Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Di Huang

Di Huang
Materials Science & Engineering

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Material Science and Engineering, working with my advisor, Dr. Jiann-Yang Hwang. Over the past four years, my research interest has been focused on ion exchange membranes, which play important roles in desalination and purification industry. Ion exchange membranes that are more related to my research is the industrial wastewater treatment. Studying the high-performance ion exchange membranes helps to solve the excessive water pollution issue, such as wastewater of plating industry. The synthesis method implemented in my research can appropriately decrease the production cost of ion exchange membranes applied for treating wastewater with high heavy metal ions. Furthermore, this ion exchange membrane would better save electrical energy for electrochemical device which were widely used in wastewater retreatment field.

am extremely honored to be awarded the finishing scholarship and very grateful to have this support during this stage of my research. This fellowship provides me  precious time and energy to focus on my final dissertation and allows me equipping myself to start the next stage of my career.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Dongdong (Alex) Ge

Dongdong (Alex) Ge
Civil Engineering

As a Ph.D. student, I am enthusiastic and work hard in my efforts in research works, I have assisted my supervisor to prepare about 5 proposals from agencies, and I was CO-PI of a few proposals submitted in the past year. I have also participated in several other research projects from DOTs. To date, my research has led to a number of papers including 21 published peer-reviewed journal papers, 3 conference proceedings, and 2 under-review paper. In addition, I am preparing 2 more journal papers to be submitted at this time. In the past few years, I have been supported with various project support as GRA and two semesters of GTA. My efforts in teaching made me earn the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award in 2018. I was also awarded the P.M. Thornton Endowed Fellowship in 2019.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Christa Meingast

Christa Meingast
Environmental Engineering

My Ph.D.  research at MTU focuses on pathogen inactivation in clinical and wastewater applications. Pathogenic infections are prevalent throughout the world, and public safety measures to prevent these diseases are essential. Currently, my research aims to determine an effective process for inactivating viruses in pharmaceutical manufacturing without harming proteins. Throughout my graduate career in environmental engineering, I have found a passion for teaching and researching. When I graduate in May 2020, I plan to obtain a career in post-secondary education in the STEM Field. I wish to spread scientific knowledge and an understanding of environmental sustainability through education.

I am very grateful for being awarded the Finishing Fellowship to support my Ph.D. research for Spring 2020. This funding allows me to focus my attention on my research so I can complete my degree. I also want to thank my advisors Dr. Caryn Heldt and Dr. Veronica Webster for their constant guidance and support throughout my graduate career.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Sarah Jalal

Sarah Jalal
Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

I started my PhD in the Mechanical Engineering department in Fall 2015 with Dr. Fernando Ponta. My research focuses on the study of the aeroelastic behavior of variable speed stall controlled wind turbines to improve the overall efficiency of the next generation of such utility-scale machines.

I would like to thank the Graduate School for awarding me the Finishing Fellowship for the Spring 2020 semester. This fellowship will help me to focus on the final stage of my PhD to write my dissertation and complete publication manuscripts in a timely manner. I am grateful for all the support provided to me.

Parental Accommodation for Graduate Students

Having a family and pursuing a PhD is balancing act. I’ve given birth to 3 precious girls while pursuing my PhD. The parental accommodation policy at Michigan Tech has helped me embrace and enjoy my personal life without feeling pressure to finish my degree. I will finally graduate this semester!

Being a graduate student is challenging.  When coupled with becoming a new parent, that challenge can be overwhelming.  To assist graduate students who are new parents, the Graduate School has a parental accommodation policy;  in place since 2010.  This policy grants eligible students:

  • a six-week excused absence from classes,  
  • a one-semester extension for a student’s time-to-degree limit, 
  • a one-semester extension for completion of a qualifying exam,  
  • a one-semester extension for completion of a proposal defense, and 
  • guarantees that no student will be penalized financially during the period of accommodation.

This policy applies to graduate students who:

  • have new childcare or related responsibilities due to a recent or upcoming birth or placement of a child under four years of age in the home for the purposes of adoption
  • are the primary caregiver for the child or children new to the home
  • are enrolled full-time at Michigan Tech
  • are in good academic standing
  • have completed at least one full-time semester at Michigan Tech.

