Great Lakes Research Center: An Investment in the State, the Nation and the World's Freshwater Resources

by Marcia Goodrich, senior writer

Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz was vacationing on his boat in Lake Superior a couple summers ago when he got the phone call. He almost didn't answer it, he told the crowd Thursday at the Michigan Tech waterfront. But he did, and that's one reason they were all gathered there to mark the groundbreaking of the Great Lakes Research Center.

The person on the other end of the line was State Rep. Mike Lahti. The state didn't have enough money in its capital outlay budget to fund the University's top-priority request, he told Mroz. Was there a less expensive project the University could put forward? "He said, 'I could give you a couple minutes to think about it,'" Mroz recalled. The budget was being divvied up as they spoke, and time was running out.

Mroz pondered for a moment, and, realizing the opportunity he'd been given, suggested the Great Lakes Research Center. With help from State Senator Mike Prusi, the state later agreed to provide 74 percent of the cost of the $25.3-million facility. Michigan Tech's share is 26 percent, approximately $6.6 million.

The center was an obvious choice for state funding, said Mroz, considering that it will house research and education on one of the world's most precious and increasingly rare resources. "I taught hydrology and watershed management for 25 years," Mroz said. "I used to tell my students, 97 percent of the water in the world is salt." Most of the rest is tied up in glaciers. Of the tiny remainder, 22 percent is found in the Great Lakes, and half of that total is contained in Lake Superior.

"When Charlie Kerfoot [biological sciences professor W. Charles Kerfoot, who helped spearhead the effort] told us he wanted us to do the Great Lakes Research Center, it was not a hard sell," said Mroz.

Lahti spoke at the ceremony, noting that the new center would have other benefits as well. "This is an investment in our state and in the economic recovery of the nation," he said.

Such an investment relies on Michigan Tech's reputation for quality, which is due to the excellence of its faculty and staff, Mroz added. In particular, he cited the efforts of Kerfoot and Professor Emeritus Robert Baillod for their work to make the center a reality.

The center will include aquatic laboratories, a hydraulics lab, coastal research instrumentation, boathouse facilities, offices and conference rooms--all of it providing a home at Michigan Tech for interdisciplinary research and education related to the Great Lakes. It will also house a research and educational partnership between Michigan Tech and the US Army Corps of Engineers' Research and Development Center Environmental Laboratory in Vicksburg, Miss. The Vicksburg lab is the Corps of Engineers' water resources research facility.

Construction is expected to be completed in about 18 to 24 months under the direction of general contractor Granger Construction Co., of Lansing.

Simple Design Equals Smaller Footprint: Rail-Veyor System for Mining (and More?)

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

As the YouTube video begins, what appears to be a roller coaster approaches in slow motion: a green tube running on light rail tracks encased in bright yellow structure. As the object moves closer, it becomes a modernistic rock train with no driver and unloads into a container, turning upside down in the process. Then, it rights itself, ready to receive another load.

According to its creator, Mike Dibble 61,62, this remote-controlled, electric-powered "Rail-Veyor" system is "extremely energy efficient," with a smaller footprint than regular railroads and conveyor systems. It can operate in surface and underground mines or other long-distance transfer operations, including docks, shipyards, and even future UP mining concerns.

Dibble's company, Rail-Veyor Systems Inc., had its original demo plant designed, built, and operated through a grant provided by the Florida Institute of Phosphate Research (FIPR) in 2000 and 2001. It was the rare R&D project that actually met all objectives "right out of the box," according to the FIPR director. After the system began to be commercialized, a second, larger-scale demo plant was built in South Africa, where the first commercial operation began in 2007. Now there are three trains operating there.

"This four-year timeline from demo plant to commercial operation is unique in the mining business," Dibble says.

In the Rail-Veyor system, the train is moved along by fixed drive stations, spaced slightly less than the length of the individual trains, which can range from 100 to 400 meters in length. All Rail-Veyor cars have drive stations that provide forward motion from the friction of horizontally rotated truck tires. (Think of the baseball- and football-throwing machines.)

"It is this drive system that allows the Rail-Veyor to climb grades of 20 percent or more," Dibble says. And that can be some twenty times better than conventional railroads.

