11/29/17

Faculty Spotlight: Rebecca Tonietto of UM-Flint Biology

Rebecca Tonietto, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts and Sciences in Fall 2017 as an assistant professor in the Biology Department.

Rebecca Tonietto, PhD, of UM-Flint Biology

Rebecca Tonietto, PhD, of UM-Flint Biology

Read below to learn more about Dr. Tonietto and her field of biology or join her in one of her upcoming classes:

  • BIO 111: Organismal Biology
  • BIO 327: Ecology

Admitted students can register at sis.umflint.edu or find more information about upcoming semesters at umflint.edu/register.


In which area of biology are you particularly interested?
I study native bee communities – how their diversity and structure are related to plant communities, surrounding land-use, and management – for pollinator conservation. With those interests, I am at the intersections of a few different fields, but consider myself a community ecologist interested in conservation and restoration biology.

Why are you passionate about your field?
I love bees! They are so incredibly diverse and beautiful. Did you know we have around 400 species of bees native to Michigan? The honeybee is not one of those, we don’t have a native honeybee in North America. Some of our native bees are metallic green, metallic blue, and range from big and fuzzy to tiny and shiny. They provide an important ecosystem service by pollinating many of our crops and wildflowers, though also deserve conservation attention in their own right. I love talking to people about bees, and investigating how we can best support them. In general, providing habitat for native bees really means making places more beautiful – with more flowers and more species of flowering plants.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
I loved my entomology and ecology classes as an undergrad at Kalamazoo College, and my senior project there involved aquatic insects. I kept working with insects in any capacity I could afterward, but after my first research assistantship observing bees I never looked back!

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach? 
My favorite courses to teach are the ones closest to what I do, ecology and my currently-being-developed upper-level biology course will probably be my favorites here at UM-Flint. These courses tend to get students outside in nature, making observations and trying to figure out how to explain or investigate patterns.

What is your latest or favorite research project? 
My latest project was an investigation into the value of urban agriculture for pollinator conservation support in three shrinking cities across the Midwest: Detroit, Chicago and St Louis. We found urban agricultural sites (community gardens and urban farms) supported greater bee species abundance and diversity than open lots. The urban gardens and farms were amazing and inspiring places to work, and I met some wonderful people doing incredibly cool things.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I hope to be an effective and inspirational teacher, I hope to do research meaningful to the community and pollinator conservation, and I look forward to getting to know the students.

Why were you excited to join UM-Flint and the Flint community?
I’m a fourth generation Michigander who was thrilled to move back home after over a decade away for research assistantships and graduate school. It means the world to me to be doing meaningful research that would benefit local conservation and the local urban agriculture movement in the region I have, and will always, consider home.

What do you hope for students in your field?
I hope that students remain optimistic and creative, and embrace their inner tenacity and grit, as all are assets in finding out-of-the-box solutions to conservation challenges.

What are three things you think people should know about you? 

  • Though I have studied bees for over 10 years, I have only been stung 2 or 3 times.
  • I love knitting, though lately I design more than actually knit patterns.
  • I come from a family of engineers – my mom, dad, sister and many other relatives are engineers, too!
11/14/17

Faculty Spotlight: Daniel Hummel of Public Administration

Daniel Hummel, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts and Sciences in Fall 2017 as an assistant professor of public administration in the Political Science Department.

Daniel Hummel, PhD, Assistant Professor of Public Administration at UM-Flint

Daniel Hummel, PhD, Assistant Professor of Public Administration at UM-Flint

Read below to learn more about him and the field of public administration, or join him in one of his upcoming classes:

  • PUB 311: American State and Local Government
  • PUB 500: Politics, Policy, and Public Administration
  • PUB 502: Public Sector Management
  • PUB 518: Budgeting and Finance in the Public Sector
  • PUB 578: State and Local Public Finance
  • PUB 596: Intergovernmental Relations

Admitted students can register at sis.umflint.edu or find more information about upcoming semesters at umflint.edu/register.

