Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows Study Amtrak

Three Humanities undergraduates have been awarded Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) for 2022. All three will be carrying out their research in conjunction with the study-away program, “Amtrak Tourism: Trains, Cities, & Sustainability” led by Mark Rhodes, Assistant Professor of Geography in Michigan Tech’s Social Sciences department. Students in the Amtrak Tourism program travel on Amtrak for a three week tour of the western United States and study topics related to human geography, sustainability, and the urban environment along the way.

Lena Lukowski’s project, “Locating Tourism Rhetoric: A Comparative Study” pays attention to the connection between location and tourism rhetoric in different cities across the United States. She is interested in seeing how the way in which tourism is discussed changes with the landscape and location. Lukowski is pursuing a double degree in Mechanical Engineering and Scientific and Technical Communication.

Riley Powers’s project, “Public Tourism Infrastructure and Accessibility: Comparison of Metropolitan, Micropolitan, and Rural Structures” will focus on public tourism infrastructure accessibility design, with a particular focus on the infrastructure encountered by students participating in the Amtrak Tourism study-away program. Powers’ work includes consulting with those who plan and design infrastructure as well as those who are impacted by disparities in accessibility. Results of the study will be shared with stakeholders locally in the Houghton/Keweenaw area, with the aim of highlighting ways to improve accessibility for public tourism in our own community. Powers is a Scientific and Technical Communication major.

Davi Sprague’s project, “Understanding the Relationship Between Rail Communities and Rail Infrastructure” seeks to answer the question, how did rail and train stations influence the urbanization, industrialization, and deindustrialization of rail communities and how are these communities planning for the future? Sprague, a Scientific and Technical Communication major, will combine archival research with filmmaking to produce a short video documentary that features historical and contemporary sources as well as highlights from the study-away program itself.

The SURF fellowship program is administered by Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Honors College. Fellowship recipients conduct a research project under the guidance of a Michigan Tech faculty mentor during the summer semester and, at the conclusion of their work, present their research at the Michigan Tech Undergraduate Research Symposium, or at a professional conference in their field. 

Christian Johnson (English) named 2022 Humanities Departmental Scholar

Christian Johnson

The Humanities department is pleased to announce that Christian Johnson (Biology/English) has been selected as our 2022 Humanities Departmental Scholar. Christian is pursuing a double degree in English and Biology with a pre-health professions minor. 

Christian’s work in creative writing courses has drawn the attention of Humanities faculty, notably Stephanie Carpenter, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. She describes Christian as “an inventive, dynamic writer and an engaged, generous participant in discussions of published and student works.” One of Christian’s personal narratives, “Je t’aime,” has been accepted for publication by Free Spirit publishers in their book, Love Stories (forthcoming).

While pursuing a demanding pre-med curriculum, Christian has also embraced a rigorous program of coursework in English. He is currently enrolled in a graduate-level course in Cultural Theory, and has distinguished himself, in the words of Ron Strickland, Professor of Literature, as “the kind of well-rounded student whom I, as a Humanities professor at Michigan Tech, take a special joy in teaching; a STEM-focused student with a passion and a talent for literature!”

Christian plans to attend medical school and sees his English major as a way to develop the empathy he will need both as a physician and a writer.

Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo Receives 2022 CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication

PHOTO BY: BRADLEY PEARCE/UNCW

Dr. Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo (RTC ’21) has received the 2022 CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication for “Spatial Technologies, (Geo)Epistemology, & the Global South: Addressing the Discursive Materiality of GhanaPostGPS through Technical Communication.” The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) is a constituent organization within the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Dissertations for this award are evaluated according to five criteria: originality of research, contribution the research makes to the field, methodological soundness of the approach used, awareness of the existing research in the area studied, and overall quality of the writing.

The selection committee noted: Dr. Agbozo’s dissertation is a rich study of the GhanaPost Global Position System. Agbozo makes a compelling case for how the field thus far has had a limited perspective on “technology take-up within a globalizing context,” and how, historically, researchers have engaged with global spaces in problematic ways. The committee was especially impressed with the originality of Agbozo’s research and its contributions to broadening the field’s borders and working towards developing, as Agbozo argues, a “global perspective.” Drawing from a mix of surveys, interviews, and observations, and employing decolonial and multimodal lenses of critique, Agbozo’s dissertation is methodologically rigorous, with a robust analysis that works to build new theory and innovative pedagogical practice in technical communication. The committee also appreciated the ways Agbozo’s research amplifies marginalized voices, communities, and scholarship.