"The track system can be operated as a shuttle or a continuous loop. Anchored by the drive stations, it minimizes the need for conventional sleepers (ties) or ballast (the crushed stone where the sleepers sit)," he says. "And, since there's no heavy drive car, the track loading is low, allowing the use of lightweight rails."

The connections between cars allow articulated movement between them, Dibble says. The ability to climb steep grades with a thirty-meter turning radius, coupled with a small front end, allows the system to go under, over, or easily avoid obstacles. Other advantages include more efficient energy use since the drive stations only operate when a train is present and shut down when not in use.

"The automated operations means no direct operator intervention is required," he says. "The system is environmentally friendly as it is quiet, has low visibility, and use nonpolluting electrical drive motors."

Projections by an underground mining company indicate the Rail-Veyor system can reduce their operating costs 40 to 50 percent versus conventional shaft mining operations.

The Rail-Veyor system is maintenance friendly: a defective drive station, which uses "off-the-shelf" equipment, can be pulled and replaced in minutes rather than hours. In multi-train units, a single train can be sidetracked for preventative maintenance, allowing the others to continue operations. (So far so good in South Africa, with three years operating and no failures.)

As for safety, Dibble says the fact that the train is sneaky quiet means the lead car should be equipped with strobes, sirens, even a transmitter, to preclude any run-ins with moose or other large creatures, wherever in the world they may occur.

And other operations are very interested. Dibble is not saying, but there could be a day when these lean, mean hauling machines are pulling their weight around the globe, including the UP, and leaving much less behind.

Residential Apartment Building Reception Today

Michigan Tech Housing has scheduled an open house and reception for the new Residential Apartment Building from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., today.

The reception is open to the public and will include appetizers and a self-guided tour of the new building. Attendees will meet in the main lobby for a short welcome speech before exploring the building's many features.

Boasting a unique architectural style that mixes modern influences with Upper Peninsula-inspired characteristics, the Residential Apartment Building provides student housing with an abnormal twist. It has been under construction since last July and features suite-style apartments. Each unit will include four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living area, and house four students.

Mis-delivered Package

Help Central Receiving find a mis-delivered package that arrived on campus July 8. This package was addressed to Michigan Technological Univ-B, attn: Kevin Raber. The package was shipped from Fort Worth, Texas. The Fed Ex second-day-air tracking number is 415040368737. If you have information about this package, contact Central Receiving at 487-2701.

Karen Chapin will Retire

Karen Chapin, administrative aide in SFRES, will retire Aug. 31 after 26 years of service.

She started out in 1984 as an office clerk in Human Resources and then the Library. She became an assistant in Purchasing in 1985; an office assistant in Facilities in 1991; a managerial secretary in Counseling and Wellness Services in 1996; and has been in SFRES since 2009.

"I will miss many of the people I have worked with," she said this week. "Many friendships were started here, and many will continue. I am definitely glad I worked here--for many reasons."

She plans to spend more time with family and friends, including her new grandson, Mason, who was born March 17.

New Staff

Joel Vertin is now a web marketing specialist in Marketing and Communications, where he had been working temporarily in the Web Development and New Media group. He earned a bachelor's in business administration, management information systems, in 2008. As a student, he helped maintain the website at the Michigan Tech Fund. He lives in Hancock.


Chemical Engineering has the following:

*Reactor No. 1 Pfaudler 100 gal glasteel jacketed reactor vessel, built 1961

*Reactor No 2 Pfaudler 100 gal glasteel jacketed reactor vessel, built 1970

Contact Alexis Snell at 487-3132 or .

University property may only be transferred between departments. It may not be given or sold to individuals.

