Tag: Awards

KCP Future Faculty Fellow – Jessica Czarnecki

While working on my B.S. in Chemistry at William Paterson University of New Jersey, I had taken part in an REU program with Maryland SeaGrant. That summer is when I realized I wanted a career in biogeochemistry and soil science. I continued on with my studies, receiving my M.S. in Marine Studies from University of Delaware in 2020, and after graduating, I worked for a year and a half in Alaska, where I fell in love with boreal ecosystems. I am now in my second year of pursuing a PhD in Forest Science, working with Evan Kane, conducting research in biogeochemistry of peatlands. When I finish my degree, I want to continue to conduct research in biogeochemistry of wetland environments of boreal systems. I also want to be a mentor to the next generation of scientists who may have come from a non-traditional background or who have struggled with differences in learning that a traditional education may have overlooked.

KCP Future Faculty Fellow – Alyssa Abbas

I had my first introduction to the biological sciences during my sophomore year of high school in 2015. While I found most of what we learned interesting, I had a fascination with how changes in DNA could cause cancers. It wasn’t until my teacher brought in a cancer researcher to speak to the class that I decided I would want to do my own research one day. Little did I know the journey this curiosity would take me on.

After graduating high school in 2018, I continued my education at Mid Michigan College. I had been taking dual enrollment classes through Mid during high school and had the opportunity to take both General Biology and Microbiology at this time. I still loved biology and was planning on pursuing a career within the sciences. Right before the Fall semester began, I was contacted about being a Supplemental Instructor (SI), as one of my professors had recommended me to the program. I had always enjoyed helping my fellow classmates and decided to take on this role. During my time as an SI, I found that I had a love for teaching and at this point knew that I would one day want to be a professor myself.

By the Fall of 2019, I had transferred from Mid to Michigan Technological University to pursue my Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in Microbiology. My interest in cancer research had not faded and by the Spring of 2021, I was working in the Cancer Metabolism and Functional Genomics lab led by Dr. Xiaohu (Mark) Tang. During my master’s I will continue my work in Dr. Tang’s lab where I will be performing the knockdown and knockout of specific genes within pancreatic cancer cell lines. The goal here is to see how the pancreatic cancer cells’ resistance to drug therapies will be changed. I hope that by doing this research I can help make a difference in how cancer is treated and learn more technical lab skills to teach to my future students.

Once I have completed my master’s I plan to become a professor to help build the foundation for future scientists. I look forward to the rest of this journey and hope to one day inspire others to follow their own dreams the way so many of my own professors have supported and inspired me.

Graduate School Announces Fall 2022 Finishing Fellowship Award Recipients

The Graduate School proudly announces the recipients of the Doctoral Finishing Fellowships for the fall semester, 2022. Congratulations to all nominees and recipients.  

  • Vishnu Chakrapani Lekha, Geological Engineering
  • Shobhit Sanjeev Chaturvedi, Chemistry
  • Emily Shaw, Environmental Engineering
  • Parth Parimalbhai Bhatt, Forest Science
  • Jiachen Zhai, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Rasoul Bayaniahangar, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Jessica R. Bruning, Integrated Physiology
  • Peng Quan, Forest Science
  • Donna Susan Mathew, Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
  • Sushree Shrabani Dash, Applied Physics
  • Xuebin Yang, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Jacob J. Blazejewski, Mathematical Sciences

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Parth Bhatt

My journey in the field of GIS and Remote Sensing started back home in India when I was working with the Space Application Center, Indian Space Research Organization in the year 2016. The joy and happiness I received from looking at the Remotely Sensed imageries for hours and to discover the things I can achieve with the use of GIS techniques made me firm to pursue further into this field.


I arrived at Michigan Tech for my master’s in the field of GIS in Fall 2016, in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences and was fortunate enough to begin my MTU journey with my advisor Dr. Ann Maclean. After completion of my MS degree, I started my PhD in Spring 2019 with Dr. Maclean. During my research, I focused on using high and ultra-high spatial resolution NAIP and Drone (UAS) imageries to map and monitor the natural habitat communities of the Hiawatha National Forest using machine learning algorithms. The goal of this study was to develop a robust approach using remotely sensed imagery and geomorphological variables to classify the complex vegetation and wetland communities and generate GIS maps which can be extremely useful to resource managers and/or officials to manage the forests in a timely and efficient manner, monitor vegetation changes, and help in enhancing decision making. Along with my PhD research, I am part of a national-level Forest Health Mapping project with the U.S. Forest Service since Fall 2018 where we use high-resolution NAIP imagery along with other variables and developed a model to detect and map individual tree mortality.


I have fully enjoyed my MS and PhD life in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Houghton and CFRES-MTU has awarded me with some of the best things, memories, and blessed people in my life. I am full of gratitude towards my advisor Dr. Ann Maclean for her constant support and guidance throughout this journey at MTU. I am grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for the finishing fellowship award and to help me get one step closer to my endeavors.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Xuebin Yang

My PhD started in Fall 2016 at the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. My research activities centers around the project titled “High BMEP and High Efficiency Micro-Pilot Ignition Natural Gas Engine”. The objective of DOE project in partnership between MTU and Westport is to develop a robust combustion system for a low-cost, low diesel contribution, premixed charge medium/heavy duty (MHD) natural gas engine. The research goal with respect to my contribution is to develop a novel physically based ignition model for micro-pilot diesel NG dual fuel combustion leveraging results obtained from S&CV, engine data, and analytical modeling. Ignition delay in micro-pilot diesel NG dual fuel engines is of critical importance to the operation and control as it directly affects the combustion phasing, initial heat release, and combustion stability. 

