Author Archives: Logan McGrady

About Logan McGrady

Logan McGrady is the Communications Specialist for the College of Arts & Sciences at UM-Flint.

a physics classroom

Exploring Physics at UM-Flint!

CAS Student Ambassador April is a Communication Studies major exploring other fields of study offered by the College of Arts & Sciences. For this article, she sat down with Dr. James Alsup to learn more about the Physics program.

One of the first tasks of my day is pouring my morning coffee. It’s so routine I don’t even think twice about how it happens, let alone that physics plays a key role in getting the liquid boost to my ceramic cup every morning! We may not realize it, but physics is a part of our everyday lives. From the atoms that compose our genetic makeup, to the forces involved with moving cars, all the way to outer space, the art of physics plays a role in everything. 

Physics is much more than meets the eye, or the atom, or the universe!

I got the unique opportunity to have a discussion with Dr. James Alsup, an associate professor at UM-Flint who researches High Energy Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and Black Holes within the physics program. Having never taken a physics class myself (not even in high school) I had a lot to learn from Dr. Alsup.

Dr. James Alsup

Physics contains a wide range of different specializations, from particle physics (dealing with electrons and photons) to cosmology, the study of the universe. Somewhere in the middle there is Biological Physics; which deals with radiation and nuclear medicine, Electricity and Magnetism; this is where much of engineering comes to play, and classical physics; which dives into how and why objects move. I know what you’re thinking; this all sounds extremely fascinating! Where can I learn more?

A great course for students to learn all about everything physics has to offer is First Year Experience: Tales From The Dark Side. This class challenges its students to be curious about the world around us. Students get to see a lot of different kinds of physics and even get their feet wet with some experiments and calculations! If interested in pursuing a career in Physics, there are many possibilities from which to choose. It’s typical for Physics majors to continue their education in graduate school. From there, they can decide what specialization is most interesting to them. Most graduates will go on to conduct groundbreaking research through studies and experiments.

Students, Faculty, and the Physics Luncheon

One of my favorite aspects Dr. Alsup about the Physics program was how connected they were. Once a month, students and faculty from the department come and have a “Physics Lunch” together, where they discuss current research and all things physics! This luncheon really stood out to me as a clear example of how dedicated and passionate everyone in the department is about learning and growing together. No student has ever been turned away the opportunity to expand further on different aspects of research. Although there may not be a specific class for each physics specialization, the program ensures students will get a taste of each subcategory. Upon beginning their capstones, students get the opportunity to work closely with professors on their final projects. Students have access to advanced scientific equipment to use for their research efforts. They are granted complete access to pursue whichever field of physics they please in their capstones. Dr. Alsup recalled one of his favorite pieces of research conducted with his students on the study of black holes. They closely reviewed the forces involved around two black holes that are stuck next to each other. Dr. Alsup explained to me that their research was closely correlated with planet formation!

What you need to know about the Physics program

If you’re passionately curious about the world and the forces within it, physics might just be the major for you! At the University of Michigan-Flint, you will be exposed to three major branches within physics: theoretical, experimental, and computational. The study of theoretical physics is the use of mathematics to make scientific predictions. Experimental Physics takes those predictions and tests them in the lab. The study of computational physics, as Dr. Alsup puts it, is “sort of its own thing.” To put it simply, it’s a combination of computer science, physics, and mathematics to solve complex problems. I know you must be jumping out of your seat, eager to get started, but there are a few things to be aware of before being a physics major. It is apparent that as a student you have a commitment to yourself, along with your classmates and professors, to learn and grow as a physicist. The physics program is no walk in the park and requires individuals who love the field, and want to be challenged inside and outside the classroom. Dr. Alsup shared that, “Being a little nerdy goes a long way in Physics.”

Giving blueday graphic

A Student’s Perspective on Giving Blueday

CAS Student Ambassador Fernando Ramirez-Medina shares how he is getting involved with Giving Blueday, which takes place on March 10.

So what is Giving Blueday?

In essence, it’s a day that creates new opportunities for students. Supporters of UM-Flint will come together on March 10 by making contributions to initiatives and resources across the campus. Each fund may have slightly different goals or methods in how it supports students, but every gift ensures that UM-Flint remains a vibrant place to study and grow. March 10 will be a great day for us to come together to make great things happen for UM-Flint, as the university has set a big goal of raising $1 million during Giving Blueday this year!

