Category Archives: College of Sciences and Arts

Mayra Morgan ‘19 PhD Social Sciences—Environmental and Energy Policy

One day I stopped at a grocery store in Merida, Mexico, and met a man who I would later find out was Dr. Richard Donovan of Michigan Technological University’s Sustainable Futures Institute. He was lost and needed directions. I took him where he needed to go. He asked me about my background and I told him I was completing my master’s in social anthropology while working for an NGO and teaching in a college. I told him I wanted to do my PhD in the environment and human rights someday and he said, “We should talk.” But, he was a stranger! I was just trying to help someone; it’s something I like to do—if a person or an animal needs help and I can do it, I do it.

Two or three days later I got an email from the man introducing himself. His email said, “I’m very impressed with your background. You said you wanted to do a PhD and Michigan Tech just opened this new program called environmental policy, so I would like to talk to you more about it.” I was shocked! We had a first interview and I remember he told me about a project he was working on and asked me what I thought about it. I was very honest because it was something I cared about. He said, “I’ll give you a recommendation letter.” That’s how I heard about Michigan Tech and I started my adventure here. Continue reading


Gabriela Shirkey ’13 (BS Scientific and Technical Communication) | 2019 NSF Graduate Fellowship Recipient

Gabriela Shirkey

I‘m really excited [about the National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowship]. The key to NSF applications is stressing how your pursuit of science and contribution to the scientific community is going to have a broader impact, particularly those not involved in your immediate research. You write a personal statement on how you build community and demonstrate leadership, as well as a research proposal, three letters of recommendation, and your transcripts. Thanks to Tech, I had STEM outreach examples from the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers’ Noche de Ciencias and prior research experience as an undergraduate in the social sciences department. With the NSF fellowship, I get three years of full funding and opportunities to have internships, so I am thinking of connecting with the Department of Energy or Argonne National Laboratories to work on biofuel research. Continue reading



Jarett McClanahan

There are going to be times where you are going to need to try to figure out how to make ends meet financially, or figure out how you are going to save time to do homework, or just take care of your own mental health and well-being. One of those things you always have to put on the back burner and it can get really exhausting. But if you remember it’s only a couple of years, it can be hard in the moment, but as long as you work through it, it will be okay. I work as a student custodian in the ME-EM. I really like my job. I work 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. I don’t have to clean bathrooms. I just go around and vacuum rooms, wipe whiteboards off, and other stuff. Other than that, I TA a few classes and I’m the vice president of the Society of Medical Laboratory Scientists club. So when I get home, I make food, shower, go to sleep, wake up, and start it all again. I have to wake up super early, but I have weekends and nights off. And I get to listen to music and podcasts while I’m working. I also do work study for the biology department, so I work on average about 30 hours a week.

My degree has a required fifth-year practicum, if you want to take the board exam to be certified to work in a hospital. I’ll be doing my practicum in July at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in my hometown of Iron Mountain, Michigan. Then I can sit for my boards and go on to work in a hospital. For our senior capstone, we meet twice a week to prepare to take an old version of the board as the final exam. Jobs for my major after graduation typically entail working in a hospital lab, doing research, or working for a corporation in the private sector; but it’s mostly doing patient sample testing to diagnose diseases. A lot of microscopes and machines.

I remember my senior year of high school, I was looking around at different schools and there was nothing super specific about Tech that drew me in, but I liked the location (two hours from home), and I had heard that it was a really good school. A lot of my friends told me it was too expensive and too hard, which made me want to go here even more.


Tanna Windham and the Women’s Rugby Club at Michigan Tech

Five women in rugby shirts pose for a group photo.

I’m president of the Michigan Tech Women’s Rugby Club and I’m a third-year exercise science major minoring in psychology. Before I came to Michigan Tech, I participated in cross country and track, both for about seven or eight years. But at Tech, I wanted to expand my viewpoint on different sports and join a club team. I first heard about the rugby club through the Orientation Week packet given to incoming students. The team was putting on their annual cookout. Once I was able to meet the team, I instantly fell in love with the people on the team and how welcoming they were. I have officially been on the team for two years and have loved every minute of it.

Our team began in 2012 with only a small handful of girls. We would play games with Northern Michigan University’s women’s team. Once the club grew, we became part of the Great Waters Women’s Rugby Conference in 2016. We vary to having between 12 to 20 girls on our team and are always looking for more. Last year we had about 18 girls when we went down to NashBash, a rugby tournament in Nashville, bringing rugby teams from around the country.

