Alumni Awards Presented

Michigan Technological University capped off Alumni Reunion Aug. 5 with the presentation of the annual Alumni Awards. This year’s winners were: 

Outstanding Young Alumnus: Awarded to Alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers, or achieved a position or noteworthy distinction before the age of 35:

Benjamin D. Almquist ’04. Almquist examines life at nano-scale, but thinks big. Currently a Lecturer at Imperial College in London where he leads his own research team. At Michigan Tech the award-winning researcher developed and refined an admirable life philosophy: “Leave the world a better place than when you arrived and find a way to enjoy making it happen."

After earning a PhD from Standford, Almquist eventually moved on to MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Department of Chemical Engineering and Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies where he was awarded an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship. “My research at MIT focused on new self-assembled biomaterials for treating non-healing diabetic foot ulcers, one of the most devastating complications of diabetes that actually carry a lower 5-year survival rate than breast and prostate cancer,” he explains.

Dr. Johnathon M. Aho ‘08—Aho puts his life philosophy into practice as he continues to make remarkable strides in a medical career that is just beginning. His ability to excel might not surprise those who remember the accomplishments of the Michigan Tech President’s Award for Leadership winner and his service to others on the Michigan Tech campus and in the community.

A double major in mathematics and biological sciences, with an international minor in German, didn’t stop Aho from taking on leadership roles. As 2008 Blue Key Honor Society president he helped spearhead a 33 percent spike in winter carnival funding. The 2007 Portage Health System Volunteer of the Year progressed from Michigan Tech to studies at Chicago Medical School where he was recipient of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Looking to the Future Scholarship and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society Class of 2012 Delta Chapter. He earned his Doctor of Medicine with Distinguished Research degree before entering Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education as a general surgery resident and a PHD student in biomedical engineering and physiology in Rochester, Minnesota.

Outstanding Service Award: Award to the Alumni who have made significant contributions to the University or the Alumni Association: 

Joshua T. Fogarty ‘03 Jana M. (Young) Fogarty ‘05—The Fogarty’s love story is Pure Michigan Tech. They met during Resident Assistant orientation in McNair Hall. In addition to the same college major, materials science, they found common ground in their passion for the outdoors. Josh graduated in spring 2003 and proposed to Jana at the 2004 Winter Carnival All Nighter. 

In Winter 2007, they decided it would be fun to gather a few Michigan Tech alumni together for broomball, a tradition that continues. By 2013 more than 100 Michigan Tech Huskies and friends were arriving from seven states to enjoy broomball, chili and each other’s company.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Awarded to the alumni who have made outstanding contributions in both their careers and to Michigan Tech: 

William J. Bernard, Jr. ‘69—Bernard is tenacity personified. A local boy without resources to afford schooling and living expenses elsewhere, he stayed close to home and worked nearly 40 hours a week while completing his studies. He’s been with the same company for more than 40 years, ascending to sole owner and CEO of Surface Combustions, Inc in 1997.

His first job after graduation was field engineer in the Surface Combustion division of Midland and he progressed into engineering design, contract engineering, marketing, chief engineer and business unit manager roles.

When his division was threatened with closure, Bernard spearheaded a successful buyout, creating Surface Combustion, Inc. and in 1997 became the sole owner.

The 2000 Michigan Tech Academy of Material Science and Engineering Inductee and 2011 ASM International Fellow has earned numerous honors, including the 2009 Center for Heat Treating Excellence Distinguished Service Award and the 2013 ASM International Distinguished Life Membership Award.

Humanitarian Award: Awarded to alumni for volunteer leadership or service that has improved or enriched the lives of others and the welfare of humanity, and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on or bring honor to their alma mater: 

James I. ’57, ‘58 and Janet Tanis—Their 2007 honeymoon in East Africa was a life-changer for Jim and Jan. It’s also been a life-changer for hundreds of vulnerable children helped through the Bwindi Community Program they founded to bring hope to vulnerable children through the power of education.

A chat with 13-year-old Brian, who sold them a gorilla carving, led him to the Tanises helping him attend secondary school. 

Eventually, he asked the Tanises if they could help these young people in the same way they’d helped him. The non-profit program sent the first 21 kids to school in 2010. BCP continues to grow—to 140 students in 2015—thanks to donors in six countries who sponsor individual students. In 2016 a sister charity was formed to focus on primary-grade students, while BCP focuses on secondary school and beyond. Jim serves as board president, Jan as treasurer.

