Category: Notes from the Dean

Fall Semester 2023 Heats Up in October

Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

Michigan Tech trees with yellow foliage
October and fall foliage arrive

As I write today the temperatures are soaring into the upper 80s with humidity that would make any orchid happy. Unprecedented! The colorful foliage is making its ascent up the vibrancy charts. And those are not the only things that have been elevated around the Tech campus. 

Large Class Enrolls for Fall Semester 2023

The College of Sciences and Arts welcomed its largest incoming class in years, 255 undergraduates, up 27% from the prior year, building on many years of undergraduate growth. Total College enrollment stands at 1,147, a 3.2% increase, and our first-time transfer increase is 48%, mostly thanks to the nursing program. This is in line with the university welcoming the largest class of new first-year students since 1983.

More Accolades for Michigan Tech

On top of these numbers, The Wall Street Journal named Michigan Tech the nation’s second most influential public university for salary impact — how much a college boosts salaries earned by students after graduation. Tech also made the Journal’s list of Best U.S. Colleges in 2024, ranking 16th overall among U.S. public universities.

We pride ourselves in CSA on our outstanding classroom instruction and on our world-class research and creative activities. CSA faculty brought in $8.7 million in new external research awards last year, up 17% over the previous year! We do have 2 faculty members in a million-dollar club in external research spending, Raymond Shaw who makes his own clouds in a cloud chamber, and Stephen Techtmann who converts plastics to food via microbes. 

Ravindra Pandey and Neetu Goel
Dean Pandey and Neetu Goel

Research Highlights for Fall Semester 2023

And there are new developments in the College when it comes to research, too.

  • Professor Neetu Goel is a Fulbright senior scholar from Panjab University, India visiting my physics research group to investigate the interaction of biomolecules with quantum materials.
  • Yan Zhang (Biological Sciences and Health Research Institute) received a $469,500 R&D grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to study the impacts of high levels of urinary phosphate in polycystic kidney disease.
  • Tatyana Karabencheva-Christova (Chemistry) received a $427,001 R&D grant from NIH looking into structure-function relationships of matrix metalloproteinase-1 from computational and experimental studies.

Other Items of Note For Fall Semester 2023

Jared Anderson and his faculty in Visual and Performing Arts continue to create a vibrant lineup of art shows, performances, and technical theatre, with students at the forefront as performers, designers, creators, audio producers, etc. This week it is New Music in the Mine.  Next week the opera The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage debuts in the McArdle Theatre and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra plays in the Rosza Center. And at the end of the month, you can elevate your fright at The Haunted Smelter. There’s always something to do with the arts.

We welcomed three new inductees into our College of Sciences and Arts Academy. Emily Prehoda, Linda Kennedy, and Upendra Puntambekar. They have become successful leaders and practitioners in their chosen fields and have excelled in leadership roles. Their achievements and skillsets: Linda’s legal acumen, Emily’s energy policy and sustainability expertise, and Upendra’s technology and market leadership span across a number of diverse subjects. A diversity reflective of the variety of subjects housed within the College of Sciences and Arts here at Michigan Tech. They join the ranks of 65 distinguished members who have made a difference for their communities—professional, academic, or geographic, or sometimes all 3. 

Thanks for reading! I am sure the first snowfall is just around the corner. Ah, the snowfall total for the winter! Another thing many of us look forward to seeing grow on the Tech campus over the course of this academic year.

Best wishes.

Ravi Pandey

Dean – College of Sciences and Arts

Sciences and Arts Starts Fall Semester 2023

Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

Students walking and talking
Freshman fill up Walker Lawn outside the College of Sciences and Arts

The campus is vibrant, warm, sunny, and abuzz with activity! The walkways are filled with students ten minutes before the start of the hour as they hurry to class. Students converge on the Walker Lawn to eat their lunch, open a book, slackline (walk along a tight line secured between trees), and even engage in a water balloon fight (big activity last night)!