The CAS Opportunity Fund

The focus of Giving Blueday for the College of Arts & Sciences is the CAS Endowed Opportunity Fund. The CAS Opportunity Fund has helped make amazing things possible for students, like archaeological digs in Ireland, language immersion programs in Mexico, and ecological studies of the Flint River. These are fantastic opportunities for students to test themselves and express some creativity while also learning and becoming further involved in their majors.

The Opportunity Fund helped Art students create a pop-up t-shirt shop in Flint. Here, recent graduate Stephanie Streeter applies vinyl decals for the “Change Machine,” the name of the shop.

Student Government

Thanks to my involvement with Student Government, I am responsible for spreading awareness of the Student Government Fund for Giving Blueday. While the money will be used differently by SG as compared to the CAS Opportunity Fund, the goal is the same. To positively impact students on our campus. Supporting Student Government in this initiative has been challenging, but I am excited to see the difference we will make thanks to these resources.

Student Government has remained very active throughout the pandemic – here we are holding a meeting via Zoom.

How to get involved

I urge everyone to make a gift on Giving Blueday (March 10), if they are able to do so. Even just a dollar can make the difference in a student’s experience and the opportunities they can take advantage of. With that being said, COVID-19 has taken its toll on all of us, even financially and emotionally. If you’re not in a position to donate this year, another great way to show your support is to spread the word! Post on social media, tell your friends, anyone who will listen. Your contribution, whether it be financial or otherwise, will be the difference-maker for students.

a screenshot of a zoom meeting with three students

[VIDEO] Students discuss a year of remote learning

Now that we are approaching a year of remote instruction at the University of Michigan-Flint, CAS Student Ambassadors April Bartle (Communication Studies) and Fernando Ramirez-Medina (Communication Studies, Political Science), sat down with Genevieve Heydt (Actuarial Mathematics) to discuss how a year of studying during COVID-19 has presented unique challenges and a few silver linings.

Watch a highlight of their conversation here:

Class formats

The group discussed synchronous vs. asynchronous formats. “Synchronous” means that the online takes place in real-time at a scheduled time. “Asynchronous” courses don’t have a scheduled meeting time; instead, pre-recorded lectures or discussion boards can be completed at a student’s convenience (within posted deadlines). The course format is listed when you are registering for classes.

Getting involved

Fernando mentioned that he has been able to get involved with more student organizations thanks to the ease of scheduling that comes with online events (not having to travel between locations can sometimes be a bonus!). To see opportunities for you to get involved with student organizations, visit the Department of Student Involvement & Leadership.

Burnout & Zoom fatigue

Genevieve pointed out that Zoom fatigue is real. Counseling and Psychological Services produced this video to help you navigate this common challenge. If you are experiencing feelings of isolation or other psychological stressors, CAPS offers no-cost counseling for UM-Flint students.

Academic support

As a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, you have a dedicated academic advisor to help you stay on the right track. Collaborating with your advisor is also important so you can graduate on-time and in the most cost-effective manner.

The Student Success Center offers tutoring and supplemental instruction, so you’re never far from support outside of the classroom.

Blue for You

UM-Flint’s Blue for You campaign highlights resources from across the university, from financial aid to childcare, that will help you succeed and earn your degree. There’s also a form that you can submit with questions – you can expect a prompt response when submitting your thoughts here.

Your success is our utmost concern. If you’re ever not sure where to turn, send us an email at and we will find the answers you need.

Exploring UM-Flint’s GIS Certificate

CAS Student Ambassador April Bartle is exploring the different academic programs offered by the College of Arts & Sciences. Read what April learned about the GIS Certificate in this article.

When I think of the term “map-maker”, the olden days come to mind, when maps were created by quill pens and ink. Maps are an immensely valuable tool that can help scientists find solutions to problems based on spatial data. I had the opportunity to speak with Professor Greg Rybarczyk, Associate Professor of Geography, who talked me through UM-Flint’s Geographic Information Systems Certificate Program.

What is it?

