Finally, the effects of injector configuration and piston bowl geometry characteristics on fuel oxidation rates and formation and oxidation rates of emissions were analyzed. The work completed thus far helps not only to gain an understanding of the mechanism of enhancement of combustion phasing controllability, stabilizing of engine operation at low engine loads, and improvement of combustion efficiency, but also in planning new experiments, and in designing new engines.

I would like to sincerely thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for providing me with the Finishing Fellowship award. This will allow me to focus on defending my dissertation in summer 2021.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Sandip Aryal

I joined Michigan Tech in Fall 2018 as a graduate student in the Department of Physics and began working with Dr. Ranjit Pati. Before coming here, I completed a Master’s from the University of Utah and a postgraduate diploma in condensed matter and statistical physics from International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

At MTU, my research focuses on the prediction of new materials with novel properties using density functional theory (DFT) and spin transport in these materials using DFT and non-equilibrium Green’s function method for possible applications in spintronic devices. In these three years, I have completed a couple of research projects under the supervision of my advisor in which we tailored the properties of pristine semiconducting Ge-Si core-shell nanowire via doping of transition metals to predict a new class of materials. We then theoretically showed that the newly tailored materials act as an excellent spin filter (Mn-doped devices) or a switch (Cr-doped devices) with a high ON-OFF current ratio. Our results have laid the foundations for experiments and are expected to generate experimental interest in the near future due to compatibility with the current Si-based technology for potential applications in low dimensional spintronics.

I am extremely grateful to the graduate school (MTU) for supporting me through the doctoral finishing fellowship during the summer semester. I believe that this fellowship will allow me to concentrate completely on writing my dissertation and graduate sooner.

The DeVlieg Foundation Research Award; Summer 2021 Recipient – Michelle Kelly

I’m an ecosystem ecologist, which means I work to understand the connections and feedbacks between organisms, nutrient cycles, and the environment. For my PhD dissertation, I’m exploring the links between nitrogen cycling and ecosystem metabolism in streams, rivers, and wetlands using environmental sensor data and mathematical modeling.

I’m so thankful to the DeVlieg Foundation and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory panel for this support. With their help, I’m able to spend this summer focused on data analysis for the third chapter of my dissertation, which explores the drivers of seasonal changes in nutrient retention and export in a coastal Lake Erie wetland using a decade of sensor data. Hopefully, the results of this analysis can inform management of shoreline wetlands, which may help mitigate cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Erie.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Sriram Valluri


Firstly, I want to thank MTU for awarding me the prestigious doctoral finishing fellowship award. I was born and brought up in south India. I did my undergraduate and master’s degree at IIT-Dhanbad, which accepts only the top 1% of students of India every year. For my Ph.D., I was offered a full scholarship at University of Queensland, Australia, and Penn state university, but I rather chose MTU to work under Dr. S. Komar Kawatra.

Prof Komar Kawatra is leading the CO2 capture and utilization research team at Michigan Tech University. Our goal is to capture CO2 from coal-fired power plants at minimal cost and convert CO2 into value-added products like Syn-gas, Oxalic acid, etc. For the last four years, I have worked extensively on carbon capture and utilization projects. I and my team of undergraduate researchers have continuously improved the efficiency of our CO2 scrubber system and also tested the prototype in a pilot-scale environment. We presented our work at International Conferences representing MTU and received applause. I have published several papers on chemical absorption CO2 capture, in high-impact journals.

I Worked on multiple CO2 capture projects and successfully submitted reports. Successfully captured CO2 from Michigan Technological University steam plant as part of my Ph.D. thesis project. I have installed our pilot-scale CO2 scrubber system at the Michigan tech Power plant and reduced the CO2 emissions from 8% to 4%. I have trained Sam Root, a Chem Eng. Freshman on this project, who won national awards in Poster competitions.

Photography and rock climbing are two of my favorite pastimes. I am extremely pleased with my decision to pursue my Ph.D. at MTU. The upper peninsula of Michigan is a photographer’s dream, both in winter and in fall. When I have free time, I like to explore different parts of UP and take some landscape pictures. 