I greatly appreciate the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory panel for awarding me the fellowship. I am grateful to my advisors, Dr. Naber and Dr. Shahbakhti, and the department for all their support along my amazing journey.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Donna Susan Mathew

I started my doctoral program at the Rhetoric, Theory and Culture department at MTU in the Fall of 2017. Prior to joining MTU, I obtained a dual master’s degree in Global Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and the University of Southern California.

My research focuses on the representation of women in contemporary “item songs” in Hindi cinema, also known as Bollywood, and how these songs reflect and reinforce patriarchal attitudes and perpetuate and contribute to a growing rape culture in India. Bollywood is considered one of the biggest cultural influencers in India. Bollywood films and music play a major role in influencing people’s perception about love, romance and consent. In recent years, the Bollywood film industry and the item song genre present in these films have come under public scrutiny for their sexist, misogynistic and stereotypical representation of women as sexual objects that cater to the male gaze. Bollywood plays a huge role in the social sexualization of the youth in a conservative, patriarchal society like India where women’s role is often relegated to the household. My research seeks to understand the phenomenon of item songs and why they are a seemingly mandatory element in Bollywood cinema. My dissertation also looks at the discourse surrounding rape culture in a number of arenas in Indian society such as the legal, social, cultural, political and media landscapes. 

I would like to thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for bestowing upon me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. The fellowship will allow me to focus entirely on completing and defending my dissertation this Fall. I would also like to extend my gratitude to my co-advisors, Dr. Diane Shoos and Dr. Stefka Hristova, for their guidance, support and encouragement throughout my research journey.

Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Fall 2022 – Xuewei Cao

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. My advisor is professor Qiuying Sha. My research is in statistical genetics. I focus on the development of novel statistical methods and efficient bioinformatical tools to find genetic variants or genes related to complex diseases and traits, such as type II diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, et al. My main project is incorporating the genotype and phenotype association network to simultaneously analyze multiple phenotypes and multiple genotypes and improve the power to identify genes that are associated with complex diseases by using the constructed network. Under the supervision of Dr. Sha, I have also collaborated with the Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) in Marquette, MI since 2019 to determine the relationship between health service costs and diabetic medication compliance for patients with diabetes in the UPHP population.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Portage Health Foundation for the support, which allows me to focus on such cutting-edge research here at Michigan Tech and prepare the manuscripts for publications in the coming fall. I also want to thank my advisors Professor Qiuying Sha and Professor Shuanglin Zhang for all of their valuable guidance and support over the last four years, and I am extremely grateful to the graduate program in Math Department for their constant help and generous support throughout my entire graduate school studies.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Peng Quan

In the spring of 2020, I started my PhD life in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University. Under the guidance of Prof. Xinfeng Xie, I have been doing research on the recovery of Kraft lignin from black liquor and its application in polyurethane foams. In my research, I developed a new one-pot liquefaction process to recover Kraft lignin with tunable and predicable yield and molecular properties directly from black liquor. Then, the lignin was used to partially replace the fossil-based polyols to prepare polyurethane foams. I wish my research can contribute to the sustainable development of both pulping and polyurethane industries. 

I would like to thank the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and the Graduate School for their support in my PhD life here. I also really thank the continuous support from my advisor Prof. Xinfeng Xie, committee members, and my lab members.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Vishnu Chakrapani Lekha

I am a PhD student in the Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences department. I do my research on geohazards, especially landslides. I specialize in geospatial data analysis and modeling, microwave remote sensing including SAR, UAV-based data analysis, and geophysical data processing. My PhD research is on developing a Landslide Early Warning System in the Western Ghats, India. I am a staunch believer in utilizing science and technology to find solutions to problems of different magnitude.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2022 Recipient – Shobhit Chaturvedi

I started my doctoral research in Spring 2018 with Dr. Christo Z. Christov in the Department of Chemistry at Michigan Technological University. Before that, I completed my B. Tech. in Chemical Engineering from Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University was working as Project Research Assistant at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. My research focuses on utilizing computational techniques like Molecular Dynamics (MD), Quantum Mechanics (QM), and Quantum Mechanics/ Molecular Mechanics (QM/MM) to explore structure-function relationships in enzyme catalysis. 

During my time as a PhD candidate at Michigan Tech, I have researched an NSF funded project about ethylene forming enzyme. In this project, my research involved developing an enzyme model to establish the chemical mechanism of ethylene formation and L-Arg hydroxylation. I further explored if external electric fields can switch between the two reactivities of ethylene forming enzyme, with an aim to optimize ethylene generation. I have also worked on an NIH funded project about histone demethylases, activities of which have been linked to various forms of cancers. I used molecular dynamics simulations and combined QM/MM approach to establish the enzyme catalytic mechanism and structure-function relationship. Moreover, I have developed a computational framework for identifying second coordination sphere and long-range residues relevant for catalysis through analysis of protein correlated motions. 

I am grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the Dean for awarding me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. I would also like to offer my special thanks to my advisor Dr. Christo Z. Christov, for his support throughout my PhD program.