Research in Focus

Student researcher performing a test in the wave tank.

Research at Michigan Tech excels at being interdisciplinary — so much so that the University is now widely known for it. But why and how has Tech developed this sterling reputation in an area other universities view as niche?

There's a single answer: The University makes interdisciplinary research a leading priority.

"Research in Focus" — a section in our 2024 Michigan Tech Magazine — highlights some of the extraordinary interdisciplinary collaboration happening at Michigan's flagship technological university.

Starting next week, we'll feature our four "Research in Focus" stories, which highlight MTU researchers who are breaking through boundaries between scientific disciplines and leveraging the full depth and breadth of knowledge across campus.

VPR Candidate Presenting at Open Forum

The Vice President for Research (VPR) Search Committee has invited three candidates to Michigan Tech for on-campus interviews.

Candidate 3 Open Forum Presentation:
Monday, April 8, at 2 p.m. in Chem Sci 101
The third and final candidate will interview on Monday and Tuesday (April 8 and 9). The candidate will present their vision for research at Michigan Tech at an open forum at 2 p.m. Monday in Chem Sci 101.

Information on all candidates, interview dates, open forum information and post-forum recordings can be viewed at the Office of the President's Vice President for Research Search page. A Michigan Tech login is required to view candidate information.

The search committee encourages the campus community to interact with each candidate during the interviews and to provide feedback by completing the anonymous comment form provided on the VPR Candidates page. Feedback forms will be posted immediately following each candidate's visit and will be available for 72 hours following the last candidate's departure.

Feedback forms will close at 8 a.m. April 15.

Advancement and Alumni Engagement Streamlines Requests

Advancement Services has launched the Advancement and Alumni Engagement (A&AE) Support Center. Similar to the Business Support Center, the A&AE Support Center provides campus partners with a centralized, streamlined ticketing system for advancement- and alumni-related support for data and event partnerships.

Submitting an email to initiates a process similar to the IT Help process: You’ll receive an email with your ticket number and be able to track its progress online. It is important to include as much information as possible in your request in order for A&AE staff to best evaluate the pivotal members of our team (Alumni Engagement, Annual Giving, Stewardship, etc.) to partner with for a successful outcome.

Advancement and Alumni Engagement types of information requests include, but are not limited to: contribution reports, financial aid scholarship reports, unit contribution designation reports, newsletters (emailed or physical), holiday cards, thank-you notes, honor academy lists, Presidential Council of Alumnae induction lists and Alumni Awards nomination lists.

We take data privacy and confidentiality very seriously and are excited to partner with you on the successful execution of your request. As such, while some of the mechanics you are used to using may have changed, be assured we still desire to help you achieve your goals and complete your activity.

Sense of Belonging Student Focus Groups

What makes you feel like you belong on campus? What doesn’t? Where can changes be made? The Student Success Council’s Sense of Belonging Committee invites students to share your thoughts at a focus group.

Join us for a guided discussion on one of the following dates:

  • Tuesday, April 9, at noon
  • Thursday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 11, at 5 p.m.
  • Friday, April 12, at 2 p.m.

All focus groups will meet in Library 244. Light refreshments will be provided.

Find more info and sign up for a focus group session using our Sense of Belonging Discussion form.

Sell Your Sports and Outdoor Gear at the Silent Gear Auction!

Sell your sports and outdoor gear at the Silent Gear Auction!

Michigan Tech Recreation will be accepting outdoor and recreational gear for commission in the Silent Gear Auction beginning on Monday (April 8) through next Friday (April 12) during regular Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) hours.

The Silent Gear Auction will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday (April 13) on the concourse of the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in the SDC, and final bids must be submitted by 1 p.m. A consignment fee of $10 will be taken on each item. The auction is open to everyone and is a silent/blind bid auction.

Visit the Silent Gear Auction page for more information.

2024 World Water Day: GLRC Student Poster Award Winners

Congratulations to the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) Student Poster Award winners, in recognition of World Water Day 2024.

The GLRC winner for the Undergraduate Research & Scholarship Symposium coordinated by the Pavlis Honors College on March 22 was:

  • Cailin Bishop — Environmental Engineering, advised by Noel Urban

A big thank-you to our graduate student judges: master's students Hunter Roose and Ryan Heines (both Biological Sciences) and Cassandra Reed-VanDam (Applied Ecology).

The GLRC winners at the Graduate Student Government (GSG) Graduate Research Colloquium on March 26 placed as follows:

  • First Place: Cassandra Reed-VanDam — Applied Ecology, advised by Valoree Gagnon
  • Second Place: Hunter Stoddard — Chemical Engineering, advised by Rebecca Ong
  • Third Place: Ayush Chutani — Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, advised by Ana Dyreson

Thank you to all the student participants and their GLRC-affiliated advisors.

PhD Defense: Zazil Santizo Huerta, Math

Ph.D. in Discrete Mathematics candidate Zazil Santizo Huerta will defend her doctoral dissertation tomorrow (April 5) at 3 p.m. in Fisher 327B.

The title of the dissertation is "On Graph Decompositions and Designs: Exploring the Hamilton-Waterloo Problem with a Factor of 6-cycles and Projective Planes of Order 16."

Santizo Huerta is advised by Melissa Keranen.

PhD Defense: Lea Morath, BioMed

Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering candidate Lea Morath will present a final doctoral defense tomorrow (April 15) at 10:15 a.m. This event can be attended in person only in M&M 610.

Morath's dissertation is titled "Effect if Bio-Environment and Cu
Alloying in Zinc Implant Biocompatibility."

She is advised by Jeremy Goldman.

From the abstract:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death world-wide with coronary artery disease, or atherosclerosis, being the most common form of heart disease. To treat atherosclerosis, stenting is commonly used to widen or reopen narrowed arteries and restore proper blood flow to tissues. The industry standard stent is a bare-metal or drug-eluting stent. Both of these stent types are permanent and can have complications, including in-stent restenosis and thrombosis. Some of these complications would be reduced with bioresorbable stents. In this work, a possible bioresorbable Zn-Cu alloy for arterial stenting applications was investigated using a rodent wire implantation model.

In addition to needing different materials for stenting, the environment in which they are investigated in needs to be taken into account. Most biocompatibility studies are done in young, healthy animals. However, the human patients they will be implanted in tend to be older and have comorbidities that could influence how the body responds. Therefore, two different animals models, of transgenic diseased mice and aged rats, were investigated for future material testing through wire implantation of pure platinum and zinc wires. In the diseased ApoE-/- mice, there was significantly more neointimal tissue growth, increased inflammation and smooth muscle cell (SMC) presence than healthy counterparts. In aged rats, there was a decrease in inflammation and SMC presence, but an increase in neointimal tissue area.

PhD Proposal Defense: Xinzhu (Sabrina) Li, GMES

Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences student Xinzhu (Sabrina) Li will present her doctoral research proposal defense at 3 p.m. tomorrow (April 5) in Dow 610.

Li is advised by Xin Xi (GMES), with Byung-Jun Kim (Math), Judith Perlinger (CEGE) and Shiliang Wu (GMES/CEGE) serving as committee members.

The research proposal defense is titled "Quantifying the Relative Importance of Near-surface Wind and Hydroclimate Parameters in Modulating the Dust Emission in Global Models."

From the abstract:
Mineral dust plays an important role in the Earth system, and has a wide range of impacts on the climate, air quality, agriculture, road safety, and human health. Dust emission occurs when the near surface wind speed exceeds a threshold value which strongly depends on the hydroclimate condition. Quantifying the multifaceted impacts of dust aerosol requires a good understanding and accurate model representation of the dust emission process, and its response to changes in the surface winds and hydroclimate condition. Currently, substantial inter-model discrepancies exist in the global model representations of the intensity, distribution, and variability of dust emission. In this study, we attempt to evaluate the dust model consistency and uncertainty from a new perspective. Specifically, we will quantify the relative importance of wind and hydroclimate conditions in modulating the interannual variability of dust emission in a family of global coupled aerosol-climate models. Our analysis reveals significant disparities in the sensitivity of dust emission to surface winds versus hydroclimate parameters among global models. Wind speed is identified as a dominant factor in hyperarid areas (such as the Sahara and Middle East) within all models, whereas the importance of hydroclimate variables shows mixed results for regions with higher precipitation variability, such as South Africa, North America, and Australia. This study highlights the need for developing reliable, long-term observations over dust source areas to constrain the representation of dust emission sensitivity to the driving factors.

MS Defense: Aimee Zimmerman, GMES

M.S. in Geophysics candidate Aimee Zimmerman will present her master's defense at noon tomorrow (April 5) in Dow 610. Virtual attendance is also invited via Zoom.

Zimmerman is advised by Greg Waite, with Chad Deering and Simon Carn serving as committee members.

Her master's thesis is titled "Response of Open Volcanic Systems to Static Stress Changes."

From the abstract:
Large earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater can alter thermal emissions and even trigger an eruption of a nearby volcano. The stress changes imparted by large earthquakes can cause otherwise stable conditions within the magmatic system to be disturbed, potentially inducing volcanic activity. The extent of the triggering potential is still unknown due to the lack of understanding of what specific mechanism works to start the activity. Utilizing thermal satellite imaging of volcanoes will indicate the degree of change in volcanic activity that is promoted through increasing heat flux values from magma movement. Coupling thermal satellite data with records of large earthquake events, the cumulative sum of power readings will demonstrate the correlation that exists between volcanic activity and the occurrence of large-magnitude earthquakes. The normal stress perpendicular to the direction of maximum stress and strain was calculated on each volcano within 500 km of a large earthquake. The cumulative power from the MODVOLC and MIROVA databases was calculated over -1 to 1 year after positive stress and strain, and negative stress and strain changes. Spikes in thermal data were present in positive stress and strain around 7 months after an earthquake, and 0.1-0.2 months for negative stress and strain. A possible triggering mechanism for the spikes that are present in the positive parameter changes is bubble nucleation which occurs when positive strain values are imparted on the magmatic system. Not every volcano-earthquake pairing resulted in spikes of thermal data, which could indicate that remote triggering depends on whether the volcano is in a critical state.

BioMed Seminar Series Speaker: Noelia Grande Gutiérrez

The next guest speaker in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BioMed) Seminar Series will present tomorrow (April 5) at 3 p.m. in person in M&M 610 and virtually via Zoom.

Noelia Grande Gutiérrez from Carnegie Mellon University will present "Computational modeling of coronary artery blood flow: Investigating links between vascular structure and hemodynamics."

Read the abstract and speaker bio at the University Events Calendar.

Jasper Johnston Volunteers with Alaskan Organization Skiku

Michigan Tech Nordic skier Jasper Johnston spent time in Alaska at the beginning of March, volunteering as a skiing coach with Skiku, an organization with a core purpose of encouraging and supporting sustainable community-driven ski programs primarily focused on rural Alaska and Alaska Native youth.

"Skiku is an Alaskan organization that works to spread the sport of skiing around Alaska," Johnston explained. "In the spring, they organize 'Ski Weeks' in over 30 remote villages. During these weeks, volunteer coaches work with students teaching them the basics of skiing and hope that they continue the lifelong sport of skiing."

"Skiku covers the cost of food for the week and flights within Alaska, which makes this trip possible," Johnston added. "Our group, with four total coaches, slept in the library of the school and cooked most meals in the school kitchen."

Read the full story at Michigan Tech Athletics.

Jed Pietila Signs with Toledo Walleye in ECHL

Michigan Tech hockey senior defenseman Jed Pietila has signed a professional contract with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL.

Pietila appeared in 75 games for the Huskies and tallied 30 points with three goals and 27 assists. He was also plus-18 for his career, with 52 penalty minutes.

Pietila registered 16 points in 35 games during the 2022-23 season and 14 points in 40 games as a senior. He scored against Lake Superior State, Minnesota State and Bowling Green.

Read more at Michigan Tech Athletics.

Men's Basketball Adds Layne Risdon to Signing Class

Michigan Tech men's basketball head coach Josh Buettner has announced Layne Risdon as an addition to the 2024 signing class.

"Layne is a skilled big that, with added strength, will have a chance to fit well into our systems at Michigan Tech," Buettner said. "He is a tremendous student-athlete and will fit in well with our culture."

Risdon is a 6-9 forward/center at Zeeland East High School. He scored 979 total points for the Chix, and was named All-Conference his junior and senior seasons. He was also named the team's MVP in his final year of prep.

Read more at Michigan Tech Athletics.

New Funding

Angie Carter (SS/ESC) is the principal investigator (PI) on a project that has received a $109,964 research and development contract from the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

The project is titled "Meeting needs at the margins: Building networks to support 'missed' land stewards."

This is a potential two-year project.


Ramy El-Ganainy (Physics/CQP) is the PI on a project that has received a $53,754 research and development contract from the University of Southern California.

The project is titled "Optical Thermodynamics of Nonlinear Multimode Systems Topic 1.A.ii(4) Quantum Optics."

In the News

MTU student Abe Stone (ecology and evolutionary biology) and Sigrid Resh (CFRES/ESC) were quoted by ABC 10 in a story about Stone’s research on using native fungus Chondrostereum purpureum, or silverleaf disease, to remove invasive buckthorn plants from forests. Stone’s research was the subject of a recent story on Michigan Tech’s Unscripted Research Blog.


Tim Havens (CS/ICC/GLRC) was quoted by the Keweenaw Report in coverage of this year’s Art in Silico computational art exhibition, which began Tuesday (April 2) and continues through tomorrow (April 5) at the Copper Country Community Art Center.


WJMN Local 3, WLUC TV6 and WNMU-FM mentioned Michigan Tech in stories about the creation of the Michigan Outdoor Innovation Fund, a $3 million pre-seed fund to support entrepreneurs across the state in the outdoor recreation industry. MTU is one of the regional partner organizations serving on the fund’s advisory board. Local 3’s story was picked up by Yahoo! News.


The Mining Journal mentioned Michigan Tech as one of seven recipients statewide of Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy grants to develop locations to recycle vehicle tires. MTU was awarded $210,070, according to the story.


The Daily Mining Gazette picked up a Michigan Tech Athletics feature story about Nordic skier Jasper Johnston’s March volunteer trip as a ski coach in rural Alaska as part of the Skiku organization.


The Daily Mining Gazette covered Michigan Tech hockey forward Isaac Gordon being named the CCHA’s Rookie of the Month for March.


The Quinnipiac Chronicle mentioned Michigan Tech in a story about the debate between holding NCAA Tournament regional hockey games at neutral locations versus hosted on campus by high-seeded teams. Maddy Poston ’20 (B.S. Audio Production and Technology) was quoted in the story.


The Great Game: Join the Outdoor Adventure!

Remember the fun times you had playing Pokémon GO? Join Student Leadership and Involvements (SLI's) Late Night Program for a fun outdoor adventure where participants use an app similar to our favorite childhood game on their phone.

Meet us in the MUB Commons (cafe area) tonight (April 4) at 8 p.m. to get directions and the link to the app. For more details, visit Involvement Link.

The game plan: Teams will break a secret code at Husky Plaza, see floating letters in augmented reality above an engineering building and decipher a Morse code message sent by a secret witness near the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

The Great Game is free to play. Bring your friends. This is sure to be an outdoor Tech adventure with fun and laughs!


Physics Colloquium with Carter Mashburn

Carter Mashburn from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), University of Colorado Boulder, will present this week's Physics Colloquium.

Mashburn's presentation is titled "Dual-Frequency Comb Spectroscopy: An Emerging Tool for Ultraviolet-Visible Spectroscopy."

The seminar will be presented in person at 4 p.m. today (April 4) in Fisher 139.

Read the abstract and speaker bio at the University Events Calendar.


MS Defense: Md Abu Bakr Siddique, ECE

M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering candidate Md Abu Bakr Siddique will present his master's defense tomorrow (April 5) at 8 a.m. in person in EERC 501 and virtually via Zoom.

The title of the defense is "The Integration of Neuromorphic Computing in Autonomous Robotic Systems."

Siddique is advised by Hongyu An.


Today's C3 Luncheon Menu

Menu for Thursday (April 4):

  • BBQ Brisket (AD, AG)
  • Bun (Soy, Gluten, Egg, Dairy)
  • BBQ Tofu (Vegan, Soy, AG, AD)
  • Pasta Salad (Vegetarian, Gluten, AD)
  • Crispy Onions (Vegan, Gluten, AD)
  • Mac and Cheese (Vegetarian, Dairy, Gluten, Egg)
  • Garlic Green Beans (Vegan, AD, AG)
  • Mashed Potatoes (Vegetarian, Dairy, AG)
  • Coleslaw (Vegetarian, Egg, AG)

Join Carved and Crafted Catering for this week's C3 Luncheon. The luncheon is held each week on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge (MUB 107). All faculty and staff, along with their guests, are invited.

The C3, or C-Cubed, lunch buffet menus are created and prepared by Chef Luis Delgado and his culinary team. As the name suggests, the meals are meant to foster conversation, community and collegiality. Attendees may bring their lunch instead of purchasing the buffet. Fruit-infused water, coffee, tea and cookies are available free to all attendees.

The buffet lunch is $15 per person. Cash, credit cards and gift cards are accepted. Gift cards can be purchased in the Memorial Union office (MUB 101).

We look forward to seeing you at our next luncheon!

AG = Avoiding Gluten
AD = Avoiding Dairy


MSE Seminar with Joseph Mitchell

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is hosting a seminar presented by Joseph Mitchell, Zildjian Company, today (April 4) from 1-2 p.m. in M&M 610.

The seminar is titled "Cymbal Manufacturing: Examining the Art and Science of Bronze Cymbal Making from Ancient Times through the Modern Era, Including Metal Alloying, Heat Treatment, Rolling, and Forming Techniques."

