Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Anne Inger Mortvedt

Anne Mortvedt wearing a backpack standing on a hillside with mountains and clouds behind

I am sincerely grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the Dean for selecting me as a Finishing Fellowship awardee. Receiving this honor marks a joyous milestone in my PhD journey, and I am eager to embark on the final phase of my academic pursuit.

My academic journey began in Oslo, Norway, where I earned a BSc in Physiotherapy and a MSc in Sports Physiotherapy. Driven by a passion for promoting preventive health measures, I ventured into the field of Exercise and Sports Medicine. Through my Master’s thesis, I connected with my current advisor, Dr. Erich Petushek, who encouraged me to explore solutions beyond traditional Sport Medicine boundaries. This led me to a Ph.D. position in the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) program at Michigan Technological University (MTU).

Choosing to specialize in Human Factors in Sports Medicine, I focused on preventative measures to reduce the risk of injuries and diseases. My research involves developing an exercise intervention usability scale to predict and identify barriers for intervention uptake and adherence, bridging the realms of Human Factors and Exercise/Sports Medicine.

The Finishing Fellowship is pivotal in providing the necessary support to conclude my Ph.D. journey. I express my gratitude not only for the financial support but also for reaffirming the value of the work I am passionate about. Special thanks go to my advisor, Dr. Erich Petushek, for unwavering support and guidance, my committee members, and the faculty and friends in the ACSHF program.

As I look to the future with excitement, I am eager to make meaningful contributions to the field. This fellowship reinforces my commitment to advancing research at the intersection of Human Factors and Exercise/Sports Medicine, and I am enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead. Once again, thank you for this invaluable support in my academic pursuit.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Shashank Pathrudkar

Indoor studio headshot of Shashank Pathrudkar

I am honored and grateful to accept the Finishing Fellowship Award and would like to express my sincere appreciation to the graduate school committee for this recognition.
My academic journey at Michigan Tech began in 2018 when I started my MS in the MEEM department . Immediately, I started working with Dr. Ghosh, whose guidance and mentorship have been invaluable throughout my academic career at Michigan Tech. The inherent potential and the learning opportunities presented by my Master’s thesis inspired me to extend my academic pursuit to a Ph.D. I have since been working at the intersection of Machine Learning, Mechanics, and Material Sciences.
The overarching goal of my research is to leverage machine learning models to bypass computationally expensive materials research methods. These models hold the promise of accelerating materials research, opening avenues for groundbreaking discoveries. The application of artificial intelligence in materials science has demonstrated remarkable potential in discovering novel materials that could revolutionize critical sectors such as energy harnessing, aerospace, electronics, and medical devices.
I am sincerely thankful to the graduate school for bestowing upon me the Finishing Fellowship Award. This recognition serves as a motivating force as I enter the final semester of my Ph.D. journey, encouraging me to give my best to the culmination of my research efforts. It is a testament to the support and belief the university has in my work.
I extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. Ghosh for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of his research group. Working on exciting research topics under his mentorship has not only enhanced my technical competence but has also played a pivotal role in my growth as a capable researcher. I am grateful for the trust and encouragement he has provided throughout the journey of both my Master’s and Ph.D. Additionally, I would like to express my thanks to the faculty and staff of the MEEM department for their unwavering support through my Ph.D. and Master’s.
I am excited to conclude my doctoral research and further advance my career.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Siyuan Fang

Indoor headshot of Siyuan Fang

I started my Ph.D. journey in Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech in Fall 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Yun Hang Hu. My research is focused on heterogenous catalysis, carbon materials, and waste biomass valorization. Under the guidance of my advisor Prof. Hu, I developed a series of thermo-photo synergetic catalytic processes for hydrogen production, conversion of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane), and degradation of aqueous pollutants (antibiotics), and deeply investigated the underlying mechanisms of these processes. In addition, I explored the synthesis, properties, and applications of cutting-edge carbon nanomaterials (atomic carbon chain and carbon ring) and advanced the scientific understanding of their molecular behaviors. Furthermore, I exploited the approaches to converting waste biomass (particularly dead leaves) into high-value multifunctional materials and applied these materials to solve the critical issues in the realms of energy and environment. I sincerely wish that my research could provide new answers towards sustainable development for creating a greener future.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for awarding me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship that affords me the precious opportunity to dedicate my full attention for my dissertation and defense in my final semester. My special appreciation goes to my advisor, Prof. Yun Hang Hu, whose continuous guidance, support, and encouragement have shaped me into not only an independent researcher but also a positive and ambitious individual. I extend my gratitude to my esteemed committee members, Prof. Loredana Valenzano-Slough, Prof. Ranjit Pati, and Prof. Stephen Hackney, as well as my labmates, family, and friends for their unwavering help and support throughout my doctoral journey.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Utkarsh Shailesh Chaudhari