Proposals in Progress

Wan Jin Jahng (Biological Sciences/BRC), "Mechanistic Dissection of RPE65 in Retinoid Isomerization," NIH

Claudio Mazzoleni (Physics/EPSSI) and Luisa Kramer (GMES/EPSSI) and Robert Owen (MTRI/EPSSI), "The Radiative Role of Free Tropospheric Aerosols and Marine Clouds over the Central North Atlantic," DOE

Raymond Shaw (Physics/EPSSI), "Laboratory Investigation of Contact Freezing and the Aerosol to Ice Crystal Transformation Process," DOE

Andrew Burton (SFRES/ESC) and Jennifer Eikenberry (SFRES/ESC), "Analysis of Roots for Carbon Stable Isotopes," University of Nevada-Reno/DOE

Andrew Burton (SFRES) and Jennifer Eikenberry (SFRES), "The Cycling and Fate of Nutrients in a Cattail Stand and Created Open Water Environment," SFWMD-Everglades Division

Aleksey Smirnov (GMES) and Jimmy Diehl (GMES) "A paleomagnetic and geochronological re-investigation of the~1.1 Ga Coldwell complex: Implications for the reversal asymmetry in Keweenaw rocks," NSF

Jeffrey Naber (ME-EM/APSRC), Brad Baltensperger (CLS/APSRC), Chris Anderson (Office for Diversity Programs/APSRC) and Bruce Mork (ECE/APSRC), "New, GK-12: ENERGY Discovery: Enhancing Energy Research and Guiding Youth in Discovery," NSF

Jiann-Yang Hwang (MSE/IMP), "Copper-Vermiculite Additive for Antimicrobal Coating Materials," Qtek LLC/ NSF SBIR 10-546

Michael Flakowski (SFRES/ESC), Audry Mayer (SS/ESC), Mark Rouleau (SS/ESC) and Robert Froese (SFRES/ESC), "Quantifying and management impacts upon future carbon sequestration across the northern Great Lakes region of the United States," NASA/USDA

Nikola Subotic (MTRI), "Fusion II," SAIC/Air Force

Joan Chadde (ECE/MTCWS), "Great Lakes Maritime Education for K-12 Teachers," Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute/University of Minnesota-Duluth/DOT

Martin Auer (CEE/MTCWS), "A Linked Sediment--Water column Model for Onondaga Lake," Upstate Freshwater Institute

Oliver Gailing (SFRES/ESC) and Hairong Wei (SFRES/ESC), "Dimensions: Finding function in fungal barcodes: uncovering the dimensions of thermal effects on fungal biodiversity," NSF-Dimensions of Biodiversity

Michael Falkowski (SFRES/ESC), "Multi-scale Remote Sensing for Carbon Inventory and Management in Idaho, USA," US Forest Service-Rocky Mountain Research Station/NASA/USDA

Yoke Khin Yap (Physics), "Boron Nitride Nanotubes for UV Devices," SRI International/DARPA

Terry McNinch (MTTI), "Hawaii County Traffic Management Software and Services," Hawaii County DPW Traffic Division Administration

Tyler Erickson (MTRI), "Great Lakes Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center," University of Michigan/NOAA

Ralph Hodek (CEE), "Minerals Recovery of Copper Stamp Sand on Lake Superior Coastline for Use as Raw Material in the Manufacture of Roofing Shingles," Lesktech Limited/NSF SBIR Program Phase I Solicitation FY 2011, NSF 10-546

Sean Kirkpatrick (BME) and Jeremy Goldman (BME), "Cerebral Blood Perfusion and Oxygenation Following Concussive-type Traumatic Brain Injury, NFL Charities

Eugene Levin (SOT), "Low-Cost, Full-Field, Surface Profiling Tool for Mechanical Damage Evaluation," Intelligent Optic Systems/DOT

Jason Carter (Exercise Science) and Thomas Drummer (Mathematical Sciences), "Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Collegiate Football Players: Influence of Diurnal Blood Pressure and Sleep Apnea," NFL Charities

Shiliang Wu (GMES/EPSSI) and W.Charles Kerfoot (Biological Sciences), "Mercury in the Great Lakes: Sources, Transport, Deposition and Effects from Climate Change," Great Lakes Commission

Noel Urban (CEE/MTCWS), Judith Perlinger (CEE/MTCWS) and Shiliang Wu (GMES/MTCWS), "Predicting the Effect of Climate Change on Atmospheric Loadings of Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxicants to the Great Lakes," Great Lakes Commission

Robert Owen (MTRI) and Judith Perlinger (CEE), "Source identification of atmospheric deposition of PBT's to the Great Lakes using inverse modeling," Great Lakes Commission

