Category Archives: Biology Department

Get to Know BIO Alum Derrick Townsend


CAS Alum Derrick Townsend, Biology 1996

Your name, major, and year of graduation:
Derrick Townsend, Biology 1996

What are you doing now?
I am currently a Quality Ingredient Manager for The Kellogg Company. I manage a portfolio of ingredients including vitamins, spices and seasonings, and sweeteners by assuring the materials we purchase are safe and meet the needs of our food developers and manufacturing facilities for use in our breakfast, frozen and snack foods. I get to visit supplier manufacturing locations to foster a cooperative working relationship between our suppliers and Kellogg’s. I get to work on complex projects with a cross section of experts from various fields including engineers, food scientists, marketing directors and regulatory experts. My role is extremely rewarding and a lot of fun – and how many people can say they work for Tony the Tiger?

How did your University of Michigan-Flint education prepare you for what you are doing now?
I am frequently recognized for having a critical mind and for being able to analyze processes. Often I am called upon to help improve a business process or evaluate a technical problem and provide solutions. UM-Flint provided me with the skills necessary to be successful in these tasks from a scientific perspective but also as someone who can get results in cross functional team environment.

Who made the biggest impact on your UM-Flint career and life?
I would have to credit two people who really had an influence on me. Dr. Kathy Lavoie (no longer at UM-Flint) and Ernie Szuch taught me how to be a critical thinker in the classroom, in the lab and in the field. I also learned a great deal from them after I graduated and was working as an adjunct in the Biology department. They taught me how to dig deeper into a question and not settle for the “easy answer.” I believe my critical thinking skills have allowed me to be successful in my professional career.

What is the value of UM-Flint professors developing curricula in which classroom learning & concepts are applied to real world situations?
UM-Flint is unique in this way. Many of my peers in graduate school and colleagues in my career did not have the same opportunities for interaction with professors outside the classroom that I was fortunate to have. Hands-on research experience as an undergraduate was definitely an advantage for me coming out of school. The benefit for students is to be able to explore your capabilities while still having a very close mentoring relationship with faculty. In addition, these opportunities might spark an interest in an area you might not otherwise get to explore.

Can you describe a firsthand example of an engaged learning experience at UM-Flint?
I was often fortunate enough to be able to travel with faculty to Mammoth Cave in central Kentucky and assist with research there. This experience taught me that research is hard – it doesn’t come easy. I learned that research is often slow and that it takes time to develop sound conclusions. It also gave me an appreciation for the behind the scenes work underway in many of our national parks in an effort to better understand their biology and ecology – all in an effort to help preserve these resources. Personally for me, it solidified a love of the outdoors and an appreciation for our natural world and its resources.

What does UM-Flint do better than any other university?
I think UM-Flint should take pride in the rigor of the academic programs offered. In my experience, the faculty at UM-Flint are there because they want to teach. They want students to get a good solid foundation in their respective disciplines and be successful after graduation. Because of this, they work hard at providing a top notch educational experience. This was explicitly evident to me in graduate school when I realized I had a much better foundation in biology and a more well-rounded education than many of my peers.

What advice would you give to an incoming UM-Flint freshman?
Become involved and engaged in the university culture. When you enter college you become part of a community. This is especially true at UM-Flint. Take advantage of this fact. Join a club – in my time at UM-Flint I was a member of the Biological Sciences Club, the Pre-Med Club, Amnesty International, and Student Government Council. Get to know the faculty – I developed some wonderful relationships with many of the faculty in the Biology department while I was a student. Often, this opens doors to opportunities for research or jobs in the departments. Get to know the staff in your department – the admins and support staff in the departments can be a great resource as you navigate through your education. Find a job on campus – I can’t even remember all the various jobs I had in different offices on campus – Computer Lab monitor, Advising assistant, Orientation, and Lab Assistant are just a few. This is a great way to meet people from other departments. Most of all – enjoy the experience. Trust me, once you’re done – you’ll miss the place!

How would you describe “the UM-Flint of the future”?
Considering that it has been almost 20 years since I was a student, I think what UM-Flint has become today is on the trajectory of what I would have imagined as “UM-Flint of the future” when I graduated. I am happy to see there is now a residence hall on campus – this was being talked about while I was there. I am also very impressed to see all of the graduate degrees now being offered. In my opinion, UM-Flint has taken great strides toward expanding their reach and increasing the breadth of their influence.

