Tag Archives: Michigan Technological University

Michigan Tech report on Isle Royale: Just two wolves, many more moose and beavers

HOUGHTON — Researchers from Michigan Technological University have released the annual Winter Study detailing updates on the ecology of Isle Royale National Park.

For the second year in a row, the Isle Royale wolf population remains a mere two. Researchers from Michigan Tech say that as the wolf population stays stagnant, the moose population will continue to grow at a rapid pace. And this could have a significant impact on the island’s famed forests.

Continue reading Michigan Tech report on Isle Royale: Just two wolves, many more moose and beavers

Michigan Tech Researcher Seeking Answers on Viruses from ‘Stickiness’

HOUGHTON — A person doesn’t have to get sick to catch a virus. Researchers hope to catch viruses for detection and vaccinations by understanding their sticky outer layers.

The complex structures making the surface of a virus are small weaves of proteins that make a big impact on how a virus interacts with cells and its environment. A slight change in protein sequence makes this surface slightly water-repelling, or hydrophobic, causing it to stick to other hydrophobic surfaces.

A new paper, published recently in the scientific journal Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces (DOI: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2017.02.011), details surface hydrophobicity in porcine parovirus (PPV).

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Pilot Project at Michigan Tech Leads to Federal Regulations Changes

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University participated in a national pilot project that helped the federal government revise its regulations to make a major reduction in the number of federal certification forms and the administrative follow-up paperwork on federal research grants.

Michigan Tech’s Board of Trustees were told about the pilot project and the regulations changes at their regular meeting Friday, March 3. Continue reading Pilot Project at Michigan Tech Leads to Federal Regulations Changes

NASA Taps Michigan Tech Prof to Lead $15M Space Research Institute

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University Professor Greg Odegard will lead a new, multidisciplinary and multi-institution Space Technology Research Institute.

The institute is funded by a $15 million 5-year grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Odegard, pictured at right above, is the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Computational Mechanics at Michigan Tech and associate chair and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. He is also an adjunct professor of materials science and engineering at Tech.

Odegard’s team will include 22 faculty members from 10 universities, two companies and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab. Their STRI is called the Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design or US-COMP.

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Michigan Tech Part Of Federal Energy Saving Project

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University is one of 85 partners in a US Department of Energy-funded $70 million energy-saving project called the REMADE (Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions) Institute.

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Tears Can Tell Your Nutrition: MTU Researcher

HOUGHTON — Would you rather give blood or tears?

A Michigan Technological University researcher is lead author of a new paper on the potential use of tears instead of blood to study people’s nutritional levels.

The paper was published in the scholarly journal Experimental Eye Research (DOI: 10.1016/j.exer.2016.12.007). The lead author is Maryam Khaksari, a research specialist at the Chemical Advanced Resolution Methods (ChARM) Laboratory at Michigan Tech.

“Our goal was to seek the viability of establishing measurable vitamin concentrations in tears for nutritional assessments,” Khaksari says. “Your body cannot manufacture vitamins, and vitamins reflect available food sources in your body. That’s what makes them good indicators of nutritional health.”

Full of Potential

The work was part of Khaksari’s dissertation in the Medical micro-Device Engineering Research Lab at Michigan Tech. The team is led by Adrienne Minerick, the dean of research and innovation in the College of Engineering as well as a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Tech.

“This project was the first step that proved vitamins are detectable in tears, that they do correlate with blood levels,” Minerick said. “Next we want to engineer a portable, lab-on-a-chip device relying on a minimally invasive sample from tears to assess nutrition.”

With this goal in mind, Khaksari worked with a local team under Minerick’s guidance to study the connections between infant vitamin levels and their parents’ levels.

Full of Vitamins

Previously, the presence — and measurability — of tear nutrients was unclear. After all, there are no blood vessels that connect through the cornea, and blood transport nourishes most organs. Yet the old stories about carrots have some truth: eyes do need vitamin A along with other nutrients.

