Category Archives: Academic

Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research

2018-19 Songer Award Recipients. Pictured Left to Right: Abby Sutherland, Billiane Kenyon, Jeremy Bigalke, Rupsa Basu, Matthew Songer, and Laura Songer.

Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) have generously donated funds to the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) to support a research project competition for undergraduate and graduate students. Remembering their own eagerness to engage in research during their undergraduate years, the Songers established these awards to stimulate and encourage opportunities for original research by current Michigan Tech students. The College is extremely grateful for the Songers’ continuing interest in, and support of, Michigan Tech’s programs in human health and medicine. This is the second year of the competition.

Students may propose an innovative medically-oriented research project in any area of human health. The best projects will demonstrate the potential to have broad impact on improving human life. This research will be pursued in consultation with faculty members within the College of Sciences and Arts. In the Spring of 2019, the Songer’s gift will support one award for undergraduate research ($4,000) and a second award for graduate research ($6,000). Matching funds from the College may allow two additional awards.

Any Michigan Tech student interested in exploring a medically related question under the guidance of faculty in the College of Sciences and Arts may apply. Students majoring in any degree program in the college, including both traditional (i.e., biological sciences, kinesiology, chemistry) and nontraditional (i.e., physics, psychology, social science, bioethics, computer science, mathematics) programs related to human health may propose research projects connected to human health. Students are encouraged to propose original, stand-alone projects with expected durations of 6 – 12 months. The committee also encourages applications from CSA students who seek to continue research projects initiated through other campus mechanisms, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, Pavlis Honors College activities or the Graduate Research Forum (GRF).

Funds from a Songer Award may be used to purchase or acquire research materials and equipment needed to perform the proposed research project. Access to and research time utilizing University core research facilities, including computing, may be supported. Requests to acquire a personal computer will be scrutinized and must be fully justified. Page charges for publications also may be covered with award funds, as will travel to appropriate academic meetings. This award may not be used for salary or compensation for the student or consulting faculty.

To apply:

  • Students should prepare a research project statement (up to five pages in length) that describes the background, methods to be used, and research objectives. The statement also should provide a detailed description of the experiments planned and expected outcomes. Students must indicate where they will carry out their project and attach a separate list of references/citations to relevant scientific literature.
  • The application package also should provide a concise title and brief summary (1 page) written for lay audiences.
  • A separate budget page should indicate how funds will be used.
  • A short letter from a consulting faculty member must verify that the student defined an original project and was the primary author of the proposal. The faculty member should also confirm her/his willingness to oversee the project. This faculty letter is not intended to serve as a recommendation on behalf of the student’s project.

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 22. Applications may be emailed to

The selection committee will consist of Matthew Songer, Laura Songer, Shekhar Joshi (BioSci) and Megan Frost (KIP). The committee will review undergraduate and graduate proposals separately and will seek additional comments about the proposed research on an ad-hoc basis from reviewers familiar with the topic of the research proposal. Primary review criteria will be the originality and potential impact of the proposed study, as well as its feasibility and appropriateness for Michigan Tech’s facilities.

The committee expects to announce the recipients by early May of 2019. This one-time research award will be administered by the faculty advisor of the successful student investigator. Students will be expected to secure any necessary IRB approval before funds will be released. Funds must be expended by the end of spring semester 2020; extensions will not be granted. Recipients must submit a detailed report to the selection committee, including a description of results and an accounting of finds utilized, no later than June 30, 2020.

Any questions may be directed to Megan Frost (, David Hemmer ( or Shekhar Joshi (

New funding announcement

Ravi Pandey
Ravi Pandey

Greg Odegard (MEEM) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $1,000,000 research and development grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Ravi Pandey (Physics), Julia King (MEEM) and Trisha Sain (MEEM) are Co-Pis on the project titled “Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP).”

This is the first year of a five-year project potential totaling $14,999,995.

Bo Zhang and Co-Authors Publish Paper on Long-Range Transport of Trace Gases

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 8.10.50 AMBo Zhang (2015), currently a research scientist at the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, VA, and co-authors published a paper, “Ten-year chemical signatures associated with long-range transport observed in the free tropophere over the central North Atlantic” in Elementa Science of the Anthropocene Journal.

Ten years of observations of trace gases at Pico Mountain Observatory (PMO), a free troposphere site in the central North Atlantic, were classified by transport pattern using the Lagrangian particle dispersion model FLEXPART.

The classification enabled identification of trace gas mixing ratios associated with background air and long-range transport of continental emissions, which were defined as chemical signatures. Comparison between the chemical signatures revealed the impacts of natural and anthropogenic sources, as well as chemical and physical processes during long transport, on air composition in the remote North Atlantic.

Kostinski – In the News

Sun glints off atmospheric ice crystals (circled in red) in this view captured by NASA's EPIC instrument on NOAA's DISCOVR satellite.
Sun glints off atmospheric ice crystals (circled in red) in this view captured by NASA’s EPIC instrument on NOAA’s DISCOVR satellite.

One million miles from Earth, a NASA camera is capturing unexpected flashes of light reflecting off our planet, and Alex Kostinski has helped identify them as ice particles high in the atmosphere. NASA, Health Medicine Net and Astrobiology Web have published news stories about the phenomena and the research.

Visit here, here and here.

Scientific American and Nature magazine reported on Kostinski’s  research that helped NASA solve the mystery of flashes of light appearing over land, which turned out to be ice crystals high in the atmosphere. See the full story here.

Physics Student Kelci Mohrman Receives Honorable Mention

GRFP_logoKelci Mohrman received honorable mention from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP), one of the oldest and most competitive programs in the nation.

Pushpalatha Murthy, dean of Michigan Tech’s Graduate School says, “Being a recipient of the Graduate Research Fellowship or Honorable Mention status in this very prestigious competition speaks to the high caliber of our students and the dedication they have for both intellectual pursuits and serving society. The NSF-GRFP is unique in that it emphasizes commitment to both intellectual inquiry and service to society and are looking to support individuals who have the potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers as well as have a broader impact on society. These awards are a well-deserved recognition of the superior accomplishments of our students and the quality and dedication of Michigan Tech faculty, staff and programs. Crafting a winning proposal is a lot of effort and I want to congratulate the students for their accomplishments and thank the dedication and passion of the faculty and staff who helped them. I look forward to great contributions for our students.”

THE NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.

Mohrman recently participated in the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Applied Physics student Kaelan Anderson in Undergrad Research Symposium

KaelanAKaelan Anderson’s research, Studying the Properties of Free Tropospheric Aerosols in the Mid Atlantic, was presented at Michigan Tech’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium this past week. With the assistance of Claudio Mazzoleni, Anderson looked at if the long term research of atmospheric aerosols is necessary to accurately understand and predict a variety of atmospheric phenomena. A relevant example is black carbon, and its forcing effects on the climate.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students.

The students showcasing their work today have spent a significant portion of the past year working alongside Michigan Tech faculty and graduate students to explore, discover and create new knowledge. They’ve spent long hours in the lab or out in the field designing experiments, gathering data, creating new models and testing hypotheses. They’ve applied their classroom knowledge in new and sometimes unexpected ways, and developed new skills that will propel them forward in their careers.