Monthly Archives: April 2015

Psychology Students Heading to MPA Meeting with Research

Dr. Jeannette Stein, UM-Flint Associate Professor of Psychology and a Regional Representative for the Midwestern Psychological Association, will travel with ten UM-Flint Psychology students to the annual MPA meeting in Chicago, IL, from April 30-May 2. While there, the students will present research born out of their required capstone research projects. Says Dr. Stein, “These students however went beyond course requirements and will truly complete the research process by reporting their results to the larger scientific community.”

Following are some of the projects that will be presented: 


Mary Christensen will present research on video games, self-esteem, and gender.

MARY CHRISTENSEN: I am bringing my correlation study that was done of video games, self-esteem, and gender to the conference. This was to see if a certain type a video game genre had affects on self-esteem of the player. Also, to see if one gender had higher self-esteem rating on a certain genre than the other genres. The genres that I looked at were role-playing/multi-player online, first-person shooter, casual, strategy, and simulation.


Michal Kirkwood will be presenting research on politeness theory.

MICHAL KIRKWOOD: The project I am presenting at MPA is an attempt to study an area of linguistics (politeness theory) using social psychology and psychology of personality protocols through interruption.  The intention of the research was to determine if a dominant personality trait would influence/dictate whether a participant would interrupt someone who is reading or someone who is texting if interruption was necessary.  The findings demonstrated that people with high agreeableness scores are significantly more likely to interrupt reading.  In less scientific terms, putting one’s face in a phone is a far better avoidance strategy than putting one’s face in a book.
I’m really excited to present this work at MPA for a myriad of reasons, but chiefly I am thrilled to demonstrate the caliber of our education and research work here at the University of Michigan-Flint.  There is considerable prestige associated with our Ann Arbor counterparts, but our Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program coupled with the opportunity to design one’s own study with direct faculty oversight is a UM-Flint point of excellence.  These experiences have already afforded me an edge in obtaining employment with community psychology projects through the Ann Arbor School of Public Health and archival research with the Ann Arbor School of Law.  I hope to explore graduate school options at the conference, and I can’t wait to demonstrate my UM-Flint pedigree to an interested national audience of peers.


Derek Mohamedally studied the relationship between inter hemispheric interaction and sexual fluidity.

DEREK MOHAMEDALLY: Inter hemispheric interaction (IHI) is the amount in which the left and right hemispheres of the brain freely communicate with each other.  An individual’s IHI ratio may be observed through how much more they prefer to use their dominant hand, versus the other.  The more dominant one hemisphere is over the other, the more dominate the corresponding hand is utilized than the other hand, for regular daily tasks.  Prior research has shown evidence that people with more hemispheric dominance and less IHI are tend to be more rigid (Oldfield, 1971). Those with higher IHI levels tend to incorporate new information into their self-schemas than the more hemispheric dominant individuals.  The need for structure, or rigidity, is negatively correlated with sexual fluidity, meaning the amount of variance or flexibility in one’s sexual orientation (Preciado & Peplau, 2012).  Therefore, through an associative property of sorts, it is feasible to infer that people with more flexible handedness may express more flexible sexuality.  It is not suggested that there is inherently more sexual fluidity in more evenhanded people, so much that more evenhanded people may be more likely to acknowledge and incorporate more variations of their sexual experiences, fantasies, dreams and attractions into their self-concept of their own sexuality.

The relationship between inter hemispheric interaction (based on strength of handedness) and sexual fluidity (flexibility of sexual orientation) is to be examined by online self-report surveys.  Inter hemispheric iteration is determined by the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (Oldfield, 1971) and flexibility of sexual orientation is recorded using the Epstein Sexual Orientation Inventory (Epstein, 2012).  The EHI asks hand preference for various tasks, while the ESOI asks specific questions relating to the degree of attraction toward each gender.

The results showed evidence that IHI people do express more sexual fluidity as hypothesized.  Women are much more sexually fluid as prior research suggests.  An additional interesting interaction was that women over 35 showed the most flexibility while men over 35 showed the least.


