Author: ssvairo

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship – Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Recipients

Congratulations to the following students on receiving the Outstanding Scholarship Award!

Amit Acharya – Physics
Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo – Humanities
Oluwatomisin Shalom Akinbo – College of Business
Jessica Alger – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Alejandra Itzel Almanza Perales – Materials Science and Engineering
Emily Anible – Mathematical Sciences
Austin Arenz – College of Business
Tanner Barnes – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Beth Bartel – Geology and Mining Eng Sciences
Allison Berryman – College of Business
Prateek Sameer Bhalla – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Chaitanya Ganesh Bhat – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Parth Parimalbhai Bhatt – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Troy Bouman – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Jessica Bruning – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Sam Celani – Electrical and Computer Engineering
FNU Chandan Kumar – Geology and Mining Engineering Sciences
Marina Choy – Humanities
Michael Conard – Computer Science
Anthony Custard – College of Business
William Dion – Biological Sciences
Akshay Shankarrao Dongre – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Jon Furlich – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Dylan Gaines – Computer Science
Anindya Ghoshroy – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Qing Guo – Physics
David Hallberg – Electrical and Computer Engineering
John Harron – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Brittany Hubbard – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Saeed Jafari Kang – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Dongzhao Jin – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Shreya Joshi – Physics
Siva Krishna Kakula – Computer Science
Ranit Karmakar – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Joshua Kemppainen – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Pegah Kord Forooshani – Biomedical Engineering
Arianna Laiho – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Weibing Li – Mathematical Sciences
Yanfang Liu – Mathematical Sciences
Evan Lucas – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ali Moazzam – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Andrea Myers – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao – Biomedical Engineering
Veena Sathish Namboodri – Humanities
Nicholas Newberry – Chemistry
Yugandhara Yuvraj Patil – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Jessica Pitts – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Veronica Porter – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Ashfiqur Rahman – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Nelmary Rodríguez-Sepúlveda – Geology and Mining Eng Sciences
Kaitlyn Roose – Cognitive and Learning Sciences
Cristhian Paul Salas Pazmiño – Geology and Mining Engineering Sciences
Mujeeb Olushola Shittu – Biological Sciences
Cameron Shock – Physics
Prasad Pramod Soman – Materials Science and Engineering
Steven Stelly – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Kevin Sunderland – Biomedical Engineering
Arman Tatar – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Subin Thomas – Physics
Ariana Tyo – Biomedical Engineering
Matthew Vander Molen – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Isaac Wedig – Kinesiology Integrated Physiology
Zhuo Xu – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Ruiting Zhan – Chemical Engineering
Jiongxun Zhang – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Zhihao Zhao – Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Xiaodong Zhou – Civil and Environmental Engineering


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Dominic Uhelski

I always had an admiration for inventors like the Wright brothers, pushing boundaries despite setbacks. The spirit of experimentation is much like the spirit of exploration – both tread into unknown territory for the purpose of discovery. At Michigan Tech, I got to feed both.

I began my journey at Michigan Tech as an incoming master’s student in January 2018. Joining the labs of Dr. Evan Kane and Dr. Rod Chimner, I immediately got to work learning a whole new set of skills necessary to be successful in graduate research. From my background in fisheries and wildlife and upland fire ecology, Rod and Evan gave me the opportunity and support to pursue a different course. I pushed my own boundaries making the transition to wetland fire ecology, then I started pushing the boundaries of the science. We wanted to know how frequently peatlands in the upper peninsula experienced wildfire. To that end, we had to find evidence of these wildfires. However, the options for finding the evidence we needed were limiting. With standard techniques, we could get an idea of fire frequency in only a few sites. We set our sights higher.

Rod and Evan helped me cultivate the spirit of experimentation with the perseverance of an inventor. With their help, I surpassed the limitations of the present methods by inventing my own. Like every other scientist and inventor, I stood on the shoulders of giants to reach as far as I have, but that makes me no less proud, only more humble. It was not easy, but my efforts were rewarded. Rather than three sites, we were able to study thirty. Now every other scientist who wants to do the same will be able to walk the trail we blazed.

Somewhere along the way, we realized that this work had potential beyond a master’s project, so I decided to stay on and make a Ph.D. project out of it, and I’m glad that I did. I have learned so much from working with Rod and Evan, about the field, the research process, about what my strengths and weaknesses are. Now, as my time at MTU winds gradually to a close, I know that I still have more to learn, but I also have a duty to publish all that we have learned. That may be the most difficult part of the whole process, but the support of the finishing fellowship that I have received will be an invaluable assistance. I am grateful to the graduate school for awarding me this fellowship, and to Rod, Evan, my committee, my coauthors, and the undergraduate assistants that have all contributed to bringing this work to fruition.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Josh Chase

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Theory and Culture program in the Department of Humanities. I previously earned a Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing from St. Cloud State University, as well as undergraduate degrees in English literature and creative writing.

