Category Archives: Faculty News

UM-Flint Chemistry Professor Explores Space, Time Travel

Robert Stach, PhD, UM-Flint emeritus professor and author.

Robert Stach, PhD, UM-Flint emeritus professor and author.

“The year is 2112 and scientists are predicting that in twenty years or so an ice age will develop, that will, in all probability, be an extinction-level event…”

So begins the summation of Saving the Human Race, a science-fiction novel about six time traveling scientists and their efforts to save humans from a dying Earth. The book was written by Robert Stach, PhD, emeritus professor of chemistry and the former Director of Research at UM-Flint. Stach retired in 2012.

During his teaching career Stach engaged in academic writing, but this novel was his first attempt at creative fiction. He noted, “I had written several chapters for books, but I hadn’t written a novel until this novel and the two subsequent novels [in the series]. The second one will be published shortly.”

Stach’s career in academia was an asset to creating the story, which contains both space and time travel and examines the relationship between global warming and an ice age. Said Stach, “Because of my chemistry background, I could write from the standpoint of understanding the science and bring that to the fore in my writing.”

Stach’s desire to educate, specifically about climate change, provided inspiration for the series: “I thought writing this book and the two sequels may better demonstrate to the general public, especially climate change deniers, what can lie ahead for the human race if we don’t do something about the use of fossil fuels.”

Bob Stach speaking to a class

Bob Stach speaking to a class

That desire was also a driving force in his career. In a university interview, Stach noted, “I enjoy teaching and challenging students to become educated individuals so they can make significant contributions to our society. They need to be able to think, sometimes outside their comfort zone, and solve problems. . . No matter in what field one finds himself or herself, being well educated will allow [students] to do whatever they desire to do.”

When asked what he hopes readers will take away from his series, Stach replied, “I would hope they come away with the understanding of the exigent need to do something to decrease and eliminate energy sources that use fossil fuels to produce that energy and thus reduce the levels of carbon dioxide. It may not be too late to either prevent or ameliorate the coming ice age if we start using environmentally friendly energy producing systems.”

To contact Dr. Stach, email For more information on the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department at UM-Flint, and the ways in which it can inspire scientists and authors alike, visit

Phenom Fire 2016 at UM-Flint

PhenomFire 2016 logo

On Friday, June 24, 2016, the University of Michigan-Flint will host Phenom Fire: A Talk About Feminism, Womanism, and Female Fusion. This symposium aims to be “intentional about cross cultural conversations. A dialogue about intersectionality.”

The event will feature break out sessions, a lunch with performances, a panel discussion, and end with a finale performance in the UM-Flint Kiva. Phenom Fire is free and open to the public.

Says organizer and faculty member in the UM-Flint Communication Studies program Dr. Traci Currie, “This event comes out of a lunch conversation with two colleagues who are passionate about the work women do and the way we as women and men define ourselves (i.e. womanist, feminist, neither, both, activist, ally, so forth). With the support and encouragement from so many like the Women’s Educational Center and community partners, this symposium wonderfully [came] together. This event is a labor of love.”

Dr. Erica Britt, Assistant Professor of Sociolinguistics in UM-Flint’s English Department added, “I’m basically looking forward to the chance to have real conversations about our different experiences of race and gender (among other things) and the ways that our personal insights can influence a broader movement for social change within our institution and in the community.  I am particularly eager for this given that women, men, and queer people of color are often marginalized in institutional structures.  This symposium will allow us to really amplify voices that are often not ‘heard.’  Overall, I’m looking forward to having uncomfortable but deep and healing conversations, because I really believe that these types of conversations are key for building solidarity and stimulating our collective desire to create lasting social change.”

Dr. Erica Britt, Assistant Professor of Sociolinguistics at UM-Flint

Dr. Erica Britt, Assistant Professor of Sociolinguistics at UM-Flint

Dr. Britt will be speaking in Breakout Session 1: Race & Feminism at 10:30am in Michigan Room A.

Phenom Fire 2016 Schedule:

10am: Introduction, UCEN Happening Room

Emcee for the symposium is Leah Bailey.

10:30am-11:50am: Breakout Sessions, UCEN Michigan Rooms

  • Session 1, Michigan Room A: Race & Feminism – Drs. Rushika Patel & Erica Britt
  • Session 2, Michigan Room B: Men as Feminists – Jeff Bean, Tom Moore & Delma Thomas-Jackson
  • Session 3, Michigan Room C: Socio-Political Activism and Spirituality – Do They Mix? – Natasha Thomas-Jackson
  • Session 4, Michigan Room D: How to Heal & Create Solidarity between Women  – Ayanna Jordan

12pm-1:15pm: Luncheon, UCEN Happenings Room.

