Category Archives: Fellowship Recipients

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Erin Burkett

Erin Burkett
Social Sciences

I am a PhD candidate studying Environmental and Energy Policy in the Department of Social Sciences. Over the past four years I have studied demographic trends and changes among recreational anglers in Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. I have also studied the importance of fishing to women and how women-specific outreach programs engage with this important group. This research includes working with both state natural resource agencies and recreational fisheries stakeholders. The MTU Finishing Fellowship comes as a pivotal time in my dissertation as I am mainly writing my final research papers and preparing to give my oral defense. I am very grateful to have funding and support during this stage of my research. Go Huskies!

 


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Kelsey Carter

Kelsey Carter
Forest Science

I am a fourth year PhD candidate in Forest Science, working with my advisor, Dr. Molly Cavaleri. My research seeks to better understand how tropical plants are impacted by climate warming. Tropical forests cycle more carbon than any other biome, but we lack insight on the mechanisms driving these vital ecosystems. My research will better inform global models and allow us to close critical gaps in our understanding of how tropical forests might shift their carbon balance in response to the warming climate. Throughout my PhD, I have been very fortunate to perform my field work at the first field-scale warming experiment in a tropical rainforest (Tropical Responses to Altered Climate Experiment– TRACE), located in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. In total, I spent eight months living and working in Puerto Rico. Alongside pursuing my PhD, I completed my master’s degree in Applied Ecology at MTU. In addition, I gained teaching experience through Michigan Tech, both as a teaching assistant and instructor for undergraduate courses.

I am very grateful to the graduate school and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for awarding me the Finishing Fellowship. This fellowship will provide time for me to complete my degree and focus on publishing my research, which will allow me to be more competitive as apply for jobs in the next stage of my career.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Qi Zhong

Qi Zhong
Physics

I came to Michigan Tech in Spring 2014 and joined Dr. Ramy El-Ganainy’s group in Summer 2016. Currently, my research focuses on the fundamental aspects and applications of non-Hermitian physics. In general, non-Hermiticity arises in open systems that exchange energy with their environment. Particularly, my work deals with a special type of non-Hermitian degeneracies called exceptional points. I have explored the mathematical features of these singularities as well as their potential benefit in building new photonic components such as ultra-responsive optical sensors as well as a new generation of optical amplifiers that outperform standard devices. Additionally, I am also investigating how the engineering of dissipation in non-Hermitian nonlinear optical systems can be used to build new light sources that can produce coherent light at any color on demand.

I would like to thank the Graduate School for granting me this fellowship, which will allow me to focus on my dissertation writing and thesis defense. I am grateful for the Physics Department for the continuous support and would like to thank my adviser Dr. El-Ganainy for guiding me throughout my work.

 


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Behdad Afkhami

Behdad Afkhami
MEEM

My good memories from Michigan Tech started from a chilly summer night of August 05, 2014 when my flight landed in Houghton! Later at the end of my first semester (Fall 2014) I joined Dr. Scott Miers’ research team and since then I have been involved in several engine-related researches. Working on my PhD research topic became serious in summer 2015 with focusing on developing a turbulent flame speed model for spark ignition (SI) engines. The novelty of the project was on incorporating the effect of flame stretch into the flame speed; the parameter that can affect the flame speed significantly or result in flame extinction and high unburned hydrocarbon emission especially right after ignition in SI engines. To visualize the flame, its propagation and the flame stretch in a SI engine, an optically accessible-engine was utilized and tested in Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APSRC). I want to take this opportunity to also thank Dr. Jeffery Naber, the director of APSRC for all his helps and contributions to the project.

During my graduate studies I was fortunate enough to serve as a Teaching Assistant since Spring 2015, getting promoted to the Lead Teaching Assistant in Fall 2016, and selected to receive the Distinguished Doctoral Teaching Fellowship in Spring 2019 as the instructor of Mechanical Engineering Practice 2 (MEP2) course in the ME department.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Graduate School at Michigan Tech for this financial support. This gave me an opportunity to focus on my dissertation and put all my efforts toward completion of my PhD degree. And, last but not the least, I want to thank snow and Mont Ripley which helped me to stay powered during the Houghton long winters :).


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Ruizhe Si

Ruizhe Si
Civil Engineering

I came to Michigan Tech in Fall 2015 after finishing my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at Changsha University of Science and Technology.

My research is focused on improving the performance of the geopolymers and analyzing the multiscale structure and chemical composition of materials. Geopolymer is a type of binder material similar to cement paste. The production of the geopolymer can potentially reduce up to 80% of CO2 emission compared with that of ordinary Portland cement. However, large drying shrinkage of the geopolymer limited its application in construction industry. My research will help to understand the shrinkage mechanisms of geopolymer and provide the methods to reduce the shrinkage of the geopolymer. All these will facilitate the large application of geopolymer and also improve the service life of this eco-friendly construction material.

