Category: Research

Finding an Undergraduate Research Mentor

Finding A Research Mentor

Are you an undergraduate interested in research, but unsure how to get started? Our video tutorial may be exactly what you need. This video addresses:

  • how to identify and contact a research mentor
  • what to expect when beginning research
  • opportunities for research internships and fellowships for Michigan Tech students

Watch the video on your own time, and if you have specific questions, feel free to email honors@mtu.edu, or make a 10-minute appointment for one-on-one research mentoring via Zoom on September 22, 24 or 28.

If you’re a current or prospective graduate student interested in finding a research mentor, please contact the Graduate School.

Interested in Undergraduate Research?

Pavlis Honors College can enhance your involvement in undergraduate research. Learn more about our Honors Pathway Program, meet an honors student who co-authored a field guide based on her research, and see other research options and exhibitions available to undergraduate students.


“Radar and Risk in the Straits of Mackinac” in Michigan Tech Research Magazine

A map of the straits of Mackinac

As Great Lakes water levels rise to record highs, remotely monitoring currents and waves grows in importance. Lorelle Meadows, dean of the Pavlis Honors College, is co-conducting the first test of an onshore high-frequency radar system specifically tuned to map complex current patterns in the Great Lakes.

Read “Radar and Risk in the Straits of Mackinac” in the 2020 Michigan Tech Research Magazine.


Cameron Philo Wins Best Technology and $10,000 at CMU New Venture Competition

Apurva Baruah pitching at CMU New Venture for Yooper Ag.

Five student teams from Michigan Technological University traveled to Central Michigan University (CMU) in Mount Pleasant, MI to compete in the ninth annual New Venture Competition held Friday, April 12. Student teams from Michigan Tech and CMU presented business plans and pitches to panels of experienced entrepreneurs. The Michigan Tech students that competed in the 2019 CMU New Venture Competition were:

  • Mayank Bagaria for Vakya
  • Apurva Baruah for Yooper Ag
  • Ahammad Basha Dudekula for AGTO Autonomous
  • Cameron Philo for Life Pro Jackets
  • Karuna Rana and Sid Premchandani for Reality Check

Cameron Philo pitching at CMU New Venture for Life Pro Jackets.

Michigan Tech students Cameron Philo and Mayank Bagaria advanced to the semifinals last Friday. Cameron Philo won Best Technology and was awarded $10,000. Philo participated in Michigan Tech’s I-Corps Site Program last Fall. I-Corps is a team-based program structure that was developed through a partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The workshop provides an introduction to the Lean Start-up business development methodology, which focuses on getting out of the lab and using the tools of customer discovery and the business model canvas to evaluate the commercial potential of innovative technologies.

Mayank Bagaria pitching at CMU New Venture for Vakya.

This is the ninth year of the New Venture competition and the eighth year of Michigan Tech’s partnership with CMU. Last year, four out of Michigan Tech’s six participants took home cash and in-kind awards.

Cameron Philo wins Best Technology and $10,000.

Michigan Tech’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE), a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College and the School of Business and Economics, continues to be an excellent resource for students looking to start their own business or bring new ideas and concepts to the next stage of development. Husky Innovate was introduced this academic year by ICE as a succession of workshops and events that build on each other leading up to the CMU New Venture Competition. The intention is to guide students through key phases of innovation or business development while emphasizing evidence based strategies for success. Many of the students that competed in this year’s New Venture Competition also participated in various Husky Innovate events and workshops throughout the academic year. Students interested in innovating, developing, and implementing their ideas and inventions are encouraged to visit the Pavlis Honors College (M&M 722) to learn more about ICE and the resources available to them.


Meet Tessa Steenwinkel…

By Amy Karagiannakis

Within one year of undergraduate research at Michigan Tech, Tessa Steenwinkel went from assisting in Dr. Thomas Werner’s genetics lab to co-authoring his book. Tessa started at Michigan Tech in the fall of 2017. She is majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-Biological Sciences with a minor in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Originally from the Netherlands, Tessa has lived in the United States since she was 12 years old. Growing up with a brother who has Down Syndrome drew Tessa to science at a very young age. Her desire to explain to her peers why and how her brother was different led to a later interest in fertility and early development.

She met Dr. Werner as a high school student visiting Tech during Preview Day weekend. He opened up his genetics lab for tours, and Tessa knew then that she wanted to be a part of his research team. She followed up the campus visit with an email to Dr. Werner requesting a copy of his book and inquired as to if there was possibly an opening on his research team for the 2017-18 academic year. Tessa has been part of Dr. Werner’s research team since her first day on campus as a husky.

