Category: News

Interesting stories about and for our students.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Sam Groetsch

Samuel Groetsch standing in front of a wall, indoors
Sam Groetsch – Physics

Ever since my freshman year of high school when another older student approached me to join a physics club sponsored by Fermilab which focused on cosmic ray air showers, I’ve been fond of both the theoretical and experimental side of physics. It is quite the coincidence, or perhaps the exact opposite, that my research now focuses on detecting some of the highest energy gamma-ray air showers with HAWC.

After attending a very large high school in a suburb of Chicago, I decided to apply to Tech after a family friend recommended the school and I immediately enjoyed the smaller and closer-knit feel of Tech. I did both my undergraduate (B.S. in Physics and B.S. in Computational Math) and my graduate studies at Tech and the end of my academic journey with Tech is a very bittersweet moment for me. My Ph.D. thesis is mostly focused on using gamma-rays detected by HAWC over nearly a decade to create a catalog of some of the most extreme galactic particle accelerators like supernova remnants, pulsars, and micro-quasars. Catalogs historically have provided useful information to both theorists and other experiments to help guide and accelerate research in and beyond the field of astrophysics. To help create this catalog and assist future analysis work in the HAWC collaboration I developed a software framework to automate source finding in the HAWC dataset.

I want to thank many different organizations and people who have helped me throughout my university journey. First, the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for providing their wonderful support to help me finish strong. Second, my advisor Prof. Huentemeyer along with our research group for the invaluable support they’ve provided to me during my Ph.D. studies. Third, the physics department as a whole because without their support both personally and fiscally throughout both my undergrad and grad experience I would not have made it to where I am today.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 – Yunsheng Su

Yunsheng Su sitting outside on rock wall with waterway behind
Yunsheng Su – Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

I am honored to have the opportunity to apply for the final finishing fellowship to gain further support and guidance in my doctoral research. I am a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech University, and I have been pursuing my Ph.D. since 2019. Over the past five years, I have focused on research in the field of mechanical fault diagnosis.

My research aims to leverage advanced data analysis techniques and machine learning algorithms to enhance the health monitoring and fault diagnosis capabilities of mechanical systems. In my doctoral research, I have explored theoretical models and algorithms and validated their effectiveness through experimental and engineering application.

Obtaining this fellowship is significant to me as it will provide the support and resources needed to complete the final steps towards my Ph.D. I look forward to collaborating with mentors and fellow researchers to further refine my research and translate it into practical applications.
In the future, I aspire to secure a position in either industry or academia, continuing my research and application work in mechanical fault diagnosis and predictive maintenance.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for considering my application, and I assure you of my commitment to fully utilize the opportunities provided by this fellowship. I want to thank Dr. Zequn Wang and my advisor Dr. Shangyan Zou for their support with my PhD research and preparing me for an academic career.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Swapan Chakrabarty

Swapan Chakrabarty standing outdoors
Swapan Chakrabarty – Forest Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology

In the summer of 2021, I joined as a Ph.D. student in Forest Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology and started working as a Graduate Research Assistant on a USDA-NIFA project at the Kuelheim Lab at the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Tech. By this time, I completed Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistics and Data Science Foundations. I am going to complete a course-based M.S. in Data Science with bioinformatics domain in Spring 2024.

My research interest includes the study of the genetic basis of plant evolution and adaptation in changing climate using genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics approaches. In my Ph.D. dissertation “Novel methods of tree improvement in the genomic era”, I performed a meta-analysis to find out the suitable tree genetic improvement methods appropriate for different contexts and provided a framework for future tree genetic improvements. Through doing a comparative genome-wide association studies using a reference genome of Eucalyptus grandis, an in vitro generated Eucalyptus polybractea pseudo-reference, and a hybrid assembled E. polybractea reference genome, I am investigating if we can use pseudo-references or even just related genome as the reference genome for tree genetic studies. I am also investigating the transcriptomic regulation of foliar terpene-related genes in Eucalyptus camaldulensis to understand how transcriptional variation in E. camaldulensis influence terpene production and local adaptation. I also working on de novo assemblies of Quercus ellipsoidales genome to investigate structural variation between Q. ellipsoidales and Quercus rubra genome to identify the specific genomic regions related to climatic adaption and species diversification in oaks. Overall, my research provides an overview of trends of using tree genetic improvement methods and how the advanced methods and technologies help in achieving the goal of tree genetic improvement program.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and Dean for awarding me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. This fellowship has been a tremendous source of inspiration and support for me, and it has marked an important turning point in my academic and professional career. My sincere appreciation to my advisor Dr. Carsten Külheim for his invaluable guidance, support and expertise which has been instrumental in shaping me for my future profession. I would also like to extend sincere gratitude to my committee members Dr. Victor Busov, Dr. Stephen Techtmann, Dr. David Kainer, and program coordinator Dr. Molly Cavaleri as well as lab members, friends and family, whose continuous support and help have been vital for my accomplishment during my studies at Michigan Tech. I am excited for the learning and growth that awaits me, which I know will greatly influence my future pursuits.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Nithin Allwayin

Nithin Allwayin outdoors in a shady wooded area
Nithin Allwayin – Physics

My journey at Michigan Technological University began in 2019 when I joined the Ph.D. program in the Physics department. My research focuses on the physics of clouds, where I work on understanding processes happening at the individual droplet scales. These processes play an important role in determining the observable properties of clouds and their inadequate representation contributes substantially to the uncertainties in global climate model predictions. To do this, I’ve utilized data from our novel holographic cloud imaging instrument developed at Michigan Technological University. My research spans computational, field, and laboratory studies. Our work highlights the importance of local small-scale processes and could potentially open new ways to represent clouds in global climate models.

