Category: News

Interesting stories about and for our students.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2020 Recipient- Eassa Hedayati

I am a fourth-year Ph.D. Candidate in Computational Science and Engineering living in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department.  The multidisciplinary nature of my field of study is imposing a special kind of variation in my research area. However, I tried to keep my research around finding sparsities light-field (LF). In doing so, I have been involved simulating LF and compressing it. In pursuing my research, I have used machine learning techniques to further enhance the quality of my research. My research heavily involves computation and use of algorithms, therefore, I had to devote some parts of my time to obtain a Masters in Computer Science.

I am extremely grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and dean for recommending me for the Finishing Fellowship for the summer 2020 semester. Furthermore, I am obliged to the Graduate School for providing this generous support. I will make use of the extra time in summer to finish writing my dissertation and add to my publication records. I am looking forward to defending my dissertation in the summer of 2020. I am also grateful to Dr. Jeremy P. Bos for his guidance throughout my Ph.D. studies and to the ECE Department for supporting my academic efforts since I joined the Department in 2017.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2020 Recipient- Elizabeth Barnes

I am compassionate about forest resource conservation, and came to Michigan Tech to pursue a doctoral degree in Forest Science to gain skills in ecological field research, geospatial technologies, and forest management. My studies center on ecological succession in northern forests, and the dual influences of natural disturbance and resource management on shaping the future of maple-dominated hardwoods stands. I specifically carry out research to assess the effect of wind disturbance on canopy openness, understory microclimate, and tree species recruitment and replacement. In addition, I am involved in research to model pathways of forest carbon sequestration, particularly the transfer of carbon from down dead wood to the soil matrix. During my three years at the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, I also attained a two-year professional degree in Forestry, endowing me with the technical skills needed to support a career in forest resource management. 

Words cannot express my gratitude for the opportunity provided to me by the Graduate School to complete my Ph.D. in Summer 2020 with the Finishing Fellowship award. I look forward to graduating and entering the fields of forestry, resource conservation, or ecological restoration in the northern Great Lakes.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2020 Recipient- Pratik Umesh Joshi

I started my journey at Michigan Tech in Fall 2015. My Ph.D. research has focused on understanding the behavior of viruses (coded in nature and not in computers!) and developing methods for vaccine and biotherapeutic manufacturing. Prevention against the spread of viral diseases has been one of humankind’s foremost challenges. The current vaccine manufacturing strategy to separate target viral products from the contaminants necessitates an upgrade to increase production capacity using low-cost methods. My research is geared towards characterizing viruses to generalize a method to purify various viral-based biotherapeutics. In these graduate school years, perceiving the complexity of viral interactions has intrigued me to pursue a research career to keep investigating in-depth the nature of viruses and other biotherapeutic agents. These answers will help in developing better technologies to process such intricate moieties.

I consider myself very fortunate to be mentored by Dr. Caryn Heldt who guided me to develop an advanced, scientific thinking process. I am very thankful to be awarded with the Finishing Fellowship for summer 2020 and for the support to focus on my degree completion.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2020 Recipient- Ali Jalooli


I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Computer Science, studying the optimization of message routing in heterogeneous wireless networks. Over the past years, I have mainly focused on vehicular networks in smart cities. Research in this area is of great importance, as it advances cutting-edge connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. This has far-reaching consequences for many aspects of daily life, given the expanding world of the Internet of Things.  Connected vehicles provide various benefits, spanning from advanced driver assistance, remote diagnostics, and infotainment for consumers to road safety, improving response time for emergency vehicles, and even improving national and international economies by ameliorating traffic congestion. My work at Tech on the underlying networks that drive these technologies enhances the performance and feasibility of robust wireless networks. During my time at Tech, I have also gained teaching experience and increased responsibility in course development and assessment as a teaching assistant and lead instructor.

I am grateful to the graduate school and the graduate dean awards advisory panel for awarding me a Finishing Fellowship. I am also grateful to my advisors, Dr. Kuilin Zhang and Dr. Min Song, for their support and guidance.

Update from the Graduate School, 18 May 2020: MTU Flex online and research lab openings

Dear Students, 

We hope this email finds you and your family in good health. The events of the past weeks required that important adjustments be made to ensure that you can continue your education—coursework, research, and teaching—while staying safe and healthy. We are excited to welcome you back to campus in the fall 2020 semester and we are prepared to respond to changes in these uncertain times. We are opening the fall 2020 semester in person and, depending on developing circumstances, we will make the adjustments necessary so you will continue to receive the high-quality education you expect from Michigan Tech. 

