Tag: College of Sciences and Arts

MAGS / ProQuest Distinguished Masters Thesis Award – 2024 – Honorable Mention – Isaac Lennox

Isaac Lennox, M.S. in Kinesiology, 2023

I am grateful to be recognized as an honorable mention for the MAGS Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award. The completion of my project: “Exercise Is Medicine® on Campus: A National Analysis and Assessment of Community Impact” would not have been able to happen if not for my advisor Dr. Steven Elmer, my committee members Dr. Kamm and Dr. Petushek, as well as support from my lab members and the KIP department. As I work towards my dream of earning a medical degree and becoming a rural physician, Michigan Tech and Houghton will forever have a place in my heart.

Dr. Elmer and his lab introduced me to the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine® On Campus (EIM-OC) initiative, which calls upon colleges and universities to promote physical activity on their campuses as a vital sign of health. This immediately became the forefront of my master’s thesis, as I was able to perform a national analysis of the distribution and impact of this 15-year initiative, while concurrently promoting physical activity on Michigan Tech’s campus and the surrounding Houghton County. Collectively, the findings from my thesis may help direct EIM-OC efforts to combat physical inactivity and improve health on campuses and their surrounding communities.

I would like to thank Dr. Elmer and the KIP Department for supporting me as a graduate student and providing me with opportunity to travel across the country to disseminate my work at regional and national conferences, as well as on campus and within the local community. Furthermore, I would like to thank the Houghton community for allowing me to contribute to local youth initiatives by teaching junior golf at Portage Lake Golf Course, and volunteer assistant coaching for the Houghton Gremlins JV hockey team. These are memories that I will never forget and I will be forever grateful for.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2024 Recipient – Elizabeth Lehman

Elizabeth Lehman standing in front of a poster presentation at a conference

I have always been fascinated with psychology, particularly the way people think and make decisions. We make judgments about our experiences all the time – from everyday social interactions to big events on the news – so it’s an area that is relevant and potentially very impactful. As a lifelong Yooper, I feel lucky to be getting an amazing education from the Applied Cognitive Science & Human Factors program. It has really highlighted the importance of both basic research and how to apply it effectively to real-world domains.

My dissertation research explores the ways in which people question their theories of events – particularly in ambiguous situations. I believe studying strategies used to question theories can lead to effective methods for changing them. As a social cognition researcher, I combine theoretical perspectives like motivated reasoning and sensemaking in analytical domains to understand how people form theories about events and what causes people to rethink them. I am experimentally testing strategies to promote questioning one’s theory. These strategies can then be used in domains like hiring to mitigate decision-making biases.

I want to give a heartfelt Thank You! to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for granting me this award. I want to thank my advisor Dr. Beth Veinott for all of her support with my PhD research and preparing me for an academic career. Her enthusiastic and thorough guidance has been invaluable. Additionally, I thank the ADVANCE Initiative and everyone in the Cognitive & Learning Sciences department for their continued support.

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 – 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 – 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.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2023 Recipient – Adelina Oronova

From the very beginning of my academic journey, the intersection of chemistry and biology has thrilled me, as it embodies the essence of interdisciplinary challenges that encourage innovative thinking. Having BS and MS in biochemistry, I joined the Chemistry Department at Michigan Technological University in August 2018 as a Fulbright Graduate Student from Ukraine. Under the mentorship of Dr. Marina Tanasova, I pursued chemical biology research to utilize small molecules produced through synthetic chemistry for the study of complex biological systems.
My Ph.D. research focuses on the development of tools for the targeted detection of disease-relevant sugar transporters (GLUTs) to advance diagnostic and imaging capabilities. Working in Dr. Tanasova’s lab has been an incredibly rich research experience, allowing me to master a diverse set of skills and carry out the whole research project from the beginning to the end. I truly enjoy the process of designing molecules, synthesizing them, and validating their properties through a range of analytical techniques. Witnessing the colorful array of fluorescent probes we have developed and applying them for cancer research has evoked excitement in me. I am genuinely excited about the potential outcomes of my research, as they contribute to the advancement of novel strategies for targeting cancers in both diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Collaborating with other researchers and students, sharing my research, and promoting a safety culture within my department and on the national level have been rewarding and enriching experiences for me during my Ph.D. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had during my graduate program. I am confident that the training I received at MTU has provided me with a solid foundation to realize my research aspirations.
I am honored to be selected as one of the recipients of the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. I would like to thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and Dean for granting the fellowship to me during this crucial phase of my Ph.D. journey. It is indeed an invaluable opportunity to dedicate my time and efforts to writing my dissertation, preparing for the defense, and embarking on the next chapter of my scientific career. I would like to thank my research advisor Dr. Marina Tanasova for the support and guidance she provided over the last 5 years. Her belief in my potential paved the way for me to transition from a Master’s student to a doctoral candidate, and I am truly grateful for the mentorship and encouragement she has provided. Moreover, I wish to express my gratitude to the Chemistry Department, Dr. Sarah Green, my committee members, and all the individuals who have played a role in shaping me into an independent research scientist.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2023 Recipient – Ann Varghese

