Category: News

Interesting stories about and for our students.

Academic Policies for Graduate Students

Dear graduate students,

We hope this email finds you well, engaged with your academics, and taking time to take care of yourselves.  We realize that this is a stressful time and that the disruption caused by covid-19, coupled with social and physical distancing may have impacted your ability to be successful this semester.  We’d like to share some information to support your academic success this semester.

Dropping classes

The University is allowing students to drop classes through the Friday of Week 14 (5pm, April 24) with a grade of W.  A W grade is not calculated in your cumulative GPA. There is no refund for dropped classes.

If you are supported as a GTA/GRA/GTI, please contact the Graduate School prior to dropping classes, if possible, to receive permission to be registered for less than 9 credits.

International students may drop below 9 credits in the spring 2020 semester while maintaining their student status.  If you have questions regarding your status, please contact International Programs and Services.

To drop a class, email the Registrar’s Office at registrar@mtu.edu making sure to include both the course information and your M number. The deadline for withdrawing from a single course with a W will be extended through Friday of week 14 (5pm, April 24). Please submit your request no later than 5pm.

Withdrawing

If you would like to withdraw from all of your classes, please complete a Student Withdrawal form no later than 5pm on the Friday of week 14 (April 24).  You will receive a grade of W in all of your courses. There is no refund for your tuition if you withdraw.

If you are supported as a GTA/GRA/GTI, please contact the Graduate School prior to withdrawing, if possible.

International students should contact International Programs and Services to ensure that their student status and I-20 are updated.

Non-graded classes

The University Senate has passed a policy to allow undergraduate students to convert graded classes to non-graded classes (pass/fail). Graduate students will not be able to change the grading mode for their classes.  The Graduate School requires that classes earn a letter grade (A, B, etc.) in order to be used toward a graduate degree.

Each graduate program may allow up to six credits of BC or C grades to count toward a graduate degree. Please consult with your graduate program director to determine the academic standards in your program.

Student support

Our student support coordinator, Anna McClatchy, is available to help you find additional resources for your personal and academic concerns.  HuskyFAN is available to provide emergency food for those in need. Finally, Counseling Services is providing individual services, group sessions, and seminars through remote services and referrals. 

Academic grievances

If you have a grievance about any grades you have received this semester, please use the Academic Grievance policy to address these concerns.

Good standing

Graduate students must maintain good standing in order to continue pursuing a degree.  In general, this requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and making progress in research.  

A switch in academic standing from good to probationary status may occur after a poor academic performance. This is simply an indicator (or warning) that improvement is needed and has no impact on a student’s ability to participate in a degree program in the next semester.

However, if a student is currently on academic probation, continued poor performance would lead to academic suspension.  All students who are suspended are encouraged to appeal this decision so that they can remain active in their academic program.  The Graduate School reviews these appeals holistically and understands that it may have been an extra challenge to return to good standing this semester.

We are here to help.  Please let us know how we can assist you this semester. Please take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Sincerely,

Graduate School


Academic Policies for Accelerated Master’s Students

Dear student,

Congratulations on being accepted into an accelerated master’s program at Michigan Tech for summer or fall 2020.  We hope that you and your family are doing well.

The University recently announced a policy allowing undergraduate students the option of converting letter grades to Pass/Fail for the spring semester due to the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus.  This communication will give you further information about that option and how it relates specifically to your enrollment in an accelerated master’s program.  

  • The accelerated master’s program allows you to double-count up to six credits of undergraduate courses toward your graduate degree, with the permission of your graduate program director.  
  • The Graduate School does not allow pass/fail grades (SCV/ECV) in courses to be used to satisfy degree requirements.  
  • Classes that have been converted to SCV/ECV grades will not be able to be used toward completion of your graduate degree.  
  • Each graduate program may allow up to six credits of BC or C grades to count toward a graduate degree. 
  • Please consult with your graduate program director to determine what options will best support your success in graduate school.

For more information about the pass/fail option for undergraduate students, please consult the University’s web site.

Please let us know if we can assist you in any way as you begin your career as a graduate student.

