Tag: Geology

It’s Boom Time in Small-town Wisconsin

What’s causing the booms in Clintonville? Residents of the small Wisconsin town have been hearing deep, rumbling sounds from time to time since March 18. To find out why, a professor and his grad students are lending their expertise.

Greg Waite, assistant professor of geology, along with graduate students Josh Richardson and Kathleen McKee, installed four seismometers and eight sound sensors around Clintonville, with help from City of Clintonville workers. They are trying to record anything that could relate to the booms that began last month.

“These types of noises have been reported for small shallow earthquakes in many places worldwide,” Waite said. “However, the noises in Clintonville were somewhat difficult to explain, because earthquakes are uncommon in Wisconsin, and most of sounds were not accompanied by felt earthquakes.”

For the full story, see Boom.

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor
Published in Tech Today

Tech Students Converge in Lansing for Graduate Education Day

Four graduate students are going to Lansing for Graduate Education Day, Thursday, March 29. Governor Rick Snyder has declared the week of March 26 as Graduate Education Week, and more than 50 students from universities and colleges across the state will meet with legislators at the Capitol Building in Lansing.

Students will meet with their hometown legislators to discuss their studies and future plans and will also present their research and degree-related projects.

Attending from Michigan Tech are:

  • Mark Hopkins, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering from Charlotte. He will be discussing his work on in-space electric rockets.
  • Stephanie Groves, a PhD candidate in biological sciences from Scottville. She will be presenting on converting industrial waste to biofuels and other products.
  • Emily Gochis, a PhD candidate in geology from Ann Arbor. She will discuss geoscience education.
  • Andrew Drees, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering from Stevensville. He will discuss a “smart grid” power system for use on Michigan Tech’s campus.

The governor and legislature have acknowledged that graduate education is key to Michigan’s economic growth and stability. Graduate education in Michigan is highly productive, contributing directly to the well-being of the state and its capacity to meet the challenges of the future.

Last year, Michigan’s four-year public and private colleges and universities awarded more than 20,000 master’s degrees and 5,000 doctorates, with Michigan ranking ninth among states in the US for the number of research-based doctorates awarded.

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor
Published in Tech Today

2012 MSGC Awards Announced

Michigan Tech faculty, staff members and students received awards tallying $101,875 through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC), sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which includes 11 university members.

Michigan Tech received 18 percent of the available research seed grant funding, 24 percent of the undergraduate fellowship funding, 33 percent of the graduate fellowship funding and 41 percent of the precollege, public outreach, teacher training and augmentation proposal funding.

  • Six undergraduates received $2,500 for research fellowships.
  • Five graduate students received $5,000 for research fellowships.
    • Brenda Bergman (Forest Science): “Mercury movement through the earth systems: better understanding biotic controls over inter-system contaminant transfer while enhancing students’ motivation to engage in STEM and reduce atmospheric pollution”
    • Patrick Bowen (Materials Science and Engineering): “Exploring the effect of group IV elements on the mechanical and corrosion performance of magnesium”
    • Baron Colbert (Civil Engineering): “Using Nonmetals Separated From E-Waste in Improving the Mechanical Properties of Asphalt Materials”
    • Colin Gurganus (Atmospheric Sciences): “Exploring Cloud Microphysics in the Laboratory: Heterogeneous Nucleation Pathways”
    • Lauren Schaefer (Geology): “Multidisciplinary approach to volcanic hazard monitoring at Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala”
  • Two faculty received $5,000 in seed grants.
  • Seven faculty and staff received $5,000 or more for precollege, public outreach, teacher training or augmentation.

Tech’s representative for the program is Chris Anderson, special assistant to the president, Institutional Diversity. She says, “This recognition and support help keep Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff on the cutting edge of inquiry and research. The number of awards we receive annually in this competitive process is impressive and underscores the quality of our proposals.”

For a list of all the awards and award winners, see Space Grants.

NASA implemented the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in 1989 to provide funding for research, education and public outreach in space-related science and technology. The program has 52 university-based consortia in the United States and Puerto Rico. As an affiliate of the Michigan Consortium, Michigan Tech has participated in MSGC for over fifteen years.

For more information, contact Anderson at 487-2474 or at csanders@mtu.edu , or visit the MSGC website at MSGC.

submitted by Lisa Wallace, Institutional Diversity
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
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Forest Ecology and Management
  • Forest Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology
  • Geology
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

2012 Geothermal Student Competition

The US Department Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is pleased to announce the 2012 Geothermal Student Competition. The Competition is designed to support, inspire, and promote innovation, exploration, and entrepreneurship among the nation’s emerging young thinkers. The Competition platform focuses on developing and advancing the next generation of geothermal energy exploration technology that can potentially unleash an infusion of reliable, cost-effective, and clean geothermal energy into the US energy economy.

The Challenge

Undergraduate and graduate student teams, guided by a faculty member in the role of mentor, are challenged to conduct a professional-quality assessment of the Snake River Plain site in Idaho using innovative exploration technologies. Research should be based on the case study analysis provided using one or more of the following exploration technologies:

  1. geophysics,
  2. geochemistry,
  3. remote sensing; and
  4. geology.

