Category: Biological Sciences

Happy New Year, 2023!

Happy New Year from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

Campus Abuzz With Activity

large snow sculpture of building
Phi Kappa Tau’s winning sculpture from Winter Carnival 2022
Broomball player in the snow
Broomball under the lights

Despite the short, cold days, campus is buzzing with activity, both inside and out! Outside my office window, the broomball season just kicked off after a brief postponement due to some unfortunate rain that also wreaked temporary havoc on the ski hill. Scaffolding and plywood have invaded campus as the month-long snow sculpture competition is underway in advance of Winter Carnival 2023 February 9-11. This year’s theme is “Tasty foods for wintry moods”.

Our incredible Rosza Center for the Performing Arts had its first sold out show since before the pandemic. We were fortunate to welcome the national touring Broadway show Hairspray. We rely on donor and foundation support to help bring these national shows to the UP and keep ticket prices affordable.

Xiaoqing Tang
Associate Professor Xiaoqing Tang
Paul Goetch
Assistant Professor
Paul Goetsch
Stephen Techtmann
Associate Professor Stephen Techtmann

Biological Science Excellence

I want to highlight this month the amazing performance of our Biological Sciences department both in the classroom and in the laboratory. Last semester 70 instructors from across the university were recognized for having teaching evaluations in the top 10% of comparable sized classes. Out of these 70 spread across 25 departments, a whopping 12 came from Biological Sciences (better than 1-in-3!). Department-wide the average score was 4.47/5.

Meanwhile in the laboratory, three faculty scored big grants this month. Steve Techtmann received another $2 million from DARPA, bringing his total funding on the project to $6.6 million. Steve is an environmental microbiologist who is studying ways to use microbes to help turn plastic waste into edible proteins. Paul Goetsch received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. This approximately $1 million grant is the most prestigious award the NSF has for pre-tenure faculty. Paul is an expert in molecular genetics and biochemistry, including the use of the famous CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tool. And finally, Xiaoqing Tang received her third large grant from the National Institutes of Health. Xiaoqing studies the role of MicroRNA with applications to diabetes research. We pride ourselves in CSA on excellence in both research and teaching, and biological sciences exemplifies that!

Alumni and Donors Key To Success

Critical to everything we do are our alumni and friend donors. All your donations to our departments, scholarships, and the general fund are vitally important to our success. Thank you so much for supporting Michigan Tech! For CSA giving opportunities please visit:

If you are ever back in town I hope you will stop by, say hello, and share with me your MTU story. Please do not hesitate to email me any time at to share your MTU experience or offer suggestions.

Best wishes,
David Hemmer
Dean- College of Sciences and Arts

PS: You can always follow us on social media.




Greetings and Happy Veteran’s Day from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

SSgt Shaniqua S. McKnight, Dean Hemmer, and Lt. Col. Joseph C. Pulliam ready to take flight

November 11, 2021

One of the interesting parts of my job is that the College of Sciences and Arts includes our departments of Military Science and Aerospace Studies, i.e. our Army and Air Force ROTC programs. While our cadets hail from majors across the university, for academic purposes the programs are housed in CSA and the commanders, Major Gwosch from Army and LTC Pulliam from Air Force, bring a unique perspective to our College Council.

A flight out with Air Force and Army ROTC

On October 28 they invited me to join a large group of Air Force cadets and cadre, and a smaller group of Army cadets, on an “incentive flight” that rewards them for their performance. The Michigan Air National Guard flew in two KC-135 Stratotankers to Marquette. We had planned to refuel F16s and an A-10 that would take off from Wisconsin but, to my surprise, they were unable to take off due to icing conditions! (“The F16s are great in the desert,” quipped LTC Pulliam) Undaunted, we had a wonderful flight, circling Mackinac Island at low altitude, flying all the way back to campus, and then back to Marquette. Our plane hit a flock of birds just before we landed, sending the other plane screaming back up in the air to circle around and leaving the crew stranded in Marquette for the night until the engines could be inspected. The co-pilot was a great Tech alum who currently flies for Delta airlines.

The wonderful support we give to our military was one of the things that drew me to Michigan Tech, and our cadets continue to make us proud. Most recently business student Caleb Brulke was named the number one Army cadet in the nation! Read more here:

Dr. Datta receives major grant to research toxin reduction

With everyone back on campus, I have resumed my efforts to hear about each of our faculty member’s research. I recently visited the lab of Biology Professor Rupali Datta. Dr. Datta is one of the stars of our department, an expert in plant biochemistry and molecular biology. She recently received a $700,000+ grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue her incredible research on using various plants to absorb toxic metals like lead and arsenic in the soil. Her work has been applied in settings ranging from backyards in New Jersey to former mine sites in the Southwest and, closer to home, to the land where the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community grows wild rice.

Dr. Datta recently received a large grant from HUD

Thank You for your support

Critical to everything we do, including the success of our ROTC programs, are our alumni and friend donors. All your donations to our departments, scholarships, and the general fund are vitally important to our success. Thank you so much for supporting Michigan Tech! For CSA giving opportunities please visit: