Cannibal Chimps and Their No-Good, Truly Awful Headlines

It was just a little bit, the primatologist said. But a little bit of cannibalism goes a long way in shaping headlines (and humans' views) of chimpanzee behavior.   

Nature documentaries might as well be HBO shows. Or at least that's how humans would like them to be. Most of us prefer the Circle of Life's drama over the tedium of what actually happens in everyday life, and the way we write about that drama reveals deeply ingrained biases about how we perceive and judge animal behavior. It comes down to how humans perceive and judge themselves.

In the chimpanzee research community, this tension drives to debates about aggression versus affiliation says Kelly Boyer Ontl, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech. Ontl, who has studied chimp groups in West Africa, explains that some researchers think chimpanzee interactions are inherently violent and self-serving—full of conflict—but others think that their behavior is inherently diplomatic and group-focused—based on cooperation.

Often, aggression versus affiliation (with a heavy emphasis on the former) plays out in the headlines about chimp behavior. Take, for example, the headlines throughout this story. They're all based on a study that came out in January; one that Ontl contributed to and her adviser, Jill Pruetz from Iowa State University, led.

If it bleeds, it leads, right? Read the full story.

Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Workshop

The Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Program and the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship will host its next National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Workshop in August over a 4-week period, with the first session starting on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

The I-Corps Site program is a team-based program structure that was developed through a partnership between the NSF and successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The workshop provides an introduction to the Lean Start-up business development methodology which focuses on getting out of the lab and using the proven tools of Customer Discovery and the Business Model Canvas to evaluate the commercial potential of innovative technologies.

This is a great opportunity to work with an experienced team of workshop leaders to determine, document and fully realize the commercial potential of your technology. Michigan Tech affiliated teams which successfully complete the program requirements are eligible for $2,500 to advance their technology-focused start-up ideas through customer discovery and prototyping. Teams also become eligible for NSF's National I-Corps program which includes $50,000 in funding. 

Participants of I-Corps Site programs and NSF's National I-Corps have demonstrated significantly higher funding rates from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs which offer Phase I awards up to $225,000 and Phase II awards up to $750,000. Past participants also report that the I-Corps program had a positive impact on their careers, as well as their approach to research, teaching and mentoring.

Apply today for this great experience. For more information on the Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Program or to apply for the August workshop, visit


In Print

Ryan Williams, Geospatial Research Scientist (Geospatial Research Facility - GLRC), contributed to a report published by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) titled "Progress in Reducing Nutrient Loss in the Mississippi River Basin  But Effects on Gulf Hypoxia Still Lag." Ryan was the lead developer for the Nutrient Use Geographic Information System (NuGIS) project that is referenced in the report. The report discusses the economic and environmental impacts of nutrient loss from farm fields and highlights the need for continued nutrient management research and increased implementation of nutrient management practices. Read it here.

IT Asset Management

You may have heard that Michigan Tech IT is conducting a physical inventory of University-purchased technology. This inventory will allow Michigan Tech IT to more accurately provide departmental asset reports, a very useful tool when addressing equipment upgrades and the purchasing of new technology.  

IT will contact each department to set up time to perform inventories. We will begin with administrative departments and then move to the academic units.

If you have any further questions regarding the upcoming physical inventory, contact us at or call 7-1111.

Surplus Property Available

Michigan Tech is currently selling surplus items online to the general public on Public Surplus, a government auction site.   There is no cost to the University for the listings as Public Surplus charges a premium to the buyer.  
Individuals can register to bid on current auctions and receive future notifications of Michigan Tech surplus available here.

Father-Daughter Team Wins PLGC Event

The team of Steve Woodworth and his daughter Zoe Woodworth fired a sizzling round of 70 to win the Couples Scramble Saturday at Michigan Tech's Portage Lake Golf Club.

The Woodworths eagled No. 13 to beat another father/daughter team, Wade and Kaaren Liston by three strokes. Vickie and John Lobeck shot a 75 to finish third. 

First Flight winners were Barb and David Rossi (83) followed by James and Julie Mechori and Jon and Megan Brueggeman.

Second Flight winners were Ruth and Chad Ryynanen follwed by Mariah and Jarod Maggio and Bob Perreault and Ginger Strobe.

Long Drive winners were Randy McKay and Kaaren Liston. Closest to the pin winners were Colin St. Onge, Vickie Lobeck, Zoe Woodworth and Ruth Ryynanen.

Coming up at PLGC are the three-man senior scamble on Wednesday, Aug. 2 and a junior tournament on Sunday, Aug. 6. For more details call 7-2641.


 Keweenaw Royale Raffle

The Keweenaw Alumni and Friends Chapter is hosting a "Keweenaw Royale Raffle" to benefit their scholarship fund for local students attending Michigan Tech. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online or at the Alumni House or from a local chapter board member. Drawing is on K-Day, Sept. 8.

All packages include extra gifts from local businesses! Check out the website for more details. For more information on prizes see previous Tech Today article.


Join ASPEN in the Boundary Waters

The Association of Students for People, Environments and Nature (ASPEN) has openings for MTU students to attend a professional development trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness August 17-22.

The cost to students is $110 which includes membership in ASPEN, most meals, transportation, canoes and camping gear. Contact Erin Burkett, ASPEN treasurer, ASAP at if you are interested. For more information see previous Tech Today article.

In the News

TechCentury, a science, engineering and technology news website published by the Engineering Society of Detroit, ran an article on the new NOAA grant to study coastal marshlands, a collaborative effort of Louisiana State University and five other institutions, including Michigan Tech. See here.


The Midland Daily News published an article about Michigan Tech-led Mi-STAR, a project for reforming the middle school science curriculum. Mi-STAR has just been added to the STEMworks national honor roll. See here. The story was also covered by WJMN Channel 3. See here.


Houma Today (Louisiana) ran an article about research funded by NOAA, investigating the ecosystems of coastal marshes. Michigan Tech is one of six universities participating in the research, led by Louisiana State University. See here.

New Funding

Jianhui Yue (CS/ICC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $176,876 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is entitled "SHF:SMALL: Collaborative Research: Improving Reliability on In-Memory Storage."

This is a two-year project.