Sincerely,

Michigan Tech Graduate School
gradschool@mtu.edu


Information on digitally signing Graduate School forms, an email to students

Dear students,

The Graduate School recognizes that signing paper forms will be difficult or impossible for the coming weeks.  Many staff, faculty, and students will be working remotely, and since the University does not have a secure way to sign PDF forms and validate that the signatures are from the person shown, we will be suggesting the following process for submitting forms that require signatures.

Students should download the form, complete the form, and email to the first person who needs to sign. That person can forward the form to the Graduate School (gradschool@mtu.edu) or to the next person to sign the form, indicating their approval in the email.  Many forms only require one signature. When emailing forms, it is best to email one form per student per email so the forms can be appropriately routed to the correct staff member. If forms are emailed directly from faculty, then the Graduate School will be able to verify that faculty have appropriately approved the forms. Digital signatures are not necessary, and some of our forms will not allow them to be added.

An alternative way would be to print and sign the form as usual and either photograph or scan using a phone.  There are many excellent scanning programs for iPhones and Android devices. The free version of Genius Scan is one such app you might use. Students can submit scans to Canvas, or scans can be emailed to gradschool@mtu.edu.

Whatever method you select, please submit the form only once. Multiple submissions delays processing.
We are here to help.  Please let us know what questions or suggestions you might have.

Sincerely,
Graduate School


This email account is monitored by staff in the Graduate School.  Please reply to this email with any questions you have.
Michigan Tech Graduate School
gradschool@mtu.edu
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:
http://www.mtu.edu/gradschool/resources-for/students/


Email from the Graduate School

Dear students,

To promote social distancing and minimize the spread of COVID-19, we are asking that all students email gradschool@mtu.edu with any questions you have for Graduate School staff.

If an email is not appropriate to resolve your question, you may use Google Calendar to schedule a 15-minute appointment (tutorial) with a staff member or call our front desk (906-487-2327). Please indicate whether you would like to conduct the meeting as a phone call, video conference, or in person.  If you will meet in person, we ask that you arrive at your appointment time to reduce the number of people on our floor at any given time.

Please visit the University’s web site for the most current information regarding COVID-19 and how campus is affected.

We are here to help,
Graduate School


This email account is monitored by staff in the Graduate School.  Please reply to this email with any questions you have.
Michigan Tech Graduate School
gradschool@mtu.edu
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:
http://www.mtu.edu/gradschool/resources-for/students/


Email from the Dean to Graduate Students

Dear Colleagues,

As you have heard from the President Koubek, the health, safety, and security of our campus and our community is most important to us.  We need to make substantial changes in how we go about our daily lives in response to the evolving COVID-19 threat. This is a rapidly changing situation so we will, no doubt, need to continuously adjust our responses as we learn more.  For comprehensive and up-to-date information please see the University’s COVID-19 web page

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Graduate School is committed to doing all we can to make the rest of the semester as healthy and productive as possible.  Here are some issues the Graduate School is asking faculty to consider. 

I.  Research progress

Per the President’s memo, all instruction at Michigan Tech must be delivered virtually till 17 April 2020.  I am sure you are wondering how this will impact progress in your research group. How should ongoing research involving graduate students be handled?  This will undoubtedly vary with research group and depend on the nature of research, the need for physical presence in the laboratory, and the individual group members comfort, attitude and tolerance in this rapidly evolving situation. The Vice President for Research’s Office will be posting guidelines to help clarify general expectations soon.   Please see the email from Kathleen Halverson, VPR, for additional information regarding research labs.

The University campus is not closed. Students, faculty, and staff can be on campus, and people can interact in small groups (less than 25). Under those guidelines, research and interactions among advisors, students, and staff may continue. 

However, appropriate precautions should be taken and the option to continue research and research-related meetings remotely must be accommodated.  In particular, remote attendance (e.g. via Zoom or Google Hangout) for group meetings among students, advisors, and staff is strongly advised. For research requiring physical presence in a laboratory, lab schedules and social distancing practices should minimize interpersonal exposure. 

