Tag: Biological Sciences

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Rashi Yadav

Doctoral Finishing fellowship

There are a number of aspects in my life that inspired me to be a scientist. I grew up in Chandimandir Cantt, India and as a young girl, I wanted to be an army officer. I remember being awestruck whenever I would see soldiers as they worked relentlessly to protect people and I would think how fulfilling that would be. As I reached high school, I found myself appreciating various scientists that have contributed in revolutionizing the whole world. A scientist can defeat a microorganism capable of wiping out the human population. That is just incredible! That’s why I tell everyone that I am extremely proud of my work line as our unceasing efforts will eventually benefit the society and that is my key motivation which is extremely fulfilling. I am so glad that I am close to my 12 years long dream of getting a Ph.D.

I am very fortunate that I worked with Dr. Ebenezer Tumban, who guided me to conduct professional and analytical research and also taught me several aspects of life by setting up a great example by his deeds. I have done multiple projects under his guidance including assessing MS2-L2 based virus-like particles (VLPs) against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) associated with genital and oral cancer. In addition to this, I have worked on development of a novel thermostable bacteriophage VLP platform-based vaccine.

My experience of pursuing Ph.D. at Michigan Technological University has been incredible. It has been a life-time experience; MTU has the most beautiful summer and winter, though sometimes I have seen extreme winter. But, I must say it is absolutely worth it. I got several opportunities to participate in competitions at MTU and have won awards such as 3-minute thesis, summer fellowship, finishing fellowship etc.  When I am not doing research, I like to spend my time exploring places, going for a hike, painting and dancing.

I am so grateful to Graduate school, MTU for awarding me this prestigious doctoral finishing fellowship. I am so elated and thankful to the people who have supported me in my journey.


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!