Tag: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

MTU Students Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Two Michigan Tech graduate students, Tessa Steenwinkel and Tyler LeMahieu, have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships, and one undergraduate student, Jenna Brewer, has been given an honorable mention.

The oldest STEM-related fellowship program in the United States, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a prestigious award that recognizes exceptional graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines early in their career and supports them through graduate education. NSF-GRFP fellows are an exceptional group; 42 fellows have become Nobel Laureates and about 450 fellows are members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The fellowship provides three years of financial support, including a $34,000 stipend for each fellow and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for the fellow’s institution. Besides financial support for fellows, the GRFP provides opportunities for research in national laboratories and international research.

The Graduate School is proud of these students for their outstanding scholarship. These awards highlight the quality of students at Michigan Tech, the innovative work they have accomplished, the potential for leadership and impact in science and engineering that the country recognizes in these students and the incredible role that faculty play in students’ academic success.

Tessa Steenwinkel

Steenwinkel is a biochemistry and molecular biology M.S. student under advisor Thomas Werner (BioSci). She has been studying the influence of nutrition on the interplay of fertility, fecundity and longevity in Drosophila. In the long term, she plans to focus on medicinal research and how genetic regulation plays a role in infertility

Werner writes: “Tessa is the best student I have ever had the pleasure to mentor in my lab. During her undergraduate and accelerated M.S. years, she won nine research awards and published 10 research papers and two books with me. I am extremely happy (but not surprised) that she won the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Her newest success proves that I was not mistaken in my choice to name a new fruit fly species in her honor last year, which is named ‘Amiota tessae.'”

Tyler LeMahieu

LeMahieu is an environmental engineering M.S. student under advisor Cory McDonald. LeMahieu’s proposal was titled, “Understanding Wild Rice Site Suitability in a Changing Climate.”

LeMahieu writes: “I plan to dedicate my career to bridging gaps between the scientific body and land managers. I would like to manage public and rural lands for the farmer, the logger and the hunter while managing those same lands for improved water and ecological health into perpetuity. Because fundamentally, rural land managers have the same goal in mind as those studying the environment — a useful, productive and sound ecosystem which will support and be supported by the next generation. That common ground is not always evident to both parties, but I am equipped to act as an intermediary with a foot in both worlds.”

Jenna Brewer

Brewer is a senior undergraduate student from Grand Rapids studying wildlife ecology and management under advisor Jared Wolfe. She plans to continue her education at Michigan Tech, pursuing a graduate degree this fall. Her research aims to develop an acoustic signal to deter birds from potential collision hazards such as city buildings during flight, effectively mitigating bird deaths. After graduate school, she hopes to become an avian ecologist, contributing to projects that focus on migration science.

Wolfe writes: “Jenna’s enthusiastic study of songbird ecology and conservation has long been recognized by her supervisors and peers; now that same passion has been recognized by the National Science Foundation. Faculty at CFRES are incredibly proud of Jenna’s accomplishment!”

Michigan Space Grant Consortium graduate fellowship application support

The Graduate School is offering support services to assist graduate students in applying for the Michigan Space Grant Consortium’s Graduate Fellowship, including a workshop and one-on-one writing support.

MSGC’s Graduate Fellowship opportunity supports graduate students from affiliate
institutions who are conducting research and public service projects relevant to NASA’s strategic interests as expressed in NASA’s 2014 & 2018 Strategic Plans, specifically, research focused on aerospace, space science, and earth system science. Graduate students working in other, related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields are also eligible to apply. Starting this year, MSGC is piloting an expanded definition of STEM to include support for interdisciplinary projects that include art, so graduate students conducting research and projects relevant to NASA’s strategic interests in disciplines not traditionally considered STEM, such as the humanities or social sciences, are likewise encouraged to apply.

Fellowship recipients are awarded $5,000. To be eligible, applicants must be U.S. nationals, have a good academic record, and be in good academic standing. Women, under-represented minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Students currently receiving MSGC Fellowships are eligible to reapply.

Workshop information: Overview and tips from an MSGC Fellowship reviewer
Date and Time: Friday, September 17th, from 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM
Location: Admin 404
Presenter: Will Cantrell, Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School
Host: Sarah Isaacson, GLAS Program Director, sisaacso@mtu.edu
Register here: https://forms.gle/RSPYtUHVD6Yjimou6
A recording of the workshop will be available beginning September 21st.

