Tag: Forest Science

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2023 Recipient – Rob Tunison

I started collecting tropical plant physiology data for Dr. Molly Cavaleri as a plant physiology technician in October 2018 and started as a PhD student in her lab within the year. My interests in plant physiology are applied to how plants will respond to environmental forcings caused by climate change. Since plants are both a sink and source for atmospheric carbon, climate change effects on plant physiology will feedback responses to atmospheric carbon. I have been working at the Tropical Responses to Altered Climate Experiment (TRACE), a tropical understory warming experiment located in Puerto Rico, where I have been measuring plant responses to +4 °C experimental warming. I have been looking at acclimation responses to warming in leaf and root respiration, photosynthesis, and the limits for high-heat tolerance in leaves. All of these projects that I have been working on are generating data that will be fed into global models that predict how tropical forests will interact with the atmosphere under different climate scenarios. 

The next step in my career is to start the postdoctoral fellowship I have accepted at Michigan Tech in collaboration with several federal agencies to do the modeling work on the data I collected during my PhD. Dr. Molly Cavaleri, my committee, the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, and the TRACE team have all been amazing to work with and I look forward to working with them more over the next couple of years. I would also like to express my thanks to those who fund the Finishing Fellowship award and gave me the opportunity to spend an extra semester writing up the exciting work I have been doing as PhD student.

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.

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 – 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 – Summer 2022 Recipient – Chinmoyee Das

I was first introduced to Forest Biomaterials during my master’s degree in Germany. Previously I had known forest-based materials, predominantly wood is used as fuel, construction material and making paper. I was completely awestruck when I came across such advanced applications of wood, where every monomer of wood can be specifically used in advanced materials, and I decided this is what I wanted to do in the future. 

I started my PhD here at Michigan Tech in Summer 2019, in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences with Dr. Xinfeng Xie as my advisor. In my research I focus on the incorporation of biocarbon, that is essentially carbon developed from biomass, into polymer matrices to develop reinforced and electrically conductive composite materials. The goal of this study is to develop materials that can be used as lightweight conductive automotive parts. The comprises of formulation, fabrication and characterization of the composites with a goal of future commercial application in automotive industry, as a replacement for conventional polymer composites. 

I am highly indebted to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory panel for considering and awarding me this fellowship. I am extremely grateful to my advisor Dr. Xie for his constant support and guidance. In this journey not only did my skills and experiences grow and improve, they also contributed to my growth as a person.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2022 Recipient – Samuel Lopes Oliveira

I started my graduation in Forest Science at the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science in the fall of 2017. Before that, I completed my undergrad and Master’s in Brazil working with ecology and conservation of Neotropical birds. At Michigan Tech I was able to complete four fieldwork seasons to collect data about migratory birds that breed in North America and spend the winter in the tropics. This group has been declining at concerning rates, and recent data showed that the winter range can play an essential conservation role. Our broader objective is to determine the value of working landscapes as habitats for wintering birds. Some managed crops in the tropics (e.g., coffee and cacao) can provide good habitats for migratory birds to spend the winter and prepare for the demanding journey back. In Mexico, we assessed a recent agroecosystem in the Americas, oil palm plantations. This crop is rapidly expanding and not much data is available about how the declining migratory birds cope and how the plantations can be managed to improve their habitat quality. In Costa Rica, we worked with local partners and intend to determine if small forest fragments can provide good habitats for the Wood Thrush and develop a decision support tool to inform what sites should be prioritized when funding for protection is limited.

I intend to continue working with research and focus on applied conservation. My goal is to contribute to the development of our current understanding of migratory bird conservation during the winter, especially in working landscapes. Additionally, since I plan to focus my career on migratory bird conservation, especially on the wintering grounds, I aim to travel back to the countries where I collected data and offer courses in bird banding and migratory bird conservation. Capacitating local researchers to develop their own studies, which is an important step to collecting more information about the migrants on the wintering sites. As a Latin American researcher, I feel that most of the studies, especially with migratory birds, are developed by foreign institutions. Thus, offering capacitation opportunities will increase the local research body and address the lack of information on declining migratory birds in the tropics.

I’m thankful for all the support and opportunities received from the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. Also grateful for the mentoring from my advisors, Dr. David Flaspohler and Dr. Jared Wolfe, and committee members Dr. Jessie Knowlton and Dr. Chris Webster.

DeVlieg Graduate Summer 2022 Research Recipient – Samuel Hervey

I am a PhD student in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and my main research interest is wildlife conservation and how we can utilize noninvasive methods to study and inform management of wildlife. For my PhD research, I am developing multiple noninvasive genetic methods to study the health of the recently introduced wolf population on Isle Royale.

Over the summer semester and with the support of the DeVlieg Foundation, I will be optimizing a set of molecular markers that will help us track the number of wolves occupying Isle Royale as well as the level of inbreeding within the population. With this information we can better understand the health of the wolf population through time and if interventions may be necessary. I cannot thank the DeVlieg Foundation and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Committee enough for their support.

Michigan Tech gratefully acknowledges support from The DeVlieg Foundation for the DeVlieg Summer Research Award.

2022 Nominee for MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award – Parth Bhatt

“Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach,” is how Greek philosopher Aristotle put it.  My name is Parth Bhatt and I come from the western coast state of Gujarat in India. I came to Michigan Tech in the Fall of 2016 for a master’s in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES). Before coming to the states, I completed my master of science in the field of Environmental Science in India and was working as a trainee at the Space Application Center, Indian Space Research Organization. It was during my time at the space agency I got exposure to the field of Geographic Information Science and Remote Sensing and realized that I want to go abroad for higher education. When I got the admit letter from  Michigan Tech, I was assigned Dr. Ann Maclean as my advisor, and to be honest, the email conversations I had with her were the driving factors for making Michigan Tech and CFRES my choice. I should say choosing Michigan Tech, CFRES, and Ann as my advisor were some of the best decisions of my life. I completed my MS here at Tech in Fall 2018 and continued the journey further by joining Ph.D. under Dr. Maclean. My master’s and Ph.D. project involve working with the USDA Forest Service, mapping the Hiawatha National Forest at the Natural Habitat Community level. We use high-resolution UAV and airborne NAIP imagery coupled with machine learning algorithms to classify the forest. The project is significant for the USFS as the end products (i.e. classified maps) help the management authorities to protect and manage the forest and help in better decision making. I also work on a national level project of mapping and monitoring the Forest Health by ecoregions across the contiguous United States using Google Earth Engine with the USDA Forest Service. Along with research, I have been enjoying teaching GIS classes in CFRES since Spring 2017, I mainly teach the undergraduate and graduate-level GIS classes and labs. Since Fall 2020, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be a Graduate Teaching Instructor (and thanks to my advisor Dr. Ann Maclean and my dean Dr. Andrew Storer, who trusted and motivated me) to take on this opportunity. I am thankful to my department who nominated me and grateful to the university for selecting me as a nominee for the Midwestern Association of Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Award. It is an absolute honor to represent Michigan Tech at the MAGS 2022.

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.

Deadlines:
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