From the abstract:
Humankind’s existence is interwoven with musical expression (song, dance, instruments) dating back to time immemorial. In all parts of the ancient world metal craftsmen melted, poured, and hand-worked bronze cymbals. These shimmering instruments gave means for expressing joy in worship or celebration, providing brilliance of sound when played in musical ensemble, and frightening one’s enemies in battle. The cymbal, an instrument which evolved in the distant past and yet remains vibrant in today’s world of music, celebration, and religious ceremony, is examined through a lens of old-world manufacturing techniques and application of modern production technologies. Metallurgical analysis (chemistry, metallography, hardness) of various stages of cymbal production is presented (metal alloying, casting, heat treatment, forming techniques and technologies) and their effect on cymbal aesthetics and sound discussed.

Mitchell is the director of operations at the Zildjian Company of Norwell, Massachusetts, the world’s premier cymbal manufacturer. With an on-site foundry, bronze is melted, cast, rolled and subsequently cold-worked into beautiful-looking and -sounding instruments. Prior to employment at Zildjian, Mitchell was director of operations and technical at The Miller Company of Meriden, Connecticut, a slitting service center providing phosphor bronze and specialty alloy connector strip for automotive, telecommunication, electrical, medical and other industries.

Mitchell also worked as plant metallurgist at True Temper Sports of Amory, Mississippi, the world’s No. 1 golf shaft brand. At True Temper, coiled steel strip is welded into tubing and subsequently undergoes numerous heat-treating and metal-forming processes. Beginning his career with an AAS in Metallurgical Science Technology, Mitchell also earned a B.S. and MBA from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.


ME-EM Graduate Seminar Speaker: Sangyoon Han

The next Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) Graduate Seminar speaker will present at 4 p.m. today (April 4) in MEEM 112.

Sangyoon Han (BioMed/HRI) will present “Force, Stiffness, and Cell Behavior.”

Han's research interests center around understanding how mechanics affects cell/molecular biology, referred to as mechanobiology. He develops a minimally perturbing experimental approach and captures the heterogeneity of dynamic mechanochemical states using live cell microscopy, computer vision and inverse dynamics to probe feedbacks between cellular structure and mechanical forces.

Today's Campus Events

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

Master's Defense: Thomas Draper

Engineering Mechanics Advisor: Susanta Ghosh Directional Dependent Fracture Characteristics of 3D Printed Mechanical Metamaterials Attend Virtually:...


PhD Defense: Abhishek Patil

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Co-advisors: Jung Yun Bae and Myoungkuk Park ALGORITHMS FOR COORDINATING MULTIPLE AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES UNDER VARIOUS CONSTRAINTS...


Ramadan Awareness Day

Assalamu Aylaikum (Meaning: May God shower blessings on you)! Ramadan is one of the holy months in the Islamic calendar, it is the time when all the Muslims around the world...


Cymbal Manufacturing: Examining the Art and Science of Bronze Cymbal Making from Ancient Times through the Modern Era, Including Metal Alloying, Heat Treatment, Rolling, and Forming Techniques

Materials Science and Engineering Seminar Joseph Mitchell Zildjain Company Abstract Humankind’s existence is interwoven with musical expression (song, dance, instruments)...


Master's Defense: Aqsa Ahsan

Biological Sciences Advisor: Xiaohu Tang Exploring the Molecular Pathways of Cell Death Induced by PDE3 Modulators


Master's Defense: Madelyn VanWieren

Mechanical Engineering Advisor: Gordon Parker Neural Network Control of a Nonlinear Point Absorber Wave Energy Converter Attend Virtually:...


Husky Hour: Healthy Relationships

Looking to dive deeper into your relationships and learn how to understand/recognize signs of healthy vs. unhealthy relationships? Join Dawn Corwin from the Office of Equal...


Force, Stiffness, and Cell Behavior

ME-EM Graduate Seminar Speaker Series proudly presents Sangyoon, J. Han, PhD Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering Michigan Technological University Abstract In...


Physics Colloquium with Carter Mashburn

Carter Mashburn from NIST-University of Colorado Boulder will present at this week's Physics Colloquium. Mashburn's presentation is titled "Dual-Frequency Comb...


Huskies Group Swim Lessons - Learn to Swim Levels 1-5 - Spring 2024 Session 2

Come make a splash in Huskies Group Swim Lessons! American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Levels 1-5 are being offered at the SDC Pool. Huskies Learn-to-Swim Levels 1-5 (ages 6-17...


The Great Game: An Outdoor Escape Adventure

Outdoor Escape Adventure: Teams will break a secret code at Husky Plaza, see floating letters in augmented reality above an Engineering Building, and decipher a Morse code...