Research Focus

Research in the Department of Biological Sciences is unique and ever evolving. Our department’s collaborative environment—along with Michigan Tech’s emphasis on research—fosters a wide variety of inter-university research projects. Faculty research strengths in health, environmental science, ecology and evolution, and biochemistry and molecular biology provide a strong foundation for many fields in biological sciences.

Our research centers, diverse research groups, and state-of-the-art facilities in the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building and Great Lakes Research Center create an exciting research environment with exceptional opportunities for students and faculty members alike.

 Research News

 

Researcher Focus

Robert Andersen

Robert Andersen

BS, Botany, North Dakota State University

Contact

906-370-1886
raa48@uw.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

My primary interest is in the systematic biology (nomenclature, phylogeny, taxonomy) of golden algae (heterokont and haptophyte algae).  I am also interested in growing both freshwater and marine species in culture.  I collect algae from bogs, ponds, lakes and streams in the Keweenaw, including the open regions of Lake Superior.

Purnima Bandyopadhyay

Purnima Bandyopadhyay

PhD, Molecular Parasitology, University of Calcutta

Contact

906-487-2940
pbandyop@mtu.edu

  • Research Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Bandyopadhyay is a molecular and environmental microbiologist. She studied the immunobiology of the protozoan parasite Leishmania spp., the causative agents of a wide variety of diseases ranging from the innocuous oriental sore to the fatal kala-azar. Her research in this field focused on the changes occurring in . . .

Jennifer Becker

Jennifer Becker

PhD, Northwestern University

Contact

906-487-2942
jgbecker@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Jennifer Becker joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty as an Associate Professor in January, 2010. Her area of research and teaching interests focus on biological treatment processes in environmental engineering. Specifically, her research interests include: the biodegradation, microbial ecology, and bioremediation of chlorinated organic groundwater contaminants; bioenergy production using microbial processes; and the . . .

Emily Betterly

Emily Betterly

Contact

906-487-2025
egbetter@mtu.edu

  • Administrative Aide, Biological Sciences

. . .

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Lanrong Bi

Lanrong Bi

Associate Research Scientist, Columbia Genome Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University

Contact

906-487-1868
lanrong@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Chemistry

Colin Brooks

Colin Brooks

Contact

734-913-6858
cnbrooks@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Instructor, Biological Sciences

. . .

Jason Carter

Jason Carter

PhD, Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University

Contact

906-487-2994
jcarter@mtu.edu

  • Department Chair and Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

. . .

Qing-Hui Chen

Qing-Hui Chen

PhD, Kagawa University Medical School, Japan

Contact

906-487-1629
qinghuic@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

. . .

Tori Connors

Tori Connors

Contact

906-487-1628
tconnors@mtu.edu

  • Departmental Coordinator

. . .

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Rupali Datta

Rupali Datta

PhD, University of Hyderabad, India

Contact

906-487-1783
rupdatta@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Datta’s primary research interest lies in the application of plant biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and microbiology in solving environmental problems,using phytoremediation, plant-microbe interactions and bioremediation. Dr. Datta’s research involves the study of interactions between plant, soil, microbial and water systems to understand the mechanisms of uptake and detoxification of specific environmental contaminants in biota . . .

John Durocher

John Durocher

PhD, Biological Sciences-Exercise Physiology

Contact

906-487-1659
jjduroch@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

John has done extensive work in the fields of applied human physiology and exercise physiology. Much of his research has involved the study of how the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system regulates arterial blood pressure at rest and during a variety of stressors. John’s other passion relates to the specificity of exercise . . .

Steven Elmer

Steven Elmer

PhD, Exercise Physiology, University of Utah

Contact

906-487-2324
sjelmer@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

Dr. Elmer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology at Michigan Technological University. His research goals are to find better ways to restore musculoskeletal function, maintain health, and improve performance in healthy and clinical populations. Specifically, his research is focused on three key areas: 1) mechanics of skeletal muscle contraction, 2) coordination of locomotor . . .