Four students gathered around a giant i-pad like table showing the respiratory system
Human anatomy students completing an assignment at the Anatomage Table

For me, the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech is busy fulfilling its mission to deliver comprehensive education, research, and innovation in various scientific, humanities, and technical arts disciplines focusing on achieving academic excellence, advancing research and scholarship, and promoting interdisciplinary collaboration. We seek to cultivate critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills among students, preparing them for what tomorrow needs.

The College also plays a critical role in the education of every Michigan Tech student through the wide array of courses we offer as part of general education. Our arts, humanities, and sciences programs reflect our place in a technological university. From sound design and audio technology to actuarial science, human factors, applied physics, biology, chemistry, and business analytics to pre-professional health programs, technical communication, medical laboratory science, and exercise science, the College offers many distinctive degree programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees. And we are in the final stages of bringing nursing over from the recently closed Finlandia University. We are just awaiting approval from The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), hopefully sometime in October, in order to begin offering that degree. 

Stephen Techtmann and student observe a test tube containing liquid
Dr. Stephen Techtmann works with a student turning plastic into protein

The College promotes and supports cutting-edge research and scholarly activities in the sciences, humanities, and arts. It encourages faculty and students to engage in research projects, contribute to knowledge and innovation, and disseminate their findings. The research projects include turning plastics into protein for use as an emergency food source; making clouds to study the physics of the earth’s atmosphere; understanding the impacts of multitasking on cognitive performance; using hydropower to store energy in old hard-metal mines; understanding how new media technologies can facilitate the spread of misinformation; and uncovering how the central nervous system regulates the cardiovascular function and body fluid and sodium homeostasis, and their impacts on diseases like congestive heart failure and hypertension. And I am only scratching the surface!

Ashutosh Tiwari
Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari

To support our increased emphasis on research, I appointed a new Associate Dean for Graduate Research and Education, Ashutosh Tiwari. Dr. Tiwari is a broadly trained protein chemist and cell biologist, as well as a professor of chemistry at Tech. His research is in the area of protein aggregation diseases. He has received numerous grants as PI or as Co-PI  from the National Institutes of Health, the ALS Therapy Alliance, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA), and the MTU Research Excellence Fund. He is the perfect person to lead our efforts in growing graduate research and education efforts for the College.

So much activity is underway here at Tech. I am looking forward to this academic year. I hope you are too.

Best wishes.

Ravi Pandey

Dean, College of Sciences and Arts

Springtime Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

The calendar shows May, but schools are closed today as a late-season snowstorm hits the Upper Peninsula. Fortunately, it held off long enough to not affect travel for our graduates and their families this past weekend. Our growing enrollment meant that, for the first time ever, we held a separate commencement ceremony for our graduate students on Friday afternoon, followed by an undergraduate ceremony Saturday morning. More than 170 College of Sciences and Arts students walked across the stage, earning bachelors, masters, and PhD degrees from our more than three dozen degree programs. It was a truly joyous occasion and, with the hockey arena packed, I expect we will continue with the separate undergraduate ceremony each spring going forward.

Michigan Tech graduate shakes Rick Koubek's hand during springtime commencement 2023
One of the 170 Science and Arts grads receiving a degree

Friday evening was the emotional commissioning ceremony for our Army and Air Force ROTC program, where we celebrated our nation’s newest second lieutenants. Celebrating our students’ accomplishments is one of my favorite jobs as dean.

Graduation also means the final Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting of the year. While we are all saddened by the recent closure of Finlandia University, we are excited that we have managed to, on very short notice, essentially move their nursing program into our Department of Biological Sciences. With the BOT approving this last week, we look forward to welcoming students in the Fall. Also at the BOT meeting, ten CSA faculty received final approval for granting of tenure or promotion to full professor!

Medical Lab Science graduates at Spring Commencement

Of course, summer means travel, and faculty in CSA are the campus leaders in leading students on study abroad and study away experiences. Three of our Visual and Performing Arts faculty, Lisa Gordillo and Mary and Kent Cyr, are leading students to Vienna, Prague and Dresden, including an opportunity to attend the famous “Prague Quadrennial,” one of the largest international festivals of theatre, design, and architecture in the world. Other students will travel to Germany, including Dresden and Leipzig, under the direction of our Humanities Assistant Teaching Professor Stephanie Rowe.