If I would describe “UM-Flint of the future” after today, I would expect increased investment in facilities and technology. Wouldn’t it be great to have a natural history or science museum on campus? What about an astronomy program with a high powered telescope facility! How about an enology/viticulture or brewing degree? How about an agronomy or food science program to educate scientists who can create solutions for the world’s agricultural, food and nutrition concerns?

I would absolutely expect UM-Flint to focus on meeting the needs of society by continuing to offer variety and rigor in the programs of study and by conducting meaningful research in order to better our world. Whatever UM-Flint becomes in the next years and decades, I am confident that it will be done with excellence and the result will be greatness and I look forward to what’s to come. GO BLUE!!!

For more alumni stories and news, visit the CAS Alumni Resources page:

Congratulations CAS Staff Award Winners!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015, the UM-Flint Staff Council held their annual Staff Assembly Spring Meeting and Staff Recognition Awards Program. The College of Arts & Sciences was well represented!

Lynn Barbee, Administrative Assistant in the Department of Mathematics and the Staff Council Recognition Coordinator, presented the 2015 Staff Recognition Award Recipients: Suzanne Shivnen, Administrative Assistant of the Department of Economics and Political Science, and Monique Wilhelm, the Laboratory and Classroom Services Supervisor for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Per Staff Council, “The Staff Council Staff Recognition Award was established in 1995 as a way to recognize those members of the Staff Assembly who consistently serve the campus and university in an exemplary manner. The award criteria includes: providing leadership on a consistent basis; nurturing a spirt of team effort and cooperation; performing assigned duties with enthusiasm, competence, and cordiality; and dedication to the university’s goals and mission.”


Suzanne Shivnen receives the Margaret Rogers Award for Excellence from CAS Associate Dean Roy Barnes.

Suzanne was nominated by Peggy Kahn, Professor Political Science, and by Chris Douglas, Associate Professor and Chair of Economics. Peggy presented the award, noting Suzanne’s value for her skills in both the personal and professional spheres. She spoke of Suzanne’s willingness and ability to help both faculty and students, and her compassion and high ethics. Earlier this month, Suzanne was also the winner of the College of Arts & Science’s Margaret Rogers Award for Excellence. She is also a recipient of a Sterling Staff Award.


Chancellor Susan E. Borrego, Staff Recognition Award Winner Monique Wilhelm, and Chemistry & Biochemistry Dept. Chair Jessica Tischler

Monique was nominated by Jessica Tischler, Associate Professor and Chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. She talked of Monique’s extensive list of responsibilities and proficiencies within the lab setting–both in their department and others. She also discussed Monique’s dedication to both UM-Flint students and community youth as exemplified through her work with the award-winning Chem Club, the demos that are brought to area schools, campus events like Super Science Friday, and her work with the Curiosity Academy – a STEM-focused community club for girls interested in science. Monique was also honored for being a part of the Excel Professional Development Program.


Karri Spoelstra of the Department of Music, Staff Recognition Award Nominee and winner of the 2015 Dr. Mary Jo Sekelsky Staff Appreciation Award

Another award winner recognized during the Assembly was Kari Spoelstra, Administrative Assistant of the Department of Music. She was a nominee for the Staff Recognition Award and the winner of this year’s Dr. Mary Jo Sekelsky Staff Appreciation Award from the Department of Student Involvement and Leadership. As her department page says, “Congratulations to Karri, everyone’s first contact in the Department of Music, by phone or in person. And a great supporter of students!”

Laura Bender, Secretary Senior for the Earth & Resource Science Department and Carol Chaney, Media Consultant for the Department of Music, were also nominees for the Staff Recognition Award.

Sterling Staff Awards were also earned by Linda Blakey of Public Administration, Lesa Callcut of Psychology, Samantha Grathoff of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Linda Letts of the Department of Theatre & Dance. The Sterling Staff Award  is designed to acknowledge staff members for their contributions to the campus. Staff members are nominated by others who want it to be known that they are making a difference, that what they do is valued, and to recognize them for going the extra distance in their work. All staff members who are nominated receive a certificate via campus mail, and their supervisor is notified.