Wednesday, Nov. 3 at noon — Internal deadline for undergraduate and graduate fellowship proposals
Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. — Final materials, after review and approval by SPO, must be uploaded to MSGC by the applicant

For more information and specific application instructions, visit the MSGC website and the MTU Graduate School’s MSGC web page.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Application Support

The Graduate School is offering support services to assist graduate students in applying for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program, including workshops and one-on-one writing support.  Fellowship recipients earn an annual stipend of $34,000.  To be eligible, applicants must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident, have never previously applied to GRFP while enrolled in a graduate degree program, have never earned a master’s or professional degree in any field, or completed more than one academic year in a graduate degree-granting program.  Applications are due October 18th – 22nd.  See https://www.nsfgrfp.org/ for full benefits and eligibility details.

Workshop 1: Overview and tips from a former NSF program manager and reviewer
Date and Time: Friday, September 3rd, from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Presenter: Dr. Pushpalatha Murthy, former NSF program manager
Co-hosts: Dr. Debra Charlesworth, former NSF GRFP reviewer, and Sarah Isaacson, NSF GRFP Support Coordinator
Zoom meeting link: Please make sure to sign in with your MTU account before joining the meeting to be admitted.
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://michigantech.zoom.us/j/83018958000

Workshop 2: Crafting your statements: Content and organization
Date and Time: Friday, September 10th, from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Presenter: Sarah Isaacson, NSF GRFP Support Coordinator
Zoom meeting link: Please make sure to sign in with your MTU account before joining the meeting to be admitted.
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://michigantech.zoom.us/j/82410509516

Personalized writing support:
Applicants will receive support via an NSF GRFP Canvas course as well as individualized writing support on application drafts from qualified staff members.

See https://www.nsfgrfp.org/ for more details. Questions? Contact Sarah Isaacson, NSF GRFP Support Coordinator: sisaacso@mtu.edu

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Mujeeb Shittu

I joined Michigan Tech University in Spring 2017 as a Ph.D. student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology and a master’s degree in Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of Lagos.
My doctoral research in Dr. Thomas Werner’s lab focuses on answering one of the most pertinent questions in evolutionary biology – How do animals develop their color patterns? My overall goal is to understand how animals develop their color patterns and discover the regulatory pathways involved in complex color pattern formation in animals. I am using the fruit flies in the quinaria group species (D. guttifera, D. deflecta, D. palustris, D. subpalutris, D.recens, and D. quinaria) as the model to unravel the process of color patterns development in animals. This research will help the scientific community understand the genetic mechanisms that coordinate the assembly of complex color patterns in animal species. It will also benefit cancer research because the toolkit genes that we have identified as pigmentation genes in fruit flies are known human proto-oncogenes; that is, they can cause cancer in humans if misregulated.
My profound gratitude goes to the Michigan Tech Graduate School for the invaluable opportunity to award me the Doctoral finishing fellowship. I am highly grateful to the National Institute of Health (NIH) for providing me financial support for 2.5 years. I especially want to thank my advisor Dr. Werner and my committee members (Prof. Joshi, Dr. Techtmann, and Dr. Hairong Wei), for their excellent guidance throughout my research.

Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Spring 2020 Recipient – Avik Ghosh

Avik Ghosh
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

I joined Dr. Tanasova’s Lab as a PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Fall 2017. My research focuses on exploring the impact of nutritional deprivation in cancer cells. Nutritional deprivation has been of interest to the research community as an approach to sensitize cancer cells towards chemotherapy. While many strategies have been undertaken, it is still not clear whether such an approach can be safely applied to all types of cancers. As a researcher in the Tanasova laboratory, I am aiming to understand the outcomes of fructose deprivation in different cancer types.

Our recent development of fluorescent probes that can specifically target cancer-relevant fructose transporter GLUT5 made it possible to conduct targeted studies on assessing the role of this transporter in cancer. Through preliminary assessments, I have found that depriving cancer cells in fructose through GLUT5 inhibition induces different responses in different cancer types. I discovered that in aggressive breast cancer phenotypes, such deprivation causes long-term stress that could positively contribute to the outcome of chemotherapy. In contrast, at an early stage, cancer cells appear to adjust to the induced deprivation and gain resistance. This observed difference provides an essential insight into the diverse nature of cancer and allows us to rationalize the choices of treatment better.

However, considering a required high-level experimental rigor, I still need to perform a large number of experiments that will validate the discovery from different angles. The work will include couple of challenging analyses that are known to be time-consuming and require tuning of conditions to achieve results.