I am very grateful to the Graduate School for providing me the Finishing Fellowship, which helps me focus on finishing my dissertation during the summer semester. I also want to express my gratitude to my advisor Dr. Qingli Dai, who mentored me in my research and provided me many opportunities to collaborate with research groups from different universities to improve my research quality.

 


Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Fall 2018 Recipient – Xue Mi

Xue Mi
Chemical Engineering
I am a Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering and has been working on my Ph.D. project in Dr. Caryn Heldt’s lab since 2015 fall. My research has focused on creating methods to remove, detect, characterize, and purify viruses. Virus removal explored cheaper and easier ways to purify water; detection of viruses can be used to determine the cleanliness of surfaces from viral contamination and also possibly as a quick way to screen blood donations for viral contamination in underdeveloped countries; characterization studied viral surface properties to stabilize vaccines; purifying viruses can create less expensive vaccines and other viral therapies and bring them to market faster. All of these projects and applications can help improve both the health of our local population, but also health worldwide.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Portage Health Foundation for financial support. It allows me to focus on my paper and dissertation writing for the summer of 2019. I also want to thank my advisor Dr. Heldt for her constant help and generous support throughout my entire graduate school studies.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Grace Parikh

Grace L. Parikh
Forest Science

I came to Michigan Tech in 2013 as a student in the Applied Ecology M.S. program with John Vucetich, where I had the privilege of working on the Isle Royale Wolf and Moose Project. The collegiality of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, in addition to the spectacular wilderness of the UP made it an easy decision to continue at MTU for a PhD, using a long-term data set compiled by Chris Webster. I have been working with John Vucetich and Chris Webster, studying winter adaptations of white-tailed deer with a 13-year data set, using a combination of field surveys, quantitative methods, and molecular techniques. I have also had a great deal of teaching experience, ranging from field to lecture-based classes.

I am very grateful for the support of my co-advisors, John Vucetich and Chris Webster. It is an honor to be awarded the Finishing Fellowship, and I look forward to wrapping up my dissertation and taking on new challenges.

 


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Kai Zhang

Kai Zhang
MEEM

Mr. Kai Zhang received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering at Beijing Institute of Technology, and MS degree at University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in MEEM department under the supervision of Dr. Chunpei Cai. His research focuses on plasma simulations, and theoretical and/or numerical analysis of rarified gas flows. After the completion of his Ph.D. degree, he would return to China to teach and continue his research as a university faculty in Hunan. He wishes to bring the education experience at MTU to his future students and strive for academic excellence.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Hossein Tavakoli

Hossein Tavakoli
Environmental Engineering
I came to Michigan Tech in August 2014 to pursue my PhD in Environmental Engineering. My research focuses on the environmental and socioeconomic impact of algae cultivation, and algal biofuel production. Apart from research, I have been involved with the Graduate Student Government (GSG) at Michigan Tech since 2016 in various capacities as department representative, sustainability liaison, and president. I have also been working as a Teaching Assistant in different departments which has been an invaluable experience for me.

I am truly grateful to the Graduate School for providing me with financial support through the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. This fellowship helps me in focusing exclusively on finishing the experiments and publishing in journals to complete my dissertation in a timely manner.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Nupur Bihari

Nupur Bihari
Materials Science and Engineering

I moved to the beautiful city of Houghton as a Master’s student in Electrical Engineering and worked on my thesis (under Dr. Paul Bergstrom) on a microfabricated blood typing sensor. Continuing to explore semiconductor microfabrication and vacuum systems, I joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in Fall 2016 under Dr. Joshua Pearce. I began my PhD research on integrating the disparate worlds of additive manufacturing and semiconductor fabrication.

Additive manufacturing is radically changing the way polymer-based components are manufactured. It has enabled customization, reduced costs and led to unprecedented growth in the acceptance and use of polymers in scientific research equipment. Despite the ubiquity of 3-D printed materials in research applications, they have remained conspicuously absent from semiconductor research, primarily due to their apparent incompatibility with vacuum equipment. This incompatibility is mainly in terms of outgassing of volatile organic species. Outgassing in polymers arises when low molecular mass entities present in the material matrix escape when exposed to vacuum. If polymers are coated with a conformal, crystalline, inorganic film introduced with atomic layer deposition (ALD), then outgassing can be reduced to a large extent because the surface layer acts as a seal to prevent these low molecular weight species present in the bulk of the material from escaping. Going a step further, I am in the process of building a first of its kind ALD system almost entirely out of 3-D printed polymeric materials.
I would like to express my gratitude to Graduate School for the finishing fellowship. I am honored to have my research get this recognition.