Author: Mia Kemppainen

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Parth Bhatt

My journey in the field of GIS and Remote Sensing started back home in India when I was working with the Space Application Center, Indian Space Research Organization in the year 2016. The joy and happiness I received from looking at the Remotely Sensed imageries for hours and to discover the things I can achieve with the use of GIS techniques made me firm to pursue further into this field.


I arrived at Michigan Tech for my master’s in the field of GIS in Fall 2016, in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences and was fortunate enough to begin my MTU journey with my advisor Dr. Ann Maclean. After completion of my MS degree, I started my PhD in Spring 2019 with Dr. Maclean. During my research, I focused on using high and ultra-high spatial resolution NAIP and Drone (UAS) imageries to map and monitor the natural habitat communities of the Hiawatha National Forest using machine learning algorithms. The goal of this study was to develop a robust approach using remotely sensed imagery and geomorphological variables to classify the complex vegetation and wetland communities and generate GIS maps which can be extremely useful to resource managers and/or officials to manage the forests in a timely and efficient manner, monitor vegetation changes, and help in enhancing decision making. Along with my PhD research, I am part of a national-level Forest Health Mapping project with the U.S. Forest Service since Fall 2018 where we use high-resolution NAIP imagery along with other variables and developed a model to detect and map individual tree mortality.


I have fully enjoyed my MS and PhD life in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Houghton and CFRES-MTU has awarded me with some of the best things, memories, and blessed people in my life. I am full of gratitude towards my advisor Dr. Ann Maclean for her constant support and guidance throughout this journey at MTU. I am grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for the finishing fellowship award and to help me get one step closer to my endeavors.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Xuebin Yang

My PhD started in Fall 2016 at the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. My research activities centers around the project titled “High BMEP and High Efficiency Micro-Pilot Ignition Natural Gas Engine”. The objective of DOE project in partnership between MTU and Westport is to develop a robust combustion system for a low-cost, low diesel contribution, premixed charge medium/heavy duty (MHD) natural gas engine. The research goal with respect to my contribution is to develop a novel physically based ignition model for micro-pilot diesel NG dual fuel combustion leveraging results obtained from S&CV, engine data, and analytical modeling. Ignition delay in micro-pilot diesel NG dual fuel engines is of critical importance to the operation and control as it directly affects the combustion phasing, initial heat release, and combustion stability. 

I greatly appreciate the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory panel for awarding me the fellowship. I am grateful to my advisors, Dr. Naber and Dr. Shahbakhti, and the department for all their support along my amazing journey.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Donna Susan Mathew

I started my doctoral program at the Rhetoric, Theory and Culture department at MTU in the Fall of 2017. Prior to joining MTU, I obtained a dual master’s degree in Global Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and the University of Southern California.

My research focuses on the representation of women in contemporary “item songs” in Hindi cinema, also known as Bollywood, and how these songs reflect and reinforce patriarchal attitudes and perpetuate and contribute to a growing rape culture in India. Bollywood is considered one of the biggest cultural influencers in India. Bollywood films and music play a major role in influencing people’s perception about love, romance and consent. In recent years, the Bollywood film industry and the item song genre present in these films have come under public scrutiny for their sexist, misogynistic and stereotypical representation of women as sexual objects that cater to the male gaze. Bollywood plays a huge role in the social sexualization of the youth in a conservative, patriarchal society like India where women’s role is often relegated to the household. My research seeks to understand the phenomenon of item songs and why they are a seemingly mandatory element in Bollywood cinema. My dissertation also looks at the discourse surrounding rape culture in a number of arenas in Indian society such as the legal, social, cultural, political and media landscapes. 

I would like to thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for bestowing upon me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. The fellowship will allow me to focus entirely on completing and defending my dissertation this Fall. I would also like to extend my gratitude to my co-advisors, Dr. Diane Shoos and Dr. Stefka Hristova, for their guidance, support and encouragement throughout my research journey.

Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Fall 2022 – Xuewei Cao

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. My advisor is professor Qiuying Sha. My research is in statistical genetics. I focus on the development of novel statistical methods and efficient bioinformatical tools to find genetic variants or genes related to complex diseases and traits, such as type II diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, et al. My main project is incorporating the genotype and phenotype association network to simultaneously analyze multiple phenotypes and multiple genotypes and improve the power to identify genes that are associated with complex diseases by using the constructed network. Under the supervision of Dr. Sha, I have also collaborated with the Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) in Marquette, MI since 2019 to determine the relationship between health service costs and diabetic medication compliance for patients with diabetes in the UPHP population.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Portage Health Foundation for the support, which allows me to focus on such cutting-edge research here at Michigan Tech and prepare the manuscripts for publications in the coming fall. I also want to thank my advisors Professor Qiuying Sha and Professor Shuanglin Zhang for all of their valuable guidance and support over the last four years, and I am extremely grateful to the graduate program in Math Department for their constant help and generous support throughout my entire graduate school studies.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Peng Quan

In the spring of 2020, I started my PhD life in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University. Under the guidance of Prof. Xinfeng Xie, I have been doing research on the recovery of Kraft lignin from black liquor and its application in polyurethane foams. In my research, I developed a new one-pot liquefaction process to recover Kraft lignin with tunable and predicable yield and molecular properties directly from black liquor. Then, the lignin was used to partially replace the fossil-based polyols to prepare polyurethane foams. I wish my research can contribute to the sustainable development of both pulping and polyurethane industries. 

