Category Archives: Biology Department

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 or find more information about upcoming semesters at

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!

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 For information about being a pre-pharmacy student at UM-Flint, visit


High School Teachers Utilize UM-Flint Resources to Bring Science to Life

Honors Chemistry students from Byron visit UM-Flint labs on a field trip.

UM-Flint students experience hands-on learning, meaningful interactions with their faculty, and access to state-of-the-art equipment in their departments. They also make memories that stick with them for a lifetime and inspire them to come back to campus. Two UM-Flint alumni, Mandi Davis and Theresa Krejci (both teachers for the Byron Area Schools), recently returned to UM-Flint with their own students. They were hoping to show off a little of what made their UM-Flint experiences so special while giving the students access to recently renovated laboratory spaces.

Visiting Biology at UM-Flint

The Byron anatomy and physiology students began their day by visiting the gross anatomy lab with the Biology Department‘s Dennis Viele. They interacted with the university’s cadavers—examining the differing pathologies of hearts, seeing a spinal cord, and even touching an intact brain. “I wanted my students to see that UM-Flint is a great place to get their degree as well as expose them to some new opportunities in the field of science,” said Krejci. “We were able to view parts of the human body that we have or will be studying.”

Krejci graduated in 1993 with a degree in biology, a minor in mathematics, and a general science teaching certificate. “It was nice to return and see that so many improvements had been made,” she said. “The cadaver lab is equipped with lots of technology which allows for better learning for the students.”

Dennis Viele of UM-Flint biology leads students in interacting with a cadaver.

Dennis Viele of UM-Flint biology leads students in interacting with a cadaver.

Krejci teaches physical science and anatomy & physiology. She has also served as a biology teacher, a middle school science teacher, and was the curriculum director at Byron Area Schools for 11 years. She coaches 8th grade volleyball, summer softball, and works with the youth at her church.

Theresa Krejci, UM-Flint alumna and teacher for Byron Area Schools

Theresa Krejci, UM-Flint alumna and teacher for Byron Area Schools

Krejci fondly remembers UM-Flint and appreciates the ways in which her time as a student prepared her for her career. “The class sizes were not huge and you were able to talk with your professors if you needed to,” she recalled. “I enjoyed the lab experiences that I had while at U of M. I particularly enjoyed the field biology course that I took.”

Connecting Students

Byron honors chemistry students also visited UM-Flint, led by teacher and NHS advisor Mandi Davis. They were treated to chemistry demos by UM-Flint Chem Club students Noor Alawwa, Lynnette Harris, and Aaron Hancock, and then conducted their own experiments in one of the newly renovated Chemistry & Biochemistry Department labs.

Davis graduated from UM-Flint in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a minor in math, and a teacher’s certificate. She completed her MA in educational technology in 2013. “It was great to return to campus,” said Davis. “I want to be able to expose my students to things that we cannot bring to Byron—to instrumentation, to some of the things that can inspire [and] ignite love for science!”

Lynnette Harris and Noor Alawwa of the UM-Flint Chem Club conduct a demo for visiting high schoolers.

Lynnette Harris and Noor Alawwa of the UM-Flint Chem Club conduct a demo for visiting high schoolers.

UM-Flint Laboratory Manager Monique Wilhelm helped coordinate the chemistry students’ visit. “Opportunities like these are extremely important in this day and age when everyone thinks they have all of the information at their fingertips,” noted Wilhelm. “Science is a process, not just a bunch of facts, and this process really needs a hands-on component that not all schools have the opportunity to give. Memorizing facts is not why anyone I know decided to become a scientist. It was the physical things we do and see, and the way we think, that motivated most of us to do what we do.”

UM-Flint alumni and teacher Mandi Davis with her students.

UM-Flint alumna and teacher Mandi Davis with her students.

While their experiments were running, the high schoolers had a chance to talk with current UM-Flint students and ask questions about being in college. “These students can only really learn what our campus is like by interacting with the students and faculty,” said Wilhelm. “Our campus’ biggest assets are its people.”

Students from Byron spend time with UM-Flint chemistry students in recently renovated labs.

Students from Byron spend time with UM-Flint chemistry students in recently renovated labs.

