Author: Katrina King

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Peifeng Su

Peifeng Su standing outside with Portage Lake Lift Bridge in background
Peifeng Su – Civil Engineering

First and foremost, I express my sincere gratitude to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for their recommendation for this esteemed award. I would also like to extend my appreciation to the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering for their unwavering support throughout my doctoral studies. Particularly, I am deeply thankful to my advisor, Dr. Qingli Dai, whose guidance and mentorship have been invaluable in shaping my academic journey and honing my critical thinking abilities. Without her steadfast commitment and insight, I would not have attained the level of proficiency I possess as a PhD candidate today.

My dissertation focuses on the evaluation and prediction of chloride ingress in concrete and its impact on reinforced rebars. Concrete stands as the most widely utilized construction material globally; however, due to the intricate nature of concrete composition and the variability in exposure conditions, accurately predicting concrete performance presents a significant challenge. Through a combination of laboratory experimentation and numerical simulations, my dissertation enhances the accuracy of predicting chloride penetration depth and rebar corrosion processes, offering valuable insights for concrete design and maintenance.

In addition to my dissertation, I have contributed as a graduate research assistant to two projects: “Build Sustainable and Durable Rubber-Modified Concrete Pavement” and “Evaluation of Conditions Causing Negative Environmental Impacts When Using Recycled Concrete Aggregate.” The former project resulted in the successful construction of the inaugural rubberized concrete pavement in Muskegon, Michigan. The latter project is still ongoing, focusing on evaluating how recycled concrete aggregate materials impact the surrounding environment. These practical project experiences provided valuable knowledge about the concrete industry, which is very beneficial for my future career.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Revanth Mattey

Revanth Mattey leaning against a table, indoors, wearing suit and tie
Revanth Mattey –
Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

I am deeply grateful and honored to receive the Finishing Fellowship Award from the graduate school and the graduate dean’s advisory panel.

My journey at Michigan Tech began in 2018 when I commenced my graduate studies. Working alongside Dr. Susanta Ghosh, I completed my Master’s thesis in 2021. The research I conducted during this time inspired me to pursue a Ph.D. I’ve since dedicated myself to exploring phase field modeling and its applications in computational fracture mechanics, as well as employing Machine Learning to solve these intricate mathematical models.

My research aims to harness machine learning techniques to streamline computationally intensive simulations across various fields such as mechanics, phase separation, and weather prediction. These models hold tremendous potential for accelerating simulations of complex material failures and other physical systems described by partial differential equations.

I express my heartfelt gratitude to the graduate school for recognizing me with the Finishing Fellowship Award. This acknowledgment serves as a driving force as I enter the final phase of my Ph.D. journey, reflecting the university’s confidence and support in my work. I extend my sincere thanks to Dr. Ghosh for the invaluable opportunity to be part of his research group. His trust and encouragement have been instrumental throughout my Master’s and Ph.D. endeavors. I’d also like to acknowledge the unwavering support of the faculty and staff of the MEEM department during my academic journey.

Once I complete my PhD I will be joining Idaho National Laboratory as a post-doctoral researcher. I am eagerly looking forward to completing my doctoral research and continuing to advance in my academic career.

Copper Shores Community Health Foundation Assistantship – Summer 2024 – Libia Hazra

Libia Hazra leaning against a tree
Libia Hazra – Environmental Engineering

With sincere gratitude I extend my heartfelt thanks to Copper Shores Community Health Foundation (CSCHF) for providing me with the opportunity to receive the Graduate Assistantship in Summer 2024.

I am Libia Hazra, a 3rd year full time Ph.D. candidate of Environmental Engineering at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE), Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA. I work with Dr. Judith A Perlinger and Dr. Noel R. Urban at the Environmental engineering Department. My current research focuses on determining contaminant concentrations of Polychlorinated biphenyles (PCBs) and Mercury (Hg) in fish from Lake Superior and adjacent inland lakes, home to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), a federally recognized Ojibwe tribe, deeply connected to the land. I am trying to understand the factors such as food web structure and resource availability leading to variations in contaminants concentrations in different lakes by using ecological tracers like Stable Isotope Analysis, e-DNA Metabarcoding. Additionally, I am working on the health for people and fish. Amidst numerous environmental concerns, the difficulties encountered by aquatic life, especially fish, are often overlooked. This transdisciplinary research conducted in partnership with social scientists and tribal members and governmental units will provide critical data about persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in fish. These findings will assist in planning stocking and harvesting practices, reducing exposure to pollutants, ensuring the nutritional and socio-cultural benefits of fish consumption, ultimately improving the public health of the local communities.

