Category: Awards

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Di Huang

Di Huang
Materials Science & Engineering

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Material Science and Engineering, working with my advisor, Dr. Jiann-Yang Hwang. Over the past four years, my research interest has been focused on ion exchange membranes, which play important roles in desalination and purification industry. Ion exchange membranes that are more related to my research is the industrial wastewater treatment. Studying the high-performance ion exchange membranes helps to solve the excessive water pollution issue, such as wastewater of plating industry. The synthesis method implemented in my research can appropriately decrease the production cost of ion exchange membranes applied for treating wastewater with high heavy metal ions. Furthermore, this ion exchange membrane would better save electrical energy for electrochemical device which were widely used in wastewater retreatment field.

am extremely honored to be awarded the finishing scholarship and very grateful to have this support during this stage of my research. This fellowship provides me  precious time and energy to focus on my final dissertation and allows me equipping myself to start the next stage of my career.

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Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Dongdong (Alex) Ge

Dongdong (Alex) Ge
Civil Engineering

As a Ph.D. student, I am enthusiastic and work hard in my efforts in research works, I have assisted my supervisor to prepare about 5 proposals from agencies, and I was CO-PI of a few proposals submitted in the past year. I have also participated in several other research projects from DOTs. To date, my research has led to a number of papers including 21 published peer-reviewed journal papers, 3 conference proceedings, and 2 under-review paper. In addition, I am preparing 2 more journal papers to be submitted at this time. In the past few years, I have been supported with various project support as GRA and two semesters of GTA. My efforts in teaching made me earn the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award in 2018. I was also awarded the P.M. Thornton Endowed Fellowship in 2019.

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Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Christa Meingast

Christa Meingast
Environmental Engineering

My Ph.D.  research at MTU focuses on pathogen inactivation in clinical and wastewater applications. Pathogenic infections are prevalent throughout the world, and public safety measures to prevent these diseases are essential. Currently, my research aims to determine an effective process for inactivating viruses in pharmaceutical manufacturing without harming proteins. Throughout my graduate career in environmental engineering, I have found a passion for teaching and researching. When I graduate in May 2020, I plan to obtain a career in post-secondary education in the STEM Field. I wish to spread scientific knowledge and an understanding of environmental sustainability through education.

I am very grateful for being awarded the Finishing Fellowship to support my Ph.D. research for Spring 2020. This funding allows me to focus my attention on my research so I can complete my degree. I also want to thank my advisors Dr. Caryn Heldt and Dr. Veronica Webster for their constant guidance and support throughout my graduate career.

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Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Sarah Jalal

Sarah Jalal
Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

I started my PhD in the Mechanical Engineering department in Fall 2015 with Dr. Fernando Ponta. My research focuses on the study of the aeroelastic behavior of variable speed stall controlled wind turbines to improve the overall efficiency of the next generation of such utility-scale machines.

I would like to thank the Graduate School for awarding me the Finishing Fellowship for the Spring 2020 semester. This fellowship will help me to focus on the final stage of my PhD to write my dissertation and complete publication manuscripts in a timely manner. I am grateful for all the support provided to me.

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Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Hongmei Lu

Hongmei Lu
Environmental Policy

I am a Ph.D. candidate studying Environmental and Energy Policy in the Department of Social Sciences. I received my M.Sc. degree from Wageningen University, The Netherlands in Landscape Architecture & Planning. I started my Ph.D. program in Fall 2016 at MTU under the supervision of Dr. Audrey L. Mayer. My research interests include policy making and policy implementation pertaining to the urban environment, including green infrastructure, green stormwater management, municipal waste management, etc. My dissertation topic is “From Garden City to Sponge City: Urban green infrastructure policy development in China.”

I am very grateful to the Graduate School for the Finishing Fellowship support, which allows me to completely focus on my research at this final stage of my graduate studies. Thanks also to all the supports for my study from the Department of Social Sciences in the past four years.

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Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Christina Welch

Christina Welch
Chemistry

I am a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the department of Chemistry. Briefly, my research focuses on the various roles glycans play in improve human health. Currently, we are using this knowledge to study the relationship between a well-known heart and cancer biomarker and its unconventional ligands. The exploration of this relationship has allowed us to develop a new protein and glycoprotein purification method, which was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. I am also working on a natural hemolysin that has therapeutic potential.