Since 2010, Professor Greg Rybarczyk has been passionate about teaching students the value of maps at UM-Flint. He’s in charge of making the GIS certification curriculum the best it can be for students. GIS stands for geographic information systems, which is essentially using maps to convey data, and then furthermore using that data to solve or understand a problem. It may seem simple by nature, but like every iceberg, much more lies beneath than it appears. Students will learn to be critical thinkers through their use of managing data, manipulating data, and displaying that data on a map. They will be trained in using computer software to aid the visuals and process the information gathered for a cartographic product. By having knowledge of information as it applies to an area, predictions can be made to solve tomorrow’s problems. As Professor Rybarczyk likes to put it, the GIS field is the pursuit of the “whys of the where”.

Basic structure of the program

For those of you itching to get a feel for the field, the course GIS 203, entitled “Mapping and Spatial Data Science” is an excellent first look at geographic information systems. Students get a broad overview of the program, including how to design a map, the ethics of spatial data, and get hands-on using geographic software. If a student is interested in continuing with the program, only four more courses are needed to complete the certification. Students in the program can choose their final course from a variety of seven subject area topics. A popular class among students is the GIS Project Management course. Throughout the semester, students use real-world data to construct a map using geographic software and present their project’s findings. At the end of the course, students will have obtained experience through a GIS project and have pieces to add to their portfolios. Learn more about the GIS certificate here.

Career Possibilities

Careers in GIS geospatial technology are on the rise. Being able to understand and display data for others to utilize is an extremely valuable tool. Stop for a minute and think about those big-name shipping companies. Data is being stored, reporting where levels of delivery are high, and where they are low. Converting that data onto a map can be used to target patterns in areas where delivery levels are lower. More data can be obtained in those areas to determine how to better market and increase delivery usage for that specific region. GIS also makes an appearance in environmental sciences. Viewing levels of temperature changes on a map can help scientists easily compare where more CO2 is being released into the air. Scientists can further use this knowledge to compare what other factors based on geographical features play a role in high temperatures.

You’re invited: UM-Flint’s Murchie Science Building Expansion Grand Opening

The 61,000 sq. ft. Expansion to the University of Michigan-Flint’s Murchie Science Building will transform the future of STEM education in Michigan, thanks to greatly expanded laboratories, state-of-the-art equipment, and a design philosophy that abandons convention in favor of student-centered spaces that encourage collaboration and innovation.

We invite you to join the historic grand opening of this pioneering campus building. You can view the event online on January 28 at 3:30 p.m.

Watch at 3:30: MSB Expansion Grand Opening

By attending this event you’ll be the first to receive a video tour of the Expansion’s interior, showcasing the labs, classrooms, collaboration spaces, and equipment that the next generation of thinkers and builders will use to develop their skills. In addition, the ceremony will also include keynote remarks from several campus and community leaders.

We cannot wait for you to see the amazing opportunities this building will provide for UM-Flint students and the community. See you online soon!

A photo of a UM-Flint banner outside of the Murchie Science Building

8 resources for UM-Flint CAS students in Winter 2021

CAS Student Ambassador Fernando Ramirez-Medina shares the top 8 resources he thinks UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences students should take advantage of in the Winter 2021 semester. To ask Fernando a question, email and include “Student Ambassador Question” in the subject line.

8. Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)

Whether it be help with battling Zoom fatigue or counseling to address other mental health concerns, The CAPS office provides services to enrolled students that help to maximize their academic and personal potential. The office offers free screenings, referrals, and crisis services to all enrolled students at UM-Flint. As someone who has used their services, I will say it’s a great resource for a stressful semester. 

7. Marian E. Wright Writing Center

For when you’re struggling to get started on your paper, or when you just want another set of eyes to help you spot errors, The Writing Center is a great resource with great writing tutors! These dedicated tutors help you come up with ideas, offer constructive feedback and help fix the little grammar mistakes we all have from time-to-time.

6. Center for Gender & Sexuality (CGS)

The Center for Gender & Sexuality not only offers education and programs like bystander intervention to the UM-Flint community, but they also offer Critical Difference Grants, which are “one-time financial awards for returning students who find themselves in an emergency financial situation that imperils their ability to remain enrolled at the UM-Flint.” Follow the link to determine eligibility for the CGS Emergency Funding Grant, CGS Women+ Critical Difference Grant, and the Mary Jo Sekelsky LGBTQ+ Grant.