Honorary Alumni Award: Awarded to the strongest non-alumni supporters of Michigan Tech. Those who have provided service and support of the University characteristic of dedicated alumni. (This award will be presented in the Fall):

John T. Patton—The Fort Worth, Texas native, earned his bachelor’s, masters and PhD in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University. He joined Exxon USA as a section head responsible for research on enhanced petroleum operations in 1959. In 1968 he brought his extensive process design and operations experience to Michigan Tech as professor of Chemical Engineering plant design and economics. Within three years his design students started receiving national recognition from AIChE. During his tenure at Michigan Tech his students twice won the national AIChE Design Contest for undergraduates. He also initiated a viable graduate program and elevated the quality of the undergraduate curriculum to the point of its receiving full national accreditation.

Facilitators Sought for Graduate School Orientation

The Graduate School is seeking facilitators to assist with orientation programs beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24. Faculty, staff and senior graduate students are welcome to participate. Facilitators help to lead discussion with a group of seven new students. It's a fun and interactive way to engage with our students. New facilitators participate in training so that they are fully prepared for the event.

If you would like to volunteer—or know someone who would be great to participate—register here.

New facilitators training sessions are offered from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 18 or from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 22 in Admin 404. Participants will learn about the interest-based approach to resolving conflict, discuss the video vignettes that will be used during orientation and discuss a short plagiarism exercise.

Michigan Space Grant Consortium Fall Meeting at the University of Michigan

The Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC), of which Michigan Tech is a member, will host its annual conference from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8 at the University of Michigan.

MSGC supports student work in space-related science and technology—as well as STEM disciplines—in Michigan.

The conference offers students, faculty, instructors and researchers the opportunity to display their research through presentations and posters. Registration is free but required to allow for adequate planning for seating, meals and refreshments.

The registration deadline is Monday, September 19. Student travel is being coordinated through the Pavlis Honors College for those wishing to carpool and student housing is available by contacting Bonnie Bryant ( by September 12.

You can register and find more information online. The on-campus contact is Paige Hackney, in the Pavlis Honors College who can be reached by email or by calling 7-4371.

Tech Soccer Picked Fifth in GLIAC

Michigan Tech was picked fifth in the 2016 GLIAC Preseason Soccer Coaches' Poll, which was released Thursday. Three-time defending NCAA Division II National Champion Grand Valley State topped the poll.

Ashland received one first-place vote in second. Ashland, Ferris State and Ohio Dominican also ranked ahead of the Huskies. Northern Michigan, Saginaw Valley State, Walsh, Northwood, Lake Erie, Findlay and Tiffin were in the bottom six slots.

Read the full story and find out more about Husky Athletics at

IT Connect

We hope that everyone is excited about the upcoming semester. This is a reminder that along with the rest of the University, Michigan Tech IT hours have returned to the normal academic schedule. As of today, we are open for operation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. In addition, there will likely be temporary extended hours during the beginning of the semester; we will post them soon. If anyone has questions or comments regarding our hours of operation, contact us at or call 7-1111.

In the News

Joshua Pearce's (MSE/ECE) research on solar employment has been covered widely including by MIT Technology Review, Epoch Times, Indiana Public Radio, Grist, Clean Technica and Vox in an article: New study: it would be cheap to retrain coal workers for solar jobs

The story has also been picked up in Europe:


Research by Brad King (MEEM) and PhD candidate Kurt Terhune (MEEM) has been featured in news outlets around the world including Digital Trends, Microscopy and Analysis, Space Daily, Science Daily, Wireless Design Mag, NanoWerk, e Science News, and AZO Nano.


Research led by Tarun Dam (CHEM) that expands on the role of galectin-3 proteins in biochemistry earned national coverage including World of Chemicals, Science Codex, Science Newsline, and e Science News.


Three researchers are leading collaborative and innovative projects to mitigate aquatic invasive species in Michigan with new funding through the EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program. National and regional outlets covered the projects: Tech Century, MITech News, e Science News and


Gizmag, recently renamed New Atlas, published a story about the seven best ways to protect your airspace from drones. Associate Professor Mo Rastgaar's (ME-EM) drone catcher was number two on the list


Jessica McCarty-Kern (MTRI) was quoted in an article on fires in northwestern Siberia in EarthObservatory.



On the Road

Gowtham, director of Research Computing, presented at "Science On Tap" at the Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette Thursday. His presentation was entitled "Supercomputing: Transforming Everyday Life."