Please communicate with your graduate students about how you plan to organize your research group, no later than March 18.   Clearly communicate your expectations and timelines with your students.  Be creative with regards to how to accomplish research work, meetings, writing projects and other activities so that students make research progress in a positive educational experience. 

If you have students returning from travel, please follow the university guidelines University guidelines and ask anyone who has traveled in the past 14 days to fill out the University’s Returning Travelers form. Social-distancing, self-isolation, and self-monitoring are the best ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 (Sections IV and V).

II.  Defenses, research proposal examinations, and qualifying examinations

Spring (and especially mid to late spring) is a time when many graduate students schedule dissertation/thesis/report defenses, research proposal examinations and qualifying examinations.   These milestones typically include a public presentation followed by an in-depth examination by the advisory committee members.  Commensurate with the current policy of virtual instruction until April 17, all oral examinations and defenses must be conducted virtually (for example, via Zoom) to allow all interested to participate.  Please make arrangements well in advance to accommodate this need.  The student should contact IT (it-help@mtu.edu, 906-487-1111) for assistance at least 5 business days in advance to appropriately schedule staffing and potential equipment usage. The in-depth examination with some or all of the advisory committee members can be conducted face-to-face if it is agreeable to those participating.  

Michigan Technological University IT Department offers Zoom (log in with Michigan Tech ID and password) for Web conferencing support. Zoom will allow you to share your screen, webcam and microphone with up to 100 participants.  The IT Knowledge Base on Conferencing includes helpful information on web conferencing options and support.

III.  Graduate School Emergency Fund

Funds from the Graduate School Emergency Fund is available to assist graduate students with emergencies and financial hardships. 

Stay healthy and follow the guidance from the university and CDC.  If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email me or Will Cantrell (cantrell@mtu.edu) or Jacque Smith (jacque@mtui.edu).  The Graduate School and the University will do our best to keep you apprised as new developments occur at University’s COVID-19 web page.     

With best wishes,

Dean Pushpa Murthy

Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI-49931

This email account is monitored by staff in the Graduate School.  Please reply to this email with any questions you have.
Michigan Tech Graduate School
gradschool@mtu.edu
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:
http://www.mtu.edu/gradschool/resources-for/students/


Graduate School Announces New Tradition to Celebrate PhD Students Achieving Doctoral Candidacy

Advancement to candidacy is a major milestone for doctoral students. PhD students who have advanced to candidacy are deemed to have completed all formal requirements of their program, except the dissertation. Advancement to candidacy is an acknowledgment that the student is ready to undertake independent dissertation research and has the potential to successfully complete their PhD program. Formal requirements vary by program, they generally take two to three years after starting the program and include coursework, qualifying exams, and research proposal. To celebrate this milestone, the Graduate School at Michigan Tech has introduced a new tradition to recognize, applaud and celebrate doctoral students who attain this feat.

This new tradition will take the form of a ceremony that brings together candidates, their advisors and their families in celebration of students who have advanced to this stage in their studies. Candidates will be presented with certificates at the ceremony.

Commenting on this new tradition, Graduate School Dean Pushpa Murthy said, “The advancement to candidacy is a major milestone in PhD programs, it is an acknowledgment by the program that the PhD student has acquired the necessary advanced knowledge of the subject and demonstrated the ability to conduct research necessary for a dissertation.”

To be eligible for participation in this ceremony, doctoral students should have submitted the Petition to Enter Candidacy form. This form is submitted once the student has fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Submitted an approved degree schedule • Completed all relevant courses and course credits
  • Completed Basic and Advance RCR Training
  • Passed qualifying exams
  • Passed research proposal exams
  • Formed an advisory committee

Planning for the debut ceremony, which is scheduled for Feb. 26, is ongoing. More information about the new tradition and ceremony will be coming soon.


Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Spring 2020 Recipient – Avik Ghosh

Avik Ghosh
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

I joined Dr. Tanasova’s Lab as a PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Fall 2017. My research focuses on exploring the impact of nutritional deprivation in cancer cells. Nutritional deprivation has been of interest to the research community as an approach to sensitize cancer cells towards chemotherapy. While many strategies have been undertaken, it is still not clear whether such an approach can be safely applied to all types of cancers. As a researcher in the Tanasova laboratory, I am aiming to understand the outcomes of fructose deprivation in different cancer types.

Our recent development of fluorescent probes that can specifically target cancer-relevant fructose transporter GLUT5 made it possible to conduct targeted studies on assessing the role of this transporter in cancer. Through preliminary assessments, I have found that depriving cancer cells in fructose through GLUT5 inhibition induces different responses in different cancer types. I discovered that in aggressive breast cancer phenotypes, such deprivation causes long-term stress that could positively contribute to the outcome of chemotherapy. In contrast, at an early stage, cancer cells appear to adjust to the induced deprivation and gain resistance. This observed difference provides an essential insight into the diverse nature of cancer and allows us to rationalize the choices of treatment better.

However, considering a required high-level experimental rigor, I still need to perform a large number of experiments that will validate the discovery from different angles. The work will include couple of challenging analyses that are known to be time-consuming and require tuning of conditions to achieve results.

Thus, I sincerely thank Portage Health Fellowship for the support. The award has not only taken care of my tuition/stipend support but also has bought me time from my daily teaching responsibilities to focus on my research better. I would also like to thank my advisor Dr. Marina Tanasova and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for the constant support and guidance.

 


Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Spring 2020 Recipient – Pegah Kord Forooshani

Pegah Kord Forooshani
Biomedical Engineering

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 biological responses to H2O2 are highly dependent on its concentration. 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 all of his valuable guidance and support which have provided me with the opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills. I am also incredibly grateful to the Portage Health Foundation for awarding me this assistantship which will enable me to concentrate on my research and complete my doctoral project.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Olivia Barbee

Olivia Barbee
Geology

I am a Ph.D. Candidate studying igneous petrology in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences. I conduct crystal-scale studies of magmatic minerals primarily within a voluminous eruption deposit from Toba caldera volcano in Indonesia. Before eruption, these minerals were recording the evolving conditions of their subsurface environment as they were growing (crystallizing) from the magma. I decipher their preserved records, similar to how one studies tree rings. I specifically link changes in crystal texture with changes in crystal chemistry to better understand magma dynamics in potentially hazardous, caldera-forming magma systems (e.g., Toba, Yellowstone, Taupo Volcanic Zone). My findings have important implications for the application of petrologic tools used to study magmas, such as mineral geothermometers, geobarometers and geospeedometers, as well as models of caldera magma systems. My research may also help inform timescales of the production and gestation of giant silicic magma bodies stored in the Earth’s crust, whose eruptions are known to have global impacts.

I thank my advisor, Dr. Chad Deering, for his generous support, and allowing me to explore various research avenues throughout my time at Michigan Tech. I am also indebted to Dr. Craig Chesner, a long-time mentor and Michigan Tech Alumni (M.S.; Ph.D. ’88), as his Toba research at Tech led me to where I am today (and ironically, back to where it all started). I am very 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 Spring 2020 Recipient – Karl Meingast

Karl Meingast
Forest Science

My M.S. research project was focused on peatland fuel characterization using remotely sensed data and was published in Remote Sensing of the Environment. After that, my research focus shifted to organic matter movement from terrestrial inputs (leaf litter for example) to Lake Superior through snowmelt flushing. This research is in line with the NASA Arctic COLORS project focused on similar questions in the Bering, Chukchi Seas and Beaufort Seas. These questions have led our team to employ in-situ validations of remotely sensed data, land and boat based field studies of Lake Superior, and laboratory tests to answer our main research question: How do snowpack and soil water flowpath dynamics affect dissolved carbon exports from forested watersheds? After publishing my dissertation, I look forward to continuing research focused on these questions; however, I am very passionate about Lake Superior, and I look forward to engaging in new and ongoing research opportunities related to geographic, biological, physical, and chemical questions associated with it.