Special luncheon performances by:

  • Speed Painter Martina Hahn
  • UM-Flint Poets: Linda Samarah, Jordan Johnson, Jessica McLone, Tiffany Harris,

1:25-3pm: Panel Discussion, UCEN Kiva

Panelists include: Kristin Lindsey, Mama Sol, Muna Tareh-Sahouri, Jia Ireland, Lilianna Angel Reyes, and Elena Herrada

3:30pm: Finale Performance, UM-Flint Theatre

Finale Performers: Crystal Turner, Cherisse Bradley, Brinae Ali, La Shaun Phoenix Moore, Mama Sol, and Closing Out with Raise It Up. Emcee Amber Hasan

Phenom Fire finale performer Brinae Ali

Phenom Fire finale performer Brinae Ali

Jordan Johnson, a pre-med student in the Psychology Department, will be one of the Phenom Fire luncheon performers. Says Johnson, “My poetry/performance’s main themes are being happy with who you are, enjoying your personal journey, and not allowing anything to get in the way of your self worth, especially [as] a woman. It will show that women are strong beings and that we must give ourselves credit and the freedom to live.  My performance will display my own story as a young woman who had struggles with these things.”

Additional luncheon performers include Tiffany Harris – Health Care Administration Major; Jessica McLone – Social Work Major; and Linda Samarah – Communication Studies Major.

Johnson continued, “I believe events like this are a great way for the UM-Flint Campus & Flint Community to come together and love on each other. With all the negative things that have been happening in our city and our world, events like this are reminders that not all are bad and that there is hope and love in our communities. Events like these keep me encouraged and grateful.”

In closing, Dr. Currie noted, “It’s is key that we not only own our voices but that we also share our personal narrative as a way of helping people understand how we live out our activism in our local, national, global communities, especially in the 21st century where we are inundated with 20 second sound bites and endless digital catch phrases.”

Phenom Fire is brought to the Flint community by its partners/sponsors: UM-Flint’s Women & Gender Studies program, Women’s Education Center, Black Student Union, and Communication Studies program and 3W Beyond Words and a Share Art Flint grant.

Additional gratitude goes to Shon Norman for the Phenom graphic art AND to Brittini Ward for creating the programs.

For more information on Phenom Fire, visit

The University of Michigan-Flint University Center (UCEN) is located at 400 Mill St, Flint, MI 48503. Parking is available in the Mill Street Parking Ramp.

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: Shane Emmons, Computer Science & Information Systems

Shane Emmons graduated from UM-Flint in 2004 with a BS and 2006 with an MS in Computer Science. After several years of success in his field, he wrote to his home department asking if there was a way to give back to the community that helped him accomplish so much. Dr. Michael Farmer, Department Chair of CSEP, gladly accepted the offer and enlisted Emmons as an instructor for a graduate-level networking course. Read on to learn more about this UM-Flint alum and his place in the world of computer science.

Shane Emmons, alumnus and faculty member of UM-Flint's Computer Science program

Shane Emmons, alumnus and faculty member of UM-Flint’s Computer Science program

Name: Shane Emmons
Degree(s): Bachelors, Computer Science – 2004; Masters, Computer Science and Information Systems – 2006

What are you doing now? 
CTO, TeamSnap. I work as part of the executive team to define, plan, and execute the vision of the company. As the CTO, I also distill the overall company vision into a vision for the engineering organization which we then act upon. I spend time daily mentoring developers, defining our platform architecture and working to create consensus amongst the various groups on how we approach technical hurdles.

According to their website, TeamSnap is an “online sports team management application for coaches, managers and organizers to save time organizing their teams and groups.” Available services from the application include “0nline registration, player and schedule management, [and a] public website.”

How did your University of Michigan-Flint education prepare you for what you are doing now?
[UM-Flint] gave me the background I needed to hit the ground running. I was able to take what I learned in class and apply it directly to complicated problems that would have eluded me otherwise. It also taught me how to work as a team and how to clearly express myself. Communication is extremely important, especially in the highly remote and connected world of technology.

Who made the biggest impact on your UM-Flint career?
Dr. Turner in the CSEP department was my biggest influence. He always pushed me to do my best. He gave my opportunities to do independent research and to also assist him in research. Without his guidance and natural leadership to do something better I may not have strived as hard to reach my goals today.

What is the value of UM-Flint curricula?
You cannot begin to put value on how important the real-world curriculum was to my education. There are things we discussed in class that come up on a nearly daily basis. This approach allowed me to immediately put into action things I learned in class, even before I graduated.

What does UM-Flint do better than any other university?
UM-Flint does two great things you’ll not find at every University. First, they give students great individual focus. If you’re hungry to learn and willing to put in the work, you’ll find the professors there right alongside you giving back as much (or more) than you put in. Secondly, they offer great flexibility for those who are working but still want that university experience. Whether it’s classes at night or a mixed-mode online course, you can bet you’ll get the same University caliber experience.

What advice would you give to an incoming UM-Flint freshman?
Study hard, do the homework. What you put into the classes is what you’ll get out. The harder you work, the more you’ll learn and the further you’ll go.

Describe “the UM-Flint of the future.” What could it be? What should it be? 
An interconnected university that bridges remote and in-class students together in one cohesive experience.

For more information on the computer science program at UM-Flint, visit their website

CAS Faculty Join UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching

Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance and Amy York of Physical Therapy discuss peer observation at the 2016 UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching.

Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance and Amy Yorke of Physical Therapy discuss peer observation at the 2016 UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching.