“These opportunities are important for our students,” Wilhelm continued, “as it gives them an opportunity to discuss science with non-scientists, as well as show their pride in what they do. Communication is the most important skill for any scientist and where they generally fall short is communication to the general public. This type of event is one of the things that makes the Chemistry Club such a great opportunity for all of our students.”

The Impact of Experience

Davis’ time as a UM-Flint student left her with a lasting impression of her faculty. “Dr. Virgil Cope, who was my academic advisor, had the biggest impact on my UM-Flint career,” she said. “He was a professor who was available to his students whenever we needed. We could be working on problems in the breezeway and, if we had questions, he had no problem stopping and sitting and answering them for us. He believed in me. I was nominated for the Maize and Blue Award, and he helped me to believe in myself and believe that I was worthy of the award. I won that award as well as Outstanding Graduate from the Chemistry Department. And I wasn’t even a ‘full fledged’ chemistry major—I was an education major!”

Honors Chemistry students from Byron visit UM-Flint labs on a field trip.

Honors Chemistry students from Byron visit UM-Flint labs on a field trip.

“Marina Ionina was another impacting professor,” continued Davis. “I did a lot of work with Marina and she helped me in the TCP (teacher certificate program) part of my experience at UM-Flint. She helped me to understand/explore how to teach chemistry, not just be able to do chemistry.”

Davis has high hopes that the visit to UM-Flint will be meaningful to her students and their futures. “I hope it sparks interest and excites them,” she said. “I want these experiences to be the things they look back on and think, ‘that was awesome—that was when I realized science was something I wanted to pursue.’  We all know that the ‘facts’ students learn on a day-to-day basis aren’t going to be what they remember—it’s going to be these types of experiences.”

Dennis Viele Named 2016-17 Collegiate Lecturer

Per an announcement by Provost Douglas G. Knerr on Tuesday, June 21, 2016:

Dennis Viele Named 2016-17 Collegiate Lecturer

Dennis Viele, 2016-17 Collegiate Lecturer

I’m delighted to announce that the 2016-17 Collegiate Lecturer Award recipient at the University of Michigan-Flint is Dennis Viele, Lecturer of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Requirements for the Collegiate Lecturer Award include ten years of service and successful completion of two major reviews. Candidates are nominated based on exceptional teaching and service and additional contributions to the University.

Dennis received his B.S. in Biology from UM-Flint in 1989 and his M.S. in Biology from Eastern Michigan University in 1994. He joined the faculty in 1992 and has served as Director of Applied Science since 2005 and as a lecturer in the Honors Program since 2009.  Dennis has taught over 15 different biology courses ranging from introductory to graduate-level. Biology Chair Steve Myers describes Dennis as a phenomenal instructor. Noting that students in Biostatistics are “a tough crowd to please,” Myers cites Dennis’ teaching style that consistently turns around the attitude of students while achieving extremely high ratings for excellence in instruction.

Dennis has an impressive record in program development having spearheaded the development of the Bachelor of Science Program in Wildlife Biology that continues to grow each year. In addition he has developed five other courses within the department and has made comprehensive improvements to other courses as well.

Dennis advises all science students at freshman orientation in addition to holding numerous advising appointments throughout the year. He has served as the thesis advisor for 10 graduate students and mentored 13 honors thesis students, often arranging for international research sites in Ireland, Australia, and South Africa. In 2002 Dennis was the recipient of the Lawrence D. Kugler Academic Advisor Excellence Award in 2002.

Dennis’ scholarly activities are noteworthy with six peer-reviewed publications and ten presentations, and he has also co-authored many poster and abstract presentations and research forums with his students. Dennis’ service has been widespread across the University and community having served on the CAS Academic Standards Committee, Learning Accessibilities Committee, and the Environmental Health and Safety Advisory Committee.

The University of Michigan-Flint is fortunate and proud to have Dennis as a faculty member.  He is a valued member of the Department of Biology and is an exemplary student-centered instructor.  Please join me in congratulating Dennis Viele as the 2016-17 Collegiate Lecturer for the University of Michigan-Flint.

