Michigan Tech Names New Dean for College of Sciences and Arts

Michigan Technological University announces the selection of LaReesa Wolfenbarger as the new dean of the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA).

Wolfenbarger will begin her new role starting July 1. Her selection comes as the result of a national search that narrowed the field of applicants to four outstanding finalists.

“I want to thank the search committee for their excellent work,” said Andrew Storer, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “I was impressed by the engagement and thoughtfulness of the search committee, and with the candidates they attracted to the pool.”

The search committee included faculty from each of the departments in the CSA and staff from the College, as well as undergraduate and graduate students and representatives from the University Senate and other areas of campus. The committee was led by Dean Johnson, dean of the College of Business, and Don Lafreniere, chair of the Department of Social Sciences.

Wolfenbarger comes to Michigan Tech from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she currently serves as the associate dean of natural sciences and research in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is also a professor of biology and the director of the animal care and use program at UNO, and is a former chair of the university’s Department of Biology.

“Dr. Wolfenbarger has excellent leadership experience and accomplishments, both as a department chair and as an associate dean,” said Storer. “I am delighted to have her join Michigan Tech to bring forward-thinking leadership to the College of Sciences and Arts. She shows a deep appreciation of the diversity of disciplines represented in the College, and of the importance of these to the success of a technological university leading in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Wolfenbarger holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Biological Sciences from UCLA.

Upcoming Banner-Related Production System Maintenance

Production system maintenance is scheduled for April 21 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The following production services will be unavailable during that time:

  • Banner
  • Banweb
  • MyMichiganTech
  • Aspire
  • Course Tools
  • Fischer/mylogin.mtu.edu
  • mtu.edu/tips
  • OAP Rental System
  • Oracle Reports
  • Papercut Printing
  • Perceptive Content (Imagenow)
  • Pinnacle
  • Sunapsis
  • UC4/Appworx
  • Virtual Cashiering
  • WebFocus

If you have any questions or concerns, we can help. Contact us at it-help@mtu.edu or call 906-487-1111.

Study Away Students Present New Research on Detroit's History, Sustainability and Resilience

Students in the Department of Social Sciences (SS) study away program in Detroit collaborated with community partners in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood of the city. The students produced four storymaps that highlight the history, sustainability and resilience of the neighborhood as it struggled through racial segregation, urban renewal and climate-change-induced flooding.

You can explore their storymaps, watch their live presentations and learn more about the neighborhood online at Deindustrialized Detroit:
Stories from Jefferson-Chalmers.

The Detroit Study Away Program is led by Laura Rouleau and Don Lafreniere (both SS) with support from the Department of Social Sciences as well as Michigan Tech's Geospatial Research Facility, Center for Innovation in Sustainability and Resilience, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and Dean of Students Office.

CS Colloquium with Bill Starke '90

Bill Starke ’90 (B.S. in Computer Science) will present a Department of Computer Science (CS) Colloquium lecture on Friday (April 12) from 3-4 p.m. in Rekhi 214 and via Zoom online meeting. A social hour will follow in Rekhi 218. Snacks and beverages will be served.

Starke’s talk is titled “The Best of Times for Hardware: Before, During, or After the Moore’s Law Era.”

This talk is part of the Department of Computer Science alumni lecture series “Our Golden Years: Behind Us, Or Still Ahead?”

Join the Zoom meeting.

Read the talk abstract and speaker bio on the Computing News Blog.

AC Faculty Candidate Presentation with Haluk Kucuk

Department of Applied Computing (AC) mechatronics/MERET tenure-track faculty candidate Haluk Kucuk will give a research presentation on Thursday (April 11) from 4-5 p.m. in Rekhi 217.

The title of Kucuk’s research presentation is “Applied Artificial Intelligence for Diagnostics.”

Also on Thursday, faculty and students are invited to visit with Kucuk in Rekhi 101 prior to the research presentation — faculty from 1:30-2:30 p.m. and students from 3-4 p.m.

Read the talk abstract and candidate bio on the Computing News Blog.

In the News

Tim Havens (CS/ICC/GLRC) was quoted by WLUC TV6 in coverage of this year’s Art in Silico computational art exhibition. A reception for Art in Silico was held last Thursday (April 4) at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock.


Phil Milbrath (ATH) was mentioned by WJMN Local 3 in a story covering the start of registration for the 60th annual Escanaba Football Clinic, set for April 19. Milbrath will be the clinic’s first presenter.