Many CAS staff members were also recognized for being a part of the UM-Flint Engaged Staff Program which was “designed to help emphasize the ways in which UM-Flint staff contribute to the overall vibrancy of the institution and support the work of faculty, staff and students.”

Jennifer Vincke of the Biology Department was recognized as a December 2014 graduate.

Congratulations to all of our staff members who received awards and were recognized at the Spring Staff Assembly!

For more information on Staff Council, visit their website:

For a list of those recognized at the 2015 Staff Recognition Dinner, visit

Four From CAS to be Honored at Retirement Reception

After years of dedication and service to the University of Michigan-Flint, four members of the College of Arts and Sciences were recognized by Chancellor Borrego at a Retirement Reception on December 8th.

Our CAS retirees are:
• Dr. Thomas Foster of the English Department
• Dr. Richard Hill-Rowley of the Earth & Resource Science Department
• Ann Niemann of the Biology Department
• Dr. Paul O’Donnell of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

Read more about these dedicated members of the College of Arts and Sciences:

Dr. Thomas Foster, Professor of English

Dr. Thomas Foster
Per Dr. Stephen Bernstein, Chair of the English Department

Professor Foster received his B.A. degree with high distinction from Dartmouth College in 1974, his M.A. degree from Michigan State University in 1977, and his Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University in 1981. From 1981-82 and 1983-87 he served as temporary assistant professor in Michigan State University’s American Thought and Language Program, and in 1982-83 he was an assistant professor at Kalamazoo College. He joined the University of Michigan – Flint faculty in 1987 as assistant professor.
For twenty-seven years Professor Foster was a popular instructor in a wide array of courses for undergraduates and graduate students. His courses ranged from introductory courses in classical literature and literary genres all the way to upper-level and graduate classes on modern and contemporary British literature. Hundreds – if not thousands – of students owe at least part of their understanding of some of the twentieth century’s greatest writers to Professor Foster. He served on numerous department and university committees, and was instrumental in the establishment of the English Department’s Master of Arts in English Language and Literature in 2007. He then served as the program’s first director, designing numerous policies and procedures for its continuing success over the five years of his tenure.
Aside from his fine work as a teacher and an administrator, Professor Foster was also a tireless researcher and writer. He was the author of many academic articles and of eight books, some written for academic audiences and some for the general reader. His How to Read Literature Like a Professor became a bestseller, and Professor Foster spent many hours talking with high school classes who had read the book, visits that made him a de facto ambassador for higher education.
The Regents now salute this distinguished literature educator for his dedicated service by naming Thomas C. Foster professor emeritus of English.

R Hill-Rowley

Dr. Richard Hill-Rowley during construction at the Urban Alternatives House

Dr. Richard Hill-Rowley

Research Interests:  Land Use, Sustainable Urbanism, and Urban Redevelopment

Dr. Hill-Rowley is retiring from the Earth & Resource Science Department. In recent years, he was the driving force behind the Urban Alternatives House – an energy efficient structure designed to use water and other resources in a sustainable way. The house is both a living and a learning space with classroom facilities and apartments located within. In October 2014, the ERS celebrated the Urban Alternative House’s LEED Platinum Certification–the highest certification of the U.S. Green-Building Council.

Professor Hill-Rowley received his B.Sc. degree in Economics from the University of London in 1969, his M.A. degree in Geography from University of Georgia in 1973, and his Ph.D. degree in Geography from Michigan State University in 1982. From 1975 to 1981 he was Research Specialist and Project Manager for the CRIES Project, Important Farmlands Mapping Project and the Remote Sensing Project at Michigan State University. In 1982 he came to the University of Michigan-Flint as an instructor and was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Resource Science in 1983. In 1989 he was promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Resource Science. While at UM-Flint he also served as the Director of the Regional Groundwater Center, UM-Flint (1990-1998) and Director of the Center for Applied Environmental Research, UM-Flint (1998-2000).

Richard was among the early core faculty in the years when the Department was known as Resource and Community Science and was largely responsible in the formation and growth of the department and programs into what has become the Department of Earth and Resources Science. Professor Hill-Rowley was a leader in classroom teaching, faculty development, and was an active researcher. He was active in faculty governance in the department, college, and University. As a scholar, Richard produced several significant publications in the areas of forest management and sustainability, and was an early pioneer in implementing a full on-line course at the UM-Flint.

Professor Hill-Rowley’s exceptional achievements are related to his service and applied research, and these include: helping to obtain significant amounts of grant money to fund the newly formed Regional Groundwater Center; establishing the transfer of scientific knowledge to many communities about their groundwater and potential contamination risks to their wells; and, creating an environmental component to the UM-Flint campus outreach efforts. His signature achievement, however, was creating a vision for an energy and water efficient home located near the campus to serve as a model for the surrounding community and region, This vision was implemented in 2013 after 5 years of tireless work that brought together local community organizations, campus faculty and staff, student assistants, and a diverse set of funding organizations including the Mott Foundation, Flint Rotary Club, Kresge Foundation, and Consumers Energy. Today, the UAH stands as the only house of its type affiliated with a U.S. university that blends a classroom seating 25, energy and water efficient monitory systems, a working garden, rain harvesting system, and live-in low-income qualified tenants. This structure is truly a lasting resource for the entire University, community, and region.


Ann Niemann

Ann Niemann
Per Dr. Steve Myers, Chair of the Biology Department:

Ann was originally hired on February 21, 1989 as a part-time secretary for the Theater and Dance Department chaired at the time by Dr. Thomas Bloom. Ann enjoyed many theatre and dance productions during her 14 ½ years there.  She was able to see the production process from beginning to the opening night – many hours of practice, behind the scenes work involving the set, and costumes in each of their productions.  One of her jobs there she will never forget was the season brochure bulk-mailing every summer.
In August of 2003, Ann was one of approximately 20 UM-Flint employees who received word in August of 2003 of job cutbacks.   She was called back to work part-time in the Philosophy Department in December 2003.
In the fall of 2004, she transferred to Biology Department, which became much more than her home department.  Right from the start, the biology department appreciated Ann as the great asset she was.
Her appointment in biology included serving as a “floating secretary” within CAS for three months during summer.  This gave Ann the unique opportunity to experience operations in a wide range of departments (e.g. MUS, COM/ART, ECN/AFA, POL SCI/PUB ADM, FOR, CSEP, CHM/ERS, MTH, PSY, SOC/ANT/CRJ, and THE).  Ann enjoyed meeting new people and brought back to the biology department many new ideas to enhance office operations.
While Ann enjoyed working with people across the college, she was always very happy to return to the biology department where she felt most at home.  The biology department recognized what a gem Ann was. She has a wealth of knowledge about the university that made her a great resource person.  She also was very much a people person who brightened the office and made all who entered feel welcome.  Ann was amazing at multitasking. She often was the first contact for anyone entering the Biology office and, as this [is] a very busy department, she endured regular interruptions as a matter of course.  Ann astounded many, especially her department chair, with her ability shift her full attention quickly to help a student or faculty member and then quickly shift her attention back to her other multitudinous tasks. Over the years, Ann demonstrated that she was dedicated to the success of our students, the department and the college.
The biology department whole heartedly thanks Ann for her many years of exemplary service and wish her all the best in her retirement.

Dr. Paul O’Donnell

Professor Paul O’Donnell begane at the University of Michigan-Flint in 1986. He was awarded tenure in 1991 and promoted to full professor in 1997. He taught in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, teaching Spanish.

UM-Flint Faculty Members Awarded Research Grants

Congratulations to the following faculty, who were recently awarded grants from the Research and Creative Activity Committee:

• Jessica Kelts, Assistant Professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry, received $10,975 for her project The Effect of Media Changes and Cell Washing on Cellular Glutathione Content and Potency of Cytotoxic Compounds.

• Mark Allison, Associate Professor of Computer Science, received $14,487 for his project Autonomic Control of Cyber-Physical Systems using Domain-Specific Models.

• Mihai Burzo, Assistant Professor of Engineering, received $19,542 for his project Noninvasive Real Time Detection of Human Comfort for Increased Energy Savings in Building

• Seung-Jin Lee, Assistant Professor of Engineering and Earth and Resource Science, received $15,515 for his project Energy and Environmental Implications of Electric Vehicle Adoption: A Scenario-Based Life Cycle Assessment Study of the Future of Advanced Transportation in Michigan.

• Frank (Yu-Cheng) Liu, Assistant Professor of Engineering, received $17,282 for his project Investigation of Preferential Vaporization of Multi-Component Fuel Mixtures Using Mid-Infrared Absorption Techniques.