She started in the fall of 2017 washing lab equipment, quickly transitioned to a research assistant, and then laboratory manager. Biologists use fruit flies to study wing spots, metabolism, and aging. This is important because the same genes and major metabolic pathways in fruit flies affect cancer and other diseases in humans. Dr. Werner’s book, Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast, is a field guide to the drosophilid species of fruit flies in the region that provides some insight into their biology and importance. His intention was to introduce researchers, teachers, and young students to these amazing flies and the diversity of their potential use in research. That’s where Tessa’s contribution to the book comes in.

From left to right: Thomas Werner, Tessa Steenwinkel, and John Jaenike

The second version of Werner’s book was published in 2018 with an interesting new chapter. Tessa wrote a children’s bedtime story about fruit flies that is now included at the end of the book. Now, rather than just being a scientific field guide, Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast includes a significant outreach component that hopefully speaks to young children and gets them excited about science and nature. The book and a beautiful poster can be downloaded for free here.

Tessa became the first recipient of the Soyring Foundation Scholarship last Spring. John Soyring, Tech alumnus and Pavlis Honors College External Advisory Board member, established the new scholarship through a generous gift that awards one deserving student $1000 each year. The scholarship is available exclusively to Pavlis Honors students expressing interest in research and innovation related to water quality management, renewable energy, or solutions to prevent and cure cancer. Tessa was awarded the scholarship this past fall semester for her research in Dr. Werner’s lab.

Tessa is a Pavlis Honors student in the Research Scholars pathway. Last summer, Tessa completed her immersion experience here at Tech on a research project that focused on the evolution of color patterns in animals. Researchers study this because the genes that control the pigmentation are also some of the key players in cancer growth. The focus of Tessa’s research this past summer was to perform transgenics, where they inserted pieces of foreign DNA into fruit fly embryos in order to control those genes. This would give them real causative evidence that these genes play a role in pigmentation in fruit flies.

This past fall, Tessa became the first undergrad in Dr. Werner’s lab to start her own research. She was given the autonomy to develop and set up the project for this academic year herself. Over the last few decades, we have seen a dramatic increase in diseases such as obesity and diabetes, which have long been linked to misregulation of what is known as the metabolic mTOR pathway. Currently, Tessa is looking at four diverse fruit fly species all with their own feeding patterns and preferences and the effect of different types of nutrition on their fecundity (number of offspring) and life expectancy.

When Tessa is not hard at work in Dr. Werner’s genetics lab, you can probably find her at Mont Ripley teaching local elementary school kids to ski, or in her dorm with a book or a knitting project and some tea. Tessa also enjoys playing tennis with the Michigan Tech Tennis Club and going on walks along the Portage.


Husky Innovate Speaker Series Begins March 1

The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship will be hosting the first of the Husky Innovate Speaker Series on Friday, March 1 at 12pm in the Pavlis Honors College Collaboration Space (M&M 722). Faculty, students, and staff are invited to join us for a talk given by Michigan Tech’s Andrew Barnard. Barnard is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and faculty advisor for SENSE Enterprise.

Barnard is using lean business model development and customer discovery to start his own business, NanoSound. NanoSound focuses on the elimination of noise from pipe and duct systems, like automotive exhausts and heating and ventilation pipes. Barnard will provide an example of an early business pitch and provide insights into the customer discovery process and business model development that has led to significant pivots in the start-up’s trajectory.

If you are an innovator or entrepreneur working on an idea with the goal of launching your own business, you are highly encouraged to attend. Registration is required, and attendance will be capped at 30. Lunch will be provided to the first 30 people to register. Please register no later than Monday, February 26. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Casper (lcasper@mtu.edu).

The Husky Innovate Speaker Series is hosted by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship which is a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College and the School of Business and Economics.


Meet Christine Wood…

By Amy Karagiannakis

Christine Wood

Christine Wood has always felt passionate about the environment and public well-being. Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech is allowing her to turn that passion into a career. Improving the relationship between humans and the environment has become Christine’s primary goal. Christine grew up in East Lansing, MI and began her college experience at Olivet College located in south central Michigan. As part of the transfer program, she transferred to Michigan Tech in the fall of 2016 to major in Environmental Engineering. Christine became involved in the Society of Women’s Engineers and the Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP). YWLP is unique to Tech and facilitated through the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. A mentoring program, YWLP pairs Michigan Tech female undergraduate volunteers with local middle school girls. Through YWLP, Christine continues to empower young girls to set goals, build positive self-esteem, and develop valuable communication and leadership skills.