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Nathan Spike

I am a PhD candidate in the mechanical engineering – engineering mechanics program. I have been fortunate during my graduate studies to have served as a graduate teaching assistant for the SAE AutoDrive Challenge, working with an interdisciplinary team of graduate and undergraduate students on the development of an autonomous vehicle. Work with this competition has afforded me the use of an autonomous Chevrolet Bolt as a platform to perform research activities relevant to my dissertation. My research has focused on path planning and control of autonomous vehicles performing obstacle avoidance on low friction surfaces, an area that is essential for widespread adoption of autonomous vehicle technology. I have developed vehicle steering controls which react to un-detected ice on the road, allowing a vehicle to maintain control when traction is lost. I have also worked on optimal paths for obstacle avoidance when the friction surface is known. Finally, I have worked on stochastic methods for representing friction surfaces in simulation which improve correlation between a simulated vehicle model and hardware test platforms. 

I would like to thank my co-advisors, Dr. Darrell Robinette and Dr. Jeremy P. Bos for their support and guidance during my pursuit of the PhD. I would also like the thank the Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the graduate school for awarding me the finishing fellowship. This award will allow me to focus my efforts on completing my dissertation document and preparing for my defense in the Summer of 2021.

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship – Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Recipients

Congratulations to the following students on receiving the Outstanding Scholarship Award!

Amit Acharya – Physics
Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo – Humanities
Oluwatomisin Shalom Akinbo – College of Business
Jessica Alger – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Alejandra Itzel Almanza Perales – Materials Science and Engineering
Emily Anible – Mathematical Sciences
Austin Arenz – College of Business
Tanner Barnes – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Beth Bartel – Geology and Mining Eng Sciences
Allison Berryman – College of Business
Prateek Sameer Bhalla – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Chaitanya Ganesh Bhat – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Parth Parimalbhai Bhatt – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Troy Bouman – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Jessica Bruning – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Sam Celani – Electrical and Computer Engineering
FNU Chandan Kumar – Geology and Mining Engineering Sciences
Marina Choy – Humanities
Michael Conard – Computer Science
Anthony Custard – College of Business
William Dion – Biological Sciences
Akshay Shankarrao Dongre – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Jon Furlich – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Dylan Gaines – Computer Science
Anindya Ghoshroy – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Qing Guo – Physics
David Hallberg – Electrical and Computer Engineering
John Harron – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Brittany Hubbard – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Saeed Jafari Kang – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Dongzhao Jin – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Shreya Joshi – Physics
Siva Krishna Kakula – Computer Science
Ranit Karmakar – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Joshua Kemppainen – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Pegah Kord Forooshani – Biomedical Engineering
Arianna Laiho – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Weibing Li – Mathematical Sciences
Yanfang Liu – Mathematical Sciences
Evan Lucas – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ali Moazzam – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Andrea Myers – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao – Biomedical Engineering
Veena Sathish Namboodri – Humanities
Nicholas Newberry – Chemistry
Yugandhara Yuvraj Patil – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Jessica Pitts – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Veronica Porter – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Ashfiqur Rahman – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Nelmary Rodríguez-Sepúlveda – Geology and Mining Eng Sciences
Kaitlyn Roose – Cognitive and Learning Sciences
Cristhian Paul Salas Pazmiño – Geology and Mining Engineering Sciences
Mujeeb Olushola Shittu – Biological Sciences
Cameron Shock – Physics
Prasad Pramod Soman – Materials Science and Engineering
Steven Stelly – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Kevin Sunderland – Biomedical Engineering
Arman Tatar – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Subin Thomas – Physics
Ariana Tyo – Biomedical Engineering
Matthew Vander Molen – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Isaac Wedig – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Zhuo Xu – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Ruiting Zhan – Chemical Engineering
Jiongxun Zhang – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Zhihao Zhao – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Xiaodong Zhou – Civil and Environmental Engineering

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Dominic Uhelski

I always had an admiration for inventors like the Wright brothers, pushing boundaries despite setbacks. The spirit of experimentation is much like the spirit of exploration – both tread into unknown territory for the purpose of discovery. At Michigan Tech, I got to feed both.

I began my journey at Michigan Tech as an incoming master’s student in January 2018. Joining the labs of Dr. Evan Kane and Dr. Rod Chimner, I immediately got to work learning a whole new set of skills necessary to be successful in graduate research. From my background in fisheries and wildlife and upland fire ecology, Rod and Evan gave me the opportunity and support to pursue a different course. I pushed my own boundaries making the transition to wetland fire ecology, then I started pushing the boundaries of the science. We wanted to know how frequently peatlands in the upper peninsula experienced wildfire. To that end, we had to find evidence of these wildfires. However, the options for finding the evidence we needed were limiting. With standard techniques, we could get an idea of fire frequency in only a few sites. We set our sights higher.

