Social Sciences Launches New Undergraduate Awards

The Department of Social Sciences recently announced three new undergraduate awards:

  • The Outstanding Senior Award recognizes outstanding undergraduate achievement in accomplishments in academics, research, leadership, and/or service.
  • Two Undergraduate Research Awards recognize SS Students — a Junior or Senior — who engender exemplary research as evidenced in original research, undergraduate thesis, or creative project under the guidance of department faculty members or other mentors. The awardees are recognized for research that is original and substantive given the standards of the discipline.
  • The Community-Based Research Prize recognizes a Social Sciences Junior or Senior who is actively engaged in community-based research, a pillar of the department’s mission. The prize honor’s the student’s efforts to enhance community capacity, build relationships, and/or support community participation in research.


Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research

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.

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. 

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4 p.m. Monday, March 30. Applications may be emailed to djhemmer@mtu.edu.

Read more about the Songer Research Award here.


Michigan Tech Research Forum February 12

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

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. 


Green Film Series begins 10th Year with Name Change and $700 Donation!

2020 marks the 10th Year of the Green Film Series, renamed ‘Sustainability Film Series’ at the suggestion of two graduate students serving on the film selection committee. Jessica Daignault (CEE PhD candidate) and Ande Myers (CFRES MS student) suggested the new name as they felt it would sound more relevant to more people.

The Sustainability Film Series recently received a $700 donation from the Keweenaw Food Coop as part of their Bring a Bag Campaign which donates the savings from not having to purchase paper bags for customers, to local community organizations or programs.

“Purchasing public film screening rights can cost $250 to $500 for just one film, so this donation will be very helpful!”

—Joan Chadde, film series coordinator, and director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach

The film series is co-sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Keweenaw Land Trust, Michigan Tech Department of Social Sciences, and the Michigan Tech Sustainable Futures Institute.

Films are shown from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month,  in G002, Hesterberg Hall, Michigan Tech Forestry Building, January through May. Enjoy coffee, refreshments and facilitated discussion. (Save a dime, bring you own mug). There is no admission to the film but a $5 donation is suggested 

Film Schedule

  • Jan. 16 – “Saving the Dark” (57 min.) 80% of the world’s population lives under light-polluted skies. What do we lose when we lose sight of the stars? Excessive and improper lighting robs us of our night skies, disrupts our sleep patterns and endangers nocturnal habitats. Saving the Dark explores the need to preserve night skies and ways to combat light pollution
  • Feb. 20 – “Banking Nature” (90 min.) A provocative documentary that looks at efforts to monetize the natural world—and turn endangered species and threatened areas into instruments of profit. It’s a worldview that sees capital and markets not as a threat to the planet, but as its salvation—turning nature into “capital” and fundamental processes like pollination and oxygen generation into “ecosystem services”
  • March 19, 6 p.m. – “Saving Snow” (57 min.) and “Between Earth & Sky,” (58 min.). The World Water Day opening event follows skiers, snowmobilers, sled dog guides and others who love and/or depend upon winter across the Midwest and Alaska who are struggling with a warming climate
  • April 16 – “Seed: The Untold Story” (94 min.). For 12,000 years, humans have been cultivating seeds and building empires. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have been lost. As many irreplaceable seeds are nearing extinction, high-tech industrial seed companies control the majority of the world’s remaining seeds
  • May 21 – “Seven Generations River,” (27 min.). A new Great Lakes documentary reveals how a Native American tribe, the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians in SE Michigan, is adopting scientific methods to preserve and protect its traditional culture and the river on which it relies. While never removed from their ancestral lands, the Pokagon are seeing their way of life fractured by encroaching development and land-use changes.


Francophone Migration

Line drawing map of a cityUnderstanding how French-speaking people migrated throughout North America from the 1600s to 1940 means tracking them at work, school and home spatially and archivally.

Michigan Technological University is a partner in the $2.4 million “Trois siècles de migrations francophones en Amérique du Nord (1640-1940) (Three centuries of migrations by French-speakers to North America)” funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Sarah Scarlett, assistant professor of history, and Don Lafrenière, associate professor of geography, in the Social Sciences department, will use the Keweenaw Time Traveler and a combination of spatial and archival datasets to focus specifically on whether French-Canadians were socially mobile as they migrated from Canada to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the period of 1860 to 1940.

Read the full story on Unscripted.


Hazards Mapping, History and the Future of Rust Belt Cities

Line drawing of a city layout from aboveMichigan Technological University researchers have developed a GIS-based model to identify the persistence of industrial hazards in postindustrial cities and their impacts on modern citizens. Dan Trepal, a postdoctoral researcher and Don Lafrenière, associate professor of geography and GIS, both in the Department of Social Sciences, use spatial-temporal models to demonstrate human risk of exposure to environmental hazards in postindustrial London, Ontario, but the model can be applied more widely.

“When you’re talking about human health or cumulative hazards, these places looked very different when these places are created. In the Keweenaw, the mines aren’t really gone They’re very much still here. It’s about giving presence to things that are not here anymore to the casual eye.” – Dan Trepal

Read the full story at mtu.edu/news.


Notables: West Point Foundry

Arron KotlenskyThe West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, NY, the site of an intensive industrial heritage and archaeology (IHA) project by Michigan Tech faculty and grad students from 2002-2009, was designated an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Historical Mechanical Engineering Landmark on Oct. 5.

One of the largest integrated iron foundries and machine shops in the first half of the 19th century, the West Point Foundry is also one of the most intact industrial archaeological sites of its type in America.

The Tech IHA investigations helped lead to the designation. Arron Kotlensky (M.S. IHA 2007) wrote the nomination on behalf of Scenic Hudson, the property owners, and he and Steven Walton (SS) were at the designation ceremony to lead tours for the president of ASME, local historical society board members, the press and the interested public.

The story received coverage in the Cold Spring mediaFoundry Management and Technology and by the ASME.

Walton and Kotlensky also designed the brochure for the event.