Please note: faculty should be providing limited support. This is intended to be a student competition.

Who Should Apply?

The Competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students in science, engineering and business programs of study.

Where do I Apply?

The Competition application, guidelines, and copies of the case study can all be found on the Competition website http://orise.orau.gov/geothermal

How does the Competition work?

The Competition is divided into two phases:

Phase I

Student teams, comprised of up to four students with the faculty mentor serving in the capacity of project advisor and coach, will submit an application through the website detailing their project plan. The top ten competitive applicants are selected and the winning teams, their mentors, and their schools are notified and advanced into Phase II of the competition. Teams entering Phase II all receive a $10K stipend to defray the cost associated with equipment purchase, travel and other expenses incurred during the research cycle.

Phase II

The teams are required to participate in monthly review meetings and submit regular reports documenting their progress. Phase II is completed when the Teams submit the required technical paper and present their findings to the team of expert judges at the Geothermal Council Capstone event. ORISE will manage all aspects of the competition including recruitment, program promotion, conducting an application review and coordinating Capstone judging panels, for the selection and award process.

Please contact by email geothermalstudentcompetition@orise.orau.gov or Dr. Desmond Stubbs, Program Manager at (865) 603-2461.

Unlocking the Details to How Volcanoes Work

Dr. Greg Waite was recently featured along with two graduate students, John Lyons and Joshua Richardson, in Live Science. The article, “Unlocking the Details to How Volcanoes Work” discusses Waite’s study of “mini-earthquakes.”

Waite is an assistant professor and graduate program director in the geological and mining engineering and sciences department.  Visit volcanoes to view the complete article.

Geology Graduate Student Helps National Geographic Talk About African Rifts

When National Geographic needed some explanation about the Albertine Rift, a geological formation in Africa, they came to a Michigan Tech graduate student. Again.

It’s the second time that Alex Guth, a PhD student in geology, has been tapped by the world-famous magazine to offer geological expertise in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

National Geographic sought an answer to why such a geological rift exists and its impact on the local people–a people in crisis–and the delicate ecosystem that coexists. Guth’s expertise includes the rift valley and its extremes in topography caused by the East African Rift System, where the Nubian plate is moving west away from the Somalian plate.

“There are mountain ranges with a mountain forest and a rain forest extremely close by,” she says. “The extreme topography, caused by the rift, impacts the animals. They can’t move, since the area around them won’t sustain them.” The same can be said of the people, many of whom live in a densely populated region near the city of Goma and Lake Kivu, which is poisoned by volcanic gasses.  “And the fishing in nearby Lake Albert can’t sustain the population, which helps fuel conflict,” Guth says.

That conflict, between the Bashali people, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and invading Tutsi, Hutu, and Hunde, has become so intense that other research teams have left early. “They were murdering women, specifically,” Guth says, “and recent elections have made the future ‘iffy’ at best. Intertribal conflicts, and now terrorism–there was a bombing in Nairobi Monday–make the work there even more dangerous.” The people initially moved to the valley because of the fertile land, but they have over-logged it, and the subsequent population boom created a land shortage, according to the National Geographic article, “Africa’s Albertine Rift,” which appeared in the November 2011 issue.

The magazine came to Guth for the geologic story, and she chose to tell them about the evolution of the rift valley and the “intense area,” replete with volcanoes, one of which destroyed great parts of Goma. “Working with them was interesting,” she says. “My research actually appears on a poster that is in the magazine, and they also wanted me to look at definitions they had used for a children’s edition of the magazine, for quality control.” She also had to do a little educating of the National Geographic writers. “They kept saying the mantle was ‘fluid,’ which is not accurate,” she says.

Guth hopes to return to do more research for her dissertation, opting for Kenya, where the real focus of her work exists.

Written by by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

Published in Tech Today.

Jackson Teacher Honored

A teacher in Jackson won a national award for his teaching of high school astronomy and attributes the honor in part to Michigan Tech.

Mark Reed, who teaches at Jackson High School and Lumen Christi High School, won the Thomas J. Brennan Award for 2011 from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Reed was cited for exceptional commitment to classroom or planetarium education.

He is involved with Tech’s Michigan Teacher Excellence Program (MiTEP). He spent a week on campus in 2011 and will spend another week in 2012. He describes the classes and fieldwork as “wonderful”–“They get the creative juices going.”

At Tech, he worked with faculty and doctoral students, including Professor Bill Rose (GMES) and graduate student Mark Klawiter (GMES).

MiTEP is funded by the National Science Foundation to improve Earth science education nationwide.

Participation can lead to a master’s degree in applied science education.

US Department of Energy Computational Sciences Graduate Fellowships

U.S. Department of Energy Computational Sciences Graduate Fellowships

The U.S. Department of Energy provides funding for students in their first or second year of graduate study in the fields of physical, engineering, computers, mathematics and life sciences. The fellowships are renewable up to four years. Students receive about $31,000 a year, as well as a $1,000 annual academic allowance for travel, research activities and attending conferences. Some students may also get matched funds for computer support up to $2,475.