Funding may be available from the Graduate School to Department Chairs, School Deans, Graduate Program Directors, and Principal Investigators who must hire a temporary replacement for a student who has been granted an excused absence under the parental accommodation policy.

The Parental Accommodation policy has been in place since 2010. Graduate students who have availed themselves of this benefit have found it to be very helpful at a critical period in their lives.  

One student said, “Returning to work and school right after having a baby is not an easy job. This opportunity to have 6 weeks of parental leave helped me to cope well with my new status. Especially because it provides excused absences in which one can ask to extend course completion which is the peace of mind. Without having this leave, I cannot imagine how I could continue my studies with no complications. I appreciate MTU graduate school to provide this accommodation for new parents. And I encourage all grad students who are considering to become parents to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Another commented, “Having a family and pursuing a PhD is balancing act. I’ve given birth to 3 precious girls while pursuing my PhD. The parental accommodation policy at Michigan Tech has helped me embrace and enjoy my personal life without feeling pressure to finish my degree. I will finally graduate this semester!”

Editing Services

The English Language Institute now provides editing services to all members of the campus community with the following options:

  • Copy editing (grammar, spelling, punctuation, flow, readability) for when quick turnaround is needed
  • Face-to-face editing conferences for long-term writing improvement
  • Editing workshops for small groups and research teams, tailor-made for your writing context

Editing services are provided by highly qualified English language instructors with expertise in grammar, writing and language instruction. Service rates are $25 per hour. Requests for editing can be made here.

Request a workshop by emailing (1.5 hours of preparation billed for each hour of workshop).

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2020 Recipient – Hongmei Lu

Hongmei Lu
Environmental Policy

I am a Ph.D. candidate studying Environmental and Energy Policy in the Department of Social Sciences. I received my M.Sc. degree from Wageningen University, The Netherlands in Landscape Architecture & Planning. I started my Ph.D. program in Fall 2016 at MTU under the supervision of Dr. Audrey L. Mayer. My research interests include policy making and policy implementation pertaining to the urban environment, including green infrastructure, green stormwater management, municipal waste management, etc. My dissertation topic is “From Garden City to Sponge City: Urban green infrastructure policy development in China.”

I am very grateful to the Graduate School for the Finishing Fellowship support, which allows me to completely focus on my research at this final stage of my graduate studies. Thanks also to all the supports for my study from the Department of Social Sciences in the past four years.

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.

Graduate Student Support Group

The Graduate Student Support Group will meet weekly, starting Tuesday, January 21 from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm in Counseling Services. This is open to Tech graduate students who may be suffering from some of the challenges associated with graduate school, like working in isolation, procrastination, impostor syndrome, and feeling overwhelmed. Connect with others around the unique experience of advanced education and exchange coping ideas, gain perspective and find some balance as you manage with the demands of grad school.Please contact Pat Frueh at, if you have questions and would like to join the group.

Summer 2020 PHF Graduate Assistantship Nominations Open

Applications for summer 2020 PHF Graduate Assistantships are being accepted and are due no later than 4pm, March 3, 2020 to the Graduate School. Instructions on the application and evaluation process are found online. Students are eligible if all of the following criteria are met:

  1. Must be a PhD student participating in health-related research that is aligned with the PHF’s mission.
  2. Must be eligible for or in Research Mode at the time of application.
  3. Must be 2 years after starting the graduate program at the time of application.
  4. Must not be a prior recipient of a PHF Graduate Assistantship.

Priority will be given to students originally from Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, or Ontonagon counties. Non-resident students and international students are encouraged to apply if their health research is applicable to health needs and job shortages of our local community (obesity research, rural health, medical informatics, drug delivery and lab testing, physical therapy, etc.).

These assistantships are available through the generosity of the Portage Health Foundation. They are intended to recognize outstanding PhD talent in health-oriented research areas. Applicants should be a catalyst for promoting and improving the overall health of Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, and Ontonagon communities through one of the following:

  • health research and technology development
  • health education or preventive and wellness initiatives
  • rural healthcare access, informatics, and assessment of care

Students who receive full support through a PHF Graduate Assistantship may not accept any other employment. For example, students cannot be fully supported by a PHF Graduate Assistantship and accept support as a GTA or GRA.