Author: Lois Hwang

Nominations Sought for KCP Future Faculty Fellowships

Applications are being accepted for the KCP Future Faculty Fellowship, 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 careers in post-secondary education.  

Funding may begin in fall of 2024. Complete applications received by 4pm on April 9, 2024 will receive priority for consideration. Pending availability of funds, applications received will be considered on a rolling basis until the state’s application portal closes on April 30, 2024. Applicants are highly encouraged to submit well in advance of the portal closing.

Applicants will complete the following steps:

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 applications will be submitted through the MILogin Citizens Portal. Questions about eligibility or the application procedure can be directed to Dr. Debra Charlesworth.

Let’s Talk About it: Facilitating Difficult Conversations for Graduate Students

Are you a graduate student interested in developing skills that will assist you in facilitating difficult conversations? Please join us on March 5, 2024 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. for a Facilitating Difficult Conversations workshop.

This in-person workshop is open to all graduate students and includes instruction, practice, and discussion with your peers. If you’ve ever wondered how to approach a difficult conversation with your advisor, a peer, or roommate, we’ll discuss tips and strategies for getting started in a respectful and professional manner.

​The number of participants is limited to facilitate discussion, so please complete the registration form to save your spot. When you register, you’re expected to attend or let us know if your plans change. You will receive an email reminder before the event which will confirm the location. 

For more information, contact the Graduate School (gradschool@mtu.edu).

Let’s Talk About it: Facilitating Difficult Conversations for Graduate Students

Are you a graduate student interested in developing skills that will assist you in facilitating difficult conversations? Please join us on January 31, 2024 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. for a Facilitating Difficult Conversations workshop.

This in-person workshop is open to all graduate students. The workshop will provide foundational information and practice for handling uncomfortable work and/or peer situations in a respectful and professional manner.

​The number of participants is limited to facilitate discussion, so please complete the registration form to save your spot. You will receive an email reminder before the event which will confirm the location. 

For more information, contact the Graduate School (gradschool@mtu.edu).

Nominations Open for Summer 2024 Fellowships from The DeVlieg Foundation

Due to the generous support of The DeVlieg Foundation, the Graduate School is happy to accept nominations for 2024 summer fellowships.

All graduate programs may nominate one eligible PhD student per program.  The recipient will  receive a stipend for summer 2024 plus tuition support (one credit or three research credits for PhD candidates).  Eligible students will meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Must be a graduate student in the field supported by the DeVlieg Foundation:
    1. Engineering
  2. Must be a US citizen or permanent resident.
  3. Must be enrolled in a PhD program.
  4. Must be nominated by student’s graduate program.  Each PhD program may nominate one student if the research conducted is related to the field(s) supported by The DeVlieg Foundation.
  5. Must not be supported by another funding mechanism while supported by The DeVlieg Foundation (part-time job, fellowship, GTA, GRA, etc.).

Nominations are due no later than 4pm on February 6, 2024 to the Graduate School. Graduate programs will upload their nominee’s application as a single PDF file no later than 4p.m. on February 6, 2024.

Please see our web page for details on the application procedure and materials needed.  Each program may determine its own internal selection procedure. Please contact the Graduate School with any questions.

Summer 2024 Finishing Fellowship Nominations Open

Applications for Summer 2024 finishing fellowships are being accepted and are due no later than 4pm on March 6, 2024 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.

Spring 2024 Graduate Orientation

The Graduate School is excited to welcome our new students to campus. A summary of upcoming events is below.

  • The Graduate School Welcome session is on Friday, January 5, 2024, beginning at 2pm in the MUB Ballroom. A presentation is planned for 2-3pm, and a reception will begin at 3pm.  The presentation will be recorded for those unable to attend in person.
  • Orientation to Graduate Studies and Research, our online Basic RCR Training, will begin on December 18 for registered students. It must be completed by February 22, 2024 to avoid a registration hold.
  • Other orientation events, including a tour by the Library and welcome reception by the Graduate School, are described and summarized on our website.
  • We will remind students to register and confirm their enrollment by January 3rd.
  • Steps after admission are summarized on our website.
  • Resources applicable to new students are summarized on our website.

We look forward to working with you to welcome our new and returning students to the 2023-24 academic year!

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2023 Recipient – Adelina Oronova

From the very beginning of my academic journey, the intersection of chemistry and biology has thrilled me, as it embodies the essence of interdisciplinary challenges that encourage innovative thinking. Having BS and MS in biochemistry, I joined the Chemistry Department at Michigan Technological University in August 2018 as a Fulbright Graduate Student from Ukraine. Under the mentorship of Dr. Marina Tanasova, I pursued chemical biology research to utilize small molecules produced through synthetic chemistry for the study of complex biological systems.
My Ph.D. research focuses on the development of tools for the targeted detection of disease-relevant sugar transporters (GLUTs) to advance diagnostic and imaging capabilities. Working in Dr. Tanasova’s lab has been an incredibly rich research experience, allowing me to master a diverse set of skills and carry out the whole research project from the beginning to the end. I truly enjoy the process of designing molecules, synthesizing them, and validating their properties through a range of analytical techniques. Witnessing the colorful array of fluorescent probes we have developed and applying them for cancer research has evoked excitement in me. I am genuinely excited about the potential outcomes of my research, as they contribute to the advancement of novel strategies for targeting cancers in both diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Collaborating with other researchers and students, sharing my research, and promoting a safety culture within my department and on the national level have been rewarding and enriching experiences for me during my Ph.D. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had during my graduate program. I am confident that the training I received at MTU has provided me with a solid foundation to realize my research aspirations.
I am honored to be selected as one of the recipients of the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. I would like to thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and Dean for granting the fellowship to me during this crucial phase of my Ph.D. journey. It is indeed an invaluable opportunity to dedicate my time and efforts to writing my dissertation, preparing for the defense, and embarking on the next chapter of my scientific career. I would like to thank my research advisor Dr. Marina Tanasova for the support and guidance she provided over the last 5 years. Her belief in my potential paved the way for me to transition from a Master’s student to a doctoral candidate, and I am truly grateful for the mentorship and encouragement she has provided. Moreover, I wish to express my gratitude to the Chemistry Department, Dr. Sarah Green, my committee members, and all the individuals who have played a role in shaping me into an independent research scientist.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2023 Recipient – Ann Varghese