Why are you passionate about your field?
Public administration is a central aspect of civilization. Despite the popularized hatred of government, it is hard to imagine any modern society functioning without one. I strive to understand the interconnections between local economic activity, the optimal functionality of government, citizen engagement and participation, the response of citizens to taxes and regulation and the response of government to human behavior. This is my passion.

This field is the nexus of multiple fields. There is economics, psychology and political science. I find myself reading journals from multiple fields to understand a phenomenon in public administration. It is for this reason that I have published in diverse journals. It is also the reason I have found myself on panels at conferences with historians and sociologists. I received my degree from the College of Design and Social Inquiry at FAU where I rubbed shoulders with scholars in public administration as well as planning. My dissertation was on fiscal health and right-sizing cities which combined public finance with planning practice. My first academic position was in the College of Arts and Letters at Idaho State University in a political science department and my last academic position was in the College of Business at Bowie State University in a management and marketing department. This field is vibrant and growing.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
Interestingly, I had no interest in public administration before my final year of my Bachelor’s degree in International Politics. I was more into the study of religion and culture than how to balance a government’s budget. I wanted to study Central Asia and I wanted to work closely with Tom Gouttierre at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in their Center for Afghanistan Studies. Tom recommended that I get my MPA at UNO since the Center did not have a degree program. I was not enthusiastic about it, but I gave it a try.

My first semester I met Dale Krane and John Bartle. Both professors were exceptional, especially Dr. Bartle. It was Dr. Bartle that showed me that public budgeting and finance is an amazingly interesting topic. When I finished my MPA I decided that I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in the field. My time at Florida Atlantic University solidified my love of the field and my interest in public budgeting and finance. I also became increasingly interested in local government, especially in the wake of the Great Recession. I grew up in the shadow of industrial decline in northwestern Pennsylvania and, after reading about the Youngstown 2010 Plan, I decided that I really wanted to focus my research on declining cities. This entire experience has been immensely rewarding for me.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
My favorite course to teach is public budgeting and finance. I am teaching a class at UM-Flint called State and Local Public Finance (PUB 578). I am really looking forward to this class as it combines my dual interests of local government and budgeting / finance. I also enjoy teaching public policy. I am [also] teaching PUB 500 which is titled Politics, Policy and Public Administration. I will enjoy this class because half of it will be on the foundations of public administration in the United States and the other half will be on public policy.

What is your latest or favorite research project?
Currently, I have one paper in revision that is focused on the relationship between urban population and housing density and urban productivity. I am interested in this dynamic because one of the central assumptions of smart growth and smart decline is that urban productivity is a function of urban density. In shrinking cities this would mean consolidating the population in healthy centers which is a highly controversial thing to do. So far, my research is indicating that low density development is more closely associated with higher productivity values than high density development at least for the United States in the years selected.

In addition to this project, I am presenting a paper on the relationship between student debt levels and housing vacancy this year at the Northeastern Association of Business, Economics and Technology conference. So far, I am noticing that many neighborhoods in historically declining areas of cities are attracting recent college graduates for many reasons, reducing vacancy in these places. One of the reasons is the housing affordability in these places as recent grads are unable to afford homes elsewhere due to high debt-to-income ratios.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I want to make an impact not only in the classroom with my students, but on the community of Flint and the region. My research has implications for practice in declining regions and I want to be a part of that discussion. My hope is to continue building on my prior research in this area and defining myself within the field. I also want to see our MPA program continue to be successful as we plan for the future. Obviously, this entails the proper education of current and future public administrators who are increasingly subjected to more constraints along with higher expectations. Ultimately, my goal is to get tenure and be a permanent fixture of this program as I work with my colleagues within the department as well as across the university on important projects.

Why were you excited to join UM-Flint and the Flint community?
My research necessitates access to public officials in places like Flint. Being in the middle of my research provides me incredible opportunities to see these projects really bloom. In addition, the university and my Department are great. The people I have met along with the resources available indicate to me that this is a good place to call home.

