ESC Student Research Forum Awards

The Ecosystem Science Center is proud to announce the winners for best poster presentations at the ESC’s annual Student Research Forum. The Forum was held on Feb. 22 with over 20 participants presenting their research on a variety of topics related to socio-ecological processes, patterns, interactions and connections in the environment.

The following awards were given:

Grand Prize: Katie Bershing for “Examining Oak Wilt Vector Activity and Spring Phenology Across Upper Michigan and Canada.” Advisor: Tara Bal

Merit Award: Tiff DeGroot for “Uncovering Cryptic Mammal Diversity in a Tropical Forest Using Noninvasive Survey Methods.” Advisor(s): Kristin Brzeski and Jared Wolfe

Merit Award: Lily Heinzel for “Does Genetic Admixture Impact Ghost Wolf Ecology?” Advisor: Kristin Brzeski

Merit Award: Eileen Reeves for “Introducing the Rot Squad: Metabarcoding of Decomposing Wood Reveals Saprotrophic Fungal Community.” Advisor(s): Andy Burton and Carsten Kuelheim

ESC Research Funding Awards

The Ecosystem Science Center is proud to announce research funding awards for Fall 2023. ESC aims to advance our knowledge of the inherent complexity of social-ecological systems and thus provides small grants to ESC members and their students to help develop externally supported research programs.

ESC congratulates the following recipients:

ESC Student Research Grant Awards

  • Lily Heinzel for “Genetic Admixture Impacts Species Ecology." Advisor: Kristin Brzeski.
  • Quinn Angus for “Trophic ecology of Gulf Coast canids: Influence of Anthropogenic Sources on Dietary Niche Breadth." Advisors:  Jill Olin and Kristin Brzeski.
  • Abe Stone for “Investigating Isle Royale’s Unknown Hawkweed Genotypes with Ecological Implications.” Advisor: Carsten Kuelheim.

ESC Student Travel Grant Awards

  • Nicolas Skillings to attend the 2023 ESA Annual Meeting. Advisors: Rod Chimner and Erik Lilleskov.
  • Mackenzie Russell to attend the American Geophysical Union 2023 meeting. Advisors: Evan S. Kane and Katherine A. Heckman.
  • Ryan Heines to attend the 27th Biennial Conference of the Coast and Estuary Research Federation. Advisor: Jill Olin.
  • Eli Paulen to attend the American Geophysical Union. Advisor: Frank Liu.
  • Katie Bershing to attend the Society of American Foresters National Convention. Advisor: Tara L. Bal.

Jeff Sherwood’s Professional Theatrical Sound Design of Million Dollar Quartet

Congratulations to Jeff Sherwood (VPA), assistant professor of sound, on his professional theatrical sound design for the ACT of Connecticut production of "Million Dollar Quartet" in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The musical was directed by Broadway actor and director Hunter Foster, who was an original cast member of the Broadway production.

The production opened on Saturday (Feb. 24) and the show run was extended an extra week, through March 23, due to the overwhelmingly positive response of the preview audiences.

The musical revolves around the historical twist of fate on Dec. 4, 1956, that brought together Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley.

This creative activity and research in theatrical sound design continues to elevate the reputation of Michigan Tech to audiences around the country, as well as to potential future employers of Michigan Tech students and alumni.

Blake Pietila, Jack Works Named CCHA Players of the Week

Blake Pietila and Jack Works have been named CCHA Players of the Week. Pietila was named the CCHA Goaltender of the Week for the third time this season and 17th time in his career. Works in the CCHA Forward of the Week for the second time this season.

Pietila stopped 47 of 48 shots faced on the weekend for a .979 save percentage. He made 28 saves in a 7-0 win Friday to earn his second shutout of the season and the 22nd of his career. Pietila stopped 19 shots on Saturday to earn his 71st career win. He leads the CCHA in saves per game (26.7) and ranks second in goals-against average (2.40) and third in save percentage (.918).

Jack Works had four assists over the weekend. He had three assists in the 7-0 shutout on Friday and added another assist Saturday on Chase Pietila's game-winning goal. Works has 17 points this season with eight goals and nine assists.

Read the full story on Michigan Tech Athletics

In the News

The Daily Mining Gazette, the Rink Live and the Keweenaw Report, and  covered Michigan Tech hockey’s Jack Works and Blake Pietila being named CCHA Players of the Week. 