I extend my since gratitude to the Graduate School and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. A special acknowledgment goes to my advisor, Prof. Raymond Shaw, for his motivation, guidance, and support throughout my journey. Additionally, I am grateful to the Elizabeth and Richard Henes Center for Quantum Phenomena for their support, enabling me to share my research findings at multiple conferences. I would also like to express my gratitude to, Dr. Gowtham and the High-Performance Computing facilities at MTU, my collaborators and colleagues, and faculty and staff at the Department of Physics for their support and assistance. This fellowship will play a crucial role in helping me to complete my dissertation and publish my research findings.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Tiffany DeGroot

Tiff DeGroot standing on a tree branch overlooking a wooded area below
Tiff DeGroot – Forest Science

Tiff DeGroot is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Brzeski and Wolfe Laboratories at MTU, where she investigates mammal diversity and distribution across Equatorial Guinea in central Africa. Her research leverages noninvasive techniques such as remote trail cameras, known as “camera trapping,” and DNA metabarcoding of carrion flies to study environmental DNA (eDNA). Carrion flies consume tissue from various mammals, providing a window into local biodiversity. This can be especially effective at detecting rare or arboreal species not typically captured by camera traps.

Tiff focuses on how human activities influence wildlife, with a particular interest in developing and applying conservation measures to mitigate negative interactions between humans and wildlife. Her work helps researchers and local wildlife managers to understand mammal populations in Equatorial Guinea, informing conservation efforts that aim to preserve the region’s unique biodiversity. Her research along with other work has led to the designation of a new protected area in Equatorial Guinea.

Tiff earned a B.S. in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of New Hampshire in 2015, and has worked in the global wildlife conservation nonprofit space since 2017. When she is not coding or in the lab, she enjoys hiking with her rescue dog and creating ceramic art.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Mohanish Kishor Chandurkar

Mohanish Chandurkar standing outdoors with wooded mountain view behind
Mohanish Kishor Chandurkar – Biomedical Engineering

As I approach the culmination of my graduate studies, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to express my deepest gratitude for being selected as a recipient of the Graduate Finishing Fellowship. This award not only signifies a recognition of my academic achievements but also serves as a testament to the invaluable support and encouragement I have received throughout my journey.

Being inspired by the healthcare researchers and professionals and my background in engineering motivated me to pursue my career in Biomedical engineering to contribute to healthcare innovation. My PhD work focuses on the fundamentals of mechanobiology to understand cardiovascular health and disease conditions. Specifically, it focuses on the role of blood flow profiles in tuning the vascular function on cell level to better understand cardiovascular diseases.

Throughout my time in graduate school, I have been fortunate to work alongside my mentor Dr. Sangyoon Han, my committee and colleagues who played an important role in shaping my academic and professional development. The continued support from Biomedical engineering department, graduate school and HRI played a significant role in pursuit of my educational experience.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the selection committee for their confidence in my ability and for their investment in my future. Thank you for believing in me and for empowering me to pursue my dreams.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Brilynn Janckila

Brilynn Janckila indoors
Brilynn Janckila – Rhetoric, Theory and Culture

My PhD journey began at Michigan Tech began in August 2020 in the Department of Humanities. Although it was difficult to find my footing while feeling so isolated in a new place, the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program welcomed me with open arms. This program, the faculty and staff, and especially my connection to my committee, has shaped my growth as a scholar, teacher, and learner. As a girlhood studies scholar, my research has focused primarily on how the figure of the girl is created—both through media and toys and by girls themselves. In other projects or coursework at Michigan Tech, I’ve focused on feminist methodologies, fan culture, dollhouses, social justice and usability in technical communication, interdisciplinary curriculum, and writing program or writing center administration. Through the support of my advisor, I received the G. Rollie Adams Research Fellowship at The Strong Museum of Play to study dollhouses, girls, and play at their library.

My dissertation explores how girls aged 5-9 view teen girls, and what they think of becoming teen girl. Themes from focus groups include girls’ maturity and self-expression. My study also reviews the Barbie Vlogs and analyzes themes evident throughout the series, including self-expression, self-disclosure, and friendship. This project offers a methodological contribution to girlhood studies and importantly considers little girls’ opinions and ideas. The discussion of media for girls and how media impacts them is largely adult-mediated and I endeavor to begin to recover the voice of girls and ask what they are actually doing with the media and toys they engage with.