Best –

Douglas G. Knerr
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Alumni Spotlight: Asadullah Siddiqui, B.S. Biology, 2014

Asadullah Siddiqui, B.S. Biology, 2014

Asadullah Siddiqui, B.S. Biology, 2014

Name, field of study, & year of graduation:
Asadullah Siddiqui, B.S. Biology, 2014

What is your current program and/or occupation? Please include graduation year.
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, 2019

What classes at UM-Flint best prepared you for this career?
Human Gross Anatomy with Dr. Morey was an awesome introduction to the body and the coursework you’ll see in medical school. Biology Senior Seminar was also really helpful in giving the foundation to read and understand scientific papers/studies. Also any class taught by Dr. Sanders; his coursework helps make many classes look like extended review nowadays.

What has been your favorite part of your post-UM-Flint studies and/or work?
Simply learning the subject matter and all about the body. It has always been incredibly interesting to me and it confirms I’m in the right field.

What do you recommend to current UM-Flint students looking to follow in your footsteps?
Get involved. Research, volunteering, tutoring; anything to make your application stronger and give you things to talk about in interviews. I even recommend getting a non-academic job to empathize with others; this drove me to work harder for my goals. Also, try your best to make it to a game in Ann Arbor, you won’t regret it!

For more information on Asadullah Siddiqui’s program, visit


CAS Recognizes December 2015 Graduates with Honors

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


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

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

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

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

Photos are available from the evening. Visit our album at

Congratulations to all of our graduates!


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

2015 Cell-ebration Winners Announced

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 1.48.22 PM

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


Jill Slater of Biology discusses a poster with a student.

Slater announced the poster award winners this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Giving Blueday – December 1, 2015

Impact students. Start a journey. Fund the future.

On Giving Blueday, Tuesday, December 1, 2015, we are asking you to donate any amount you can to the departments or programs that mean something to you. Even $5 makes a difference if everyone gives!

We also ask that you share the stories of our programs’ requests–so others can give, too!

Read below for specific requests and links for each of our programs.

Give proud, give loud, and GO BLUE!