The Finishing Fellowship will allow me to continue my research on the rhetoric of conspiracy culture. My dissertation examines how conspiracy theories and anti-conspiracy discourses both draw from and shape public understandings of science and technology. I am especially interested in the rhetorical struggle for epistemic supremacy between conspiracy theorists and their detractors, as well as the emulation of scientific disciplinary practices by users of online conspiracy forums. My project seeks to better understand how terms like “conspiracy theorist,” “truther,” “debunker,” and “skeptic,” operate rhetorically to reify and mediate the boundaries between outlandish ideas and legitimated knowledge.

My time at Michigan Tech has allowed me to pursue interests in digital rhetoric and public understanding of science, to develop a critical and transdisciplinary pedagogy, and to refine my interests in writing program administration and writing center studies. I am grateful for the support of the Department of Humanities and the Graduate School. I am particularly thankful for my advisory committee—Dr. Abraham Romney, Dr. Marika Seigel, and Dr. Carlos Amador—whose mentorship and encouragement has been invaluable.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Daniel Bryne

I began my Ph.D. in computer science in the Fall of 2016. I currently work with Dr. Zhenlin Wang and Dr. Nilufer Onder to model and optimize caching systems deployed in cloud computing environments. Data caching helps improve the speed and efficiency of front-end cloud applications such as websites and video streaming. Specifically, we focus on utilizing new memory technologies to lower operational costs while meeting performance targets. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Rochester, we have developed a new data caching system. Our system uses intelligent data replication and allocation across multiple memory devices to maximize performance while reducing overall operating costs. My improvements to caching systems have gone outside the lab, being adopted into a widely-used open-source caching system, memcached.

I am incredibly grateful for my committee’s support as I finish my dissertation over the summer. It has been a wonderful journey, and I have greatly enjoyed my time as a graduate student, especially my tenure as GSG Vice President. I am happy to have had the opportunity to advocate for graduate students and achieve increased support for health care. I also would like to thank the College of Computing for its efforts in creating a strong research environment and a supportive community of graduate students and faculty. I extend my sincere gratitude to the Graduate School for this support during the final period of completing and defending my dissertation.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Pegah Kord Forooshani

I joined Dr. Bruce Lee’s lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in Fall 2016, where we focused on designing biomimetic materials for different biomedical applications. The overall objective of my research is to manipulate a unique reduction-oxidation chemistry found in mussel adhesive proteins to create novel biomimetic model systems for robust antibacterial activity and enhanced wound healing. Specifically, I have been developing biomimetic hydrogel/microgels which can be activated to release Reactive Oxygen Species such as hydroxyl radical (OH) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). OH is an extremely potent oxidizer which, unlike H2O2, no known enzyme can detoxify it in the bacteria cells, leading to fast and efficient antibacterial activities. H2O2 is a mild oxidizer, which effectively functions as a broad-spectrum biocide and disinfectant in many biomedical applications. The introduction of a relatively high concentration of H2O2 is antimicrobial and a relatively lower concentration promoted wound healing. We are anticipating that our H2O2-releasing hydrogels can serve as a simple and inexpensive approach for the treatment of healing-impaired wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers.

I would like to thank Dr. Lee for his valuable guidance and support. I am also incredibly grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the Graduate School for awarding me Finishing Fellowship. This will allow me to concentrate on my research and complete my doctoral project in Spring 2021.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Rashi Yadav

Doctoral Finishing fellowship

There are a number of aspects in my life that inspired me to be a scientist. I grew up in Chandimandir Cantt, India and as a young girl, I wanted to be an army officer. I remember being awestruck whenever I would see soldiers as they worked relentlessly to protect people and I would think how fulfilling that would be. As I reached high school, I found myself appreciating various scientists that have contributed in revolutionizing the whole world. A scientist can defeat a microorganism capable of wiping out the human population. That is just incredible! That’s why I tell everyone that I am extremely proud of my work line as our unceasing efforts will eventually benefit the society and that is my key motivation which is extremely fulfilling. I am so glad that I am close to my 12 years long dream of getting a Ph.D.

I am very fortunate that I worked with Dr. Ebenezer Tumban, who guided me to conduct professional and analytical research and also taught me several aspects of life by setting up a great example by his deeds. I have done multiple projects under his guidance including assessing MS2-L2 based virus-like particles (VLPs) against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) associated with genital and oral cancer. In addition to this, I have worked on development of a novel thermostable bacteriophage VLP platform-based vaccine.

My experience of pursuing Ph.D. at Michigan Technological University has been incredible. It has been a life-time experience; MTU has the most beautiful summer and winter, though sometimes I have seen extreme winter. But, I must say it is absolutely worth it. I got several opportunities to participate in competitions at MTU and have won awards such as 3-minute thesis, summer fellowship, finishing fellowship etc.  When I am not doing research, I like to spend my time exploring places, going for a hike, painting and dancing.

