Monthly Archives: December 2015

CAS Recognizes December 2015 Graduates with Honors

On December 16, 2015, the College of Arts & Sciences at UM-Flint held a ceremony to recognize their students graduating with honors, including the CAS Maize & Blue Award winners.


Dean Gano-Phillips welcomes students and their families to the December 2015 Honors Recognition Ceremony at UM-Flint

Dean Gano-Phillips opened the evening with a quote from Vince Lombardi, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. That’s the price we have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.” She went on to praise the students for their perseverance and dedication to excellence. She also acknowledged their families for the important support they provide to students.

The honors recognition ceremony allows each student to be individually recognized by a faculty member from their department. The faculty talked about our students’ work ethic, research, and community service; they often noted the great strength of character, humor, and thoughtfulness shown by students.

One graduate noted that the event left her feeling humbled and and extremely impressed by the accomplishments of her peers.

Photos are available from the evening. Visit our album at

Congratulations to all of our graduates!


Majd Abufarha
Joshua Ahlborn
Mohamed Allam
Ranim Baroudi
Linda Batrow
Sade Blanks
Amanda Bodine
Jessica Bostian
Jake Brejnak
Caleb Bullen
Genelle Bundle
Melissa Butzow
Gino Cabadas
Dana Cardinal
Ryan Clark
Katie Cobb
Jason Dameron
Jennifer Dieck
Mohammad Dlewati
Robert Downer
Elizabeth Elston
Connor Everhart
Chandler Fish
Paul Fulkerson
Alexander Giddings
Anthony-Jacob Girard
Holly Goetterman
Melody Groomes
Noelle Herzog
Nathan Holbeck
Taylor Hollis
James Johnston
Michael Joslin
Richard Kagle
Kyle Knight
Andre Linden
Amy Majorana
Bradley Maki
Taylor Mata
Candice Mayer
Kayla McIntire
Michael Meddaugh
Krystal Miller
Alireza Mirahmadi
Nicole Moffitt
Jessica Morgan
Krystal Murphy
Shelby Myers
Emily Palmer
Chelsea Parkinson
Brekke Pichette
Jacob Reuther
Ashley Rich
Patrick Ross
Nakshidil Sadien
Hayley Schroeder
Haley Smith
Nina Smith
Elizabeth Speicher
Jared Sterba
Tyler Szczepanski
Thomas Thompson
Monica Towns
Roger Turkowski
Ryan Turvey
Cara Walker
Samantha Walling
Dawn Watters
Marcina Wheelihan
Tarah York

2015 Cell-ebration Winners Announced

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 1.48.22 PM

On Friday, December 4, students from dual enrollment and university Biology courses presented research at the 2015 Cell-ebration: A Science Symposium. Their posters represented the work they had done over the Fall 2015 semester and were judged by various faculty members and university administrators. Jill Slater, faculty member of the Biology Department and organizer of the event, said, “Cell-ebration is about lighting a fire.  Participants are surprised by how much they enjoy interacting about their work.  They grow in confidence and gain respect for themselves and their colleagues.  Collaboration, scholarship and passion are all on display that day.”


Jill Slater of Biology discusses a poster with a student.

Slater announced the poster award winners this week:

Best 326 Poster: Cameron Haskins and Stephanie O’Neil “Fermentation of Sugars by Wine Yeast”

Best Model BIO 113 (Lapeer DEEP): Calla Fantin, Megan Clemens, Cameron Lowe and Riley Parson “Incomplete Dominance Demo”

Best Poster BIO 113 (Livingston DEEP): TIE Rachael Lappin and Hannah Cakebread “How Quorum Sensing Affects Virulence Factors in Vibrio Cholerae” and Sarah Mercieca and Sydney Riggs “Bacteriophage Correlation with Vibrio Cholerae

Best Poster BIO 113 (Utica DEEP): Melissa Machusko, Jennifer Zudor, and Carina Willcock “The Mitochondria”

Best Poster BIO 104 (Carman Ainsworth DEEP): Dorothy Dollinger, Noah Vanderhyde, Andrea Clark, Jayla Wilson “Heart”

Best 501 Poster: Tyler Butts “Molecular Techniques and the Next Generation Science Standards”


Winning Presenter Stephanie O’Neil from BIO 326 explains her poster to BIO 113 DEEP student, Natalie Toth

To view 2015 Cell-ebration Photos, and see other student and faculty stories, visit the CAS Facebook page at

Susan Gano-Phillips Announced as New CAS Dean

Douglas Knerr, UM-Flint Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, made the following announcement on Wednesday, December 16th:


Dean Susan Gano-Phillips of the College of Arts & Sciences

I am pleased to announce that Susan Gano-Phillips has been appointed as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences pending Board of Regents approval.

Dean Gano-Phillips holds a BS degree from the University of Michigan and an MA and PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  A licensed Psychologist, she joined the University of Michigan-Flint faculty in 1993 as a Lecturer, was appointed as an Assistant Professor in 1994, tenured and promoted as Associate Professor in 2000, and promoted to Professor in 2011.  Dean Gano-Phillips has a distinguished record of administrative service across a wide array of governance, curricular, and strategic initiatives at the departmental, college, and university levels including Director of the Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching, Chair of the Department of Psychology, Associate Dean, and most recently Interim Dean of CAS.

Dean Gano-Phillips’ scholarly activities have included appointment as a J. William Fulbright Scholar in general education at the City University of Hong Kong.  She is the author of A Process Approach to General Education Reform: Transforming Institutional Culture in Higher Education, as well as numerous refereed journal articles, and has delivered over 30 conference papers including a plenary address at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) General Education and Assessment Conference.  Dean Gano-Phillips has also served as a consultant on general education curricula for Webster University, Hong Kong Baptist University, the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board for Ontario, Canada, and Portland State University.

Dean Gano-Phillips is co-founder of Quad-POD, the faculty development collaborative between four area higher education institutions, has served on several community boards, and has provided consultation to agencies such as Genesee County Family Court and the Shelter of Flint.  She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards and is a strong advocate for civically-engaged learning, having worked in partnership with Whaley Children’s Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint.

“I’m thrilled with the opportunity to serve the College of Arts and Sciences and the University in this role,” said Gano-Phillips, “the College has a long and storied history about which we should be very proud.  Building on that history through long-term planning and continuous professional development for faculty and staff will allow the College and its graduates to achieve new levels of excellence.”  Dean Gano-Phillips also noted that she is “excited to partner with faculty and staff to improve student retention and success through improved advising and meaningful engagement of students with innovative pedagogies and programs, internships, experiential learning, research, and creative activities.”

I look forward to Dean Gano-Phillips’ leadership in moving the College of Arts and Sciences forward, and thank the CAS Dean Search Committee and all of our colleagues who led and participated in the search process.

Please join me in congratulating Susan on her appointment as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences!

Douglas Knerr
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

CSIS Research Includes Drones, Software


One of the drones used in research by Dr. Mark Allison and his student assistants.


Dr. Mark Allison, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Information Systems, is working with students on research that focuses on drones and software design. He brings nearly a decade of experience with software engineering and artificial intelligence to the project.

When asked to describe the research and its goals, Allison said, “This project investigates how multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) may function as a team towards a common goal. We will apply software models to accomplish communication and collaboration in the context of search and rescue.”

He continued, “As drones become smaller, more capable and cheaper, we need to look to new ways of applying them to benefit humans. Current approaches to UAVs typically involve manual operation. As our machines become more complex, we need to minimize human interaction, we need software capable of making decisions on our behalf. I know visions of robot overlords may spring to mind- but… We crave more and more complex machines yet we want our interaction to be easy and intuitive. Our only solution is that invisible entity known as SOFTWARE. Our ultimate aim is to give a team of drones high level objectives (for example – Find the Cat). They should be capable of self-organization and collaboration to achieve the task if possible.”



Sopheak Pouv, a current Graduate Student Research Assistant, holds one of the drones.

Allison began the research when he joined UM-Flint in Fall 2014, building off of a previous project. “We had successfully applied software models in energy management and cloud computing. The application towards artificial intelligence seemed the next natural hurdle. It’s research; we constantly seek bigger dragons.”

The idea of individual drones working together is complex. Allison notes, “Human communication and cooperation to accomplish tasks is so rich and complex that we ourselves have not fully understood its intricacies in all our years on this blue planet. Our approach tries not to capture all this dynamism but to selectively apply concepts (we don’t want that slacker drone to go off and peruse a leisurely jaunt in the park). We want to use technology that has only matured in the last 10 or less years to revisit the challenges that were elusive. This research path is not simple. There are many difficult challenges, however an incremental approach is our best bet.”

    This research project uses Java as the general purpose language and
    UML in modeling.
    The mini-drone application uses JADE (Java Agent DEvelopment
    Framework) scripting.
    For energy management the project team has built their own language.
    Building prototypes
    Running tests on these prototypes
    Collecting data


Anil Kumar Kuvvarapu, a Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA), has been working with Allison for over a year. He’s enjoyed his time in the lab and the complexity of the project: “I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new, authentic solutions to problems which are multidisciplinary. Such tasks are typically complex and require a lot of time, but the experience is worth it.”

Another GSRA, Sopheak Pouv, has been working with the research team since September 2015. He described why the project was a good fit for him: “the position requires students who understand programming language well, especially Java language. I have been involved in software development for almost 8 years. In addition, this research project is aligned to my interests and needs.” Already the project has offered him new experiences, “I can get many benefits from this research project. This is my first time writing Java code to work with mechanical devices like drones. I think it is a new dimensional experience.” 

The team hopes their work will lead to drones being able to help in situations into which humans cannot or should not go. For example, buildings collapsed from fire or earthquakes. Allison added, “Secondarily, the quest will give insights into complex cyber-physical control systems with possible applications towards traffic control, automotive engineering, aerospace, etc.”

Allison was asked about the engaged learning opportunity such research offers students. He responded, “Let’s face it, our millennial students are tough to get impressed with technology; they have super telephones and smart cars. This challenge is even more difficult when the tools of your trade is theories, abstractions, and other intangibles. Outside of research, the drones may be used as a teaching tool. Somehow whenever students see an immediate reaction in real time (the drone moving up and down – and crashing, a lot of crashing), it brings a sense of concreteness to the principles, and of accomplishment.” He plans to integrate the research into his classes, noting, “there should not be a line drawn between research and teaching.”


Students fly a drone during Allison’s class.

Allison works to keep the experience approachable for his students, “This is an opportunity for students to experience challenges which fall outside the textbook and classroom. Working with minimal guidance. It is refreshing to see students transition from being guided to leading the exploration of their tiny sub topic. When they ask, ‘how do I get this to work?’, and I say ‘Beats me, if anyone knew then it wouldn’t be worth perusing – research, remember.’ You can see the moment when they realize that they have the opportunity and the empowerment to solve a tiny problem on their own without assistance. We just have to make the challenge not too difficult as to frustrate.”

Kuvvarapu also spoke to the benefit of such research, “The projects I have been working on at UM-Flint are extremely engaging. I don’t think there is anywhere else that I would have gotten this experience and learning climate. UM-Flint creates a very nurturing yet exciting learning environment to me. Upon graduation, I will most probably seek a job in the software industry, and with my research skills I am confident.”

For information on the Computer Science & Information Systems program, including research projects, visit

Portions of this post were compiled by Srikanth Reddy Bogala, Graduate Student in Computer Science

Chemistry & Biochemistry Students Visit Dow, Learn About the Future

UM-Flint Chemistry and Biochemistry Students on a visit to Dow Chemical in Midland, MI

Dr. Matthew Fhaner, Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry, (far left) and Steven Toth, Lecturer of Chemistry, (far right) accompanied Chemistry & Biochemistry students on their visit to Dow Chemical

This fall, Chemistry and Biochemistry students from UM-Flint were invited to visit Dow Chemical in Midland, MI, for a unique opportunity to tour facilities and meet with chemists and researchers.

Throughout the day the students walked through labs filled with state-of-the-art equipment for research, development, and production; they met with Dow employees from several different areas who shared their career experiences; and they were able to have a question and answer session with a panel of scientists. The Dow employees talked about the ways in which their backgrounds and education prepared them for work in the field, and addressed some of the roles and responsibilities chemists and chemical companies have in the world.

The students learned about equipment ranging from robots to electron microscopes and x-ray diffractor instruments to can-coaters. They received demonstrations from the equipment operators and learned about their applications in everyday products like soda cans and paint.

Assistant Professor Dr. Matthew Fhaner, trained as an analytical chemist, had this to say about the visit: “I never had any experience like this during my undergraduate education. Having the ability to see industry professionals at work and learning about the positive impacts of their efforts left the students excited about their education and future possibilities. Continuing to partner with industry peers such as Dow Chemical will be an important contribution to our department and program’s future growth.”

During the lunchtime discussion, the students heard about the varied tracks employees had taken throughout their chemistry careers. One researcher told the students that what they learned during their undergraduate experience was very important, although they may not be interviewed just for specific skills. He suggested that they think of their overall education and asked, “Are you learning what it takes to be a good scientist?”

The employees talked about the wide variety of jobs that Chemistry graduates can find, noting “even our marketers have [science] backgrounds.”

One student asked an employee what the best part of his career had been. He responded, “Inventing whatever you want it to be” and added that he enjoyed the flexibility to change or maintain his role as he wished.

The day ended with the scientists giving career advice that was both inspiring and practical:

“It’s all about developing the ability to learn.”

“Follow your interests and allow them to change. Focus on your problem solving skills, communication and networking, learning to ask questions. Be flexible and adaptable.”

“Pay attention to why you enjoy certain aspects of what you’re doing. Use that to shape your career.”

“The more you can articulate what you can bring to the table and your enthusiasm — the better off you’ll be.”

“Don’t be afraid to take control of your career.”

“Communication and collaboration will be key anywhere you work — you will likely be talking to people in and out of the industry.”

“There is always something to learn.”

For more information about the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UM-Flint, and the ways in which they prepare young chemists for successful futures, visit

New German Course Focuses on Business, Management

The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures has good news for UM-Flint students!

A new course, GER 120: Basic German for Business & Management, will start in Winter 2016.

This course requires no previous experience with the German language, and will focus on vocabulary and cultural practices from the German business world. Faculty member Elke Kramer explains that this is the “only course that allows you (students) to start German from scratch and with business German terminology right from the beginning.”

The course is open to all UM-Flint students.


Kramer continues, “Taking German for more than just the core curriculum requirements has a better look on the resumes. It allows HR to see that a student can actually communicate in German and has more to offer than just survival skills or intro level German proficiency.”

She also hopes that the focused curriculum will help students looking to find employment with one of the more than 350 German companies that operate in Michigan.

The class will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-3:45pm. Visit to register.

As an added bonus, any UM-Flint student who registers by December 13 will be entered to win one of ten $100 campus bookstore gift cards!

If you have questions about studying German at UM-Flint, contact Elke Kramer at or call 810.762.3370.

Sipit Provides Meaningful Internships to UM-Flint Students


Dr. Mike Farmer (center) stands with CSIS students and members of the Sipit team.

Students from the Computer Science & Information Systems program have found meaningful internship opportunities with Sipit–a local company with the mission of bringing technology and digital tools to small businesses and non-profits in Flint, while creating 200 high tech jobs within the next 3-5 years.

A recent project involved creating donor databases that would outperform the much more expensive options on the market while offering a better user experience. The project was born from a local non-profit’s need to better organize and reach donors with their limited staff.


Anvitha Akurathi presents her group’s donor database project

Anvitha Akurathi, a graduate student in CSIS and intern at Sipit, has a lead role in the project.

Says Akurathi, “So far, I am a Team leader for 2 Web development projects and 2 Database Application Development projects for non-profit organizations. The roles I had taken were Team Leader, Project manager, and Business Analyst.”

When asked about her responsibilities within the role, Akurathi listed

  • Collecting and documenting the requirements of the project
  • Developing design documents for the project
  • Creating project plans
  • Assigning tasks to the team members
  • Deploying the project to production
  • Handling Change Requests, troubleshooting and maintenance of the project

Although helping non-profits with donor relations is the goal of the project, the goal of an internship is to prepare students for their future careers. Akurathi described her experience in that light, “From the career perspective, internship is a best way to know the real-world scenarios and projects. They give an exposure to the real problems that we face in the course of development and deployment of the project. Students can also develop the job discipline and acquire the skills of learning new technologies and applying them in solving the challenges of the project.”


Anvitha Akurathi explains components of the intern-designed donor database

Sipit provided all of that and more to Akurathi and her classmates, with the added perk of being in a convenient location near campus. “I was waiting for an opportunity to learn and work for something related to my education. Sipit is a new start-up by few passionate individuals of Flint. I could feel the passion and motives they had for the company when I met them for the first time. A start-up can help us learn so many things related to real world and the technological problems faced in projects, build ourselves in many ways possible and mold us in the best way. Very fortunately, Sipit is very near to our college which made the transportation very easy for me. I had all the good reasons for choosing the internship.”

She continued, “Start-ups like Sipit will help students to learn social and communication skills along with the career related skills. We will learn work-ethics, professional communication with higher management authorities and clients, time management, dealing with people and involving with foreign culture. I could see only benefits out of an internship in a company like Sipit.”

CSIS Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor of Computer Science, Dr. Michael Farmer, added, “The internship partnership with Sipit is an outstanding opportunity for our students to work on real-world IT applications.  The fact that Sipit is focused on projects that help organizations focused on improving the quality of life in Flint makes it an even more compelling story.  All of our students that have worked with Sipit found the experience incredibly rewarding.”

When asked about advice for students considering an internship, Akurathi said, “I wholeheartedly advise them to go for an internship. They help us in building [ourselves] both in terms of career and personality. I would suggest the students to be honest, be open for learning new things, and keep up the trust people had put on us when given the opportunity. Maybe this would be best time to quote what Steve Jobs had once said: ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.'”

The most recent database completed by the students has been deployed to Genesee County Habitat for Humanity, and they are actively using it. Sipit is reaching out to other Habitat affiliates around the country to see if they can provide them with systems as well.

Sipit co-founder Andrew Schmitt says, “The students are incredible.  We are lucky they have chosen UM-Flint for their graduate degree program, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the University and helping these students make Flint their home long term.”

For more information on the Computer Science & Information Systems program, visit or call 810.762.3131.

The student interview of this article was submitted by CSIS graduate student Anulekha Gowrishankar.


New CSIS Courses Offered in Fall 2016

CSEP’s Computer Science & Information Systems has two new offerings for students in the Fall 2016 semester:

Image Processing and Computer Vision (CSC 548)

Programming proficiency will be the prerequisite.

Dr. Michael Farmer will be the instructor for this course. Dr. Farmer has been working in this field of computer vision for 30 years and he interested in this field and continuing research.

This course will cover a range of topics related to image processing and computer vision: the image generation process, noise and image filtering, edge detection, texture description, image segmentation, image registration and tracking, motion detection, feature extraction and classification. Topics may vary based on time and student interests.

Dr. Farmer wrote a book about computer vision, Application of Chaos and Fractals to Computer Vision, and he was published fall 2014. In past a lot of students published papers on computer vision and presented them at conferences. Presently many students are actively doing research on evidence accumulation which ties with computer vision as their independent study with Dr. Farmer. In addition to this, there are many real time applications to this computer vision. For example, back-up cameras for cars, pedestrian detection for automobiles. The whole automation industry uses computer vision. Any mobile robot can use computer vision.

Dr. Farmer is excited about this course and hopes he can inspire future generations of image processing. If you are interested in the field of artificial intelligence and the sub-field of computer vision, then you should take this class.

Social Computing (CIS 517)

Dr. Charlotte Tang will be the instructor for this course. This course has no prerequisites.

Dr. Tang is the leading guest editor of a special focus issue of the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association, titled Interactive Systems for Patient-Centered Care to Enhance Patient Engagement. The special focus issue accepted 17 articles that included research in engaging patients through pervasive mobile technologies.

This course will include: study of large-scale socially aware information systems; online behaviors and structural complexities on different social computing platforms; theories and principles behind technology diffusion into society; socio-technical design of technologies for online communication and computer supported collaborative work.

Everyone uses social computing. There is still a lot of research going on about social computing. There are many companies developing social computing applications, so they are hiring a lot of people both on design and actual development. They also need employees to analyze how effectively people are using social computing applications.

Dr. Tang creates very interesting assignments for the students. For example one assignment requires the students to make projections to imagine how social computing will be in another 10 or 15 years. Students will work on a group research project.

Students will enjoy this course because it includes participation and discussions. If you want to find out about how friendship forms, how you would become friends with others and if you want to find out about your role that you play in your network then you should come to this class.

For more information on courses, visit or

The information for this post was complied by CSIS graduate student Srikanth Reddy Bogala.

Meet Kisma Jordan – Lecturer in Music and Award Winning Opera Singer

Kisma Jordan, Lecturer in the UM-Flint Music Department, recently won first prize in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition. She was awarded a $5,000 prize and an optional $3,000 contract. Read below to learn more about this talented faculty member and view a video of her winning performance. Congratulations, Kisma!

Kisma Jordan-5127_blog

Kisma Jordan of UM-Flint

Name: Kisma Jordan Hunter
Title: Lecturer
Department: Music

Classes I teach: Applied Voice

Research or Specific Areas of Interest: Slave music is of great interest to me; my current research centers on slave narratives and their influence on the development of the Negro spiritual. The project is entitled “My Soul Arise.”

Awards or Performances of Note: Within the last two years I earned my first professional fellowship (Kresge Artist Fellow in music), and this summer I had the pleasure of performing with Electronic music legend Derrick May and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, I won first prize in the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh’s Mildred Miller International Vocal Competition in Pennsylvania.

Degree(s)/Education: I have degrees in Music from Bowling Green State University, Kentucky State University, and Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University.

How I fell in love with my field: Music has always been a part of my world. It chose me well before I could acknowledge its powerful nature. My love for music was immediate from a very young age. Rather than one pivotal experience, there are countless moments throughout my life ranging from the very first talent show I performed in, to all the songs my Mother played in the car on road trips where music impacted my life more and more each day.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint: It’s always my desire to make a mark that can never be erased wherever I am. At UM-Flint, it’s about helping students to see the world as truthfully as possible. As well as empowering them to be lifetime learners, and to make every experience, academic or other, relevant to their life journey.

What I hope for students in my field: I hope emerging musicians understand the importance of being true to who they are. The best thing a musician can be confident in is knowing the power of authenticity.

Three things you should know about me:
1) I am a published songwriter.
2) I am a cinema fanatic—I absolutely love movies.
3) I have considered becoming a Lawyer or a Chef.

[vimeo width=”430″ height=”300″][/vimeo]


December 2015 Maize & Blue Winners Announced

MAIZE&BLUEThe Scholarships, Awards and Special Events Committee and Provost Douglas Knerr announced that December 2015 recipients of the Maize and Blue Distinguished Scholar Award, the highest academic award bestowed upon the graduates of the University of Michigan-Flint. Join us in congratulating these outstanding students and all those nominated!

Joshua D. Ahlborn**
Bachelor of Science – Computer Science

Paul A. Fulkerson** (Double Major)
Bachelor of Arts – English-Writing Specialization
Bachelor of Arts – Economics

Nathan S. Holbeck** (Double Major)
Bachelor of Science – Health Care Administration
Bachelor of Arts – Physics

Taylor E. Mata**
Bachelor of Arts – English

Dawn M Watters**
Bachelor of Science – Applied Psychology

David T. Yeoman**
Bachelor of Science – Environmental Science & Planning

These awards will be presented at the commencement program on December 20, 2015.