Students participating in bird research.

Freshman Fellows Research Projects

Freshman Fellows work closely with NMU faculty and staff to gain hands-on experience in research and scholarship. The projects fellows undertake vary widely. Since projects are based on research currently undertaken by NMU faculty, students interested in the program should find out about faculty research interests at NMU by downloading our faculty research interests directory

Amanda Allee

Hometown: Greencastle, IN
Major: Undecided (Planning on Medicinal Plant Chemistry)
Mentor: Dr. Donna Maki

Elisabeth (Asbel) Wells

Hometown: Greensburg, PA
Major: Medicinal Plant Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Lesley Putman

Bianca Wiegerink

Hometown: Comstock Park, MI
Major: Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Jill Leonard

Caitlyn Nunn

Hometown: Carleton, MI
Major: Forensic Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Philip Yangyuoru

Carlee Yon

Hometown: Wakefield, MI
Major: Elementary Education Language Arts
Mentor: Dr. Christi Edge

Cecilia Anderson

Hometown: Linden, MI
Major: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Jill Leonard

Elizabeth Brokaw

Hometown: Appleton, WI
Major: Forensic Biochemistry
Mentor: Professor Michael Harrington

Elizabeth Williams

Hometown: Appleton, WI​​​​​​​
Major: Environmental Studies & Sustainability ​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Ryan Stock

Ella Bates

Hometown: West Olive, MI
Major: Anthropology​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Ryan Stock

Ella Houwers

Hometown: Whitewater, WI
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Derek Marr

Emily Appleton

Hometown: Clay, MI
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Professor Heather Issacson

Isabelle Honkomp

Hometown: Waconia, MN
Major: Environmental Studies
Mentor: Dr. Ryan Stock

Jaycee Harvath

Hometown: Farmington Hills, MI​​​​​​​
Major: Pre-Nursing​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Amber LaCrosse

Jenna Laway

Hometown: Cheboygan, MI​​​​​​​
Major: Criminal Justice, Forensic Biochemistry ​​​​​​​
Mentor: Professor Chris MacMaster

Jenna Pasbrig

Hometown: Mayville, WI​​​​​​​
Major: Clinical Laboratory Science​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Paul Mann

Jennifer Jenks

Hometown: Wild Rose, WI​​​​​​​
Major: Psychology​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Lin Fang

Keegan Sutton

Hometown: Ruckersville, VA​​​​​​​
Major: Political Science​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Petra Hendrickson

Maeghan Cooley

Hometown: Canton, MI​​​​​​​
Major: Biology/Zoology​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Kurt Galbreath

Matthew Williams

Hometown: Kingsley, MI​​​​​​​
Major: Clinical Laboratory Science​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Paul Mann

Mia Strazny

Hometown: Manitowoc, WI
Major: Biochemistry / Pre-Medicine​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Robert Belton

Morgan Brown

Hometown: Stephenson, MI​​​​​​​
Major: Speech Pathology​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Maryam Khaledi

Wren Konickson

Hometown: Stillwater, MN
Major: Forensic Biochemistry​​​​​​​
Mentor: Dr. Evan Pratt

Jordan Brown

Hometown: Hamilton, MI
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Management
Mentor: Dr. Diana Lafferty
Research Project Description: A natural history study on small mammal use of forensic cadavers at the FROST facility on campus. Included a deep literature review and observational data to determine where the need for additional research lies.

Margaret Lynch

Hometown: Grayslake, IL
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Robert Belton
Research Project Description: It is difficult to obtain human endometrial tissues for study. Uterine stromal cells are primary cells with a finite lifespan, so they cannot be grown in culture long-term. A stable, immortalized cell line that demonstrates hormone responsiveness is required to study the process of decidualization in vitro. A stable, immortalized HESC cell line was generated by researchers at Yale University in 2004 (Krikun et al). Our lab is testing cells from the same line to demonstrate their ability to respond normally to reproductive hormones.

Teagan Blohowiak

Hometown: Green Bay, WI
Major: Clinical Laboratory Science
Mentor: Dr. Paul Mann
Research Project Description: I did PNA-LAMP assays on 2 strands of PNA (peptide nuclei acids) oligomers of IDH1R132H mutation, a bio marker used to characterize glioblastoma, to determine the analytical sensitivity and specificity of the 2 strands.

Hunter Bault

Hometown: Saukville, WI
Major: Neuroscience: Behavior and Cognitive Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Maryam Khaledi
Research Project Description: We studied speech samples of subjects with fluent aphasia to determine how they differ morphologically and syntactically from “normal” and non-fluent utterances.

Margaret Lorenz

Hometown: North Muskegon, MI
Major: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Amber LaCrosse
Research Project Description: I helped analyze different grades of Glioblastoma, a highly malignant brain tumor, for Cannabinoid(CB) 1 and 2 receptors. The other project I was involved in was investigating Fluoxetine as a novel treatment for attenuating cognitive impairment caused by Cisplatin.

Riley Box

Mentor: Dr. Abigail Wyche

Trinity Hinshaw

Mentor: Dr. Diana Lafferty

Ania Hyatt

Mentor: Dr. Gabrielle McNally

Claire Jorgensen

Mentor: Dr. Diana Lafferty

Mary Kelly

Mentor: Dr. Robert Legg

Heston Roberts

Mentor: Dr. Glenn Wrate

Scott Rose

Mentor: Dr. Matthew Jennings

Cora Siuda

Mentor: Dr. Kurt Galbreath

Benjamin Sternschuss

Mentor: Dr. Lin Fang

Luke Tschumperlin

Mentor: Dr. Gabrielle McNally

Grace Schumann

Hometown: West Chicago / Carol Stream, IL
Major: History
Mentor: Dr. Amy Hamilton

I hail from West Chicago / Carol Stream IL (I live on the border of the two towns, 20 min outside of Chicago) and my major is History! I currently have a double minor in Gender and Sexualities and Native American studies. I came to NMU because of the unique Indigenous people’s studies, the beauty, and because it is a 6-hour drive from home.

I am conducting a research project in the form of a zine (mini magazine) titled “Climate Apartheid and the End of the World.” Y’know, light reading material. :) I am currently trying to find a sustainable way to transform society, by taking close looks at the indigenous perspective as well as the anarcho-commune idea. Very folk-punk. I hope when I finish distributing these zines amongst folks, so if you are interested shoot me an email at! I have absolutely loved this mentorship! Amy and I have become incredibly close, and I feel very lucky to have her choose me. We exchange reading lists, music tastes, speak about local and worldwide politics, and she helps me so much with the creation of this zine. Plus, I helped research some of her soon-to-be published work, so I get a credit in an actual Book!!

Brady Ruth

Hometown: Woodbury, MN
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Management
Mentor: Dr. Brandon Gerig

I am a student from a town in Minnesota located about fifteen minutes south of St. Paul called Woodbury. I chose NMU for several reasons, including its proximity to Lake Superior, the uniqueness of its Fisheries Sciences program, and the relatively small size of the university. My major is currently Fisheries and Wildlife Management with an emphasis on Fisheries Science. I enjoyed learning about fish throughout my childhood, and I look forward to continue pursuing that interest at NMU and beyond. I am also considering following the path of a minor in German.

My current research project involves the use of mass spectrometry to analyze stable isotopes of sulfur, carbon, and nitrogen that are found in juvenile lake trout liver and muscle tissues. By viewing the concentration of these isotopes in the samples, we are able to determine the diets of juvenile fish and compare them to adult fish. This study will help in the overall pursuit of knowledge regarding the effects of recent changes within the ecosystem of Lake Superior and its tributaries. From this information, management agencies can take steps to alleviate or reverse the negative effects of invasive species and other stress factors in the ecosystem. I am currently working with a graduate student named Will Otte under the guidance of Dr. Brandon Gerig.