With a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from India and my commitment to never stop learning, the journey of my Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering began in August 2017 at Michigan Technological University (MTU). My passion and eagerness to learn new things led me to work voluntarily on multiple sustainability-related research projects during my Master’s degree, which also helped me in earning a Graduate Certificate in Sustainability in 2019. I soon realized that there are still a lot of things to explore and learn more about while contributing my efforts to ensure a sustainable world. With this idea in mind, the journey of my PhD in Chemical Engineering started in the Summer of 2019 in Dr. David Shonnard’s research group.

As a part of my research, we developed a systems analysis framework to identify the major plastic supply chain processes starting with production of plastics to the end-of-life management of waste plastics in the U.S. Furthermore, it expands on evaluating and optimizing the supply chain processes to minimize the environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption of the entire system. My research also identified different types of commercially existing and newly emerging advanced or chemical recycling technologies for waste plastics and estimated their environmental and economic feasibility to compare against fossil-based traditional technologies that produce plastics. Additionally, our research also addressed the socio-economic impacts such as employment, revenues, and annual wage generation across the entire plastic supply chains due to increased recovery and recycling of plastics. I am incredibly grateful to work with various collaborators from national laboratories, industry partners, and different universities.

I would like to thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel as well as the Dean for their kind recommendation to approve my Finishing Fellowship application for the Spring 2024 semester. This fellowship would allow me to dedicate my time and efforts to prepare better and achieve my final PhD research goals. I would also like to thank my advisor Dr. David Shonnard for his continuous support and guidance throughout my PhD journey. His timely advice has not only helped me to develop critical research skills but has also contributed significantly to my personal and professional growth. I also extend my gratitude to all the faculty and staff in the department of Chemical Engineering for their teachings and assistance. Additionally, I would like to thank my family members for their never-ending support, motivation, love, and blessings. Finally, I am extremely excited about the next steps in my professional career to help build a more sustainable, circular (waste-free), and safer world!

“Passion. Hard work. Consistency. Struggle. Patience. Sky is the limit.”- Self.

Key research areas: Systems analysis, Plastics supply chain, Recycling, Life Cycle Assessment, Techno-economic Analysis, Sustainability, Circular Economy

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Kyle J. Schwiebert

Indoor headshot of Kyle Schwiebert

I am in my fifth year of a PhD in the Mathematical Sciences Department at Michigan Tech, but my time with Tech begins in 2015. I graduated with a dual degree in mathematics with an applied and computational concentration and chemical engineering in spring of 2019. I then began the applied and computational mathematics master’s program at Tech in the following Fall.

Through chemical engineering training, I developed a fascination with fluid dynamics and related transport phenomena. In my mathematics courses, I learned how much I enjoy programming and analyzing numerical methods for approximating the solution equations that model these phenomena. I count myself extremely fortunate not only that these interests overlap, but that our department has researchers in this field. Thus, I almost immediately began research work with Dr. Alexander Labovsky.

Fluid flow can be one of two main regimes, which each have important applications: turbulent and laminar flow. Turbulent flow, which is characterized by fast, chaotic motion, is crucial in many real-world applications from wing and autobody design to climate and weather modeling. Physical experiments, while vital, are incredibly expensive to perform. Thus, there is a need for numerical simulation to reduce the number of simulations required in a development cycle. Unfortunately, turbulence is famously difficult to simulate on a computer: For example, in order to resolve the flow around a whole airplane wing, one needs to resolve the motion of the fluid down to the tenths of an inch.

