Monthly Archives: October 2015

Meet Ayana Ghosh – 2015 Alumna of CAS, UM-Flint

Ayana is the featured “New Alumni” from the October 2015 CAS Alumni Newsletter. Read below to get to know this incredible graduate!

Ayana Ghosh, UM-Flint Alumna

Name: Ayana Ghosh
Majors: Physics, Abstract Mathematics
Student Groups/Campus Involvement: Indian Student Association (Chair- 2014-2015), The Michigan Times (2011-2014), International Center (Employee and volunteer, 2011-2015), Society of Physics Students (2011-2015), Student Success Center ( Tutor- Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics- 2011-2013, Supplemental Instruction Leader- Physics – 2012-2015), First Street Ambassador (2013-2015), Dance Instructor (2014-2015), Undergraduate Research Assistant (UROP- 2011-2015)
Year of Graduation: May 2015

Where are you heading next?
I’m pursuing my PhD in Physics and Material Science at New Mexico State University. Throughout my PhD, I will be collaborating with national labs like Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Argonne via research fellowships.

I would like to be a scientist in near future. On completion of my doctoral degree, I plan to do postdoctoral studies at a national lab or an academic institution.

**UPDATE** Ayana sent us an note on November 4th with her updated plans:

I am moving to University of Connecticut from January 2016. They offered me a PhD position in Material Science department, which is among top 25 public research programs in the country. I will be working in collaboration with Pfizer and Argonne National Lab.

Also one of my papers got published last month in the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A.

How did your University of Michigan-Flint education prepare you for what you are doing next?
If I have to phrase it one line, I will just say, “UM-Flint gave me all that I expected and much more to build me in every way what I am now!” My department always supported me throughout my undergraduate career, to excel in research by providing me funding as well as opportunities to travel to different conferences to present my research. I also had the chance to balance out between finishing two majors in four academic years and engaging myself on an average of five jobs on campus. All of these have really helped me to focus on my career more along with nurturing my hobbies.

Who is the person(s) who made the biggest impact on your UM-Flint career (professor, advisor, mentor, fellow student, an alum, other)? How specifically did they affect your life?
It is really hard to take one name for this question. I would mention Dr. James Alsup andDr. Maureen Thum for sure.

Dr. Alsup trusted my research capabilities from the very onset of my undergraduate career. I couldn’t excel in research without [the] effort and encouragement that came from his part.

Dr. Maureen Thum is one of the incredible personalities I have met on campus. She not only ensured my success in my majors but also helped me developing my skills for graduate schools and thereafter. I would also like to thank the staff of International Center and First Street Residence Hall for being my continuous support through those years. They gave me a home in the midst of unknown.

What is the value of UM-Flint professors developing curricula in which classroom learning & concepts are applied to real world situations?
Coming from science background, I highly think the hands-on-research environment [is] very useful for students. It is really not possible to know the science without actually doing it. You can learn from books but until and unless you try to apply it somewhere useful, it is not that valuable in my opinion. Also doing labs and research enhances learning process. To do good research, you should always have to read a lot to know what has been done before in the field. Therefore, it helps you to get the whole picture of the past and the present of the respective field.

In classroom environments, the professors ensure that students engage in collaborative learning by assigning different projects, grouping the students, discussing the ideas. I think this way the students also get to talk to their peers and see how they think about a specific topic.

The higher level courses in the curriculum generally include capstone projects where one or more students pair up to build a project which help them to gravitate and spread their knowledge.

Describe a firsthand example of an engaged learning experience at UM-Flint.
I got engaged in undergraduate research through my first semester at UM-Flint. This was a very crucial step for me since I want to be a research scientist in the future. Beginning it early has helped me to develop so many skills that are really useful in my future career. I could go to many conferences to present my research work, which gave me opportunities to connect with people sharing similar interests. Since I like to travel and see the world, this is also a great way to do science and get out of your daily world.

What do you think UM-Flint does better than any other university?
In UM-Flint you aren’t just a number! You are a student, taught by qualified professors in respective fields in a reasonable class size. This is highly important at the early stages of career, because building strong foundations is all you need to later succeed in life.

What advice would you give to an incoming UM-Flint freshman?
Work hard, grab all the opportunities that you can. It might look small but it has a lot to offer if you have an eye to look for it. Bug your professors as much as you want, because here they are ready to help any time.