Agbozo will be announced as the recipient of the CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication during the CCCC Awards Presentation on Friday, March 11, during the 2022 CCCC Annual Convention.

Dr. Agzobo is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at UNC–Wilmington.

Modern Languages Film Series begins Thursday, 1/27

The 2022 Modern Languages Film Series kicks off Thursday, January 27th, with the German film, I’m Your Man (Ich Bin Dein Mensch, Shrader, 2021). Scientist Alma (Maren Eggert) has reluctantly agreed to live for three weeks with humanoid robot Tom (Dan Stevens), who has been created solely to make her happy. This contemplative comedy about love, longing, and what makes us human will screen at 7:00 PM in Fisher 135.

Other films presented in the series include Unbalanced (Desequilibrados, Balanda, 2021), screening February 24th, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de le Jeune Fille en Feu, Sciamma, 2019), screening March 24th. All films in the series will screen in Fisher 135 and are free and open to the public.

This film series is sponsored by the Modern Languages program in the Department of Humanities.

Social Media Intern, Department of Humanities

Tucker in archives with Hugh

I served as a Social Media Intern in charge of the Instagram/Facebook accounts and creating a
department Discord Server for the Department of Humanities. My internship allowed me to work within the department to reach out to the community, current students, and prospective students. This semester, I worked on professional, casual communication across digital platforms. Using the Discord server I helped set up, I’ve networked with students in my department I hadn’t met yet. The COVID pandemic stressed the importance of these digital spaces. It also allows me to reach out to prospective students within an environment familiar to them.

Creating the Humanities Instagram/Facebook posts involved the new mascot HUgh Manatee,
who promoted humanities-related, on-campus resources. Since I started creating content, I’ve
seen 72 accounts follow the Humanities Instagram account. I also interacted with users on the
social media accounts, from sharing stories from the Graduate Student Government, to
answering questions posed in the comment sections.

Part of my internship included graphic design for content creation. Some design elements are intuitive, while others are ones I learned through experience. For example, I learned how using
as few fonts as possible helps viewers concentrate on information better. Additionally, layout can make a difference as to what information people pick up. Hearing about ideal placing, colors,  formatting, etc. from my mentor and seeing the results helped me understand how each element connects to convey a message.

— Tucker Nielsen, English

Technical Writing Intern, Center for Technology and Training

Computer screens with text documents open

What does a typical day look like for an intern writer in the Center for Technology & Training (CTT)? If this is something you wonder about at all, you are in luck because I can tell you all about it. On any given day you will most likely be writing or editing an article project, probably not a huge surprise. Where it starts to get more interesting is when I can organize interviews with professionals relevant to the field I am writing about. I get to ask them questions for my article, and additionally, I consult with subject matter experts (SME) to help fix any issues or inconsistencies with the technical content in my article. Throughout the course of this semester, I have had the opportunity to conduct extensive research on my article topic which is about HFST which stands for high friction surface treatment. This is a technology used for increasing the safety of a road by making it much harder for a vehicle to slip off the road, and most of the time this happens it would be around a sharp turn or because of wet weather conditions. This is just one topic of something an intern writer here in the CTT can expect to work on, and there are many more articles always being written. If you are someone who likes to write as well as talk with experts and learn from them, then working with the CTT is something fit for you.

— Troy Zehnder, STC

Social Media Intern, Health and Well-being

Emily Bishop and two friends

During my first year at Michigan Tech, I felt out of touch with the community due to the pandemic and online classes. I had a discussion with my advisor about future possibilities to engage with students as campus opened back up, and she suggested an internship at the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being. Working as an intern for the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-Being has not only helped me connect with the student body, it also gave me the opportunity to make new friends while making a positive impact on campus. 

The undergraduate team at the center is split up into specific task groups based on people’s individual interests; mine dealt mostly with social media. During my time I have helped create and spread information on our social media pages including study tips, mental scheduling, safety tips, and many more topics. One post I made was for Halloween safety tips, which gained a lot of traction on our platform. The post was even shared by the Keweenaw Peninsula official instagram which reached their thousands of followers! I also wanted to help make sure our team worked well together by hosting a staff-bonding event where we decorated cookies to practice our own well-being. 

A bit outside of the realm of mental health, we were able to volunteer during homecoming week with the cardboard boat races. Hannah, Cat, and I each timed one of the lanes of boats; and since this was my first cardboard boat race, it made the experience super cool since we were right in the middle of the action.

