Research Magazine Cover 2004

Research Briefs

Evolution, soil studies, nanotechnology cosmic rays-the research topics at Michigan Tech are almost endless.

Licensing Program Results in New Companies

Injection molding, sewage treatment and military engineering are interests of the latest Michigan Tech spin-offs.

From Phoenix to Mali: Graduate Research Fellowships

Grad students provide their expertise from the Upper Peninsula woods to African water systems.

Undergraduate Researchers Solve Problems

Undergraduate researchers cultivate their cultivate their curiosity and receive hands-on experience.

Research Centers and Institutes at Michigan Tech

National Science Foundation Awards

Three Michigan Tech faculty members have received National Science Foundation CAREER awards during 2003-04.

Commercialization and Spin-Offs

Licensing Program Results in New Companies

Ferritech Licenses Biological Generation of Ferric Ion

Two Michigan Tech faculty members have formed Ferritech, Inc. to promote the licensing of technology for the biological generation of ferric iron.

Ferric iron is a powerful oxidant that has numerous industrial applications ranging from scrap metal recycling and sewage treatment to water treatment and bioleaching.

Carl Nesbitt (chemical engineering) and Don Lueking (biological sciences) have developed and patented the SAAB-FIG process (Stand-Alone Automated Bioreactor for Ferric Ion Generation). This process allows the continuous biogeneration of ferric iron at a constant level.

Depending upon the specific application involved, ferric iron generation by the SAAB-FIG process can produce ferric iron for as little as $0.06 per pound.

Seth Donahue and graduate student Kristin Harvey examine bear bones while investigating osteoporosis.

Seth Donahue (right) and graduate student Kristin Harvey examine bear bones while investigating osteoporosis.

Biomedical Engineering, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, National Science Foundation

Research Briefs

The Bear Facts

Inactivity is a prime cause of osteoporosis in most animals, including humans. A notable exception is the black bear. Seth Donahue, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has been studying bears to discover why their skeletons retain their strength, despite spending months every year curled up in a den, hibernating the winter away. Using blood samples, Donahue and his research colleagues monitored metabolic markers of bone metabolism throughout the bears’ annual cycle. They discovered that, while bone breakdown increases during hibernation, bone production remains constant and may even peak as the bear emerges from hibernation. It turns out that bears are recycling. “They don’t have a way of getting rid of excess calcium, so the logical place to put it is back into bone,” he says.

Beetles Bash Purple Pest

A team of Michigan Tech faculty have defeated an unlikely invader: a pretty purple flower. Rolf Peterson, a professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (SFRES), identified a stand of purple loosestrife taking over a pond—driving out the cattails native to the wetland. Exotic species, because . . . 

Abbigale Wilson uses sights and sounds in her research.

Abbigale Wilson uses sights and sounds in her research.

Mechanical Engineering, Mayo Clinic

Undergraduate Researchers Solve Problems

by Jana Jones

Research isn’t just for graduate students any more. Michigan Tech has established Undergraduate Research Fellowships to give students the research experience that both they and employers are demanding. Michigan Tech funds an undergraduate program that allows a dozen students to participate in a 10-week summer research experience.

Wilson Studies Sound, Sight and Recall

You might think that looking at pictures is a leisure activity. For Abbigale Wilson though, it was the basis for an undergraduate research experience. Wilson worked with Rosalie Kern, an assistant professor in the department of education, to study the effects that valence and theme congruent sounds have on a person’s ability to recall pictures. Valence is simply whether a picture is considered to be positive . . . 

Jacob Fugal

Jacob Fugal is a PhD candidate specializing in atmospheric physics. He and his advisor Raymond Shaw built and tested a weather probe.

Graduate School, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Graduate Research Fellows

Graduate students are the faculty of the future and something in short supply, when it comes to science and engineering. Prestigious programs, like those funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Highway Institute, can help students decide to pursue their interests.

Michigan Tech has a number of students win these competitive fellowships each year. Their interests vary widely, as you can tell by these four examples.

Nothing Cloudy About Fugal’s Goals

He’s heard all of the jokes, including having his head in the clouds. He admits that’s right where he wants to be.

Jacob Fugal is a PhD candidate specializing in atmospheric physics.With the help of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, he has turned a childhood interest in clouds into a career.

“I am interested in basic research of clouds,” he says, “specifically, how precipitation forms in clouds.”

Brad King (right) holds more than $1 million in grants from NASA and the Air Force.

Brad King (right) holds more than $1 million in grants from NASA and the Air Force.

National Science Foundation CAREER awards

Faculty Earn National Science Foundation Awards

Three Michigan Tech faculty members have received National Science Foundation CAREER awards during 2003-04.

Brad King, Soner Onder and Hao (Howard) Wang each have at least $400,000 for their research and teaching programs. The Faculty Early CAREER Development Program is the NSF's most prestigious awards for new faculty members. Michigan Tech has had 27 faculty earn this award, 20 still research and teach at Tech.

CAREER: King Studies Aerospace Thrusters

Brad King, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has become Michigan Tech's top space guy. His CAREER award will support his research in the area of highly efficient plasma thrusters for spacecraft.

As with his other projects, he will . . .