Video Game Jazz Ensemble members Sam Kalkman (computer science) and Aidan Conrade (sound design) were quoted by ABC 10 in a story previewing the ensemble’s spring concert, held last Friday (April 5) backstage at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. The story was picked up by the Keweenaw Report.


Michigan Tech’s Strategic Education through Naval Systems Experiences (SENSE) Enterprise was quoted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in a story about the start of the application period for the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office’s 2025 hydropower and marine energy collegiate competitions.


WLUC TV6 mentioned Michigan Tech’s collaboration with Revex Technologies in coverage of dual meetings held by the Houghton and Hancock city councils last Wednesday (April 3). The collaboration is focused on MTU’s research into battery recycling and metal refining technology and Revex’s goals of processing recycled materials.


The Daily Mining Gazette and the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins covered Michigan Tech hockey fifth-year forward Logan Pietila’s signing of a professional contract with the Penguins.


The Daily Mining Gazette covered Michigan Tech hockey senior defenseman Jed Pietila’s signing of a professional contract with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.


The Daily Ardmoreite of Ardmore, Oklahoma, mentioned Michigan Tech in a profile story about the impact Summer Farr-Dunn ’05 (B.S. Forestry) is making in the U.S. Forest Service. She is currently working as a senior policy analyst for the agency’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C.


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 today and tomorrow (April 8 and 9). The candidate will present their vision for research at Michigan Tech at an open forum at 2 p.m. today 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. next Monday (April 15).


Essential Education: Essential Ability Alignment Survey

The Essential Education Implementation Assessment Working Group is searching for instructors who are teaching General Education courses to fill out a brief survey.

Completing this survey will help our working group accomplish three objectives:

  1. Get a sense of your interpretation of the Essential Education learning outcomes (aka Essential Abilities or EAs), as currently defined.
  2. Understand how current General Education courses support EAs in terms of content, activities and/or assignments.
  3. Gather your suggestions for revision of the EA definitions for clarity.

Thank you for your assistance. This information will help guide plans for supporting and assessing EAs in courses and across the program. Faculty will have other opportunities to provide input throughout the process of developing Michigan Tech’s Essential Education program.

Estimated time to complete the survey is 10-15 minutes. We greatly appreciate your time and contributions to the building of this student-focused initiative.

Take the Essential Ability Alignment Survey.


MTTI Hosting ARPA-E Seminar Today

The Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI) will be hosting a public seminar today (April 8). Our featured speaker, Robert Ledoux, program director for the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), will be on campus to address investigators interested in ARPA-E research. All are invited to attend the seminar from 11:15 a.m. to noon in MUB Ballroom B3.

The seminar is titled "Modeling the intermodal freight system to ensure a low-carbon resilient future.”

The goal of ARPA-E is to advance high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. ARPA-E awardees are developing entirely new ways to generate, store and use energy. MTTI has had multiple research projects awarded by ARPA.

Ledoux's areas of interest include the intersection of nuclear physics and non-proliferation, energy production and transportation.

The seminar is open to all.


Spring 2024 WIA Breakfast Social

Please join Women in the Academy (WIA) for a breakfast celebrating the end of the spring semester. Stop by the MUB Alumni Lounge B anytime between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on April 23. There will be continental breakfast and coffee.

We will not have a formal program or agenda for this meeting, but there will be discussion tables and lots of opportunities for networking and conversation. Hope to see you there!

Submit your RSVP by Friday (April 12) to help us organize the event.


The Business of STEM: Exploring Minor Programs at MTU’s COB

Do you have an interest in business? Looking to enhance your STEM skills and develop frameworks that integrate business and technology? MTU’s College of Business (COB) will be hosting an informational session covering the minor programs offered by the College on Wednesday (April 10) from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The info session will be hosted in AOB 101.

The info session will explore a range of diverse minor programs. Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Innovation, which combines the development of managerial and entrepreneurial competencies with product development in emerging industries, and FinTech (short for Financial Technology), which combines technical skills in programming with financial decision-making and technology, are just two minors that will be defined at the upcoming session. Other minors include Business, Business IT Solutions, Construction Management, Economics, Global Business and Business of Forestry.

Majors outside the COB are encouraged to attend and discover the intersection of STEM and business, learn about the advantages of taking classes within the COB and get to know minor program faculty who prioritize individual students' success. Pizza and drinks will be provided!