What do you hope for students in your field?
My hope for our students is that they are personally successful, however they define that. Obviously, I want to see them achieve higher positions and higher pay as a result of completing the MPA degree. These are important indicators for a successful academic program in general. I also want them to feel fulfilled in their careers in public service. I want to provide them with out-of-the-box ways of thinking about public problems that will push them to think innovatively. I want them to do their jobs in ways that improve their own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of the communities in which they work. I want people who work with our graduates to see the quality of our program through their actions.

What are three things you think people should know about you?

  • I am very friendly, but I am thinking about stuff all the time, so if you see me on campus and I walk by you without saying something please don’t be offended. If you see me grab my attention and I will definitely greet you.
  • I love spicy food. I can eat non-spicy food, but I usually do so only to survive. When I want to truly live I ask for the Ghost Peppers.
  • I have a little boy going to Kindergarten (first and only kid) this year. Big event!!
11/10/17

UM-Flint Computer Science students demonstrate apps at Ann Arbor celebration

The University of Michigan celebrated the finale of its bicentennial celebration with the Third Century Expo—a public fair with a focus technology, innovation, and what’s to come in the university’s next 100 years.

UM-Flint’s Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) student group, and their faculty advisor Mark Allison, PhD, assistant professor of computer science, attended and demonstrated some of their student-created digital and web applications to the crowd.

UM-Flint students at the University of Michigan's Third Century Expo in Ann Arbor

UM-Flint students at the Third Century Expo in Ann Arbor

The UM-Flint students were especially proud to feature the MyWater-Flint app, which allows users to access reported lead levels in Flint neighborhoods, connect with resources, and track updates on service-line replacement. Their work accounted for a good portion of the offerings at the event’s tech/app bar inside the “Creating and Inventing” tent.

Their second app, noted Allison, was also a big hit. Still unnamed, the app helps pinpoint a user’s location indoors. “You may have noticed your phone’s GPS is useless inside buildings,” explained Allison. “This graduate research project addresses this problem. When completed, we envision students being able to navigate indoors as floormaps automatically pop up onscreen as they enter buildings and move from floor to floor.

“Users also will be able to access  the schedule of their classrooms and professors by  swiping their phone by the respective doors. This concept was a big hit in Ann Arbor as students thought it would be helpful on their large campus.

“I am still amazed that our students rise so quickly when challenged to solve the unsolved problems,” Allison concluded.

For more information on the Department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics at UM-Flint, and the engaged learning opportunities it offers students, visit umflint.edu/CSEP.

11/10/17

UM-Flint Students Attend 2017 Michigan TESOL Conference

Thanks to funding from UM-Flint’s University Outreach, Emily Feuerherm, assistant professor of linguistics in the Department of English, was able to bring her TEL 313 class to the 2017 Michigan TESOL conference.

Emily Feuerherm, PhD, (front row, right) and her TEL 313 students at the 2017 MI-TESOL Conference

Emily Feuerherm, PhD, (front row, right) and her TEL 313 students at the 2017 MI-TESOL Conference

TEL 313: Second Language Acquisition, is recommended coursework in UM-Flint’s 15-credit TESOL program. (TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). The program, which culminates in a certificate that shows on one’s transcripts, allows graduates to teach English abroad without additional teaching credentials or special training.

“Students were so excited for this event; for many of them, it was their first experience at a professional conference,” said Feuerherm. “Following the conference, students wrote reflections about the experience and connected what they learned at the conference to the theories in our course readings. Next year, the goal is that they will all present at the conference.”

Feuerherm and her students spell out M-I-T-E-S-O-L while attending the 2017 MI-TESOL Conference.

Feuerherm and her students spell out M-I-T-E-S-O-L while attending the 2017 MI-TESOL Conference.

Attending the Michigan TESOL conference also allowed the students to interact with professionals and educators, and make important network connections. “Thanks to University Outreach’s Civic Engagement Grant for making it all possible,” concluded Feuerherm.

For more information on the UM-Flint TESOL program, and the opportunities it presents to students wishing to work and live abroad, visit umflint.edu/english.

