Research in the Department of Biological Sciences is unique and ever evolving. Our department’s collaborative environment—along with Michigan Tech’s emphasis on research—fosters a wide variety of inter-university research projects. Faculty research strengths in biochemistry and molecular biology, ecology and environmental sciences, and health provide a strong foundation for many fields in biological sciences.
Our research centers, diverse research groups, and state-of-the-art facilities in the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building and Great Lakes Research Center create an exciting research environment with exceptional opportunities for students and faculty members alike.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Ecology and Environmental Sciences
BS, Medical Lab science, Michigan Technological University
Claire attended Michigan Tech where she received a Bachelor's degree in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS). After graduation, she completed her clinical practicum at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN. She has worked at the University of Colorado Health in Immunohematology, Microbiology, and Chemistry. She has also worked at Baraga County Memorial Hospital as a Generalist and Microbiology Supervisor. Claire returned to Michigan Tech to complete her Master's degree in Biological Sciences, Laboratory Management in 2019. She is currently the MLS Program Director, Assistant Teaching Professor, and Academic Advisor for the MLS program. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, nordic . . .
PhD, University of Hyderabad, India
Dr. Datta’s primary research interest lies in the application of plant biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and microbiology in solving environmental problems,using phytoremediation, plant-microbe interactions and bioremediation. Dr. Datta’s research involves the study of interactions between plant, soil, microbial and water systems to understand the mechanisms of uptake and detoxification of specific environmental contaminants in biota from two broad angles – biochemistry and genetics.
Specifically, Dr. Datta’s current research focus is on the study of bioavailability of metal and organic contaminants in aquatic media and the potential of using plants to remediate contaminated sites, mediated by microbes. Dr. Datta actively collaborates with environmental . . .
In multicellular organisms, how do multiple cell types originate from one cell and one genome? A critical early cell fate decision is whether to develop as germline (reproductive) or soma (non-reproductive). My research focuses on assessing how the highly conserved DREAM transcriptional repressor complex maintains the germ vs. soma cell fate decision during embryogenesis. After a flurry of cell divisions from the starting “germ cell” (i.e. united egg and sperm), somatic cells begin to exit the cell cycle as the DREAM complex suppresses the proliferative germ cell program. This process is commonly reverted in cancer cells (i.e. a soma-to-germline transition) and is . . .
PhD, Arizona State University
Our work is centered on the cell wall and associated extracellular polymers of algae. We are interested in what these algal extracellular matrices can tell us about: 1) the evolution of the land plant cell wall, 2) the unique characteristics that allow for life in aquatic habitats, 3) the interactions within complex biofilms, including the heterotropic utilization of complex macromolecules, and 4) the biomineralization processes (ex. silica and calcium carbonate) associated with these extracellular polymers.
What is the broader significance of our work? The characters of plant cell walls determine the properties of innumerable products we consume every day. Our work has potential . . .
MS, University of California, Davis - Population Biology
Broadly speaking I am an evolutionary ecologist who studies how plants interact with their abiotic and biotic communities. My work integrates the theory and techniques from the disciplines of ecology, evolution, genetics, chemistry, and physiology. My research makes both fundamental and applied contributions and current projects include:
- deciphering the interplay between the abiotic environment (especially nutrient eutrophication and water availability), the genomic structure (genome size and composition) of terrestrial plants, and multitrophic communities (plants, herbivores, pathogens, pollinators),
- examining the efficacy of management efforts and the cultural, social, and ecological impacts of invasive plant (e.g., baby’s breath, Eurasian milfoil) and/or insect (e.g., Spotted winged drosophila on soft . . .
PhD, Michigan State University, 1996
Research conducted by my lab group is focused on ecology and restoration in aquatic systems including lakes, streams, coastal wetlands and the riparian ecosystems that connect them. The research that my graduate students, our collaborators and I conduct tends to focus on ecological patterns and processes in systems influenced by human actions. In many cases we apply the learned scientific understanding to inform the restoration or rehabilitation of the system or population. Our projects are often motivated by this reciprocal interplay and exchange between restoration and the advancement of scientific understanding. Major projects have/are conducting examine 1) the ecology and restoration of . . .
PhD, Biochemistry, University of Poona, India
I am a plant molecular biologist who is interested in understanding of how trees make cellulose. Simply put, cellulose is a chain of glucose molecules, and a large number of such cellulose chains weave together with other polymers to form plant cell walls. Cellulose biosynthesis is also one of the most ancient and essential life processes of plants.
Due to its omnipresence in terrestrial ecosystems, we use a large number of cellulose products in our day-to-day life in the form of paper, furniture, clothes, medicines and even food. Ironically, we knew little about how plants synthesize cellulose until recently. However, the last decade . . .
PhD, University of Michigan
PhD, Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University
Robert earned his Master’s and PhD in the Department of Biological Sciences at Michigan
Technological University studying neural-cardiovascular physiology. He completed his Post-
Doctoral fellowship in neurocardiology at The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
where he studied cardiac sensory and sympathetic nerves in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hypertension. Prior to graduate school, Robert worked in the diagnostic laboratory at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital serving as both a Generalist and Hematology and Coagulation Supervisor.
PhD, Utah State University
I am an ecosystem ecologist with interests in energy and biogeochemical cycles in freshwaters. My research program blends basic and applied research, and integrates across aquatic habitats including stream, river, wetland, lake littoral zones and the nearshore regions of the Great Lakes. My past and future research trajectory is governed by an interest in understanding the role of small, poorly quantified fluxes or perturbations on ecosystem processes, and in linking those ecosystem processes to the underlying structure of microbial, algal, macrophyte and animal communities.