Interested? Sign up for more info!


MS Defense: Morgan Wilke, GMES

M.S. in Geophysics candidate Morgan Wilke will present her master's defense at 3:30 p.m. today (April 8) in Dow 610. Virtual attendance is also invited via Zoom.

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

Wilke's master's thesis is titled "The Influence of Volcano Edifice Resonance on the Seismic Triggering of Thermal Activity at Active Volcanoes."

From the abstract:
There is an established correlation between large earthquakes and volcanic unrest, however the mechanisms between this connection are not well understood. Relatively small changes in stress within a volcanic system could be enough to initiate a response. One aspect that could serve to amplify small dynamic stress changes is volcanic edifice resonance triggered by surface waves at resonant frequency. In this paper, we investigate the relationship between thermal activity of volcanoes and various thresholds of Love wave amplitudes at resonance caused by teleseismic earthquake events above a M 7. Satellite-derived thermal data from 25 volcanoes is modeled in relation to 5 different threshold values of Love wave amplitudes at resonance, this value was calculated using the synthetic teleseismic waveforms from 171 earthquakes between January 2000 and September 2023. Two time windows, centered on each earthquake, are used to observe for short term and long term effects, a 28 day and a 1 year window. Basaltic magma volcanoes, including lava lake volcanoes, exhibit mostly increased activity levels which have higher average thermal emissions at higher thresholds which drops at lower thresholds, while andesitic volcanoes display a negative response of thermal data which again shows higher rates of activity at higher amplitude thresholds that drop as amplitude decreases. Magma composition is the main influence of thermal activity increase and increases with the low viscosity of basaltic magmas allowing bubbles to escape from the melt when affected by shaking to increase volcanic activity. The amplitude of the surface wave’s at edifice resonance are observed to increase the amount of positive/negative reaction due to the increased shaking caused by larger amplitude values triggering magma movement in an upward, downward, or lateral direction thus influencing the thermal reactions in the magma and triggering higher levels of volcanic activity.


MSE Seminar with Jacob Belke

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is hosting a seminar presented by Ph.D. candidate Jacob Belke today (April 8) from 10 a.m. to noon in M&M 610. Virtual attendance is also invited via Zoom.

The seminar is titled "High Temperature Strength Reduces Soldering in Aluminum High Pressure Die Casting."

From the abstract:
Die soldering, an adhesion defect in high pressure die casting (HPDC), is a symptom of localized sticking where a localized portion of the cast material is adhered to the tooling surface causing build up over time. This requires the tooling to be serviced which incurs additional costs to the process that gets passed on to the parts. Historically, soldering has been mitigated using lubricants, coatings, and alloy chemistry modifications but solder persists.

The Tresca friction thermomechanical model suggests soldering occurs when the local interfacial shear stress between the casting and die surface exceeds the local shear strength of the casting. The ratio of these shear strengths, as a function of temperature, has been shown to predict solder. Research up to this point has focused on reducing the friction coefficient, and in turn the interface shear strength, with no work done on the strengthening of the castings regarding solder. Chemistry of the alloy has been shown to influence soldering behavior, but for the wrong reason as Al-Fe intermetallics are the commonly accepted soldering mechanism.

High temperature strengthening mechanisms through chemistry modifications were investigated to support the Tresca friction model. First, the improvement of the solid solution and Orowan strengthening mechanisms was quantified for several aluminum HPDC alloys through the addition of magnesium, improving the hot shear strength of the alloys. Next, the improved alloy shear strength was applied to the Tresca model and tested using a laboratory scale permanent mold designed to solder along with a full scale HPDC production trial with results pointing towards a new soldering mechanism. Finally, the relationship between solder and the casting surface chill zone or “skin” is examined and discussed.

Belke received a B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from Missouri University of Science & Technology in 2017 and his P.E. license in 2023, and is currently a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering candidate under Paul Sanders.

During his time at Michigan Tech, Belke has participated and advised the past three Michigan Tech teams in the Steel Founders Society cast in steel competition, placing third in the Best Design and Process category. Belke is currently a technical associate in Mercury Marine’s lost foam foundry, where he oversees the production of several aluminum lost foam castings for Mercury’s outboard engines. He is currently the chair of the AFS Lost Foam division, a member of the Cast Metals Advisory Board for Missouri S&T, and a producer on the ASTM B07 committee.