5. Student Organizations are still active

Student orgs are still up and active! I encourage everyone to join an organization to get even just a little bit of human interaction that I, even as an introvert, am really craving during the pandemic. Moreover, organizations like Student Government can help get issues that students have to the right people to hopefully fix them! The Student Government’s most recent push for students was advocating for the Pass/Fail Grading modification that recently was enacted!

4. Career Advisor Myesha Cannon

University of Michigan-Flint students and campus stock photos on October 28, 2020.

It is truly never to early (or too late) to start planning and preparing for your career. From general advice to your industry-specific plan, CAS Career Advisor Myesha Cannon is here to help. There are 14 career advising events scheduled this semester. These events range from an Introduction to Handshake, UM-Flint’s career search portal, to resume and cover letter design. Check out the full list here.

3. Emergency Laptop Loan Program

With the pandemic impacting everyone differently, the university wanted to make sure every student in the UM-Flint community had access to technology in order to continue advancing their education. This program loans registered students a laptop for up to one semester, so if you or a student you know needs a computer, spread the word!

2. Tutoring/Supplemental Instruction

UM-Flint offers two modes of additional instruction outside of the classroom: Individual tutoring and supplemental instruction. Supplemental Instruction are weekly review sessions with other students that make that class just a little easier! If groups aren’t your thing, you can also receive one-on-one instruction. Explore more with the Student Success Center.

1. Your Academic Advisor

Your CAS academic advisor is perhaps the best resource on campus to ensure you graduate on time. Believe me, I’ve met a lot with my advisor to make sure I’m on target. Moreover, it is especially important to meet with your advisor if you are considering Pass/Fail for the Winter 2021 semester to see how it can impact your degree and if it is a good idea for you to do so. So meet with your advisor! Even if you’ve already decided which classes are right for you, it’s always smart to get a second opinion. Set an appointment with your advisor here.

UN logo

UM-Flint Model UN: From an idea to conference award winner

CAS Student Ambassador Fernando Ramirez-Medina is a co-founder of UM-Flint’s Model UN team. In this blog post he explains the process of creating a student organization and leading it to a conference award.


Creating an organization is a massive burden anytime, but to do so and maintain it during a global pandemic is a task Donald Weismiller (Political Science major) and I did not expect. Student interest led us to creating the team. Don and I attended an admitted student event representing Student Government and many students asked us if there was a Model UN team. Since Don and I are both Political Science students, interested in global politics, we jumped on the opportunity to give students a space to nerd out on global affairs.

Building During Covid

We had big ideas of hosting recruitment tables and posting flyers all over campus . We even had picked out a room for meeting in the Fall – then COVID hit. In the beginning, we both kept saying that, when this all is over, we can continue on our plans. When late July hit, reality was set in and honestly we were ready to give up. We had done some light advertising, but barely anyone had responded and our goal seemed unreachable. Don saved the organization. In August he did some major recruiting, and faster than I could expect we had our team formed.

Preparing for the Conference

a cartoon of a web conference

With the team assembled, we had to work fast to prepare for our first event at the Lake Erie International Model U.N. Conference in November. It was tough trying to do this over Zoom, and to be honest team bonding wasn’t as strong as I would have liked. We were just hoping to give everyone experience and get ready for our next conference in the winter. As the weeks went by and we started to gain skills, I began to feel cautiously optimistic. It was all hard work. We had to learn how to draft resolutions, learn parliamentary procedure, and learn the history and position of our country in 2 months on top of our normal academic responsibilities. With our countries assigned, our team ended up representing Great Britain, China, Indonesia, and Niger.

The Conference Aftermath

head shot of Donald in Dallas Cowboys gear.
Donald Weismiller

Throughout the conference, everyone who attended felt good about their performances, but we didn’t expect anything. To our great surprise, we received a small school award at our first-ever conference!

We realized our goal even more fully than we expected. This accomplishment is especially meaningful for Don, who is trying to leave a mark in his final year at school.

‘It’s a great achievement for something I wasn’t sure was going to make it far. The Small School Award was an extra reward for the hard work put into organizing this organization,” Donald said.

With the Small School Award under our belt, it lit a fire under us and now this organization is ready for more conferences and more accomplishments. 