• Charlotte Tang, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, received $16,025 for her project Designing Technologies to Enhance Visitor Experiences at an Art Gallery.

Congratulations to the following faculty, who were recently awarded grants from the Dr. Ben Bryer Fund.

• Joe Sucic, Professor of Biology, received $ 8,162 for his project Environmental Stress as a Trigger for Metastasis in Breast Cancer Cells.

For more information on the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at UM-Flint, visit their website.

Giving BlueDay – Tuesday, December 2nd

BLUEDAY_smallOn Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014, the University of Michigan is asking you to turn Giving Tuesday into Giving BlueDay – a day of online giving to the funds of U of M, including UM-Flint. The College of Arts & Sciences is encouraging donors to pick a specific fund and the amount that is right for them – even $5 donations mean a lot to our departments!

Following are links to our department and program funds, some of them discuss the specific needs your gifts will go to fill. For those that do not have a specific purpose listed, donations will go into their general gift fund and can be used as the department chooses. We hope you can help us make this a successful day of giving, and make a difference for our students!

AFRICANA STUDIES: Funds received will help establish a scholarship that supports Africana Studies Majors and Minors and honors former Chancellor Charlie Nelms who “intensified the university’s emphasis on student success, setting ambitious goals for increasing student retention and graduation rates.”


BIOLOGY: We have an ongoing need for undergraduate/graduate research support as well as scholarship support. Donations to the following funds will make a positive impact on the academic and career success of Biology students: William R. Murchie Science Fund, Eugene Studier Memorial Research Scholarship Fund, and the Holly Sucic Memorial Scholarship Fund.

CHEMISTRY & BIOCHEMISTRY: The Chemistry & Biochemistry Department would like to put funds towards the purchase of equipment that will enhance and expand students’ learning opportunities. We hope to both enrich their time at UM-Flint and better prepare them for real-world experiences!





ECONOMICS: Funds given will be used to fund the Economics Club Scholarship that is given every semester to an Economics major to pay towards any aspect of their schooling, including tuition, books, and fees. Help us continue to provide this support to our club and students!


ENGLISH: We want to reinstate the English Department’s Visiting Writer Series, which was a victim of budget cuts. The series will bring nationally and internationally renowned authors to UM-Flint to meet with classes and the community. Help us bring back this meaningful tradition!

FOREIGN LANGUAGES & LITERATURES: We ask that gifts be made to the Monica Karnes Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund was established in 1985 by students in the UM-Flint Chapter of the Phi Sigma Iota Int’l Foreign Language Honors Society to “benefit students who share Monica’s hopes, her dreams, and her spirit.”



MUSIC: Funds donated to the Music Department during GivingBlue Day will be used towards the purchase of a concert grand piano. This instrument will benefit solo performers, as well as vocal and instrumental performances of many musical genres–and the audiences who listen to them!

PHILOSOPHY DEPT.’s CANDACE BOLTER SCHOLARSHIP FUND: We are just $3,000 away from having our Candace Bolter Scholarship reach endowment status. Once endowed, the scholarship will always be available to help fund future Philosophy students. Help us to help others study Philosophy!





THEATRE & DANCE: Students of the Theatre and Dance Department have a variety of high impact travel opportunities available, but often need help in funding their trips. Donations made to the Theatre & Dance Department will be used to diversify the avenues of support available to their students.

VISUAL ARTS: Funds will go to print-making equipment for our new concentration, funding student travel to museums and architectural tours, a vent for the wood shop, and torches to teach flame-working. Help us expand our students’ learning experience by giving to Visual Arts!

WOMEN’S & GENDER STUDIES: The WGS would like donations intended for them to be made to the Women’s Education Center Critical Difference Fund. This small grant is intended to help students who are facing emergency situations stay in school. The grant assists some of our most at risk students, many of whom are returning women and first-generation college students. DONATIONS MADE TO THIS FUND ON GIVING BLUEDAY WILL BE MATCHED UP TO $200!

If you do not see a fund you’d like to give to on the above list, browse all the options, including Research, Scholarships, and more, within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Whether you give or not, please share this blog’s link on your social media feeds to spread the word about Giving BlueDay!