Social Sciences faculty Kat Hannum and Mark Rhodes will lead students on a 20-day Amtrak adventure across the United States, studying sustainable tourism. Finally, Social Sciences faculty Dan Trepal will lead students to study history and archaeology in Cumbria in the United Kingdom.

ROTC graduate raises right hand to take the oath
A new second lieutenant takes the oath

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. In particular, support to defray the additional costs of studying abroad is much needed. 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

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.




Happy Holidays 2022!

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

Students studying in the library at Michigan Tech
Michigan Tech students prepare for exams in the Opie Library.

Today is the final day of classes for the semester, and study spaces around campus are packed with students diligently studying for finals. Our library director reports that visits are exceeding pre-covid records, including to the library’s very popular 24-hour study space.
Next week will be final exams, culminating with graduation on Saturday morning. More than 100 students from the College of Sciences and Arts will join their peers walking across the stage in the wood gym.

Army ROTC Wins MacArthur Award

The ROTC building
Home of the MacArthur Award-winning Michigan Tech Army ROTC

Early Saturday morning is the always inspiring commissioning ceremony for our Army and Air Force cadets. We were just informed that our Army ROTC program won the MacArthur Award for being the top program out of 42 universities in its brigade. They advance now to compete against seven other regional champions to be the best program in the nation. Congratulations to Major Daniel Gwosch, who will be taking a well-deserved retirement after leading our program to such heights!

Blizzard skiing off a ski jump
Blizzard catches some air up on Mont Ripley

Mont Ripley Opens

Across the canal, Mont Ripley is planning to open tomorrow, a week earlier than planned. This is a testament to their snow-making capabilities and the cold weather, as we have seen very little snow so far this season (where “very little” in the Copper Country means a couple of feet!).

Study Abroad/Away Expanding

Mountainside in Glacier National Park
Students look out at the mountains while hiking in Glacier National Park on the Amtrak Study Away Program

A recent focus for us in CSA is to encourage more of our students to join faculty-led study abroad and study away (i.e. domestic) programs. The additional costs are often an impediment to our students traveling. Our Social Sciences department has created a wonderful incentive, offering $2500 vouchers to their incoming majors for participating. They are funding this pilot with some departmental funds, but we could desperately use donations to support more students. Read about all the exciting options here. At some point in the future, we hope to offer faculty-led trips for our alumni, stay tuned!

Thank You, and Happy Holidays 2022!

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! Learn more about CSA giving opportunities and please give today.

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 and happy holidays as you close out 2022,

David Hemmer
Dean- College of Sciences and Arts

Thanksgiving Message

Quincy Mine with colorful fall foliage
Spectacular fall colors!

Hello Again from the Copper Country!

Its been an interesting fall in the Copper Country. November only added to it. Election Day. My birthday: my new age is the smallest number with 10 distinct divisors, which makes it what mathematicians (like myself) call a “highly composite number”! Blood moon and lunar eclipse (the last for a few years). The first prolonged snowfall (thankfully not as significant as Buffalo’s). And now the mass exodus as students, faculty, and staff leave campus to spend Thanksgiving Day with family and friends.

It has been a magnificent Fall season in Houghton, with an epic leaf-peeping season and beautiful weather, sunny and not too cold, and barely any snow to be seen up until last week. Nevertheless, the crews on the lawn outside my Walker office were busy setting up three broomball courts for the upcoming season! You can view them in real-time on one of our many webcams live streaming from campus, like this one from Walker. Drop me a note. I’d love to hear about your favorite broomball memory.

Our CSA students and faculty continue to excel in the classroom and beyond. Dr. Sarah Green, our chemistry department chair, led a dozen Huskies to the 2022 United Nations climate change summit. Held November 6-18, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, these Huskies joined more than 35,000 participants at the 27th Conference of the Parties United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 27). Based on their work in previous summits, they have secured badges granting them insider access to the “blue zone.” Our Visual and Performing Arts faculty are involved as well. Delegates in the VIP lounge listened to a piece, Melusina Calls to the Loon, written by our own composer and Teaching Professor Libby Meyer, with an additional soundscape from MTU Distinguished Professor Christopher Plummer! You can follow their adventures on the Huskies at the Climate Conference blog. We’ll be adding more stories in the coming weeks.

