Tag: Forest Science

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

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Dominic Uhelski

I always had an admiration for inventors like the Wright brothers, pushing boundaries despite setbacks. The spirit of experimentation is much like the spirit of exploration – both tread into unknown territory for the purpose of discovery. At Michigan Tech, I got to feed both.

I began my journey at Michigan Tech as an incoming master’s student in January 2018. Joining the labs of Dr. Evan Kane and Dr. Rod Chimner, I immediately got to work learning a whole new set of skills necessary to be successful in graduate research. From my background in fisheries and wildlife and upland fire ecology, Rod and Evan gave me the opportunity and support to pursue a different course. I pushed my own boundaries making the transition to wetland fire ecology, then I started pushing the boundaries of the science. We wanted to know how frequently peatlands in the upper peninsula experienced wildfire. To that end, we had to find evidence of these wildfires. However, the options for finding the evidence we needed were limiting. With standard techniques, we could get an idea of fire frequency in only a few sites. We set our sights higher.

Rod and Evan helped me cultivate the spirit of experimentation with the perseverance of an inventor. With their help, I surpassed the limitations of the present methods by inventing my own. Like every other scientist and inventor, I stood on the shoulders of giants to reach as far as I have, but that makes me no less proud, only more humble. It was not easy, but my efforts were rewarded. Rather than three sites, we were able to study thirty. Now every other scientist who wants to do the same will be able to walk the trail we blazed.

Somewhere along the way, we realized that this work had potential beyond a master’s project, so I decided to stay on and make a Ph.D. project out of it, and I’m glad that I did. I have learned so much from working with Rod and Evan, about the field, the research process, about what my strengths and weaknesses are. Now, as my time at MTU winds gradually to a close, I know that I still have more to learn, but I also have a duty to publish all that we have learned. That may be the most difficult part of the whole process, but the support of the finishing fellowship that I have received will be an invaluable assistance. I am grateful to the graduate school for awarding me this fellowship, and to Rod, Evan, my committee, my coauthors, and the undergraduate assistants that have all contributed to bringing this work to fruition.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Ande Myers

I began my Ph.D. in 2017 and currently work with Dr. Tara L Bal in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. My research explores propagation and restoration planting of American beech trees resistant to beech bark disease. I am collaborating with scientists at the National Park Service (Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshores) to enact an applied restoration project for the mitigation of Beech Bark Disease in Michigan. 

Over the first three years of my doctoral work, I have established a tree grafting program in the CFRES facilities, described the severity of Beech Bark Disease in two National parks, prepared a literature review and synthesis regarding the propagation of American beech, forged a working partnership with the US Forest Service Oconto River Seed Orchard, established a plan for restoration plantings in conjunction with the National Park Service, and initiated a study in methods for transplanting wild-origin American beech seedlings.

My broader research interests are in understanding the dynamics of forest disease and dysfunction and applying a diverse suite of techniques to mitigate the effects of disease and enhance forest health. I aim to present the findings of my research in a clear and understandable manner to a diverse array of audiences. I work to enhance my science communication skills through written and oral presentations, and through forging meaningful working partnerships with external agencies.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the graduate school for supporting the finalization of my dissertation through the award of the finishing fellowship scholarship. I also thank the faculty and support staff of the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science for creating a supportive community that has encouraged my scholarship at every stage of my degree program. Finally, the community of graduate students in the college, and Michigan Tech at large, have provided an amazing academic environment for continued personal and professional growth. I feel that my ability to perform as a researcher has been greatly benefitted by these combined communities, and they have earned my sincere gratitude.