Category Archives: News

Deans’ Teaching Showcase

Lisa GordilloFor the Deans’ Teaching Showcase, Dean David Hemmer has selected Lisa Gordillo, assistant professor in Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).

Gordillo was nominated by VPA Chair Jared Anderson, who applauded the many interdisciplinary collaborations she has initiated to publicly exhibit student art, especially around campus.

Anderson highlighted a wide variety of projects,” ranging from artistic design for windows that would reduce bird-window collisions to carving and casting sculptures based on traditional models in partnership with the Materials Science and Engineering Department.”

Gordillo teaches a wide variety of courses including traditional sculpture, contemporary sculpture, art + design, scenic art and illustration, and advanced sculpture. All of these make important contributions to the general education program, the visual art minor and the major in theater and entertainment technology.

Lisa leads a very collaborative environment where students are encouraged to explore creative solutions to problems while creating beautiful art. Her curriculum uses gallery b in the Rozsa galleries as an interactive classroom space where students create art right where it will be installed for public exhibition.—Jared Anderson

In addition, barriletes (patterned after traditional Guatemalan barriletes) made by students in the Traditional Sculpture course are currently displayed in the Rozsa Center lobby.

Gordillo’s highly hands-on approach with a focus on exhibition is very popular with students as she was named a finalist for the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award, her third time as a finalist in the last four years.

Gordillo also connects her teaching with a much broader artistic context in her role as director of the Rozsa Art Galleries.  Recently, the exhibition, Salon!, opened in Gallery A in the Rozsa Center. This show brought together work from more than 30 artists and writers from around the world. Gordillo worked with student painters to transform the gallery into a space that was inspired by the salons of the late 19th century.

Dean Hemmer summarizes Gordillo’s impact by saying,  “I am grateful to have colleagues like Lisa. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting two magnificent shows that she curated in the Rosza Art Gallery. For the many students involved in putting these together, learning extends far beyond the classroom. Faculty like Lisa enliven Tech every day.”

Gordillo will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 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.


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.

Deans’ Teaching Showcase

John JaszczakDavid Hemmer, dean of the College of Sciences and Arts has selected John Jaszczak, professor of physics and interim department chair of Chemistry as our third spring showcase member.

Jaszczak’s contributions touch large-class teaching, curriculum development and assessment, three key areas the showcase tries to recognize. He has been a key contributor to the assessment process not only within his department, but also at the college and university level.

In the Department of physics, Jaszczak has led the effort in coordinating and communicating assessment data for PH 2100- University Physics I, with the goal of trying to identify and then assist students at risk of underperforming and getting off track on their degree schedule.

This effort has led to a campus-wide consensus on the proactive development of a new physics course, PH 2110 University Physics 1 Workshop. This workshop was developed by Senior Lecturer Katrina Black and piloted for the first time in fall 2018 by Physics Instructor Amanda Shaw.

As a new dean I have been blessed to have a colleague like John Jaszczak. He cares deeply about student learning. As associate dean, he spearheaded efforts to improve teaching and assessment in the College. More recently he has done a marvelous job leading the Chemistry Department during a transitional year while we search for a new chair. Even while leading chemistry, he is working tirelessly on efforts to improve outcomes in Physics 2100.—David Hemmer

On a broader scale, Jaszczak has been chair of the University’s Goal 2 committee since its inception in fall 2014. In this role, he has led efforts to help faculty think about and assess student learning in courses on the General Education Mathematics and Science Course Lists. Jaszczak has been instrumental in helping instructors pilot several different assessment methods, including a methodology to efficiently utilize electronically graded exams for students in large-enrollment classes. The method allows assessment without sampling, potentially providing statistically significant data that can be insightful for instructor-initiated action.

At a University level, Jaszczak has met frequently with faculty across many departments, led  well-attended Coffee Chats, and compiled, discussed and reported on assessment results. Hemmer  concludes, “It’s clear to me that Jaszczak has been and continues to be one of the key people at Michigan Tech helping to advance student learning in STEM.”