I think one of the most surprising things that I have discovered while working as a Freshman Fellow is the great variety of fisheries science research that must be performed in order to properly preserve aquatic and marine environments. Between my junior and senior years of high school, I was a Hutton scholar which gave me the opportunity to perform fisheries research with my local DNR as well as a nearby university for the entire summer. That experience coupled with my current work as a Freshman Fellow has opened my eyes to the wide scope of fisheries research opportunities and has helped to secure my interest in the topic.

Raquel Green

Hometown: Marquette, MI
Major: Environmental Science
Mentor: Center for Student Enrichment

My name is Raquel and I am an Environmental Science major with an Outdoor Recreation minor. I grew up in Marquette, MI, where my passion for science and the outdoors stems from. NMU was the perfect combination of hands-on experience, small class size, and outdoor immersion.

This semester I have been working in the Center for Student Enrichment (CSE) with Rachel Harris and another Freshman Fellow. We are working to improve the Superior Edge Program and to get students more involved in logging their hours/staying active during their enrollment in the program.

I was surprised how easy planning an event at Northern was and how many tasks the CSE is responsible for. Rachel Harris has been an excellent resource and has a wealth of information to share. She has provided me with the tools I needed to complete my work and has instilled confidence in me, actively promoting my ability to work independently and succeed.

Amber Essenmacher

Hometown: Ubly, MI
Major: English
Mentor: Center for Student Enrichment

Hi! I’m Amber and I am from Ubly, Michigan. I am an English-Writing major with a focus on journalism and poetry. My mom likes to joke that I chose Northern to “get as far from home as possible but still stay in Michigan, but if that was the case I would’ve gone to Michigan Tech! I am here for the adventure Northern offers.

I currently work at the Center for Student Enrichment under Rachel Harris. I am specifically involved in Superior Edge as a sort of events coordinator. My goal is to get people involved and interested. The critical thinking and time management skills I have acquired will assist me in whatever career I choose!

My job is fun so I don’t have too many complaints. It has opened my eyes, though, to the lack of involvement from a lot of students. There are tons of events on campus to participate in and people aren’t taking advantage of them. Also, I have learned that our servitude towards others is more appreciated than we could ever know. We recently planned a card-making party for the elderly and my partner, Raquel, and I hand-delivered them to the residents of a local senior citizens center. It is rewarding to do work that is unnecessary but loved.

Lily VandenLangenberg

Hometown: Greenbay, WI
Major: Secondary English
Mentor: Kim Smith and Renee Jewett

My name is Lily VandenLangenberg, and I am a freshman at NMU from Green Bay, WI. I am a Secondary English Education major with a Secondary History Education minor. I chose NMU because of the incredible opportunities the school offers. NMU transferred my AP credits with ease, and the Education program works at getting students into schools as soon as possible, which I love. I also got the opportunity to be a part of the Freshman Fellows Research program, and that was the deciding factor in me choosing NMU.

I am working with Kim Smith and Renee Jewett form the Seaborg Center on a research project focusing on the new methods of teaching math and science in the classroom. I am focusing on how Next Generation Science and Common Core Math standards affects student equity during classroom discussion. I am going to be comparing teacher perceptions of their students during discussion to my own observations of classroom discussion. This knowledge will help the Seaborg Center on campus learn how the practices they are promoting are affecting classrooms, and it could help the general public gain a better understanding of the standards that are expected from students and teachers.

I think the most interesting part of this experience for me was getting to choose my own topic, and having my mentors completely support my ideas, while also asking critical questions and keeping me on track. When I walked into our first meeting, they asked me what I wanted to research, and they had told me about what they had already done in the field. This allowed me to come up with a few general ideas, and from there we worked together to narrow it down. I was most surprised about how they treated me as an equal, and not as a subordinate. In the relationship I have with my mentors, it feels more like a friendship or work relationship than anything else, and I think that environment has allowed me to put myself out there and freely express my ideas and ask questions without feeling criticized.

Dana Rinkel

Hometown: Royal Oak, MI
Major: Biology

I am from Royal Oak Michigan which is about 20 minutes from downtown Detroit. I am majoring in biology with an ecology concentration to hopefully be working with marine wildlife for my career. I chose to come to Northern for school because I love the area and all there is to do here, but mostly because Marquette feels like a second home to me.

My research project is about fish behavior. This is somewhat important because there is not much known about it. I will be testing guppies to see how long it takes them to emerge/risk leaving a safer environment to venture into unknown territory to find shelter and food. While I am testing this and seeing the outcomes, it could be correlated with the size of the fish, their age, and when they swim up from hatching.

One think that has been a little difficult this semester is that for the first few weeks, I didn’t really know what my project was going to be and then learning how to write a project proposal quickly after was a bit stressful.

Brianne Cochill

Hometown: Warren, MI
Major: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Josh Sharp

My name is Brianne Cochill. I am from Warren, Michigan which is right outside of the city of Detroit. I am currently a Biology major with a concentration in physiology, and I am also working towards a Spanish minor and in the pre-med program. I had a lot of reasons that I chose NMU, a few of the main ones being the smaller campus, the research opportunities I was able to pursue, and the band/marching band programs.

So this semester I have been working with Dr. Josh Sharp, he is one of the microbiology professors on campus. In his lab, I have been helping him conduct research detecting E. coli in water samples. It is a very cool opportunity, we are working with different departments with the state of Michigan to test water samples to see beaches are too dangerous to be in using PCR technology. This is really beneficial to the community, especially here in Marquette. It is important to keep people off of beaches when there are contaminants in the water so no one gets sick.

I think the most surprising thing for me was how open Dr. Sharp was to having such young people in his lab helping and working with him. I find that when younger students want to volunteer or work with people that are high in their field it’s very difficult. I don’t understand why but people don't seem to want to deal with you if you arent experienced and know what you’re talking about. With that being said I really appreciate working with Dr. Sharp because he was so welcoming into his lab and allowed me to have the hands-on experience of working with everything. He is very patient with me and happy to explain things that I don't understand, especially because most of the people working in his lab are graduate students or are about to graduate.

Erin Matula

Hometown: Northern Wisconsin
Mentor: Dr. Matt Van Grinsven

As it always has been and always will be, I am the nature or winter girl. Always going on random expeditions in the woods or a bog and coming back with rocks or lichen in my pockets, even mistakenly and illegally on a plane back from New Zealand. I hail from a collection of small towns in northern Wisconsin including Boulder Junction, Saxon, and Washburn. Northern Michigan University turned out to be the most logical choice for at least the first few years of college because of its proximity to family, the Mother Lake, access to snow and lovely ski teams, as well as options for Bachelor’s programs I am interested in.

Currently, I am working with Matt Van Grinsven in water quality research particularly pertaining to macroinvertebrates in the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve. The organization does have a database of water quality information that goes back to the early 2000’s, but it is always helpful to add to in the fieldwork seasons like I did this fall. During the winter months I will be helping to organize their information for their use and my own in hopes to present at any number of conferences and continue research even into my future keystone project. It has been surprising how much fun working actually is, I was already a fan of working in a stream rain or shine even in leaky waders, but even with the data manipulation it is relaxing to put on a classic rock or cringy 2000’s playlist and make it entertaining. Because of our busy schedules and coordination, Matt and I do the most work together over xcel and R data sheets (pictured below) and I branch off to work in the field with a crew and dog Sergie for the majority of the time.

Joelle Gallagher

Mentor: Dr. Alan Rebertus

I chose NMU because of the environment. I wanted to be able to experience life and Marquette is the perfect place to do that. I’ve always had a deep connection with the forest, since I grew up on a tree farm, so I love the fact that I am surrounded by trees here in the UP. Also, more specifically about NMU, I like that I am able to research as a freshman and that the school is focused on undergrads. It is large enough to have plenty of opportunities but small enough to be personable.

I am researching bdelloid rotifers, microscopic animals that live within a frullania liverwort, with Dr. Alan Rebertus. I am looking at the population densities of the rotifers and hypothesizing a symbiosis between the two organisms. There is little to no research done on this particular species of rotifers, so I will be able to publish my work at the end of the school year about my findings. This research is helping me understand protocols, entering data, analysis, and working with laboratory instruments.

The most surprising thing I have found about working with my mentor is that I am able to do most of my research on my own. I collect my specimens each week and work in the lab. I go to Dr. Rebertus to checkup, give updates, and ask questions, but he trusts me to do the work on my own. This has been nice because it has held me responsible for my own work. I am very lucky to have Dr. Rebertus as my mentor.

Maddie Voltz

Hometown: Alpena, MI
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Josh Carlson

I'm Maddie Voltz and I am from Alpena, Michigan. I am double majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Social Psychology and Communications studies. I chose NMU because the faculty really gets to know and care for the students. There are also so many opportunities to get involved and further yourself within your program.


Currently, I am working as a Freshman Fellows Program lab assistant in the CABIN lab that is headed by Dr. Josh Carlson. I'm assisting in a study that looks at attentional bias and how it can be linked to anxiety.

It was really nice, yet intimidating to be welcomed into the lab. I was one of only a few new people to the lab and most of the members are upperclassmen or graduate students so the first few lab meetings were pretty intimidating. It has been a great experience so far and I have learned a lot. Overall, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work in the CABIN lab.

Isabella Oldani from Chesterfield, Michigan worked with Dr. Paul Mann in the Clinical Lab Sciences department. Her research poster presentation entitled "Primer Assessment for a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification Assay for Glioblastoma Multiforme" won first place in the undergraduate lower division poster competition.

Annika Desai from McFarland, Wisconsin worked with Dr. Kurt Galbreath in the NMU Biology Department. She presented her research project, "A Phylogenetic Analysis of the Parasitic Pinworm Eugenuris sp. in Ochotona sp." at NMU's Celebration of Student Scholarship. Her poster won 2nd place in the undergraduate lower division poster competition! 

Julia Soma from Black Creek, Wisconsin worked with Dr. Neil Cumberlidge in the NMU Crab Lab. She presented on her project, entitled "Descriptions of Four New Genera of Freshwater Crabs from Madagascar Based on Morphological and Molecular Evidence" at NMU's 24th Annual Celebration of Student Scholarship in April of 2019. Dr. Cumberlidge is a leading expert on freshwater crabs of South Africa and typically engages a few undergraduate and graduate students in research at the crab lab. 

Eli Bieri

Hometown: Grandville, MI
Major: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Brent Graves - Biology

I chose NMU because as a biology major, its unique location between Lake Superior and countless miles of pristine Northern woodlands provide ample opportunities for research in a diverse ecological setting. When I heard about the Freshman Fellows program, I knew it would be a fantastic chance to pursue this kind of research at the undergrad level with expert guidance. Having Dr. Brent Graves as my mentor has proven to be a perfect fit, we're both passionate about herpetology and conservation. 

We're currently running laboratory experiments on American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) to determine if they display shelter site fidelity, or in other words, do they return to the same shelter site time after time? We hope that this research adds to a growing body of amphibian spacial ecology that could prove to be invaluable in conservation efforts in regard to land use. Thus far, this work has given me great insight into what the work of a biologist consists of, aside from the actual experimentation, there is significant levels of data entry and analysis as well as paperwork and inter-department communication. This project aligns closely with my career goals and has only solidified what I want to pursue in the future. 

Mariah Goeks

Hometown: Lake Forest, Illinois
Major: Physics and French double major
Mentor: Dr. Rick Mengyan - Physics 

Why NMU? 

When I was looking at schools, I thought I wanted to go into either engineering or physics. When I visited NMU, I saw a strong physics program and a very welcoming community. Added to how much the caring folks at financial aid were willing to help, and the fact that NMU has a strong band program open to non-majors, I felt that NMU was the place for me. I chose to apply to the Freshman Fellows program because by the time I was partway through senior year of high school, I had discovered how amazing physics is. It explains the world around us in very clear terms, but by no means is a complete description. There is so much more out there to learn, both what has already been discovered and new things nobody has found before. I find this amazing, and I am glad that the Fellows program exists to allow me to connect with the subject in such an engaged manner.


I am working with Dr. Mengyan in the physics department, and my project is part of the larger-scale effort of our collaboration that studies the effects and behavior of hydrogen in semiconductors. Specifically, we have been using an experimental technique called MuSR (Muon Spin Rotation/Relaxation/Resonance/Research) to probe the local magnetic features and early- time history of hydrogen impurities in materials with applications such as for use in solar cells, ultra-fast electronics, and smart windows. One such material, vanadium dioxide (VO 2 ), exhibits a partially understood transition in addition to a magnetic phase (that was recently discovered by our collaboration). This fall, I was working on characterizing the magnetism in titanium-doped VO 2 . Next semester, I will continue working on the VO 2 system with an aim to understand both the role impurities play in modifying the transitions and the mechanisms responsible for these transitions. I will be using transverse and high temperature zero-field MuSR measurements on titanium-doped VO 2 . I will also be working in the lab to set up and run electrical characterization measurements on semiconductors. This work will complement the MuSR measurements on VO 2 as well as contribute to other active projects. While it has been difficult to jump directly into a field that I had never heard of before meeting Dr. Mengyan, it has certainly been rewarding. It’s exciting to be part of research that is looking at things nobody has looked at before, or nobody has found answers to yet. I have been pleasantly surprised at how accessible this research has turned out to be, considering the advanced nature of the topic.


The Fellows experience has been wonderful. I have been able to jump right into physics, into a subfield that I wouldn’t have otherwise even explored as a freshman. This has opened doors for me (some of which I did not know existed before I showed up here this fall), and has given me a perspective on what actual research is like. Being able to work on this has given me confidence when I say that I plan on moving forwards in physics, quite probably as researcher.

Felicia "Riley" Johnston

Hometown: Riverside, California
Major: Computer Science
Minors: Mathematics and Religious Studies
Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Horn - Computer Science and Mathematics

Why NMU?

I chose NMU for many different reasons, but the most important to me was to go to a place where I can not only escape the confines of where I am already familiar with but to also be secure in my future at whichever school I attended. The Freshmen Fellowship program is one of the big parts of Northern that made me feel as though this was the right choice for me in order to succeed.


I focused on a few projects during my time as a Freshman Fellow since my area of study was too vast for me to quickly pinpoint a specific study I was interested with at the start. I delved into robotics with research in AI,environmental adaptability, and speech conversion that could be implemented in the robot known as “Blaze”, I developed a website to record my research and my thought process throughout my endeavors, and finally I began coordinating an event that will work like a programming and robotics workshop that will connect the younger generation of STEM students with our students at Northern to create a learning environment for all participating. 


Overall my projects have had difficulties due to small but impactful aspects such as limited knowledge and funding, as well as my own personal trial with the change of such a big personal responsibility over my own project with no structure to guide me.


I believe my experience with the Freshmen Fellowship project will greatly impact my undergrad career as well as my outlook on jobs and research in the future more so by the end of the term than it already has part of the way through. I have a deeper understanding for the processes needed to research, plan events, and the importance of personal responsibility in the workplace. This experience has given me an opportunity of a lifetime that lays a solid foundation for me to build upon with my undergrad and hopefully graduate studies.

Gwyneth Harrick

Hometown: Marquette, MI
Major: Public Administration
Mentor: Dr. Jon Barch

Why NMU: "I am a Marquette native, studying Public Administration. I chose to go to NMU because of the affordability of the University and the opportunities I was granted through the acceptance into the Honors Program, Freshmen Fellowship, and Student Leader Fellowship Program through a leadership scholarship."

Project: "My research advisor is Jon Barch, Associate Director of the Center for Student Enrichment, Director of the Student Leader Fellowship Program and a professor of Psychology. Currently, the rate of NMU students who sign up to engage in Superior Edge but do not complete any “Edges” by graduation is relatively high. My research aims to identify the motivation of students who are engaging (or not) in the completion of Superior Edge. Through the information we collect, it is our hope to improve the program’s success rate, thus benefiting the student’s experience here at NMU and with Superior Edge. My research utilizes the Self-Determination Theory (SDT), which essentially focuses on the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of individuals. Based on this theorem, we have developed a questionnaire and focus groups in order to move toward our end goals."

Impact: "Having the opportunity to engage in the Freshmen Fellowship Program benefits students like me by giving them the opportunity to engage in paid undergraduate research. I appreciate the potential to maximize my potential in such an independent environment—it is my hope that through the data collected I may even be able to present my research at various conferences. Additionally, is it nice to be able to have one on one time with a faculty member so that I can utilize them as a mentor and soundboard for ideas or questions throughout my first year of school? Students who are interested in applying have no reason not to - there’s an extremely short application and interview process."

Tyler DeVos

Hometown: Caledonia, MI
Major: Wildlife Management
Mentor: Dr. Jill Leonard

Why NMU: "I was drawn to Northern Michigan University by the school’s strong fisheries and wildlife management program, which was a perfect fit for me (I plan to become a wildlife biologist specializing in herpetology). In addition to a strong academic program, the friendly and personal campus environment and unique opportunities such as the Freshman Fellowship Program also had a strong impact on my decision to attend NMU."

Project: "I am working with Dr. Leonard and Dr. Sharp to analyze the effects of substrate on the size and composition of the cutaneous bacterial populations of individual red-backed salamanders. This species is known to have several species of bacteria residing in the mucus on its skin, so we are swabbing the salamanders and transferring the collected bacteria to nutrient plates, where it can be grown and analyzed. Samples are taken from salamanders kept in sterilized dirt and salamanders kept in natural dirt, with the end goal of determining what role the substrate plays—if any—on the salamanders’ bacterial populations."

"I am so thankful for the amazing opportunity that Dr. Leonard, Dr. Sharp, and the Freshman Fellowship Program overall have given me to get involved in research so early! This program offers an opportunity for underclassmen to participate in research that is extremely rare, and I would strongly encourage all incoming NMU freshmen to apply to the Freshman Fellowship Program."

Grace Grimes

Hometown: Plymouth, MI
Major: Zoology
Mentor: Dr. Jill Leonard, Professor of Biology

Why NMU?: "Marquette. Not only does Northern have an incredible biology department with a dedicated and caring staff, but the location of NMU is absolutely astounding. Ten minutes away, there are mountains to conquer, cliffs to jump off, and all the trees you could ever want to climb."

Project: "I am assisting senior, Nicole Pittoors, research the effects of climate change specifically, temperature and pH on copepods, small marine crustaceans. Currently, we are in the process of learning how to use geometric morphometric programming equipment."

Impact: "I would one hundred percent recommend the Freshman Fellows to any incoming student. As a biology student, you are going to have to get involved with research in order to be competitive in your field. The sooner you start, the better advantage you have. Not only are you learning new skills, building your resume, and actually getting your hands dirty doing what you love, but you're also being paid at the same time."

Kaitlynn Bortz

Kaitlynn Bortz is one of the two Freshman Fellows doing research in NMU’s fish lab, under Dr. Jill Leonard of the Biology Department. Kaitlynn is a Fisheries and Wildlife Management major, and the project she is working on involves measuring different landmarks on individual fish in a population of sturgeon. “Usually,” she says, “researchers will take pictures of the fish’s sides to measure their growth, but when measuring sturgeon and other similar fish, they take pictures of the fish from the top-down”. Kaitlynn is taking pictures and measuring the fish both from the side and from the top, to see whether the two different procedures net similar results or if one of the methods skews the data.

Kaitlynn is from Monroe, Michigan, and she said she chose Northern Michigan for several reasons, the biggest one being the Freshman Fellows Program. She said she was excited that the program would give her the opportunity to begin doing real research right away, an opportunity that was not offered at any other university.

She says the Freshman Fellows Program has helped her undergraduate experience by getting her more and more involved in a lab, helping her learn about scientific writing as well as reading scientific papers, and helping her make professional connections early on in her education. “I’m learning a lot and gaining a lot of experience”, she said, “which is going to be really valuable to me through my educational career”.

Emma Schroeder

Emma Schroeder came to NMU from Appleton, Wisconsin. She is triple-majoring in Secondary Education, French, and Industrial Technology. However, her major was originally Neuroscience, so for her project, she is working in the neuroscience lab under her mentor Dr. Erich Ottem. She also works closely with Luke Van Osdol, who is a graduate student and the head of the lab, and other graduate and undergraduate students in the neuroscience program.

She does not have one project which is definitive “hers”, as she helps other students with their research projects. Currently, she’s taking images of neurons, cleaning them up, and tracing the dendrites, but in the past, she has done work genotyping, as well as doing animal care about one a week for the laboratory mice.

Emma originally chose Northern because it has one of the only neuroscience programs in the area, but after that initial draw, there were many other factors that solidified her decision, such as the university’s closeness and connection with the environment and the individual attention the students here receive. Even though she is not continuing with the Neuroscience major, she doesn’t regret her decision to attend NMU or the time she’s spent working in the Freshman Fellows program. “I know now that coming to northern was a good choice,” she says, “because I didn’t know I could make connections that fast. Working with grad students and Dr. Ottom has been really valuable for me, and even though I’m not continuing in this department, I can still use those connections in the future.”

Nate Martineau

Nate Martineau is a Freshman Fellow who is majoring in Ecology and is working under Alec Lindsay, a professor in the Biology Department. Nate’s project is interesting because he is identifying eggs in an old chest that someone found in the university. No one knows where the chest came from, when or where the eggs were collected, or the identity of the original collector or any previous owners. The collection dates back to the 1840s or before, which is evidenced by the thick arsenic soot present on some of the eggs.

To identify the eggs, Nate measures each egg and then records its shape, color, and markings. Then he uses a field guide to determine what kind of egg it is. At the time of the interview, he was on the second to last drawer. After he finishes identifying all of the eggs in the collection, he plans on using his experience with the field guide he’s currently using to write a review for a different guide, which he says “has a lot of issues”.

Nate Martineau is from Lansing, MI. He said that a major factor in his decision to enroll in Northern Michigan University was its location on Lake Superior. The quality of the natural science programs at Northern and the financial aid the school offered him ensured he would be attending NMU for his education.

Abigail Zeman

Abigail Zeman is an English Writing major with a minor in TESOL from Okinawa, Wisconsin. Her mentor is Dr. Caroline Krzakowski. For her project, she is going to be writing a research paper focusing on the surrealist movement in Europe. The thesis is yet to be solidified, she says, but she has narrowed it down to either the western European influences on the surrealist movement, focusing on places such as Poland or the Czech Republic or of the origins of the surrealist movement, which would be focusing more on 1920’s France.

Abigail is helping her mentor Dr. Krzakowski with her own project as well. Abigail is helping to compile a bibliography of around 300 sources for the book which her mentor is writing.

Abigail says that her Freshman Fellows project is giving her the ability to form her own ideas and find a place for them. She says it is also helping her personal development in writing, quality of work, and expanding her knowledge in areas not typically covered in the classroom.

“I decided to come to Northern primarily because of the Freshman Fellows program and that opportunity to work so closely with a staff member during my earlier years as an undergraduate student,” Abigail said. She said that that the quality of education was a major factor in her decision as well, and that after researching different English programs, she found that Northern’s was the best in the area.

Abigail Zeman is pictured on the left, and Dr. Caroline Krzakowski is on the right.

Reagan McKay

Reagan McKay is a Freshman Fellow from Wittenberg, Wisconsin. She is double majoring in Theatre Performance and English with a minor in Dance at Northern Michigan University. Her mentor for her Freshman Fellows project is the director of Northern’s theatre department, Professor Ansley Valentine. She is working on the Panowski Playwriting Competition, where playwrights from all over the United States send in scripts for their original plays, and the winning play is produced the following year at NMU. Reagan is currently reading and organizing the scripts, among other coordination responsibilities, and next year her project will continue as she will be the dramaturg for the play which is selected.

Reagan chose to visit Northern Michigan University after she met a recruiter at her high school, and once she visited the campus and learned about the programs the school had to offer her decision was made. “I knew this was the school for me”, she says, “and the Freshman Fellowship was definitely an added plus”. Reagan said that the Freshman Fellows program has not only helped her make connections in the theatre department, but it has helped her to explore new areas of theatre and dramaturgy.

Caleb Myers

Caleb is a freshman fellow from Alpena Michigan. He is doing his fellowship work with Associate Professor Michael Martin in the Engineering Technology department. Caleb is a mechanical engineering technology major with an alternative energies minor: a perfect fit for his research project.

“In visiting NMU there were several things that stuck out to me that separated it from other colleges. For starters, just the area of Marquette is a huge draw for me. Being big into the outdoors I saw it very easy to make the transition from high school to college. Another thing that I noticed about the school was how welcoming the faculty and students were. Walking on the NMU campus for the first time was very comforting and welcoming. I didn't feel a part of any other school on my first day on campus. Being a mechanical engineering tech. major I knew that a big portion of my time would be spent in the labs. After touring the engineering facilities I was very impressed by the cleanliness of the labs and the technology and systems that were available to work on and with was above and beyond many other schools I had shown interest in. Overall my first impressions of NMU are what sealed the deal for me. The biggest concern of any student making the transition from high school to college is fitting in and feeling at home. It didn't take but a day and I knew I had made the right choice in choosing NMU.”

Caleb has been working on bringing the wind turbine online to generate green energy to power laptops in the Jacobetti Center commons. The system has been in various stages of completion for the last three years, and after rewiring and repairing the turbine, and checking every piece of equipment involved, they’re just about ready to bring it online.

The wind turbine is located on the roof of the Jacobetti Center. On the day we visited, there wasn’t enough wind to turn it but there is no doubt that will change. The turbine generates electricity that goes back to the board shown in the picture where it is converted to AC current. When the system is set up the electricity will power four wall outlets in the commons of the Jacobetti Center. When that electricity isn’t being used, it is stored in batteries. The next step will be to monitor the usage of the outlets and compare that to power production. Caleb plans to write the project up in a paper he hopes to publish.

“This experience has been extremely beneficial,” says Caleb. The work he’s doing with Professor Martin is stuff they cover in courses for his minor and he finds that the information sticks a lot better since he’s been involved in this project. He also appreciates the fact that faculty in his department all know him as a result of his work in their labs and general presence in the building.

Brooke Immel, Sarah Vertel, and Carly Tuominen

Brooke Immel, Sarah Vertel, and Carly Tuominen are all working with Professor Cathy Bammert from the Department of Clinical Lab Sciences on her research. They are looking at the correlations between Staphaureus, Strep-Pneumo, and MRSA. They are researching the vaccine for Staphaureus, and how it may increase the chances for Strep-Pneumo, and also how Strep-Pneumo can lead to MRSA.

Brooke Immel chose to attend Northern Michigan University because of the Clinical Lab Science program and the Freshman Fellowship Program. “There are no opportunities like this anywhere else,” Immel Says, “at other universities, you have to wait until you’re junior or senior, and even then it’s super competitive.” She says the Fellowship is giving her lots of good hands-on experience that is confirming that she really enjoys doing research in this field.

Sarah Vertel says she chose NMU because she loves the outdoors and Northern has a great atmosphere with lots of educational opportunities that will help her to succeed both during and after her undergraduate studies. She says that the Freshman Fellows program is not only helping her to do research right away, but it is also “boosting her confidence” by affirming that she can do real research that can make a difference in how diseases are treated.

Carly Tuominen lived in Marquette her whole life, but she actually had her mindset on the University of Minnesota. She was at the point where she was looking for her roommate when her high school Health Occupation class took a tour of West Science and the Clinical Lab Science facility. While she was on the trip, she met her now mentor Cathy Bammert, and she learned about the Freshman Fellowship Program. “I completely turned around and applied to NMU and I applied for the Fellowship,” she says, “I’m so happy I went on that trip because otherwise I would have never considered Northern and it’s such a great school.” Tuominen says the Freshman Fellowship program is helping her make professional connections early in her educational career who will be helpful to her for the rest of her life. She says that she feels like if she has a question, there are people who care and will help her with the answer.

Pictured from left to right are Carly Tuominen, Brooke Immel, and Sarah Vertel.

Tristan Ruiz

Tristan Ruiz is a biochemistry major and he is researching thimbleberry plants under his mentor Dr. Brandon Canfield from the Department of Chemistry. The research focuses on the phenolic content of the leaves and berries, which determines the plant's antioxidant activity. According to Ruiz, Dr. Canfield began this project because although there is a lot of similar research in plants such as blueberries or raspberries, there is not much information about this research done on thimbleberries.

“I’m very happy with the work I’ve been doing here,” Ruiz says of his Freshman Fellows research, “and it’s very cool, being able to work in a chemistry research lab as a freshman.” Ruiz is grateful for the opportunity the Freshman Fellowship program has given him, as he believes that it will help him in his more advanced classes here at NMU and when he begins applying to graduate schools.

Although Tristan Ruiz had never been to Michigan before attending NMU, he says that the school was an easy choice for him. While he was living in Germany he was researching colleges all over the United States and found that not only did Northern have great facilities and a relatively small population, but he would receive in-state tuition because he was a dependent of a member of the military. Ruiz says he is very happy with his choice of school and with the research he is doing here because of the Freshman Fellows program.

Chloe Rinkel

Chloe Rinkel, a chemistry and forensic biochemistry major from Royal Oak, MI, is assisting Dr. Lee Roecker from the Department of Chemistry in his professional research through the Freshman Fellows program. Chloe Rinkel and Dr. Roecker are currently studying the element cobalt, which typically bonds to six chlorides, and they are seeing if they can “knock off” the chlorides by having the chemical reaction with an organic molecule. This is replicating what other scientists have done, but they hope to move on to original experimentation with cobalt later in the year.

Chloe is enjoying her research and she appreciates the experience that the program is granting her. “Even though I have a chem lab, this is just sort of another real-world aspect that the lecture can’t tell you about,” she says, “A lot more can go wrong [in the lab] than you hear about in the lecture.”

Although she was originally drawn to Northern Michigan University because of all of the outdoor opportunities, Chloe said she chose to attend NMU because of its academic programs and its opportunities for undergraduate research, such as the Freshman Fellows program.

Alissa Chrisekos

Alissa Chrisekos is a freshman in the Earth, Environmental, and Geographical Sciences (EEGS) Department. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Susy Ziegler, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and EEGS Department Head. 

Where are you from and why did you choose to attend NMU?

I'm from  Clarkston, Mi and I choose to attend NMU because I love the outdoors, and this was far away from home but still in state tuition.

Describe your project.

My faculty mentor is Susy Ziegler. The project that I am working towards is the implementation of rain gardens in the Marquette area, this would help to lessen pollutant runoff into Lake Superior. I am doing an experiment on two different types of plants and how they react to salt and sand. Those ingredients are used for snow and ice on roadways so it is important to see how that runoff could degrade the plants being used in the garden. I have been studying types of gardens, types of plants to use, and trying to contact places around the city where rain gardens could be of use.

Why is this work important, how will it be used?

This is important because Lake Superior is a relatively clean body of fresh water and I intend to do my part and keep it that way. Being able to help make sure something does not become a bigger environmental issue before it gets more polluted is more forward thinking and will be less costly in the end. I am hoping to use this directly in my own work by actually designing a rain garden for a specific space, planting, taking care of, and studying the actual amount of pollutants that are captured.

What do you see yourself doing in the future in terms of undergraduate research and/or scholarly work?

I do not know exactly where my life plan takes me, but I have an interest in aquatic ecology and over-fishing of the oceans is a major concern of mine. In any work that I do I hope that it helps us as a society to better understand or be able to take positive environmental action.

McKensey Gariepy

McKensey Gariepy is a freshman fellow in the Chemistry department. McKensey is a pre-nursing student who is working with Dr. Brandon Canfield, Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

Tell us about your fellowship project. 

For my fellowship project I am doing research on Thimbleberries. Dr. Canfield and I are researching to figure out the amount of antioxidants within the berries. In order to do this we are measuring the total phenolic acid content within different samples of Thimbleberries that were picked in multiple areas of Marquette this past August. High phenolic acid amounts are often linked to high antioxidant amounts within foods.  Berries were frozen for storage, and in order to measure the phenolic acids they must first be crushed, dehydrated, extracted, and filtered. Following this sample preparation procedure, we have begun measuring the phenolic acid content using an assay that involves light absorption as a function of concentration.

What value has this experience brought to you so far?

This experience has helped me in applying the lessons I have learned in Chemistry to real life scenarios. The fellowship has allowed me try new things about myself and science. I now know how to successfully pipette and this has helped reaffirm that science is the career field I wish to pursue.

Why did you choose NMU?

I chose NMU for several reasons. My first reason was that I have family up in the Marquette- Munising area. Northern also has a prestigious Nursing Program which I hope to one day be a part of, and the freshman fellowship offered a unique opportunity I wished to take full advantage of. Plus, the landscape of Marquette is beautiful and the community is so friendly.

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

For the remainder of freshman year I am looking forward to continuing my fellowship and trying out new experiences. One of the things on my freshmen year bucket list is snow camping. As for my undergrad, I can't wait to see all the new and exciting opportunities that Northern and Marquette have to offer. In the future, I plan to get into the Nursing program here at Northern and then apply for to a graduate program to become a Nurse Practitioner

Page Queener

Page Queener is one of 26 students chosen to participate in the Freshman Fellowship program for the 2014/15 academic year. Page is from Attica, Michigan, and graduated from Imlay City High School. She is carrying out her fellowship work under the guidance of Breanne Carlson in the College of Health and Human performance. She took some time out of her busy academic schedule to tell us a little about her project, what brought her to NMU, and what she is looking forward to in the coming year. 

Tell us about your fellowship project. 

"My fellowship project is all about how we can find a different way to help people who have diabetes with low blood circulation in their feet. In many cases, patients must have their foot or leg amputated because they lose circulation completely. Breanne Carlson and I are trying to determine if the Garra Rufa fish (Dr. Fish) can help promote blood circulation. These fish are often used in “Fish Pedicures” because they eat dead skin, making feet very soft. While the fish are feasting, it causes a lot of vibrations on the foot which could potentially increase blood circulation. Currently, we are still in the literature review part of the project. We are just trying to gather as much information as we can about diabetes, the fish, and why this method will work. Breanne is actually training to be an Olympic weightlifter, so of course she is very focused on health and fitness. This project is a great fit for her because now she can help potentially thousands of others with their healthy lifestyle." 

What value has this experience brought to you so far?

"Even though we have barely dipped our feet into this project, it has been an awesome experience so far. There is no time schedule of when we need to get things finished, so I’m kind of on my own to find the time to work on the project. I’ve always been pretty confident with my time management skills but this has taken them to a whole new level because of the amount of work that needs to be put in. This project also makes me feel important. We always heard throughout high school, “I’m going to change the world one day,” but now I have a sturdy platform to actually do that. It’s weird to think that I could actually change the way people live their lives and really bring a lot of good to a lot of those with diabetes. It’s just an overall great feeling."

Why did you choose NMU?

"There are so many reasons why this school was the best pick for me. First of all, I never wanted to go to a big school. With too many people in one university, I felt as if I wouldn’t have been able to get help if I needed it. Northern is not too big or too small. I can still get the full college experience here without being completely overwhelmed by all of the people. Also, I really wanted to establish my independence after high school. I have always relied on my parents for a lot of things in my life. I wanted to be sure that I would be able to be on my own without them. Moving up to NMU, which is eight hours away from my hometown, was a perfect way to establish myself and my independence. Finally, the environment up here is amazing. I was never a crazy outdoorswoman back at home, but as soon as I moved up here, I was ready for anything. So far I’ve been hiking, kayaking, and I cannot wait to learn to ski! I’ve been up here for a little over a month and it already feels like home."

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

There are so many things to look forward to this year! First of all, getting my fellowship project rolling for next semester is going to be sFeo exciting. I can’t wait to start working with the fish and the patients and finding out if all of our hard work will be put to good use. I’m also really excited for the next few months because of Club Volleyball. I tried out and made the Club Volleyball team here and we have some tournaments coming up soon. I’ve played volleyball ever since I was little, so being able to continue it in college is awesome. The rest of my undergrad is going to be a fun ride. I’m going for Pre-Pharmacy and majoring in chemistry, which will not be the easiest thing in the world to do. But I know that once I graduate with my degree, I will feel accomplished and ready for graduate school. Right now, I’m planning on going to Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia to get my Doctor of Pharmacy. They have a great pharmacy program and in a great location. It’s going to be exciting to experience the arctic tundra up here and then move down to a more tropical state afterward. I have a pretty solid plan in place and I’m anxious to see what life brings me next!

This past academic year, Patricia Rempala worked with Cathy Bammert in the Clinical Laboratory Science Department for her Freshman Fellows project. They collaborated with Dr. John Lawrence and the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center to develop a laboratory test that could be done in under 25 minutes to detect certain mutations in a patient with glioblastoma (brain tumor). By performing this test, a surgeon could determine a more personalized approach to treating this patient's tumor. Patricia and her "team" started to develop a test and make progress, however, a group of Ph.D.'s published a similar test before Patricia's team could publish their own, so their research came to a halt. Although Patricia's research did not get published, being able to participate in the research made her realize how exciting the research really is and that she would like to continue studying clinical laboratory science. It confirmed that this truly is the type of work she wants to do in the future.

Patricia chose NMU because she has always loved Marquette. Her aunt and uncle live in Ishpeming so she traveled to the area quite often when she was younger. Ever since she was three years old, she has always said she wanted to attend NMU. She loves the people here and the community atmosphere.

Patricia is looking forward to making new friends here at NMU and continuing in the CLS program. She is excited to try new things, especially new outdoor sports, however, she is super excited to begin internships for her program to gain some real-world experience in the laboratory!

This past year, Erin McNabb has spent her time working with Dr. Gabe Logan in the NMU History Department working on their Webpage. She created two new tabs on their homepage, as well as creating a Facebook page for the department. The tabs on the page were directed towards incoming students and explain the Secondary Education Program within the department, as well as helpful articles about what to do with a history degree. This project really helped Erin understand her own Secondary Education Social Studies major and made her even more excited to pursue it.

Erin chose NMU because of the beautiful scenery, the sense of community, and the amazing staff. She is looking forward to taking more of the awesome history classes at NMU, making even more friends with her outstanding classmates, and creating brand new memories. "This school is the best and I'm so proud to be a Wildcat!"

Hailing from Crystal Lake, Illinois, Carlene Stovall attended Prairie Ridge High School. While in high school, she was actively involved in the Varsity Dance Team, Spanish National Honors Society, and was a dance teacher.

Carlene is working on two Freshman Fellows' research projects. One is revolved around one very important woman in Michigan history, Stella King. She was an integral member of the history of Mackinac Island. King started out as a nurse and midwife, and for decades was one of the only medical providers on the entire island. She delivered so many of the island’s residents that she is nicknamed Grandmother of the island. Mackinac Island’s current healthcare technology and healthcare system is a direct result of Stella King’s hard work and caring nature. Carlene’s mentor, Asst. Prof. Susanna Braman has already done a lot of the research for this project, and they are hoping to visit Mackinac Island to interview some of the last living patients of Stella King. They hope to get Stella King and her selfless and life-changing work recognized by the State of Michigan.

The second part of Carlene’s research project is on a process called SODIS, which stands for Solar Water Disinfection. Asst. Prof. Braman and other nursing faculty and students have been making trips to Honduras for a few years now volunteering to provide care and medication to people in the rural areas. There, the NMU nursing group realized that a common health issue among the residents was sickness due to contaminated water. Asst. Prof. Braman, Carlene, and several professors of chemistry and environmental sciences are collaborating to research the benefits of SODIS. SODIS is a very simple, inexpensive and accessible method of purifying water, using a clean recycled water bottle, a tin roof or surface, and the natural heat and UV rays of the sun. Their research so far has proven that putting a water bottle out in the sun on the roofs for a certain amount of time can greatly decrease the amount of contamination in the water. They are working towards figuring out an exact length of time needed to kill the most amount of bacteria and other organisms in the water, and the hopes are to implement the method on future trips by Asst. Prof. Braman and the nursing program to Honduras.

Carlene’s favorite part about NMU is the town. Marquette is such a naturally friendly and beautiful place to live. Between the exhilarating views, the always interesting weather, the smiles and hellos of strangers, and of course the pasties, it is hard to find something to dislike about Marquette.

One interesting fact about Carlene? She is a certified open water scuba diver!

Freshman Fellow Kathleen Kerber is helping Professor Menard and McNair Scholar Kurt Benckendorf in studying the confidence levels of new nursing students during their simulation with mentors present. They have made an interview guide that asks them questions before and after their simulation, with the majority of the questions being about their abilities in performing the skills tested on during this simulation. The main purpose of this research is to see if having a peer mentor during this simulation will help them overcome anxiety.

“I chose NMU because I felt at home when I first stepped foot onto this campus.” That feeling hasn’t changed, and she doesn’t foresee it changing in the future. She loves how relatively small the campus is and how the professors are all willing to help their students. In addition, there are over 300 organizations anyone can join which gives them an opportunity to become involved. NMU is definitely the right choice!

Kathleen was active in many high school extracurricular activities: Key Club (4 years), Best Buddies (3 years), National Honor Society (2 years), Spanish Honor Society (2 years), Forensics (1 year), Student Council (1 year). She loves reading fictional novels, hiking, everything one can do outdoors, and hanging with friends and family while having many one-on-one conversations.

Some interesting facts about Kathleen….she was born in China and adopted at nine months old…she has been the shortest person in the class her whole life…she is a certified nursing assistant and was able to become certified during her junior year of high school and has been working at the same nursing home for a year.

Programming, swimming, hiking, camping, anything outdoors…that’s a few of Matt Trefilek’s favorite hobbies. He is part of our freshman fellow team this year, and we are glad to have him!

Matt went to Boylan Catholic High School in Rockton, Illinois. While in school, he was involved in swimming, theater, choir, band, Senior Retreat Team, Mass Ministries, and German Club.

Matt is currently working on the C++ simulation code behind Dr. Tireman’s research on neutrons colliding with detectors. He cleans the code and ensures everything is running as efficiently as possible. The program will soon be shared between many other universities around the world.

In response to the question, “What do you like most about NMU?”, Matt responded, “I love the outdoor environment and how nice everyone has been—especially my professors.”

An interesting fact about him? Back home in Illinois, almost everyone called him “Tref” instead of “Matt”. He admits that it’s nice having people know his real name here!

Autumn Palmer is the second freshman fellow working with faculty mentor Dr. Judy Puncochar. She is researching this year’s and last year’s UNITED Conference. All of the data from the conference evaluations have been put into spreadsheets and organized by the presenter. This information will then be categorized by male versus female, then white versus non-white to see if there is an underlying theme in the comments for each gender/race. The information collected will be used to determine the importance of UNITED to the NMU curriculum and encourage other colleges and universities to sponsor an event like UNITED to get their campuses excited about diversity.

Autumn is used to being busy since she was involved in many activities at Groves High School in Southfield, Michigan. She was in theatre, Imagine Club, National Honor Society, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys card games and tricks, hiking, camping, swimming, canoeing, sailing, reading, and writing.

When asked what Autumn likes most about NMU, she responded with, “I love being able to do my homework on the top of a mountain, if I so choose.”

She is currently working on her backup plan to become a magician!

Christine Wilson is a very busy gal as a Freshman Fellow. She is working with mentors Dr. Judy Puncochar and Autumn Palmer (another Freshman Fellow) and researching the UNITED Conference. This diversity conference is held annually on the campus of NMU and encourages individuals to become more diverse and learn about new cultures by listening to various featured speakers. The research group is looking back on the UNITED history and compiling the data to see what the high and low points were of each conference. All of the evaluation ratings from past years have been entered into an Excel form which will be used in their research. Once this project is completed, they will move on to organize the Elect Her Conference which prepares campus women for the upcoming Associated Students of Northern Michigan University (ASNMU) election.

A graduate of Baraga High School, Christine was involved in many activities in high school that prepared her for such a busy college life: Class President, Student Council, basketball stats, Yearbook and Prom Committee, International Travel Club, National Honor Society, Baraga Great Explorations Kid’s Club, and High Five Mentor.

Some of Christine’s hobbies include hiking, fishing & hunting, having fun with friends, camping, gardening, and working with kids. She is an Elementary Education Major with a Double Minor in Language Arts and Mathematics.

Christine’s favorite thing about NMU is the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. “Everyone really makes the U.P. look great, and being a Yooper, I’m really pleased with that.”

Italy…Germany…Switzerland…Austria. Christine has been lucky enough to visit all four countries!

For William Mason’s freshman fellow project, he is researching how pH affects riboflavin-binding proteins. Riboflavin is an important nutrient in fetal development, and pH can drastically affect riboflavin-binding protein’s ability to transport it. William and his mentor, Dr. Mark Paulsen, are testing various pH’s in order to see at which pH the protein has an optimal binding capacity. In order to test this, they are using spectrophotometry to assess whether or not the protein is protonated or deprotonated (with riboflavin attached, or without).

A graduate from Lake Orion High School in Lake Orion, Michigan, William was actively involved in cross country, band, forensics, and Earth Club. In his spare time, William enjoys running, biking, rock climbing, working on his car, and spending time with family and friends.

“I love the atmosphere here at Northern. It’s small enough for you to feel like you know everyone, but still large enough for you to always be meeting new people and to experience new things. It’s such a friendly campus.”

One interesting fact about William? He enjoys running barefoot!

Michelle Vander Hyde graduated from Comstock Park High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she was a Freshman Mentor President, NHS member, and played tennis for four years and was a Captain—all while maintaining a 3.9 GPA!

For Michelle’s Freshman Fellow project, Dr. Carlson has her working with quite a few upper-level psychology and graduate students proctoring students through their current experiment. It is called the Characteristics of Attentional Bias where a dot-probe task is used to study the relationship between certain stimuli and the side of the computer screen that the dot appears. The group is currently changing certain aspects of the experiment, but the focus is still, of course, attentional bias. They will begin using an EEG machine to enhance their studies of how the attentional bias occurs.

 “I love everything about NMU!,” exclaims Michelle. “The friends I’ve made are wonderful and easy-going. The people you meet on campus are always friendly, sincere, and open to conversation. The classes I’m currently taking toward my major are so exciting because I’m finally learning about things I have such a passion for. Also, the hockey team is phenomenal and so much fun to go watch…especially versus Michigan Tech!

When hockey isn’t on her agenda, Michelle enjoys reading, school, going to the movies and watching TV shows with her boyfriend, and traveling.

An interesting fact about Michelle? She is the youngest of six girls! When her mother went into labor, the doctor looked up at her father and just said, “How about you do this one?” That’s how Michelle’s father not only cut the umbilical cord but delivered his little girl entirely.

Emily Nordlund 

Major: Behavior Analysis

Mentor: John (Mac) MacDevitt

Department: Psychology

Project Information: Developing a conversation skills workshop on campus which will focus on ways to induce conversation and make friends. Research on eating disorders and anxiety; and analyzing the psychodynamic defense mechanisms in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

Tanya Ladensack 

Major: Biology

Mentor: Dr. Jill Leonard

Department: Biology

Project Information: Raking care of the fish once a week—feeding, taking the temperature and pH of the water, and changing the filter on the trout tanks. Studying the respirometry and metabolism of individual fish. There is an artificial stream in the lab that is stocked with young trout. Each fish has a tag that tracks where the fish chooses to be in the stream—fast-moving water, slow-moving water, or the deep pond. This data, along with the starting and ending length and weight of the fish, will be compared with the respirometry and metabolism at the end of the project.

Hallie Sutton 

Major: Zoology



Project Information: Decolonizing Diet Project, which places about 25 people of varying ages and genders with different commitment levels to the project who go on a diet comprised only of food indigenous to the Great Lakes region previous to the year 1600. The idea behind this project is to see the effect an indigenous diet would have had on the Native people in this region before colonization by the settlers that came from overseas. The participants receive check-ups to see the biological effects, as well as completing a journal to keep track of what they ate and when they ate, and how they feel about the project.

Eric Martin


Mentor: Dr. Susy Ziegler


Project Information: Research the leftover wood ash from the biomass burning facility here at NMU. The hope is to discover if it can be used as a stabilizer for agricultural land or other purposes. It is possible that experiments could be on the horizon where biosolids from the Marquette Wastewater Treatment Plant and the ash from the biomass facility would be combined to make a fertilizer that could be used for agriculture or for mine reclamation.

Jessica Anderson


Mentor: Dr. Williams


Project Information: Learning how to use the equipment in the chemistry lab. Running DNA and protein gels and setting up PCR reactions. Finding out how little DNA is needed to identify a person. This will be done by using a genetic sequencing machine.

Amy Peterson 


Mentor: Dr. Cumberlidge


Project Information: Renovate Dr. Cumberlidge’s faculty Website. Creating a Freshwater Crab Website from scratch and then cataloging and integrating the existing files on different crab species into the new site. Learning how to map the different locations where Dr. Cumberlidge has discovered various crab species and possibly working in his lab to learn how to sketch crab specimens using available lab equipment.

Daniel Wilbern


Mentor: Dr. Tireman

Department: Physics

Project Information: Testing of particle detectors made of a plastic scintillator in two different configurations. These detectors, when struck by ionizing radiation, will emit photons that can be detected with photomultiplier tubes. Testing the detector with events caused when cosmic rays strike the scintillator and compare these events to strikes in a smaller detector placed on top. After a few thousand events, they get a spectrum with the time-of-flight peak which is the time it takes for the particle to go from the small detector to the large detector. The width of the peak is related to how well the detector can perform timing measurements. This value is important in determining which configuration is the best for future experiments at Jefferson National Laboratory in Newport News, Virginia!

Melissa Orzechowski


Mentor: Dr. Alan Rebertus


Project Information: Shedding light on the higher incidence of Chaga fungus in our area relative to other areas in the United States.

Kaylee Rowe


Mentor: Cathy Bammert

Department: Clinical Laboratory Sciences

Project Information: Purifying and isolating DNA from blood in order to run various tests. Learning new things and mastering different lab techniques.

Nathan Vertel


Mentor: Deb Homeier

Department: Seaborg Math and Science Center

Project Information: Creating a database with contact information for all levels of teachers in our area. The product of his work will be extremely useful for Seaborg Center business in times to come.

Shaley Valentine

Major: Zoology/Chemistry

Mentor: Dr. Suzanne Williams


Project Information: Creating a resin by using eggs to purify lectins, sugar binding proteins, from wheat germ. She will then begin to manipulate different factors such as using yolk (or not) and freeze drying the resin to observe how to obtain the best results. Using a PCR machine to amplify DNA obtained from trace samples in order to observe and manipulate the DNA.

Olivia Crawford

Major: Digital Cinema

Mentor: Dr. Judy Puncochar

Department: Education, Leadership and Public Service

Project Information: Gaining some experience working on a grant and research projects that will take her to present at a national conference. Some of this research may involve filmmaking at a local Tribal school.

Andi Shepherd

Major: Pre-Physical Therapy

Mentor: Dr. Mark Jacobs

Department: Psychics

Brianna Miller

Major: Art and Design with a concentration in Photography

Mentor: Dr. Alex Ruuska

Department: Sociology/Social Work

Bailey Pohl

Major: Environmental Science

Mentor: Dr. Robert Legg

Department: Geography