I began my Ph.D. journey in Chemistry in the Fall 2019 under the guidance of Dr. Tatyana G. Karabencheva-Christova. Prior to joining MTU, I earned a master’s degree in Applied Chemistry from Mahatma Gandhi University and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Calicut University, India. It was during my master’s program that I developed a profound interest in computational chemistry, which ultimately led me to pursue advanced studies in this fascinating field.

My research primarily focuses on exploring enzyme characteristics and mechanisms through the application of multilevel computational methods, including Molecular Dynamics (MD), Quantum Mechanics (QM), and combined Quantum mechanics/Molecular mechanics (QM/MM). During my Ph.D., I had the opportunity to contribute to NIH-funded projects on the non-heme Fe(II) and 2-oxoglutarate dependent oxygenase, Fat mass and Obesity Associated Protein (FTO), and the Zn(II) dependent metalloprotease, Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), both of which have crucial implications in various types of cancers. In the former project, I investigated the enzymatic mechanism of FTO with its major substrate, N6-methyladenine in single-stranded RNA, and explored the influence of clinically relevant mutations Arg316Gln and Ser319Phe on different stages of the catalytic cycle. In the latter, I unraveled the water-mediated catalytic mechanism of MMP-1, conformational dynamics and long-range correlated motions assisting in catalysis and the role of the catalytic and structural Zn(II) ions in the overall stability of enzyme.

I am immensely grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and the Dean for recognizing my efforts and awarding me the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my advisor, Dr. Tatyana G. Karabencheva-Christova, whose guidance and support have been invaluable throughout my Ph.D. journey. I also extend my thanks to all the faculty and staff in the Chemistry department for their encouragement and assistance.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2023 Recipient – Susan Mathai

I started as a PhD student in Atmospheric Sciences at Michigan Tech in August 2018. My interest in Atmospheric Sciences began during an elective course I took while pursuing my master’s degree in physics at the National Institute of Technology (NIT Calicut). Since then, my interest in Atmospheric Sciences has grown, and I have been eager to learn more about it.
My doctoral research focuses on investigating the physical, chemical, and optical properties of aerosols, which are particles suspended in the atmosphere, specifically those emitted from biomass burning. Over the course of five years, with the support of my advisor and colleagues at Michigan Tech, I have gained valuable knowledge and experience that will undoubtedly benefit me in my future endeavors. Additionally, I had the opportunity to expand my exposure and understanding of the subject through an internship at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), where I worked with Dr. Swarup China. During my internship, I estimated the optical properties of tar ball particles that are formed during biomass combustion. I also studied the physical and chemical properties of aerosols from an Urban polluted region that is highly influenced by biomass burning.
I am grateful to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory panel for granting me the finishing fellowship award and to my advisor, Prof. Claudio Mazzoleni, for his unwavering support and guidance throughout my PhD journey. I also thank my mentor at PNNL, Dr. Swarup China for his hard work and dedication in helping me complete my PhD. Additionally, I express my thanks to both my current and former research group members for engaging in excellent discussions and fostering a spirit of teamwork. I eagerly anticipate defending my thesis and advancing along my chosen career path.