MTU Flex is a digital platform where you will find information relating to the academic experience, campus experience, and financial questions of graduate students. The platform also provides information about campus-wide graduate student-specific resources that you will find useful. We have included a tab on frequently asked questions that provide quick responses to some of the common questions we have been receiving from graduate students. 

A number of research activities have started back up, per State of Michigan regulations. The “manufacturing-like” labs and field research activities have re-opened and all other research labs will start opening with a plan for keeping research group members safe and healthy.  The plan will vary with laboratories so please stay in touch with your research advisor and department chair.  We will keep you and the faculty informed as other information becomes available.  

In the coming weeks, you will receive further communication about our plans for the fall semester and the resources available to you as we navigate this very difficult time.  Please reach out to the graduate school via about any concerns you may have. We also encourage you to communicate with your department chairs and/or graduate program directors about issues specific to your program. 

We are concerned about your health and welfare. Please follow all health recommendations from local, state, and national officials. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Wear a face mask in public. Seek medical advice and self-isolate if you are experiencing a fever, cough, or other symptoms of COVID-19. The Michigan Tech Counseling Services continues to provide services that support student’s mental health and wellbeing.  If you are experiencing financial hardships, consider applying to the Husky Emergency Assistance FundGraduate School Emergency FundInternational Student Emergency Fund, and/or Betty Chavis Emergency Fund. You may also contact the Graduate Student Government (GSG) with questions or concerns. HuskyFAN has also made emergency food packs available at Michigan Tech’s Public Safety and Police Service

Be safe and healthy. 


Pushpa Murthy, Dean of the Graduate School
Associate Provost for Graduate Education

Report from Provost’s Committee on issues impacting graduate students

Dear students,

In early April, the Provost convened an ad hoc committee to look into issues impacting graduate students. This committee submitted a set of recommendations to the Provost concerning employment, Daniell Heights graduate student housing, fundraising, and communications. The outcome of those recommendations is the subject of this email.


The committee recognized that a number of students have had their on-campus working hours reduced or eliminated entirely. The committee recommended that these students be supported for the hours they were unable to work. Across-the-board compensation is not possible at this time due to the wide variability in student situations and need. Federal Work-Study students will continue to be paid for the number of hours they were allowed. Students experiencing financial hardship as a result of lost hours are encouraged to apply for assistance through the emergency funds listed later in this email. 

Daniell Heights Housing

The results of recommendations made in regard to Daniell Heights are below: 

  • There will be no evictions as long as a student has a payment plan in place and is meeting their obligations.
  • Accounts Receivable will offer zero-interest payment plans. Please contact them to set one up:
  • Late fees were waived in April. At this time and going forward, normal late fees will be applied. Students are encouraged to set up a payment plan if they are having trouble making rent payments.
  • Students having trouble making their payments should reach out to Accounts Receivable to discuss their situation. Accounts Receivable will work with individuals to discuss future plans and expectations. Additional communication will be coming from Accounts Receivable and Housing.
  • Previously planned rent increases are included in the budget for 2020-2021. It is not anticipated that these increases will change. 
  • If a hold is placed on your account, please contact Accounts Receivable to discuss your situation. 


As the demand for emergency funds has increased, the committee recommended that fundraising for these emergency resources be made a priority. The dean of the Graduate School and Advancement and Alumni Engagement are putting together a plan to raise funds that will be specifically set aside for grad student support. These funds will be prioritized for students who are not eligible for other forms of emergency resources. 


For information of particular interest to graduate students, visit the MTU Flex website, which addresses questions and concerns from students, faculty, and staff.

Emergency Funds

There are a number of emergency resources available to students. Please see below for a list of available resources.

  • Husky Emergency Assistance Fund – Emergency funds for students and staff experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. These funds do not need to be paid back.
  • Graduate School Emergency Fund – Zero-interest loans provided by the Graduate School. Currently capped at $500 per application. Very flexible repayment options.
  • International Student Emergency Fund – Available to international students experiencing financial hardship. Currently limited to $500 per student, but other amounts may be considered on a case-by-case basis. The funds do not need to be paid back. 
  • Betty Chavis Emergency Fund – Emergency funds for students—now including graduate students—experiencing financial hardship.
  • HuskyFAN – Food resources available for students experiencing food insecurity. No-cost meal packets can be picked up from Public Safety. Please schedule a pickup ahead of time.

CARES Act funds will also be available to eligible students. We are awaiting University guidance on how the funds will be disbursed. Official communication on this matter is forthcoming. 

The Graduate School recognizes the difficulty of the situation and urges any graduate student who is experiencing hardship or who feels their concerns are not addressed by the information in this email to reach out by emailing We are here to help.

Take care,

Pushpa Murthy
Associate Provost and Dean, Graduate School

Graduate academic standing and pass/fail option for spring 2020

Dear students,

We hope this email finds you and your family well and that the close of the semester gives you some time to relax and refresh your spirit.