Karyn Fay

Karyn Fay

MS, Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University

Contact

906-487-2254
kafay@mtu.edu

  • Director, Medical Laboratory Science Program, Biological Sciences

Karyn Fay graduated from Lake Superior State College (1975) with a BS in Medical Technology. She did her internship at St. Mary’s hospital in Saginaw, Mi and was certified as a Medical Technologist, MT (ASCP), she has a MS degree from Michigan Technological University (1989) and a Specialty in Hematology, ASCP, (1993).

. . .

Michael Gretz

Michael Gretz

PhD, Arizona State University

Contact

906-487-3175
mrgretz@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Biological Sciences

Our work is centered on the cell wall and associated extracellular polymers of algae. We are interested in what these algal extracellular matrices can tell us about: 1) the evolution of the land plant cell wall, 2) the unique characteristics that allow for life in aquatic habitats, 3) the interactions within complex biofilms, including the heterotropic utilization of complex macromolecules, and 4) the . . .

Caryn Heldt

Caryn Heldt

PhD, North Carolina State University

Contact

906-487-1134
heldt@mtu.edu

  • James and Lorna Mack Chair in Bioengineering

My research group uses natural and artificial molecular recognition events to (i) remove and/ or purify pathogens and toxins to reduce disease burden worldwide and (ii) detect pathogens and toxins quickly and inexpensively with point-of-care devices.

Virus Removal and Detection 

A biotherapeutic . . .

Erika Hersch-Green

Erika Hersch-Green

MS, University of California, Davis - Population Biology

Contact

906-487-3351
eherschg@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Erika is a plant evolutionary ecologist. Her work integrates the theory and techniques from population and community ecology, evolution, and functional, molecular and population genetics to disentangle the mechanisms that drive changes in terrestrial plant populations and their extended communities.

Current projects in the lab are diverse but generally . . .

Casey Huckins

Casey Huckins

PhD, Michigan State University, 1996

Contact

906-487-2475
cjhuckin@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Biological Sciences

Research conducted by my lab group is focused on ecology and restoration in aquatic systems including lakes, streams, coastal wetlands and the riparian ecosystems that connect them.  The research that my graduate students, our collaborators and I conduct tends to focus on ecological patterns and processes in systems influenced by human actions.  In many cases we apply the learned scientific understanding to inform the . . .

Kelsey Johnson

Kelsey Johnson

Contact

906-487-2120
kelseyj@mtu.edu

  • MLS Clinical Practicum Coordinator

. . .

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Chandrashekhar Joshi

Chandrashekhar Joshi

PhD, Biochemistry, University of Poona, India

Contact

906-487-2738
cpjoshi@mtu.edu

  • Department Chair and Professor, Biological Sciences

I am a plant molecular biologist who is interested in understanding of how trees make cellulose. Simply put, cellulose is a chain of glucose molecules, and a large number of such cellulose chains weave together with other polymers to form plant cell walls. Cellulose biosynthesis is also one of the most ancient and essential life processes of plants.

. . .

Charles Kerfoot

Charles Kerfoot

PhD, University of Michigan

Contact

wkerfoot@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Biological Sciences

. . .

Marc Madigan

Marc Madigan

Contact

906-487-2546
mrmadiga@mtu.edu

  • Academic Advisor, Biological Sciences

. . .

Amy Marcarelli

Amy Marcarelli

PhD, Utah State University

Contact

906-487-2867
ammarcar@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

I am an ecosystem ecologist who studies biogeochemical cycles and linkages between physical, chemical and biological structure and function in watersheds. Linking these often requires understanding the underlying structure of microbial, algal, and animal communities. I am also working to place concepts of food webs into a broader ecosystem context by merging measurements of ecosystem production and food web pathways. Therefore, . . .

Brigitte Morin

Brigitte Morin

Contact

906-487-3373
bemorin@mtu.edu

  • Lecturer, Biological Sciences

Brigitte attended Michigan Tech in 2001 where she received a Bachelor's degree in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS), as well as a certificate in Secondary Education and minors in both General Science and Spanish. Following graduation in 2006, Brigitte taught high school Biology for 6 years in Illinois. After receiving an MS degree in . . .

Jill Olin

Jill Olin

Contact

906-487-1121
jaolin@mtu.edu

  • Research Scientist, Great Lakes Research Center

. . .