Thus, there exists a class of turbulence models which aim not to approximate the fluid flow exactly, but to approximate the main features of the flow without resolving the flow on such a fine scale. However existing turbulence models are often either 1) take too long to compute or 2) are not accurate enough. Building on the work of my advisor, I have investigated a novel (as of 2020) class of turbulence models which are much more accurate while being only slightly more expensive to compute. We have also applied these models in more complicated situations such as fluids which are interacting with one another or fluids which are also subject to electromagnetic forces.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Basanti Timalsina

Basanti Timalsina standing in the midst of many tree trunks

My PhD journey at Michigan Tech began in August 2019 in the Department of Humanities. The interdisciplinary Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program has uniquely shaped not only my learning, research, and teaching but also my values and identity as an international, interdisciplinary scholar. As a communication and media studies scholar, my research primarily focuses on the connection between digital media and visual culture, centering around cultural practices, interactions between media and society, the influence of media on shaping ideologies and discourse, and the affordances of new media technology in creative reworking and adaptations in digital activism works.

My dissertation examines the active, purposeful, and consistent use of media tools and rhetorical protest strategies, and their roles and impacts in the context of the Indian farmers’ protest movement of 2020-2021. My study also engages in social media content analysis, establishing connections between the narrative formation, visual representation, and protest mobilization, from a rhetorical, discourse, and social justice perspective. The knowledge and experience I have gained during my time at Michigan Tech have helped me in becoming a better scholar in understanding, examining, and analyzing socio-cultural complexities.

I want to extend my gratitude to the Graduate School, Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel, and dean for this fellowship. I am also thankful to my advisor, Dr. Stefka Hristova, for her continuous guidance and support.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Yipeng Yin

Yipeng Yin leaning against a stone pillar in front of evergreen trees

There are people in this world aiming at the sky, reaching the stars, and there are people standing on the ground exploring the fundamentals of life beings. I happened to be one of the people that was thrilled by the fundamentals of life. Having two bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry, I started my graduate study in the chemistry department at Michigan Technological University in August 2018. Under the supervision of Dr. Shiyue Fang, I began my journey of complex oligonucleotide synthesis and modification through synthetic organic chemistry for the study gene synthesis and development of antisense drugs.

My Ph.D. research is mainly focused on developing polymerizable tagging reagent for long oligonucleotide purification and new liker for surface solid support for unlimiting gene synthesis. During my time working in the lab, I have the opportunity to experience and master various techniques of compound synthesis, oligonucleotide synthesis, and peptide synthesis. Knowing various complex instruments for different applications. Applying the long DNA in biological assay and expressing the green fluorescent protein in vitro biological systems. Witnessing the outcome of my experiment contributing to the lacking area of DNA study. Developing market valuable compound and started the business. Also, I got the opportunity to collaborate with several different biological and chemical labs enriching my knowledge and experiences beyond my research areas. Got several chances to mentor undergraduate and graduate students providing knowledge and leading them to the next generation of the scientific world. All the skills and training that I have gained during my Ph.D. study is going to be a milestone ready for the next step of experience and will be well export to the scientific area and making benefits to human being.

It is my great pleasure and honor to be one of the recipients of the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. I would like to thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and Dean for the recognition of my efforts and granting the award. It is a tremendous amount of help and support towards the end of my doctoral studies. “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. I would not have reached this step without the guidance of my advisor Dr. Shiyue Fang and the help of many other people during this journey. It is everyone’s support to make me who I am today and who I will be in the future.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Sadia Nowrin

Indoor photo of Sadia Nowrin

Starting my academic journey at Michigan Technological University in 2018, I had the privilege of guiding two first-year computer science students on a mini project called “Technology Assisted Conversation” under the supervision of Dr. Keith Vertanen. I was fascinated by the transformative impact of technology in empowering individuals with disabilities. Little did I know this initial endeavor would transform into the core of my dissertation “Programming by Voice.”