Grades for spring semester have been recorded, and your academic standing has been updated if you are a degree-seeking student. For all classes with a letter grade, you have the option to change those grades to Pass (SCV), Low Pass (LCV), or Fail (ECV) grades. Pass, low pass, and fail grades do not count in your GPA calculation. A limited number of SCV grades may be allowed to count toward your degree, with the approval of your graduate program. Please consult with your advisor and graduate program director to determine what options will best support your academic progress.  Additional information is available online.

The option to change your letter grade to Pass (SCV), Low Pass (LCV), or Fail (ECV) will be available on Banweb from 8 a.m. Wednesday, May 6, through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, May 12. To change your grade from the letter grade earned to SCV, LCV, or ECV:  

  • Go to Banweb and click on the Student tab  
  • Then click the Student Records link  
  • Finally, select the COVID-19 Pass/Fail Grade link 

The Graduate School has put a hold on processes to place students on academic probation or academic suspension for spring 2020. The decision to change your grades to pass/fail may impact your academic standing by changing your cumulative GPA. As a result, your academic standing as shown on MyMichiganTech may not be correct until after May 12. On May 13, the Graduate School will carefully review your academic record and update it as follows for all degree-seeking students:

  • If you were on probation after fall 2019, and you have returned to good standing, your record will be updated to good standing.
  • If you were on probation after fall 2019, and you have not returned to good standing, you will remain on probation. No student will be suspended based on their spring 2020 academic standing.
  • If you were in good standing after fall 2019, or are a new student in spring 2020, you will be in good standing, regardless of the grades earned in spring 2020.

If you have any questions about your academic standing or related to degree completion, please reach out to the Graduate School. We want to hear from you and we’re here to help.

Be well and keep in touch,

Michigan Tech Graduate School

Summer 2020 Track B and research labs


An email has been sent to graduate students with more information about the decision to continue to conduct instruction remotely during Track B, the reopening of research labs, as well as an update on the forthcoming graduate student MTU Flex web page (email is attached).

We realize you are anxious to return to the lab and to the regular advising and instruction of graduate students. We have frequently received the question, “What do I need to do to get my lab and students ready for continuing in-person research and advising in the laboratory?” 

For Track A, research activities will continue to be conducted remotely. For Track B, we are putting in place plans to conduct in-person research; however, under the current executive order, we must limit activities to those deemed critical. We are not sure at this time whether these restrictions will remain in place during Track B. Several Michigan universities are working with State entities in an effort to reopen research labs as soon as possible. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will keep you updated as the situation changes. We have directed graduate students to work directly with their supervisors and refer to the resources and VPR guidelines on

As we continue to monitor the situation, it is imperative that we protect the health and safety of our students and faculty as we return to research activities, while increasing our research activity in a stepwise fashion in line with governmental guidance. As colleges and departments are planning their return to normal activities, the specifics will vary greatly with the type of research activities, the nature of research laboratories and equipment, and whether fieldwork is involved.

There are some common guiding principles that we should all follow: 

  1. Follow local, state, and national directives regarding shelter-in-place and social distancing. 
  2. Under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s extended “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, all persons are required to wear face coverings when entering enclosed public spaces, including campus buildings and workspaces, where social distancing cannot be maintained. 

    Michigan Tech strongly encourages employees to provide their own personal face coverings in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. There is additional information about masks in the April 30 edition of Tech Today.
  3. Protect the physical and emotional health and safety of our researchers and students.
  4. Prioritize graduate students nearing graduation when selecting activities to ramp up first.

There is additional guidance about conducting research on the Vice President for Research website, but we recommend that all advisors begin to develop a plan for their labs that addresses the following fundamental issues:

  1. Protection of the health and safety of students and faculty
    • A social distancing plan
      • How many people can safely work in the lab synchronously following social  distancing (six feet/two meters) guidelines?  
      • Do you need to set up a staggered schedule so that no more than two people are present in the laboratory? (In many cases two people need to be present for safety concerns.)
  2. Personal protective equipment (PPE) for personnel in the laboratory and cleaning procedures
    • What PPE should students and staff wear in your laboratory? (Mask? Lab coat? Gloves? Goggles? Others?)
    • How should the lab be cleaned up after each use?  
    • Should you maintain a log for student schedule and lab cleanup?   
  3. Activities that must be conducted in the lab and those that can be carried out remotely
    • Prepare a list of activities that have to take place in the laboratory, such as sample prep, experimental work, and equipment use.
    • Prepare a list of activities that can take place remotely, such as work on the computer and data entry, group meetings, individual meetings, and writing.
  4. A communication plan 
    • Prepare a plan to communicate all the details for working safely in the laboratory. Require students and staff to sign that they have read and understood the plan.