Biology Department to Host Cell-ebration, December 5th

CELL-ebration logo copyOn December 5, 2014, nearly 200 Biology students from a variety of courses will meet and present their works to one another at the department’s Cell-ebration.

More experienced students from the BIO 326, 467, and 477 courses will be creating conference-type research posters and giving oral presentations, while DEEP program students from the Utica, Lapeer, and Livingston sites will be creating learning activities to highlight a cellular process. The event will be held in the White Building’s Atrium and Tuscola Room.

There will be two sessions:

A morning session from 9-11am and an afternoon session from noon-2pm. An additional 35 high school students from New Lothrup will attend the afternoon session.

The experience at the Cell-ebration will benefit the undergraduate students by giving them experience in preparing and presenting in a conference environment. While the DEEP students will learn a little about academic and campus life at UM-Flint while enriching their knowledge through creating presentations.

For more information, visit the Biology Department website or contact Jill Slater at

CAS and DEEP Programs


The dust is settling from the first rush of back-to-school. Among those who headed to the classroom after the Labor Day holiday were scores of students who attend classes at the Lapeer County ISD Education and Technology Center building in Attica, Mich. Some of these participate in the Dual Enrollment Education Partnerships, or DEEP program, offered by Lapeer County ISD and UM-Flint. This program allows capable and interested high school students to take college-level courses and earn college credits. These credits are applicable to four-year degree programs at UM-Flint, and potentially to other institutions.

In addition to offering extra challenges to high school students, the DEEP program encourages enrollment in college after high school and retention in college courses after the first year. According to a study by the University of Iowa’s College of Education, “dual enrollment students who completed 20 or more credits in the first year of college were 28% (p<.01) more likely to persist through the second year in college than were students who did not complete dual enrollment courses.” A major finding of the study was that participation in dual enrollment “indicated statistically significant impacts upon studets’ academic momentum.” The study also indicated positive trends for dual enrollment students completing their degrees in less than average time.

For the 2014-2015 academic year, Lapeer’s ISD is offering two programs: Pre-Engineering and Medical Careers Acceleration. Each consists of four courses, two in the fall semester and two in the winter semester. Enrollment is limited to 30 students in each of the programs. At the end of this academic year, students who have completed both semesters will have earned 13 college credits.

The Medical Careers Acceleration Program (MCAP) is jointly managed by UM-Flint’s College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) and the School of Health Professions & Studies (SHPS). Courses for Pre-Engineering are managed by the Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics (CSEP) Department of CAS.


This year’s curriculum for MCAP includes BIO 113: Principles of Biology, HCR 206: Health Sciences Applications, BIO 328: Genetics, and PHL 168: Philosophy of Bioethics. The Pre-Engineering classes are CSC 101: Fluency with Information Technology and Computing, EGR 165: Computer Aided Design, CSC 175: Problem Solving and Programming I, and EGR 102: Introduction to Engineering.

The courses selected for inclusion in the Lapeer ISD DEEP program are considered by faculty to be desirable because they will help students develop a stronger academic foundation in the profession being studied and accustom students to the rigors of college-level work.

The Lapeer ISD DEEP program is just one of several for UM-Flint faculty involvement. Another example is just around the corner from the university at Powers Catholic High School. There, students can participate in two separate 12-credit Humanities Programs. The Senior Humanities Program includes ENG 111: College Rhetoric, COM 210: Introduction to Public Speaking, ENG 112: Critical Writing and Reading, and ARH 112: History of Renaissance to Modern Art. The Junior Humanities Program includes ENG 213: American Ethnic Literature, PHL 202: Intro to Logic, ENG 111: College Rhetoric, and HIS 114: Twentieth Century World History.

Sites also exist within the Lapeer Community Schools, Livingston County Schools, and Utica Community Schools. More DEEP program locations are being considered.

For more information on UM-Flint’s DEEP program, please visit their website.

View a video from one of UM-Flint’s DEEP sites in Davison, Mich:




CAS Welcomes Over 30 New Faculty for Fall Semester

The College of Arts and Sciences at UM-Flint started the Fall 2014 semester with over 30 new faculty members teaching in its classrooms. New faces will be seen in many departments including CSEP, English, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Earth & Resource Science, Psychology, Political Science, Anthropology, Theatre & Dance, and Foreign Language!

Throughout the semester, CAS will be featuring different new faculty members on our front page and in our blog so other members of the university can get to know them better! Be sure to welcome them to UM-Flint if you see them around!

