Tag: Forest Science

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Recipients for Fall and Spring announced

The Graduate School is pleased to announce Finishing Fellowship recipients for the fall and spring semesters. Finishing fellowships  provide support to PhD candidates who are close to completing their degrees. These fellowships are available through the generosity of alumni and friends of the University. They are intended to recognize outstanding PhD candidates who are in need of financial support to finish their degrees and are also contributing to the attainment of goals outlined in The Michigan Tech Plan.

Recipients for fall 2011 were:

  • Irfan Ahmed, PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering
  • Surendar R. Dhadi, PhD candidate in Biological Sciences
  • Neluka K. Dissanayake, PhD candidate in Engineering Physics
  • Shu Wei Goh, PhD candidate in Civil Engineering
  • Amber M. Roth, PhD candidate in Forest Science

Recipients for spring 2012 are:

  • Zeyad T. Ahmed, PhD candidate in Environmental Engineering
  • Kefeng Li, PhD candidate in Biological Sciences
    Charles L. Lawton Endowed Fellowship
  • Saikat Mukhopadhyay, PhD candidate in Physics
  • Zhiwei Peng, PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering
    Doctoral Finishing Fellowship
  • Lindsey M. Shartell, PhD candidate in Forest Science
    Neil V. Hakala Endowed Fellowship

Nominations are currently open for summer 2012 finishing fellowships.  Materials are due no later than 4pm, March 14th.  See complete details online about the application and review procedure.


Students Tackle Mining Controversy

As they study their fields, graduate science students also need to learn to be good communicators about science. So says the National Science Foundation (NSF).

So Professor Alex Mayer, who has dual appointments in the civil and environmental engineering department and the geological and mining engineering and sciences department, developed a graduate fellowship program–funded by NSF–to help PhD students learn to communicate science to school children and the general public.

This year, PhD students Brenda Bergman, in forest science, and Valoree Gagnon, in environmental and energy policy, chose to develop a news release about the controversy over mining in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and around the nation. Here is their news release:

As mining is resurging in North America, debates across the continent over mines are simplified: “Do we prioritize jobs or the environment? Companies or communities?” These are worthy debates. Yet should the issue of mining really be reduced to “pro-con” statements?

Michigan Tech experts from a wide range of disciplines say no. “The worst type of communication has to do with the simplification of the mining issues. I think the biggest problem is creation of polar opposites so that one has to choose between employment or environmental and health protection” says Carol MacLennan, an environmental anthropologist who has studied mining communities for almost a decade. “Characterizing it that way is very destructive because you’re never forced to confront the complexity of the issue.”

How are members of the general public expected to understand such a complex issue? Answers from Michigan Tech scientists focus on two solutions: education and improved communication between scientists and the public.

According to Craig Waddell, an associate professor of humanities who has studied public participation in environmental disputes, “If you want to prepare a broader range of people to participate, they need to know how to address scientific arguments, how to assess disputes within the scientific community, what counts as evidence and how we evaluate whether or not that evidence is valid.”

MacLennan believes that scientists have an obligation to communicate with the public: “Too often, scientists think about things in terms of ‘furthering knowledge,’ and that, by implication, is a public good. It’s just that it’s often not clear–how is it a public good? How is it publically useful? And you have to always be thinking about different publics–and there are different publics–how are they interested or concerned in the particular work you’re doing?”

For the full story, see Mining.

CBS Detroit and the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report also featured the  story about Brenda Bergman and Valoree Gagnon.  See Mining Dispute to view the article.

Published in Tech Today.