“We hypothesized that nutrients are transferred to the living cells of your cornea through your tears,” Khaksari said, adding that past studies have shown that people blink more when they have vitamin deficiencies, which are currently only tested for with blood samples. “We would like to translate the information we have for blood to tears. In this paper, we did show that there are correlations between vitamin concentrations in tears and blood — so it’s possible.”

The challenge is that tears are a complex mixture, which makes measuring vitamins in them difficult.

Full of ChARM

Khaksari focused on vitamins A, B and E to assess; she did so using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry with the help of Lynn Mazzoleni, an associate professor of chemistry and co-director of the ChARM Laboratory.  Mazzoleni oversees a new mass spectrometer with the capability of measuring mass in femtograms (0.000000000000001 grams), and the new equipment will put to use as the tears characterization project moves forward.

“We absolutely need ultrahigh resolving power to see the molecules in extremely complex mixtures in order to learn more about various natural and biological systems,” Mazzoleni said.

That sensitivity is crucial when connecting it to human health. As the authors write, nutritional deficiencies are most often treated by symptoms, “however, symptom-presentation substantially lags behind the chemical level deficiency.”

Full of Health

In children the effects of nutritional deficiencies can be lifelong, which is part of the reason Khaksari collaborated with Dr. Colleen Vallad-Hix at UP Health System — Portage. They focused on babies with a 100 percent liquid diet of formula or breastmilk to understand the connection between parent nutrition and infant nutrition. Also, nutritional data gleaned from the parents help reveal the family’s access to healthy foods.

They tested tear samples and blood samples from 15 four-month-old infants and their parents. In general, water-soluble vitamins were higher in infants and fat-soluble vitamins were higher in parents — notably, mothers tended to be more deficient across the board. Generally, there is a connection between parents and babies and the team showed a correlation between vitamins E and B. Formula-fed babies were the exception, with notably higher levels of B vitamins. The work is preliminary but shows promise for laying out trends in tear vitamin levels.

Michigan Tech Research Grants Rising

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University’s environmental science, atmospheric science and oceanography research expenditures ranked No. 1 among Michigan universities, David Reed, vice president for research, told Tech’s Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on Friday, Dec. 16.

Recently released National Science Foundation rankings of universities by total research expenditures also placed mechanical engineering research 23rd in the nation, making it the highest ranked of all research fields at Michigan Tech, Reed reported.

In the NSF research expenditure rankings, which covered fiscal year 2015, ended June 30, 2015, Tech ranked 116th in the nation among public universities, Reed said.

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Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program Adds Coding, Design Classes

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University’s Summer Youth Programs has announced its 2017 summer courses for middle and high school students, including several new explorations such as Coding for the Internet of Things, the World of Design, Global Discovery 101 and Computing Elements.

SYP includes pre-college explorations and competitive scholarship programs featuring hands-on activities, field trips and team projects in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, as well as business, social sciences and outdoor adventures.
The 2017 programs will include 40 explorations and seven competitive scholarship programs from students completing grades 6 through 11.

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Weather the Storm: Improving Great Lakes Modeling

By Allison Mills
Michigan Technological University

The Great Lakes are more like inland seas. From the cold depths of Lake Superior fisheries to the shallow algae blooms of Lake Erie, the bodies of water differ greatly from one another. Yet they are all part of one climate system.

Up until now, atmospheric models and hydrodynamic models have remained separate to a large extent in the region, with only a few attempts to loosely couple them. In a new study, published this week in the Journal of Climate (DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0225.1), an integrated model brings together climate and water models.

The collaborative work brought together researchers from Michigan Technological University, Loyola Marymount University, LimnoTech and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Pengfei Xue, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Tech, led the study through his work at the Great Lakes Research Center on campus.

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Endowed Bioengineering Chair Named At Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON — Caryn L. Heldt, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Tech, has been named the recipient of the James and Lorna Mack Endowed Chair in Bioengineering.

A Michigan Tech alumna, Heldt has been on the faculty since 2010.  She is recognized both for her teaching and her research.

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