Research in Focus: Needles, Haystacks, and Sugar Chains

An empty petri dish next to one with growing colonies.

Michigan Tech Magazine’s “Research in Focus” highlights how Michigan Tech researchers are breaking through boundaries between scientific disciplines, leveraging the full depth and breadth of knowledge across campus.

Shortly after computer scientist Dukka KC (CS/ICC) arrived on campus in fall 2021, he emailed Michigan Tech glycobiologist Tarun Dam (Chem). The note, as Dam remembers it, said in essence, "I see that you're a glycobiologist. I do some bioinformatics work with glyco-molecules. Maybe we can work together someday."

Since then, KC and Dam have become fast friends — but the foundation of their professional collaboration, according to Dam, is the science. "After getting to know Dukka and the work that he does, I was very impressed. I thought it was a really great opportunity to collaborate."

But how does the field of bioinformatics, which uses advanced computer technology to collect and analyze biological data, apply to glycobiology — the study of the structure and biological function of carbohydrates?

Read how the scientists are using machine learning to make the process of glycobiology more efficient in our 2024 Michigan Tech Magazine.

Join Us Today at Michigan Tech's Design Expo Showcase

Design Expo 2024 will take place in the Van Pelt and Opie Library today, and everyone is welcome to attend! Senior Design and Enterprise undergraduate teams will showcase their projects and compete for awards between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. In addition, first-year engineering teams will present their design work next door in the Memorial Union Building’s ballroom during that time.

In addition to viewing projects in person, you can watch Design Expo team videos, posted at Don’t forget to use the Audience Choice Award ballot to vote for your favorite project.

Design Expo Social Hour and Awards Ceremony
After judging concludes at 2 p.m. everyone's invited to a social hour at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts starting at 2:30 p.m., with light refreshments, entertainment and door prizes. Then, at 3:30 p.m., we will begin the Design Expo Awards Ceremony, where student teams will be recognized — and close to $4,000 in cash will be awarded.

Design Expo is made possible with generous industry and University sponsorship, along with volunteer judges and organizers. All events are free and open to the public. Get more Expo details at Michigan Tech News.

Financial Consulting with TIAA

Making decisions about your money can feel difficult, especially when it comes to retirement. But you don’t have to go it alone — especially since access to financial consulting is included as part of your retirement plan. They will help you determine whether you’re saving enough, invested appropriately and on track.

Ryan Hallowell and Matthew Bunch from the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) will be available on Michigan Tech's campus for one-on-one sessions from April 30 through May 2 in the following locations:

  • Ryan Hallowell — MUB Greenstone Room (MUB 106A)
  • Matthew Bunch — MUB Superior Room (MUB B001)

RSVP today, as space is limited. You can register for sessions with TIAA directly by logging in to your TIAA or guest account, then searching for "Michigan Tech" in the Institution field. When asked how you would like to meet, select "In Person at My Employer."

You can also register for a meeting by calling TIAA at 800-732-8353 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

University Senate Meeting 701

The University Senate will convene Meeting 701 at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow (April 17) in Dow 642.

Those within the University community unable to attend in person have the option to attend via Zoom. Please note: You will need to log in to your MTU Zoom account to join the virtual meeting.

Senators are responsible for making their constituents aware of the agenda for this meeting. Senators who are unable to attend should arrange for their alternates to attend in their place.

View the agenda to Meeting 701.

CLS Hosting End-of-Year Student Awards and Graduation Celebration

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS) is excited to announce that we are hosting our annual End-of-Year Student Awards and Graduation Celebration this Thursday (April 18) from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Harold Meese Center.

All psychology and human factors students are encouraged to attend! Don't forget to collect your goodie bag!

Women In Natural Resources Plant Sale

Women in Natural Resources will be holding our annual plant sale tomorrow and Thursday (April 17 and 18) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the U. J. Noblet Forestry Building's atrium.

We will be selling houseplants, succulents, herbs, pots, handmade macrame and more! Items will be available for purchase in person during the time of the event, or you may pre-order on our website. A link is also available in our Instagram bio: @winr_at_mtu.

Hope to see you there!

Mazi Erfani Earns 2024 Arthur M. Wellington Prize

Assistant Professor Mazi Erfani (CEGE) and his team have been selected by the ASCE Society Awards Committee to receive the esteemed 2024 Arthur M. Wellington Prize! Their paper, "Ex Post Project Risk Assessment: Method and Empirical Study," published in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management in December 2022, has been recognized for its exceptional contributions to the field of civil engineering.

This prestigious award, established in 1921, celebrates the legacy of Arthur M. Wellington and honors outstanding achievements in civil engineering research.

Join us in congratulating Erfani and his team for this well-deserved recognition!

Track & Field Sets Nine Meet Records at Mustang Distance Carnival & Open

The Michigan Tech track and field squad made strides in its second outdoor meet of the season, setting nine facility/meet records over two days at the Mustang Distance Carnival & Open hosted by Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

"Credit to Mount Mercy — they did everything they could to put every athlete in the best position they could to compete their best," said head coach Robert Young. "They can't control the wind, but they moved events time-wise to help with that."

"We had a great meet and our distance side really showcased the depth of our squad," said head coach Kristina Owen. "Our team has a great culture and the student-athletes really support each other's successes, even when they are racing against each other in direct competition. We had some breakout performances and a lot of new personal records, and I am so stoked for them. It was a bit windy, but the warm weather was really ideal for competition. We're coming home with happy hearts, tired legs and quite a few sunburns."

Read more at Michigan Tech Athletics.

Tennis Wraps Up Home Weekend

The Michigan Tech women's tennis team swept their final home weekend. The Huskies defeated Davenport 5-2 on Friday (April 12) and Purdue Northwest 4-3 on Saturday (April 13) at Gates Tennis Center.

On the men's side, the Panthers won 5-2 and the Pride defeated the Huskies 6-1.

"The women really came in clutch this weekend," said coach Kristin D'Agostini-Yep. "They all knew that the possibility of the postseason was on the line, and we produced the best tennis we've played in conference so far."

"The men had a tough weekend," she continued. "We were hoping for some big things and fell short of that. All we can do is look forward, keep trucking along, and try to finish conference play strong next weekend."

Read more at Michigan Tech Athletics.

Job Postings

Job Postings for Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Staff and faculty job descriptions are available on the Human Resources website. For more information regarding staff positions, call 906-487-2280 or email For more information regarding faculty positions, contact the academic department in which the position is posted.

Research Engineer II, Great Lakes Research Center. Apply online.
Contact: Elizabeth Hoy

Research Engineer I, Keweenaw Research Center. Apply online.
Contact: Scott Bradley

Research Engineer I – Signal Processing Engineer, Michigan Technological Research Institute. Apply online.
Contact: Michelle Wienert

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer that provides equal opportunity for all, including protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Accommodations are available. If you require any auxiliary aids, services, or other accommodations to apply for employment, or for an interview, at Michigan Technological University, please notify the Human Resources office at 906-487-2280 or

In Print

Gord Paterson (BioSci/GLRC) and Department of Biological Sciences graduate Brian Reeves ’23 (B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) are co-authors of a research paper published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

The paper is titled “Temporal and spatial comparison of mercury bioaccumulation in the lower trophic levels of a post-glacial lake food web.” 

Reeves is the lead author of the paper. An additional co-author is Caitlin Slife, formerly of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

This research is the culmination of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship awarded to Reeves in 2022 and demonstrates the contributions of lower trophic level aquatic invertebrates to the biomagnification of anthropogenic pollutants such as mercury in Great Lakes type food webs.

In the News

Lei Pan (ChE) was quoted by Planet Detroit in a story about the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Critical Minerals Recycling Grant Program. The program will offer $4.75 million in matching grants for research projects focused on recycling critical minerals found in electric vehicle batteries and other technologies. The story was picked up from Interlochen Public Radio.


Volunteers from MTU’s Rotaract Club and Beta Sigma Theta fraternity were mentioned by the Daily Mining Gazette in a story about a citywide cleanup held last Saturday (April 13). MTU students Dalton Williams and Meredith Raasio were quoted in the story; Raasio, Madison Golde and Austin Jordan were pictured; and Ellie Wagner was mentioned in a picture caption.


Newsweek quoted the Great Lakes Research Center in a story about a new interactive map released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that shows how Illinois would be changed if Lake Michigan water levels rise. The quote referenced a 2022 Michigan Tech study that used 3D regional climate modeling to project the rise of Great Lakes water levels due to climate change.


Michigan Tech’s new Hardwood Mass Timber Institute was mentioned by Lansing’s WILX News 10 in a story about a mass timber building being constructed by the Department of Natural Resources in Newberry, Michigan. MTU was mentioned as a collaborator on the project.


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation mentioned Michigan Tech in a story about Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear, founded by Austin Gongos ’18 and Nathan Ackerman '18 (both B.S. Mechanical Engineering). The Hancock business has been named a SmartZone Best Small Business by the Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards program and the MEDC. Chicken Tramper’s story was featured in the 2024 Michigan Tech Magazine.


This Week's C3 Luncheon

Menu for Thursday (April 18):

  • Teriyaki Pork Loin (AD) (Contains: Soy, Sesame)
  • Vegetable Stir Fry (Vegan, AD) (Contains: Soy, Sesame)
  • Basmati Rice (Vegan, AD, AG)
  • Chef Vegetables (Vegan, AD, AG)
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls (Vegetarian) (Contains: Sesame, Dairy, Gluten, Egg)
  • Garden Salad (Vegan)
  • Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

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).

This week is the last C-Cubed Luncheon for the semester. We look forward to seeing you again in the fall!

AG = Avoiding Gluten
AD = Avoiding Dairy

Today's Campus Events

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Design Expo 2024

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Spring 2024 Little Huskies Boys' Basketball Camp

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Pfizer Information Session

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Spring Fling Presented by Michigan Tech Art

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