I am originally from Kolkata (WB), India. I joined Michigan Technological University in 2022, spring. I stay here with my husband and 6 years old daughter. Before I moved to Michigan Tech, I completed my M.Sc. in Environmental Science at GITAM University, Visakhapatnam, India and worked on toxic analysis in bird and fish tissue from an eminent institute-Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), India. I served as a lecturer in an undergraduate college, where I taught Environmental Studies. I also have experience working as an administrative assistant in the Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. My long-term goal is to contribute significantly to the field of environmental engineering and become a leader in building a sustainable environment and society, by the practical application of scientific and technological solutions. I grew up in a rural part of India and have witnessed firsthand the environmental degradation in all sectors (e.g., air/water/soil pollution) and thoughtless misuse and abuse of natural resources. My state West Bengal, eastern part of India, the cherished cultural connection between fish and humans is facing a formidable challenge due to increasing contamination of aquatic environments. The profound cultural significance of fish, deeply embedded in Bengali traditions and cuisine, is now strained as environmental pollutants jeopardize the health of fish populations. Rampant industrialization, discharge of pollutants, and the presence of heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants in water bodies raise alarming concerns about the safety of consuming fish. This contamination not only poses a threat to the nutritional value of fish, a staple in the Bengali diet, but also undermines the livelihoods of fishing communities and breaks the intricate link between fish and ceremonial practices. In future, I would like to extend my research in my country and contribute significantly.

At Michigan Tech, I am not only gaining valuable knowledge and skills through coursework, literature review, and research endeavors but also emphasizing the importance of effective communication. I firmly believe that fostering community awareness and engagement is essential for promoting environmental health and sustainability. This fellowship provides me with the opportunity to further expand my research and engage in meaningful community outreach efforts. I am eager to leverage this assistantship to advance my research objectives and contribute positively to both academia and society.

Once again, thank you very much CSCHF for your generous support and confidence in my research endeavors. I am tankful to my advisors for their valuable support. I am also thankful to my husband and my daughter for their constant support and love.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Natalie Nold

Outdoor portrait of Natalie Nold in front of a brick wall
Natalie Nold – Chemical Engineering

I am a rising PhD candidate in Dr. Caryn Heldt’s lab researching how to make virus-based pharmaceutical manufacturing more cost-effective and time-effective. Gene therapeutics, a ground-breaking new class of pharmaceuticals that can cure genetic diseases and cancer, often depend on a viral vector to deliver the therapeutic gene. Unfortunately, these therapies often cost over $1 million per treatment and are a financial burden to patients. My research has shown that liquid-liquid extraction can be used to purify multiple viral vectors and could reduce manufacturing costs by over 50% at production scale. We have recently filed a provisional patent for this technology which could significantly reduce the cost burden of gene therapeutics.

I would like to thank my advisor Dr. Caryn Heldt for her technical, professional, and personal mentorship. Her guidance helped me not only to succeed in my projects but also to grow as an independent researcher. I would also like to thank my research lab for their support and friendship. I would like to thank the Graduate School for this finishing fellowship as well as the Chemical Engineering department, the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program, and the Cottrell Foundation for their previous financial support. I am excited to take the technical and leadership skills I have gained during this degree and continue working to further research in the gene therapy industry.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Seyedmostafa Rezaeitaleshmahalleh

Mostafa Rezaeitaleshmahalleh standing outdoors under a tree
Mostafa Rezaeitaleshmahalleh – Biomedical Engineering

As a final-year PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Michigan Tech, my research revolves around understanding complex blood flow patterns and their implications for aneurysm development and rupture. Specifically, I focus on two types: intracranial aneurysms and abdominal aortic aneurysms.

In my dissertation, I utilize computational fluid dynamics to simulate blood flow within 3D vascular models extracted from medical imaging data of patients with aneurysms. By applying innovative computational methods, I analyze velocity and wall shear stress characteristics within the aneurysm. This approach has led to the development of new metrics that enhance our ability to distinguish between ruptured and unruptured aneurysms, shedding light on flow conditions indicative of potential rupture. Moreover, I’ve devised a systematic method for assessing the composition of intraluminal thrombosis (ILT). Using deep learning algorithms, I identify the ILT region within the vascular model and employ radiomics to analyze its structural properties. This analytical framework provides novel insights into the ILT region, thereby enhancing our ability to identify abdominal aortic aneurysms at heightened risk of rupture. The final aspect of my doctoral research is to develop a nearly automated pipeline to run CFD simulations with minimal user interaction. This automated workflow aims to eliminate time-consuming and labor-intensive steps, making the process more efficient and user-friendly.