Kathy Huerta Sanchez stands in front of the COP27 sign in Sharm El-Sheik.
Environmental and Energy Policy graduate student Kathy Huerta Sanchez at the COP 27 UN climate conference.

Earlier my wife and I were honored to be formal “guests of the mess” at the Air Force ROTC Dining Out. The event gives the cadets an opportunity to experience a formal dinner but with a twist. The different groups of cadets combined to create a “grog” in a large punch bowl. Ingredients included spicy V8, pickle juice, sardine juice, crunchy peanut butter powder, etc… Throughout the night violations of the elaborate “rules of the mess” were punished by trips to drink from the grog. By the end of the evening, just about every cadet had imbibed at least once!

Dean Hemmer and Lieutenant Colonel  Zuniga stand at attention at Michigan Tech's Air Force ROTC Dining Out celebration.
Lt.Col. Benjamin Zuniga (left) hosts Dean Hemmer at Air Force ROTC’s Dining Out.

At this time of year, I am grateful for many things: family and friends; the hard work our faculty and staff put in throughout the year to educate our students and help them to create a future for themselves; the support from our alumni funding facilities, scholarships, fellowships, professorships, and more; the beauty of the Copper Country.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall 2022 Off to A Great Start

Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

Second Largest 1st Year Class Ever!

The fall semester is off to a wonderful start on our campus! The arrival of the second largest first-year class in 35 years (2nd only to last year!) left us scrambling to find housing for everyone. Our new international graduate student numbers have also returned to pre-pandemic normal. The weather has been mostly beautiful. Fall colors are starting to pop. And the main campus mall was lined each day with tents hosting employers eager to hire our students. Our first fully in-person career fair since before the pandemic followed, and a record 370+ employers recruited on campus.

Academy of Sciences and Arts Inducts Two New Members

Image of Michigan Tech alumnus and Academy of Sciences and Arts Inductee Sarah Carlson
2022 Academy of Sciences and Arts Inductee Dr. Sarah Carlson

Thursday, September 15th, was our annual induction ceremony for the Academy of Sciences and Arts. You may recall the Academy recognizes our most distinguished alumni. I was honored to induct two amazing Tech alums. The first, Dr. Sarah Carlson, is a 2003 graduate of our chemistry department. She is now a vascular surgeon and Associate Chief of Surgery for Operations at the VA Boston Medical Center. Dr. Carlson completed prestigious research and training appointments at both Harvard and Dartmouth earlier in her career.

The second, Steve Yang, is a 1991 graduate of Biological Sciences. He is now co-CEO of WuXi AppTec, a leading global pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and medical device R&D capability and technology open access platform company with operations in China, the US, and Europe. While Sarah is a native of the UP, this was Steve’s first visit back to campus since graduation. We were honored that Steve could make the stop in Houghton while traveling between Europe and Asia. Both gave gracious and inspiring remarks at the ceremony.

Image of Michigan Tech alumnus and Academy of Sciences and Arts Inductee Steve Yang
2022 Academy of Sciences and Arts Inductee Steve Yang

Undergraduates Continue to Amaze

There is no shortage of students here at Michigan Tech choosing to follow Sarah and Steve on the path to improving patient health outcomes. Two that come to mind are Jenna and Colleen. Jenna Disser ’22 completed her BS in Medical Lab Science and Minor in Pre-Health Professions in April. Her experience doing research at Tech as an undergraduate led her to pursue an MS in Biological Science, and continue her research. Hear her talk about her experiences in research, the community she found at Tech, and her love for the outdoors.

Colleen Toorongian ’20 graduated from Tech with a BS in Exercise Science. Colleen did research in the Clinical and Applied Human Physiology Lab, volunteered in hospice, worked as a Student Athletic Trainer, shadowed various healthcare providers, and assisted with outreach projects. She recently completed an MS at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), in the Biological Sciences department. Her next stop is New York to start the Cardiovascular Science and Perfusion Medicine program at Hofstra University. Read more about Colleen and her journey.