Our biggest season is in the fall, which is when we compete against teams in our conference—Northern, and University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, LaCross, Platteville, and Stout. During both our fall and spring seasons, we practice two times a week for a total of about four hours each week. Outside of practices, our team continues to keep the family atmosphere by having team dinners before games and hanging out with each other as much as we can.

If I hadn’t joined the rugby team here at Tech, I don’t know where I would be, and I know many of the other girls would say the same thing. We all would be lost without this wonderful sport. 

Follow the Michigan Tech Women’s Rugby Club on Instagram.

#rugby #mtuwomensrugby #mturugby#ladyruggers #mtuwc2019 #mtuwc#michigantech #rugger #rugby🏉


Adam Loman

A young man in a Captain America shirt stands in a fitness center.

I chose Michigan Tech because it is close to home—I’m from Ishpeming—and the Air Force ROTC program offered something other schools didn’t. I like being close to my mom and five sisters. I came in knowing I wanted to do Air Force ROTC because I have a lot of service members in my family and I want to do something I care about. Right now I’m kind of in the dark about where I’ll go after I graduate and commission into the Air Force. It’s exciting I guess. It’s hard to say if I’ll be career (military); career is typically 20 (years), but I’m 22, so I can’t really fathom that right now. I have a four-year commitment and I’ll see what happens after that.

I run a Physical Training (PT) program five days a week to prep other cadets for Phase I and Phase II exercises (Air Force programs). Exercises, like a Phase I, prepare airmen for battlefield positions. It takes a much more capable individual to be qualified for those positions. I like training people. I like pushing people and helping them become the best versions of themselves; a lot of times, people won’t push themselves until they get a little exposure to training at that level and then they’ll just fall in love with it. Most people don’t enjoy being at that level of discomfort but some do. I like getting people to that point, and you know once they hit that point because I don’t have to check in with them and make sure they’re coming to PT in the morning because they’ll be there five minutes early; that’s my favorite thing to see—somebody that’s killing it all the way. I picked exercise science (as my major) because I was an athlete in high school and I always enjoyed physical fitness. Exercise science is really useful. I’m able to help out a ton of my friends, the cadets come to me for health programming, and I’ve made a bunch of programs for them to help them prep for different PT tests and that sort of thing.

#afrotc #mtuhumans #exercisescience #tenacity


Adewale Adesanya

A man sits behind a drum kit.I like making an impact. I got my BS in industrial and production engineering; as an engineer, I always wanted to do something new, something innovative. And as the fourth of six children, I looked to what my older siblings were doing to make sure what challenged them, didn’t challenge me.
After graduating, I worked in oil and gas, which is serious business in Nigeria. But I started having different feelings about environmental pollution, the global temperature increasing, the vulnerability of some highlands, and the damage being caused by conventional energy, so I felt I couldn’t continue to be a part of that anymore—I don’t want to be part of the problem in energy, I want to go to green energy—so I started reading about that and doing some certificate courses online.

My interest in renewable energy is how I hope to make an impact. I know my strengths and boundaries, and things that really concern me I try to go for. So I think that’s why I care so much about energy policy and sustainability. Perhaps another factor is my religious background. I’m a Christian and am motivated by my faith.

I came to Michigan Tech from Germany where I did my master’s in energy and environmental management; I was involved in several renewable energy projects in Scotland, Germany, Kenya, Ghana, and Uganda. I saw that Michigan Tech faculty were interested in a broader view of environmental policy and so am I.

My family and I moved to Houghton in the summer of 2018. My kids like playing in the snow and eating snow. I’m passionately into music: I play the drums (drum set and local drums), bass guitar, and I sing, too. I play in bands, with locals, and I played at Africa Night. I also attend salsa dancing class where I network with other MTU students and faculty.

Adewale is an environmental and energy policy PhD student.


Jake Lucchini

Jake Lucchini stands on the ice in hockey gear

To be nominated for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award is a huge honor. I saw teammates go through it; it was very cool to see them up there. But being in that category is something I never thought would happen for me. I don’t think too much into it, but it is crazy to see the support of the University, and it is such an amazing feeling.

Being on the hockey team, we are given a lot of resources to help us juggle hockey and school. Whenever we need a tutor or help with anything it is always there for us. Coming into college at 20 years old was very different because I wasn’t in school for three years. I had three tutors during my first semester to make sure I was succeeding in my classes. After my first semester, it got a lot easier for me because I was able to juggle school and hockey. During my first semester at Michigan Tech, I was undecided [on a major]. I talked with a lot of people and decided the best major for me would be sports and fitness management. I have zero regrets. I love my major; studying something that interests me makes school so much more enjoyable. I want to play hockey as long as I can after I graduate. If that does not work out, I plan to become a hockey coach. I am getting a minor in coaching.

