Category: Research

In Print

Shan ZhouShan Zhou co-authored the article, “Collaboration mitigates barriers of utility ownership on policy adoption: evidence from the United States”, published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.

This paper offers an answer to the question: “To what extent does collaboration between utilities and local governments influence energy policy adoption?” Cross-sectional data from the United States–focused Integrated City Sustainability Database (ICSD) are used to investigate the degree that specific city attributes and state policy influence the creation of city-scale energy policy.

Local Student Succeeds at National Science Competition with Mentoring from Michigan Tech

Siona Beaudoin, a junior at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School, spent the past year working on a research project with Tara Bal (CFRES) Angie Carter, Social Sciences (SS). Her project focus was on the invasive fruit fly Spotted Wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii (SWD) and the public’s knowledge of SWD, along with their berry picking/foraging practices.

She presented her research at the Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula of Michigan Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in February and qualified for the national symposium.

Recently, she virtually defended her research in the Life Sciences Poster Competition at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium where she was awarded third place. Beaudoin is currently summarizing the research to be published with Bal and Carter.

Social Sciences Undergraduate Awards Announced

The Department of Social Sciences announced its 2019-20 Undergraduate Research Awards.

  • Outstanding Senior Award: Jessica Berryman and Charles Fugate
  • Community-Base Research Prize: Angela Gutierrez and Timothy Stone
  • Undergraduate Research Award: Alannah M. Woodring and Lynette S Webber

The students will be recognized at the Department of Social Sciences Class of 2019-20 Virtual Commencement Celebration on May 1. Congratulations for these extraordinary achievements.

Deans’ Teaching Showcase

We return to the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) for this week’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase nomination. David Hemmer, CSA dean has selected the team of Richelle Winkler and Don Lafreniere, both associate professors in the Social Sciences Department.

Social Sciences Chair Hugh Gorman recommended the two to Dean Hemmer for their “creative, out-of-the-box approach to providing students with an experiential/service-learning opportunity.”

Gorman described how their collaboration benefitted students in both classes:

“In Fall 2019, students in two classes, Dr. Winkler’s ‘SS4700 Communities and Research’ and Dr. Lafreniere’s ‘SS4050/5050 Advanced GIS’, worked together on a project to conduct research to inform decision-making related to applying the ‘Safe Routes to School’ program to Houghton. This is a national program that promotes walking and biking to school in conjunction with safety education, infrastructure improvements, traffic enforcement, and incentives.”

Gorman continued, “In the project, students analyzed current practices associated with students getting to and from Houghton schools, assessed the level of community interest in the goals of the Safe Routes program, determined potential issues associated with pursuing those goals. The goal was to provide community members with a solid base of data to inform decisions related to the Safe Routes program. Neither class could have conducted the research independently as well as they did through collaboration. Students in ‘Communities and Research’ could and did collect data through surveys, interviews, public meetings, and meetings with school and city officials (as that class focused on methodologies for accomplishing such tasks) but they could not perform the spatial analysis at a level needed to be useful. On the other hand, students in ‘Advanced GIS’ could perform the desired spatial analysis but they were not in a position to engage stakeholders at the level required to get this project going.”

Winkler and Lafreniere came up with the idea of collaboration well before the semester started. They proactively scheduled their classes in overlapping time slots, which allowed students in the two classes to meet together for 50 minutes each week. The small class sizes–seven students were enrolled in one class and eight in the other—meant the group was small enough to keep everyone fully engaged.

The end result, which Gorman asserts can be used as a model for creating similar opportunities for students in the future, has all data and the final report on a website. The project also resulted in the establishment of a group to address the actions in the report called the Houghton Safe Routes to School Core Planning team.

Dean Hemmer praised their work as “an innovative way to integrate the work from two different courses into an exciting community research project.” He continued, “It is wonderful when Michigan Tech can give back to the community while simultaneously giving our students interesting and relevant research opportunities.”

The instructors indicate their students also saw extraordinary benefits; in addition to the typical course work, they learned from each other. Students in “Communities and Research” learned a good deal about spatial analysis using GIS and the “Advanced GIS” students learned a lot about how to conduct community-engaged research. Because of this synergy, both see the potential for implementing these kinds of collaborations in a variety of disciplines.

LaFreniere and Winkler will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and, as a team, are also candidates for the CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer) recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

by Michael R. Meyer, Director William G. Jackson CTL

Michigan Tech Research Forum February 12

Kathy Halvorsen

Kathy Halvorsen (Research Development, SS, SFRES) will be featured at the Michigan Tech Research Forum (MTRF) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 12 in the MUB ballroom. Halvorsen’s presentation is titled, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Team Science: Lessons Learned from 25 Years of Transdisciplinary Research.” Additional details can be found on the MTRF website.

The MTRF is presented by the Office of the Provost in coordination with the Office of the Vice President for Research. The forum showcases and celebrates the work of Michigan Tech researchers and aims to strengthen discussions in our community. All are welcome, including the general public. Complimentary snacks and a cash bar will be provided.

Keweenaw Time Traveler Awarded Grant

Keweenaw Time Traveler logo

Researchers with the Keweenaw Time Traveler project have been awarded a Digitizing Hidden Collections Grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for $240,014 over two years.

Sarah Fayen Scarlett (SS), Don Lafreniere (SS) and Lindsay Hiltunen (university archivist) will hire six undergrads, one master’s student and a full-time digitization specialist in the Michigan Tech Archives to scan, transcribe and fully catalogue 40,000 employee records from the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company collections.

This new data set will be record-linked with historical data already mapped in the Keweenaw Time Traveler, an online historical atlas being built for research and public heritage in MTU’s Geospatial Research Facility.

This major addition will add rare and valuable information to facilitate research and public history programming into the lives of immigrant miners, their families, employment histories over their lifetimes and how their experiences continue to shape the Copper Country landscape today.

The CLIR grant program is made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.