Thus, I sincerely thank Portage Health Fellowship for the support. The award has not only taken care of my tuition/stipend support but also has bought me time from my daily teaching responsibilities to focus on my research better. I would also like to thank my advisor Dr. Marina Tanasova and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for the constant support and guidance.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2019 Recipient – Rupsa Basu

Rupsa Basu
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Back in Fall 2014, I took my first international flight from India to United States to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a Scientist! That’s when I joined Michigan Tech to pursue Ph.D in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program. I am fortunate enough to do my doctoral research with Dr. Ebenezer Tumban, Molecular Virology & Vaccinology Lab in Department of Biological Sciences. As a part of my dissertation research, I have handled multiple projects and have learned a lot from my adviser, who was always patient and was there to give immense guidance. My research projects are focused on developing safe and highly immunogenic bacteriophage virus-like particles based vaccines against Zika and Chikungunya viruses. Apart from that, I had the opportunity to work with different projects including working to develop a novel vaccine platform, won many awards at Michigan Tech including 3-minute thesis- 1st place & people’s choice, merit award for presentations, travel awards etc. When I am not doing research, I like to read thrillers and enjoy dancing! Can’t believe it’s the final semester. I want to thank the Graduate School, MTU, Deans and everyone who supported me. With this prestigious fellowship, I now have time to fully concentrate on my dissertation writing and graduate. Happy and proud Husky!

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Teaching Award – Spring 2018 Recipients

Congratulations! Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award Spring 2018 Recipients

Rasmi Adhikari (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD)
Mohammad Alizadeh Fard (Environmental Engineering PhD)
Apurva Baruah (Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics PhD)
Timothy Butler (Biological Sciences MS)
Chethan Ramakrishna Reddy (Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics PhD)
Daniel Crane (Mathematical Sciences PhD)
James Davis (Electrical Engineering MS)
Jennifer Dunn (Environmental and Energy Policy PhD)
Silke Feltz (Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture PhD)
Sanaz Habibi (Chemical Engineering PhD)
Arash Jamali (Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics PhD)
Matthew Kilgas (Integrative Physiology PhD)
Anindya Majumdar (Biomedical Engineering PhD)
Aeshah Khudaysh M Muqri (Physics PhD)
Rohit Sunil Pandhare (Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics PhD)
Sagar Umesh Patil (Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics PhD)
Nishchal Sharma (Electrical Engineering MS)

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2018 – Jeffrey Kiiskila

Jeffrey Kiiskila
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Jeffrey KiiskilaI’m a local and have been living in the UP for my entire life up to this point. My research focuses on the use of plants, mainly vetiver grass, for the treatment of metal impacted waters, where the plants use their roots for metal removal. I also do biochemical analyses on the plants to understand how they tolerate these types of environments. In addition to my research, I have been teaching classes at MTU and Gogebic Community College over the past four years, including first year biology and chemistry courses, microbiology, and botany. I have many interests outside of academia, which have included video games, bird watching, and music composition as a drummer.

The award will help me focus my time on finishing my lab work and writing without having to worry about work or finances.

Spring 2018 Finishing Fellowship Recipients

The Graduate School is pleased to announce the awarding of Finishing Fellowships for doctoral candidates. Fellowships are available through the generosity of alumni and friends of the University. They are intended to recognize outstanding PhD candidates who are in need of financial support to finish their degrees.

(listed by nominating department)

Spring 2018 Recipients

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Jeffrey Kiiskila

Biological Sciences
Andrew Chapp

Gemechis Dereje Degaga
Ashok Khanal
Shanshan Hou

Computer Science
Gorkem Asilioglu
Zhaoxiang Jin

Electrical Engineering
Aref Majdara
Husam Sweidan
Chaofeng Wang

Forest Science
John Henderson

Marine Foucher

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Kishan Bellur
Meng Tang
Le Zhao
Xiucheng Zhu
Saeedeh Ziaeefard


Meghnath Jaishi
Dolendra Karki
Mingxiao Ye

PhD Internship Opportunities with Proctor and Gamble

Procter & Gamble’s Doctoral Recruiting Program is currently accepting applications for a limited number of internship opportunities for students pursuing PhDs in most Engineering (all disciplines), Chemistry (all disciplines), Life Sciences (all disciplines), Mathematical Science, Material Science, Veterinary Science, and Nutrition.  The program is a paid, full time summer internship at our Cincinnati, OH or Boston, MA research facilities. The preferred period for the 10 to 12 week internship is June 1 to September 1. At P&G, Intern sessions are considered temporary employment, with a predicted ending point.  No full-time employment commitments are made; however, depending on satisfactory completion of certain criteria, candidates may be considered for full-time positions upon obtaining their PhD.

To Apply:

  1. Please go to www.experiencepg.com
  2. Click on Search Jobs
  3. Enter Job #RND00002218
  4. Click Apply