The Palm Oil Phenomenon: An International Opportunity

Producing palm oil sustainably requires nations to learn from each other’s best practices. Erin Pischke explores impacts of the cash crop in her guest blog. 

Have you eaten a candy bar recently? Or washed your hands with a bar of soap? Maybe you took a prescription drug or put non-dairy creamer in your coffee. If so, chances are you touched palm oil, which is a common ingredient in everyday products.

While palm oil is consumed around the world, oil palm trees, which produce a fruit that is cultivated as a source of oil, are grown only in tropical countries like Indonesia and Brazil. Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s production combined account for approximately 80 percent of global palm oil production. However, the area for oil palm tree plantation expansion in these countries is limited. Because of its tropical, humid climate and extensive land area, Latin America is a major new frontier for oil palm expansion, with countries such as Mexico and Peru exhibiting growth in the area of oil palm cultivation.

Read the full story on Unscripted

Invitation to Tech Forward: Responsive Research Conversation Tomorrow

Join us for the next conversation in the Tech Forward Series to discuss how our research will expand and contract with the incessant needs of the world and remain relevant to the changing workforce and economic needs of our state.

"Tech Forward: Responsive Research" will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. tomorrow (Nov. 9), in the lobby of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Tech Forward is a series of campus conversations designed to position Michigan Tech as an internationally recognized academic thought leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend and engage in healthy dialogue.

Third Oceanography/Limnology Candidate to Visit Michigan Tech

Following the past Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative (SFHI), Provost Huntoon assembled a multidisciplinary search committee for the position of assistant professor in Oceanography/Limnology. The committee has reviewed applications and invited four candidates to campus.

The third candidate to visit, Joseph Kuehl, will be on campus next Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 12/13). Kuehl will give two presentations that are open to the campus community:

  • 1 p.m. Monday in Dow 642 – Kuehl will present his vision for future collaborative research at Michigan Tech
  • 2 p.m. Tuesday in R.L Smith (MEEM) 402 – This will be a public research-focused lecture entitled “A dynamical systems approach to the predictability of geophysical flows.”

Additional information can be found online (log in required).

Kuehl is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware.

The final candidate will visit Nov. 14-15. Announcements for this talk will be in Tech Today early next week.

Robbins Donates Smoky Quartz and Jade to Mineral Museum

The A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum announced the generous donation of a collection of minerals from Richard and Bonnie Robbins. Richard graduated with a bachelor's in mechanical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1956. He assumed leadership of the Robbins Company, specializing in tunnel-boring technology including boring of the "chunnel" beneath the English Channel. Michigan Tech has recognized Robbins for his professional achievements and university engagement, including the Board of Control Silver Medal in 1990, Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1994, Honorary Doctorate of Engineering in 1996, National Campaign Chair for the 1999-2002 Leaders in Innovation Campaign, which raised $135 million, and the 2001 Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction. Robbins and his wife Bonnie have established the James S. Robbins Endowed Scholarship in honor of Richard's father and three endowed faculty chairs, the Robbins Chairs of Sustainability.

Richard Robbins had a passion for collecting smoky quartz crystals. His collection includes outstanding specimens from classic smoky quartz localities in the Swiss Alps including a high-quality clear smoky quartz crystal rising off white quartz from Uri, Switzerland. Another particularly notable specimen is a dark smoky quartz crystal with a white cap and fibrous tourmaline from Senora, Mexico. His collection includes multiple smoky crystals from Brazil with one large crystal showing hopper growth, as well as crystals from Himalaya, California, Montana, Pakistan, Tunisia, Arkansas, and New York. A large cluster of smoky quartz crystals on microcline from Colorado was still on display in the lobby of Robbins Company before the collection was shipped to Michigan Tech this past summer. This specimen is now on exhibit at the museum.

In his youth, Robbins spent lots of time prospecting for his father in Alaska. He recounts collecting jade from "Jade Mountain" in the Baird Mountains of the Brooks Range just north of the Kobuk River drainage in Alaska. In addition to the smoky quartz collection, Richard and Bonnie donated 275 lbs of Alaskan jade to the museum. The smoky quartz and jade represent significant additions to the museum's collection. "I'm particularly pleased that the museum can preserve the legacy of Richard's passion for minerals," says Ted Bornhorst, executive director of the museum.

College of Engineering Cross-Cutting Initiative Stage 1 Awards Announced

The College of Engineering announced the Stage 1 Cross-cutting Initiative seed grant awards. In Stage 1, the possible nucleus team and focal area of research are identified. The awardees listed below each received $5,000:

  • Jennifer Becker (CEE)
  • Will Cantrell (Physics), Jennifer Becker (co-PI, CEE)
  • Andre Da Costa (ChE)
  • Jaroslaw Drelich (MSE)
  • Susanta Ghosh (ME-EM)
  • Michelle Jarvie-Eggart (EF)
  • Chito Kendrick (ECE/MFF)
  • Greg Odegard (ME-EM)
  • Keat Ong (Bio Med)
  • Noel Urban (CEE)

Stage 2 proposals are currently under review and will be announced in early December.

Superior Wind Symphony Presents Wisdom from Experience

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts present a concert by the Superior Wind Symphony titled “Wisdom from Experience,” a celebration of the music of long-lived composers, in honor of composers whose lives have been cut short.

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Nov. 9) in the Rozsa Center.

According wind symphony band leader Mike Christianson, “The Superior Wind Symphony is the premier wind ensemble at Michigan Tech. Superior Winds concerts offer symphonic thrills, innovative programming, fruitful collaborations and exciting premieres. These concerts feature music from the standard repertoire and often utilize innovative formats that include visual art, the spoken word and dance."

Christianson says the ensemble makes its home in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, a hall acclaimed nationally for its acoustics and beauty.

"The ensemble undertakes concert tours on behalf of the university throughout the Great Lakes region. Superior Winds is an auditioned ensemble of winds and percussion that performs the music of composers spanning five centuries, living and not, from all genders, ethnicities and genres" he adds.

Tomorrow's program includes four original pieces by Christianson, along with Kenny Wheeler, Bob Brookmeyer, Florence Price and Maria Schneider.

Other composers whose works will be performed include Ottorino Respighi, John Williams, Jay Bocook, Percy Grainger, Fred Sturm, J.S. Bach, Gustav Holst, WC Handy, William Grant Still and Vincent Persichetti.

Tickets for "Wisdom from Experience" are on sale now, $13 for adults, $5 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online at, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

Note: The Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

Magic and Fun: 'Pinocchio' at Rozsa Saturday

The Rozsa Center welcomes the acclaimed theater troupe Tout à Trac, from Quebec, Canada, with their adaptation of "Pinocchio," a magical theatrical production which takes us on another amazing journey into the heart of childhood and imagination.

Following their internationally acclaimed "Alice in Wonderland," Tout à Trac returns with Collodi’s tale about the world’s most famous puppet: Pinocchio.

They will present two shows —2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 10). In addition to the performance, guests at the 2 p.m. matinee will be treated to “KC Bonker’s Gepetto’s Workshop” in the lobby, after the show, co-hosted by Trish Helsel (VPA), KC Bonker’s, the Portage Lake District Library and the Rozsa Center.

 “Gepetto’s Workshop” will include an interactive puppet workshop, featuring an on-stage tour of the Pinocchio set, a shadow puppet theatre and a “sock-puppet creation-station” in the Rozsa lobby, complete with refreshments and puppetry-themed fun for all ages.

Reviewer Pat Donnelly writes, “Calling all parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles! If you haven’t taken the children to see Pinocchio … yet, keep it in mind as a weekend option. …Every detail is artfully executed in this disarming retelling of a classic tale. The sets, costumes and, of course, the puppets (including the boy with the nose), have a distinct, folkloric style. Gepetto is adorable. One of Pinocchio’s arms is a flute. The cat gets a laugh by simply singing one word from a famous feline musical."

Tickets are on sale now, $16 for adults, $6 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online at, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.  

Note: The Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

Film Board Presents: "Mission Impossible: Fallout"

This weekend, Film Board presents: "Mission Impossible: Fallout"


  • Tomorrow (Nov. 9) — 5:30, 8:30, 11:30 p.m.
  • Saturday (Nov. 10 )— 2:30, 5:30, 8:30, 11:30 p.m.
  • Sunday (Nov. 11) — 2:30, 5:30 p.m.

Located in Fisher 135. Tickets are $3 and concessions are $1 each.

"Mission Impossible: Fallout" is rated PG-13 for violence and action sequences throughout, and brief strong language.

Want to see what movies we’re playing next? Check out our movies and showtimes at the Film Board website.

ME-EM Graduate Seminar Speaker

This week, the Department of Mechanical Engineering - Engineering Mechanics will have two Graduate Seminar Speakers. Our second speaker will give a talk at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Nov. 9) in EERC 226.

Reza Mirzaeifar will present “A New Class of Metal‐Graphene Composites.” Mirzaeifar is an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Virginia Tech.

The first of the week's seminars takes place today (see Reminders).

Geospatial Research Forum

Do you use GIS, remote sensing or other geospatial technologies in your research or teaching? Or perhaps want to? Join your fellow geospatial researchers at the annual Michigan Tech Geospatial Research Forum.

Come for lunch, learn about how you can collaborate on geospatial focused proposals and contribute to a series of "TechTalks"-style presentations about current geospatial research across campus. This event will be hosted by the Geospatial Research Facility from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 in GLRC 202.

For lunch and to sign up to present a three-minute Geospatial TechTalk, fill out this form. RSVP by Wednesday, Nov. 28 so we have enough lunch for all guests.

Questions? Contact Don Lafreniere or Ryan Williams.


ME-EM Graduate Seminar Speaker Today

 The next Graduate Seminar Speaker Series will be held at 4 p.m. today (Nov. 8) in EERC 103.

Shima Shahab will present “An ultrasonic solution for wireless powering of biomedical implants.” Shahab is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. She is also director of the Multiphysics Intelligent and Dynamical Systems Laboratory and associate director of the NSF I/UCRC Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems.


Distinguished Ecologist Lecture Series: Trouble on the Edge: Coastal Ecosystems in Changing Times

The next event in Ecosystem Science Center's Distinguished Ecologist Lecture Series takes place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. today (Nov. 8) in Forestry G-002.

Linda Deegan will present "Trouble on the Edge: Coastal ecosystems in changing times." Deegan is senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Deegan will be on campus Thursday and Friday (Nov. 8/9). To meet her, email Amy Marcarelli


Making a Difference Award Nominations End Tomorrow

Nominations for Making a Difference Awards will close at 5 p.m. tomorrow (Nov 9). Nominate a deserving colleague today in one of seven categories. Each award recipient will receive $500.

This year’s categories are:

  • Above and Beyond
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Legacy Award
  • Outstanding Supervisor
  • Rookie Award
  • Serving Others
  • Unsung Hero

For more information, read the previous Tech Today article.


KIP Seminar Tomorrow

The Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology will host the third installment of their 2018 Fall Seminar Series at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Nov. 9) in ATDC 101.

Megan Frost (Bio Med/KIP) and Caroline Gwaltney will present, "The Need for Understanding Real-Time Nitric Oxide (NO) Release for the Development of Smart Dressings for Diabetic Foot Ulcers." For the full abstract, see the event page.

Refreshments will be provided, no registration is necessary and all are welcome to attend.


 C-Cubed Luncheons Today and Tomorrow

This week's C-Cubed luncheons take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today and tomorrow (Nov. 8/9) in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge. All faculty and staff, along with their guests, are invited. The buffet lunch is $12.

The menus:


  • Moroccan Chickpea Soup (GF, VE)
  • Sweet Potato Salad (GF, VE)
  • Green Pepper Tomato Salad (GF, VE)
  • Mixed Greens with an array of fresh toppings (GF, VE)
  • Grilled Chicken (GF)
  • Salmon (GF)


  • Thai Coconut Soup (GF, VE)
  • Thai Green Salad (GF, V)
  • Thai Noodles with Chicken (GF)
  • Thai Noodles with Tofu GF (V)

V- Vegetarian, VE-Vegan/Vegetarian, GF- Gluten Free

Today's Campus Events

To have your event automatically appear, please sumbit them to the University Events Calendar.

Dug In: Experiential WWI Trench

November 8, 12 am | Corner of US-41 and MacInnes Drive

An immersive outdoor trench exhibit invites the public to imagine how soldiers experienced life in the trenches, including “going over the top.” This project is headed by Drs....


Reading Pastime: Literature in Fiction and Poetry about the Great War

November 8, 12 am | Portage Lake District Library

The Portage Lake District Library will have an exhibit open to the public including books and poems about World War I. Come check out this exhibit on display from September 28...


Never Empty

November 8, 12 am | Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, Rozsa Gallery A-Space

Artists Amanda Breitbach and Dylan Miner investigate stories about local and national lands. The two artists dig into myths and tensions within landscapes, and the peoples who...


C-Cubed Luncheon

November 8, 12 am | Memorial Union Building (MUB), Alumni Lounge, Room 107

This week's C3 luncheons take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday (November 8/9) in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge. All faculty and staff, along with...


School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and DELS hosts Linda Deegan

November 8, 12 am | U. J. Noblet Forestry Building, G002

Linda Deegan is a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. She is interested in the relationships between ecosystem dynamics and animal populations, particularly in...


Study Abroad 101

November 8, 12 am | Michigan Tech Campus, 200 Administration Building

Thinking of studying abroad but don't know where to start? Attend Study Abroad 101 for all the need-to-know details. You’ll learn about the variety of programs—faculty-led...


CTL Instructional Awards Presentation Series - Roman Sidortsov, 2018 Large Class Teaching Award

November 8, 12 am

Thursday, 3:30-4:30pm


href='' >An Ultrasonic Solution

November 8, 12 am | Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC), 103

for Wireless Powering of Medical Implants ME-EM Graduate Seminar Speaker Series proudly presents: Shima Shahab Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and...


Café Français

November 8, 12 am | Walker Arts and Humanities Center, HDMZ 120C

Café français is a French conversation group for all levels of French speakers that meets every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. in the HDMZ, Walker 120C. Join us in a relaxed...


Railroad Surveys Presentation - Coleman Engineering Company

November 8, 12 am | Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC), Room 229

Mr. Ronald K. Jacobson, P.S., Survey Manager of Coleman Engineering Company, Ironwood, MI, will be giving a special presentation on Railroad Surveys, Thursday, November 8,...