And our social sciences students worked over the summer engaged in fieldwork documenting everyday buildings and their cultural meanings for people in the Keweenaw—past, and present. Dr. Sarah Scarlett and her students are working on publishing a 2024 Vernacular Architecture Forum conference guidebook featuring local architecture and conference tour sites. Themes include exploring cultural identity, environmental change, industrial communities, and contemporary heritage practice. Read more about the fieldwork school on the Social Sciences blog.

External Research Funding Record and Academic Program Growth!

Finally, in late September we hosted our annual college-wide faculty and staff meeting and social. And we had much to celebrate. CSA faculty smashed the previous record, with $12 million in new external research funding in the past fiscal year! The physics department led the way with $5 million, much of it in support of our amazing cloud chamber on campus. The College launched several new degree programs too, including a BS degree in Policy and Community Development, an MS degree in Sustainable Communities, and a BS degree in Business Analytics, in partnership with the College of Business. And we now offer fifty different minors and eight certificates.

Come 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.

Summer Reflections

Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

Students immerse themselves in concepts like mechanics,
electric circuits, electromagnetics, and nuclear reactions in SYP’s Introduction to Computational Physics.

July 1 marked my four-year anniversary at Michigan Tech and with it the end of my first term as dean. I was pleased to accept President Koubek’s offer to continue in the position. I look forward to leading the College going forward. With President Koubek and three other new deans also starting the same day I did, the formation of a new College of Computing, and then a global pandemic, my first term was certainly “interesting”. A little more boring would not be unwelcome for the next few years!

Campus is fairly quiet now, although each week a new group of youngsters arrives for our amazing Summer Youth Programs (SYP) for grades 6-12. An enormous variety of offerings is available for both local commuting students and to students who stay in the Wadsworth dorm. My eighth-grade son stayed in the dorm and took “Stock Market with Blizzard: Turn $1000 into $1 Million,” offered by the College of Business. He had a wonderful time and is already talking about all the classes he wants to take at Tech. He also managed to lose $300,000 of play money on June 23, a day the Dow Jones was up 800 points! Something about leverage and using options to bet against the market?! I need to have a talk with COB Dean Johnson. I can’t recommend SYP enough for your kids or grandkids!

A student practices the art of creative writing in our great outdoor classroom in SYP’s Wild Writing, taught by Jennifer Nance.

A little further off campus… I wrote in the Spring about our amazing Study Away programs. Almost a dozen students recently finished their program in Costa Rica. They learned how Costa Rica has been creating a more sustainable society in terms of the environment, ecology, energy, water treatment, and more. They have been based at the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica for 6 weeks. You can follow their adventures on their blog. We cannot wait to welcome them back to campus in the fall.

I just returned from a two-week vacation to visit family in Central New York. I took along some “light reading”, a recent book by Social Sciences professor Sarah Fayen Scarlett titled “Company Suburbs- Architecture, Power, and the Transformation of Michigan’s Mining Frontier.” It is a fascinating tale of “company towns” and “elite suburbs” during the mining heyday from 1875-1920. It includes lots of fascinating tales (and photos!) of houses in East Houghton, East Hancock and Laurium, many of which are now Greek houses at Tech. Yes, what is now College Avenue and Agate Hill was a “suburb” of Houghton. Read the book to learn why! Dr. Scarlett is one of our many CSA faculty producing interesting scholarship, both in and out of the lab. Sarah and her colleagues have also been hard at work digitally mapping the history of the Keweenaw. They created the Keweenaw Time Traveler, an online interactive historical atlas that is changing how we learn about, share, and research the history and heritage of Michigan’s Copper Country. Check it out here!

See images of the past and maps galore at the Keweenaw Time Traveler.

Spring (Finally!) Arrives at Michigan Tech

Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

Spring arrived in the Copper Country with sunshine and 70+ degree temperatures last week melting away most of the remaining snow. Alas, Spring also brings construction season as the second half of the two-year project on route 41 through town is underway just west of campus, requiring southbound traffic to detour all the way up to Sharon Avenue and down Macinnes Drive.