My hope is that this work will one day eliminate the current barrier to integrating CFD simulation into clinicians’ workflow and help doctors leverage CFD simulation in their decision-making process. The quantified measures of flow characteristics and ILT composition may be utilized in the clinical setting to better identify which aneurysms are at high risk of rupture. This could 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 the patient’s health.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Graduate Dean Award Advisory Panel for granting me this award. I also want to thank my advisors, Dr. Jingfeng Jiang, and my committee members, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, Dr. Hoda Hatoum, and Dr. Weihua Zhou, for their invaluable guidance and expertise throughout my time at Michigan Tech. Their mentorship has been crucial in shaping my research and academic journey.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Udit Sharma

Udit Sharma, standing smiling on a beach
Udit Sharma – Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics

Early in my academic journey, I developed a keen interest in mechanical systems, which led me to pursue a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Technological University from 2015 to 2017. During this time, I focused on heat transfer, fluid dynamics, and materials science. Continuing my academic pursuits, I decided to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, guided by the esteemed Professor Jeffrey S. Allen. Under his mentorship, I delved into the fascinating world of phase change materials (PCMs), particularly the impact of nanoparticles within these materials. I explored various aspects such as thermophoresis, non-equilibrium heat and mass transport, and particle distribution under different temperature gradients. Understanding supercooling in PCMs became a significant focus of my work, thanks to Professor Allen’s insightful guidance and unwavering support.

Despite my passion for research, my heart was in teaching. As the Lead Teaching Assistant (TA) for MEEM 2911, I enjoyed delivering lectures, simplifying complex concepts, and witnessing students’ “aha” moments. In 2023, I was honored with the Distinguished Teaching Fellowship, followed by a nomination for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) award from the department. I credit these achievements to the supportive environment at Michigan Tech, which has played a crucial role in shaping my career.

Outside of academia, I found solace and camaraderie at the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC), a local brewery where I could relax, exchange ideas, and celebrate life’s victories with colleagues.

I am deeply grateful for my journey, shaped by the nurturing environment and rugged landscapes of Michigan Tech. As I look towards the future, I am inspired by the legacy of those before me and the endless possibilities that lie ahead.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Miaomiao Li

Miaomiao Li standing in formal attire with the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in the background
Miaomiao Li – Civil Engineering

My connection with MTU dates back to my undergraduate years at Chang’an University, where my first advisor, Dr. Yu Liu, a distinguished graduate of MTU, ignited my passion for civil engineering. After seven years of focused study in civil engineering, especially pavement, I am thrilled to have gained admission to the same Ph.D. program as Dr. Liu in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Throughout my academic journey, my interests have extended from pavement engineering to infrastructure risk analysis. Recognizing the increasing threat of extreme weather events and natural disasters, my research focuses on evaluating the fragility, failure, and risk of various infrastructure systems. By quantifying hazards and conducting thorough analyses of structural components, I aim to contribute to the development of strategies for pre-event evaluation, regular maintenance, and rapid recovery of critical infrastructure.

I am sincerely grateful to the Graduate School for awarding me this prestigious fellowship. With this support, I can fully dedicate myself to completing my remaining research projects and dissertation. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Qingli Dai, my committee members, the faculty, and friends in the CEGE department for their unwavering support and encouragement.

As a female engineer, reaching this milestone fills me with pride and empowerment. Reflecting on my journey, I am reminded of a quote to express my aspirations for myself and fellow women in engineering: “I wish you high-spirited. I wish you a clank. May you break free from shackles to break the ceiling. May you take root in the earth and straighten your spine.”

With gratitude and determination, I eagerly embrace the opportunities ahead, committed to making meaningful contributions to the field of civil engineering and beyond.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Jeff Kabel

Jeff Kabel in formal attire standing in front of a brick background
Jeff Kabel – Applied Physics

I entered the field of nanotechnology rather unexpectedly. During a casual conversation at my undergraduate institution, a professor asked me if I was looking for a job, and with my background I was in no position to say no. A week later I was in lab, and I haven’t looked back since. The Department of Physics at Michigan Tech welcomed me in the Fall of 2018, and I began structuring my dissertation work shortly after. Originally my research was solely on two-dimensional materials, however, through some serendipitous discoveries, my scope has broadened to include many other van der Waals materials.

