Archives—March 2019

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 djhemmer@mtu.edu.

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 (mcfrost@mtu.edu), David Hemmer (djhemmer@mtu.edu) or Shekhar Joshi (cpjoshi@mtu.edu).


Dean’s Showcase

Paul CharlesworthCollege of Sciences and Arts Dean David Hemmer has tapped Paul Charlesworth, Associate Professor of Chemistry, as this week’s showcase member.

Chemistry Interim Chair John Jaszczak, says Charlesworth “has been teaching and innovating in CH 1150 (University Chemistry I) so long that he is likely to be the “Doc Berry” to scores of Michigan Tech alumni when they think back to their days in chemistry as undergraduates.”
Charlesworth often teaches “U-chem 1”, which includes some of the very largest sections on campus with fall enrollments of more than 700 students. The large scale, however, doesn’t keep him from trying new ways to meet the instructional challenges of engaging, challenging, and assisting students in learning chemistry. Charlesworth’s lectures have multiple components that help keep the students engaged and actively learning by interspersing lectures with opportunities to work out short problems, collaborate with neighbors, respond with iClickers and contextualize concepts with live demonstrations.
After visiting one of Charlesworth’s classes for peer evaluation last fall, a fellow faculty member found himself inspired by what he saw, writing: “I found Dr. Charlesworth’s teaching method simple, gimmick-free, effective and easy to follow. The level of classroom engagement was evident from the high number of students answering his [iClicker] questions…..After visiting Dr. Charlesworth’s class I now believe that dissemination of knowledge is possible is an extra‐large classroom.”
Since CH1150 students are usually first‐semester, first‐year students, it’s important to Charlesworth to help students develop broader academic skills for their subsequent academic experiences at Michigan Tech. According to Jaszcak, Charlesworth  provides “a very clearly structured curriculum and a wide variety of different opportunities for engagement in learning, including making them easily available on Canvas.”
In fact, Charlesworth was an early adopter and champion of Learning Management Systems like WebCT and Canvas and has been known to experiment with a wide variety of technologies and collaborate with others to organize and ensure diverse learning opportunities are available to students.
But innovation for its own sake is not Charlesworth’s goal. He works toward improved student learning in chemistry. Thus, he routinely assesses student learning through a variety of means, including participating with the University’s outcome assessment for his students in regard to Undergraduate Student Learning Goal 2: Knowledge of the Physical and Natural World.
He also realizes that not all course innovations work out as he might have hoped. Many students, for example, are able to score well on iClicker questions and online homework, and yet score poorly on exams. Humbly. Charlesworth continues to make changes, saying  “It looks like there is still plenty of work to be done.”
But it’s clear that this constant examination is paying off. Hemmer summarizes Charlesworth’s contribution when he says
Placing outstanding instructors in introductory science classes is critical for Tech’s effort to improve student retention. Paul’s dedication and engagement in the classroom is reflected in the impressive outcomes for his students over many years. He is an incredible asset to Michigan Tech.
Charlesworth will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with the other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom  teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.