Christine with her "little" from YWLP
Christine with her “little” from YWLP

After spending a semester at Tech, Christine joined the Pavlis Honors College as part of the Custom Pathway. She quickly started taking on more leadership roles within the Pavlis community as a peer mentor and joined the Honors Ambassadors group in the spring of 2017. This past academic year Christine has led the bi-weekly Ambassador meetings and helped develop and implement several College events. Christine leads through example and consistently goes above and beyond to engage with students on a meaningful level. Her commitment to Pavlis and the campus community is why Christine was awarded the annual Pavlis Honors College Dean’s Scholarship this month. This prestigious scholarship is awarded to one Honors student annually in the amount of $1,000 to recognize their outstanding commitment to Pavlis programs and pathways. Pavlis students are nominated from within the department by faculty and staff, but ultimately selected by the dean. “Christine commits herself deeply to everything she does. As a peer mentor in our first semester course, she worked diligently to create a truly welcoming and, yet, challenging environment for our students—really pushing them to learn and grow.” shared Lorelle Meadows, Pavlis Honors College dean.

Christine presenting at World Water Day
Christine presenting at World Water Day

Christine is expected to graduate with her BS in Environmental Engineering in the fall of 2018, but plans to stay in Houghton to complete her MS in Environmental Engineering through Tech’s accelerated master’s degree program. Her ultimate goal is to work in wastewater consulting within the state of Michigan. Christine interned with the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Charlotte, MI and the Wastewater Department for Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber in Lansing, MI which both helped her realize her desire to focus on water and wastewater processing. Christine is currently involved in a research study which will serve as her honors project component entitled Reduction of Stream Erosion through Air Injection. Now president of the Chi Epsilon Civil and Environmental Engineering Honors Society, Christine had to initially obtain signatures from professors within her department for induction. This is how she became involved with Dr. Brian Barkdoll and his research regarding the prevention of erosion around bridges. While this research may deviate slightly from Christine’s wastewater focus, she has found the experience very rewarding. Applying knowledge and general understanding of how the natural environment functions to real-world problems is valuable to any student considering a career in consulting.

Christine enjoys being active with softball, volleyball, running, and ultimate frisbee. She also enjoys attending and watching sporting events, especially MTU Hockey. Christine is an avid reader and will often spend her free time researching interesting facts about wastewater. Other things you can find Christine doing is socializing with animals, playing games and other activities with her friends.


University of Minnesota Duluth is seeking submissions for Aisthesis

duluth-shore-fall

Are you looking for an opportunity to get your academic or creative work published? The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Honors Program is currently accepting submissions for the 2018 issue of Aisthesis, a student-run annual honors journal. As an interdisciplinary publication, the journal welcomes academic work, including honors capstone projects, literature reviews, and articles from all fields of research. Creative writing, multimedia, as well as visual art submissions are also encouraged. The submission deadline is March 15, 2018.

To submit, please visit https://pubs.lib.umn.edu/index.php/aisthesis/index. The 2018 call for submissions can be found on here.

If you have any questions, please email honorsaisthesis@d.umn.edu.


Laura Kasson Fiss and Andrew Fiss Interviewed on The Anthill

logo-7eb5f99842eee4b04f0d879253705740The Anthill, a podcast of news outlet The Conversation (UK), ran an interview with Laura Kasson Fiss (Pavlis Honors College) and Andrew Fiss (HU), as well as recordings of songs they performed as part of their presentation at the British Science Festival. Their research considers songs as science communication, in this case nineteenth-century women using parody to defend their right to study traditionally male subjects such as mathematics. Check out this link to hear more about their presentation and the British Science Festival.


Meet Adam Augustyniak…

By Amy Karagiannakis

Adam(3)

Every summer, approximately 100 undergraduate and graduate students from top universities across the country become interns at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. MIT’s summer research program offers their interns the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a cutting-edge research environment. The application and selection process is extremely competitive. Participants contribute to projects in fields such as mechanical engineering, aeronautics, molecular biology, and many more. PHC student, Adam Augustyniak, was recently notified of his acceptance into MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory for this summer’s research internship program as part of the Mechanical Engineering Group. Adam will be working as an intern this summer at the lab in Lexington, MA. Just 14 miles from Boston and a short trek from New England’s beautiful seashore, mountains and Cape Cod, Adam will be able to spend some of his free time this summer enjoying the outdoors. As a paid student intern at Lincoln Laboratory, Adam will have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment to solve real-world technical problems. At the conclusion of the internship, students present the results of their research to national experts in the field.