Describe “the UM-Flint of the future.” What could it be? What should it be? For students? For Flint? For the world?
For students it should be the ‘learning hub’
For Flint it should be the signature of empowerment of the city.
And for the world, the students should prove what they can be, where they can reach, even coming from a small campus as UM-Flint! Go Blue!

To learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences at UM-Flint, visit

Meet Dr. Jacob Lederman, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Jacob Lederman, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UM-FlintName: Jacob Lederman    
Title: Assistant Professor of Sociology
Department: Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice

Classes I teach:
Urban Sociology, Introduction to Sociology, Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory

2015: “Urban Fads and Consensual Fictions: Creative, Sustainable, and Competitive City Policies in Buenos Aires.” City and Community, Vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 47-67
2013: “‘But this is a park!’ The Paradox of Public Space in a Buenos Aires ‘No-Man’s’ Land”, Citizenship Studies, Vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 16-30

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
Urban sociology, development and globalization, political economy

BA, NYU, 2004
PhD City University of New York, Graduate Center, 2015

American Sociology Association (ASA)
Latin America Studies Association (LASA)

How I fell in love with my field:
As an undergraduate, I took a number of Latin American literature courses. After graduating, I decided to take a year off to teach English in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I soon realized that teaching English wasn’t for me, but I became fascinated by the politics, economics, and social conflicts that were visible each day in the city. I came to recognize that sociology as a field offered some of the most useful tools for answering questions about the urban transformations taking place both in Buenos Aires and around the world.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
As an urban sociologist, cities like Flint and Detroit offer some of the richest sites for research on post-industrial and deindustrializing cities in North America. I hope to have the opportunity to explore the rich history of social and urban change that characterizes the region and engage students in thinking through these topics through empirical examination and theoretical exploration.

What I hope for students in my field:
I hope for students to be able to place their personal trajectories within broader institutions and histories, to be able to use their so-called sociological imagination, and to critically assess the social world around them. Specific to Flint, I hope to collaborate with students in studying the urban changes taking place just outside the classroom.

Three things you should know about me:
I’m a cyclist
I speak Spanish well and Portuguese poorly
I lived in NYC for 14 years


Artist Bio: Natasha Thomas-Jackson

Natasha Thomas-Jackson will be performing at the Michigan Sociological Association Annual Meeting reception on Friday, October 23, 2015, in the University of Michigan-Flint’s Michigan Rooms from 7-9pm. This reception is free and open to the public, but please RSVP. For more information and to RSVP, visit Read below for a bio provided by the artist.

Artist Natasha Thomas-JacksonNatasha Thomas-Jackson is a social justice activist, writer, feminist, performance artist, consultant, and the co-founder/executive director of RAISE IT UP! Youth Arts & Awareness, an organization that promotes youth engagement, expression, and empowerment through performance, literary art, and social activism. Natasha has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR) and her writing has been published by AlterNet, John Hopkins University, and the Black Congressional Caucus.

As a performance artist, Natasha was featured in the Michigan Emmy Award-winning short documentary, Making Genes Dance. As a member of Neo GrIot, a collective of writers, dancers, performers, educators, and activists, she released 2 group albums, 1 solo album, and shared the stage with the likes of Slum Village, Grace Lee Boggs, and the Last Poets. In 2005, she was a member of Flint’s first-ever National Poetry Slam Team and in 2008, she received the National Hip Hop Political Convention’s Up & Coming Social Justice Artist-Activist Award. In 2012, she was recognized by the Detroit Pistons for her contributions in the areas of youth development and entertainment. The Pistons and their Come Together Foundation honored her as one of their first-ever Community Impact awardees and donated $25,000to her organization.

Natasha is the founding editor of a new website launching in December 2015 called Flying through the Intersection (FTTI). This site is designed to be an innovative digital space where intersectionality within the womanist/feminist movement is explored. Through a variety of content media, Including articles, videos, and podcasts, FTTI will serve as a resource for those looking to explore the various models, strategies and opportunities for creating and sustaining a more intersectional, inclusive, accountable, and holistic women’s/feminist/womanist movement.