Jaszczak will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 12 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.





CSA Researchers Participate in first TechTalks

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 11.55.24 AMOn Thursday, November 10, 2016, several researchers gave two minute presentations for the inaugural TechTalks session of the Michigan Tech Research Forum. Seven of the 13 researchers presented work from CSA disciplines, including the Distinguished Lecture:

  • Steven Elmer– Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, Exercise As a Form of Medicine
  • Yang Yang – Department of Mathematical Sciences, Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations
  • Selin Philip – Department of Coginitive and Learning Sciences, Creating a Culture of Better Mental/Behavioral Health among the American Indians in the Keweenaw
  • Loredana Valenzano– Department of Chemistry, Molecules, Surfaces, Crystals: A Quantum Chemical Quest from Fundamentals to Applications.
  • Nabanita Saikia – Department of Physics, Emergent Frontiers in 2D Nanomaterials for Biomolecular Recongition and Self-Assembly.
  • Lynn Mazzoleni– Department of Chemistry, Introducing the New 2D-Liquid Chromatograph and High-Resolution Mass Spectrometer in the Chemical Advanced Resoulation Methods (ChARM) Core Facility at Michigan Tech.
  • Tarum Dam – Department of Chemistry, Enriching Health-Related Research Through Glycobiological Approaches.

Michigan Tech Research Forum events are presented by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in coordination with the Office of the Vice President of Research. Additional TechTalks sessions are coming up in Spring 2017. Interested in nominating yourself or others? Use this online form.

Browse the Twitter conversations in “TechTalks 2016: Take One,” by Allison Mills.


Distinguished Lecture –image151928-pers

Richelle Winkler gave the inaugural Michigan Tech Research Forum Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, October 13 at 4:00 p.m. in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge. She discussed Making Research Matter: Democratizing Science and Other Lofty Goals.

Professor Hugh Gorman nominated Winkler, an associate professor of sociology and demography, for “community engaged scholarship” that extends across the Michigan Tech campus. Examples of Winkler’s projects include examining the feasibility—social and technical—of using mine water for geothermal heating systems in Calumet and examining the social, economic, and technical aspects of improving recycling in Houghton County. Both projects involve students and community members, and both have real impact in the communities. Winkler also conducts research on the changing demographics of anglers and hunters—and the implications for policy. She presented on this subject at the Department of Biological Sciences last spring.


Linda Ott blogs on STEM

linda-garden-small

Linda Ott, Professor of Computer Science and Associate Dean for Special Initiatives in the College of Sciences and Arts, was welcomed as a guest blogger on STEMconnector.org.

STEMconnector.org seeks to bring science, technology, engineering, and math educators a way to connect their ideas to improve STEM education. In The Thrill of Computer Science For All, Ott details her excitement around President Obama’s initiative to expand K-12 computer science education funding.

“We can make a difference more quickly through a concerted effort to attract more students today.  Here are some of the things we are doing at Michigan Tech.  Perhaps others will find inspiration here for immediate action:

If all of us involved in computing do something—help advise a local FIRST Robotics team, teach a Saturday class on programming at a local library, talk to a local Girl Scout troop, invite area students and parents to see how you actually use programming—there will be an immediate impact.”


Steve Short: Impact of Exercise Science

Former Michigan Tech varsity football quarterback Steve Short is making an impact with the Denver Nuggets and the NBA. Steve is a physical therapist helping athlete Wilson Chandler throughout his recovery. According to Chandler, Steve has been there “every step of the way.”

Steve’s road to the Denver Nuggets began with a dual major in biological sciences and exercise science at Michigan Tech (2010), continuing with more education in the field of physical therapy.

Watch the interview with Steve Short, Wilson Chandler, and Denver Nuggets head strength and conditioning coach, Steve Hess.

Steve Short, Wilson Chandler, Steve Hess
Steve Short, Wilson Chandler, Steve Hess
Wilson Chandler and Steve Short
Wilson Chandler and Steve Short