Author: Mia Kemppainen

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.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2022 Recipient – Li Wei

I started working on my Ph.D. in Fall 2016 at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with Prof. Zhaohui Wang. I previously obtained my M.S. from the University of Connecticut and my B.S. from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China. My research has focused on underwater acoustic communication and networking technology. 

At Michigan Tech, I first developed a comprehensive experiment system for both simulation and field underwater acoustic communication and networking experiments, which facilitated several field experiments in Keweenaw Waterway, Lake Superior, and a joint field experiment with UCLA in Marina del Rey. With the abundant field experiment data collected by this system, I explored the generative models of the underwater acoustic channel impulse response with deep learning. The generative models can further enhance the performance of reinforcement learning models for optimizing configurations of an underwater acoustic network system. I plan to continue my research and development works on underwater acoustic communication systems after I finish my Ph.D.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Graduate College of Michigan Technological University for their continuous support in achieving my Ph.D. goals. My special thank goes to my research advisor Prof. Zhaohui Wang, my committee members, and also all the lab members in our research group for their invaluable guidance and help.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2022 Recipient – Manas Warke

I began my doctoral research in the Department of Biological Sciences at Michigan Technological University in the Spring of 2018. Before joining MTU, I obtained my B. Engg in Biotechnology from Mumbai University, India, in 2017. I worked in Dr. Dibyendu Sarkar’s lab at Stevens Institute of Technology, NJ, in the Fall of 2017.  

I was fortunate to work with Dr. Rupali Datta from the beginning of my Ph.D. My dissertation focuses on three aspects of arsenic-contaminated soil – investigating the effect of soil-Arsenic on human health, developing a technique to reduce the Arsenic accumulation in rice grains, and exploring plant-microbe interaction in an arsenic-contaminated environment.

I also had the opportunity to work on other projects like the Lead phytoremediation funded by the Housing and Urban Department and health risk estimation due to toxic metal accumulation in wild rice.

I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Rupali Datta, for her support and guidance. I would also like to thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for awarding me the finishing fellowship. This award will allow me to focus my efforts on completing my dissertation document and preparing for my defense.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2022 Recipient – Parya Siahcheshm

In the spring of 2017, I started my journey at MTU as a Ph.D. student in Chemistry. The focus of my Ph.D. research is on the design and development of carbon dots (CDs) which are fluorescent nanomaterials with great potential in sensing and bioimaging. During my Ph.D., I could successfully synthesize high quantum yield CDs for iron ions sensing with the potential to be used in the clinical diagnosis of iron-related diseases or environmental monitoring of water quality. Also, I investigated the design of near-infrared nitrogen-doped CDs that would be ideal for bioimaging applications.

It is a great honor to receive the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship, and I am grateful to the graduate school and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for their support. Through this fellowship, I will be able to focus on writing my dissertation and publishing my work in journals. Additionally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my advisor, Dr. Patricia Heiden, for her help and support throughout my Ph.D. journey.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2022 Recipient – Sambhawana Sharma

I started my Ph.D. journey in Fall 2017 as a graduate student in the Department of Physics under Dr. Dongyan Zhang and Dr. Yoke Khin Yap. Prior to that, I completed my Master’s degree from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. 

My Ph.D. research focuses on the synthesis and application of Boron Nitride (BN) nanostructures specifically nanotubes (1D) and dots (0D). BN nanostructures have gained much attention due to their unique optoelectronic and biocompatible properties. Controlling the diameter of BN nanotubes using Catalytic Chemical Vapor Deposition (CCVD) is one of the major challenges especially getting a smaller diameter (<20nm). I was able to reduce the diameter of the BN nanotubes to 10-20nm using CCVD in contrast to >20nm from earlier research. These small diameter nanotubes can be used in electronic as well as biomedical applications. Besides nanotubes, I have developed a procedure to synthesize BN dots, zero-dimensional fluorescent materials. I have successfully used these dots for fabricating solar cells, in the future, this can be used in solar panels for clean energy generation. Further, I am currently evaluating the potential of using these self-fluorescing dots as fluorescent tags on RNA inside cells. If successful, this can be used for bio-imaging and as an RNA therapeutic for different kinds of diseases. Initial biocompatibility and cell internalization test performed in Hela cells (cervical cancer cells) are showing promising results.   

I am thankful to my advisors, Dr. Zhang and Dr. Yap, for their constant guidance throughout my Ph.D. journey. I am extremely grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for providing this finishing fellowship award at this moment. This fellowship will help me focus more on writing my dissertation and graduate on time

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2022 Recipient – Tong Gao

I started my Ph.D. program in the Physics Department at Michigan Tech in the fall of 2017 and joined Dr. Nakamura’s group. There I focused on studying lithium dendrite growth in electrolytes using Monte Carlo simulations and deep neural networks in machine learning methods. Motivated by our collaborator’s experiment, I discovered a new mechanism for inhibiting the dendrite growth with large organic salts, such as ionic liquids. Through my research and coursework experiences, I have solidified my confidence in various physics subjects. These include soft-matter physics, solid-state physics, computational physics, physical chemistry, and computer science. As I approach the end of my Ph.D. program, I am currently addressing the challenge of overcoming the vast computational expense of molecular dynamics simulations for salt-free and salt-doped liquids. In order to address this, I am further developing my deep neural network models.

I have enjoyed my Ph.D. life; Houghton has the most beautiful summers I have ever seen. I greatly appreciate the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the Dean for granting me the Finishing Fellowship. I would also like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Issei Nakamura, for his enlightening guidance throughout my research, as well as the Physics Department for all their support.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2022 Recipient – Priyanka Kadav

I completed my bachelor’s in science (2012) and master’s in science (2014) both in Microbiology from India.  I worked as an intern in the Department of Molecular Biology, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, one of India’s premier nuclear research institutes. There my interest in research grew stronger, and I decided to pursue doctoral research. I moved to the US in 2015 to obtain a second master’s degree in Forest Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology. I joined the Department of Chemistry in 2017 to begin my Doctoral studies in the Laboratory of Mechanistic Glycobiology under the guidance of Dr. Tarun Dam. My doctoral research focuses on a novel protein purification technique that we developed in our lab. My other research project is based on the structure-function relationship of a mutated cancer-related protein Galectin-3. Wet-bench research, scientific journal publications and presenting my work at several conferences groomed me to become a better scientist and expanded my knowledge in the field of Protein Biochemistry and Glycobiology.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to my advisor for his guidance and having faith in me and am also thankful to the Department of Chemistry for giving me this opportunity to conduct my doctoral research. I am grateful to the Graduate School for awarding me a Finishing Fellowship, which will be immensely helpful to finish up my doctoral studies.