April 21, 2013
Dear Ms. and Mr. Henes,
When I was diagnosed with ALS in 2006 and was put on a ventilator in 2008, I was not sure where my life would lead. I got depressed and had anxiety. I did not know how long I would live. I tried to imagine what my wife and my son’s life will be without me. I thought, “If I can no longer do anything for society, then what is the meaning for me to live on?”
Now, five years have passed. Although it is unfortunate to have ALS, I consider myself to be one of the luckiest, because ALS does not take away my ability to do research. Your generous gift allows me to achieve my dreams.
Although I can read articles, come up with ideas for my projects, and derive formulas in my head, I cannot use a keyboard. With your gift, I support a master’s or PhD candidate who assists me. I communicate by blinking my eyes, and the student helps me to write articles, program codes, and draw figures. This allows me to be very productive. I am very happy that I can still contribute to society. That gives me a sense of being normal. I am no longer depressed, and I smile every day.
Your gift not only makes my life meaningful, it also helps all my graduate students pursue their dreams and strengthens our graduate program in statistical genetics.
I run out of words to express my appreciation. If I were able to travel, I definitely would like to thank you in person. Now, I will put all of my thankfulness in prayers.
11 Great Things
Visualization studio: larger-than-life data analysis
The Immersive Visualization Studio, part of the Paul and Susan Williams Center for Computer Systems Research, supports research and teaching with eye-popping technology—a wall of 24 hi-res LED monitors—providing 160 square feet of crisp graphics and a total screen resolution of 50 megapixels. There’s more to the studio than meets the eye: a full-body tracking system allows researchers to embed people in a virtual environment.
New excitement above the ice
The John MacInnes Student Ice Arena has undergone major upgrades over the last few years, and they’ve been funded entirely through private giving, including major support from John Opie ’61. But none of the improvements will change the fan experience quite like the new, four-sided video scoreboard and video production system. Fans watching online will be able to see HD-quality video of streamed events of all sports. Fans in the arena will see game video, replays, statistics, and more. Now, if you step out for popcorn, you’ll be able to catch the replay of that Alex Petan wrist shot through the five hole.
Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Mathematical Sciences
Endowed chairs and professorships can be life-changing for faculty members, none more so than mathematician Shuanglin Zhang, who holds the professorship endowed by Richard ’48 and Elizabeth Henes. Zhang has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and wrote the letter reprinted below to express his thanks.
New instruments for the different drummers
The Pep Band’s percussion wish list—7 new snare drums, 5 bass drums, and 2 quint toms, plus cases, stands, and covers for the works—cost a hefty $16,000. Last spring, the drummers’ dreams came true, thanks in part to $8,000 in private gifts. “I think it’s great that people are supporting us,” said Matt Frantz, section leader of the drumline. “It shows they like us. I can’t wait to start playing these new drums in the fall.”
A gift of science
Not too long ago, chemist Lanrong Bi and PhD student Yazmiye Yapici ’13 had to drive to Illinois to use Northwestern University’s confocal microscope for their research on cell changes that predict cancer. Now, thanks in part to an unrestricted estate gift, Michigan Tech has its own microscope, which uses lasers and high-end optics to take 3D images of cells, tissue, and nanomaterials.
High tech, higher learning
Two new classrooms are making it easier for teachers to teach and students to learn. Funded by a $130,000 gift from Paul Fernstrum ’65 and his sons Sean ’90 and Todd ’92, the rooms are decked out in a dazzling array of instructional bells and whistles, including a system that records the class automatically and posts the video on the web for later review. “That allows students to pay attention to the lecture,” said Associate Professor John Beard. “Then they can go back to the video and fill in the blanks.”
Physics labs: from sad to rad
The physics research labs in Fisher Hall were built in 1964, and they had not aged well. Richard ’48 and Elizabeth Henes changed all that. Thanks to their gift, over two dozen research and advanced teaching labs saw makeovers ranging from improved safety signage to a major overhaul. The Henes family also funded scientific equipment that’s essential for a modern physics research program.
A Huskies research outpost in Wolverine Town
In 2007, Michigan Tech had the chance to buy a powerhouse research lab in Ann Arbor, and the House Family Foundation, founded by Dave House ’65, made it happen. Since then, the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) has conducted millions of dollars of research on topics ranging from military intelligence to sleep disorders. Pictured is a NASA graphic showing wildfire smoke over Southern California, part of a MTRI study into the links between wildfires and public health.
A physical therapy program for the UP
Starting next summer, students can work toward a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Central Michigan University while taking classes at Michigan Tech. The unusual partnership addresses a critical need for physical therapists in the Upper Peninsula and was made possible by gifts totaling over $200,000 from the UP Health Network and four area hospitals: War Memorial, Portage Health, Aspirus-Keweenaw, and Dickinson County Healthcare System. The program is a perfect fit for Tech’s exercise science graduates, many of whom pursue careers in physical therapy.
A room of their own
Much was expected of students in the Applied Portfolio Management Program, but not much space was given. Charged with managing $1 million in donor-funded investments, the team had no fixed place to forge a strategy. Then Joe ’76 and Vickey Dancy stepped in to build the LSGI Trading Room. Named for Joe’s firm, LSGI Advisors, it features a Bloomberg Terminal for studying market data and placing trades. “We have professional expectations of them, and now Joe and Vickey have provided professional facilities,” said Dean Johnson, the team advisor and the James and Dolores Trethewey Professor.
Scholarship to the rescue
The Great Recession hit Autumn Giles hard. She was on the verge of dropping out when the Financial Aid Office threw her a lifesaver in the form of a Ron ’59 and Marie Pasquinelli Scholarship, which targets current students in dire financial straits. “I am so very thankful for Ron and Marie’s scholarship,” said the third- year mechanical engineering major. “If it weren’t for them, I would not have been able to go to Tech last year.”