Tom Monahan Smith (ATH) was quoted by the Daily Mining Gazette in a story about the cross country ski team winning their third straight NCAA Central Region Championship with a combined team win and a men's team victory at the Tech Trails over the weekend. The Michigan Tech coaching staff also earned Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year.


Nancy Langston (SS/CFRES) was quoted in a Bridge Michigan story about the impacts of climate change on Michigan winters and on the residents whose identities and livelihoods are tied to the winter season. The story also ran in Bridge Detroit


The Keweenaw Report covered an increase in residential housing costs at Michigan Tech in 2024-25, which was approved by Michigan Tech’s Board of Trustees at their meeting last Friday (Feb. 23). 


Keweenaw Now mentioned M. Bartley Siegel and quoted Elizabeth Flynn (both HU) in a story about the Ukrainian poet Yuliya Musakovska being invited to open the art exhibit "Simple Machines: Poetry, Letterpress, and the Art of the Little Magazine" on Feb. 2 at the Rozsa Art Galleries. The free exhibit is open until March 30 in the A-Space of the Rozsa Center.


Sarah Zarzecki ’06 (B.S. Civil Engineering) was interviewed on the STEM Professionals Podcast as part of their Women in Engineering Success Stories series. The episode was titled “Exploring Impactful Engineering Roles (Beyond Traditional STEM Careers).”


Summer 2024 Finishing Fellowship Nominations Open

Applications for Summer 2024 Finishing Fellowships are being accepted and are due no later than 4 p.m. on March 6 to the Graduate School. Please email applications to

Instructions on the application and evaluation process are found online. Students are eligible if all of the following criteria are met:

  1. Must be a Ph.D. student.
  2. Must expect to finish during the semester supported as a Finishing Fellow.
  3. Must have submitted no more than one previous application for a Finishing Fellowship.
  4. Must be eligible for candidacy (tuition charged at Research Mode rate) at the time of application.
  5. Must not hold a final oral examination ("defense") prior to the start of the award semester.

Finishing Fellowships provide support to Ph.D. candidates who are close to completing their degrees. These fellowships are available through the generosity of alumni and friends of the University. They are intended to recognize outstanding Ph.D. candidates who are in need of financial support to finish their degrees and are also contributing to the attainment of goals outlined in the Michigan Tech Strategic Plan.

The Graduate School anticipates funding up to 10 fellowships, with support ranging from $2,000 to full support (stipend plus tuition). Students who receive full support through a Finishing Fellowship may not accept any other employment. For example, students cannot be fully supported by a Finishing Fellowship and accept support as a GTA or GRA.


New Artificial Intelligence Tools Policy for Research

Michigan Tech remains committed to supporting University researchers while protecting data privacy and security concerns. In response to the emerging use of large language model artificial intelligence (AI) tools, the Vice President for Research Office (VPR) announces its Large Language Model Generative Artificial Intelligence Tools in Research Activities policy in support of the University’s researchers AI use in research activities. The policy provides a minimum level of guidance to users of these tools.

For more information, please contact Gina LeMay at


The Wait is Over: Register Now for Family Fun Day

It's the time you have been waiting for — Michigan Tech's annual Family Fun Day sponsored by Staff Council and Athletics and Recreation! This year, Family Fun Day will take place on March 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On Family Fun Day, all Michigan Tech employees and their families are invited to enjoy free access to the SDC facilities and other campus amenities. Along with free lunch and a chance to win amazing prizes, you and your family can check out attendee favorites such as Esports, the climbing wall, the WIBIT and the dive tank, in addition to our new events — sticks and pucks, the shooting range, a fitness class sampler, disc golf and more! Who knows? Maybe you will even see some special guests!

A schedule of events is located on the Staff Council website.

If you plan to join us, please register online by Sunday (March 3).


GSG Merit Awards Nominations Now Open

Each year, at our annual banquet, GSG gives out four merit awards, one each to an exceptional staff member, an exceptional graduate mentor, an exceptional graduate student leader and an exceptional graduate student scholar. For a complete description of the categories, and to access the nomination form, please visit the Merit Awards 2024 website.

Nominations for awards will close today (Feb. 28) at 11:59 p.m. This year's banquet is on March 27.

If you have any questions, please contact Anusha at

Today's Campus Events

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Simple Machines: Poetry, Letterpress, and the Art of the Little Magazine Presented by Michigan Tech Art

Simple Machines is a two-edition, international, letterpress poetry magazine founded and edited by Michigan Tech’s M. Bartley Seigel, funded through a Research Excellence...