 

11/9/17

UM-Flint alumni return to discuss life as pharmacy students

Five College of Arts and Sciences alumni returned to the UM-Flint campus on November 7th to talk to current students about their lives in the University of Michigan pharmacy program—also known as PharmD.

Jessica Tischler, PhD, Chair of UM-Flint's Chemistry and Biochemistry Department (standing, far right), introduces her former students.

Jessica Tischler, PhD, Chair of UM-Flint’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department (standing, far right), introduces her former students.

The returning alums were Lena Gayar (’16, biology), Devon Stonerock (’17, biochemistry), Derek Linskey (’17, biochemistry), Noah Leja (’14, chemistry), and Lauren Williams (’15, biochemistry). They range from year 1 to year 4 in the Ann Arbor program.

The current UM-Flint students who attended the event all see pharmacy as a possible future career, and were able to ask the alums about their preparation, the application process, and their current studies and schedules.

Devon Stonerock, a first year pharmacy student, discusses his experiences in applying for pharmacy school and the workload of his first semester

Devon Stonerock, a first year pharmacy student, discusses his experience of applying for pharmacy school and the workload of his first semester

Each of the five alums agreed that they had excellent preparation at UM-Flint, and often find themselves to be better prepared than peers from larger institutions. They cited close relationships with faculty, hands-on experiences in labs and in conducting research, and the rigorous academic standards of UM-Flint as being beneficial.

Williams noted that she had almost not applied to the University of Michigan program, as she was intimidated by it being a top school in the country. Happily, her fears were quickly calmed as she found herself walking PharmD classmates through lab procedures and material that were second nature from her time at UM-Flint.

Dr. Tischler and her alumni answer questions about the process of becoming a pharmacy school student.

Dr. Tischler and her alumni answer questions about the process of becoming a pharmacy school student

The alumni also credited “soft skills” such as excellent written and verbal communication, problem solving, and working with with diverse groups as being equal to or more important than course content. The need for such skills in scientists and artists alike lies at the foundation of UM-Flint’s College of Arts and Sciences as a liberal education institution, and is part of what sets its students and alumni apart.

For more information on the College of Arts and Sciences, and its 18 departments, visit umflint.edu/CAS. For information about being a pre-pharmacy student at UM-Flint, visit umflint.edu/prepharm.

 

11/2/17

UM-Flint Chemistry Professor Visits Alumni, Presents Talk at Iowa State University

Professor Jie Song, of the UM-Flint Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, was invited to give a talk at the Iowa State University (ISU) Department of Chemistry on October 27, 2017. Dr. Song did his postdoctoral research at Ames Laboratory US DOE from 2002 to 2004, located on the ISU campus, before he joined UM-Flint as a faculty member.

The talk was titled “Methods Applied in Studying Repellent-Attractant Interactions.” Besides talking to a small group of theoretical/computational chemists/physicists, Professor Song met with three UM-Flint alumni.

From left to right, Viet Nguyen ('17), David Poole ('16), Professor Jie Song, and Kristoper Keipert ('12)

Left to right: Viet Nguyen (’17), David Poole (’16), Prof. Jie Song, Kristoper Keipert (’12)

Since 2004, five UM-Flint undergraduate students who have done research with him have obtained or are studying for their Ph.D. in theoretical/computational chemistry at Iowa State University. They are:

  • Dr. George Schoendorff (Chemistry, ’06), Visiting Professor at Bradley University
  • Alexander Findlater (Chemistry, ’10)
  • Dr. Kristoper Keipert (Biochemistry, ’12), postdoctoral researcher at Argonne National Lab, US DOE
  • David Poole (Chemistry, ’16)
  • Viet Nguyen (Chemistry, ’17)

During the last 13 years, Dr. Song has supervised more than 30 undergraduate research students. Among them, seven have already obtained their Ph.D. in chemistry and three have obtained their MD.

For more information on the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, visit umflint.edu/chemistry.