New theses and dissertations available in the Library

The Graduate School is pleased to announce new theses and dissertations are now available in the J.R. van Pelt and Opie Library from the following programs:

  • Applied Ecology
  • Applied Natural Resource Economics
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Forest Ecology and Management
  • Forest Science
  • Geophysics
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Physics
  • Rhetoric and Technical Communication


New theses and dissertations available in the Library

The Graduate School is pleased to announce new theses and dissertations are now available in the J.R. van Pelt and Opie Library from the following programs:

  • Chemistry
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Engineering Mechanics
  • Forest Science
  • Rhetoric and Technical Communication

Colina Dutta
Master of Science in Chemistry
Co-advisors: Dario J Stacchiola and Gerard T Caneba
Thesis title: Ultrasonic Dispersion of Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes and Cellulose

Yinfei Fu
Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Zhi Tian
Dissertation title: Multi-Target Tracking and Localization in Distributed Wireless Sensor Networks

Nicholas Mastricola
Master of Science in Engineering Mechanics
Advisor: Ossama Omar Abdelkhalik
Thesis title: Quantification of Relativistic Perturbation Forces on Spacecraft Trajectories

Sara Robinson
Doctor of Philosophy in Forest Science
Advisor: Peter E Laks
Dissertation title: The Scientific, Artistic, and Practical Implications of Sub-lethal Fungicide Levels in Wood Exposed to Fungi

Cynthia Weber
Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Technical Communication
Advisor: Jennifer Daryl Slack
Dissertation title: In Defense of a Liberal Education: The Language and Politics of Academic Freedom


Graduate Students participate in Nature Teacher Workshop

PhD students Tara Bal (SFRES) and Meagan Harless (Biological Sciences), along with Joan Chadde of the Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education, put on a Nature Teacher Workshop Tuesday at the Nara Nature Center. Thirty local teachers attended the session.

Bal talked about insects; Harless talked about streams and ponds. The session was based on “Hands-On Nature Activities,” a guide with information and exercises for outdoor and environmental education with children. All participants received a copy of the book.

The workshop was sponsored by the Western UP Center and the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative.

Published in Tech Today.


Wildlife Conservation Award

The Safari Club International (SCI) Michigan Involvement Committee (MIC) is a non-profit corporation composed of representatives of each of the Michigan chapters of SCI.  The Committee coordinates collaboration between SCI, its Michigan chapters, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR); provides scholarships and grants to graduate students; and supports other wildlife conservation and education activities deemed appropriate by the organization.

The Award

Goal: To preserve and perpetuate the right to hunt and the commitment to conservation within the wildlife profession and potential future leaders of the DNR.

Purpose: To provide financial assistance to a graduate student, preferably one working on a DNR-funded university research project associated with the preservation of hunting.

Fund Financing: A minimum annual fund of $3,000 has been established by SCI MIC to finance the grant program.  Additional grants may be awarded if funding is available.  Grant amounts may vary depending upon the number of awards and the fund balance.

Award Duration: The grant will be available for use for one year between September 1 and August 31 of the next year.  An award recipient can compete for additional grants in subsequent years with other applicants.  If invited by participating chapters, each selected student will be required to visit the chapter at least once during the year of the award.

How to Apply

To Be Eligible:

1)    Student must be accepted or enrolled in a Wildlife or related discipline graduate program at a college or university in Michigan.

2)    Must be planning a career in the Wildlife Management field.

3)    Student must be familiar with hunting, hunting ethics, the role of hunting in wildlife management, and hunting’s role in society.

4)    If enrolled in a MS or MA program, it must be a thesis-based degree.

Application: There is no separate application form.  Please send a resume which outlines your background, along with three reference letters from individuals knowledgeable of your field skills and experience.  Include your name and graduate institution where enrolled on all materials submitted.  In addition, in 500 words or less, provide a response to the questions:  “Twenty years from now, what should the elements of wildlife management be, and what role do you see yourself playing in this profession?”

Selection Process: An SCI MIC committee will review application materials and select finalists.  A subcommittee will interview finalists and select the award recipient(s) by September 1, 2011.

Send all materials, by June 15, 2011 to Paul Royce, SCI-Lakeshore  Chapter, 9881 84th Avenue, Zeeland, Michigan  49464


Research Associateship Programs

The mission of the NRC Research Associateship Programs (RAP) is to promote excellence in scientific and technological research conducted by the U. S. government through the administration of programs offering graduate, postdoctoral, and senior level research opportunities at sponsoring federal laboratories and affiliated institutions.