Recently, Natasha was selected by the Windcall Institute to be a 2014 Resident. Windcall fosters transformative learning and leadership through residential and alumni programs that improve the quality, effectiveness, and vitality of social movements and supports the organizers who devote their lives to social justice. In 2015, Natasha was a “Black Women in Arts & Media” panelist for the first annual State of Black Women in Michigan Conference hosted by Mothering Justice, the Black Women’s Roundtable and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. Additionally, Natasha is the lead singer and songwriter for the new soul/hiphop/rock/funk band, Audio Insurgence.

Romeo & Juliet Opens October 30th

romeo and juliet

The University of Michigan-Flint Department of Theatre and Dance presents

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Oct 30-Nov 8 • Directed by Janet Haley


Romeo and Juliet risk their lives to preserve the beauty of hope they have found with each other…while their families’ ancient grudge rages on with volatile actions of destructive violence in old Verona.

UM-Flint’s Theatre will be transformed in an explosive new way to showcase the passionate action, poetic language, bawdy humor, and electric swordplay of this production’s “violent delights” and “violent ends” for our audiences.

We recommend this production for audiences age 16+ as it contains mature content/language and stage violence.


Running time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.


The University Theatre is located at the corner of Wallenburg and Kearsley Streets in downtown Flint: 303 E Kearsley Street, Flint, MI 48502.

Free parking in the Harrison Street ramp beside the Theatre.


Friday, Oct 30: 7:30

Saturday, Oct 31, 2:00* only – no evening performance

Sunday, Nov 1, 2:00*

Friday, Nov 6, 7:30

Saturday, Nov 7, 2:00* and 7:30

Sunday, Nov 8, 2:00*

*Post-show conversations with director and company follow each matinee


Due to popular demand, and restrictions on seating because of the unique scenic design, we strongly encourage our patrons to purchase tickets in advance.

Box Office: (810) 237-6520 or (810) 237-6522

Box Office is open M-F, 10a-5p + one hour before performance times for ticket purchases.


The acting company features Kyle Clark of Flint as Romeo, and Michaela Nogaj of Flint as Juliet.  Also Marie Blacknall (Flint), Taylor Boes (Metamora), Joshua Cornea (Ortonville), Shelby Coleman (Flint), Andy Eisengruber (Sebewaing), Madaline Harkema (Owosso), Seth Hart (Flint), Chazz Irwin (Flint), Connor Klee (Flint), Jordan Kinney (Montrose), Nick LaRosa (Fenton), George Marzonie (Flint), Lucas Moquin (Flint), Britton Paige (Flint), Stefani Stanley (Clio), Farrell Tatum (Fenton), Mark Vukelich (Burton), Gage Webster (Grand Blanc), Jordan Wetherell (Swartz Creek).

Meet Dr. David Duriancik, Assistant Professor of Biology

David Duriancik

David Duriancik, Assistant Professor of Biology

Name: David Duriancik
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Biology

Classes I teach:
BIO 432/532 Mammalian Physiology
Several laboratory courses as needed by the department

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
The overarching theme of my laboratory is that nutrients and food have high impact and diverse functions in health and disease through modulation of immune function. Specifically, I focus on the role of vitamin A in development, maturation, and function of antigen presenting cells called dendritic cells using cell and molecular biology techniques. Dendritic cells are targets for vaccine development, cancer therapeutics, and autoimmune tolerance. Dendritic cells not only require vitamin A for normal development and function, but they also metabolize vitamin A to a biologically active form, all-trans retinoic acid. The long-term goal of this research is to develop therapeutics that target dendritic cell metabolism of vitamin A, and other nutrients, to promote a healthy immune system.

Ph.D. Biochemical Human Nutrition, Michigan State University
B.S. Molecular Biology/Biotechnology, Clarion University of Pennsylvania

American Society for Nutrition
International Society for Analytical Cytology

How I fell in love with my field:
Even though food is not a drug, the importance of diet in both the treatment and prevention of disease has been acknowledged since Hippocrates. The combination of athletics and growing up on small beef cattle farm in western Pennsylvania, I was always interested in how nutrition could affect human performance. During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to work with Drs. Douglas Smith and William Barnes which sparked my interest in immunology research. Through summer internships I found nutritional immunology as a burgeoning field so I pursued advanced training in the laboratory of Dr. Kathleen Hoag at Michigan State University. In addition, I credit Drs. Elizabeth Gardner, Jenifer Fenton and Dale Romsos from Michigan State for helping develop the confidence to be a successful researcher, scholar, and teacher at UM-Flint. These as well as several other faculty instilled in me values to train and educate future scientist.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
I hope to give back to society by educating the next generation of biomedical researchers and medical professionals. I have had so many strong influences in my undergraduate and graduate training that I hope to make them proud by continuing in their footsteps. I anticipate mutually beneficial growth and development through opportunities to continue to perform biomedical research, research and teaching collaborations, and educating a diverse student population.

What I hope for students in my field:
I hope students in my field realize the diverse career paths available to them, develop professionally through creative thinking and problem solving, and realize their potential to help solve current and future biological questions.

Three things you should know about me:
Being originally from outside of Pittsburgh, PA I love everything about that city especially the food (French fries on salads and sandwiches) and their professional sports teams.

I competed for Clarion University as an NCAA division 2 cross-country and track athlete.

I spend as much time outdoors as possible doing everything from kayaking to rock climbing to golf.

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications:

Duriancik et al. 2015. High levels of fish oil enhance neutrophil development and activation and influence colon mucus barrier function in a genetically susceptible mouse model. J Nutr Biochem. In press.

Gurzell et al. 2015. Marine fish oils are not equivalent with respect to B cell membrane organization and activation. JNB. 26:369-377

Beli et al. 2014. Natural killer cell development and maturation in aged mice. Mech Aging and Dev. 135:33-40.

Clinthorne et al. 2013. NK cell maturation and function in C57BL/6 mice are altered by caloric restriction. J Immunology. 190:712-722.

Hwang et al. 2012. Activation mechanisms of natural killer cells during influenza virus infection. PLOS One. 7:e51858.

Duriancik, DM. Lackey, DE. and Hoag, KA. 2010. Vitamin A as a regulator of antigen presenting cells. J Nutr. 140:1395-1399.

Duriancik, DM and Hoag, KA. 2010. Vitamin A deficiency alters splenic dendritic cell subsets and increases CD8+Gr-1+ memory T lymphocytes in C57BL/6J mice. Cell Immun. 265:156-163.

2015; Thiel College – Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Extra Effort Award
2011; Dannon Nutrition Leadership Institute
2010; Michigan State University – Excellence in Teaching Citation
2009; Michigan State University – Certificate in Teaching College Science

Artist Bio: Brinae Ali

Brinae Ali will be performing at the Michigan Sociological Association Annual Meeting reception on Friday, October 23, 2015 in the University of Michigan-Flint’s Michigan Rooms from 7-9pm. This reception is free and open to the public, but please RSVP. For more information and to RSVP, visit Read below for a bio provided by the artist.

Brinae Ali

Alexandria “Brinae Ali” Bradley has an interdisciplinary approach to using the power of the arts to uplift and inspire the human spirit. Through heredity and the mentorship of her father, Alfred Bruce Bradley, Mable Lee, Dianne Walker, and others, Bradley has been studying performing arts since the age of 3.

After all the early exposure of professional shows and opportunities to share the stage with pioneers and legendary artists, Bradley moved to New York to pursue her career. While attending Marymount Manhattan College as a theater major in acting, she was blessed to work and train professionally in Savion Glover’s tap company, Tii Dii.

In 2004, Ali began working on her solo performance showcasing her vocals, compositions, dance, and poetry. She has performed at Ashford and Simpson’s Sugar Bar, Bowery Poetry Club and Joe’s Pub with Reg E Gaines, and at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgina in George Faison’s adaptation of Bubblin’ Brown Sugar, starring Diahnn Carroll. She also performed at Witzigman Palazzo in Hamburg, Germany for 4 months as a solo vocalist and dancer. Ali has recorded vocals singing on Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets children’s album, songs called “Butterfly am I” and “We are One.”

Brinae Ali_CLC0476-EditOnce back in the U.S., Ali moved to Philadelphia in 2005 to further enhance her solo career while teaching and organizing arts programs. She began managing artists and producing shows through Tapology Tap Festival for Youth which is a family based non-profit organization in Flint, Michigan, and created her own Philadelphia based program called Sound and Movement, LLC, funded by the Art and Change Leeway Foundation Grant.

In 2008, Ali debuted one of her original compositions, Stono Rebellion, a tribute to the Africans who fought for freedom and rebelled against slavery in South Carolina in 1739. She was selected as an evolving choreographer in the Harlem Stage’s E-Moves 9 showcase of professional dancers and choreographers. She also toured Canada and the United States in Roxanne Butterfly’s World Beats: Journey of the Migrating Sole as a dancer and vocalist. She is also an award winning playwright, garnering Best Short Play at the 2011 Downtown Urban Theater Festival for her one woman show called Steps.

As an educator, she has been an adjunct professor teaching tap at Queens College and Long Island University and was honored to be a panelist – along with Germaine Ingram and Dianne Walker- at Columbia University’s as jazz studies lecture series moderated by Jacqui Malone. Ali was also a teaching artist- in- residence at the Carol Morgan School in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Brinae Ali_CLC1303

While engaging in philanthropic work within communities in Philadelphia, Ali landed a principle role in the Cotton Club Parade produced by City Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, directed by Warren Carlyle and Wynton Marsalis. Additionally, she was cast as a member of the off-Broadway show STOMP and was a feature tap dancer in Gerri Allen’s Great Women of Jazz at the Apollo, sharing the stage with Dianne Reaves, Lizz Wright, Terri Lynne Carrington, and Tia Fuller. She was the first tap dancer to be invited to the University of Pittsburgh’s 43rd Annual Jazz Concerts and Seminar featuring Ravi Coltrane, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and stellar line up of jazz all-stars. Currently, she serves as a board member for Flint Red Ink Local 432, program director of Beyond Words, and artistic director of Destination Forever, LLC. Her debut album, entitled Destination Forever: Vol.1 , features original compositions created through sounds of tap, song, poetry and was nominated for an Independent Music Award in the Urban EP Category. As a choreographer, Ali was recently commissioned by Harlem Stage for their E-Moves Dance Festival to create a performance piece called Black Matter, in which she used the essence and influence of James Baldwin to articulate the struggles of Black Americans. Through Afro-futuristic performance elements, spirituality, and traditions, this journey of music and expression explored various stigma and social justice issues that exist today. Brinae Ali and a company of dancers and musicians celebrate the innovators and freedom fighters by tapping into a higher consciousness and the part of ourselves that vibrate with the universe, while healing the traumatic experiences of our past.

Brinae Ali_CLC1381-2

Dr. Bigsin of UM-Flint's CSEP department

Meet Dr. Halil Bisgin, Assistant Professor in Computer Science

Name: Halil Bisgin
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: CSEP

Classes I teach: Advanced Database Concepts, Data Structures

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications:
FOSINT-SI2012-13-14-15 Program committee member
Sigma Xi member
Reviewer for Information Sciences, PLoS One, BMC Bioinformatics, Social Network and Mining Advances in Bioinformatics, and the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
Data Mining and Machine Learning
Social Computing
Biomedical Informatics & Bioinformatics
Parallel Computing

FDA Group Recognition Award, 2015
Best Doctoral Student in IGCP, UALR
Best Paper Award in EIT, UALR, 2011
Who’s Who among American Colleges and Universities, 2011
Travel award for TERA-GRID Summer School, Italy, 2010
Harambee Award, UALR, 2009, 2010
Graduate Fellowship, UALR, 2008-2013
Scholarship for Italian Language Program sponsored by FIAT, Florence, Italy, 2001
Deans Honor Roll at Koc University, 2000
Undergraduate Fellowship, Koc University, Turkey, 1998-2003

Ph.D., Integrated Computing Program (IGCP)-Computer Science
M.S., Applied Computing
M.S., Computational Science and Engineering

Sigma Xi
Member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
Member of Alpha Epsilon Lambda Honor Society

How I fell in love with my field:
When I took the course on Pattern Recognition and Analysis during my master’s study in Computational Science & Engineering, I realized that parallel computing and machine learning approaches should be utilized in a harmony to tackle with the Big Data.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
To me, learning is a life-time process, and I hope to learn from my seniors and to be beneficial for the students who are the most valuable of asset of an educational environment for enhanced research.

What I hope for students in my field:
As we are drowned by the Big Data in this information age, I hope our students gain necessary skills to analyze it and contribute to the society in various ways.

Three things you should know about me:
Easy going, warm, tea lover

For more information about Dr. Halil’s work and the Computer Science and Informations System program at UM-Flint, visit