Author: smcrisma

Zinc: The Perfect Material for Stents?

Patrick Bowen, PhD in Materials Science and Engineering
Stents can be lifesavers, holding open coronary arteries to allow a healthy supply of blood to flow to the heart. But they can also cause problems, because they stay in the body for a lifetime.

Researchers have been trying to solve the problem by designing a stent that will hold an artery open and then dissolve harmlessly after the blood vessel heals. Traditional metals have not had the right properties, however.

Now a team of scientists at Michigan Tech is experimenting with a novel material that may lead to a new generation of bioabsorbable stents: zinc.

For the full story, click here.

Published in Tech Today by Marcia Goodrich, magazine editor

Jim Hwang, Zhiwei Peng Selected for Bhakta Rath Research Award

Materials science and engineering professor Jiann-Yang “Jim” Hwang and 2012 PhD graduate Zhiwei Peng have been chosen to receive Michigan Technological University’s 2013 Bhakta Rath Research Award for their studies on the use of microwaves in steelmaking.

The award, endowed by Michigan Tech alumnus Bhakta Rath and his wife, Shushama, recognizes a doctoral student at Michigan Tech and his/her faculty advisor for “exceptional research of particular value that anticipates the future needs of the nation while supporting advances in emerging technology.” Hwang and Peng, now a research assistant professor, will share a $2,000 prize.

Peng and Hwang were nominated by Stephen Kampe, the St. John Professor and chair of the materials science and engineering department.

Kampe called Peng’s work “incredibly thorough in scope and rigorous in its approach.” He noted that Hwang has researched microwave steelmaking for years “and has become a renowned authority on environmental and sustainability issues within the materials processing industries.

“This project represents an excellent fit with Dr. Rath’s vision of this award,” Kampe said.

The researcher did theoretical and experimental work on the use of microwaves to heat materials, particularly magnetic substances, and offered ways to improve microwaves’ heating efficiency. They also provided guidelines for making large-scale microwave furnaces for industrial use. Peng’s dissertation research was an integral part of three grants totaling $2.6 million.

Their work has led to five books, 25 papers and invitations to prepare books on microwave heating.

In support of the nomination, Dinesh Agrawal of Penn State wrote that Peng’s work “will surely accelerate the development of microwave heating for various applications in the field of ceramic and metallic materials, organics synthesis, biomedical treatments, etc.” And Jian Li of Canada’s CanmetMATERIALS research laboratory wrote that Peng’s dissertation reveals “great potential in energy saving and environmental safety.”

Mingming Zhang of the Canadian steel and mining company ArcelorMittal wrote that Peng’s research “attracted my attention because of its huge potential in energy savings and environmental protection compared with conventional technologies,” adding that the achievement is all the more remarkable because steelmaking consumes more energy than any other industry. “Moreover, there is a great possibility to substantially reduce the CO2, SOx and NOx emissions, contributing to an environmentally friendly world,” Zhang said.

Peng’s solid foundation in math and science and his interdisciplinary approach have been key to the project’s success, said his advisor. “He is not afraid of challenges, and he willingly took courses from other departments that advanced his research,” Hwang said. “By combining knowledge from several disciplines, Zhiwei has developed a new field of research.”

Published in Tech Today by Marcia Goodrich, magazine editor

19th Annual Student Leadership Awards Announcements

Congratulations to the following students, student organizations, and advisors for inspiring community, scholarship, possibilities, accountability and tenacity within Michigan Tech as well as our community.

Here are your 2013 Student Leadership Award recipients:

Melanie Hoffman, President’s Award for Leadership
Michael Adler, Provost Award for Scholarship
Claire Meneguzzo, Vice President’s Award for Service
Kevin Cassell, Exceptional Leadership in Student Governance
Yu Summer Gu, Exceptional Enthusiasm as a Student Leader
Jason Cattelino, Student Employee of the Year
Hannah Altscheffel, Rising Star of the Year
Caleb Vogt, Undergraduate Research Expo, Exceptional Program of the Year
Society of Women Engineers, Most Improved Student Organization
Leo Ureel II, Breaking Digital Barriers, Exceptional Community Service Project
Memorial Union Board, Student Organization of the Year
Emanuel Marcos R. Castro Oliveira, Student Organization Advisor of the Year

Published in Tech Today

Facilitators Sought for Fall Graduate School Orientation

Facilitators are an important part of the Graduate School’s orientation.  They lead discussion at a table with seven new graduate students, and help to answer their questions.  Faculty, staff, and graduate students are invited to participate this fall and help mentor the next group of scholars at Michigan Tech.