Qiuying Sha (Mathematical Sciences/BRC) and Shuanglin Zhang (Mathematical Sciences/BRC), "Statistical Methods for Family-based Association Studies," NIH

Ching-An Peng (ChE), "Antitumor Activity of HSV-TK/GCV and SN-38 Combination Therapy against Glioblastoma," NIH

Chang Choi (ME-EM/MuSTI), Wan Jin Jahng (Biological Sciences/MuSTI) and Charles Margraves (ME-EM/MuSTI), "Dynamic Cell Culture System," NIH

Lanrong Bi (Chemistry/BRC), "Novel Fluorescent Energy Transfer Tags for Multiplex Profiling of Transcription Factors," NIH

Daniel Bennett (Public Safety) and Brian Cadwell (Public Safety), "Community Policing, Crime Prevention, and Patrol Officer for the Michigan Tech Campus Community," Department of Justice

Lanrong Bi (Chemistry/BRC) and Michael Neuman (BME), "Delivering Antioxidants to Mitochondria with aza-Β3-Peptide-Based Mitochondrial Transporters," NIH-R03

Ramakrishna Wusirika (Biological Sciences/BRC), Wan Jin Jhang (Biological Sciences/BRC) and Aparna Deshpande (Biological Sciences/BRC), "Anticancer activity of plant callus cultures and their moleculac targets," NIH

Wan Jin Jahng (Biological Sciences/BRC) and K. Michael Gibson (Biological Sciences/BRC), "Reprogramming of the Proteomic Profile in Light-exposed Retina Metatonin," NIH/NIMH/DNBBS

Jindong Tan (ECE), "Dietary Assessment in Free Living Environments with Camera phones," NIH

Miguel Levy (CSA/IMP), "Materials Development of Optical Band Gaps in Magneto-Photonic Crystals for Switching and Biosensor Applications (NSF STTR Phase II)," Integrated Photonics/NSF

Timothy Scarlett (SS), Samuel Sweitz (SS), Patrick Martin (SS) and Susan Martin (SS), "Phase I and II Cultural Resources Survey of the Cliff Mine Site," Houghton/Keweenaw Conservation District/EPA

Seth Donahue (BME/BRC), "Black Bear Parathyroid Hormone as an Anabolic Agent for Bone," Proteos/NIH

John Hill (ME-EM/MTTI), Colin Brooks (MTRI/MTTI) and Liza Jenkins (MTRI/MTTI), "Michigan Seatbelt Observation Studies," Michigan State Police

Mark Plichta (MSE) and Edward Laitila (MSE), "Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (REAP) 2010," Academy of Applied Science/US Army Research Office

Rodney Chimner (SFRES/ESC) and Sigrid Resh (SFRES/ESC), "Assess vernal pools of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by determining distribution, abundance, and ecological significance," National Park Service/Federal NPS-agreement J6320096201

Sara Green (Chemistry), Lanrong Bi (Chemistry), Shiyue Fang (Chemistry), Martin Thompson (Chemistry) and Haiying Liu (Chemistry), "Acquisition of Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer (MALDI-TOF)," NSF/CRIF:MU

Tammy Donahue (ME-EM/BRC) and Gregory Odegard (ME-EM/BRC), "Computational Modeling of Skeletal Muscles," Mayo Clinic/NIH

Susan Martin (SS), "Cooperative Management of Archaeological Collections from the Hiawatha National Forest," Hiawatha National Forest/US Forest Service

Audrey Mayer (SFRES/ESC), "Reverse auction for distributing payments for ecosystem services to private landowners," USDA Forest Service

Qiuying Sha (Mathematical Sciences/BRC) and Shuanglin Zhang (Mathematical Sciences/BRC), "Statistical methods for identifying disease-associated common and rare variants," NIH

Bo Chen (ME-EM/APSRC), "EAGER: Multi-Agent Network Control for Adaptive Sensing and Monitoring in Wireless Sensor Networks," NSF

Amy Marcarelli (Biological Sciences/MTCWS), "RCN: Linking Great Lakes and Small Streams (GLaSS)," Northern Michigan University/NSF

Nancy Auer (Biological Sciences/MTCWS), "Evaluation of Larva Lake Sturgeon Production on Fighting Island Reef in the Detroit River," USGS