Mentors

Applied Computing

Dr. Nathir Rawashdeh, Assitant Professor

Dr. Nathir Rawashdeh’s research interests include autonomous vehicles, mobile robots, mechatronics, applied artificial intelligence. His lab focuses on unmanned vehicles, image processing, sensors, and their applications. His team develops and deploys mobile robots for different applications, image processing for depth sensing using Lidar/Radar/RGBD and thermal imaging, simulation of environments for robots, sensor fusion, and custom electronics. His lab offers the opportunity to learn about mobile robot applications and their sensory and control programming and is aimed at improving accessibility to these technologies across various fields.

Specifically, Dr. Rawashdeh's Applications include a teleoperated robot for the disinfection of rooms using ultraviolet light towers. The radiation damages the DNA of viruses including the Coronavirus and renders it incapable of replication. To perform experiments using UV lights, the radiation intensity, and spatial distribution must first be measured and modeled and understand the light metering equipment and safety gear required. Other platforms perform simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) using the Robot Operating System (ROS). SLAM is imperative for every mobile robot to perform navigation. ROS is a popular open-source control environment used to implement SLAM and other algorithms. The implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) features is also of interest. A rescue robot may, for example, use AI on a camera input to recognize an injured person or special objects. The lab also offers various sensors for experimentation and creative use including, laser range finders, short rage radars, thermal imagers and common cameras.

Biological Sciences

Dr. Rupali Datta, Professor

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 from two broad angles – biochemistry and genetics.

Specifically, Dr. Datta’s current research focus is on the study of bioavailability of metal and organic contaminants in aquatic media and the potential of using plants to remediate contaminated sites, mediated by microbes. Dr. Datta actively collaborates with environmental geochemists, soil scientists, microbiologists and analytical chemists. Dr. Datta also works on the bioavailability of contaminants using in-vitro and in-vivo models. She has also been working on the remediation of antibiotics, TNT, RDX, and petroleum hydrocarbons in soil and water and in developing “green technology” as part of an environmental R&D, SIROM Scientific Solutions, LLC , New Jersey. Combining field, greenhouse, and laboratory data, she investigates the mechanisms of contaminant bioavailability, availability to plants, the kinetics of contaminant uptake in plants under various conditions and studies the molecular mechanisms of contaminant uptake and detoxification by accumulator and other high biomass plants, including crop plants using "omics" technologies. She also works on health effects of metals (arsenic and lead) in human cell culture and animal systems in collaboration with biomedical faculty.

Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Bruce Lee, Professor

The Lee group research is focused on applying biologically-inspired molecular designs with chemistry, polymer engineering and materials science principles in developing advanced and functional materials for various biomedical applications. Current projects include applying biomimetic structural designs to create tough hydrogels that can potentially function as tissue adhesives or extracellular matrices for tissue repair and regeneration, and coatings to control biointerface of biomaterials that can prevent non-specific absorption of proteins, cells, and bacteria.

Prior to joining Michigan Tech, Dr. Lee helped found a start-up company, Nerites Corporation, which aimed at commercializing biomimetic bioadhesive and antifouling technologies. Nerites Corporation was acquired by Kensey Nash Corporation (part of Royal DSM) in 2011.

Dr. Lee was awarded the 2016 Young Investigator Award by the Office of Naval Research.


Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Smitha Rao, Assistant Professor

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. Chris Middlebrook, Associate Professor

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, Professor of Practice

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

Dr. Valoree Gagnon, Director, University-Indigenous Community Partnerships, Great Lakes Research Center

Research Assistant Professor, College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

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.

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

David Seppanen, Hatchery Foreman

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Dione Price, Environmental Specialist

Dione is the Environmental Specialist for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department where she assists with various environmental disciplines including pollution prevention, historical contamination, waste management, renewable energy, brownfields, recycling, National Environmental Policy Act reviews, and human and environmental health within the reservation and ceded territory. Dione is a member of KBIC’s Waste Advisory Board, Chair of the Committee for Alternative and Renewable Energy, and Vice-Chair of the Torch Lake Public Action Council.

Dione was born in L’Anse, MI and grew up in Keweenaw Bay and Liminga. Dione received her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University and additional undergraduate work in human health from Finlandia University. Prior to KBIC, Dione worked for 9 years in land, waste water, and bio solids management. She also has vast experience in crop production and animal health and nutrition.

In her spare time, Dione operates a farm in Keweenaw Bay that produces homegrown beef, poultry, eggs, and hay. Her passion remains within the equine field where she shares her love of horses with her young daughter.

Dione can be reached at dprice@kbic-nsn.gov or 906-524-5757 ext. 4217.

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Erin Johnston, Wildlife Biologist

As the Wildlife Program Lead for the KBIC Natural Resources Department, Erin is responsible for management and oversight of projects and surveys related to wildlife, habitat, and wetlands within the L’Anse Indian Reservation. Current projects and long-term monitoring efforts focus on bats, waterfowl, herptafauna, and wolves. The Wildlife Program continues to grow and diversify as we build capacity and strengthen partnerships. Erin’s professional affiliations include the Michigan Wetland Association, Intertribal Chronic Wasting Disease Working Group, and Partners for Watershed Restoration.

Erin grew up in East Lansing, Michigan and started her academic career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2001. After two years at U of M she transferred to Northern Michigan University to pursue a degree in wildlife biology. After graduating from NMU in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife/Ecology, she went straight to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Her graduate work focused on understanding hunter risk perceptions associated with chronic wasting disease.

Upon graduating with her master’s degree in Natural Resources Management in 2008, Erin moved back to the UP where she took a job as the Environmental Science Department Chair for the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College. In early 2011, she took a position with the KBIC Natural Resources Department as the Lake Superior Program Coordinator and moved into the Wildlife Program in 2016.

When she’s not working, Erin enjoys exercising in her basement, running outdoors, and spending time in nature with her husband and two young daughters.

For more information about the Wildlife Program or Erin’s publications, please contact her at ejohnston@kbic-nsn.gov or (906) 524-5757 ext.20

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Evelyn Ravindran, Director, NRD, KBIC

Evelyn is an enrolled member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and has worked in the KBIC Natural Resources Department (NRD) for the last twenty-nine years. In her career within the department she has served as a technician, specialist, fishery/nursery manager and has been the director since June 2018. During these years, she has served on Community committees including the Tribal Natural Resources, Cultural, Parks and Recreation, Economic, and Treaty Rights as well as the Fisherman’s Memorial and Tribute Working Group. She has also enjoyed working on external advisory boards for the Wisconsin Sea Grant Agency, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College Environmental Sciences Program, and Michigan Technological University School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

Evelyn's current committee service includes the Buffalo Reef Taskforce, Michigan Wild Rice Team, Committee for Michigan’s Mining Future and the Torch Lake PAC. Additionally, she participates in work groups and research which provide opportunities to share KBIC stewardship principles and concerns for the protection of the Lake Superior basin communities.

In her time away from work she enjoys seasonal gathering activities and spending time on the water with her family and friends including her mother, four children and three grandchildren.

Evelyn can be reached at eravindran@kbic-nsn.gov or (906) 524-5757 ext.11


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