All posts by hrpowers


Digital Tools to Rebuild History

Hands on keyboardAn architectural historian advocates for more building documentation following Notre Dame.

Following the fire in Paris, more attention is focusing on the new technologies that will help people rebuild damaged or lost buildings. Sarah Fayen Scarlett, assistant professor of history at Michigan Technological University, says that an uncommon loss like Notre Dame reflects a universal need for documenting historical buildings.

Read more the full story on Michigan Tech News


Torch Lake Public Action Council Hosts Statewide Meeting at Michigan Tech July 16 and 17

The Torch Lake Area of Concern Public Action Council (TLPAC) will host the Statewide Public Advisory Council (SPAC) meeting in Houghton, Michigan on July 16 and 17, 2019 at Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center in Room 202. Sessions are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. both days. In addition, there will be a tour of Torch Lake on July 16 after the end of the morning session. The Office of Great Lakes (OGL) staff who assist the SPAC will be in attendance to update the Council on Michigan and federal actions which affect the progress of cleanups in the Great Lakes.

Areas of Concern (AOCs) are highly polluted sites on bodies of water that pose a danger to their communities. There were originally fourteen AOCs in Michigan. The pollution problems of AOCs are specifically identified as Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) for each AOC. The role of a public advisory council is to identify the problems, do community outreach and develop a network of government and non-governmental groups to address the concerns of their communities. Torch Lake has recently been active in seeking solutions to the stamp sands dumped into the lake by former mining companies which have made it difficult to have healthy benthos, or aquatic life, due to the spread of sands throughout the bottom of the lake. New efforts are underway to revive Torch Lake’s benthos that could lead to a major clean up within the next decade. Along with the work being done by the state’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Remediation Division to remove toxic chemicals along the west shore of Torch Lake, funding is being sought from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to find ways to repair the damage created by copper mining companies since the latter part of the nineteenth century.

The public is invited to the SPAC meeting on both days to hear about progress being made by the advisory councils in the entire state. The OGL and the Great Lakes Commission will update council members on state, federal and international activities. Research currently being conducted at the University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University will also inform council members of effective ways to engage their communities. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will have its President, Chris Swartz, explain the importance of Torch Lake to their community under their treaty rights and the work they have done to improve water quality on their reservation. SPAC meetings are an opportunity for members to network and to find out not only what concerns an AOC has, but also to see the host community and its attractions.

For information, contact Horst Schmidt, Vice-Chair of the SPAC at horsthear@yahoo.com or 906-369-3797.

by Kelley Christensen (Social Sciences)


New Funding

Nancy Langston (SS/GLRC) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $113,294 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled, “The New Mobilities of the Anthropocene: Animal Migration, Infrastructure Development, and Wildlife Population Management.” Casey Huckins (Biological Sciences/GLRC) is Co-PI. This is the first year of a potential three-year project totaling $397,760.


Diverse Dialogues: Unlearning and Relearning Truths: A Continued Conversation about Decolonization

As part of the process of decolonization in our Michigan Tech and wider communities, there is an equally important personal process of decolonizing ourselves. A first step begins with a process of unlearning “truths” – the information we think we know about Indigenous, Native histories and identities. Unlearning allows space for relearning truths – the missing, forgotten and invisible stories and identities that remain critical to creating socially just communities and doing social justice work.

In this dialogue, we will engage in unlearning activities to reflect on our common myths, biases and stereotypes about Native, Indigenous peoples. This will be followed by opportunities to relearn Indigenous and personal truths through dialogue with each other. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) invites you to join our final Diverse Dialogue for the Spring semester at 4:05 p.m. Thursday, April 25, in GLRC 202. “Unlearning and Relearning Truths: A Continued Conversation about Decolonization,” will be led by Valoree Gagnon, Amy Howard, and Kari Henquinet.

The Diverse Dialogues series aims to provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff to have conversations about relevant issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, social justice and much more. Be part of crucial campus conversations, help to highlight underrepresented voices, elevate the social justice work being done by our Michigan Tech community and engage and learn from difficult diversity and inclusion issues that affect us all. If you’re part of the dialogue, you’re part of the solution.


Power by the People: Renewable Energy Reduces the Highest Electric Rates in the Nation

Solar PanelCoal is the primary fuel source for Midwest electric utilities. Michigan Tech researchers found that increasing renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money.

As renewable energy technologies and access to distributed generation like residential solar panels improve, consumer costs for electricity decrease. Making electricity for yourself with solar has become more affordable than traditional electricity fuel sources like coal.

However, as the researchers contend in a new study, while utility fuel mixes are slowly shifting away from fossil fuels toward renewable sources, Michigan utilities, and U.S. utilities broadly, continue a relationship with fossil fuels that is detrimental to their customers.

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news.


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).



On the Road

Adam Wellstead
Adam Wellstead

Adam Wellstead (SS) was an invited speaker at the Pipeline Safety Trust conference in New Orleans (Oct. 18-19). His presentation provided an overview of the recent Independent Risk Analysis for the Straits Pipeline effort that was led by Michigan Tech.


Baeten published in Water History

John BaetenJohn Baeten, PhD, Industrial Heritage and Archaeology, recently published an article in Water History titled “A century of red water: mine waste, legacy contamination, and institutional amnesia in Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range.”
The article examines the first lawsuit filed in Minnesota over the pollution of surface waters from migrating mine tailings, and the ongoing challenge that policy makers face in managing and remembering these legacy contaminants.
The article comes from research Baeten conducted while at Michigan Tech completing his PhD. The work was supported by a grant (Toxic Mobilizations in Iron Mining Contamination) from the National Science Foundation.