Rod and Evan helped me cultivate the spirit of experimentation with the perseverance of an inventor. With their help, I surpassed the limitations of the present methods by inventing my own. Like every other scientist and inventor, I stood on the shoulders of giants to reach as far as I have, but that makes me no less proud, only more humble. It was not easy, but my efforts were rewarded. Rather than three sites, we were able to study thirty. Now every other scientist who wants to do the same will be able to walk the trail we blazed.

Somewhere along the way, we realized that this work had potential beyond a master’s project, so I decided to stay on and make a Ph.D. project out of it, and I’m glad that I did. I have learned so much from working with Rod and Evan, about the field, the research process, about what my strengths and weaknesses are. Now, as my time at MTU winds gradually to a close, I know that I still have more to learn, but I also have a duty to publish all that we have learned. That may be the most difficult part of the whole process, but the support of the finishing fellowship that I have received will be an invaluable assistance. I am grateful to the graduate school for awarding me this fellowship, and to Rod, Evan, my committee, my coauthors, and the undergraduate assistants that have all contributed to bringing this work to fruition.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Josh Chase

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Theory and Culture program in the Department of Humanities. I previously earned a Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing from St. Cloud State University, as well as undergraduate degrees in English literature and creative writing.

The Finishing Fellowship will allow me to continue my research on the rhetoric of conspiracy culture. My dissertation examines how conspiracy theories and anti-conspiracy discourses both draw from and shape public understandings of science and technology. I am especially interested in the rhetorical struggle for epistemic supremacy between conspiracy theorists and their detractors, as well as the emulation of scientific disciplinary practices by users of online conspiracy forums. My project seeks to better understand how terms like “conspiracy theorist,” “truther,” “debunker,” and “skeptic,” operate rhetorically to reify and mediate the boundaries between outlandish ideas and legitimated knowledge.

My time at Michigan Tech has allowed me to pursue interests in digital rhetoric and public understanding of science, to develop a critical and transdisciplinary pedagogy, and to refine my interests in writing program administration and writing center studies. I am grateful for the support of the Department of Humanities and the Graduate School. I am particularly thankful for my advisory committee—Dr. Abraham Romney, Dr. Marika Seigel, and Dr. Carlos Amador—whose mentorship and encouragement has been invaluable.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Daniel Bryne

I began my Ph.D. in computer science in the Fall of 2016. I currently work with Dr. Zhenlin Wang and Dr. Nilufer Onder to model and optimize caching systems deployed in cloud computing environments. Data caching helps improve the speed and efficiency of front-end cloud applications such as websites and video streaming. Specifically, we focus on utilizing new memory technologies to lower operational costs while meeting performance targets. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Rochester, we have developed a new data caching system. Our system uses intelligent data replication and allocation across multiple memory devices to maximize performance while reducing overall operating costs. My improvements to caching systems have gone outside the lab, being adopted into a widely-used open-source caching system, memcached.

I am incredibly grateful for my committee’s support as I finish my dissertation over the summer. It has been a wonderful journey, and I have greatly enjoyed my time as a graduate student, especially my tenure as GSG Vice President. I am happy to have had the opportunity to advocate for graduate students and achieve increased support for health care. I also would like to thank the College of Computing for its efforts in creating a strong research environment and a supportive community of graduate students and faculty. I extend my sincere gratitude to the Graduate School for this support during the final period of completing and defending my dissertation.

Nominations open for KCP Future Faculty Fellowships

Applications are being sought for KCP Future Faculty Fellowships, a program funded by the State of Michigan.  The purpose of the King-Chávez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship Program is to increase the pool of academically and economically disadvantaged candidates pursuing faculty teaching or administrative careers in post-secondary education.

Priority will be placed on applications submitted by 4pm on May 13, 2021, but applications will be accepted through May 31, 2021. KCP fellowships provide students up to $20,000 (MS students) or $35,000 (PhD students) to pursue their degrees.  Funds may be used to support students, including faculty and staff, pursuing degrees at Michigan Tech.  For Michigan Tech students, the Graduate School and nominating department must also contribute matching funds to help support the student.

Complete information about eligibility criteria and materials needed for an application is available on our web page. Please note that beginning this year, applications will be submitted through the MILogin Citizens Portal. Questions about eligibility or the application procedure can be directed to Dr. Debra Charlesworth.