One benefit of an academic career is the synergy between an active research program and undergraduate and graduate . . .
Brigitte attended Michigan Tech in 2001 where she received a Bachelor's degree in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS), as well as a certificate in Secondary Education and minors in both General Science and Spanish. Following graduation in 2006, Brigitte taught high school Biology for six years in Illinois. After receiving an MS degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University, Brigitte has returned to Michigan Tech as a lecturer, primarily in the MLS program.
PhD, Environmental Science, University of Windsor
I am a community ecologist who studies the processes that affect the structure and stability of ecosystems. I study these issues in coastal marine and freshwater ecosystems due to the diversity and economic importance of species inhabiting these environments and toward the fact that they are under threat from anthropogenic influences. I use food web, community assembly and fisheries theory to explore the following research areas; (1) the intra- and inter-species interactions and trophic structuring of communities within a hierarchical construct; (2) the distribution patterns of organisms and the mechanisms that drive these patterns and; (3) the relative influence of . . .
John Romanowski Jr
MS, Biological Sciences, Central Michigan University
PhD, Weizmann Institute of Sciences, Israel, 2001
Future Research Directions for Collaboration
<<Seek National Collaborations>>
Welcome to those who would like to collaborate with me to pursue innovative project funds from NSF! Contact me via email please for potentials. Tenure-track assistant professors are especially welcome! We have experience in pursuing and leading multi-institutional NSF Plant Genome project on microRNAs using short tandem target mimic (STTM) technology. Future directions will be:
1. Large-scale targeting microRNAs for regulations in fruit crop stress biology.
2. Trans-species spreading of microRNAs and STTMs in plant grafting biology.
Interested PI and co-PIs with relevant expertise are welcome to connect with me to target NSF bigger ideas in PGRP. Please Contact Dr. Guiliang Tang.
Dr. Tang conducted his graduate research on the catabolic pathway of the essential amino acid lysine in . . .
Xiaohu (Mark) Tang
PhD, The Weizmann Institute of Science
- The Laboratory of Cancer Metabolism and Functional Genomics is to characterize deregulation of cancer metabolism and the role of nutrients during cancer initiation and progression. In this perspective, we are aiming to understand the underlying mechanisms and pursue alternative and feasible means to apply on patients. In addition, understanding of diet-cancer interactions could establish a strategy for long-term cancer prevention.
PhD, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, 2003
Diabetes is caused by either the loss of the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas, leading to a deficiency of insulin (type 1 diabetes), or insulin resistance, reduced insulin sensitivity, and reduced insulin secretion (type 2 diabetes). In both types of diabetes, the patients develop serious secondary complications, such as microvascular complications, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and kidney failure.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are newly discovered, 21-24nt in size, non-coding RNAs. miRNAs negatively regulate the expression of protein-coding genes by binding to the 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) of specific targeted gene transcripts (mRNAs). Each miRNA regulates the expression of hundreds of target . . .
PhD, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Maryland, Baltimore MD
I am an environmental microbiologist who studies microbial communities in diverse ecosystems. Microbes (Bacteria and Archaea) are ubiquitous in the environment and play essential roles in the cycling of elements. These environmental microbes are capable of catalyzing a wide array of chemical reactions, many of which may have industrial applications. I study how complex microbial communities can cooperate to perform functions of industrial interest. The majority of microbes in the environment are difficult to grow in the lab. Furthermore, many industrially-relevant pathways are found in microbes not yet grown in the lab. I seek to employ both culture-based and culture-independent . . .
PhD, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University
I am a microbial ecologist who studies the reciprocal relationships between microbial communities and biogeochemical processes in aquatic ecosystems. Microorganisms are widespread in the environment and are responsible for driving key elemental transformations that control the quality of our water and influence the greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere. I am interested in understanding how physical and chemical characteristics interact with microbial communities and influence or are influenced by microbial metabolism and diversity. My work is also aimed at understanding energetic constraints on microbial metabolism that may result from ecosystem change or seasonal change, such as the formation of ice-cover. Field . . .
MS, Biological Sciences
Travis is a proud born and raised Yooper; he received both his B.S. and M.S. in Biological Sciences from Michigan Tech. Wanting to stay close to home, he joined his alma mater as the Department of Biological Sciences Laboratory Supervisor in 2017. Since then, he has become an Academic Advisor and Lecturer.
In his position as an academic advisor, Travis helps students to understand academic policies and procedures, select courses to fulfill their academic goals, locate and use campus resources, and explore career options. Travis is trained in Mental Health First Aid and serves as a Safe Place Ally, Career Coach, and a member on the Title IX Awareness Committee. In addition to advising, Travis teaches several courses in the department and coordinates . . .
PhD, Umea Univeristy, Sweden, 2005
Dr. Werner became interested in the question “What is life?” as a four-year old child in his parent’s garden in former East Germany. With the age of 10, he began to develop a life-long interest in the biology of butterflies and moths. He has been breeding and collecting them ever since. For his Master’s thesis, he decided to shift his focus to molecular biology because this was a newly emerging field of biology that promised new jobs.
Thus, Dr. Thomas Werner studied the human heart disease-causing virus Coxsackie B3 at the molecular level at Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena in Germany. After the fall of the Berlin . . .