Month: June 2008

Michigan Tech Tapped for State’s First Center of Energy Excellence

By Jennifer Donovan

Michigan Technological University has been selected to partner with Michigan State University and the Mascoma Corporation in Michigan’s first Center of Energy Excellence, Governor Jennifer Granholm announced at a press conference in Lansing this morning. The Center will be eligible for a $15 million grant from Michigan’s 21st Century Jobs Fund.

Michigan Tech, Michigan State and Mascoma will work with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and J.M. Longyear—a Marquette-based company that owns more than 65,000 acres of forest land in the Upper Peninsula—to develop the state’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant. The plant will be located in Chippewa County, south of Sault Ste. Marie.

Cellulosic ethanol offers a clean-burning and economical alternative to petroleum-based fuel and ethanol made from corn.

“We are honored that the State of Michigan recognizes the value of our expertise in biofuels,” said David D. Reed, vice president for research at Michigan Tech. “We have been exploring the frontiers of this field for some time through our Wood to Wheels research, and we look forward to working with Michigan State to support the development of Michigan’s biofuels industry.”

Michigan Tech will contribute its knowledge of sustainable forestry management practices and accessto its automotive engineering labs for analysis of the biofuels produced. Michigan State will provide expertise in pretreatment technology for cellulosic ethanol production and assistance with renewable energy crops that can be used by the biorefinery.

The universities will each receive an estimated $1 million to analyze issues related to the availability and cost of supplying the wood fiber and other plant materials to produce cellulosic ethanol.

Michigan is in a race with a firm in Georgia to open the first commercial-scale plant for producing cellulosic ethanol. The Massachusetts-based Mascoma Corporation announced its decision to locate in Michigan last July.

Mascoma chose Michigan because of its vast, sustainable forests and other non-food agricultural materials, as well as the research expertise available at Michigan Tech and Michigan State.

For more information on Michigan Tech’s Wood to Wheels research and collaborative biofuels initiatives with Michigan State and Mascoma, see:

Michigan Technological University is a leading public research university, conducting research, developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, forestry and environmental sciences, computing, technology, business and economics, natural and physical sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences.

Michigan Tech Research Institute Scientists Honored

Robert Shuchman, co-director of the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) in Ann Arbor, and co-authors won the Chandler-Misener Award at the International Association for Great Lakes Research annual research conference in Peterborough, Ontario, in May. The Chandler-Misener Award is presented annually to the author(s) of the peer-reviewed paper in the current volume of the Journal of Great Lakes Research judged to be “most notable.” Papers are evaluated on the basis of originality, contribution and presentation.

Shuchman and co-authors including Charles Hatt, a research engineer at MTRI, won the award for a paper titled “Verification and Application of a Bio-optical Algorithm for Lake Michigan Using SeaWiFS: A Seven-year Inter-annual Analysis.”

Michigan Tech Selected for Federal Demonstration Partnership to Streamline Grants Administration

by Jennifer Donovan, public relations director

Federal research grants are the lifeline of university research. But their lengthy, complicated application and administration requirements can drain the life out of the researchers.

Michigan Tech has been accepted as a member of a select group of research institutions and federal agencies in Phase 5 of the Federal Demonstration Partnership. The partnership’s primary goal is to increase the time available for those performing research to perform the research and decrease the administrative burden while still maintaining effective stewardship of federal funds.

“What this means for Michigan Tech is that we can help streamline the process of managing federal research grants,” said Anita Quinn, director of research and sponsored programs.

For Quinn, who says she has spent her entire career at Michigan Tech trying to streamline grants administration processes, this is an important step. “We actually can have an impact and help make changes and improvements in the way the federal government operates with recipients of federal funds,” she said.

The Federal Demonstration Partnership began in 1986 as an experiment between five federal agencies and the Florida State University System. In 1988 it expanded to a national project.

Phases 1, 2, 3 and 4 implemented a number of improvements, including streamlining the terms and conditions for research grants, increasing budget flexibility, providing for pre-award costs and electronic research administration, simplifying cost sharing and sub-awards, and increasing participation of minority-serving and emerging research institutions.

Phase 5, which will start this fall and continue through 2014, focuses on two themes:

  • maximize the time available for principal investigators and scientific staff to focus on research while reducing any unnecessary administrative burden
  • increase the efficiency of administrative and compliance practices while reducing inefficient or redundant agency and institutional procedures and practices

“We want researchers doing science, not administration,” the FDP Strategic Planning Committee noted in its strategic plan for Phase 5.

Michigan Tech will appoint administrative, faculty and technical representatives to work with the partnership, whose members include nine federal agencies and more than 100 research institutions across the country.