In these programs, prospective applicants select a research project or projects from among the large group of opportunities listed on this website.  Prior to completing an application, prospective applicants should contact the proposed Research Adviser to assure that funding will be available if their application is recommended by NRC panels.  Once mutual interest is established between a prospective applicant and a Research Adviser, an application is submitted through the NRC WebRap system.  Reviews are conducted four times each year and review results are available approximately 6-8 weeks following the application deadline.

There are four review cycles annually. Deadlines for 2011 are:

February 1

May 1

August 1

November 1

Click here for more information: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/rap/


Inter-American Foundation (IAF) Grassroots Development Fellowship Program

IAF Fellowships are available to currently registered students who have advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. in the social sciences, physical sciences, technical fields and the professions as related to grassroots development issues. Applications for clinical research in the health field will NOT be considered.

Awards are based on both development and scholarly criteria. Proposals should offer a practical orientation to field-based information. In exceptional cases the IAF will support research reflecting a primary interest in macro questions of politics and economics but only as they relate to the environment of the poor. The Fellowship Program complements IAF’s support for grassroots development in Latin America and the Caribbean, and preference for those applicants whose careers or research projects are related to topics of greatest interest to the IAF.

IAF’s Fellowships provide support for Ph.D. candidates to conduct dissertation research in Latin America and the Caribbean on topics related to grassroots development. Funding is for between four and 12 months. The Inter-American Foundation expects to award up to 15 Doctoral Field Research Fellowships in 2011. Research during the 2011-2012 cycle must be initiated between June 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012.

  • Round-trip economy-class transportation to the field research site from the Fellow’s primary residence. Fellows must comply with the Fly America Act.
  • A research allowance of up to $3,000, pro-rated monthly.
  • A stipend of $1,500 per month for up to 12 months.
  • Accident and sickness insurance
  • Attendance at a required “mid-year” Grassroots Development Conference to discuss each Fellow’s progress with members of the IAF’s academic review committee and meet with IAF and IIE staff.

For more information please visit:

http://www.iie.org/en/Programs/IAF-Grassroots-Development-Fellowship-Program


Arthritis, Soil, Cabaret, and DNA: Students Share their Research

The Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library was packed recently, but it wasn’t full of students cramming. This day, more than fifty students were presenting their research via posters in the bright sunlight streaming in from a wall of windows.

It was a poster session held as part of the University’s kickoff of its Generations of Discovery Capital Campaign, coinciding with Homecoming.

Megan Killian, a PhD student in biomedical engineering, discussed her work with arthritis in knees, especially after traumatic injuries. She was looking at what can be done to stop or delay the onset of arthritis after a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a common problem in contact sports.

“I’m looking at the changes in the meniscus,” Killian said. “Specifically, how the cells behave, how the meniscus degenerates over a short period of time. I am focusing on the molecular biology and histology, and other students in my lab, Adam Abraham and John Moyer, are looking at the mechanics.”

Her advisor, Tammy Haut Donahue (associate professor of mechanical engineering), is developing a better understanding of how the meniscus behaves mechanically and biochemically, and how it responds to injury and degenerative changes.

Together, the inquiry has Killian close to completing her PhD this semester, before she “goes on to a career in research-focused academia.”

Nearby, Carley Kratz presented her research in soils. The PhD student in forestry is comparing soil in special plots of the Harvard Forest in Massachusetts and the Ford Forestry Center in Alberta, with an eye toward the effects of warming.

“I’m studying how increased heat and moisture affect the soil microorganisms,” she said. “I’m mimicking future temperature and moisture increases to look at global warming, among other areas.”

She is focusing on the fungi and bacterial concentrations, she said, especially metabolic changes over time, including increased amounts of carbon cycling (how carbon moves through the global environment). “If more carbon in the soil cycles more rapidly, then that could lead to more carbon in the atmosphere, which could increase global warming,” she says.

Her research is sponsored by a US Department of Energy Office of Science graduate fellowship. Adjunct Professor Erik Lilleskov and Associate Professor Andrew Burton (SFRES), also worked on the research.

Kratz’s hopes include a postdoc in microbial ecology and an eventual professorship in the Midwest “or wherever life takes me.”