I would like to thank the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and the Graduate School for their support in my PhD life here. I also really thank the continuous support from my advisor Prof. Xinfeng Xie, committee members, and my lab members.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Vishnu Chakrapani Lekha

I am a PhD student in the Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences department. I do my research on geohazards, especially landslides. I specialize in geospatial data analysis and modeling, microwave remote sensing including SAR, UAV-based data analysis, and geophysical data processing. My PhD research is on developing a Landslide Early Warning System in the Western Ghats, India. I am a staunch believer in utilizing science and technology to find solutions to problems of different magnitude.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Shobhit Chaturvedi

I started my doctoral research in Spring 2018 with Dr. Christo Z. Christov in the Department of Chemistry at Michigan Technological University. Before that, I completed my B. Tech. in Chemical Engineering from Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University was working as Project Research Assistant at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. My research focuses on utilizing computational techniques like Molecular Dynamics (MD), Quantum Mechanics (QM), and Quantum Mechanics/ Molecular Mechanics (QM/MM) to explore structure-function relationships in enzyme catalysis. 

During my time as a PhD candidate at Michigan Tech, I have researched an NSF funded project about ethylene forming enzyme. In this project, my research involved developing an enzyme model to establish the chemical mechanism of ethylene formation and L-Arg hydroxylation. I further explored if external electric fields can switch between the two reactivities of ethylene forming enzyme, with an aim to optimize ethylene generation. I have also worked on an NIH funded project about histone demethylases, activities of which have been linked to various forms of cancers. I used molecular dynamics simulations and combined QM/MM approach to establish the enzyme catalytic mechanism and structure-function relationship. Moreover, I have developed a computational framework for identifying second coordination sphere and long-range residues relevant for catalysis through analysis of protein correlated motions. 

I am grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the Dean for awarding me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. I would also like to offer my special thanks to my advisor Dr. Christo Z. Christov, for his support throughout my PhD program.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Sushree Dash

My love for optics and photonics is deep in my core. I have always been fascinated and motivated by this area of physics. Everything fascinated me, from natural phenomena to optical illusions, from ray optics to wave optics, from ordinary materials to extraordinary materials with optical effects. While my journey in optics and photonics was inevitable, it never lacked an element of surprise. 

I started my PhD here at Michigan Tech in Fall 2018, in the Department of Physics with Dr. Miguel Levy as my advisor. In my research, I focus on investigating the fundamental properties of ultra-thin magneto-optics materials. The surface effects we are investigating will lead to the miniaturization of laser components named optical isolator and, thus, the miniaturization of lasers. We researched the experimental aspects of these properties and the theoretical, i.e., density functional theory aspect of it. This gives a complete picture of our investigation of the non-reciprocity property, i.e., Faraday rotation.  

During my time at Michigan Tech, I made friends and family who helped me grow as a physicist and a better human being. Now that it’s almost time for my journey at Michigan Tech to end soon, I am sure the memories and lessons learned during these five years will always stay with me and guide me in my future endeavors. 

I am indebted to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory panel for considering and awarding me this fellowship. I am grateful to my advisor; Dr. Levy’s teachings helped me become a better person and student. He always inspired me to contribute to the community while contributing to physics. I am proud and honored to be his student.

International Cloud Appreciation Day

Because the Dean studies clouds, we are celebrating International Cloud Appreciation Day!

“This year, for the first time, the Cloud Appreciation Society is launching Cloud Appreciation Day on Friday, September 16th. This will be an internationally recognized day when people around the world are encouraged to spend a few moments appreciating the beauty of the sky. We are launching our new Memory Cloud Atlas, as a place where anyone on the day can share an image of their sky and write or record some words on how it makes them feel. The Memory Cloud Atlas will serve as a snapshot on a single day of our collective views on the most dynamic, evocative, and accessible part of nature: the sky.”

Check out all the details here: https://cloudappreciationsociety.org/cloud-appreciation-day-2022/

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2022 Recipient – Chinmoyee Das

I was first introduced to Forest Biomaterials during my master’s degree in Germany. Previously I had known forest-based materials, predominantly wood is used as fuel, construction material and making paper. I was completely awestruck when I came across such advanced applications of wood, where every monomer of wood can be specifically used in advanced materials, and I decided this is what I wanted to do in the future. 

I started my PhD here at Michigan Tech in Summer 2019, in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences with Dr. Xinfeng Xie as my advisor. In my research I focus on the incorporation of biocarbon, that is essentially carbon developed from biomass, into polymer matrices to develop reinforced and electrically conductive composite materials. The goal of this study is to develop materials that can be used as lightweight conductive automotive parts. The comprises of formulation, fabrication and characterization of the composites with a goal of future commercial application in automotive industry, as a replacement for conventional polymer composites. 

I am highly indebted to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory panel for considering and awarding me this fellowship. I am extremely grateful to my advisor Dr. Xie for his constant support and guidance. In this journey not only did my skills and experiences grow and improve, they also contributed to my growth as a person.