I want to give a heartfelt thank you to my committee, Sarah Bell, Patricia Sotirin, and Andrew Fiss, for their support, knowledge, and guidance throughout this project. I also want to thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for granting me this award—according to other scholars, this dedicated time to write will be one of the most exciting and fruitful times of my life!

Outstanding Awards – Spring 2024 Recipients

The Graduate School announces the recipients of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship and the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award for the Spring 2024 semester. Congratulations to all recipients.

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship

The following recipients of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship have demonstrated academic or professional qualities that set them apart within their academic program.

Rishi Babu – Physics
Utkarsh Shailesh Chaudhari – Chemical Engineering
Komal Chillar – Chemistry
Felix Cottet-Puinel – Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology
Austin DePottey – Materials Science and Engineering
Siyuan Fang – Engineering-Environmental
Gaurish Gokhale – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ujwal Goulikar – Mechatronics
Samuel Hervey – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Brilynn Janckila – Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Samuel Kinne – Business Administration
Revanth Mattey – Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics
Abhishek Patil – Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics
Mostafa Rezaeitaleshmahalleh – Biomedical Engineering
Peifeng Su – Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering
Morgana Wilke – Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award

The following recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award are recognized for their excellence in teaching. 

Harikrishnan Changarnkothapeecherikkal – Computational Science & Engineering
Reid DeVoge – Humanities
Tiff Degroot – College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Gita Deonarain – Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics
Larry Dilworth – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Thomas Draper – Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics
Joshua Gindt – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Olivia Hohman – Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Abhishek Keripale – Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics
Anandhu Krishnan – Chemistry
Miaomiao Li – Civil Engineering
Zongguang Liu – Computational Science & Engineering
Theresa Meyer – Applied Ecology
Anwar Mohammed – Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics
Ukasha Mohammed – Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering
Ryan Munter – Physics
Abel Reyes Angulo – Computational Science & Engineering
Zazil Santizo Huerta – Mathematical Sciences
Goutham Viyyapu – Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics
Brennan Vogl – Biomedical Engineering
Kyle Wehmanen – Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology
Aimee Zimmerman – Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

MAGS / ProQuest Distinguished Masters Thesis Award – 2024 – Honorable Mention – Isaac Lennox

Isaac Lennox, M.S. in Kinesiology, 2023

I am grateful to be recognized as an honorable mention for the MAGS Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award. The completion of my project: “Exercise Is Medicine® on Campus: A National Analysis and Assessment of Community Impact” would not have been able to happen if not for my advisor Dr. Steven Elmer, my committee members Dr. Kamm and Dr. Petushek, as well as support from my lab members and the KIP department. As I work towards my dream of earning a medical degree and becoming a rural physician, Michigan Tech and Houghton will forever have a place in my heart.

Dr. Elmer and his lab introduced me to the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine® On Campus (EIM-OC) initiative, which calls upon colleges and universities to promote physical activity on their campuses as a vital sign of health. This immediately became the forefront of my master’s thesis, as I was able to perform a national analysis of the distribution and impact of this 15-year initiative, while concurrently promoting physical activity on Michigan Tech’s campus and the surrounding Houghton County. Collectively, the findings from my thesis may help direct EIM-OC efforts to combat physical inactivity and improve health on campuses and their surrounding communities.

I would like to thank Dr. Elmer and the KIP Department for supporting me as a graduate student and providing me with opportunity to travel across the country to disseminate my work at regional and national conferences, as well as on campus and within the local community. Furthermore, I would like to thank the Houghton community for allowing me to contribute to local youth initiatives by teaching junior golf at Portage Lake Golf Course, and volunteer assistant coaching for the Houghton Gremlins JV hockey team. These are memories that I will never forget and I will be forever grateful for.

MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award – Spring 2024 Recipient – Scott K Pomerville

Scott Pomerville in a grassy valley with mountains behind
Scott Pomerville, Computer Science

Learning is hard, and it takes effort, but it can be easier when you’re having fun and feel like there is someone there helping you along. My name is Scott Pomerville, and I’m a PhD candidate in the department of Computer Science working on Architectural design of computer processors under Dr. Soner Önder. I did my undergraduate degree here, and decided that I loved both the area of Computer Science and the University enough to continue getting my Doctorate here.

I have found my voice in the classroom in trying to be openly energetic, passionate, and excited to hear what students say. I want to let my personality and passion bleed into the classroom. By being relatable and demonstrating excitement over the material, I think I can help students connect with the same topics that I personally also find fun. My objective as a teacher isn’t to just convey information, but to also show how exciting the field can be, from my lectures down to the assignments I give them.

My mentors and fellow colleagues have been instrumental in shaping me as both a researcher and as a teacher, and I am very thankful to each and every one of them for helping inspire both a love of research and a love of teaching. I am thankful for the nomination, and I am humbled and honored to be representing the university for Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Excellence in Teaching Award for 2024.