— Emily Bishop, CCM

Humans of Michigan Tech: Tucker Nielsen

Tucker Nielsen posing in front of Legos

I’m an AFOL, part of the growing community of adult fans of LEGO®. I bought my first, a Star Wars set, when I was 6. I enjoyed how each brick clicked together and changed depending on how it was placed. One minute, a slope brick was a roof shingle. The next, it was the top of a space reptile.

The infinite capabilities for rebuilding and the universal appeal still draw me. As someone on the autistic spectrum, my interests change frequently, from space and castles to Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. But LEGO products cater to each of my changing interests and encourage me to build beyond the instructions. It’s a toy I’ve never grown out of because it grows with me.

My university experience has also been one that explores all the possibilities, and I’ve learned to hold on to my values and make time for hobbies and causes that matter to me. Initially drawn to Michigan Tech as a computer engineering major through my mechatronics courses at the Kent Career Technical Center in high school, I began realizing what my true interests were through editing and nature writing courses. I fully transitioned to an English major in summer 2020, with minors in writing, computer science and German. Since I faced the truth that I didn’t want to code for a living, I’ve found much more pleasure in schoolwork, connected more fully with my professors and peers, and become more active in my department. I work in the Michigan Tech Writing Center. In Room 107 of Walker Arts and Humanities, you’ll find our team of coaches helping clients with any kind of writing they bring — everything from resumes to cover letters. We even had a student bring in a Tinder bio (unfortunately, I wasn’t the coach who helped them!). Our goal is to help all students improve their writing as a communicative tool. For me, it’s great practice teaching what I enjoy. 

I was a Michigan Tech Orientation team leader in summer 2021 and am currently an ExSEL (Excelling the Student Experience of Learning) peer mentor. In both jobs, I work with incoming students to help them transition to college life. I use these opportunities to pass on lessons I’ve learned, such as utilizing a planner/calendar for all schoolwork, prioritizing your self-care needs and knowing when to ask for help. It’s also a chance to learn about new identities and cultures from the diverse body of students.

The organizations I’m involved in also allow me to work with people of different backgrounds across campus. I serve as vice president of Women’s Leadership Council, participating in  encouraging equality for everyone, especially for women and nonbinary individuals. I write and edit for our student newspaper, The Lode. And I serve as secretary of the Creative Writing Club, a group that encourages all writers to explore and develop their skills.  

I plan to work locally in content creation, including public relations and social media. I have my sights set on Michigan Tech, but I’m open to working for other companies in the area. I want to use social media to build up relationships, so businesses aren’t just selling products to customers. Many Keweenaw businesses are or should be incorporating community events, histories and culture into their brands. It goes beyond simply selling bikes, photos or food. In this field, I can see my creative potential fully realized.

If Michigan Tech has taught me anything about myself, it’s about being true to my passions. It’s about figuring out if you can push through the menial tasks in your field, so you can enjoy the fun parts and the skills that call to your strengths. It’s about finding a profession that’s interesting and worth growing in. I recommend embracing your interests, as long as they aren’t harming yourself or others. Life should include individual exploration and growth. Why are there infinite choices if we’re destined for only one path? These questions helped me find where I can grow from. Perhaps they’ll help you, too. 

– Tucker Nielsen ’22

THE RESCUE Added to 41 North Film Festival

Newly added to the 41 North Film Festival is The Rescue — a film by Academy Award–winning filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Free Solo, Meru) that tells the story of the daring 2018 rescue of 12 boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.

“The Rescue” shines a light on the high-risk world of cave diving and the courage and compassion of the international rescue team that united to save the boys. The film will screen at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 7) in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

See the full lineup of films and events at 41northfilmfest.org. The festival is free and open to the public. Students will need to bring their HuskyCard. Tickets for everyone else can be reserved at tickets.mtu.edu or by calling 906-487-2073, and will also be available in the Rozsa lobby prior to each film.

Major sponsorship for the festival is provided by the Department of Humanities, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, the College of Sciences and Arts, and the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Heather Loughman

Heather Loughman, BA, STC ’09 and MS, RTC ’11 has been selected as the new CEO of Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties. Loughman previously served as Director of Communications and Development for the non-profit agency focused on helping families and individuals living in poverty reach economic stability. Key program areas include early childhood education, homelessness prevention, financial and family well-being, and hunger relief and healthy food access.

“Community Action is an organization very dear to me, where I have had tremendous opportunity to learn and grow both personally and professionally,” said Loughman. “Learning and growth will be at the forefront of Community Action’s continued efforts to create opportunities for individuals to achieve economic stability, and to address both poverty’s conditions and causes.”