Distinguished Lecture Series

The Distinguished Lecture Series started in Fall 2016 to honor faculty for their research impact. Department chairs, center/institute directors, deans, and Research Advisory Council members nominate highly engaging presenters with broad topic appeal. Distinguished Lecturers are selected for their ability to increase the knowledge of our community by connecting their research with societal and community concerns. Topics are broad, spanning all colleges and schools at Michigan Tech. Nominees are reviewed by committee twice per year and announced at the beginning of fall and spring semesters.


Memorial Union | Ballroom A


  • 3:45 p.m. Networking
  • 4:00 p.m. Lecture
  • 4:45 Networking

| October 9, 2023 | Theme: | Long Term Value of Ecological Research  

Andrew J. Burton


Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Andrew Burton


Long-term ecological research – the gift that keeps on giving

Research Statement

In February 1987, as a young research scientist, I walked into a northern hardwood forest in lower Michigan to assess it as a possible location for a three-year research project at multiple northern hardwood forests across Michigan.  In mid-September, 2023, I was back in the same location, as three years had become thirty-six.  The initial project on acid rain led to a renewal and then new manipulative research, investigating the effects of chronic nitrogen additions on forest ecosystems. The project's long-term nature has enabled the investigation of many additional topics, including climate change, carbon sequestration and the impacts of exotic invasive pests. Even today, the data generated over many years is aiding instruction of my undergraduate and graduate courses and is critical for new research proposals that need the long-term data to help develop proof-of-concept examples. Thirty-six years later, having driven more than the distance from the earth to the moon, much of it to study roots less than 0.3 mm in diameter, we’re still observing new things and developing new ideas to test that would not be possible without the continuous long-term data.      

|October 9, 2023 |Theme: Sound and Digital Environments|

Christopher Plummer


Distinguished Professor Dr. Christopher Plummer  


Sound as a foundation of our built and digital environments

Research Statement

Sound provides an essential foundation for emotional connection in every area of our lives: the sound of our e-mail swooshing away, the click of menu items as we scroll, the tuned exhaust of a Harley, the background noise of ventilation, the way our voices bounce around a room, the sounds of a walk in the forest or that perfect sound in a horror movie. I create and shape imaged and real aural environments and events in immersive environments that transport audiences to present-day Isle Royale, 1885 Annie Oakley’s shooting spectacular in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Hades’ Vegas-themed underworld, and our improved preschool classroom where students are more comfortable and empowered. Delivering these experiences can involve changing the acoustics of the room and building speakers and visual elements. They might be in huge rooms with 40 speakers or a VR headset with headphones.