One of my favorite aspects of nanotechnology is that it is fundamentally interdisciplinary. Nanomaterials have such wildly varied properties that they have found applications in many fields. Through my studies I’ve been allowed to peer into the windows of various fields, including energy production, electronics, photovoltaics, chemical sensing, and bioimaging. A significant portion of my dissertation is centered on the synthesis of an easily-made, cost-effective, high-brightness fluorophore – it is unfortunate that I can not disclose much more until the patent is finalized. One project I can discuss is the internal functionalization of boron nitride nanotubes; I have been taking very small tubes – about 50,000 times thinner than the average human hair – and filling them with different materials (I’ve often described my research goal as “making the world’s smallest cannoli”). The applications of these filled nanotubes thus far include novel transistors and photostable fluorophores, and we hope to test their capabilities in solar technology soon.

As my time here comes to a close, I would like to express gratitude for the opportunities provided to me at Michigan Tech. Dr. Yoke Khin Yap has been an invaluable mentor, and his unwavering patience through my academic pursuits has been much appreciated. The support I have received from the King-Chávez-Parks Initiative and the Henes Center for Quantum Phenomena has enabled me to progress this far, and I am deeply grateful that Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel has granted me the opportunity to expeditiously conclude my dissertation.


DeVlieg Graduate Research Recipient – Summer 2024 – Fatemeh Razaviamri

Fatemeh Razaviamri standing outside with body of water, trees, and cityscape behind
Fatemeh Razaviamri – Biomedical Engineering

I am a third-year PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering department. My research focuses on designing polymeric biomaterials for antimicrobial, hemostatic, and wound healing applications under the supervision of Dr. Bruce Lee. Currently, I am working on a project aimed at developing a novel, antimicrobial hemostatic agent inspired by the strong adhesive properties of mussel adhesive proteins.

Hemorrhage is one of the leading preventable causes of death associated with trauma. Additionally, trauma patients are at a higher risk for developing infection, leading to substantial morbidity and mortality. I aim to develop a novel and portable hemostatic agent that could achieve hemorrhage control in a prehospital setting and prevent infection. This powder-form hemostatic agent can be activated by hydration through the patient’s bodily fluid or blood, which greatly simplifies the criteria for packaging and storage. The proposed hemostatic agent provides multiple mechanisms to prevent infection, including the ability to kill drug-resistant bacteria. The ability to disinfect the wound site in a prehospital setting will limit complications associated with infection and will greatly improve the rate of recovery.

I am immensely grateful for the support provided by the DeVlieg Foundation and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel. With their support, I will spend the summer conducting in vivo hemostatic and infected wound healing tests using a mouse model to evaluate the rapid and effective hemostatic properties of the designed hemostatic agent, as well as its ability to promote the infected-wound healing.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Abdelrahman Ismail

Abdelrahman Ismail in formal clothing, standing in a field with trees in background
Abdelrahman Ismail – Chemistry

It’s hard to fathom how the start of my chemistry journey was a full decade ago when I was in high school. Back then, I had no idea this path would take me where I am today. Time seems to have flown by when I look to the past, but it slows down to a snail’s pace when I look towards the future, and with that long, bountiful future ahead of me, it makes my journey all the more worth it.

I graduated with a BS in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in spring 2019 and started my PhD here in Michigan Tech in the fall of the same year. My research is about understanding the substrate preferences of cellular sugar transporters, which would enable selective drug targeting of those transporters and allow for new treatments and diagnostic tools for many diseases including cancers. This work involved synthetic organic synthesis of novel compounds, analytical purification and characterization of those compounds, in-vitro pharmacological studies of those compounds on live cancer cells, and computational chemistry studies of the transporter-compound interactions. This monumental project required in-depth expertise in all of those different domains of chemistry, and despite initially thinking of myself as a pure organic chemist, taking on this challenge helped me grow into a well-rounded interdisciplinary scientist, and that is my biggest and most important prize out of my time in Tech.

My heartfelt thanks to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and Dean for the high honor and privilege of this award. Special thanks to Dr. Athar Ata, the chemistry department chair, for his generous support and excellent leadership. But most of all, I want to thank Dr. Marina Tanasova, my PhD advisor and graduate program director, for everything she’s done for me. She gave me and my colleagues in our research group all the freedom, independence, and room for growth that we need to flourish, and yet she was always there for us and guided us onto the path to success. She always believed in us, pushed us to question our limits, think critically, and deliver impactful and groundbreaking science. After mingling with my peers in the industry and hearing about their advisors, it further reinforced my thankfulness. It was a pleasure being part of her research group.