Nominee for 2021 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award: Hongmei Lu

The Graduate School is pleased to announce that Hongmei Lu is Michigan Tech’s nominee for the 2021 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award in the area of Humanities and Fine Arts.  Dr. Lu received her Ph.D. in Environmental and Energy Policy in the department of Social Sciences in 2020 and was advised by Dr. Audrey Mayer.  Her dissertation was entitled, “From Garden City to Sponge City: Urban Green Infrastructure Policy Development.”  As described by her advisor, her dissertation focused on Chinese policies and policy actors in the rapidly-emerging area of urban green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is increasingly used around the world to solve common environmental problems in cities, such as flooding, air pollution, and climate change. In China, as in the rest of the world, urban green infrastructure has a significant environmental justice dimension; green space is more commonly found in wealthier neighborhoods and has a positive feedback effect on real estate prices and rents. In response to the rapid urbanization of China, the central government has put forth an increasing number of policies (such as the Sponge City program) to try to address flooding and pollution issues through the implementation of green infrastructure. As Hongmei’s work is revealing, the success or failure of these policies often rely upon the presence of astute policy agents who can shepherd programs and projects through a sometimes-byzantine bureaucratic system.

Currently, Dr. Lu is working with Dr. Angie Carter on a community-based research project of local food system development in the Western Upper Peninsula, Michigan, and explores how grassroots co-production of a local food system can improve community wellbeing, especially food security and food sovereignty during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Lu was nominated by the Social Sciences department and the nomination was supported by Dr. Audrey Mayer, Dr. Shan Zhou, and Dr. Melissa Baird.

The CGS/ProQuest Award operates on a two-year cycle with regard to fields of competition. The next competition will occur in 2022 and will consider applicants who have completed their degrees between July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022 in the fields of Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering; and the Social Sciences.  Please consider nominating your Ph.D. graduates next year.


Nominations open for the 2021 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award. Please submit nominations to the Graduate School no later than 4pm, June 16, 2021, following our online instructions. This year, nominations are being accepted from dissertations in the fields of:

  1. Biological and Life Sciences
  2. Humanities and Fine Arts

Michigan Tech may nominate one student in each field. PhD students who have completed all of their degree requirements between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2021, are eligible. The fields of competition for 2022 will be Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering; and Social Sciences.

Nominations must be delivered to Debra Charlesworth in the Graduate School no later than 4 p.m. on June 16, 2021; e-mail nominations to gradschool@mtu.edu are preferred.  Contact Debra Charlesworth (gradschool@mtu.edu) if you have any questions about the competition.


How to change your life

If you’ve ever struggled with how to establish a new habit (maybe something like writing every day for your dissertation), behavioral science has some ideas that might be helpful for you.

In NPR’s Life Kit podcast, behavioral scientist Katy Milkman of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School presents some of her findings. One idea that we found interesting is that some flexibility in setting your goals can help you establish new habits. If you set a goal to write everyday at 10am for an hour, but don’t do it, give yourself the flexibility to fit in an hour at a different time in the day. People who gave themselves the flexibility to fit in a workout at a prescribed time or a different time were more likely to stick to that new habit.


Submission and Formatting 101 for Summer 2021

Students who are completing a dissertation, thesis, or report are invited to join the Graduate School to learn about the resources available to them to assist in scheduling their defense, formatting their documents, and submitting their documents.  In one afternoon, you can learn everything you need to be successful and complete your degree in a timely fashion!  Faculty and staff who assist students with submissions are also welcome to attend.  Attend the entire event, or stop in for the seminar that interests you.

  • When: Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 2 – 4pm (see detailed schedule below)
  • Who: Students completing a dissertation, thesis or report; faculty and staff who assist students with submission
  • Where: Zoom webinar; (register to attend online and receive participation instructions)

If you are unable to join us, the event will be taped and available online after the event. The previous semester’s seminars are always available online.

Information on submitting, formatting, and more can be found online for dissertations and theses or reports.

Detailed schedule

  • 2 – 3pm – Submission 101 Learn what is required to submit your document to the Graduate School and the deadlines for the upcoming semester.  Best for students who are completing their degree this semester or next semester.
  • 3 – 4pm – Formatting 101-103: Word, Acrobat and Copyright
    • Learn how to find what you need in the Guide and use a Word template to create a perfectly formatted document the first time. 
    • Learn how to use Adobe Acrobat to check your document to ensure it meets our formatting requirements and correct it without recreating the PDF.
    • Learn how to use copyrighted materials in your document, including papers you have published as well as materials created by someone else.
  • 4pm – ?: Final questions Have a question that hasn’t been answered yet? We’ll be available to answer any additional questions you have.

Fall 2021 Finishing Fellowship Nominations Open

Applications for Fall 2021 finishing fellowships are being accepted and are due no later than 4pm, June 30, 2021 to the Graduate School. Please email applications to gradschool@mtu.edu.

Instructions on the application and evaluation process are found online. Students are eligible if all of the following criteria are met:

  1. Must be a PhD student.
  2. Must expect to finish during the semester supported as a finishing fellow.
  3. Must have submitted no more than one previous application for a finishing fellowship.
  4. Must be eligible for candidacy (tuition charged at Research Mode rate) at the time of application.
  5. Must not hold a final oral examination (“defense”) prior to the start of the award semester.

Finishing Fellowships provide support to PhD candidates who are close to completing their degrees. These fellowships are available through the generosity of alumni and friends of the University. They are intended to recognize outstanding PhD candidates who are in need of financial support to finish their degrees and are also contributing to the attainment of goals outlined in The Michigan Tech Plan. The Graduate School anticipates funding up to ten fellowships with support ranging from $2000 to full support (stipend + tuition). Students who receive full support through a Finishing Fellowship may not accept any other employment. For example, students cannot be fully supported by a Finishing Fellowship and accept support as a GTA or GRA.


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

Statement

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.