Author: ssvairo

Nominee for MAGS Distinguished Thesis Award – Mitch Timm

I arrived at Michigan Tech in 2017, after completing my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota the previous year, deciding to pursue my graduate degree at Michigan Tech for its nationally ranked engineering program (and weather). I completed my masters at Michigan Tech in 2018 and am currently a Ph.D. student under my advisor Prof. Hassan Masoud.

My research consists of the study of complex fluids and transport phenomena; simply speaking I study the interactions of fluids with solid objects and how certain materials are transported within fluids by utilizing the combined tools of theoretical (mathematical), computational (computer simulation), and experimental analysis. Though to many people this may seem impractical or pointless, this research has numerous real-world applications. For example, for my master’s thesis, I researched the rate of evaporation of a liquid droplet when it rests on an inclined surface (sessile drop). Most people are familiar with sessile droplets from when it rains on your windshield or when you wash the dishes, however, most people don’t understand that it is these droplets that can lead to the stubborn stains on these surfaces. This is also known as the coffee ring effect. By understanding the way in which these droplets evaporate and deposit the suspended particles therein on these surfaces, we can develop ways to avoid this, or even utilize it to our advantage.

It is for this research and subsequent thesis that I have been nominated to represent the university for the MAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Thesis Award Competition.

I am extremely grateful and humbled to be nominated for this competition, and I especially want to thank my advisor Prof. Masoud, Dr. Predebon, and the graduate committee for this nomination and for recognizing my hard work. It is times like these that I am reminded of the fantastic community at Michigan Tech and am glad I decided to come here for my graduate education.


KCP Future Faculty Fellow – Jeffrey Kabel

As an undergraduate, I joined a nanomaterials research group through mere happenstance and found myself engrossed by it. Ultimately, it was that experience that led me to pursue my Ph.D. I joined Michigan Tech’s Physics Department in the Fall of 2018 and began working alongside Yoke Khin Yap shortly after. My research is focused on the synthesis and applications of nanomaterials — mainly molybdenum disulfide quantum dots. These quantum dots have incredibly useful properties; as such they’ve seen successful applications in electrocatalysis, solar energy, energy storage, advanced electronics, chemical sensing, bioimaging, drug delivery, and photothermal cancer treatment.

I am honored to be a recipient of the King-Chávez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship. Upon the completion of my Ph.D., I will be seeking instruction positions at post-secondary institutions.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Xiaodong Zhou

I came to MTU in 2017 to pursue my Ph.D. with Dr. Alex Mayer in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. This has been a great experience because I learned a lot, but also because I collaborated with amazing people and made very good friends. My research focuses on hydrology modeling to assess the effects of the Payment for Hydrological Services program in Veracruz, Mexico. This is one of the longest operating payments for ecosystem services in the World and the scientific results produced by our research group, contribute to better understanding the connections between social and ecological systems and to make more informed decisions in terms of Water Resources Management. My thanks and gratitude to the graduate school and to the Michigan Tech Community for your support to complete my research.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Alejandra Almanza

I started my PhD in Materials Science and Engineering in Fall 2016 under the guidance of Dr. Paul Sanders. I have been working in the production and optimization of ductile iron, and it has been four great years full of challenges, achievements, and lessons learned. I feel passionate about research and learning new things every day, Michigan Tech has given me these experiences.

I want to sincerely express my gratitude to the Graduate School for awarding me with the Fall 2020 Finishing Fellowship. A big thank you to my advisor, who has given me positive feedback and encourage me throughout my degree. And finally, thank you to the Materials Science and Engineering department for all the support provided during my time here.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Sergio Miguel, Lopez Ramirez

I came to MTU in 2017 to pursue my Ph.D. with Dr. Alex Mayer in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. This has been a great experience because I learned a lot, but also because I collaborated with amazing people and made very good friends. My research focuses on hydrology modeling to assess the effects of the Payment for Hydrological Services program in Veracruz, Mexico. This is one of the longest operating payments for ecosystem services in the World and the scientific results produced by our research group contributes to better understand the connections between social and ecological systems and to make more informed decisions in terms of Water Resources Management. My thanks and gratitude to the graduate school and to the Michigan Tech Community for your support to complete my research. 