AfricanaStudies.StampAfricana Studies
The Africana Studies Department is dedicated to diversity and global awareness. To do so they utilize literature, theatre, film, and traditional academic studies. Each year they bring Africa Week to the Flint Community and they work with the Flint Public Library to present a visiting writer or author.
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Dr. Aiyer was an associate professor of anthropology and a passionate researcher and teacher. The Regents of the University of Michigan regarded him as “a valued student advisor [and a] respected leader in his department.” Make a gift to his namesake scholarship and help future students who demonstrate a special commitment to education.
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The Biology Department is celebrating two of its dedicated faculty by requesting gifts to their memorial funds. The Eugene “Doc” Studier Scholarship offers research support to Biology graduate students. The Holly Sucic Memorial Scholarship serves students in the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology programs.
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ChemBio.StampChemistry & Biochemistry: BLECKER CHEMISTRY SCHOLARSHIP
Professor Harry H. Blecker was the founder of the Department of Chemistry and a faculty member from 1957 to 1989. This fund honors him and helps Chemistry students complete their studies at UM-Flint. In his obituary, Professor Blecker’s family said “It was important to him to help future generations. This vision was his passion for working with thousands of students at UM-Flint.”
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ComVisArts.StampCommunication: UM-FLINT DEBATE TEAM
The UM-Flint Debate team has had a winning tradition at national-level debate for the last few years. Gifts made to this fund will allow the team to continue traveling and debating at tournaments near and far. Although housed in the Communication Program, the team is open to all UM-Flint students. Give today and keep them the Victors of Debate!
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ComScience.StampComputer Science & Information Systems
Help fund study and research by Computer Science & Information Systems students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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CriminalJustice.StampCriminal Justice
Help fund study and research by Criminal Justice students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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EarthScience.StampEarth & Resource Science
Help fund study and research by Earth & Resource Science students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the department leaders.
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Economics.StampEconomics: SCHOLARSHIP FUND
The Department of Economics awards $500 scholarships every semester to our highest achieving majors. These scholarships allow students to cover any cost associated with attending, such as tuition, books, fees, etc.  Our students are very grateful to the generosity of our donors, as these scholarships make a meaningful impact on their lives.
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Help fund study and research by Engineering students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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Every student has to buy books, but English majors have to buy a LOT of books! In the department we try to keep book costs as low as we can, but the reading remains essential. We were all cash-strapped English majors ourselves, and that’s why we want to establish the English Book Scholarship Fund. For us, anything we can do to defray these expenses is worth doing, but we can’t do it alone.
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FLLshortForeign Language & Literatures: MONICA KARNES SCHOLARSHIP
Monica Karnes was a student in Spanish at UM-Flint. Although she was seriously ill, she “continued to pursue her education . . . demonstrating a commitment to excellence which is in the best tradition of the University.” Our UM-Flint Chapter of the Phi Sigma Iota Int’l Foreign Language Honors Society established this fund in 1985 in her memory “to benefit students who share Monica’s hopes, her dreams, and her spirit.”
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Help one of our students travel to London, England, for our first international internship! This experience will have a profound effect on their love of history and future studies and career. The student will work at the Museum of London.
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InterGlobalStudies.StampInternational & Global Studies: STUDY ABROAD SCHOLARSHIP
Named for Dr. Matthew Hilton-Watson, associate professor of Foreign Language and the Director of the International and Global Studies Program, this scholarship helps undergraduate and graduate students travel the globe. Give the gift of experience, diversity, and expanded horizons to UM-Flint students while you pay tribute to Dr. Matt.
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Math.StampMathematics: FAMILY MATH NIGHT
Twice each year the Math Department hosts Family Math Night, a free event where young children and their families have fun together with math. The kids learn two important lessons: math can be fun, and they can do it! Help us continue this tradition of community engagement and inspiring future mathematics majors!
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Voice. Instrumental. Classical. Jazz. Contemporary. Music can mean so many things, but, at UM-Flint, each definition has passionate students in common. Your gift to this scholarship will help future Music majors follow their dreams toward a life of making music. Encourage them to embrace creativity! This is an endowed scholarship, so your gift will be continuous.
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Our Candace Bolter Scholarship is $2,500 away from reaching endowment status. Once endowed, the scholarship will always be available to fund future Philosophy students. Says past recipient Thomas Mann, “[scholarships] give the student the sense that someone else believes in what they’re striving for, and for the student, that can mean the world.”
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Help fund study and research by Physics students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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PoliticalScience.StampPolitical Science
Help fund study and research by Political Science students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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Help fund study and research by Psychology students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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Professor Albert Price served as Director of the Master of Public Administration Program for 24 of the its 35 years. He was also one of the program’s best known faculty members and a mentor to many of its graduates. Donations to this scholarship will help future MPA students complete the program that means so much to Dr. Price.
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Gifts to this fund will benefit our students AND our city! Established in 2010 to honor the memory of Professor Wilfred Marston,
this endowed fund supports students who undertake a civic engagement project with a sociologically relevant research component that focuses on the improvement of Flint.
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Official.Theatre.Horz.Sig.png.binTheatre & Dance: FRIENDS SCHOLARSHIP
This fund supports Theatre & Dance students as they cultivate the necessary tools, both artistic and personal, to meet the demands of an ever evolving world and profession. With your support our students will stand ready to take a place of responsibility in the community at large and excel as fearless artists, flexible workers, and compassionate citizens. Thank you for giving!
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Visual Arts & Art History: STUDENT TRAVEL
The Visual Arts and Art History Faculty would like support for students and student travel for Giving Blueday. In summer 2015 our students traveled to Paris, France. They loved the experience and can already see the benefits of their time there. Your gift will allow future Visual Arts & Art History students the chance to expand their horizons and find new inspiration!
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WomenGenderStudies.StampWomen’s & Gender Studies: CRITICAL DIFFERENCE FUND
The WGS would like gifts to be made to the Women’s Education Center Critical Difference Fund. This small grant helps students facing emergency situations stay in school. Says one recipient, “I believe this grant is important because everyone needs help sometimes and even the littlest thing can save a life.” Give today and be a victor for those who need it the most.
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WritingCenterlogoWriting Center: C. SCOTT RUSSELL SCHOLARSHIP
The C. Scott Russell Scholarship helps writing students with the expense of higher education. The scholarship is awarded to students enrolled in English 109: College Writing Workshop based on their writing improvement and financial need. ENG 109 is designed as an independent study in writing. Students focus on writing issues that interest them and are important to their academic success.
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Meet Dr. David Duriancik, Assistant Professor of Biology