Interested in getting involved with the Model UN Team? Contact Fernando at

Connecting with literature, Flint, and ourselves

During a nine mile pilgrimage around the city on December 5, UM-Flint students reclaimed public space while considering important questions about the city’s – and our own – history and future.

The event was the culmination of the First-Year Experience course Finding Your Way: The Literature and Practice of Walking, taught by Associate Professor of English Mary Jo Kietzman. She developed the course to provide a unique way for students to dive deeper into literature, explore the community in which they study, and take time for self-reflection. Throughout the semester, students “tried on” the ideas of different authors while walking. Just as Thoreau found inspiration from literature while living and working at his cabin, so too would UM-Flint students build their own literary ideals while in motion.

Timothy Jeffery (Human Biology major) poses next to an art piece while on his pilgrimage through Flint.

Once that analytical and self-reflective groundwork had been laid, it was time to take those skills into the Flint community. While exploring the city, students would think deeply about the history of the city in which they study. “How would the university experience change if students began by seeing themselves as pilgrims?” Kietzman explains, “searching for what is sacred to each of them…Wouldn’t their learning mean more?”

The highlighted destination of this year’s pilgrimage was the Buick City brownfield, which was once a huge complex of factories employing upwards of 28,000 people. Students in the course suggested that the route take them around the perimeter of the brownfield, and that they walk that portion in silence. One student was overwhelmed with emotion seeing the brownfield, thinking about her grandparents and great-grand parents who worked in the auto factories.

Despite looking bleak, new life is emerging in Buick City. The Lear Corporation and American Spiralweld Pipes have opened plants in the former automotive manufacturing hub.

The midpoint of the pilgrimage was St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Flint’s East side. There, students reflected by “Mary, Mother of Flint” – a black madonna painted in response to the water crisis. The class was also greeted by Father Tom Firestone, affectionately known as “the Pope of Flint.” Firestone described the simple importance of being present in the city, stating that “we aren’t leaving.”

Mary, Mother of Flint at Flint’s St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

For Guido Marasco, an undecided major, the pilgrimage was an opportunity to find familiarity in the unknown.

“Through our class lectures and our walks together, I’ve realized that Flint isn’t as unknown of a place as I thought it would be. I chose UM-Flint because I wanted to be close to home, and what’s funny is that I never had to leave it to begin with … I was always here, it just took some getting used to.”

Students created painted rocks with inspirational messages to leave along the course of their journey. This rock was painted by Melissa Crown.

Kietzman says that her students felt like walking together made a huge difference to their sense of place and their feelings of connections to the city and to one another. One student explains, “I had one other face to face class, and I knew who the other students were, but I didn’t know them like I know the students in this class. In this class, I know the stories of my peers and my teacher.”

In reflecting on his experience after the pilgrimage, Marasco concludes powerfully that, even in different surroundings with different people, things aren’t so different after all – and comfort can be found in the simplest of places.

“When we walked, I looked around a lot, and found that the city is flooded with things I feel most comfortable around: colors, expressions, nature, symbols of perseverance. All of these things hold a special place in my heart, and through mapping Flint I was able to re-discover and re-experience some of the initial emotions I had when I realized what made me comfortable.”

How the CAS Opportunity Fund helps students

Would you like to help a UM-Flint Anthropology student attend archaeology field school? What about assisting a Physics major with a research project? Or maybe you would like to help a student attend a language immersion program to help them gain skills in conversational Spanish?

You can make a difference in a student’s education by contributing to the CAS Opportunity Fund. Small gifts to the Opportunity Fund empower students in the College of Arts & Sciences to take part in transformational projects as part of their studies. These unique experiences make an immeasurable impact for students as they prepare for the next steps after graduation. The CAS Opportunity Fund helps students gain research experience, network in their industry, build new skills, and much more.

Read on to see four examples of the CAS Opportunity Fund in Action.

Studying the Flint River

Led by Associate Professor Heather Dawson, a team of undergraduate students is studying the biology of the Flint River. With the removal of the Hamilton Dam, students and faculty have teamed up to study how the Flint River ecosystem is changing. CAS Opportunity Fund dollars were used to purchase a sonar device to track how the morphology of the river is impacted by the dam removal.