New facilitators will attend a training session on either August 22, 10 a.m.-noon, or August 26, 1-3 p.m.  The training will ensure everyone is comfortable and confident with the material being presented.

All facilitators will participate in orientation, 1-4:30 p.m. on August 28.  Please note that this is a time change from previous years, designed to accommodate students’ requests for an afternoon start.

To participate, please register online so we can include you in reminders and important notices as we get closer to the day: .

Do you have questions?  Contact Deb Charlesworth ( or Kristi Isaacson( for more information.

Published in Tech Today

New Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) Patent Law Affecting Research Commercialization

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act ( AIA), also known as the Patent Reform Act of 2011, went into effect on March 16, bringing with it significant changes to the US Patent system.  The most important change from the AIA law moves the United States to a first-to-file system from the previous first-to-invent system.  Whereas the old system provided inventors with a mechanism to prove they were the first to invent and secure patent protection, the new system is essentially a race to the patent office.  If two independent researchers came up with the same invention at the same time, the first one to file a patent application will be awarded the patent.  In the past you could rely on dated lab notebooks and notes to prove you were the first one to invent.

The old system also provided a one-year grace period to file a US patent from the time the invention was publicly disclosed. Until the new patent laws are clarified through future court case rulings, researchers should consider any public disclosure a patent-barring event.

The increasingly stringent requirements for patents to include a complete and enabling written description, compounded with the effective loss of the one year grace period, makes it more important than ever to prepare and submit invention disclosure documents to the Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement well in advance of any planned public disclosures.  Early submission of invention disclosure documents will assist in the timely development of strategies related to technology validation and related patent-filing activities before conference presentations, manuscript publications, thesis/dissertation defenses, or other events.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Michigan Tech’s Innovation and Industry Engagement Office at 487-2228.

Published in Tech Today

Two Michigan Tech Students Win NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded graduate research fellowships to Michigan Tech students Julie Jarvey and Daniel Cerminaro.  Jarvey, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Management from Tech, is currently completing a certificate program in Geographic Information Systems and is about to start work toward a master’s degree and a PhD.  Cerminaro will receive his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Commencement May 4.

NSF also named three Michigan Tech students for honorable mentions in the competitive research fellowship program:  Mary Jubinski, chemical engineering; Kendall Gruzul, a science teacher who plans to attend Michigan Tech; and Byrel Mitchell, mechanical engineering.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.

NSF received more than 13,000 fellowship applications this year and made 2,000 awards. Benefits of the fellowships include three years of support, including a yearly stipend, a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the student’s university, international research and professional development opportunities and access to a supercomputer.

Published in Tech Today

Grad Student Receives NSF Fellowship for Summer Research in China

Douglas Smith will be traveling to Beijing this summer, courtesy of the National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes.

Smith, who is earning his MS in Chemistry, received the EAPSI fellowship to conduct research at Beijing Technological University. The fellowships support research in several countries around the Pacific Rim, but Smith was drawn to China in particular.

“Since my adviser and most of my lab mates are from China, I thought, if they are making the effort to be here in the US, I should try and go over there and walk a mile in their shoes,” he said.

EAPSI fellowships give graduate students first-hand research experience outside the US; an introduction to the host nation’s science, science policy, and scientific infrastructure; and an orientation to the culture and language. NSF’s aim is to prepare researchers for international collaborations early in their careers, thus ensuring a globally aware US scientific workforce.

Smith started his research career as an undergraduate, working with Assistant Professor Lanrong Bi (Chemistry). After he completed his BS in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, she continued as his advisor.

In China, Smith will be furthering studies on a series of new fluorescent dyes that can detect changes in the pH of organelles–minute structures within cells involved many physiological processes. Changes in pH can serve as an early warning system for disease, and the dyes can also help scientists understand the inner workings of cells.