David Duriancik

David Duriancik, Assistant Professor of Biology

Name: David Duriancik
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Biology

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

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

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

American Society for Nutrition
International Society for Analytical Cytology

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAS Faculty Welcomed and Honored at 2015 Convocation

On Monday, August 31, both new and seasoned faculty gathered together for two events: the Academic Affairs Convocation that welcomes new faculty and celebrates our award-winning, promoted, and long-serving faculty members, and the Thompson Center for Learning & Teaching‘s pre-convocation workshop titled “The Actual and the Possible: Cultivating Learning at UM-Flint.”

The workshop featured sixteen faculty presentations, with representatives from each school or college at UM-Flint, focused on innovative and effective teaching methods used in (or out of) classrooms.

The College of Arts & Science was well represented with six faculty speaking on topics ranging from technology to storytelling.


Brian DiBlassio discusses teaching musical elements online.

Brian DiBlassio, Associate Professor and Chair of Music and recipient of the Provost Teaching Innovation Prize, was the first CAS faculty member to present. He discussed the ways in which he brings music alive for online students–where formerly they had only static words on a screen to inform their lessons. By incorporating video, moving graphics, sound, voiceover, and popular media, DiBlassio is able to answer the “challenge of teaching arts purely through text.”

Nicholas Kingsley, Assistant Professor from the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and recipient of the Lois Matz Rosen Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, spoke to his peers about technology that works for both his teaching style and his students’ needs. From interactive digital presentations to a pen that allows recording and playback of his method for working through complex problems, Kingsley demonstrated how his technology choices serve students in the classroom and create resources for future use.


Pat Emenyonu from the departments of English and Africana Studies listens to a presentation at the TCLT pre-convocation workshop.

Jill Slater, Lecturer of Biology, presented on this past spring’s Cell-ebration: a science symposium she created to inform and inspire students from all of her classes. Slater combined more seasoned students’ experiences and newer students’ questions to present cellular research being done across her courses. Her event engaged students in new ways and allowed there to be a focus on what happens after they learn research methodologies in lower level courses. All students came away with skills they can use later in their academic studies and in their professional and research careers.

Thomas Henthorn, Assistant Professor of History, spoke on an oral history project from his class Gods in the City. Henthorn uses the lesson to emphasize listening and communication skills while students explore new topics and religion through their interviews with community members. He spoke about the value of an assignment that can’t be simply gathered from online sources. Said Henthorn, “as wonderful as technology is . . . most of the world’s important business happens face to face.”


Erica Britt talks about Vehicle City Voices and the stories of Flint residents.

Erica Britt, Assistant Professor of Linguistics in the English Department, continued with the storytelling theme by talking about her Vehicle City Voices project. Britt has utilized both graduate and undergraduate students in her collection, coding, and presentation of stories from residents around the city of Flint. In addition to being a documentation of memories, her project is a study in the vocal patterns of speakers in Flint. Students created transcripts and developed word-level, phrase-level, and sentence-level analysis on their collected stories.

Margaret Ware, Lecturer in Biology, was the final CAS speaker of the day. In her discussion she showed how combining factual health histories with fictional characters allowed her students to have a more involved and engaged experience when completing a case study project. Students worked individually to create a story from lab data and then as a small group selected their favorite story or combined elements to create a new one. Ware noted the students were able to utilize a wide variety of skills, including the unusual combination of creative writing and scientific data collection.


UM-Flint faculty, staff, and administrators listen to presentations at the TCLT’s 2015 pre-convocation workshop.

After all the presentations were made, participants had small table discussions to talk about their favorite methods from the day and also to share their own unique methods of teaching. The event was closed by TCLT’s Tracy Wacker who spoke to the joy of teaching and learning as she wished all a successful Fall 2015 semester.