We realize this is an uncertain time and we are all anxious to return to our normal research and advising routines. Please continue to ask questions of us and we will answer them with as much speed as we are able.

Take care and be well,


Updated Course Grading Options for Spring 2020 – for Accelerated MS students

This information was emailed to students accepted into an accelerated MS program for summer or fall 2020 on April 24, 2020.

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.

At the University Senate meeting this week, new policies were approved in response to the challenges of this academic semester. Pending administrative approval, these policies will give you additional options and flexibility toward completing your courses this semester.

  • 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 University will allow graduate level courses to be converted to pass/fail.
  • The Graduate School will allow a limited number of pass (SCV) grades in courses to be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  • Each graduate program may allow up to six credits of BC, C, or SCV grades to count toward a graduate degree. At the discretion of the graduate program, an additional three (3) credits of SCV may be allowed to count toward degree requirements.  Please consult with your graduate program director to determine the scholastic standards in your program.

For more information about the pass/fail option, 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.


Michigan Tech Graduate School

Updated Academic Policies for Spring 2020

This information was emailed to all enrolled graduate students on April 24, 2020.

We hope this email finds you and your family doing well during these extraordinary times.  At the University Senate meeting this week, three new policies were approved. Pending administrative approval, these policies will give you additional options and flexibility toward completing your courses this semester.

Policy 1: Pass/Low Pass/Fail option

Pending administrative approval, graduate students will be able to change the grading mode of their classes with letter grades to pass/low pass/fail.  Pass/low pass/fail grades will not be included in a student’s GPA calculation. See the next section of this email for information on how these grades may be considered for degree completion and the University’s FAQ page for more information. Research credits will not be eligible for conversion, as they are already graded as Progress (“P”) or Inadequate Progress (“Q”). 

Graduate students will be able to view their spring grades and have until 11:59 PM Eastern on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 to decide if they would like to switch any spring 2020 classes to pass/fail grades (grades of SCV, LCV, or ECV). 

  • A pass grade (SCV) will be assigned for a grade of C or better.  
  • A low pass grade (LCV) will be assigned for grades of CD or D.  
  • A fail grade (ECV) will be assigned for a grade F. 

To change your grade from the letter grade earned to a Pass (SCV), Low Pass (LCV), or Fail (ECV) option, go to Banweb and click on the Student tab and then click the Student Records link.  Finally, select the COVID-19 Pass/Fail Grade link.

Policy 2: Scholastic Standards

Pending administrative approval, and at the discretion of the graduate program, a limited number of SCV grades may be used to satisfy degree requirements.

A graduate program may allow up to six (6) credits of  BC, C, or SCV grades to count toward degree requirements. The BC or C grades may be from any semester.  At the discretion of the graduate program, an additional three (3) credits of SCV may be allowed to count toward degree requirements.  Please consult with your graduate program director to determine the scholastic standards in your program.

Policy 3: Repeating courses

Pending administrative approval, students may repeat any course taken during Spring 2020, regardless of the grade they earned in that course or the number of times they have taken the course.

The following policy changes have been previously announced and are already in place:

  • Drop deadline extended: The deadline to withdraw from classes with a “W” grade has been extended to 5 p.m. on April 24. W grades do not impact cumulative GPA calculation.  Please email the Registrar’s Office ( with your M-number and the course(s) you would like to drop.  International students and supported students can be registered with fewer than nine credits without impacting their support or student status.
  • Probation and suspension: The process to place graduate students on probation or suspension will be placed on hold for spring 2020. Students will maintain their current academic standing after semester grades are posted and no student will be suspended. Students currently on probation may return to good standing if their academic performance has improved in spring 2020. Dismissals (if any) will be handled on a case-by-case basis after consulting with the graduate program.

We are concerned about your health and well-being. If you have concerns about your workload, educational experience, or personal matters, please contact us ( so we can connect you with resources. Anna McClatchy, our Student Support Coordinator, is available to help students. HuskyFAN is available to provide emergency food for those in need. The University has gathered a wide variety of resources to assist students. Finally, Counseling Services is providing individual services, group sessions, and seminars through remote services and referrals. 

We understand that you might have reservations about openly discussing your concerns. If you prefer, you may address concerns or questions confidentially. Students may contact Counseling Services at 906- 487-2538, or the Office of the Ombuds at or 906-487-2391. Concerns can also be reported anonymously online

Take the time you need to take care of yourself and your family. We wish you the very best as we navigate through these extraordinary times. Please reach out to us with any questions or suggestions you may have. 


Michigan Tech Graduate School