Joshi: Unraveling the Mysteries of Cellulose
Chandrashekhar Joshi has become one of the latest Michigan Tech faculty members to receive the National Science Foundation's Career award. The NSF uses the award to support young faculty in their research endeavors.
Joshi is an assistant professor in forest resources and environmental science and a researcher in Michigan Tech's Biotechnology Research Center. He looks at how trees make cellulose and for ways to develop trees that produce better quality cellulose, which would be a boon to the forest products industry.
Joshi's research team has already isolated three enzymes needed to build cellulose in aspen. With the NSF grant, they are determining what roles these enzymes play with the aim of growing trees that produce more cellulose in their trunks and less in their leaves. You would need fewer trees to produce the same amount of, say, newsprint, while saving on energy and other production costs. In addition, the amount of toxic chemicals needed to extract cellulose from wood pulp would be reduced.
Karnosky Receives International Forestry Award
Thirty years ago, when David Karnosky began documenting the harmful effects of ozone on forests, not everyone believed him.
Now, however, his groundbreaking research is accepted as proof that this industrial pollutant can seriously impact many species of trees and forest ecosystems. For this—and much more—Karnosky has been chosen by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations to receive its Scientific Achievement Award.
IUFRO presents a maximum of 10 awards once every five years at its World Congress, to be held in Brisbane, Australia, in August.
Karnosky, a professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, was instrumental in founding the Aspen FACE (Free Air Carbon dioxide Experiment) site in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in 1996 and is its director.
His work on climate change, particularly on the effects of elevated levels of ozone and carbon dioxide in forests, delves into topics ranging from carbon sequestration and insect pests to natural selection and growth. He has also gained an international reputation in biotechnology and forest productivity.
Karnosky and his colleagues created the first genetically engineered conifer, an exotic larch, and he conducts ongoing research on developing hardier, faster-growing trees.
PhD Grad Earns International Award
Michigan Tech PhD graduate Eugenie Euskirchen will receive an Outstanding Doctoral Research Award from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
IUFRO makes this award once every five years and Euskirchen is one of seven recipients, to be honored in August. She earned a PhD in Forest Science from Michigan Tech in 2003.
She is being honored for her work on the role of forests in carbon cycling. “There's tremendous interest in understanding the fate of atmospheric carbon because we are polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels," said Professor Kurt Pregitzer, who was Euskirchen's co-advisor. “Forests are strong sinks for carbon, and Eugenie worked on the role of forests in sequestering atmospheric carbon.
Peace Corps Honors Orr
Blair Orr, an associate professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, has received a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Recognition Award. The Peace Corps cited his contributions in creating educational opportunities for returned volunteers.
In 1995, Orr developed the first Master's International program at Michigan Tech and is currently the program's coordinator. He has also helped initiate two other Master's International programs at MTU and helped establish the university's Fellows/USA program. For more information on the Master's International programs at MTU, visit http://peacecorps.mtu.edu/
Donahue Receives Top Biomechanics Award
Assistant Professor Seth Donahue (biomedical engineering) has received the American Society of Biomechanics Postdoctoral Young Scientist Award for his work with black bear cortical bone, “Bone Strength Is Not Compromised With Aging In Black Bears (Ursus americanus) Despite Annual Periods of Disuse (Hibernation)."
Donahue studies the black bear as a model for understanding osteoporosis by analyzing bone metabolism markers and hormones in wild and captive bears during hibernation as well as active periods.
His work has received international media coverage and has been recently supported by the National Institutes of Health.
9Student's Lead Snowflakes Win Art Contest
When Dale Anderson first saw his prize-winning image, he thought he'd messed up.
“I thought it was a mistake," said Anderson, an MS student in materials science and engineering. “But then I increased the size of the field, and I saw the snowflake."
What Anderson, then an undergraduate, had really seen was a crystal of lead just a few microns across. As part of his senior design project, he had been examining a substrate though Michigan Tech's single-beam atomic force microscope. A minute quantity of lead had contaminated the edge of the silicon disc, creating an elaborate crystalline network.
He entered the image in the third annual Microscopy Images Competition: Images in the Material World. It took first place in the Most Artistic Image category.
Brad King Receives Presidential Award
L. Brad King, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He is among 60 faculty members selected from US colleges and universities to receive the award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the US government on outstanding scientists and engineers at the beginning of their careers.
The recipients are chosen by the White House from among nominees selected by the top US research agencies, including NASA, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. King's name was put forward by the Department of Defense for his work on very-high-powered ion engines, which could be used for manned Mars missions or ambitious robotic space science missions.
Subhash Wins ASME Award
Ghatu Subhash, a professor in Michigan Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, has been named a Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in recognition of his exceptional engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession.
Subhash's accomplishments include fundamental and groundbreaking achievements in education, research and service, as well as international recognition.
A key attribute to Subhash's success is his ability to convert his ideas into patentable products," said William Predebon, chair of the ME-EM department. Subhash designed, built and patented a dynamic hardness tester now in use by government labs. His invention is being considered as a standard by the American Society for Testing Materials.
Subhash is productive in his research as well. He has authored the book “Deformation, Fracture and Failure of Advanced Materials," received three patents and has published dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, his research is supported by government labs and agencies such as the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense.
Physicist Earns Research Award
Alex Kostinski, professor of physics, has received the university's 2004 Research Award.
A theoretical physicist, his research has encompassed optics, astronomy, fluid mechanics, atmospheric science, radar meteorology and polarized waves. “I once did some work in medicine, though I don't understand the title of the paper," he says. “I was second author; the first author was a physician."
It's hard to avoid hyperbole when describing Kostinski and his work, says his colleague Associate Professor Raymond Shaw (physics). “I don't want to use too many superlatives, but I can honestly say Alex is one of those people who is truly brilliant."
“Plus, he's very considerate, very kind and very easy to work with."
Kostinski's insights seem to flow in large part from fresh looks at old assumptions. He doesn't limit his inquiry to fields in which he is heavily credentialed. In particular, Kostinski's work in meteorology has generated a thunderstorm of controversy, challenging established beliefs about the fundamental nature of clouds.