Smitha Rao received her MS and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington in Electrical Engineering in 2004 and 2009 respectively. She pursued her research interest as a principal scientist in a start-up company from 2010-2012. In 2012, she returned to academia as a faculty associate-research managing a laboratory, extending her research and gaining teaching experience. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI. Her research focuses on inter-disciplinary areas including MEMS, microfluidics, tissue engineering, nanofibers, and nanoparticles with application in cancer studies, scaffolds, sensors, and implantable devices.
Dr. Rao has two awarded patents and was recognized for her undergraduate mentorship through the Deans' Teaching Showcase in March 2021. Dr. Rao was awarded the CTL Instructional Award for Innovative or Out of Class Teaching in September 2021.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dr. Christopher T. Middlebrook is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech), Houghton, MI. Dr. Middlebrook is a senior member of the SPIE and OSA. He was also an electrical engineer with the Electro-optics Division, NAVEA Crane, where he served as a research test and development engineer from 1999 to 2003. Dr. Middlebrook served in the US Military from 1990-1994, completed an associate degree in Applied Science from Southwestern Michigan College in 1997 then completing his BSEE degree at Michigan Technological University. He performed graduate research work on the design and implementation of a laser rangefinder/ designator beam metrology system for beam characteristic analysis through environmental and atmospheric conditions at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, completing an MS in Optical Engineering degree in 2003. He then entered the graduate program at the Center for Research in Education in Optics and Lasers (CROEL) at the University of Central Florida where his research was primarily focused on infrared systems ultimately completing a dissertation on an antenna-coupled microbolometer phased infrared imager and received his Ph.D. in Optics in 2007.Dr. Middlebrook present research interests include integrated photonic devices, microwave photonics, and diffractive optics.
Dr. Middlebrook’s facilities include an applied optics research laboratory, rapid development prototyping laboratory as well as an photonics teaching lab. His research group also has access to the microsystems materials and devices laboratory (MMDL), which offers a well-equipped laboratory for fabrication and characterization. MMDL consists of a 400 square foot Class 1000 clean room facility with approximately 6,500 square feet of additional laboratory space housing thin film, diffusion, plasma etch, and metrology capabilities. Dr. Middlebrook’s research has been funded by various organizations including DARPA, NAVAIR, NAVSEA, DOW Corning, Molex.
Dr. Middlebrook has been selected for the Spring 2022 Dean’s Teaching Showcase.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Nagesh Hatti has over 18 years of broad industry experience from developing software programs for clients across the world to managing large multi-million-dollar corporate projects. Mr. Hatti received his MS degree in Software Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, India, in 2002. Until 2005, he worked as a Software Systems Engineer and an IT analyst. In 2007, he obtained his Masters in Business Administration from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, specializing in Supply Chain Management. Following graduation, he worked in various Supply chain-related positions in leading industries. With a strong background in both Technology and Supply Chain, he has managed various software implementation projects from 2012 to 2019. Before he joined Michigan Technological University as a Professor of Practice, in 2019, he was a Technology Program Manager for a large logistics company. Mr. Hatti brings his industry background to his teachings in the Design Fundamentals course at Michigan Tech. He is also the faculty advisor for IT Oxygen - a student-led Enterprise program focused on developing software solutions for clients both within and outside the university.
In his free time, Nagesh enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He also likes to watch British TV shows and read about Technology
Great Lakes Research Center, Michigan Tech
Valoree S. Gagnon serves as the Director for University-Indigenous Community Partnerships at the Great Lakes Research Center and Research Assistant Professor for the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University. Gagnon’s expertise in environmental policy, food sovereignty and community-engaged research focuses on the socio-cultural impacts of legacy toxic compounds, particularly on fishing communities. Her research, teaching, and service center on elevating Indigenous peoples and knowledge, facilitating equitable research practice and design, and guiding partnerships that prioritize the protection and restoration of land and life in the Great Lakes region.