11/2/17

Faculty Spotlight: Katherine Eaton of Science Education

Katherine Eaton joined the UM-Flint College of Arts and Sciences in Fall 2017 as an assistant professor of science education.

Katherine Eaton, PhD, Assistant Professor of Science Education at UM-Flint

Katherine Eaton, Assistant Professor of Science Education at UM-Flint

Read below to learn more about Katherine and how she’s educating future science teachers, or join her in one of her Winter 2018 classes:

  • EDE 344: Teaching Science, in Elementary/Middle School
    (held Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.)
  • SCI 125-02: Scientific Inquiry I
    (held Monday/Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.-4:50 p.m.)

Students can register at sis.umflint.edu or find more information about upcoming semesters at umflint.edu/register.

Students can also find Katherine at one of her Fall 2017 Coffee Chats:

November 2017 — Tips and practice for MTTC-Science items!
Thursday, November 16  |  5-6 p.m.  |  CSEP Conference Room, 215 MSB
Monday, November 20  |  12:30-1:30 p.m.  |  CEP, 410 French Hall

December 2017 — Fun with snowflake science!
Monday, December 4  |  12:30-1:30 p.m.  |  CEP, 410 French Hall
Thursday, December 7  |  5-6 p.m.  |  CSEP Conference Room, 215 MSB

Email eatonk@umflint.edu for more information.


What degrees do you hold? 

  • B.S. Forensic Science, Michigan State University
  • M.Ed. Education, University of Michigan
  • Ph.D. Science Education (Dec 2017), Western Michigan University

Why are you passionate about your field?
The relationship aspect of supporting students as they begin to build their teaching practice is very rewarding! I think mentorship is a key component of having successful teachers in the classroom. I genuinely enjoy seeing students excited about experiencing and teaching science.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
I have always been curious about scientific phenomenon and questioning the world around me. Forensic Science was a great fit for me because it incorporated all of the scientific disciplines and even had a problem solving component. Science Education has a unique challenge in that the things we know today may be different tomorrow based on new discoveries or new technologies. How cool is that?!

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
I really enjoy teaching science methods courses and mentoring interns during their placements. It is rewarding to see the “ah-ha” moments when they start shaping their own teaching practices. I am also excited to teach the Integrated Science courses, they connect well to my Forensic Science background.

What is your latest or favorite research project?
My current research project is looking at how professional identity develops during a teacher education program. It is interesting to see what components are influencing the development of candidates’ identities as teachers. A secondary question is what, if any, impact a cohort model has on their identity development. This is significant because many undergraduate programs are shifting to cohort models.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
My hope is that I am building longstanding relationships with my students, colleagues, and within the Flint community. I would like my students to see me as a mentor rather than just an instructor of a course they had to take. That role opens up an opportunity to extend beyond the classroom and be a part of their growth as classroom teachers. I am also looking forward to creating community connections that build on our course learning objectives.

Katherine Eaton (left) and student Nancy Lareau pose with astronaut Story Musgrave

Katherine Eaton (left) and student Nancy Lareau pose with astronaut Story Musgrave

Why were you excited to join UM-Flint and the Flint community?
I am excited to be a part of the integrated science TCP. The joint appointment between the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education is a unique opportunity to combine my experiences as a scientist and educator. The Flint community has had a special place in my life for the last 20 years and I look forward to not only being an active member of the community but also supporting Flint Public Schools with well-prepared teacher interns. The place-based education opportunities at UM-Flint will provide wonderful ways to discuss science and pedagogy.

What do you hope for students in your field?
I hope students in Science Education enjoy the natural curiosities we all have and find ways to bring that into their own classrooms. New discoveries in science are happening every day and, as teachers, we get to share and explore these ideas with our students. Many advances in science came from failed experiments so I hope my students see that as an opportunity to take chances and try new things.

What are three things you think people should know about you? 

  • I am passionate about my students and they will always be a priority.
  • I truly enjoy researching my own practice and growing as an educator and mentor.
  • When I win the lotto, I will host free educational retreats in the Caribbean for science teachers!