Following is a list of our new faculty members and their departments:

• Amal Alhosban – Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CSEP
• Mark Allison – Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CSEP
• Emily Feuerherm – Assistant Professor of Linguistics, ENG
• Matthew Fhaner – Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry, CMB
• Seung-Jin Lee – Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Mechanical Engineering (ERS 67%, CSEP 33%)
• Ming Li – Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, CSEP
• Yu Cheng (Frank) Liu – Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, CSEP
• Nathaniel Miller – Assistant Professor of Psychology, PSY
• Jeremiah Olson – Assistant Professor of Political Science, POL
• Zahid Syed, CSEP –Assistant Professor of Computer Science, CSEP

• Adam Dill – Adjunct Professor in THE/DAN
• Cindy Liao – Adjunct Professor, PSY
• Dayne Walling – Adjunct Professor, POL

• Russ Cossaboom – Lec III BIO
• Stephanie Gelderloos – Lec III ENG
• Lisa Madden – Lec III PSY
• Jennifer Miller – Lec III BIO
• Roberto Rinaldi – Lec III PSY
• Kristy Watkins – Lec III WGS

• Ishtiague Amin – Lec I CSEP
• Scott Atkinson– Lec I ENG
• Anita Baxter – Lec I BIO
• Jed Digens – Lec I CSEP
• Gisele Farah – Lec I FOR
• Theresa Fedio – Lec I FOR
• Edward Hoort – Lec I MPA
• Nicholas Ginga – Lec I CSEP
• Laurah Klepinger-Mathew – Lec I ANT
• Robin McGuire – Lec I CSEP
• Mary Montie – Adjunct Lec PUB
• Joyce Piert – Lec I MTH
• Laurence Tarini – Lec I CSEP
• Delma Thomas-Jackson – Lec I for CAS

UM-Flint Students Travel to California for Biology Conference

This spring, students from the Molecular Biology Club traveled to California for a conference. Here they tell about the trip in their own words:

Rebecca Farr
Nine Molecular Biology Club members (all students, no faculty) flew to San Diego, California to attend the Experimental Biology Conference (April 26-30), during which the top researchers in the fields of Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Nutrition Sciences presented their research. We went in order to learn the latest findings, network, and meet our peers. Aside from attending the conference meetings, we also visited and toured Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and went surfing on Mission Beach in San Diego. All trip expenses (minus recreational activities) were sponsored by Student Government and the Frances Ann Frazier Student Travel Scholarship. It was an incredible experience and we’re all extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in such an important event!

Dale Flanagin II
The trip to San Diego, CA, is one I will never forget. A first for flying and the farthest I’ve ever been away from home. Overall, the Experimental Biology Conference was an astonishing event that surpassed my expectations. In addition to all of the posters highlighting the different pathways in the body, there were many companies there with innovative technologies and discounts for researchers on items such as antibodies. This conference aided myself by giving me the opportunity to make scientific connections from around the world. Currently, I am working on the metastasis of cancer cells and my research group is now performing Western Blots and Activity Assays on MMPs excreted from the cell lines. Because of the connections I had made at the conference, we now have a cheaper way of obtaining kits for our research. As treasurer of the Molecular Biology Club at the University of Michigan-Flint, I made sure the funding for the conference was covered for the Club’s participants. With a great group of people, I was able to see new places, meet new people, and have incredible experiences that most people only dream of and I couldn’t have wished for any greater of an opportunity.

Kara Laird
The trip to San Diego for the Experimental Biology conference was a trip that I doubt any of us will forget. Not only did it satisfy our need for sun after the Michigan weather, but it was a great opportunity to learn about new companies and research going on from many different places. Some of the companies while we were there gave us coupons for lab supplies. Using some of these companies is actually making prices cheaper for professors at our college. My favorite part of the conference was looking at the poster presentations and talking with the representatives at different company booths. This conference was important for my academic career because I learned about a lot of different companies and new technology they have been creating. I also was able to discuss my research experiences with different people at the conference. Overall this was an awesome trip and I am very happy that I was able to attend.