AdamCleanRoom

Adam believes that it his curiosity and interest in learning that drove him to become an engineer. He is in his third year at Michigan Tech and is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Adam is very involved in Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise. Michigan Tech Enterprises are student-driven, multidisciplinary teams that work like companies on real-world client projects. Adam currently serves as the Structures Systems Engineer for the Aerospace Enterprise. Current projects include the Stratus CubeSat, funded by NASA, and the Auris Microsatellite, funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory. In his student position, he is responsible for a team of 12 student structural engineers that design and test the structures of the satellites. Before acting as lead engineer for these two projects, Adam worked on the Oculus-ASR Microsatellite mission. This nanosatellite was designed and built by Aerospace Enterprise students for space situational awareness research. Oculus-ASR is due to launch sometime in the next couple months aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Following graduation in 2018, he plans to attend graduate school to further his knowledge in Aerospace Engineering.

AdamSnow

Adam is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and currently sits on the Pavlis Honors College Undergraduate Student Advisory Board. The USAB facilitates the engagement of undergraduate students in the improvement of their living and learning environments by working closely with the College administration, with student organizations and groups and with University and College offices to identify and implement solutions to critical problems. The PHC Board is a self-directed, collaborative body designed for discussion and raising awareness of key issues. In addition to Adam’s involvement on campus, he has also held internship positions with BACA Systems and Fiat Chrysler while working over the summer in 2015 and 2016. As the supervisor to the base tradesmen at the Fiat Chrysler Warren Truck Assembly Plant, Adam was pushed out of his comfort zone to lead people twice his age. This experience helped him grow as a leader and as an engineer.

What motivates Adam, is the desire to become the best possible version of himself. If he is not constantly working to improve himself, he cannot be satisfied with where he is in life. “I must always strive for self-improvement when it comes to academics, physical activity, and any other aspects to life. The Pavlis Honors College nicely compliments my engineering education. Through reflection, I have been able to determine what I want and do not want to do with my career,” Adam shared. Similar to most students at Michigan Tech, Adam enjoys spending his free time outdoors. He spent some time backpacking and hiking the trails of Isle Royale National Park.

Adam(2)


Meet Karin Wolken…

By Amy Karagiannakis

Karin3

Karin Wolken believes that research is vitally important to understanding the altering circumstances Earth continues to undergo. She is honing her data analysis skills as she works on a project concerning the fate of carbon in forest residues, a study that could have implications for carbon cycling and climate change. Karin began working as a research assistant in the Forest Biometrics Lab shortly after beginning her education at Tech in 2014. A Forestry major, on par to graduate in just three years, her current project work involves assessing the fate of carbon present in logging residues. During the summer between her first and second year Karin worked as a crew leader in the field collecting samples from red pine and aspen all over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Since Fall 2015, Karin has been diligently working through processing the collected samples and analyzing and managing the data. Potentially, logging residues could be used as a source of biofuel, a prospect that would have significant impact on the energy industry. Karin presented her team’s findings at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Madison, WI last fall. The time and commitment Karin has put into this research project has strengthened her ability to lead a team, as well as improved her communication skills, prowess that she will certainly use in future work.

Karin4

Karin lived in Seattle her entire life and came to Michigan Tech to experience something completely different from the urban Northwestern bubble she grew up in. The rugged, unlandscaped Upper Peninsula of Michigan seemed like a drastic but welcome change from the temperate rainforests of Northwestern Washington. Karin’s love of the outdoors and the hope that one day her research may contribute to reversing the effects of climate change is what drew her to Forestry.

“I want to be part of something that can help draw the line between coexisting and overusing the world around us. I want to explore what we don’t understand and help get the necessary information to not only survive in our changing world, but thrive.”

Shifting from recreationally enjoying the large trees of the Pacific Northwest to studying the fate of logging residues in the stands of UP forests seemed like a natural transition for Karin. Outside of what she does academically, Karin enjoys knitting, cooking and visiting the Copper Country Humane Society. Karin is currently playing flute in the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and tries to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors as she can.

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Being involved with the Pavlis Honors College has given Karin the opportunity to meet and work with people across departments and disciplines. Her focus is in forestry research, but the Honors College has allowed her to branch out and collaborate with similarly driven people of various majors and interests.

Karin’s Honors project is to improve the Forestry Learning Center (FLC) at Michigan Tech by shifting to a more peer-focused learning platform. The center, in comparison with other learning centers on campus, has lacked the proper attention, funding and support. Karin believes that peer tutoring is extremely effective to learning and understanding. An acting tutor herself, Karin coordinates the current tutoring system at the FLC and focuses on one-on-one and group sessions. Her goal is to identify ways for the center to become more effective in helping SFRES students and implement these practices for future undergraduate classes.