PhD Defense: Hemanth Kumar Reddy Basireddy, MSE

Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering candidate Hemanth Kumar Reddy Basireddy will present a final doctoral defense today (April 8) from 12:30-2 p.m. The defense will be presented online only. Virtual attendance is invited via Zoom.

Basireddy's dissertation is titled "Computational Evaluation of Some Basic Material Parameters in Cobalt-Aluminum Alloys."

From the abstract:
The First Principles Density Functional Theory study is conducted on BCC Co-Al based solid solution which obeys Vegard’s law. Chemical bond energies are calculated beyond 1NN interactions as second-nearest-neighbor and third-nearest-neighbor chemical bond energy values are significant and contribute to the total energy of the alloy. Elastic energy developed in the alloys due to the atomic radius misfit between solute and solvent atoms is also considered. Effects of atomic ordering on 1NN, 2NN, and 3NN chemical ordering energies and lattice parameter are investigated.

Basireddy started his M.S. studies in spring 2019. Unfortunately, his study was interrupted by COVID-19, which forced him to return to India. Fortunately, upon recovery in health, he was able to conduct computational materials research remotely from India using Michigan Tech's on-campus supercomputer, Superior. Prior to COVID-19, Basireddy also conducted experimental research on Co-Al alloys.


Read IPEC's April Newsletter

The Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture (IPEC) has published our April newsletter, now available to the campus community.

IPEC has several collaborative, interdisciplinary funding applications underway that we are proud to report on. Check out our affiliate upcoming events, and see next Friday's (April 12) deadline for faculty and graduate student seed funding.


Meet the GRC 2024 Winners

Thank you to this year's Graduate Research Colloquium (GRC) participants!

The GRC and Annual Banquet 2024 was held on March 27! Thank you to everyone who participated and volunteered to make this year's event a success! We look forward to making next year's event even better!

Congratulations to the GRC winners:

Oral Presentation:

  • First Place: Natalie Nold
  • Second Place: Nithin Allwayin
  • Third Place: Brilynn Janckila

Poster Presentation:

  • First Place: Jessica Czarnecki
  • Second Place: Cody Tuftee
  • Third Place: Victoria Santillan

Today's Campus Events

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

Master's Defense: Brandon Woolman

Applied Cognitive Science & Human Factors Advisor: Kevin Trewartha Using a Reverse Visually Guided Reaching Task to Distinguish Between Healthy Aging and Early Alzheimer’s...


PhD Defense: Jacob Belke

Materials Science and Engineering Advisor: Paul Sanders High Temperature Strength Reduces Soldering in Aluminum High Pressure Die Casting Attend Virtually:...


MTTI Hosting ARPA-E Seminar

Robert Ledoux The Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI) will be hosting a public seminar on April 8. Our featured speaker, Robert Ledoux, program director for the...


Master's Defense: Hemanth Kumar Reddy Basireddy



Master's Defense: Pranav Sathaye

Mechanical Engineering Advisor: Parisa Pour Shahid Saeed Abadi Additive Manufacturing and Characterization of Conductive Nanomaterials as Electrochemical Actuators


St. Louis Estuary Research

Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar Dr. Kaitlin Reinl, Research Director, Lake Superior Reserve Bio Dr. Kaitlin (Kait) Reinl is a limnologist with a broad focus on...


Master's Defense: Morgana Wilke

Geology Advisor: Gregory Waite The Influence of Volcano Edifice Resonance on the Seismic Triggering of Thermal Activity at Active Volcanoes Attend Virtually:...


Spring 2024 Little Huskies Girls Basketball Camp

Open to grades 2-5. Learning skills, working in a team, and having fun: that’s Michigan Tech’s Little Huskies Girls’ Basketball Camp. It’s a great introduction to the sport...


Huskies Group Swim Lessons - Parent & Child Aquatics - Spring 2024 Session 2

Ages 6 months to 3 years. Come make a splash in Huskies Group Swim Lessons! American Red Cross Parent and Child Aquatics levels are being offered at the SDC Pool for ages 6...


Huskies Group Swim Lessons - Preschool Aquatics - Spring 2024 Session 2

Ages 4-5 years. Come make a splash in Huskies Group Swim Lessons! American Red Cross Preschool Aquatics levels are being offered at the SDC Pool for ages 4 to 5 years old....