In the realm of software development, where text-intensive tasks are inevitable, programmers often face challenges due to long hours of typing. Individuals with motor impairments may encounter difficulties typing, while even able-bodied practitioners may develop conditions like Repetitive Strain Injury. My doctoral dissertation centers on empowering programmers facing such accessibility challenges through voice-enabled programming. This involves applying state-of-the-art natural language processing techniques and training large language models to adapt to the diverse speaking styles of programmers. Beside my dissertation work, I work as a graduate research Assistant on the NSF project, “Improving Mobile Device Input for Users Who are Blind or Low Vision” where I explore how to improve the ability of visually impaired individuals to detect speech recognition errors without relying on visual feedback. I am excited about exploring new possibilities and making meaningful contributions in the field of accessibility, acknowledging its significance as a necessity rather than a mere recommendation.

I would like to convey my profound gratitude to Dr. Keith Vertanen, for his invaluable guidance and mentorship, especially considering my transition from a distinctly different research field. My deepest appreciation extends to the Graduate School and the Dean’s Advisory Panel for awarding me the Finishing Fellowship, allowing me to focus on completing my dissertation promptly. I am thankful for the support and opportunities provided by Michigan Technological University, shaping not only my academic journey but fostering a collaborative and encouraging community.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Catherine Rono

Indoor studio headshot of Catherine Rono

I extend my sincere gratitude to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the Dean for awarding me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. This recognition is such an honor as it will afford me the dedicated time and resources necessary to complete my dissertation, prepare for the defense, and transition into the next phase of my scientific journey.

My heartfelt appreciation goes to my research advisor, Dr. Mark Tang, whose support and guidance have been instrumental throughout the four years of my doctoral degree. My appreciation also extends to the Almighty God, my family and friends, my esteemed committee members, the entire Biological Sciences Department, and all individuals who have played a pivotal role in shaping my academic trajectory.

My research journey in Dr. Mark Tang’s lab has been a profoundly enriching experience, allowing me to acquire a diverse skill set while contributing to multiple research projects. My Ph.D. research focuses on addressing cancer heterogeneity and the need for personalized therapies based on each patient’s unique genetic and molecular disease characteristics. Specifically, I am investigating the role of Liver Kinase B1 (LKB1), a vital protein in cellular metabolism and tumor suppression. The journey has been immensely rewarding, from designing and executing experiments to collaborative efforts with peers and mentors in translating scientific findings into tangible advancements for cancer treatment.

I am genuinely excited about the potential outcomes of my research, particularly its application in clinical trials, contributing to the evolution of novel strategies for personalized cancer treatment. As a native of Kenya, a country where diseases like cancer continue to pose a significant threat to the global population, I feel a profound sense of responsibility to contribute to my community’s well-being. My ultimate goal is to make a lasting impact on global health by developing innovative therapies and treatments.

Beyond my research endeavors, I have relished the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant and facilitating WriteD sessions for the Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Department. These experiences have not only contributed to my growth as a scientist but have also allowed me to engage meaningfully with my peers.

I am thankful for the opportunities afforded to me during my graduate program. The comprehensive training I have received has provided a solid foundation for realizing my research aspirations. As I look ahead, I am confident in my ability to contribute meaningfully as a research scientist and eagerly anticipate the future chapters of my scientific journey.

Nominations Open for Summer 2024 Fellowships from The DeVlieg Foundation

Due to the generous support of The DeVlieg Foundation, the Graduate School is happy to accept nominations for 2024 summer fellowships.

All graduate programs may nominate one eligible PhD student per program.  The recipient will  receive a stipend for summer 2024 plus tuition support (one credit or three research credits for PhD candidates).  Eligible students will meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Must be a graduate student in the field supported by the DeVlieg Foundation:
    1. Engineering
  2. Must be a US citizen or permanent resident.
  3. Must be enrolled in a PhD program.
  4. Must be nominated by student’s graduate program.  Each PhD program may nominate one student if the research conducted is related to the field(s) supported by The DeVlieg Foundation.
  5. Must not be supported by another funding mechanism while supported by The DeVlieg Foundation (part-time job, fellowship, GTA, GRA, etc.).

Nominations are due no later than 4pm on February 6, 2024 to the Graduate School. Graduate programs will upload their nominee’s application as a single PDF file no later than 4p.m. on February 6, 2024.

Please see our web page for details on the application procedure and materials needed.  Each program may determine its own internal selection procedure. Please contact the Graduate School with any questions.