A senior in sound design, Nicole Kirch researched potential sound effects for the play, “I Am My Own Wife.” Set in Nazi and Soviet East Berlin, the play won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Actor in 2004.

“I looked at the setting of the play and tried to figure out the best sounds,” she said.

That meant using items, some old and some new, from Marlene Dietrich audio to a music box to bombs and air raid sounds to John Kennedy’s Berlin Wall speech.

“I also worked with an old phonograph, with a wax cylinder,” she said. “I didn’t want to improve the sound,” aiming instead for realistic pops and scratches from the old machine.

The setting is the bar/museum Mulack Ritze in the basement of the protagonist, and Kirch had to account for a wall of shelved memorabilia that is used in the back of the stage in the play.

“I send the sounds through speakers behind it,” she said. And she had to create pre- and post-show audio, as well as the sounds that help carry the action, all for a play that was not actually being performed here.

She did “a lot of research while bored last summer.” She wants to be a sound effects editor when she graduates.

Finally, Bryan Franklin, a PhD student in computer science, was working with common subsequences of nucleotide sequences.

“This is important because, if one is a close match with another, it can be used to study viruses and illnesses in labs and then apply the findings to humans,” he said

He had one major surprise.

“The original, published algorithm I was working with was flawed,” Franklin said. “That made it really confusing at first. It was hard to debug.”

Franklin made progress, eventually, using multiple parallel processes, to get results faster.

“I was able to get results in 1/6th the time it would have taken on a single processor,” he said. “My results are also better than the previous work I based my research on, as it always produces the longest matching subsequence.”

After leaving Tech, Franklin wants to continue working as a researcher, either in academia or industry.

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

Published in Tech Today


Graduate Programs Assessed

The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies has released a comparison of more than 5,000 doctoral programs at 212 universities across the nation, including Michigan Tech.

The assessment–seven years in the making–rated 12 PhD programs at Michigan Tech, giving highest marks to two in SFRES: forest molecular genetics and biotechnology, and forest science.

Other noteworthy Tech programs included chemical engineering, chemistry, environmental engineering, mathematical sciences, materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics.

“The NRC used a complex and very sophisticated statistical analysis procedure to attempt to objectively compare similar PhD programs,” said David Reed, vice president for research. “I’m very pleased that our programs in forestry–and in some of the engineering and science specialties–came out so well. It speaks very highly of the faculty and students involved.”

Although the results of the NRC study were described as “rankings,” graduate programs at different universities weren’t actually ranked or compared directly one to another. Rather, using a complicated statistical analysis of 21 variables and two sets of data, the programs were assigned “ranges.”

Both data sets were based on results of faculty surveys. In one survey, faculty members were asked what factors were most important to the overall quality of a graduate program. In the other, they were asked to rate the quality of a sample of programs in their field.

The results, which took several years to analyze, show the number of programs evaluated in each field and the range in which Tech’s programs fall. In forest science, for example, 34 programs were compared, and Michigan Tech’s were ranked between 2nd of 34 and 23rd of 34.

“The results are not rankings,” said Jacqueline Huntoon, dean of the Graduate School. “The report tells us that there is a 90 percent chance that the ‘true’ ranking of each of our programs falls somewhere within the reported range.”

“The results do have some interesting implications,” Huntoon went on to say. “We found out what is most important to a good reputation–the number of PhDs graduated, the number of publications of the faculty, and the research awards received by faculty. The results clearly show that the reputation of a graduate program depends on its size.”

“That validates the direction in which Michigan Tech has been moving–making a conscious effort to grow its Graduate School programs,” Huntoon added.

She expressed concern that the NRC data is out of date. It was collected in 2006-07 and included data from 2001-02 to 2005-06.

“We aren’t the same university or the same graduate school we were then,” Huntoon noted. “In 2005, we only had 870 graduate students. Now we have 1,241. We have made a major commitment to growing our graduate school.” The new data will be useful as a benchmark to measure future progress at Michigan Tech, she said.

The last NRC graduate program assessment was conducted in 1995. It evaluated only three PhD programs at Michigan Tech: geosciences, mechanical engineering and physics.

by Jennifer Donovan, director of public relations

Published in Tech Today