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Srinivas Kannan


I began my doctoral research in the Fall of 2016 in the Biomedical Microdevices lab under the guidance of Dr. Smitha Rao and Dr. Marina Tanasova (Department of Chemistry). My research focuses on understanding compromised metabolic processes in breast cancers and their impact on the local tumor environment and cancer metastasis using a microfluidic platform.  The overall objective is to better understand the nutrient microenvironment and impact from the nutrients available in the body on breast cancer, to improve cancer detection and therapy.  My doctoral work also includes developing three-dimensional in vitro models for understanding cancer microenvironment and metabolic differences, differential uptake of fructose among breast cancer phenotypes, and develop a platform for cancer diagnostics.

I thank the Michigan Tech Grad School for the fellowship and the Department of Biomedical Engineering for their support.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Esmaeil Dehdashti

Esmaeil Dehdashti is a PhD candidate who joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University in July 2017.  He holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tehran, Iran.

Esmaeil works in the Complex Fluids and Active Matter Lab, where they employ the tools of applied mathematics and simple experiments to fundamentally understand the interaction of fluid flows with dynamically changing boundaries at a wide range of length and time scales. Esmaeil’s research focuses on developing a number of computer simulations to fully capture and comprehend the interaction of fluid flows with moving objects at a wide range of length scales. Esmaeil has extremely broad scientific interests that range from hydrodynamics of flapping porous plates and swimming of robotic fish to droplet evaporation and transport phenomena in particulate systems.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Yuesheng Gao

Yuesheng Gao is a Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University. He obtained a Master of Science degree and a Bachelor’s in Mining Engineering at Central South University in 2016 and 2014, respectively.

Yuesheng joined Dr. Pan’s research group in 2017. Since then, he has been involved in multiple projects, including the development of the synchronized tri-wavelength reflection interferometry microscope (STRIM), dust control, oil extraction, graphite purification, and froth flotation. His work mainly focuses on revealing the interfacial interactions and the stability of thin films (TMs) between different materials in liquid/gas circumstances. The findings in his work provide new perspectives in understanding the fundamental mechanisms of diverse separation processes. His contributions to the mining industry and the interfacial science areas have been well recognized.

Yuesheng is grateful for this invaluable opportunity to receive the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship from the Graduate School of Michigan Tech. He also wants to express his appreciation to his advisor, Dr. Pan, for the relentless guidance and encouragement.


KCP Future Faculty/GEM Associate Fellow – Karen Colbert

Karen Colbert is a 2nd year PhD student in Computational Science & Engineering. Karen has received extensive training in Data Visualization, Social Network Analysis (SNA), and Predictive Analytics. She specializes in Race, Ethnicity, and Quantitative Methodologies. Currently, Karen incorporates all those skills in her role as a Research assistant with the MTU NSF ADVANCE team to help study and improve outcomes in diversity and equity efforts for MTU faculty.

Karen has over 5 years of experience working through different capacities to bridge the STEM equity gap for both faculty and students of color in the Tribal College community (TCU). She serves on TCU data assessment teams and as a faculty mentor to environmental science capstone students at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC). 

Karen also serves as an adjunct math faculty at KBOCC. In the most recent 3 years, Karen has worked with Carnegie Math Pathways, Achieving the Dream, and the American Indian College Fund to develop math curriculum with Indigenous contextual content using the Growth Mindset. As a result, KBOCC has seen drastic improvements in the retention and persistence of tribal college students in their math courses over the last 3 years. As she continues her work with TCUs, she incorporates SNA and other quantitative methods to develop assessment tools used for reporting to accrediting agencies.

Karen hopes to see her burden for bridging the STEM equity gap for people of color (POC) create amazing opportunities and results in the higher learning educational environment for years to come.


CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Nominee – Mayra Morgan

Mayra Sanchez Morgan completed a PhD in the Environmental and Energy Policy program in the Social Science department at Michigan Tech in 2019. Dr. Morgan’s research investigates how ecotourism empowers or disempowers women in rural Mexico. The first paper from her dissertation, entitled “The Third Shift? Gender and Empowerment in a Women’s Ecotourism Cooperative”, was published in the journal Rural Sociology in 2019 and has been recognized as one of the most downloaded articles of the journal. During her degree, Dr. Morgan organized two conferences and presented her research in more than 18 conferences, meetings, and as a guest lecture in national and international conferences and meetings. She served as a campus leader in diverse student organizations (such as GSG, ASPEN, and NOSTROS) and worked diligently to promote diversity and inclusion. Dr. Morgan received a Finishing Fellowship from the Michigan Tech Graduate School and a Dissertation Research Award from the Rural Sociological Society. Dr. Morgan enjoys dancing and warm and sunny days.