The years I’ve spent at Michigan Tech has been one of immense growth and development. I am deeply grateful to my advisor, Dr. Tarun Dam, for his unwavering encouragement and character. He has helped me to become a better researcher, mentor, and person. I would also like to thank the Chemistry department, the graduate school, and the finishing fellowship committee for supporting me. Last, I would like to personally thank Dr. Debra Charlesworth, Jacque Smith, and Prof. Pushpalatha Murthy for all of the encouragement they’ve offered during my time here.

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Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Spring 2019 Recipient – Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao

Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao
Biomedical Engineering

I received my Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Michigan Tech with the thesis titled “A 3D Biomimetic Scaffold using Electrospinning for Tissue Engineering Applications”. Under the guidance of Dr. Smitha Rao, I have continued my research effort in the field of tissue regeneration focusing on biophysical cues in the micro- and nano- scale that impact tissue growth. Tissue regeneration is a complex process that involves a myriad of biological pathways working in tandem. When this harmony is disturbed, it leads to complications which can be fatal. The healing of wounds caused by diabetic foot ulcer is one such disease that prevents complete healing, and involves time-consuming and expensive rehabilitation. My research focuses on identifying the biophysical cues involved in tissue regeneration for wound healing applications and developing a bandage that accelerates the wound healing process using the native cells of the body. The bandage functions by mimicking the physical characteristics of local tissues providing a framework for the cells to attach and proliferate thereby closing the wound.

I look forward to utilizing this opportunity to develop improved scaffolds and enable technologies to enhance our understanding of the various signaling pathways involved in wound healing. I will continue to identify commercial applications and develop my skills both as a researcher and an entrepreneur. The PHF assistantship will be invaluable in my pursuit. I want to thank the Portage Health Foundation, the department of biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech and my advisor Dr. Rao for the help, support and guidance.

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Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Fall 2019 Recipient – Srinivas Kannan

Srinivas Kannan
Biomedical Engineering

I began my doctoral research in the Fall of 2016 in the Biomedical Microdevices lab under the guidance of Dr. Smitha Rao. My research is focused on breast cancer and understanding breast cancer cell metastasis using a microfluidic platform. The compromised metabolic processes in breast cancers impact the local tumor environment. This is supported by the enhanced uptake of fructose and expression of GLUT5 (fructose specific transporter membrane proteins) in breast cancer cells compared to healthy cells. 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/or therapy. Towards this end, I have contributed by testing the GLUT5 specific fluorescent fructose mimics (ManCou probes) developed in Dr. Tanasova’s lab. My doctoral work also includes developing a three-dimensional in vitro model 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 Portage Health Foundation for awarding me the assistantship and the department of Biomedical engineering at Michigan tech for the financial support. I am grateful for the continued guidance from my advisor Dr. Smitha Rao and my co-advisor Dr. Marina Tanasova.

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Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Fall 2019 Recipient – Christina Welch

Christina Welch
Chemistry

In 2015, I joined Dr. Tarun Dam’s lab where the research is centered around Glycobiology. This field of study highlights the importance of glycoproteins in human health. Currently, we are focused on the discovery and characterization of a plant-derived bioactive molecule that has the potential to target pathogenic cells. This molecule can also help in drug delivery processes. In addition, we are studying the biological functions of a prominent heart failure and cancer biomarker.

My experience in Dr. Dam’s lab has been exceptional and I am truly grateful for all of the guidance and growth I’ve received over the years. I would also like to thank the Chemistry department and the graduate school for their never-ending support. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Portage Health Foundation, with their help I am able to continue my research with the hope of concluding my research projects soon.

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Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Fall 2019 Recipient -Christa Meingast

Christa Meingast
Environmental Engineering

My current research at Michigan Technological University aims to determine mechanisms of pathogen inactivation in both clinical and wastewater applications. Pathogenic infections are prevalent throughout the world, and effective and sustainable public safety measures to prevent these diseases are desirable. During this past year, I have been researching the mechanisms and optimal conditions of inactivating viruses in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Throughout my career as a PhD student in the field of environmental engineering, I have found a passion for teaching and researching.  After I graduate my PhD I want to obtain a career in post-secondary education to continue to spread scientific knowledge and an understanding of environmental sustainability.

I am very grateful for being awarded the Portage Health Foundation Fellowship to support my Ph.D. research for Fall 2019. This funding allows me to focus my attention on my research so I can graduate by the end of the academic year. I also want to thank my advisors Dr. Caryn Heldt and Dr. Veronica Webster for their help and support throughout my graduate career.

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