There isn’t anything to dislike about Michigan Tech. The entire experience has been unbelievable. In my opinion, we have the best fans in the country. The John MacInnes Student Ice Arena is honestly the best experience in all of college hockey. The one class that really took me by surprise was Exercise Assessment. I talked with people who took the class before and they mentioned how it was one of the harder classes in this major. My GPA is right above a 3.0, so my mindset going into the class was to work as hard as I could and hopefully get a B. I ended up getting an A and didn’t get below a 92 percent on any of the exams. The class was so interesting and I think I got an A because I enjoyed it so much.

#mtuhumans #crazysmart #FollowTheHuskies


Brook Greening

Brook Greening, a college student, works at a computer

Michigan Tech has given me so many opportunities. I realized who I wanted to be because I got involved with organizations like Delta Phi Epsilon (DPE), which helped me realize I need to step outside of my box; I needed to break my own barriers to become my own person.

I’m studying computer science, graduating in May, and I already have a job at Target in Minneapolis as a software engineer.

I’m originally from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, so Minneapolis will be a huge change. My parents have always said, “Your education is super important,” and I liked school too, so… My senior year of high school there was a job in IT available. I started working with computers, building them and troubleshooting for teachers, and then I heard about Michigan Tech because I was in First Robotics. [I got into First Robotics because] I was really into math and my math teacher started a team, so I was in the very first group of kids to do it [at my high school]. I thought, “This will be fun. I enjoy math, let’s see where it takes me.” I was a programmer on that team and I got really into it, and just being around all the computers at work and in my free time, I realized Michigan Tech would be a great place for computer engineering. I got up here, took a circuits class, and well… the programming class was everything I wanted it to be!

My first year at Tech, I went on the Silicon Valley trip. I also got involved in Copper Country Coders—they teach middle through high school students how to code. It’s a great organization and the professors that are running it are really cool, too. I really like to be super involved in things. I realized that after my second year at Tech; I just kept getting involved in things.

People don’t give computer science majors a chance because they already have the stereotype in their head. But we just have different interests. The class Science, Technology, and Society made me think about how technology influences society so much. I researched Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how bias in those programs—the programer bias—can affect a lot of people, so I think it would be really cool to help develop some type of program to show people they have inherent biases. I want to be in industry for a little bit and then I’d like to get my master’s in AI or human-computer interaction. In my free time, I really like to read books, science fiction and stuff like that.

#mtuhumans #crazysmart #mymichigantech


Jennifer Rachels

I’m a second-semester PhD student in the Department of Social Sciences. I’m also a teaching assistant, but I’m doing more than that—spending a lot of time with students. It’s just the nature of the job experience I’ve had thus far that makes it easy for me. I really enjoy it.

I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but I moved here from Honolulu, where I lived for eight years because of the Army. They sent me there and then I refused to leave. I was a 12N [an enlisted heavy equipment operator]—which in these wars means drive ‘til you hit something—and a chaplain’s assistant. I deployed to Afghanistan and spent a little bit of time in Kuwait as well.

After being in Hawai’i eight years, I was ready to continue graduate school, but they didn’t have the programs I needed. So that’s how I got here. And then here I am. Literally, here I am. Like it sort of happened that way. I applied to a few other programs before knowing about Michigan Tech. I needed a GRE score. I took the GRE and at the end they ask you, “Click the box if you want to hear from other schools.” So I heard from Michigan Tech. And I looked at it and was like, ”Why didn’t this come up in my exhaustive searches for programs? Cuz it hadn’t.” And then it went from being, ”Oh, I’ll apply here, too,” to my top choice in three weeks. And it moved fast, too. With other places I applied, there was this long process, and I had to be approved to even apply. With Tech, I applied and then I knew something about six weeks later. Like, in December I applied, May I got out of the Army, and June I moved here.

I love living here. Love it. I grew up in a combination of Atlanta and the wilderness of Georgia. And then ya know, I was in the Peace Corps as well, and then lived in Honolulu, so I’m like used to being outside doing different, interesting things. I’ve never been in a place like this. It’s not just snowy like it has snowed; no, like it snows every day. And people get outside in it [the snow]. The weather is not your enemy; it’s a huge adventure to me.

I live a blessed life. It is amazing. My grandpa couldn’t read. I’m first generation college student. It’s mind-blowing. I think most of my family has no concept of what I’m doing. “Is she lazy? We don’t know.”

#mymichigantech #mtuhumans #SoldierScholar #studentveteran #GIBIll #womenveteran