Tag: Biological Sciences

Nominee for MAGS Distinguished Thesis Award – Erin Eberhard

The Graduate School is pleased to announce the nomination of two theses to the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 2020 Distinguished Master’s Thesis Competition. These theses represent the best in their discipline at Michigan Tech, and represented Michigan Tech in the regional competition.


Erin Eberhard represents the field of Biological/Life Sciences.  She earned a Master of Science degree in 2017 in Biological Sciences, and is continuing her work at Michigan Tech as a PhD candidate.  Her thesis was entitled, “Co-Occurrence of Nitrogen Fixation and Denitrification Across a Stream Nitrogen Gradient in a Western Watershed.” She was nominated by her advisor, Dr. Amy Marcarelli.  Erin’s work sought to address several long-standing assumptions about nitrogen (N) cycling in stream ecosystems.  According to her advisor, “Her MS research has transformed research in our lab and broadened our ecological understanding of N cycling processes in stream ecosystems.”  Her work can be accessed on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech.


Doctoral The DeVlieg Foundation Fellowship Summer Research Award 2020 Recipient – Angela Walczyk

I am a second-year PhD student in Biological Sciences. I started at Michigan Tech in 2016 as a MS student, and I became a PhD student in 2018. My research focuses on how whole genome duplication (i.e. polyploidy) in plants influences adaptation to abiotic and biotic environments. I am specifically interested in determining if specific environmental conditions are correlated with polyploid advantages or disadvantages as a means of better understanding: how diploid versus polyploid populations are affected by environmental change and which environments may be at most risk for polyploid biological invasions.

I am very grateful that the DeVlieg Foundation and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel has awarded me with support for the summer of 2020. This financial support will allow me to complete the second chapter of my PhD dissertation. This project will address whether polyploidy and/or post-introduction selection influences the expression of phenotypic plasticity in native and invasive populations of Solidago gigantea (Giant Goldenrod). I would also like to express my gratitude to the Biological Sciences Graduate Committee for their nomination and to my advisor Dr. Erika Hersch-Green for her mentorship and support of this project.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2020 Recipient – Kevin Nevorski

I came to Michigan tech in 2016 to pursue my Ph.D. with Dr. Amy Marcarelli studying nitrogen cycling in steams. The past 4 years have been filled with adventures learning about stream ecosystems, meeting other scientists n my field, and discovering myself. My research is geared toward achieving a better understanding of how different environmental factors in the stream and the surrounding watershed will influence different nitrogen cycling processes. This included regular year-round sampling trips to the Pilgrim River to study seasonal and daily variation in nitrogen cycling. During this sampling, I basked in the warm sun of summer days and shivered during the -20 degree winter blizzards. This sampling encompassed the Father’s Day Flood providing insight into how nitrogen cycles are affected by and recover from severe hydrological events. I was also lucky enough to travel visiting labs and scientists across the country to better understand how nitrogen cycling changes with different environments, watersheds, and ecoregions. From Massachusetts to Oregon, Florida to Alaska we traveled in our lab van often camping along the way. All that excitement can only last so long and I’m looking forward to a summer locked p with my computer and all the data I’ve gathered writing up my findings for publication and getting ready to defend.


DeVlieg Foundation Fellowship Summer 2019 Recipient – Chris Adams

Chris Adams
Biological Sciences

I am a fourth year PhD student in Biological Sciences. My research investigates life history variation in trout populations, which may be a mechanism for adapting to changing environments. Data is obtained by individually tagging fish with RFID tags and operating in-stream antenna stations to rack moments throughout a watershed. I look forward to working under the DeVlieg fellowship this summer to wrap up field work in the nearby Pilgrim River and prepare manuscripts for publication.


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2019 Recipient – Lukai Zhai

Lukai Zhai
Biological Sciences

I started my life in Michigan Tech as a Ph.D student majoring in Biological Sciences from 2015 Fall. My advisor, Dr. Ebenezer Tumban, kindly offered me support in his lab till now. I have had a great time working in our lab and our department. Before I came here, I earned my bachelor’s degree majoring in Biotechnology in Shandong Normal University, China. I also worked as a research scientist for two years in Shandong University, China. My impression of Michigan Tech is that it is a wonderful place to do research!

Our research focuses on 1) Developing a novel chimeric MS2 bacteriophage virus like particles (VLPs), displaying a tandem HPV L2 peptide, as candidate vaccine to protect against diverse genital HPV infections. 2) In collaboration with Dr. Pavan Muttil (University of New Mexico), formulating the MS2-L2 VLPs into a dry powder by spray-freeze drying for thermostability test (2 Month) and assessing the potential of MS2-L2 VLPs to offer oral and vaginal protection from HPV pseudovirus infection, following sublingually immunized with mucosal adjuvants. 3) Cloning, co-expressing in E. coli, and purifying two coat proteins (ORF13 and ORF14) from a novel thermophilic phage ΦIN93. Assess the potentials of the coat proteins to assemble into VLP.

It is a great honor for me to receive the Finishing Fellowship and I would like to sincerely thank the Graduate School for offering me the support! Also I want to express my gratitude to everybody who helped me in my research and life. At last, I am proud of being a Husky!


Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2018 Recipient – Yogesh Kumar Ahlawat

Yogesh Kumar Ahlawat
Biological Sciences

Yogesh Kumar AhlawatI started my PhD at Michigan Tech in Spring 2015. My research focuses on genetic alteration in phenypropanoid pathways for an increased saccharification. As a part of my PhD dissertation, I manipulated certain phenyloxidases like laccases and peroxidases along with some transcription factors with the help a utility promoter using Poplar as my model plant. Cell wall provides the integrity, structural support and act as food reserves and constitutes cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. Lignin imposes recalcitrance in the plant cell wall thereby hindering the release of sugar for biofuels. I produced about 200 genetically modified plants with alterated lignin and hence further investigated them for their wood and biochemical properties.

It has been great time at Michigan Tech since last 4 years. I want to express my sincere thanks to the Graduate School for providing this opportunity to the graduate students in their finishing semester. I feel proud to be a part of Michigan Tech.
Biologist Husky.