Throughout the year, UM-Flint’s Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching (TCLT) acknowledges and advances excellence in teaching throughout campus. This spring they put a spotlight on that excellence with their annual Celebration of Teaching. The event marks the end of another academic year while fostering conversation and connections between faculty from around the university.

The 2016 event opened with a welcome by Tracy Wacker, director of the TCLT. She applauded the gathered faculty for the ways in which they are advancing teaching at the university.

The keynote address was given by Dr. Tom Wrobel of Psychology on the theme of the “Multiple Identities of a Teacher.” He talked about all of the facets of a teacher’s soul: a journeyman to the student apprentice, exposing them to the richness of each discipline; a salesperson, selling each area of study to students; an actor, putting on an excited face for the explanation given dozens of time before—remembering that the content is fresh for each batch of students; a lens, encouraging students “not just to see, but to see through”; and in some ways a parent.

He closed by noting that students also affect each faculty member’s identity, for “in trying to become a better teacher, you can’t help but become a better person.”

Learning from Peers

Tracy Wacker of the TCLT discusses the upcoming conversation with the Celebration of Teaching panel

Tracy Wacker of the TCLT discusses the upcoming conversation with the Celebration of Teaching panel

A faculty panel, made up of individuals from the College of Arts & Sciences, SEHS, and SHPS, spoke on “Advancing Teaching Excellence at UM-Flint.” Members included Scott Caddy of English, Jessica Camp of Social Work, Seung-Jin Lee of ERS and CSEP, Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance, Joyce Piert of Mathematics, and Amy Yorke of Physical Therapy.

Newport and Yorke opened the discussion together, talking about their experiences with peer observation.

They discussed the unexpected ways in which their disparate disciplines, theater and physical therapy, gave surprising insight into each other’s teaching spaces and methods.

For example, Newport offered feedback on use of space that reflected her experiences with staging plays. From that, Yorke learned to stage her students and classrooms for more effective communication.

Yorke, while giving a lesson on touch in her physical therapy course, inspired Newport to think about the ways in which she talks to students about applying stage makeup. For both, a softness of touch was needed to convey expertise and confidence.

Both were surprised by the amount of common ground they found in observing each other’s teaching methods and disciplines. Newport said she loved finding, “connections from unlike sources,” and Yorke added, “as teachers, we have so much in common.”

Emily Feueherm of English at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Emily Feueherm of English at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Seung-Jin Lee spoke on his experience of being brought to campus to “bridge the gap between environment and engineering.” To do so, he’s established a course that will help engineering students think about sustainability, “not just performance, but the consequences of design.”

His goal with the course is to help his students not only make products that have a sustainable design, but also come from sustainable systems. He hopes to inspire the students to be more “aware of making the world a better place.” For example, how do you redesign a computer so that its components and the energy it uses are not negatively impacting the world in which it works?

Panel member Joyce Piert of Mathematics speaks at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Panel member Joyce Piert of Mathematics speaks at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Joyce Piert of Mathematics discussed Teaching Circles on campus, and the ways in which they have enhanced her time in the classroom. Teaching circles bring together educators from many disciplines for conversations on their personal experiences in the professional world. She noted that, surprisingly, the sessions became a place of healing for her and others as they discussed shared moments.

Jessica Camp of Social work presented on her redesign of a senior capstone course as a new faculty member, and its expected and unexpected outcomes. The new course structure allows for senior projects to be student driven and community focused. Camp noted that she wanted her students “to be able to recognize social justice issues that need to be addressed,” and then to “research and apply action.” The capstone ends with an annual event at which the students present their research projects to the community and campus.

Camp noted that having the freedom to identify and drive their own research builds important and individual skills. It “helps students identify where their passion lies and move forward in this incredibly diverse field.”

She hopes the new student-driven model will help her students stand out when entering the job field after graduation, saying “[the] industry is looking for self-sufficient and self-motivated individuals [who can] think intentionally and critically about these issues.”

Associate Dean Roy Barnes of CAS at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Associate Dean Roy Barnes of CAS at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Scott Caddy teaches English 111 and 112, courses required by nearly every student at the university and ones in which he learned a great deal about being a teacher. While helping his students learn that making mistakes is okay, and that it will lead to stronger writing, he found that the same is true for being an educator.

Said Caddy, “It’s important to create a space where ‘failure’ is acceptable and you find ways to evolve and change your approach.”

Caddy’s powerful message about giving yourself permission to fail resonated with the faculty in the audience. It led to intense discussion about the importance of sharing both successes and failures with peers, and utilizing campus resources like the TCLT to have such conversations and gain feedback and support.

Powerful Conversation

Following the panel discussions, the Celebration of Teaching audience broke into small groups for a discussion on Teaching Moments. The TCLT staff prompted discussion by asking the groups to discuss the 2015-2016 academic year and the best thing that happened, the most surprising thing, and a powerful realization they had as teachers.

Faculty members share ideas on Teaching Moments at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Faculty members share ideas on Teaching Moments at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Audience members reflect on the 2015-2016 academic year at the Celebration of Teaching.

Audience members reflect on the 2015-2016 academic year at the Celebration of Teaching.

After the groups had come back together and shared their findings, