12/21/16

UM-Flint Grad Heading to South Korea to Teach English

Elexis Nelson - UM-Flint TESOL and Linguistics graduate

Elexis Nelson – UM-Flint TESOL and Linguistics graduate

Elexis Nelson had always planned to teach English abroad after earning her linguistics degree from UM-Flint. However, there was a significant obstacle in her path: she did not have access to a TESOL certificate program (TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)—an important credential that would allow her access to better jobs and higher benefits.

“My education has, thankfully, been paid for through a full-ride scholarship I received through U of M’s Educational Opportunity Initiatives office,” explained Nelson, “but obviously it wouldn’t cover any classes that I wanted to take outside of the university. The TESOL courses nearest me were on campuses too far away.”

Things changed when Emily Feuerherm, PhD, joined UM-Flint English and began establishing a TESOL program on campus. “Feuerherm was in the works of creating this course when I was doing research about off-campus options,” recalled Nelson, “and the day she told me that the TESOL program got approved was the best day of my academic life.”

Emily Feuerherm speaks with students about the new UM-Flint TESOL certificate.

Emily Feuerherm speaks with students about the new UM-Flint TESOL certificate.

The UM-Flint TESOL certificate is earned in 15-credits and is intended for any UM-Flint undergraduate student hoping to teach English abroad. While a certificate is not always necessary to teach abroad, the professional TESOL organization notes that it can serve as a gateway to the field and profession. The TESOL certificate does not certify students to teach in US public schools.

“By far the best part about being a TESOL certificate holder is that I now have the documentation I need to do what I love for the rest of my life,” said Nelson. “The TESOL certificate opens so many doors and windows for me to pursue positions globally.”

Shortly after graduation, Nelson will begin her first TESOL position. “I have been hired by EPIK (English Program in Korea) and I start in February! I’ll be teaching in Busan (I qualified for a higher pay grade due to the above-average amount of TESOL course hours I’ve accumulated in the UM-Flint TESOL program). I hope to continue my passion as a global ambassador in South Korea for at least three years. I want to teach English and further encourage globalization.”

Elexis Nelson will be one of the first to hold a UM-Flint TESOL certificate

Elexis Nelson will be one of the first to hold a UM-Flint TESOL certificate

Students who want to follow in Nelson’s footsteps can start earning their TESOL certificate in the Winter 2017 semester by joining one of the required core courses:

  • ENG/LIN200 Introduction to Linguistics
    (online or TR, 2:30pm-3:45pm)
  • ENG/LIN244 The Structure of English (online)

Other courses and the TESOL seminar and practicum are available in varied semesters.

“If you’re passionate about making a difference abroad or becoming a global ambassador,” said Nelson, “TESOL can be your ticket . . . It is a rigorous program but it really can open a world of possibilities for you. At least it did for me.”


To learn more about the UM-Flint TESOL certificate, visit umflint.edu/english or contact Dr. Emily Feuerherm at feuerher@umflint.edu or (810) 762-3183.

To register for courses, visit sis.umflint.edu.

12/13/16

Faculty Spotlight: Fadi Mohsen of UM-Flint Computer Science

Fadi Mohsen, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2016 as an assistant professor of computer science.

Fadi Mohsen, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at UM-Flint

Fadi Mohsen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at UM-Flint

Read below to learn more about him and the field of computer science, or join him in one of his Winter 2017 classes:

  • CIS 363 – Commercial Applications of Web Programming
    (MW, 2:30pm-3:45pm)
  • CSC 370 – Intro to Information Security
    (MW, 11am-12:15pm)
  • CSC 570 – Cyber Security (M, 6pm-8:45pm)

Students can register now at sis.umflint.edu or find more information at umflint.edu/register.

Why are you passionate about your field?
Every day a massive amount of data is being generated, the data can be utilized to enhance our lives, but it can also be misused. In my field, we investigate the malicious ways of collecting personal data and propose solutions to defend against them.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
I prefer to teach upper level courses in information security and privacy, particularly in the network and mobile computing domains. Moreover, I have a particular interest in teaching application development courses in which students are inquired to develop complete desktop, web, and/or mobile applications.

What is your your latest or favorite research project?
My latest and favorite research project is called “The Danger of Android Broadcast Receivers.” There are two typical assumptions made regarding permissions and mobile applications security and privacy. The first one is that malicious applications need to retain dangerous permissions. Secondly, smartphone users assume that installed applications access data if they are only in the foreground. In this project, we show how malicious Android applications are able to orchestrate their attacks and collect users’ data with minimum permissions and while running in the background.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
Well, when i started my graduate studies i wanted to specialize in data mining. So, in my first semester,  I took a security course with a professor who then became my thesis advisor. He showed a lot of enthusiasm about the topic, the course also was very interesting and exciting. In my second semester, i took another course with the same professor, by the end of that semester i decided to specialize in security.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I am interested in creating socially relevant computing courses that helps students develop skills in communication, leadership, and planning community outreach. I am also looking forward to integrate my research ideas into the curriculum of the courses that I teach. Finally, I am hoping to develop multiple online courses.

What do you hope for students in your field?
I hope for them to engage in real open source software and research projects, which would get them ready and well-equipped  for the job market

What are three things you think people should know about you?
Soccer is my favorite sport, I love road trips, and I have lived in three different states: Colorado, North Carolina, and Michigan.


To learn more about engineering at UM-Flint, visit umflint.edu/computer-science. To register for courses, visit sis.umflint.edu or umflint.edu/register.

12/9/16

Faculty Spotlight: Na Zhu of UM-Flint Engineering

Na (Linda) Zhu, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2016 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Na (Linda) Zhu, PhD, of assistant professor of mechanical engineering

Na (Linda) Zhu, PhD, of assistant professor of mechanical engineering

Read below to learn more about her and the field of mechanical engineering, or join her in one of her Winter 2017 classes:

  • EGR 315 – Machine Element Design (TR, 2:30pm-3:45pm)
  • EGR 466 – Engineering Design II
    (W, 9am-11:30am, + (5) Friday meetings)

Students can register now at sis.umflint.edu or find more information at umflint.edu/register.

Research Interests:
Acoustics, vibration and noise control, signal processing, sensor and controls, automotive engineering

Why are you passionate about your field?
Acoustics, vibration and noise control in mechanical engineering has been a very practical yet challenging problem in the engineering area for decades, including applications not only in machine design, structure analysis and de-noising, but also in signal detection, acoustic emission for non-destructive evaluation, quality control, etc. In recent years, while media players, hearing-aid related devices, and cell phone industries rapidly grow, the demand of the de-noising, or say, audio/music extraction from background noise, becomes a new topic for mechanical engineers.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
Noise and vibration, sensors and signal processing, machine design, introduction to automotive engineering, and hybrid vehicle design

What is your latest or favorite research project?
My research is emphasis in the areas of noise control  and signal processing. I am now working on development of innovative technology for extracting specific acoustic features from mixed signals that may be contaminated by various unknown interfering signals and random background noise. The technology can be used on audio related devices and structure health monitoring.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
Brought up in a family surrounded by engineers and academic professionals, I have always dreamed of working in the engineering field. I selected mechanical engineering as my major because it fit my interest and skills best.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I hope I can bring new research projects to UM-Flint and make the mechanical engineering discipline stronger and more attractive. I want to share my knowledge and experience with students and help them be well prepared for their future career, which will also benefit the community and industry.

What do you hope for students in your field?
Engineering is a traditional yet fast growing field. I hope the students in engineering have a solid background of engineering knowledge as well as an open mind for creative ideas and innovative designs, and that they are always updated with the latest technologies.

What are three things you think people should know about you?
I want to be a friend to my students, not just somebody giving lectures and exams to them.
I practice yoga every day.
I am a big fan of manga (comic books). If you want to talk about Naruto, One Piece, Attack on Titan, etc., you can always come to me.


To learn more about engineering at UM-Flint, visit umflint.edu/engineering. To register for courses, visit sis.umflint.edu or umflint.edu/register.

12/9/16

Faculty Spotlight: Justin Massing of UM-Flint Chemistry

Justin Massing, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2016 as an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

Justin Massing, PhD, assistant professor of organic chemistry at UM-Flint

Justin Massing, PhD, assistant professor of organic chemistry at UM-Flint

Read below to learn more about him and the field of organic chemistry, or join him in one of his Winter 2017 classes:

  • CHM 330 – Organic Chemistry
    (MW, 2:30-3:45pm + (4) Friday test dates)
  • CHM 331 – Organic Chemistry Lab
    (T, 8am-12pm; R, 12:30pm-4:30pm; + (2) Friday test dates)
  • CHM 452 – Biochemistry II (TR, 11am-12:15pm)

Students can register now at sis.umflint.edu or find more information at umflint.edu/register.

Why are you passionate about your field?
I firmly believe that chemistry has the potential to address environmental and health issues on a global scale.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
I’m most excited to teach spectroscopy of organic compounds (CHM 468) next fall. This course examines how different wavelengths of light can be applied towards elucidating organic structures. The spectroscopic techniques to be covered in this class are frequently employed in diagnosing disease and monitoring human health.

What is your latest or favorite research project?
My current research is focused on creating chemical probes that can detect molecular events associated with disease progression. Specifically, I want to noninvasively visualize epigenetic modifications known to influence DNA organization, and therefore how our genes are expressed.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
I fell in love with chemistry thanks to my 7th grade science teacher, whose genuine eccentricity made learning the subject an engaging experience.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
To share my passion for learning, and to meaningfully impact students’ lives.

What do you hope for students in your field?
I hope that all students at UM–Flint would pursue independent research at some point during their college career.

What are three things you think people should know about you?
My wife is also a chemist.
I do the cooking and cleaning at home.
My wife and I brew our own beer.


To learn more about chemistry and biochemistry at UM-Flint, visit umflint.edu/chemistry. To register for courses, visit sis.umflint.edu or umflint.edu/register.

12/8/16

Faculty Spotlight: Christopher Kowal of UM-Flint Communication

Christopher Kowal, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2016 as an assistant professor of communication.

Christopher Kowal, PhD, assistant professor of communication at UM-Flint

Christopher Kowal, PhD, assistant professor of communication at UM-Flint

Read below to learn more about him and the field of communication, or join him in one of his Winter 2017 courses:

  • COM 316 – Advanced Advertising (TR, 9:30am-10:45am)
  • COM 512 – Consulting & Training (online)

Students can register now at sis.umflint.edu or find more information at umflint.edu/register.

Why are you passionate about your field?
I am passionate about what I do because it connects us and bonds us. I became an academic almost by accident, but have found that the curiosity that I have for understanding emotional communication has motivated me to ask questions and dive into concepts that we have often been misinformed about such as the role and importance emotions have on our interactions.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
I love teaching about emotions, nonverbal communication and leadership.

What is your latest or favorite research project?
Measuring hormones before and after interfacing with tech devices and looking if body positioning mediated the results, we found it’s not the size of the device you use but rather how you use it.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
As an undergraduate student I was talking a theory class with the absolute worst instructor, she would read from her notes, get confused, confuse us, and then get angry at us. I’m sure she’s in a healthy relationship now. Anyway I was chatting with another professor and confessed that I hated the theory class. With a childlike look of disappointment she explained her passion for theory and helped me reframe how I was viewing the material. The instructor still made our lives miserable, but now I could look past the teaching and engage with the learning. I was able to touch and feel the theory that forms our understanding of our field.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I am hoping for a few things while I’m here at UM-Flint. First, I hope I can have an impact in teaching, research and community. I hope that I can reach and teach that [which] engages while challenging students to think about knowledge and information to inspire curiosity. I hope that my research is meaningful and correctly expands the academy. I hope that my work, my passion, with how we view and effectively use emotions can have a larger impact within our community. Understanding emotional communication is an important skill that can be acquired by any willing participant. I hope to be able to provide workshops for the community that might motivate and inspire entrepreneurial spirits. Further, I hope that I make and nurture many friendships on and off campus.

What do you hope for students in your field?
Be bold and fearless. Communication has emerged as an important and pivotal skill in business and life, and I hope our students will use their creative problem solving, their voice, and achieve great things.

What are three things you think people should know about you?
Politics, Sex, and religion are my favorite topics of discussion. My favorite saying is life begins at the end of your comfort zone. With that said, I am not afraid to back down from important and difficult topics or conversations.


To learn more about communication at UM-Flint, visit umflint.edu/communication. To register for winter courses, visit sis.umflint.edu or umflint.edu/register.

 

12/7/16

Faculty Spotlight: Kimberly Bender of UM-Flint Criminal Justice

Kimberly Bender, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2016 as an assistant professor of criminal justice.

Kimberly Bender, PhD, assistant professor of criminal justice at UM-Flint

Kimberly Bender, PhD, assistant professor of criminal justice at UM-Flint

Read below to learn more about her and the field of criminal justice, or join her in one of her Winter 2017 classes:

  • CRJ 185 – Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
    (MW, 11am-12:15pm)
  • CRJ 388 – Corrections: A Critical Perspective
    (W, 5:30pm-8:15pm)
  • CRJ 430 – Processing Offenders (MW, 4pm-5:15pm)

Students can register now at sis.umflint.edu or find more information at umflint.edu/register.

Why are you passionate about your field? 
The criminal justice field is one in which real, significant differences can be made. It is a field in which those who hold more power or status can create time and space for marginalized individuals to be heard. I feel honored that I have the ability to create that time and space and be the facilitator of much needed conversations. I often tell the women in prison whom I interview that they are the real change-makers. It is their experiences and the experiences of other men and women in the criminal justice system that need to be heard in order to begin making the much needed improvements.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
I find the Introduction to Criminal Justice course exciting to teach because it is one of the first classes that a criminal justice student takes. Students in the Intro class are usually full of questions and thoughts about the criminal justice system. As a teacher, one of the most exciting parts of the job is watching “the lightbulb go off.” I love when students begin to think about an idea or issue in a completely different way than they did when they first stepped foot into the classroom. For me, this is what learning is all about: showing students additional ways of thinking.

Corrections is another class I enjoy teaching very much. I am able to bring a great deal of my research into the classroom to share with the students. Rather than reading from a textbook, I can provide real life stories from men and women who have lived the prison life and who have experienced the major challenges of reintegrating into society.

What is your latest or favorite research project?
The latest research project I am working on uses in-depth interview data collected from 100 Baltimore City residents and protesters who shared their personal experiences and observations of the police prior to Freddie Gray’s death. The study explores if and how race and gender intersect with citizens’ strategies during their encounters with Baltimore police. Findings have implications as to how men and women across race make sense of police actions and how citizens manage their interactions with the police.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
I was a 19 year old undergraduate student majoring in Psychology at Ohio University. I took a class, “Psychology of Justice,” and on one particular day the professor held a book up. The front cover of the book resembled a yearbook with its 45 individual headshots. That day I learned all about wrongful conviction. Those 45 faces on the cover of the book were faces that had been exonerated through the innocence project. That class was so powerful for me that I went on to double major in criminal justice and further pursue my education.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I understand that change does not always happen overnight nor does it always happen in big ways. However, if I can make any sort of positive change or difference in the lives of the students, the university and the community I will have been successful during my time at UM-Flint. I also hope to make strong and lasting connections with the students and faculty as well as the surrounding community.

What do you hope for students in your field?
It is my hope that criminal justice students use the knowledge that they learn in the classroom and apply it not only to their jobs, but to their everyday lives. I hope that they will use their knowledge and position to create a more equitable society and criminal justice system. A student recently told me that he believed he would be a better police officer after taking a Gender, Race, and Crime course that I taught. I see the classroom as a forum for discussing sensitive issues that are not often talked about in everyday life, but most definitely need to be discussed.

What are three things you think people should know about you?
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to teach. I did not know what I wanted to teach or who I wanted to teach, but I did know that being in the classroom conveying knowledge to others was something I could not live without.

A fun fact about me is that I am originally from Connecticut, but over the course of my life I spent many summers in Michigan with family and every November my family and I would drive to Detroit for the Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving Day football game. Thus, I am and will always be a diehard Detroit Lions fan.

Lastly and most importantly, my door is always open to anyone who has questions, needs advice, or who just wants to chat.


To learn more about criminal justice at UM-Flint, visit umflint.edu/sac. To register for winter courses, visit sis.umflint.edu or umflint.edu/register.

12/6/16

UM-Flint Communication Major Finds Impact in Internship

whitcomb_skye

When she graduates in December 2016, UM-Flint Communication Studies major Skye Whitcomb will be leaving the university with knowledge of her discipline and the memory of a life-changing internship experience.

Her department began requiring internships for all students in Fall 2016. “The faculty of Communication Studies require internships of our majors because we believe that it is important for students to apply what they are learning in their classes to their careers after they graduate,” said Communication Studies Chair, Marcus Paroske. “We think students should learn by doing as much as possible.”

A Meaningful Internship

Tony McGill, the department’s internship coordinator, contacted Whitcomb with exciting news during her senior year. He had found her a unique 10-week position funded through the General Motors (GM) Student Corps Program in which she would be working with ten Flint Southwestern Classical Academy students and two GM retirees.

“The Student Corps Program was started in GM by one of my past communication students now at GM,” said McGill. “The program accomplishes an amazing amount of positive change within communities and GM’s contribution is significant.”

“The intern’s work is both physically and mentally difficult and they apply the leadership, management, public relations, and problem-solving skills they learned, ” continued McGill. “The interns manage budgets, payroll, and employment records for the students who are GM employees during the 10-week project. The interns are also responsible for setting up media interviews and media coverage.”

Skye Whitcomb (far left) stands with her Flint Southwestern high school students outside GM’S Flint Assembly Plant.

Skye Whitcomb (far left) stands with her Flint Southwestern high school students outside GM’S Flint Assembly Plant.

The program provides significant funding to the high school students so they can complete meaningful projects. “The students chose what community and school projects they wanted to do and then we planned them,” remembered Whitcomb. “We worked on the playground at Broome Park, projects at Berston Field House, library floors, a new mural, and the tennis court at the high school. The retirees and I showed the students how to complete these different tasks since they hadn’t done them before.”

Whitcomb connected with the Southwestern students by sharing her life experiences and involving them in charity work. Said Whitcomb, “I really enjoyed taking the students to my farm and opening their eyes to agriculture and farming. Also working with the students to encourage that they save money, and working with the United Way to donate $10,000 to the Flint Child Health & Development Fund, which was matched by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for $20,000.”

Skye Whitcomb captures high school students repairing tennis courts at their high school during her UM-Flint Communication internship

Skye Whitcomb captures high school students repairing tennis courts at their high school during her UM-Flint Communication internship

Whitcomb captured the group’s activities in photographs—both a requirement of the internship and one of her personal hobbies. At the end of the internship she and some of the students decorated a board at their high school to showcase their summer of hard work.

When asked what surprised her about the internship experience, Whitcomb responded, “How much I bonded with the students. I also learned so many things to take to my professional career. Working with such an age range, high school students and two GM retirees, I think really prepared me for many different types of people I may have to work with in a future job.” She also noted that learning to facilitate conversation between the two groups was a significant takeaway from the experience.

The bond between intern and the high school students also surprised Dr. McGill: “One notable thing I did not really expect when we started the program was that the interns also serve as role models for the students who often don’t get to personally know working college students or see themselves as college students. They often grow very close and form longtime friendships.”

UM-Flint Communication major Skye Whitcomb (far right) and students from Flint Southwestern Classical Academy

UM-Flint Communication major Skye Whitcomb (far right) and students from Flint Southwestern Classical Academy

The lessons learned during Whitcomb’s internship are exactly why the UM-Flint Communication Studies department has moved toward requiring internships for their students. Said Dr. McGill, “I find the GM Student Corps internship to be like many of our Communication Studies internships, if the interns are willing to work hard and learn, it can be a major experiential stepping stone for them, a networking opportunity, and an important entry on their résumé. Honestly though, this one is special to me because I get to watch them grow and apply what they have learned.”

Choosing UM-Flint Communication

Whitcomb originally chose UM-Flint Communication as her major after researching career interests and the associated degrees. And she appreciated that the campus was close to home.

“Every class I was in, I was intrigued. I also enjoyed many of my fellow classmates, and my teachers made coming to class awesome and something I looked forward to,” recalled Whitcomb. “The professors were always so willing to help the students with anything and were always wanting what was best for us. This was the right choice for me because I found the jobs that were associated with the degree were where I wanted to work for my life career.”

Whitcomb is looking forward to graduation, and has advice for the UM-Flint Communication Studies students who are following in her footsteps: “Take advantage of everything that is offered to you. Get involved in clubs and get to know your professors. Make connections, and spend time researching and looking for an internship that is right for you and where you want to go with your future career. I believe that an internship is necessary, helpful, and will give you the experience you cannot get in a classroom.”


For more information on UM-Flint Communication Studies visit umflint.edu/communication or contact Dr. Tony McGill with questions about their internship program: amcgill@umflint.edu.

12/1/16

Faculty Spotlight: Daniel Birchok of UM-Flint Anthropology

Daniel Birchok, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2016 as an assistant professor of anthropology.

Daniel Birchok, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology at UM-Flint

Daniel Birchok, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology at UM-Flint

Read below to learn more about him and the field of anthropology, or join him in one of his Winter 2017 classes:

  • ANT 100 – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
    (held TR, 9:30am-10:45am)
  • ANT 295 – Cultures of South Asia (held TR, 12:30pm-1:45pm)
  • ANT/SOC 301 – Social Theory (held TR, 2:30pm-3:45pm)

Students can register now at sis.umflint.edu or find more information at umflint.edu/register.

Why are you passionate about your field?
I want to answer this question by noting that I, like many of my colleagues, participate in many fields. My training is in both anthropology and history, and I also work in religious and Islamic studies. That said, the questions that most interest me are anthropological questions. What I find so exciting about anthropology is its ambition as a field. We anthropologists often cannot agree on what, precisely, we study, but that is because at its root anthropology is the study of the human, and we embrace a holistic and opportunistic approach to this project. The sheer ambition of it all has always impressed and excited me.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
Honestly, I just love to teach. Right now I am really enjoying teaching Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. The course revolves around fundamental concepts in the field, and ones that have the potential to change the ways in which students engage and interpret their social worlds. We discuss the merits and shortcomings of the concept of culture, and are about to turn to the anthropological critique of race, that is, how race can be such a powerful social reality even though it has no genetic basis. I try to structure all of my courses around such questions and concepts, but there is just something about the Intro course that gets at the fundamental potentials of the discipline for making sense of the world in transformative ways. I find helping students figure out how to take up these conceptual tools extremely exciting!

What is your latest or favorite research project?
I have an article that is forthcoming in Asian Studies Review that discusses two female Islamic “saints” in the rural area of Indonesia where I carry out field research. Southeast Asia is well-known for societies in which women are relatively powerful, but scholars have tended to understand this to be the result of local and indigenous cultural patterns, not Islam. I argue, in contrast, that the authority of these female saints, which is today claimed by some of their male descendants, is expressed in distinctly Islamic terms. This is, therefore, an instance of Muslims taking up the Islamic tradition in ways that challenge patrilineal and patriarchal social forms, forms that are also a part of the tradition, at least historically. This kind of internal complexity is quite common among Muslims and in Islamic societies, but it too often gets overlooked in public debate in the United States, where oversimplifications and stereotypes of Islam are the norm.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
First and foremost, I fell in love with ethnographic methods, mainly as a result of a year I spent as an undergraduate student living in the Federated States of Micronesia. While there, I began experimenting with ethnography. There was something that I found intuitively compelling about the tensions that are central to ethnographic insight, for example, the critical perspective that comes from simultaneously being epistemologically close to yet distant from the object of one’s study. I carried out research about a kava ritual, but more than anything I fell in love with the challenges and rewards of ethnographic encounters and exchanges. (Note: Kava is a mild sedative, processed from the root of a pepper plant. It is socially and ritually consumed in several Pacific societies.)

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I am looking forward to growing as a scholar and a teacher. My family and I have lived in Southeast Michigan for fourteen years, so it is deeply satisfying to have landed a job in the region that has become our home. I am currently revising a book manuscript, about the family of saints that I discuss above, and every day I feel myself growing through that project. My experiences in the classroom have driven home that students here are very interested in the ways anthropology helps us to understand topics such as race, religion, concepts of person, etc. I am also hoping to develop an opportunity, through a program that I have helped to lead in the past, for University of Michigan-Flint students to travel to Indonesia. If all of this continues or comes to fruition, and I have no reason to believe that it will not, I will be a happy camper.

What do you hope for students in your field?
Whether anthropology majors or not, I hope that all of my students leave my classes with anthropological habits of mind that enrich their lives and help them to be more thoughtful citizens. There are many such habits that I try to instill, but I think the primary one is a capacity to suppress knee-jerk judgments about other people and ways of life in order to try to understand these people and ways of life in their own contexts. Anthropology is often thought of as being infused with an ethic of relativism, and this is not incorrect; but I want my students to recognize that this is a critical and strategic relativism, one that does not refuse the taking of political and moral stances, but that equips us to engage politics and morality in ways that are more careful and sophisticated than they otherwise might be.

What are three things you think people should know about you?
I am a native Pittsburgher and I am very hometown proud.

I love to play basketball, and try to do so multiple times a week.

I did not go to the Federated States of Micronesia to discover anthropology, actually. I was young, and in love, and chasing a significant other. We now have two kids and have been together for quite some time, so I guess it worked out in the end!


To learn more about anthropology at UM-Flint, visit umflint.edu/sac. To register for winter courses, visit sis.umflint.edu or umflint.edu/register.