I am so grateful to Graduate school, MTU for awarding me this prestigious doctoral finishing fellowship. I am so elated and thankful to the people who have supported me in my journey.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Ande Myers

I began my Ph.D. in 2017 and currently work with Dr. Tara L Bal in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. My research explores propagation and restoration planting of American beech trees resistant to beech bark disease. I am collaborating with scientists at the National Park Service (Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshores) to enact an applied restoration project for the mitigation of Beech Bark Disease in Michigan. 

Over the first three years of my doctoral work, I have established a tree grafting program in the CFRES facilities, described the severity of Beech Bark Disease in two National parks, prepared a literature review and synthesis regarding the propagation of American beech, forged a working partnership with the US Forest Service Oconto River Seed Orchard, established a plan for restoration plantings in conjunction with the National Park Service, and initiated a study in methods for transplanting wild-origin American beech seedlings.

My broader research interests are in understanding the dynamics of forest disease and dysfunction and applying a diverse suite of techniques to mitigate the effects of disease and enhance forest health. I aim to present the findings of my research in a clear and understandable manner to a diverse array of audiences. I work to enhance my science communication skills through written and oral presentations, and through forging meaningful working partnerships with external agencies.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the graduate school for supporting the finalization of my dissertation through the award of the finishing fellowship scholarship. I also thank the faculty and support staff of the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science for creating a supportive community that has encouraged my scholarship at every stage of my degree program. Finally, the community of graduate students in the college, and Michigan Tech at large, have provided an amazing academic environment for continued personal and professional growth. I feel that my ability to perform as a researcher has been greatly benefitted by these combined communities, and they have earned my sincere gratitude.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Subin Thomas

I joined Michigan Tech in the Fall of 2016 to pursue my Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences. My research at Tech focused on the development of a numerical model to study the processes in the Michigan Tech Cloud Chamber advised by Dr. Raymond A. Shaw. Being part of the cloud chamber group, I experienced the synergy between theory, experiments, and numerical simulations first hand. These experiences have helped us as a group to understand the complexities and subtleties of a seemingly simple system and we have communicated these findings to the larger audience through conferences and publications. These expeditions were only been possible because of the collaboration with an open-minded approach to problems by the past and current group members of the cloud chamber group. Furthermore, during this short period of time – I had the opportunity to work with the scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory on different but related projects to my thesis for extended periods.
Furthermore, my experience at Michigan Tech has been enhanced by the support from Dr. Ravindra Pandey (the Department Chair of Physics), the office staff (of Physics, of Atmospheric Science, of IPS), my colleagues and friends across the campus. Finally, I am grateful to the Graduate school for their support through a Doctoral Finishing Fellowship, which will allow me to finish writing my dissertation and research publications.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2020 Recipient – Chandan Kumar

I started my journey to my Ph.D. at Michigan Tech in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences in Spring 2018 under the supervision of Dr. Snehamoy Chatterjee and Dr. Thomas Oommen.

The sustainable exploration of mineral resources plays a significant role in the economic development of any nation. My research aims to develop innovative spectral and machine learning methods for mineral and lithological mapping using multi-sensor datasets. The developed methods in this study should be a valuable contribution to the field of geological exploration. The part of my research was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (grant number: 80NSSC17K0543) grant available with my guides.  

I have published three research papers from my Ph.D. research work in reputed peer-reviewed journals, including the  International Journal of Remote Sensing (Taylor and Francis) and the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation (Elsevier). I have also presented my research findings at several recognized meetings, including the AGU and AEG annual meeting in 2018 and 2019. I have also received a few awards and travel grants, such as the project proposal incentive award (Michigan Tech) in 2019 to write a research proposal, GSG travel grant in 2018 and 2019. 

I express my sincere gratitude to the graduate school for awarding me the fall 2020 finishing fellowship. Finally, I would like to thank my guides for their continuous encouragement, motivation, and support throughout my Ph.D. 


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Mujeeb Shittu

I joined Michigan Tech University in Spring 2017 as a Ph.D. student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology and a master’s degree in Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of Lagos.
My doctoral research in Dr. Thomas Werner’s lab focuses on answering one of the most pertinent questions in evolutionary biology – How do animals develop their color patterns? My overall goal is to understand how animals develop their color patterns and discover the regulatory pathways involved in complex color pattern formation in animals. I am using the fruit flies in the quinaria group species (D. guttifera, D. deflecta, D. palustris, D. subpalutris, D.recens, and D. quinaria) as the model to unravel the process of color patterns development in animals. This research will help the scientific community understand the genetic mechanisms that coordinate the assembly of complex color patterns in animal species. It will also benefit cancer research because the toolkit genes that we have identified as pigmentation genes in fruit flies are known human proto-oncogenes; that is, they can cause cancer in humans if misregulated.
My profound gratitude goes to the Michigan Tech Graduate School for the invaluable opportunity to award me the Doctoral finishing fellowship. I am highly grateful to the National Institute of Health (NIH) for providing me financial support for 2.5 years. I especially want to thank my advisor Dr. Werner and my committee members (Prof. Joshi, Dr. Techtmann, and Dr. Hairong Wei), for their excellent guidance throughout my research.