Day: June 12, 2020

Doctoral Portage Health Foundation Assistantship Summer 2020 Recipient – Lavanya Rajesh Kumar

At Michigan Tech I have had an opportunity to learn about interesting fields like motor learning and human factors, which were quite new to me. I also engaged in various service related, entrepreneurial and leadership activites. In the four years that I have been here, I have had the good fortune to have met some wonderful people and participate in community related events. I had lots of fun volunteering for the regional Copper Dog 150 event,  the annual illuminary ski event at Maasto Hiihto chalet and the Houghton Portage Township school’s FIRST robotic regional competition.

My PhD program in the Aging, Cognition and Action Lab, under the supervison of Dr. Kevin Trewartha (in the department  of Cognitive and Learning Sciences) , is in the area of health, neuroscience, motor learning and aging. The overarching aim of my dissertation is to investigate the role of exercise and social-cognitive-affective processes in improving neurocognitive function and their connection to other related domains like motor learning and emotional intelligence. In the first study we looked at low-impact eccentric exercise as an intervention. In the second study we are applying motivational techniques like enhanced expectancies, external focus of attention, and autonomy support as short-term interventions to improve motor learning and performance in a novel sensorimotor task in both, younger and older adults. The rationale behind these studies is to provide evidence of novel intervention methods that are both effective and simple and that can be employed to enhance motor learning and performance in older and younger adults. We expect that the findings will pave way for future work on the application of these techniques across various fields including rehabilitation, therapy, training, education and sports across different age groups, populations and conditions.

I am extremely grateful to the Portage Health Foundation for awarding me this graduate assistantship, which provided me with the opportunity to exclusively focus on my dissertation and work towards publishing papers on our novel interventions to improve health, motor learning and cognitive abilities. I would also like to express my gratitude to my advisor and department for their support and encouragement.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2020 Recipient – Bethel Worku Tarekegne

Bethel Tarekegne is a PhD candidate in Environmental and Energy Policy at Michigan Technological University. She holds a Masters in Energy Policy from the School of Public Policy at University of Maryland, College Park and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Benedict College.

Bethel’s work focuses on examining the intersection of energy, development, policy, and governance. Her current research is motivated by the need to achieve universal energy access in developing economies – mainly in the sub-Saharan Africa region. As an energy access researcher, she focuses on modeling decision tools for electrification planning with a special emphasis on the integration of techno-economic and socio-technical perspectives, rural electrification and social development, energy security and justice, and energy governance and policymaking. Through her work, she tries to understand how electrification projects can be designed from the energy-poor’s perspective in order to have equitable socio-economic outcomes.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2020 Recipient – Kevin Nevorski

I came to Michigan tech in 2016 to pursue my Ph.D. with Dr. Amy Marcarelli studying nitrogen cycling in steams. The past 4 years have been filled with adventures learning about stream ecosystems, meeting other scientists n my field, and discovering myself. My research is geared toward achieving a better understanding of how different environmental factors in the stream and the surrounding watershed will influence different nitrogen cycling processes. This included regular year-round sampling trips to the Pilgrim River to study seasonal and daily variation in nitrogen cycling. During this sampling, I basked in the warm sun of summer days and shivered during the -20 degree winter blizzards. This sampling encompassed the Father’s Day Flood providing insight into how nitrogen cycles are affected by and recover from severe hydrological events. I was also lucky enough to travel visiting labs and scientists across the country to better understand how nitrogen cycling changes with different environments, watersheds, and ecoregions. From Massachusetts to Oregon, Florida to Alaska we traveled in our lab van often camping along the way. All that excitement can only last so long and I’m looking forward to a summer locked p with my computer and all the data I’ve gathered writing up my findings for publication and getting ready to defend.