The focus on UM-Flint’s teaching excellence continued later that afternoon at the Academic Affairs Convocation in the UM-Flint Theatre.


Provost Doug Knerr welcomed faculty back to another year of excellent teaching.

The event began with an introduction by Chancellor Susan E. Borrego and a warm welcome from Provost Doug Knerr.

Faculty Awards were announced, with CAS faculty claiming eight of the nine honors:

Lois Alexander, Professor of Music: Teaching Excellence Award

Lixing Han, Professor of Mathematics: Scholarly or Creative Achievement Award

Kathy Schellenberg, Associate Professor of Sociology: Distinguished Service Award

Ernest Emenyonu, Professor of Africana Studies: Alvin D. Loving Senior Faculty Initiative Award

Karen Salvador, Assistant Professor of Music: Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Junior Women Faculty Award

Peggy Kahn, David M. French Professor and Professor of Political Science: Dorthea E. Wyatt Award

Nicholas Kingsley, Assistant Professor of Chemistry: Dr. Lois Matz Rosen Junior Excellence in Teaching Award

Traci Currie, Lecturer of Communication and Visual Arts: Collegiate Lecturer Award

Ricardo Alfaro, David M. French Professor and Professor of Mathematics, was also honored as the UM-Flint nominee for the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award.


Traci Currie receives a congratulatory hug from Chancellor Susan E. Borrego


Professor Ricardo Alfaro receives his Presidents Council Sponsored Faculty Award from Provost Doug Knerr


Assoc. Professor Kathryn Schellenberg receives her Distinguished Service Award from Provost Knerr as Chancellor Susan E. Borrego looks on

Services awards were given to those who have been at the university for 10, 20, or 40 plus years:

Ten years or more: 
Jacob Blumner, English; Traci Currie, Communication & Visual Arts; Michael Farmer, CSEP; Janet Haley, Theatre & Dance; Terrence Horgan, Psychology; Jason Kosnoski, Political Science; Maria Pons-Hervas, Foreign Languages & Literatures; Jie Song, Chemistry & Biochemistry; and Jeannette Stein, Psychology

Twenty years or more:
Jamile Lawand, Foreign Languages & Literatures; Paula Nas, Economics; Stevens Wandmacher, Philosophy


Assoc. Professor Jason Kosnoski receives his Faculty Service Award for 10 years or more of service


Interim Dean Susan Gano-Phillips announced new and promoted faculty of CAS.

Promoted faculty were celebrated (click here for a full story), with those moving from assistant to associate or associate to full professor being named by Interim Dean Susan Gano-Phillips.

From associate professor with tenure to professor with tenure:
Lois Alexander, Music; Jami Anderson, Philosophy; Roy Barnes, Sociology; John Stephen Ellis, History; Michael Farmer, Computer Science and Information Systems.

From assistant professor to associate professor with tenure:
Dauda Abubakar, Africana Studies and Political Science; Julie Broadbent, Psychology; Daniel Coffield, Jr., Mathematics; Rajib Ganguly, Physics; Christopher Heidenreich, Music; Daniel Lair, Communication; Vickie Jeanne Larsen, English; Shelby Newport, Theatre and Dance; Greg Rybarczyk, Earth & Resource Science.

In addition to honoring our more seasoned faculty, the convocation also serves as a welcome to new faculty. The College of Arts & Science welcomed ten new faculty members:

Karen Bedell, Lecturer of Psychology; Halil Bisgin, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; David Duriancik, Assistant Professor of Biology; Jason Jarvis, Lecturer of Psychology; Jacob Lederman, Instructor cum Assistant Professor of Urban Sociology; Jeffrey Livermore, Lecturer of Computer Science; Brian Schrader, Lecturer of Communication; Amanda Kahl Smith, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice; Matthew Spradling, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; and Amanda Taylor, Lecturer of Psychology.

Each of the new faculty will be more thoroughly introduced to the campus and community through CAS Faculty Spotlights, located on the CAS website, throughout the Fall 2015 semester.

The College of Arts & Sciences would like to offer sincere congratulations to all of our faculty on their awards, recognition, promotion, or introduction to the University of Michigan-Flint. We are looking forward to a wonderful academic year of service and teaching.