Smith’s research has been expedited by the confocal microscope the University acquired in December. It uses lasers and high-end optics to take 3D images of cells, tissue and nanomaterials without destroying samples. “I feel that the Olympus confocal microscope was key to generate the important preliminary results for applying the EAPSI fellowship,” he said.

Bi agreed. “Doug has done excellent work, and he is highly deserving of this fellowship,” said Bi. “Having access to this equipment has helped him–and our entire team–to be much more productive. All the members of our team are grateful to each of the units that helped fund the microscope, especially the College of Sciences and Arts, which spearheaded the purchase.”

Published in Tech Today

Yapici’s Research Places Third in Sigma Xi Research Showcase

Nazmiye Yapici, a PhD candidate in chemistry, has placed third in the graduate student division of the first virtual Sigma Xi Research Showcase, Cellular and Molecular Biology section.

She was honored for her presentation, “Detection of Mitochondrial Oxidative Stress.” The results will be featured in Sigma Xi social media and in American Scientist Magazine.

In addition, Yapici has been invited to give two oral presentations in the Gordon Research Seminars and Gordon Research Conferences, among the world’s premier scientific conferences. She has also been accepted to give two presentations in the American Chemical Society National Meeting.

The research was made possible in part by the recent acquisition of a new confocal microscope, which uses lasers and high-end optics to take 3D images of cells, tissue and nanomaterials without destroying the sample.

“The confocal microscope has helped many of us be so much more productive,” said Yapici’s advisor, Assistant Professor Lanrong Bi (Chemistry). “Our students are extremely appreciative because it has helped advance their research.”

Published in TechToday

ESC/BRC Student Research Forum Winners Announced

The Ecosystem Science Center and the Biotechnology Research Center announced award recipients of the Ninth Annual ESC/BRC Student Research Forum, held March 27.

For the graduate students, two Grand Prize Awards and six Merit Awards were presented. They were selected from among the 59 posters and abstracts submitted by graduate students conducting research related to ecology, the environment and biotechnology at Michigan Tech.  Posters will continue to be on display in the atrium of the Forestry building through April 12.

Graduate Research
$500 Grand Prizes
Biotechnology Research Center
Ramkumar Mohan (SBL) for, “miR-483, a Novel MicroRNA Expressed in Pancreatic Beta Cells but not in Alpha Cells,” Advisor: Xiaoqing Tang

Ecosystem Science Center
Adam Coble (FFS) for, “Comparison of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Leaf Morphology in a Closed-canopy and Canopy Gap,” Adviser: Molly Cavaleri

$100 Merit Awards
Biotechnology Research Center
Komal K. Bollepogu Raja (IBMB) for, “The Role of Toolkit Genes in the Evolution of Complex Wing, Thorax, and Abdominal Color Patterns in Drosophila guttifera,” Advisor: Thomas Werner

Maria Tafur (ECM) for, “Reduction of Porcine Parvovirus Infectivity in the Presence of Protecting Osmolytes, ” Advisor: Caryn Heldt

Ecosystem Science Center
Brian Danhoff (SBL) for, “Manistee River Tributaries as Potential Arctic Grayling Habitat,” Advisor: Casey Huckins

Anthony Matthys (SBL) for, “Estimating Physical Habitat Characteristics and Fish Habitat Preference within Streams: A Tool for Restoration Monitoring,” Advisor: Casey Huckins

James Olson (SBL) for, “Evaluating the Impact of Culvert Designs on Hydrologic Connectivity and Nutrient Uptake in Northern Wisconsin Streams,” Advisor: Amy Marcarelli

Julie Padilla (EEN) for, “An Evaluation of the Proposed MDEQ Water Quality Standard for Copper in the Upper Peninsula Using Two Multimetric Approaches,” Advisor: Noel Urban

Published in TechToday

GTA’s at Tech – Coffee Chat

Thursday, April 11 at 3:00 PM the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Graduate School will co-host a “Coffee Chat” called “GTAs at Tech” in the Library East Reading Room.

We’d like to give GTA’s a forum to discuss the instructional support they are being given and additional needs.  We hope to improve GTA orientation and support by the Center next fall.

Coffee and snacks will be provided to those who register by April 8.   We hope you’ll come and share your experiences so we can make being a GTA at Tech better for you and better for our students!

To register, call 487-2046 or register online.