KCP Future Faculty/GEM Associate Fellow – Karen Colbert

Karen Colbert is a 2nd year PhD student in Computational Science & Engineering. Karen has received extensive training in Data Visualization, Social Network Analysis (SNA), and Predictive Analytics. She specializes in Race, Ethnicity, and Quantitative Methodologies. Currently, Karen incorporates all those skills in her role as a Research assistant with the MTU NSF ADVANCE team to help study and improve outcomes in diversity and equity efforts for MTU faculty.

Karen has over 5 years of experience working through different capacities to bridge the STEM equity gap for both faculty and students of color in the Tribal College community (TCU). She serves on TCU data assessment teams and as a faculty mentor to environmental science capstone students at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC). 

Karen also serves as an adjunct math faculty at KBOCC. In the most recent 3 years, Karen has worked with Carnegie Math Pathways, Achieving the Dream, and the American Indian College Fund to develop math curriculum with Indigenous contextual content using the Growth Mindset. As a result, KBOCC has seen drastic improvements in the retention and persistence of tribal college students in their math courses over the last 3 years. As she continues her work with TCUs, she incorporates SNA and other quantitative methods to develop assessment tools used for reporting to accrediting agencies.

Karen hopes to see her burden for bridging the STEM equity gap for people of color (POC) create amazing opportunities and results in the higher learning educational environment for years to come.


CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Nominee – Mayra Morgan

Mayra Sanchez Morgan completed a PhD in the Environmental and Energy Policy program in the Social Science department at Michigan Tech in 2019. Dr. Morgan’s research investigates how ecotourism empowers or disempowers women in rural Mexico. The first paper from her dissertation, entitled “The Third Shift? Gender and Empowerment in a Women’s Ecotourism Cooperative”, was published in the journal Rural Sociology in 2019 and has been recognized as one of the most downloaded articles of the journal. During her degree, Dr. Morgan organized two conferences and presented her research in more than 18 conferences, meetings, and as a guest lecture in national and international conferences and meetings. She served as a campus leader in diverse student organizations (such as GSG, ASPEN, and NOSTROS) and worked diligently to promote diversity and inclusion. Dr. Morgan received a Finishing Fellowship from the Michigan Tech Graduate School and a Dissertation Research Award from the Rural Sociological Society. Dr. Morgan enjoys dancing and warm and sunny days. 


CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Nominee – Ameya Narkar

I obtained my Master’s and PhD degrees in Biomedical Engineering at Tech under the guidance of Dr. Bruce P. Lee in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. My PhD dissertation was entitled “Reversibly switching adhesion of smart adhesives inspired by mussel adhesive chemistry.”

The motivation behind conducting this research was to develop smart adhesives that could be reversibly attached and detached from various surfaces by applying an external trigger. I synthesized a smart adhesive consisting of mussel-inspired adhesive groups and boronic acid protective groups. It showed strong adhesion in a wetted saline environment, while this adhesion was dramatically decreased by elevating the pH to a basic value. The adhesive could be reversibly attached and detached owing to the reversible pH-responsive complexation between the adhesive and protective groups.

Such a smart adhesive that can adhere and debond on-command can enable the repeated attachment of sensors and devices to underwater surfaces such as ship hulls and submarines. These sensors and devices can then be retrieved and re-deployed. A moisture-resistant smart adhesive which can be integrated with wearable electronic sensors that track human vital signs also bears tremendous implications in the biomedical field.

I am currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Syracuse University, where I am designing light-triggered biomaterials for examining cellular activity.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Qing Guo

I have joined Prof. Pandey’s research group at Michigan Technological University since Fall 2015 to pursue my Ph.D. degree in Physics.

My Ph.D. research is focused on an investigation of the novel properties of materials using first-principles density functional theory (DFT) method and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. It can be divided into two parts. In my first project, I have systematically studied the electronic properties of vertically stacked heterostructures composed by graphene and SnO. In this study, we found a finite bandgap is opened for graphene and the outmost SnO monolayers could protect the bandgap from high external electric field (up to ≈ 0.3×10^9 V/m). This result could provide clues for the practical application of graphene in nano-level electronic devices design. The second project is related to the Li-S battery system which has been considered as a promising energy storage system due to its high theoretical energy density and relatively low cost in terms of main reactants (e.g. sulfur). My research is related to the characterization of Li polysulfides solid phases to predict their mechanical stability and electronic nature (i.e. metal vs semiconductor) which will help understand the reaction path and advance the design of a functionalized cathode in the Li-S battery system for energy applications. This project is still ongoing, and I would like to thank the Graduate School for financing my last stage of research. 



Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Kevin Sunderland

I am a PhD Candidate in my final year with the Biomedical Engineering department at Michigan Tech. My research focuses on the study of complex swirling blood flow patterns and how analyzing their characteristics can help to better understand the development, growth, and rupture of cerebral aneurysms. In my doctoral dissertation, I have utilized computational fluid dynamics to simulate blood flow patterns in 3D vascular models taken from medical imaging files of patients with cerebral aneurysms and applied a novel computational analytic method to identify areas of complex swirling flow and measure their changes over the cardiac cycle. This has led to novel quantified metrics that can improve statistical models to predict areas of aneurysm development, and improve models capable of differentiating ruptured and unruptured aneurysms giving new insights into flow conditions suggestive of aneurysm rupture that are often overlooked in other studies. The final aspect of my doctoral research is to use a specialized flow chamber to expose human vascular endothelial cells to multiple areas of swirling flow, with each area having varied spatiotemporal characteristics. These cells will be analyzed to see if varied swirling flow characteristics lead to differing levels of cellular changes indicative of aneurysm rupture: expression of cell-to-cell adhesion proteins, inflammatory markers, and levels of cellular apoptosis (death).

My hope is that this work will one day help doctors further understand the complex nature of aneurysms, and that the quantified measure of swirling flow characteristics will be utilized in the clinical setting to better identify which aneurysms are at high rupture risk. This could help guide clinical decision making to determine if aneurysm surgery prior to rupture is worth the risk, or if an aneurysm is likely to remain stable, posing minimal risk to patient health.

I am extremely grateful to Michigan Tech’s graduate school for this financial support, allowing me the opportunity to finish my research. I also would like to express my gratitude to my advisors Dr. Jingfeng Jaing and Dr. Feng Zhao (now faculty at Texas A&M), as well as my committee members Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, Dr. Gowtham, and Dr. Min Wang for their expertise and guidance throughout my research at Michigan Tech.


Nominations open for the 2021 MAGS Distinguished Thesis 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, October 8. 2020, following our online instructions. This year, nominations are being accepted from dissertations in the fields of:

  1. Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering
  2. Social Sciences

Michigan Tech may nominate one student in each field. Master’s students who have completed all of their degree requirements between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2020, are eligible. The fields of competition for 2022 will be humanities and biological and life sciences.

Nominations must be delivered to Debra Charlesworth in the Graduate School no later than 4 p.m. on October 8. 2020; e-mail nominations to gradschool@mtu.edu are preferred.  Contact Debra Charlesworth (gradschool@mtu.edu) if you have any questions about the competition.


The DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program is now accepting applications!

Dear Colleagues,

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science is pleased to announce that the Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program is now accepting applications for the 2020 Solicitation 2.  Applications are due 5:00pm Eastern Time on Thursday, November 12, 2020.

We would like to bring to your attention 4 new transdisciplinary research areas for encouraging graduate training activities at the convergence of multiple disciplines and communities, including Microelectronics, Data Science, Conservation Laws and Symmetries, and Accelerator Science. We strongly encourage applications in these areas.  Detailed information about the program, including eligibility requirements and access to the online application system, can be found at: https://science.osti.gov/wdts/scgsr/.  

The SCGSR program supports supplemental awards to outstanding U.S. graduate students to conduct part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE national laboratory/facility in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist for a period of 3 to 12 consecutive months—with the goal of preparing graduate students for scientific and technical careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission.

The SCGSR program is open to current Ph.D. students in qualified graduate programs at accredited U.S. academic institutions, who are conducting their graduate thesis research in targeted areas of importance to the DOE Office of Science. The research opportunity is expected to advance the graduate students’ overall doctoral thesis/dissertation while providing access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available at the host DOE laboratories/facilities. The supplemental award provides for additional, incremental costs for living and travel expenses directly associated with conducting the SCGSR research project at the DOE host laboratory/facility during the award period.

The Office of Science expects to make approximately 95 awards in 2020 Solicitation 2 cycle, for project periods beginning anytime between June 14, 2021 and October 4, 2021.

Since its inception in 2014, the SCGSR program has provided support to over 580 graduate awardees from 141 different U.S. universities to conduct thesis research at 18 DOE national laboratories/facilities across the nation.

The SCGSR program is sponsored and managed by the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS), in collaboration with the six Office of Science research programs offices and the DOE national laboratories/facilities, and program administration support is provided by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

For any questions, please contact the SCGSR Program Manager, Dr. Ping Ge, at sc.scgsr@science.doe.gov.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science


Spring 2021 Finishing Fellowship Nominations Open

Applications for Spring 2021 finishing fellowships are being accepted and are due no later than 4pm, October 21, 2020 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.


Smart Start Seminar – September 2, 2020

New graduate students to Michigan Tech are invited to our virtual Smart Start.  In Smart Start, we’ll introduce students to resources and policies to assist them to have a successful start to their graduate career. It will be especially useful for students in their first year, but all students are welcome to attend. The seminar will be recorded for any students who cannot attend the zoom meeting.

The seminar will be on September 2, 2020 beginning at 1:00pm via Zoom.  Please register online to receive streaming information and reminders to attend.
It will be taped and available online for those unable to attend at that time.


Submission and Formatting 101: Master the Dissertation, Thesis, and Report Process

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, September 9, 2020, 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.