Jordan Sleva will present research on motivation and self-efficacy on weight loss.

JORDAN SLEVA: The worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled since 1980, according to the World Health Organization (WHO; 2008). This comes as no surprise, seeing as there is an abundance of foods high in fat, salt, and sugar that are easily accessible and affordable by all, consumerism-driven advertisements that are psychologically programmed to make you want more, and a lower availability of fresh produce than chips, candy, and pop. Those who choose to adopt weight-loss regimens find it difficult to adhere to them, and who’s to blame? My study focuses on the impact of both motivation (either controlled or autonomous) and self-efficacy (either high or low) on adherence to a self-elected weight-loss regimen. In order to find this, I used a self-report survey which incorporated the Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire (TSRQ; Ryan & Connell, 1989) and the Weight Efficacy Life-Style Questionnaire (WEL) with Added Items (Schulz, 2005) originally developed by Clark et. al (1991). Upon completion of the survey, each participant is deemed either High or Low in Self-Efficacy and Controlled or Autonomous in Motivation. Statistical analyses were then run to determine possible relationships between the aforementioned variables. It is imperative to understand the underlying causes of long-term adherence to a weight-loss regimen, what motivates an individual to adhere, what demotivates that individual, and how these discoveries can be applied to specific weight-loss programs in order to maximize adherence and long-term results.

Other students attending the MPA meeting with Stein are Nicole Moffitt, Samantha Turner, Anqi Hu, Kyle Manley, Amanda Shanesy, and Shytance Wren.

When asked about the importance of this type of work for undergraduate students, Stein said, “Research is hands on. Students learn by doing. They ask their own research questions, develop hypotheses and design studies to test those hypotheses.  Thus, students have choices and ownership of their work. They collaborate with one another and with me to improve their ideas.  There is a great deal of critical thought involved as the student progresses from idea to implementation to analysis. High expectations coupled with positive support from the instructor improve motivation and confidence. The effects of such an experience have been widely studied. ‘Undergraduate researchers learn tolerance for obstacles, how knowledge is constructed, independence, increased self-confidence, and a readiness for more demanding work. These benefits are an advantage in any career path.’  Importantly, these experiences make them better students, thus increasing student persistence and retention. Research conducted by the National office of Psi Chi (Psychology Honorary) also suggests that the independent research experience is THE factor that sets students apart on graduate school applications.”

The students were asked about what this opportunity means to them and their academic career.

Said Sleva, “As an undergraduate Psychology student, presenting my research at the Midwestern Psychological Association Annual Meeting is quite an honor! Not only does it provide me the opportunity to network with my peers and professionals in the field, it gives me experience presenting, discussing, and analyzing my work. I plan to further my education by earning a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience; this experience can give me the ‘edge’ I need as a candidate in the sea of graduate school applications.”

Mohamedally added, “I am very excited and honored to be presenting my research at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference this year. I’m proud of my research, and the work Dr. Stein and I put into it and look forward to being able to share it with the psychology academic community. These conferences give us a chance to share our knowledge and hard work as well as gain further insight into our work by answering questions about our studies we may not have considered. Presenting our research helps us to envision ourselves as future professionals and experience the results of how we have evolved academically. For those us who have graduate school aspirations it is particularly valuable as it gives us a chance to meet representatives, talk to experts in our fields and show the value of our work.  Even just attending will be akin to an artist attending a new art exhibit or museum; seeing everyone’s research will provide us with new ideas, and inspiration for future research.”

For more information on the Psychology Department, and the learning and research opportunities they offer their students, visit the Psychology Department website.

Meet Dr. Jeannette Stein of the Psychology Department

Dr. Stein is a Regional Representative for the Midwestern Psychological Association. April 30-May 2, 2015, she will take ten UM-Flint Psychology students to Chicago, IL, to present their research.


Name: Jeannette M. Stein, PhD
Title: Associate Professor
Department: Psychology

Classes I teach: Principles of Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Research Design, Statistics, Advanced Research and Writing, Advanced Research Topics, Intergroup Dialogue

Recent Publications:
• Framing Effects: The influence of handedness and interhemispheric interaction. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, 17, 98-110.
• What do we know when we claim to know nothing? Partial knowledge of word meanings may be ontological, but not hierarchical.  Language & Cognition. 4, 144-166.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest: I am interested in assessing individual differences that affect decision making. In particular, I study how structural brain differences may lead to differences in cognitive flexibility. I am currently studying how these differences impact the bereavement process.

Degree(s)/Education: PhD University of Toledo

Memberships: Midwestern Psychological Association-I am the regional representative

How I fell in love with my field: I have always been fascinated by human behavior, but I had no interest in ‘fixing it’. In my first psychology course, I learned that psychology is more than a profession. It is a science. Each subsequent course provided some answers, but left me with many more questions. The reward of both satisfying and challenging my curiosity through the research process made psychology an obvious choice for me.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint: I hope that I might influence students to find a balance between fascination and skepticism such that they may successfully pursue their passions.

What I hope for students in my field: I hope they take every opportunity to challenge their beliefs, to learn from others and about themselves.

Three things you should know about me: I believe a healthy lifestyle is a happy lifestyle. I am a morning person. I would rather workout than sleep in on a Saturday morning.

For more information on Dr. Stein, visit her Faculty Profile page.

Physics Program Announces New STEM Partnership with Springview Elementary

Lindy Beckman’s class at Springview Elementary in Flushing, Michigan, is unique. Made up of 5th and 6th grade students, the class operates with a specific emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects. The class is self-contained, so the students stay together with a single teacher all day, every day. Says Beckman, “The students were selected for the class by teachers and parents for their interest in STEM topics, academic performance, perseverance, and collaboration skills. Although this is our first year of the program, it has been a huge success!” Beckman noted that though the class does have an emphasis on STEM, all the traditional subjects, including social studies and English, are still taught.

In early 2015 Beckman received notice of an available CARE grant from the Greater Flint Education Consortium (GFEC) that would allow her to create a collaborative partnership between her class and a local university. Beckman chose UM-Flint and its Physics Program.

She contacted the Physics Program’s Dr. James Alsup, who enthusiastically agreed to working together.

The learning objectives for the partnership center on physical science and cover Kinetic and Potential Energy, Energy Transfer, and Changes in Matter. Subjects that Alsup and his undergraduate students are well suited to teach.

Alsup said, “My students Patrick Ross and Benjamin Savoie have both chosen physics due to their experiences in school and activities like science fairs. They know the benefit of having a fun, interactive, and inquisitive approach to questions in nature and were happy to provide that for our local classroom.”


Ben Savoie prepares equipment for a demonstration on energy transfer.

On April 20, 2015, the STEM students arrived at UM-Flint for their first lesson on Energy Transfer.

Savoie and Ross, both UM-Flint Physics majors, had prepared the Zick Active Learning Classroom for the day’s activities. Dr. Alsup welcomed the elementary students as they arranged themselves in groups of four at the lab tables.

Alsup began the day with some slides and questions on states of matter and changes in energy. He was impressed by the students’ existing knowledge and by the myriad questions they asked. His undergrad assistants laughingly began a whiteboard list with the topics covered by student questions: phase changes, quantum physics, meteorology, chemistry, astrophysics, particle physics, textiles, ectoplasmic chambers, and geology.

Said Alsup, “I was unsure of what to expect having a classroom full of 5- and 6th graders.  I prepared a short talk, but the class already knew almost all of it.  Lindy has done a fantastic job educating them, and the first hour turned into a Q and A session.  It was extremely fun.  I think that the full session will help cement concepts for the students to view a unified description of matter based on notions of atoms and energy.”


Dr. James Alsup discusses plasmas in his lesson on states of matter.

After the slide presentation and the Q and A, the day moved into demonstrations.

The group learned Boyle’s Law, which describes the relationship between volume and the pressure of gasses, when an aluminum can containing a small amount of boiling water was crushed by submerging it in ice water. Alsup deflated balloons by putting them in a bucket of liquid nitrogen and then showed how they inflate again when returned to room temperature. This demo explored Charles’ Law and the relationship between temperature and volume for gasses. State changes were demonstrated by putting liquid nitrogen in a vacuum chamber and using the pressure to both boil and freeze it at different times.


Dr. Alsup talks to 5th and 6th grade STEM students while UM-Flint’s Ben Savoie and Patrick Ross look on.


Dr. James Alsup pouring liquid nitrogen for a STEM demo.

Sitting at their lab tables, the elementary students were given experiment worksheets, a scale, and a calorimeter. After taking down initial calculations, each group was given a piece of hot metal to place in their calorimeter’s water. Using calculations of mass, temperature change, and heat exchange, the students’ final goal was to guess the metal their group had been given.


Isaac Tift of Springview Elementary checks steps in an experiment on heat transfer in the Zick Learning Classroom at UM-Flint.

The students worked mostly on their own while Alsup and his students circulated around the room, offering help when it was needed. The activity gave Savoie and Ross a chance to put their own learning into practice as they guided the students through the 13 steps of the experiment.


Ben Savoie and Patrick Ross help a Springview student with his calorimeter.

At 2:30pm the Springview students headed back to their bus. They will return to UM-Flint two more times this spring to cover the additional learning objectives. When asked how she felt about the first visit to UM-Flint, Beckman said, “The first session really proved to me the strength of curiosity with this group of students. They loved the demonstrations and ability to ask Dr. Alsup questions.”

When asked what the next sessions will hold, Alsup said, “In the next session, I’m looking forward to introducing a microscopic-view point of matter to let the students see what truly random motion means and how it influences features seen at an everyday scale.  Dr. Ganguly, our resident Astronomer, will lead the third session and explain where different phases of matter are found, not just on earth, but out in space.”

For more information on the Physics Program at UM-Flint, visit

Content from this post may be reprinted in whole or part, as long as credit is given to the UM-Flint College of Arts and Sciences or a link is provided to this blog.
Photo credit: Amy Hartwig, UM-Flint CAS.


Get to Know Dr. Rajib Ganguly, Asst. Professor of Physics

Asst. Professor Rajib Ganguly is one of the main organizers of ASTRONITE – a family-friendly open house that celebrates astronomy. This year’s AstroNite will be held on April 25 from 7-10 p.m. Visit the AstroNite page for more information. 

Rajib Ganguly
Title: Assistant Professor of Physics
Department: Computer Science, Engineering, & Physics

Classes I teach: Survey of Astronomy (AST 120), Principles of Physics I (PHY 243), Modern Physics (PHY 343)

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications: AstroNite – a community outreach promoting astronomy and physics!

Research or Specific Areas of Interest: I am interested in understanding how the biggest black holes in the Universe form/grow and how those processes affect the black hole’s environment.

Degree(s)/Education: Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University

Memberships: American Astronomical Society, Astronomical Society of the Pacific

How I fell in love with my field: There were a few factors. It is unlikely that any astronomer in my generation doesn’t point to the broadcast of the original Cosmos television program with Carl Sagan as a significant source of inspiration. Coupled with my father also being a scientist (a geologist), that really nurtured my own curiosity and desire to be an astronomer. Another factor was a friend of the family, who is also an astronomer. He and Dr. Sagan certainly provided a lot of inspiration.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint: I hope that I am here long enough that it is too early for me to be thinking about my legacy at UM-Flint now…

What I hope for students in my field: I hope that they make the most out of every opportunity to gain experiences, to learn something new, not only about the Universe, but also about themselves.

Three things you should know about me:

  • I never have enough student participation in my research.
  • I’m probably the only person inside a 30 mi radius that has worked with the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • I’m an avid fan of science fiction, in spite of (or maybe because of) my training in the sciences. My wife claims that I can identify any Star Trek episode given just a few lines of dialog, or seeing a few seconds on TV.


Engineering Students Present Senior Projects

On April 10, 2015, engineering students from EGR 465/466 Senior Design presented their senior projects to a full room of fellow students and university staff, faculty, and administrators, including Dr. Terry Van Allen, Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and Chris Waters, Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

This was the first time that senior engineering students have presented their works to a general campus audience. In the past, presentations have been made to the program’s alumni advisory board.

The event was coordinated by Assoc. Professor Quamrul Mazumder. He defined it as “a comprehensive demonstration of everything [the students] are learning in engineering.” As the students went through their presentations, covering items like project characteristics, design overview, prototype test plans, feedback and redesign details, budget, and testing, the audience could easily see the myriad ways in which these students have been prepared for their future careers in engineering.

The first group was made up of students Dan LeBlanc, Frank Hyde, Conner Geml, and Joe Jerisk. Their project was inspired by Solar Splash, “an intercollegiate solar/electric boat regatta” for which students design and build watercraft powered by solar and electric engines while adhering to very specific design parameters.


A digital rendering of the boat and its solar-charging set up.

The UM-Flint students started with an existing fiberglass vessel purchased online, unlike other schools whose students build boats specifically for the competition. During the presentation it was noted their boat “wasn’t perfect, but we made it work.” The group’s biggest challenge was designing the battery, which had to weigh less than 100 lbs., must include a dead man switch, and had to be a lead-acid type. It was a challenge they overcame. Their battery is charged by an on-shore solar panel and powers a pulley-style motor that runs the propeller. The students also faced significant challenges in designing and creating the motor, propeller, shaft, and rudder.


The boat on one of its test runs.

Although the UM-Flint students and their boat won’t be competing at this year’s Solar Splash event, they ran their finished project through several of the event’s trials including straight line speed and maneuverability. Because they were limited by availability of open water, they did not test for endurance of battery life. All members of the group seemed satisfied with their craft’s results as they presented videos of their test runs to the audience.

PROJECT TWO: SAE Airplane Design

Group Photo

Group Two testing their plane in Grand Blanc’s Bicentennial Park.

The second team of the day was made up of Justin Ladd, Connie Lam, Scott Sier, Qijun Tang, and Morgaen Vauter. This team followed the mission of the SAE Aero Design Series which aims to “provide undergraduate and graduate engineering students with a real-life engineering challenge.” Their specific goal was to create an operational and controllable aircraft that did not require special tooling or processes to build and which could be easily repaired should something go wrong during flight. The bigger goal, in line with the SAE Series, was to design a light plane that could carry a relatively heavy load.


The plane as a concept design and in the building process.

The wings, propellers, and tail of their aircraft all underwent stringent design development processes. For example, characteristics for four different wing designs were considered; each design’s weight, lift, stability and control, and manufacturability were rated, with the highest scoring design winning. The conventional wing design won out over a bi-plan, canard, or flying models. A conventional tail and front propeller were each chosen through a similar process. The group utilized the campus’ 3D printer, balsa wood, and mylar to create the plane body.

On flight days, the group recorded the temperature, wind speed and direction, and humidity. The plane was tested both on and off campus, with each short flight giving them input on adjustments and compensations that needed to be made for future tests. Their focus on easy repairs came in handy after several rough landings.

Final View

The final product created from balsa wood, 3-D printed parts, and mylar.

The group closed with some final plans for their plane, including adjusting materials to withstand crashes, more consideration given to the weight the plane should eventually carry, and increasing stability during flight.

PROJECT THREE: Build a CNC Machine
Group three was made up of students Jin Liu, Zhongehen Du, and Jonathan Arcocha. Their goal was to build an affordable and compact computerized numerical control (CNC) machine that would appeal to hobbyists, universities, students, and others with limited budgets and space. CNC machines use software to direct a tool in an exact way, turning out a consistent product. A common example would be an engraver. Tools used by CNCs can include metal drills, lasers, water jets, plasma cutters, and wire.


The CNC machine designed and built by Team 3

After putting in over 450 man hours, the team was able to produce a machine that would match or exceed most current small-scale CNCs on the market in its ability to output pieces in both amount of time spent and size. And, with a budget of less than $700, their price tag was thousands of dollars less than the cheapest small commercial model. Large models, they noted,  easily run into six-figure prices.

The students stressed the difficulty and importance of creating a piece that, from the start, is perfectly level and even. Arcocha noted that if the machine itself is off even a fraction of an inch, there is no way it can create pieces that aren’t off as well. Although they completed construction, the team was unable to do much testing as they had an issue with their drivers at the end of the project. However, they seemed eager to continue testing once their new drivers arrive.

PROJECT FOUR: Design and Develop a Food-Grade Latch Clamp
Students Benjamin Jennings and Jianchao Zhong worked together to create a clamp that would be used to hold lids on large containers such as industrial vats or freezers. Working with customer specifications, the pair had to come up with a clamp that suited both size and strength requests, while still maintaining food-grade standards that allow for cleaning and inhibit bacterial growth.

After using equipment on the UM-Flint campus to design, machine, and test the various clamp parts, the two were able to produce a final product that met and even exceeded their original expectations. The students were especially proud of the parts they hand forged and machined. Using still shots, 3-D designs, and video, the pair walked the audience through their project experience, future plans, and testing ideas.

PROJECT FIVE: Robot for Relief

The fifth team included students Kawshik Ahmed, Siwen Zhao, Olugbadebo Adeyemi, and Xiaoy Ma. They were unable to present along with the others, as they were away at an American Society of Mechanical Engineers development conference where they won the student design competition! Their design challenge, Robots for Relief, tasked students with creating a robot able to provide aid when human intervention in a situation is not possible. The robots should be able to do things like deliver water or medical supplies, carry a heavy load, fit in not easily accessible spaces, and traverse uneven or difficult terrain. Read their competition story here.

All of the students presenting reported coming in under budget on their projects, and all expressed thanks to the department and university for the resources they provided. From solar panels, to equipment, to spare parts, the labs and shops at UM-Flint were able to furnish much of what each group needed. It was also obvious that the skills these students have learned during their time in the Engineering program provided them with foundation necessary to produce such advanced senior projects.

For more information on the Engineering Department at UM-Flint, visit their website. For information on student projects, email Dr. Quamrul Mazumder at


“We Are” A Dance Inspired by the Poetry of Youth in Detention

UM-Flint’s Department of Theatre and Dance will be presenting a newly choreographed work by Dance Lecturer Emma Davis during the Spring Dance Concert, The Written Word, April 17, 18, 19, in the UM-Flint Theatre. The dance, entitled We Are, is based on poetry written by young women at Genesee County’s youth detention center as part of the Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project.

The dance choreography follows the themes presented by five poems, which are projected onto the stage during the performance. Four different sections of the piece explore the girls’ journeys as “statistics,” their time in detention, and their hopes, dreams, and futures beyond incarceration. In developing the piece, Davis worked with university students to explore movements that spoke to each poem’s narrative. The process was a delicate balance between finding the right moves that highlight and embody each girl’s voice without taking away from their message. The piece also utilizes movements that Davis, who also teaches dance at GVRC as part of the Share Art Project, taught directly to the young women in detention.

The choreographic process started with a class discussion about the poetry pieces. Since university students hadn’t worked directly with youth at GVRC, Davis felt it was imperative for them to understand the girls’ characteristics and behaviors to better help share their stories. From reading the poetry, students were able to understand the difficult situations the young women experienced. At the same time, more positive poems about self-identify and personal beauty demonstrated the empowerment the girls at GVRC found through the arts, poetry, and a supportive group of females.

While the dance does not intend to speak for the young women, Davis hopes to propel their words while inspiring positivity. This portion of the production also involved work by several of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program, including Shelley Spivack, Director of the Share Art Project, Traci Currie as the leader of Spoken Word, and Shelby Newport who directed costuming.

Davis recently received a New Leaders Grant from the MCACA which will allow her to continue this dance project with the GVRC in the upcoming year.

For more information contact:
Shelley Spivack
Director, Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project

Meet Emma Davis: Dancer, Choreographer, Educator

Emma Davis is a Dance Instructor at UM-Flint and one of the choreographers whose work will be presented at the upcoming Spring Dance Concert inspired by “The Written Word.” One piece, “We Are,” is inspired by poetry written by detained youth in Genesee County. Another, which includes both ballet and hip hop elements, is inspired by the short story “The Lottery.” Performances will be held at the UM-Flint Theatre on April 17, 18, and 19. Visit the Department of Theatre & Dance website for tickets and more information. 

davis_MITimes copy

Name: Emma Davis
Title: Lecturer I and Dance Instructor
Department: Theatre and Dance

Classes I teach:
DAN 100 Intro to Dance
DAN 101 Performance Studies
DAN 101 Hip Hop I & II
DAN 120/121 Modern I & II
DAN 130/131 Jazz I & II
DAN 140/141 Tap I & II           

Emma Davis 1

Photo Credit: White Butterfly Studios

Professional Interests, Activities, Performances of Note, Publications:
– Faculty Advisor for Student Dance Organization since 2013
– Choreographer for Department of Theatre and Dance Spring Dance Concert 2013, 2014, 2015
– Faculty Representative American College Dance Association 2013, 2014, 2015
– Back up dancer for Flint pop signer Tunde Olaniran
– Program Facilitator with Shop Floor Theatre Company, Flint, MI
– Presented research, “Intersection of Dance and Poetry in Post-Industrial Michigan,” at the Society of Dance History Scholar’s conference 2014 and “Meet the Flintstones: A New Generation of Community Dance Artists Renews a City Given Up For Loss” in 2012

– Share Art Flint Award 2014, made possible by Greater Flint Arts Council and Ruth Mott Foundation, for the Riverbank Park Community Dance Workshops (Read the M-Times article.)

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
Community Dance, Site-Specific Dance

University of Michigan-Flint, 2011
BA Journalism
BA English with a specialization
MA Liberal Studies, Theatre Culture – in progress

Buckham Gallery
Society of Dance History Scholars

Emma Davis 3How I fell in love with my field:
I have been dancing since I was young, eventually including techniques in ballet, modern, tap, jazz, and hip hop. It wasn’t until my undergraduate experience that really confirmed: “this is what I am supposed to be doing.” I was always planning rehearsals, performing, taking class, connecting others to dance. I’m not sure if there is a specific moment where I fell in love with dance – the love was always there. This was just the time I made the decision to professionally pursue a career in dance.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
I hope to guide and work with our community’s upcoming dance professionals to support and strengthen UM-Flint’s program and the Flint and Michigan dance community as a whole.

What I hope for students in my field:
To find their pathway in this challenging, yet greatly rewarding field.

Three things you should know about me:
I love popcorn, I ride a motorcycle, I don’t have a favorite dance style – I love them all!


UM-Flint Alum Hosts Science Fiction Conference


The CCN’s conference included six panels and 16 speakers from around the world.

In late March, academics from around the world gathered at the Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience in Flint, Michigan, for a conference on “The Work of Cognition and Neuroethics in Science Fiction.” The event, from inception to production, was the work of UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) alumnus Zea Miller; it was supported by the UM-Flint Department of Philosophy and hosted by the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics (CCN).

Now a doctoral student of Theory and Cultural Studies in the English Department at Purdue University, Miller can boast a long connection with UM-Flint, including a 2006 BA in French and International Studies, a 2011 MA in English Language and Literature, his staff and committee positions within CAS, and his current work as a project manager for CCN where he handles administrative and technical affairs, including journal production and website design.

When asked about the idea behind his conference, which explored the topics in ways that are new to the fields of philosophy and science fiction, Miller said, “Given the box-office popularity of science fiction narratives last year, we thought that a conversation on how identity, language, and cognition interplay with neuro-substance (ab)use, neuro-enhancement and perfection, and neuro-invasive treatments and manipulation would be timely. To that end, since CCN is committed to sponsoring interdisciplinary collaborations, and since my research interests include theory and science fiction, I wanted to foster a space where scholars could explore the work of cognition and neuroethics in science fiction, and thereby begin a new critical conversation.”


Attendees listen as members of the second panel discuss their topics.

Miller’s interest in the subject matter was shared by others in academia, and participants came from as far as England for a chance to share their thoughts among peers. Following are the speakers and their topics:

• “Unrecognizably Human: Empathic Perception and Augmented Others in Recent Science Fiction Film”
– Shannon Foskett, University of Chicago
• “Being, Technologically Human”
– Meghan Roehll, University at Buffalo, SUNY
• “Black Mirror‘s ‘The Entire History of You’: Memory as a Recording Device”
– Mark Huston, Schoolcraft College

• “Electric Existentialism: The Sisyphean Subject in Greg Egan’s Permutation City
– Brandon Fenton, York University
• “Science Fiction Embedded in Neuroethics: Mindlessness and Nihilism”
– Howard Ducharme, University of Akron
• “The Quality of Life: The Implications of Augmented Personhood and Machine Intelligence in Science Fiction”
– Damien Williams, Independent Scholar

• “The Informational Substance of Human Reality: Cognitive Growth, Healing, Communication, Radical Transformation
– Susan Castro, Witchita State University
• “Experiencing Universal Interconnection Through Science Fiction Minds”
– Peter Buzby, Penn State University
• “Dual-Process, Two-Minds, and Science Fiction”
– Joshua Mugg, York University

• “Blockchain Thinkers and Smart Contracts to take over the World?”
– Melanie Swan, Kingston University, London
• “Mary Shelley’s Uncanny Consciousness: Frankenstein as a Thought Experiment for the 21st Century”
– James Tierney, Oakland University
• “Biology in/as Rhetoric in Octavia E. Butler’s Science Fiction: A New Paradigm for Epistemology”
– Meghan K. Riley, University of Waterloo

• “Evolution and Neuroethics in the Hyperion Cantos”
– Brendan Shea, Rochester Community & Technical College
• “Identity, Ethics, and Complex Decision Making in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
– Ellen Moll, Michigan State University

• “Moral Enhancements: What does science fiction teach us about moral improvements?”
– Jason Howard, David Bauer, and Jeffery Nyseth, Viterbo University
• “Apes with a Moral Code? Exploring the Boundaries of Moral Responsibility in The Planet of the Apes
– Paul Carron, Baylor University


Panel Two. Chaired by Meghan Roehll.

When asked about the chance to explore these unique viewpoints in such an established genre, Miller said, “While research on the relationship between cognition, science fiction, and genre is extensive, the ways in which cognition and neuroethics are deployed in these narratives remains relatively unexamined, so much so that we have a groundbreaking opportunity.” All presenters will have the option to submit their works for publication consideration in the CCN’s Journal of Cognition and Neuroethicsa peer-reviewied and open access publication that would allow the conference works, and their novel ideas, to reach a much wider audience.


Zea Miller, UM-Flint alumni and organizer of the science fiction conference.

Miller plans to continue the conference next year and feels fortunate that his experiences at UM-Flint both prepared him for such projects and afford him the opportunity to continue working with the university faculty and facilities: “While exciting, this is only one project among many. Between faculty-student research collaborations, scholarship fundraising efforts, the capstone course, and conferences and journals through CCN, the Philosophy Department remarkably and critically engages with the community. As an alumnus, it is therefore an honor to continue working with CAS faculty. We are doing amazing work, and it is a credit to our campus that faculty, students, staff, and alumni have such opportunities.”

For more information on the Philosophy Department, visit their website. To learn about the CCN’s conferences and publications, find them online or email Dr. Jami Anderson, Co-Director, at

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