Spring also brings exciting construction to campus! On April 29 we broke ground on our new $50+ million H-STEM building. This magnificent structure will lie just to the east of the ChemSci building and will host our departments of Biomedical Engineering and Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology as well as the offices of our Health Research Institute. Large numbers of CSA faculty do human health research, and we are all looking forward to the building opening in 2024. You can watch the construction on a live webcam here.

Image of Michigan Tech students sitting on an Amtrak train studying, working and chatting.
Michigan Tech students aboard the rolling Amtrak classroom heading into Glacier National Park.

CSA also leads the way on campus in providing summer study abroad and study away opportunities for our students. Social Sciences faculty member Dr. Mark Rhodes is leading a three-week Amtrak tour of the western U.S. titled “Amtrak Tourism: Trains, Cities, & Sustainability”. See our students experiencing this terrific learning opportunity. Another Social Sciences faculty member, Dr. Richelle Winkler, is taking students to Costa Rica to study global sustainability, Costa Rican culture, and the Spanish language.

Image of Joel Nieves, music director of the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra.
Joel Nieves Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra Music Director

The end of the semester brought our Spring Board of Trustees meeting and final approval for a dozen faculty promotions in CSA. This year’s batch of dossiers was particularly impressive; our faculty are exceptional in the classroom, in the laboratories, and in performance venues! Indeed, we have three new full professors in Visual and Performing Arts! One of them, Dr. Joel Neves, led the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra as it celebrated 50 years with a performance of Carmina Burana on April 23. Another, Dr. Jared Anderson, led our choirs during the same performance.

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! Learn more about CSA giving opportunities.

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.

Musings on the start of Spring Semester

Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

Spring semester started with a frigid blast of snow and ice that closed the K-12 schools for a couple days and unfortunately caused enormous headaches for students trying to get back into town, with multiple flight cancellations and closures of both Route 2 and 28 between here and the Mackinac Bridge. Undaunted, our PE skiing classes got underway as scheduled with below zero temperatures on Monday evening; Tech students are hardy!

In-Person Graduation Ends 2021

Picture of two graduates
Social Sciences MS graduates: Ryan Williams, (MS GIS) and Gary Spikberg (MS IHA)

Before the break we had an in-person graduation ceremony for the first time in two years! It was wonderful to don my regalia and congratulate the graduates walking across the stage in the Wood gym, including about 100 from our College. And, of course, the ceremony ended with a rousing performance from the Husky Pep Band! The graduation ended a successful semester of in-person instructions with only very limited disruptions from COVID. Fingers crossed we can repeat this success the semester without too many Omicron disruptions!

Applications to the College of Sciences and Arts continue to grow

Last Fall we welcomed our largest freshmen class since 1982, and our momentum is continuing with applications for Fall ’22 up 5.5% over last year’s already record-setting number. For the next five months our recruiters, faculty and students will focus relentlessly on convincing our incredible admits to join us in Houghton next Fall. Outreach includes personal notes to students, evening texting events, and some upcoming in-person events in Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis. If any of our alumni are interested in potentially helping, please let me know. 

New H-STEM building coming soon!

Later this semester we will break ground on our new “H-STEM” building, which will house the departments of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and Biomedical Engineering, and the Health Research Institute. Our faculty can’t wait to move into this beautiful space. Find out more here

Deedra Irwin ’15 to compete in the Olympics

Picture of Deedra Irwin competing in biathlon
2022 U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team member and MTU alum Deedra Irwin

We were excited to learn Deedra Irwin has been named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team. She was at Michigan Tech from 2010 to 2015 while earning her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with a Coaching minor. 

Congratulations to Deedra! We are all wishing her the best of luck when she competes for gold February 5-19 at the 2022 Beijing Olympics in the Zhangjiakou Zone!

A return to teaching

And finally, I am back in the classroom, teaching “Combinatorial Representation Theory” this semester. I’ve always thought it was useful for administrators to teach on occasion, and I’ve greatly enjoyed teaching our students, although I could do without the mask!

Thank you for your continued support

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.