Rachel McCauley
The Experimental Biology Conference along with the opportunity to visit San Diego is a trip that I will never forget.  To be able to attend such a large-scale conference was extremely enriching as a student.  My favorite part of the conference was the huge number of posters being presented.  It was amazing to be able to find any topic in which you were interested.  In addition, San Diego was such a great place to visit.  I can’t wait to visit San Diego again and hopefully attend more EB conferences in the future.


UM-Flint Biology Professor and Students Conduct Lamprey Research

LampResUM-Flint’s Department of Biology professor Dr. Heather Dawson recently conducted research with students on the Great Lakes Sea Lamprey. This research has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management.

When asked about the value she finds in working with student researchers, Dr. Dawson said, “I have never conducted a research project that didn’t include students. It really is a win for both parties. Students gain experience and get to find out what research is all about. The research can also help guide the students regarding the direction they go after graduation. Faculty get great research assistants who help faculty to get much more research done than they could do by themselves. Faculty also get a chance to mentor future leaders in their field. I have worked with students on multiple research projects. Students can get involved on a volunteer basis, through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, or get class credit while conducting research. Conducting research with a faculty member also provides students with a reference (someone to write them a letter of recommendation) they will need to enter the work force or continue with further schooling.”

Dr. Dawson then explained the research she and her students conducted:

research2My research focuses on researching ways to improve the management of Great Lakes sea lamprey in an effort to protect native Great Lakes fish populations. Sea lamprey are non-native fish who invaded the Great Lakes in the 1930s, and have had devastating negative effects on native fish populations since that time. Sea lamprey are parasitic fish which attach themselves to large-bodied fish and suck out their blood and body fluids. Their main prey are native lake trout, whose populations collapsed soon after the invasion of sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. Sea lamprey have an interesting life cycle that starts with eggs laid in Great Lakes tributaries that hatch into larvae which burrow into stream beds. They spend approximately 3-7 years in the larval stage, and are harmless filter-feeders until they gain enough fat reverses to go through the process of metamorphosis. During metamorphosis they get eyes and teeth and head out to the Lakes where they spend their parasitic life stage feeding on large-bodied fish. They spend approximately 12-20 months in the parasitic stage, after which they head into Great Lakes streams in the spring and mature into adulthood. They quickly become sexually mature in streams where they spawn and die.

research4Danielle Potts was interested in studying animal behavior as part of her Master’s thesis at UM-Flint, so we discussed working together to study larval sea lamprey behavior. We wished to determine whether larval sea lamprey, who burrow into stream beds, change their habitat preferences and move downstream as they grow. An undergraduate at UM-Flint, Alex Maguffee, also joined us in conducting some of this research. Streams are ranked for chemical treatment where a lampricide is applied based on the number of large larvae that are projected to be killed per dollar spent. Larval populations are assessed by sea lamprey control agents on a regular basis to inform the ranking of streams for treatment. Sea lamprey control agents electrofish the preferred habitat of larval sea lamprey to catch sea lamprey at points along the streams so they can estimate the entire stream abundance of larval sea lamprey. Danielle and I wished to determine whether large larval sea lamprey also spend time in acceptable, but not preferred, habitat and whether they move downstream as they grow. If some large larvae do spend time in acceptable habitat, then sea lamprey control agents will not collect them, as they are only assessing preferred habitat, which could lead to underestimating populations of large larvae. If large larvae move downstream as they grow, then sea lamprey control agents may need to assess populations further downstream to get an accurate estimate of large larvae.

We investigated the feasibility of tracking individual sea lamprey to study their behavior by using passive integrated transponder (PIT) technology to detect sea lamprey larvae in their burrows underneath the stream bed. PIT tags are small tags that can be implanted internally into an animal and has a unique identification number that can be read using an antenna. We found that the smallest tags available (8 mm in length) are still too large to be implanted into larval sea lamprey >100 mm in length without causing significant mortality. We also found that the burrowing ability of tagged larval sea lamprey was significantly worse than untagged larval sea lamprey. Tagged larval sea lamprey took much longer to burrow, which likely increases their susceptibility to predation. We did find that large larval sea lamprey have a tendency to move downstream as they grow. However, to really study larval sea lamprey in streams, smaller tags are needed to track individual larval sea lamprey to ensure that the majority can survive tag implantation and that their natural behavior is not affected.

Dr. Heather Dawson can be reached by email:

For more information on the UM-Flint Biology Department, please visit their website.

To view current student research opportunities, please visit the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) page.