Stepping Up Virtually to Meet the Needs of Students

The campus-wide efforts to support our students in this new remote learning environment have been extraordinary. While it might have been a bumpy start, it seems like a rhythm has taken hold and people are adapting to our new reality. Evidence of this came from a student who wrote to me recently and said, “All of my professors have been tremendous and willing to make adjustments in the interest of alleviating any burdens, too; this is another testament to our incredible Husky culture! (#tenacity).” Indeed, support is being offered across campus in a variety of ways to meet the needs of students.

The University Senate helped students by adopting a Pass/Fail grading system for the semester. They recognized the challenges students were facing by the sudden move to remote education, including technology access, decreased contact hours with instructors, relocation, familial issues, loss of jobs, and the general anxiety associated with these uncertain times. This change allows undergraduate students the opportunity to change their grades to Pass/Fail, and also allows all Pass grades taken this semester to satisfy major, minor, and general education requirements, in addition to free electives. There are FAQs for the Spring 2020 P/F grade option posted to provide additional information.

In order to help students adjust and stay on track, Student Services moved to an online format—similar to classes—to provide resources. Counseling Services is currently seeing about 70% of their regular caseload. Michigan licensing requirements are such that counselors are not permitted to work with students who are in a different state. As a result, the case manager has been helping students find providers in their local communities. In addition, coaches are available in the Learning Centers and the Wahtera Center for Student Success. Academic advisors were available to help students through registration, and many are now following up with students who haven’t yet registered for fall. The Early Intervention Team is also active. If you have a concern about students, use the Report a Concern page and staff in the Dean of Students Office will follow up. 

We are also helping students in financial need through several emergency funds, including the Husky Assistance Fund, the Betty Chavis Fund, the International Student Fund, and the Graduate School Emergency Fund. More than 60 requests have been received and approximately $18,000 has been awarded to students in need. This is possible because of the generosity of alumni and friends of the University. If you would like to help, you can donate here

To help students stay connected and promote community, more virtual events are being offered daily. To name a few, Trivia Night is every Wednesday at 8 p.m., there is an upcoming virtual poetry reading, and clubs and organizations are also meeting—the MUB Board is planning a virtual Spring Fling for Friday. A virtual celebration is also being planned in honor of our May graduates. In addition, these students will be invited back to campus for a special in-person commencement ceremony on April 24, 2021. 

As we look forward, plans are also underway to welcome new students to campus. Michigan Tech will be offering incoming first-year and transfer students scheduled to start in fall 2020 an opportunity to enroll in a variety of online summer classes. Since high school was cut short for many of these students, they may welcome the opportunity to kick off their college careers and join the Husky family.

While Michigan Tech is known for its rich face-to-face experiential learning environment, what we have demonstrated in this shift to remote learning is that as an institution, we are agile. Most importantly though, we have shown that we put students first to ensure both their academic and personal success.     

Public Forums for Dean of the Grad School Candidates

The Public Forums for Candidate for Dean of the Graduate School will take place this week. Candidates will give a talk on their vision for this position followed by a public question and answer period moderated by Carlos M. Amador (HU) and Robert Hutchinson (CoB).

We invite everyone in the MTU community to attend virtually via Zoom (links provided below).

  • 1 to 2:50 p.m. today (April 15). Will Cantrell (Physics Professor and Associate Dean, Grad School) Zoom Link
  • 2 to 3:50 p.m. Thursday (April 16). David Flaspohler (Director of Undergraduate Studies & Professor, College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences) Zoom Link
  • 1 to 2:50 p.m. Friday (April 17).  John Gierke (Professor and Chair, Geological & Mining Engineering & Sciences) Zoom Link

Michigan Tech Students Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Three Michigan Tech students, Greta Pryor Colford, Dylan Gaines and Seth A. Kriz, have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships. The oldest STEM-related fellowship program in the United States, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a prestigious award that recognizes exceptional graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines early in their career and supports them through graduate education. NSF-GRFP fellows are an exceptional group; 42 fellows have gone on to become Nobel Laureates, and about 450 fellows are members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Graduate School is proud of these students for their outstanding scholarship. These awards highlight the quality of students at Michigan Tech, the innovative work they have accomplished, the potential for leadership and impact in science and engineering that the county recognizes in these students, and the incredible role that faculty play in students’ academic success.

Dylan Gaines is currently a master of science student in the Computer Science Department at Michigan Tech, he will begin his doctoral degree in the same program in Fall 2020. Gaines’ research, with Keith Vertanen (CS), focuses on text entry techniques for people with visual impairments. He also plans to develop assistive technologies for use in Augmented Reality. During his undergraduate education at Michigan Tech, Gaines was a member of the cross country and track teams. Now, he serves as a graduate assistant coach. “I am very thankful for this award and everyone that supported me through the application process and helped to review my essays” said Gaines. Commenting on Gaines’ award, Computer Science Department Chair Linda Ott explained “All of us in the Department of Computer Science are very excited that Dylan is being awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. This is a clear affirmation that Dylan is an excellent student and that even as an undergraduate he demonstrated strong research skills. It also is a tribute to Dylan's advisor Dr. Keith Vertanen who has established a very successful research group in intelligent interactive systems.”

Seth A. Kriz is pursuing his doctoral degree in chemical engineering, with Caryn Heldt (ChE). He completed his undergraduate education, also in chemical engineering, at Michigan Tech and has previously served as the lead coach of the Chemical Engineering Learning Center. His research focuses on developing improved virus purification methods for large-scale vaccine production so as to provide a timely response to pandemics. “I am extremely proud to represent Michigan Tech and my lab as an NSF graduate research fellow, and for this opportunity to do research that will save lives. My success has been made possible by the incredible family, faculty, and larger community around me, and I thank everyone for their support. Go Huskies!” said Kriz. Commenting on the award, Kriz’s advisor, Heldt said “Seth embodies many of the characteristics we hope to see in our students: excellence in scholarship, high work ethic, and a strong desire to give back to his community. I'm extremely proud of his accomplishments and I can't wait to see what else he will do.” In addition, Kriz sings with the Michigan Tech Chamber Choir.

Greta Pryor Colford earned her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in aerospace engineering from Michigan Tech in spring 2019. She is currently a post-baccalaureate student at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she previously worked as an undergraduate and summer intern. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Colford is part of the Test Engineering group (E-14) of the Engineering, Technology and Design Division (E). At Michigan Tech, she was a leader of the Attitude Determination and Control Team of the Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise, a writing coach at the Multiliteracies Center, and a member of the Undergraduate Student Government.

The fellowship provides three years of financial support, including a $34,000 stipend for each fellow and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for the fellow’s institution. Besides financial support for fellows, the GRFP provides opportunities for research on national laboratories and international research.

Understanding Grief and Loss in the Midst of a Pandemic

Grief and loss are a normal part of life, but 2020 seems to have brought on a tsunami wave of losses. Grief is traditionally associated with the death of a loved one, which may be part of your grief, but grief can be broadened to encompass all losses someone may experience. At the start of 2020, people wrote out New Year’s resolutions and had expectations of what the year would look like. Unfortunately, many of those hopes have been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic and focus has turned toward survival rather than personal growth.

Now is the time to explore and understand how the current situation may actually be triggering feelings of grief and loss. The grief experience is more complex than the widely known 5-stages of grief and is actually a unique, non-linear experience. Common signs of grief may include, but are not limited to: sadness, difficulty concentrating, guilt, anxiety, numbness, loss of control over thoughts and feelings, fatigue, aimlessness, a desire for social isolation, and irritability.

Grief is not just about death, but also the loss of something. There are many losses happening right now, such as; loss of social support (the ability to physically socialize with friends); not completing the semester like planned (for some, their final semester at MTU); not attending a graduation to celebrate years of hard work; packing and moving out with no closure; potential financial or health loss; and in general, the loss of the assumptive world we live in. Everything we thought was a safety net feels like it isn’t there to catch us.

Although it may be scary and overwhelming to think about loss, it is important to recognize that these feelings are okay, you are not facing this alone. Even though it does not feel good, grief is normal and healthy, especially during this time. If you are struggling with any of these signs of grief, I want to give some tips on how to handle your experience:

  1. Acknowledging or recognizing that you are grieving is an important first step
  2. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to what you are feeling, so be patient with yourself as things may be a little overwhelming for the time being
  3. Connect with your social supports through video chats, phone calls or other physically distancing activities. Hearing another person’s voice is important and not just the communication, so make sure you are actually talking with someone else
  4. If you are struggling and it is impacting your day-to-day life you may want to consider professional support, either through Counseling Services or a counselor near you

Finally, I want to leave you with hope and a reminder of how resilient you are and can be when faced with all these losses. As you have adapted to your new normal, you have demonstrated your personal ability for resilience. Resilience is the ability to face adversity and do your best to adapt and move forward. It can show through in the midst of the chaos and when the dust has settled. It may be a challenge right now, but taking one step at a time and doing what you can is all that you can do and all that you need to do for the time being. As a last reminder of the power of human resilience, I will leave you with this quote by Bernard Williams: “Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.”

Virtual Speed Sketchers Caricatures

MUB Board presents a fun, creative way to get your caricature drawn. Join MUB Board from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday (April 16) as we host Speed Sketchers Adam Pate.

He will be live on our zoom event drawing caricatures faster than you can imagine. Attendees can login and raise their hand "digitally" to let him know that they are ready to be drawn.

Each person will be drawn individually and then Pate will upload the digital caricatures to a site where each person can download their drawing for social media or for print — you can even bring your pet.

Link to register

International award-winning live party caricaturist Adam Pate, the originator of the Strolling 60 Second Speed Sketch Caricature, began drawing funny pictures of people in restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the early 90’s. This environment presented unique opportunities for him to develop rare skills like showmanship, speed, mobility and versatility that help him excel at entertaining large parties like mitzvahs, weddings, promotions, corporate events, festivals, and even virtual socials.

Harry Potter Trivia Tonight!

It's Trivia Night.

Join us at 8 p.m. (EDT) tonight (April 15) on Zoom. Think you know more than your friends? Full of facts and not sure when you might need them? Prove to everyone you know your stuff! You could even win a prize.

We will have weekly Wednesday trivia nights until the end of the semester. This week's trivia is Harry Potter themed. The student who gets the highest points gets a $25 gift card.

All are welcome to participate,  but only students can win the prize.

KIP MS Thesis Defense

Ben Cockfield will present his MS thesis defense, entitled "Acute Physiological Responses to Arm-Cranking with Blood Flow Restriction" from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 22 via Zoom.

His research will show how upper-body aerobic exercise (e.g., arm-cranking) with blood flow restriction (BFR) may be an effective way to improve both aerobic capacity and muscular function. Physiological responses to lower-body aerobic exercise with BFR have been well documented, but the responses to upper-body have not been made clear.”

All are welcome to attend.

GSG Academic Seminar (Webinar): Statistical Programming Methods in R Today

Do you need to perform statistical analysis in your research? Are you using the right software to process your data efficiently? Are you interested in learning a statistical programming language? Well, sit back and relax at home with Graduate Student Government this afternoon for an online webinar intended to get you up and running with R statistical programming.

This will be a hands-on webinar featuring Laura Schaerer from the Biological Sciences Department. Scherer has experience with R programming in her research and will walk you through the proper steps to:

  • Understand and use the helpful tidyverse package
  • Importing data into R -data transformations, tidy data, data manipulations
  • Making informative figures with ggplot2
  • Troubleshooting common code errors

Where: Zoom

When: 4 to 5:30 p.m. today (April 15)

Space is not really limited but just so we know how many students to expect, be sure to register using this link.


Transportation Services System Offline Tonight

The Transportation Services T2 system will be offline for a software upgrade from 9-11 p.m. today (April 15). During this time you will not be able to update your vehicle information or pay a parking citation.


Love in the Time of COVID-19

As we face a new normal to our day-to-day lives, maintaining a creative, expressive, and connected community has taken on new meaning and importance. In celebration of National Poetry Month, Amy L. Howard (CDI) and M. Bartley Seigel (HU) invite you to submit work for participation in a virtual poetry reading engaging any facet of life and love in the time of Covid-19.

The virtual poetry reading will take place at 4 p.m. Friday, April 24 via Zoom. This event is open to all. Selected poets must be available to read in person via Zoom. Submit the following Google Form to participate. The submission deadline is 5 p.m. Friday (April 17). Poets will be informed by Monday, April 20.

In Print

Graduate students Rashmi Adhikari (Chem), Mu Yang (Chem), post-doctoral fellow Nabanita Saikia (Physics), graduate students Colina Dutta (Chem), Wafa Alharbi (BioSci), Associate Professor Zhiying Shan (KIP), Professor Ravi Pandey (Physics) and Associate Professor Ashutosh Tiwari (Chem) published a paper in ACS Chemical Neuroscience titled “Acetylation of Aβ42 at lysine 16 disrupts amyloid formation” on March 24.

In the News

Andrew Barnard (GLRC/ME-EM) was quoted in the story "Michigan soldiers set to use giant oven in the war on COVID-19," in the Detroit Free Press. The story, by Bill Laitner, was also distributed by Herald-Mail Media.


A team of Michigan Tech researchers was mentioned in the story "Desktop FDM 3D Printing: Tensile Strength of ABS, PC, HIPS, PA and Ninjaflex," in 3D Print.


Former Michigan Tech Hockey standout Tony Esposito is among the finalists for the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. The finalists were announced Monday in The Detroit News

Online fan voting is open until April 30.


Michigan Tech alumnus Nicholas Daavettila was featured in the article "Daavettila sworn in as 97th District Court judge," in the Daily Mining Gazette.


Michigan Tech and the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) were featured in the story "OFFSET Awards Contracts to Advance Swarm Tactics for Urban Missions, Enhance Physical Testbeds," in DARPA Military News.

Today's Campus Events

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Maximize Your Time at Home

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Harry Potter Trivia Night

Trivia Night! Join us at 8 PM EST on Zoom. Think you know more than your friends? Full of facts and not sure when you might need them? Prove to everyone you know your stuff!...


Environmental Graphiti Online Exhibit

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