Category: Fellowship Recipients

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Christina Welch

Christina Welch

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.

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.

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.

Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Fall 2019 Recipient – Christina Welch

Christina Welch

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.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2019 Recipient – Hemanth Kumar Vemprala

Hemanth Kumar Vemprala
Electrical Engineering

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering, working with my advisor Dr. Bruce A. Mork. Currently, my research focuses on the time-domain modeling approaches for addressing disturbances such as Transformer Inner winding faults and also external events such as Geomagnetic Disturbances (GMD) causing GIC to flow in Bulk Transmission systems. Both these disturbances have an adverse impact on the normal operation of the power system. My research had lead to development and enhancement of the approach to accurately estimate the fault currents which is then used to study and improve the sensitivity of transformer protection. Similarly, GIC/GMD event is intricate and involves complex interaction in the physical world, using EMTP time-domain approaches, various tools and methodologies are developed that helps understand the behavior, study the consequences and to find effective mitigative strategies.
I am very grateful to the grad school and the funding panel for awarding me the finishing fellowship. This will certainly help me to focus on completing the dissertation and publishing my research papers.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2019 Recipient – Siyu Chen

Siyu Chen
Civil Engineering

Mr. Siyu Chen received his MS degree in Highway Engineering from South China University of Technology in China. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. degree at MTU from Fall 2015 under the supervision of Dr. Zhanping You. His Ph.D. research focuses on investigating the water permeability of asphalt mixture. After the completion of his Ph.D., he would be interested to work as a faculty in an academic institution in China.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2019 Recipient – Mohammed Desouky

Mohammed Desouky
Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

I earned my bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Military Technical College in 2005 and my MSc in aerospace engineering from Cairo University in 2012. I started at MTU in Spring 2017. My research is on spacecraft attitude determination, dynamics and control. Specifically, I am developing control schemes that enable the spacecraft to carry out attitude maneuver in less time with less power consumption.

I would like to express my gratitude to my entire family for supporting me.  With Special thanks to my father, Abdelrahman, my wife, Eman and my son, Zeyad. I am grateful to the Graduate School for granting me the Finishing Fellowship for Fall 2019. I would also like to thank my advisors Dr. Abdelkhalik and Dr. Gauchia for their academic advice and their constant support and encouragement.

It has been great time at Michigan Tech and I am proud to be a part of it.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2019 Recipient – Nancy Henaku

Nancy Henaku
Rhetoric, Theory and Culture

I am currently a doctoral candidate on the Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (RTC) program in the Department of Humanities. Generally, my research examines the intersections between discourse and socio-political processes with a specific emphasis on postcoloniality and transnationality. For my doctoral dissertation, I argue for a Global Southern perspective on women’s politics, suggesting that a serious engagement with postcolonial (African) women’s politics provides critical insights into the complexities of female political power and the role that language and rhetoric play in constructing this complexity. Besides suggesting a multitheoretic framework for unravelling the socio-discursive complexities that I identify in my discursive data, the dissertation also contributes to discussions in transnational feminist research by highlighting the connections between discourses on/about an African woman and discursive patterns identified from a broader transnational context. Because my doctoral project is itself an effort to recover an African woman’s political contributions, I have had to cover significant ground in order to highlight the complex issues in the texts examined. I am currently completing the final chapters of my dissertation and looking forward to my defense and graduation in Fall 2019. The Finishing Fellowship will therefore facilitate my work on the final sections of my dissertation. I am extremely grateful to the Michigan Tech Graduate School and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for this generous financial support. I am also grateful to Dr. Victoria L. Bergvall—my advisor—for her support and intellectual guidance and to the Department of Humanities for supporting my academic endeavors since I started the PhD program.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2019 Recipient – Danielle Rupp

Danielle Rupp
School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

I am a fourth year PhD Candidate in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. My area of study revolves around boreal ecosystems—particularly northern wetlands—and how these areas are responding to climate change. The research that I pursue at Michigan Tech specifically involves carbon cycling, microbial response, and plant community shifts due to hydrologic change. Other research I have been involved with during my time at Tech includes the investigation of permafrost thaw and its effects on nutrient cycling in and around thermokarst features. In so doing, I have spent the past three summers living and working in and around Fairbanks, Alaska—an area in which permafrost thaw and climate change are daily realities for both the landscape and the people who live there. During my time at Michigan Tech, I also had the opportunity to attain a Masters in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which expands my technical skillset for any future career.

I am incredibly grateful to the graduate school for awarding me a Finishing Fellowship. The extra time to finish writing and publishing my research will make me a competitive candidate for many potential future careers. Careers I am interested in pursuing include nonprofit environmental research, land- or water-based management positions in federal agencies, land trusts, or non-profits, or environmental state-based careers in Alaska or other northern climates.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2019 Recipient -Amol Paithankar

Amol Paithankar
Mining Engineering

I am a Ph.D. candidate studying Mining Engineering in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences. I came to Michigan Tech in Fall 2015 to pursue MS in Mining Engineering, after working for 4 years in the mining industry in India.  I started working under the guidance of Dr. Snehamoy Chatterjee, where I worked on multiple-point geostatistics and mine production scheduling. After finishing MS in 2017, I decided to continue for a Ph.D. at MTU. As a Ph.D. candidate, I am developing a mining complex optimization algorithm to solve a large scale stochastic open-pit mine optimization problem. I want to thank my advisor Dr. Snehamoy Chatterjee for his guidance and generous support.

I am very grateful to the Graduate School for the support provided through the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. This support is instrumental in this final stage of my graduate studies.  I am mainly writing my final research papers, and look forward to completing my dissertation in a timely manner and take on new challenges.