Michael Owen

Michael Owen

PhD, Agronomy and Weed Science, University of Illinois

Contact

515-294-5936
mdowen@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

Owen has studied the management, ecology and genetics of weeds with an emphasis on evolved resistance to herbicides.  He is also studying the introgression of herbicide resistance genes in crops and weedy plants.  Owen plans to study the ecology and management of invasive terrestrial plants in the Upper Peninsula.

Gord Paterson

Gord Paterson

Contact

906-487-1120
gpaterso@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

. . .

Dibyendu Sarkar

Dibyendu Sarkar

Contact

201-216-8028
dsarkar@stevens.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

. . .

Eric Seagren

Eric Seagren

PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Contact

906-487-2614
eseagren@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

. . .

Zhiying (Jenny) Shan

Zhiying (Jenny) Shan

Contact

906-487-1757
zhiyings@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

Dr. Zhiying Shan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Science at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests focus on the mechanisms of neurogenic hypertension and associated cardiovascular diseases, particularly developing . . .

Robert Shuchman

Robert Shuchman

Contact

734-913-6860
shuchman@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

. . .

Robert Stottlemyer

Robert Stottlemyer

PhD, Forest Biogeochemistry, Duke University

Contact

jrstottl@mtu.edu

  • Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences

. . .

Guiliang Tang

Guiliang Tang

PhD, Weizmann Institute of Sciences, Israel, 2001

Contact

906-487-2174
gtang1@mtu.edu

  • Professor, Biological Sciences

 

Recruitment

. . .

Xiaohu (Mark) Tang

Xiaohu (Mark) Tang

PhD, The Weizmann Institute of Science

Contact

906-487-3068
xiaohut@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

  • The focus of the Laboratory of Cancer Metabolism and Functional Genomics is to characterize the regulation of cell metabolism and to determine the role of nutrients during cancer initiation and progression. In this perspective, we are aiming . . .

Xiaoqing Tang

Xiaoqing Tang

PhD, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, 2003

Contact

906-487-1872
xtang2@mtu.edu

  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Diabetes is caused by either the loss of the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas, leading to a deficiency of insulin (type 1 diabetes), or insulin resistance, reduced insulin sensitivity, and reduced insulin secretion (type 2 diabetes). In both types of diabetes, the patients develop serious secondary complications, such as microvascular complications, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, . . .

Stephen Techtmann

Stephen Techtmann

PhD, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Maryland, Baltimore MD

Contact

906-487-3250
smtechtm@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

I am an environmental microbiologist who studies microbial communities in diverse ecosystems. Microbes (Bacteria and Archaea) are ubiquitous in the environment and play essential roles in the cycling of elements. These environmental microbes are capable of catalyzing a wide array of chemical reactions, many of which may have industrial applications. I study how complex microbial communities can cooperate to perform functions . . .

Dave Toczydlowski

Dave Toczydlowski

Contact

906-487-2478
t-11@mtu.edu

  • Research Engineer/Scientist, Biological Sciences

. . .

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Ebenezer Tumban

Ebenezer Tumban

PhD, Molecular Biology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

Contact

906-487-2256
etumban@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Tumban is a trained molecular virologist and vaccinologist; in the past, he conducted research studies aimed at understanding the molecular determinants of arboviruses (such as dengue and Langat viruses) mode of transmission. He also researched and developed antigens that could be used to develop immunodiagnostic kits for diagnosing infectious . . .

Travis Wakeham

Travis Wakeham

Contact

906-487-3435
twakeham@mtu.edu

  • Laboratory Supervisor/Instructor, Biological Sciences

. . .

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Thomas Werner

Thomas Werner

PhD, Umea University, Sweden, 2005

Contact

906-487-1209
twerner@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Werner became interested in the question “What is life?” as a four-year old child in his parent’s garden in former East Germany. With the age of 10, he began to develop a life-long interest in the biology of butterflies and moths. He has been breeding and collecting them ever since. For his Master’s thesis, he decided to . . .

Tejin Yoon

Tejin Yoon

Contact

906-487-2147
tyoon@mtu.edu

  • Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology

. . .

Lucille Zelazny

Lucille Zelazny

Contact

906-487-2791
lzelazny@mtu.edu

  • Research Assistant, Biological Sciences

. . .

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