Research 2012/2013

May 2013

Emily NordlundMiss Emily Nordlund hails from Ludington, Michigan, where she attended Ludington High School. This is where she was a teacher’s assistant in the special education classroom. Here she discovered how much she enjoyed working and talking with the students and helping them through everyday problems. This is when she knew psychology was in her future.

Emily is currently working with mentor John (Mac) MacDevitt on a few projects for her freshman fellowship assignment. They are developing a conversation skills workshop on campus which will focus on ways to induce conversation and make friends. Also included in Emily’s freshman fellowship project is a bit of research on eating disorders and anxiety; and analyzing the psychodynamic defense mechanisms in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

Through Emily’s Freshman Fellowship, she was able to land another job working for behavior analysts while working with mentally handicapped children. Through her past and present experiences, she has learned that children are comfortable with her and are able to open up to her, therefore she wants to help them.

Emily is majoring in Behavior Analysis and minoring in Speech & Hearing Pathology. Her favorite part of NMU is the people and all of the outdoor activities the U.P. has to offer.

April 2013

Tanya LadenackTanya Ladensack is from Fairview, Michigan—population 1,274. She attended Fairview High School where she participated in four years of varsity track and field, one year of junior varsity volleyball, three years of Knowledge Bowl, one year of student council, and one year of tutoring eighth grade Spanish. Her graduating high school class consisted of 28 students!

If you are looking for Tanya, you can find her in the Aquatics Lab. Her project for freshman fellows is taking care of the fish once a week—feeding, taking the temperature and pH of the water, and changing the filter on the trout tanks. The other project starting soon involves 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 (which Tanya will be collecting), 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. She is enjoying being a biology major and working with her mentor, Dr. Jill Leonard.

Tanya claims to love everything about NMU, but her favorite part is the abundance of opportunities to get outside and enjoy something fun.

March 2013

Hallie SuttonMiss Hallie Sutton attended Tri-County High School in Wolcott, Indiana, where she was involved in Choir, Students Against Destructive Decisions Club, Battle of the Books Club, and was inducted into the National Honors Society during her last year.

Currently, Hallie is majoring in Zoology with a plan to minor in Native American studies. She also hopes to add a touch of journalism into her degree. Her freshman fellows project, in fact, is the 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 affect 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.

When asked what she likes most about NMU, Hallie says it’s the location and the people. She also really likes the smaller number of people because everything feels a lot more personal.

Hallie has traveled to the United Kingdom, and has future plans of working in northern Alaska—as in the Arctic Circle.

February 2013

Hailing from Sleepy Hollow, Illinois, Eric Martin attended Dundee Crown High School. He kept himself extremely busy with a long list of extracurricular activities such as cross country, basketball, baseball, tennis, band, National Honors Society, and Envirothon.

In high school, Eric prepared a senior project on the water crisis in the Southwest United States. He is now more knowledgeable on issues with water in our country and how the availability of fresh water will be a big issue in the future with the growing population and global climate change.

For his freshman fellow project, Eric has teamed up with Dr. Susy Ziegler to research the leftover wood ash from the biomass burning facility here at NMU. They are hoping 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.

Eric’s dream job is to be out in the field gathering data and research for use in the environmental science field. He cares a lot about the earth and how humans are impacting it, so he would like to do all he can towards researching how we can live in more sustainable societies and expand our knowledge of the world.

When asked what he likes most about NMU, Eric replied that it’s the surrounding landscape and the recreational opportunities that are offered here. He loves to hike, fish, camp, and mountain bike. He’s just the kind of guy who enjoys the great outdoors.


Jessica AndersonJessica Anderson graduated from Lakeland Union High School in Hurley, Wisconsin. She was on the Girls’ Varsity Hockey team and was active in the high school’s art program. Outside of school, Jessica volunteered at her church and was also a member in the 4-H Club.

During Jessica’s fall semester as a freshman fellow, she learned how to use the equipment in the chemistry lab. She ran DNA and protein gels, and set up PCR reactions. During winter semester, Jessica will be helping Dr. Williams with her project on finding out how little DNA is needed to identify a person. This will be done by using a genetic sequencing machine.

Jessica’s favorite thing about attending Northern Michigan University is all of the friendly people. (Thanks, Jessica! We try our best!)

During Jessica’s spare time each summer, she rides and trains horses.


Amy PetersonFree time? What’s that? Amy Peterson was involved in many extracurricular activities during her time at Mona Shores High School in Muskegon, Michigan. She played the flute and piccolo while in the marching band, pep band, and Orchestra Winds. Amy was also Student Senate Representative during her high school career, and then became Vice President of Student Senate and Secretary of National Honors Society during her senior year. Art Club, Business Professionals of America (BPA), and student directing a Player’s drama club production are just a few more activities to add to Amy’s long list of accomplishments. She even had spare time for a job at the local GameStop store as a game advisor.

This past semester, Amy’s freshman fellow project was to renovate Dr. Cumberlidge’s faculty Website. She also created a Freshwater Crab Website from scratch, and then had to catalog and integrate the existing files on different crab species into the new site. This upcoming semester, Amy will be 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.

Amy’s favorite part about NMU is the many different people she has met. “Whether through Cru, the Art program, or just in general, the friends I have made have become very important to me. They are what make this campus more than school, but also a home away from home.”

January 2013

Daniel WilbernAccording to Daniel Wilbern, physics is the science that makes the best use of his math skills.  He has been a member of the Math Team during all four years at Cary Grove High School, and his contributions to this team helped them place in the district and state levels.  Daniel also placed in the top four overall individual level!  In Daniel’s spare time, he has helped raise funds for various charitable organizations.

Dr. Tireman and Daniel are currently working on a project that involves the testing of particle detectors made of a plastic scintillator in two different configurations. These detectors, when struck by ionizing radiation, will emit photons which Dr. Tireman and Daniel detect with photomultiplier tubes. They are currently 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!

Sounds like you’re putting those math skills to work, Daniel! Good luck the rest of the semester!

December 2012

Melissa OrzechowskiScience has interested Melissa Orzechowski since early elementary school. She wanted to learn as much as possible about science back in those early education days, so once she entered Grandville High School in Grandville, Michigan, she was thrilled to join the Science Olympiad team. Being a part of this team taught her communication skills and self-guided learning skills.

Now Melissa is part of the NMU Freshman Fellowship Program working on a research project with Dr. Alan Rebertus that involves the chaga fungus on birch trees. Melissa has informed us that chaga is known to have important medicinal properties. Her work with Dr. Rebertus seeks to shed light on the higher incidence of chaga fungus in our area relative to other areas in the United States.

Being an enthusiastic researcher, Melissa has also found time in her busy schedule to join the Rock and Mineral Club at NMU. She is also looking forward to possibly taking part in a study abroad opportunity in summer 2013.

November 2012

Kaylee RoweHailing from the small town of Sheffield, Iowa, with a population of 950, Kaylee Rowe is one of our freshman fellows who is currently studying Clinical Laboratory Sciences. She has spent many hours in the lab with her faculty mentor, Cathy Bammert, helping to purify and isolate DNA from blood in order to run various tests. Kaylee is enjoying her time in the lab since she is not only learning so many new things, but she's also mastering different lab techniques. This experience will be a great asset for Kaylee since she would like to concentrate her study in the area of Diagnostic Genetics.

On a more personal note, Kaylee has two sisters and one brother. She graduated with only 57 kids in her high school class. Kaylee's dad farms corn and soybeans, and also raises cattle. Her mom teaches Title 1/Reading Recovery for elementary students. As for her plans for the future, Kaylee hopes to work in a hospital after completing college.

"The best thing about being an NMU student is all of the new people you meet and the experiences you have with them."


Nathan Vertel is a Secondary Education Mathematics major from Berkley, Michigan. He is working with Deb Homeier who is the Director of the Seaborg Math and Science Center, which provides professional development to local math and science teachers, as well as summer math and science programs for kids. Nathan's project with the Seaborg Center includes the creation of 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.

"The best thing about being an NMU student is the fact that there are so many things that you can do on one day such as mountain biking, slackline, and disc golfing."



October 2012

Shaley ValentineNational Geographic, Discover, and Smithsonian. These are just a few magazines that Shaley Valentine enjoys reading because of the amazing discoveries people have made through research. She already has a jump start on lab experience from her involvement at Hudsonville High School and at her own home in Hudsonville, Michigan, where she breeds crested and leopard geckos.

Currently a Zoology/Chemistry major, Shaley has been in the lab 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.

Another project for Shaley and her mentor, Dr. Suzanne Williams, will be using a PCR machine to amplify DNA obtained from trace samples in order to observe and manipulate the DNA.

Shaley plans on attending graduate school and hopes to obtain a research position. Maybe we will be reading about her in a future publication of National Geographic!


September 2012

Rozemary HowardOlivia Crawford is a freshman from Duluth, Minnesota, majoring in Digital Cinema. She is very excited about the work to begin with Dr. Judy Puncochar in the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service. She will be 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.

Olivia hopes to help document scientific research by taking pictures or videos. She is also interested in astronomy and anything that is related to the sky, including cloud patterns and star formations. Another topic of great interest to Olivia is the mind. "The intricate complexities of the human mind are puzzling and fascinating."

Aside from studying and research, Olivia is very interested in music and its various stimulating effects on living things. She also enjoys spending time with little children, including her two younger brothers.

We are very happy to have Olivia on board and look forward to keeping up-to-date with her accomplishments this year and throughout her career at NMU! Good luck, Olivia!