Research Magazine Cover 2005

Michigan Tech Research Continues to Expand

Michigan Tech is an exciting place to be. Our research expenditures and productivity have steadily improved in the last decade, passing the $35 million mark for the first time in 2004.

Our faculty have been honored by a broad range of organizations and associations, including the National Science Foundation, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, and the Peace Corps.

Inventors have been successful, as well. Cargill has licensed our SmartLane product, a new anti-ice coating for pavement that dramatically reduces the need for de-icing chemicals. It is no surprise that Michigan Tech lead all other Michigan universities in both invention disclosures and licenses (per $10 million of research). A source of pride for me is that undergraduates are involved in many of these disclosures.

Students and employers have long known Michigan Tech for providing a solid, hands-on education for engineers and scientists. Over the last decade, we have become much more than that, serving the state and the nation as a nationally recognized research institution with hard-working faculty and students.

Sincerely,

Glenn D. Mroz, President
Michigan Technological University

P.S. If you have comments or questions about anything you see in this magazine, please contact me at research@mtu.edu.

There is a moose on the loose on Isle Royale—actually about 750 moose.

There is a moose on the loose on Isle Royale—actually about 750 moose.

The Isle Royale InstituteWolf/Moose Study, Ecosystem Science Center, Biotech Research Center

Ecosystem Research: From Roots to Wolves

It has quickly become one of the largest research centers at Michigan Tech, totaling more than $2.5 million in expenditures its first year of existence.

It helps to have some high-profile projects under your umbrella, like the Isle Royale wolf-moose research and the Aspen FACE facility studying the effects of elevated carbon dioxide levels on forests.

But when you discuss the Ecosystem Science Center (ESC) with director Kurt Pregitzer, he doesn’t talk only about the research.

“We want to bring visibility to ecosystem science that extends beyond the university,” he said. “And we really are focusing on students.”

Pregitzer, a professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, ticks off examples . . . 

Ford, EDA Support New Facility

Imagine a day when a bright student could work on real-world design challenges, develop creative solutions, and have a place right on campus to turn that creativity into a business.

Imagine a day when a creative faculty member could take ideas from the lab and participate in developing them into a new business right on campus.

These are novel concepts, but novel concepts need places to grow.

Michigan Tech’s student-based design programs have such a place, now that the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) has opened.

The ATDC provides an expanded home for the Enterprise Program and senior design programs. The Enterprise Program is a new approach to engineering education, allowing students to work on real engineering, design, and manufacturing problems sponsored by companies and government agencies.

Chandrashekhar Joshi

Chandrashekhar Joshi

NSF, NSF CAREER Awards

Research Awards

Joshi: Unraveling the Mysteries of Cellulose

Chandrashekhar Joshi has become one of the latest Michigan Tech faculty members to receive the National Science Foundation's Career award. The NSF uses the award to support young faculty in their research endeavors.

Joshi is an assistant professor in forest resources and environmental science and a researcher in Michigan Tech's Biotechnology Research Center. He looks at how trees make cellulose and for ways to develop trees that produce better quality cellulose, which would be a boon to the forest products industry.

Joshi's research team has already isolated three enzymes needed to build cellulose in aspen. With the NSF grant, they are determining what roles these enzymes play with the aim . . . 

Mark Griep (Mechanical Engineering) developing a protein nanosensor to detect biological agents.

Mark Griep (Mechanical Engineering) developing a protein nanosensor to detect biological agents.

Undergraduate ExpoCivil and Environmental Engineering, Research Scholars Program, Biomedical Engineering

Undergraduate Research Scholars

Undergraduate Researchers Thrive on the Challenge

Development of an artificial heart. Using satellite images and computer modeling to determine the source of pollution. Developing a nanosensor to detect harmful airborne pathogens. Building a network of computers to combine processing power.

This is the stuff of large research grants and years of PhD dissertations, right?

Wrong.

Undergraduates have taken on all of these projects as part of Michigan Tech’s Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (RSP).

Once students are accepted into this competitive program, they are guaranteed admission into graduate school at Michigan Tech. The program started in the 2002-03 academic year and attracts about 20 new scholars each year.

“I have always been curious about how and why things work,” said program participant Justin Gillespie. “The RSP appeared to offer a hands-on approach to delving deep in cutting edge projects.”

Chung-Jui Tsai has helped sequence the first tree genome and recently received a $2.1 million biotech grant.

Chung-Jui Tsai has helped sequence the first tree genome and recently received a $2.1 million biotech grant.

Biotech Research Center, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Research Briefs

US News: Tech Among Top Universities

Michigan Tech continues to rank among the top tier of universities in the US News & World Report college rankings. In addition, three of the university's undergraduate engineering programs ranked among the top 25 in the country and four graduate programs have ranked among the best in the country.

Among undergraduate programs, environmental engineering ranked 16th, materials science and engineering was 18th, and mechanical engineering was 25th. Michigan Tech's graduate programs enrolled a record 801 students during 2003-04 and attracted more than $30 million in research funding.

Researchers Help Sequence First Tree Genome

A team of Michigan Tech researchers has played a key role in an international effort to sequence the first tree genome. They were part of a consortium that has deciphered the genetic code of the black cottonwood.