I began my Ph.D. journey in Chemistry in the Fall 2019 under the guidance of Dr. Tatyana G. Karabencheva-Christova. Prior to joining MTU, I earned a master’s degree in Applied Chemistry from Mahatma Gandhi University and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Calicut University, India. It was during my master’s program that I developed a profound interest in computational chemistry, which ultimately led me to pursue advanced studies in this fascinating field.

My research primarily focuses on exploring enzyme characteristics and mechanisms through the application of multilevel computational methods, including Molecular Dynamics (MD), Quantum Mechanics (QM), and combined Quantum mechanics/Molecular mechanics (QM/MM). During my Ph.D., I had the opportunity to contribute to NIH-funded projects on the non-heme Fe(II) and 2-oxoglutarate dependent oxygenase, Fat mass and Obesity Associated Protein (FTO), and the Zn(II) dependent metalloprotease, Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), both of which have crucial implications in various types of cancers. In the former project, I investigated the enzymatic mechanism of FTO with its major substrate, N6-methyladenine in single-stranded RNA, and explored the influence of clinically relevant mutations Arg316Gln and Ser319Phe on different stages of the catalytic cycle. In the latter, I unraveled the water-mediated catalytic mechanism of MMP-1, conformational dynamics and long-range correlated motions assisting in catalysis and the role of the catalytic and structural Zn(II) ions in the overall stability of enzyme.

I am immensely grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the Dean for recognizing my efforts and awarding me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my advisor, Dr. Tatyana G. Karabencheva-Christova, whose guidance and support have been invaluable throughout my Ph.D. journey. I also extend my thanks to all the faculty and staff in the Chemistry department for their encouragement and assistance.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2023 Recipient – Benjamin Barrios Cerda

First, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for recommending me for this prestigious award. I also want to acknowledge the department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering for its support during my PhD studies. Most importantly, I thank my advisor Dr. Daisuke Minakata, who has guided me throughout my journey and equipped me with critical thinking skills. Without his unwavering commitment, understanding, and guidance, I would not have achieved the level of proficiency as a PhD student that I possess today.

I have been passionate about chemistry ever since I was in high school. Chemistry teaches you how matter transforms, and because matter is everything we are surrounded by, chemistry essentially helps you to understand the world. Many of the big problems our world faces can be tackled in some way from a chemical perspective. Energy, pollution, water scarcity, health, are some of the global issues that are actively being addressed with chemistry.

During my PhD, I have translated my chemistry background to the environmental engineering field by understanding how pollutants are transformed in natural and engineered water systems, such as lakes, rivers, or water treatment plants. My philosophy is that the molecular details of those chemical reactions have a profound influence on the rate of degradation and products distribution. This led me to publish papers where I show that we can use results from molecular simulations to explain phenomena at the bulk scale such as how fast reactions take place. Understanding these details will enable engineers to optimize operational parameters on the removal of contaminants, and will inform environmental policy makers about the fate of toxic compounds once released to bodies of water.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2023 Recipient – Susan Mathai

I started as a PhD student in Atmospheric Sciences at Michigan Tech in August 2018. My interest in Atmospheric Sciences began during an elective course I took while pursuing my master’s degree in physics at the National Institute of Technology (NIT Calicut). Since then, my interest in Atmospheric Sciences has grown, and I have been eager to learn more about it.
My doctoral research focuses on investigating the physical, chemical, and optical properties of aerosols, which are particles suspended in the atmosphere, specifically those emitted from biomass burning. Over the course of five years, with the support of my advisor and colleagues at Michigan Tech, I have gained valuable knowledge and experience that will undoubtedly benefit me in my future endeavors. Additionally, I had the opportunity to expand my exposure and understanding of the subject through an internship at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), where I worked with Dr. Swarup China. During my internship, I estimated the optical properties of tar ball particles that are formed during biomass combustion. I also studied the physical and chemical properties of aerosols from an Urban polluted region that is highly influenced by biomass burning.
I am grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory panel for granting me the finishing fellowship award and to my advisor, Prof. Claudio Mazzoleni, for his unwavering support and guidance throughout my PhD journey. I also thank my mentor at PNNL, Dr. Swarup China for his hard work and dedication in helping me complete my PhD. Additionally, I express my thanks to both my current and former research group members for engaging in excellent discussions and fostering a spirit of teamwork. I eagerly anticipate defending my thesis and advancing along my chosen career path.