“I am getting the experience I need for graduate school. I’m also learning from Dr. Dawson how to approach my goals for that next step [in my career],” Daniel Victor, (Wildlife Biology ’20) says. “It’s about learning as much as you can from an experienced and capable mentor, plus I get to work outside and fish. What’s better than that?”

Archaeological Dig in Cape Cod

For students like Genevieve Rainey (’21), studying Anthropology creates many possibilities for a future career. The hard part is finding the right specialization in such a broad field.

Genevieve received assistance from the CAS Opportunity Fund to attend archaeological field school in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She worked to excavate the Doane Family Homestead, a family of original settlers who separated from Plymouth Colony in 1644.

“Taking part in an archaeological field school was a great experience; it helped me to decide the particular field of archaeology I want to pursue, gave me hands-on training, and allowed me to meet some amazing new friends,” Rainey says.

Pop-up T-Shirt Shop in Flint

Art & Design students get ample opportunities to turn theory into practice with the community mindset embraced by the program. One recent example is “The Change Machine,” a pop-up t-shirt shop that was on display during a spring celebration on Flint’s Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

To help bring their talents to the community, students were awarded a CAS Opportunity Fund grant, which provided funds for supplies like blank t-shirts, silk screens for printing, and vinyl for signage.

“It is easy in design classes to make things that don’t actually impact anyone and just get a grade. This class is great because you get to see the results of your work in the community,” Stephanie Streeter (Art & Design ’20) says.

Internship with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Quill Neuville, (Theatre Design and Technology ’18), spent a summer as an assistant in the costume shop of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. While there, Neuville was part of a team that completed costumes for five shows in just nine weeks. It was an intense experience that took all of Neuville’s creative stamina – invaluable preparation for a career in professional theatre.

“I feel very grateful that I was afforded such an opportunity. It makes me want to work even harder to live up to the incredible gift I was given, in order to show that the faith put in me by my professors and CAS was not misplaced,” Neuville says.

The CAS Opportunity Fund helped defray travel costs for Neuville, just as it has helped dozens of other students across the College take ownership of their education and achieve things they didn’t previously believe possible. To help create more stories like those shared above, give to the CAS Opportunity Fund at:!/give/basket/fund/362928.

UM-Flint students experience voting for the first time

For many students studying at UM-Flint and the College of Arts & Sciences, the 2020 Presidential Election was their first opportunity to cast a ballot for their elected representatives. Here are just a few of their experiences.

Jeremiah Johnson, Sophomore

“My mom and I woke up early to vote on election day. We voted at the Secretary of State by my high school and I had to wait in a super long line for about an hour. I gave them my ID and after that they gave me a ballot … I was there for a while, but it felt good.”

Jeremiah decided to vote in-person this election year. He woke up early in hopes of being among the first voters in his area. Despite his efforts, voter turnout was record-breaking this year and he had to wait in order for his voice to be heard. Walking out of the Secretary of State, he felt that the opportunity to cast his vote for our elected leaders was worth the wait.

Lauren Mott, Freshman

“I chose to vote in person for this election. My polling place is the local library and I thankfully didn’t have to wait in any lines! I talked to several people in neighboring townships who had to wait outside for over half an hour before they could fill out their ballot. It felt really empowering to be able to vote in my first presidential election, especially one that has had so much importance placed on it. It was great to finally have a say in what goes on in both our state and our country.”

November 3 was an exciting day for Lauren, a first time voter! Lauren felt a sense of empowerment as she cast her ballot for the first time. This election was an amazing opportunity for young adults to showcase their civic engagement and take part in history. The importance of this election motivated her to get out and vote for the values and solutions she supports.

April Bartle, Sophomore

“When I walked into the station, I actually hadn’t registered yet. Thankfully a family friend of ours was there that day volunteering and she helped me fill out the paperwork so I could get the chance and vote for the first time!”

On the day the polls opened, April went to cast her vote with an in-person ballot. Going to the local polling station, she saw a lot of familiar faces volunteering as poll workers and other community members taking part in the election. This was her first experience voting so she didn’t quite know what to expect. After casting her vote and walking out of the polls, April felt something she didn’t quite expect; a true sense of belonging. She felt pride in being part of something bigger than herself and contributing to her community.

Learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences at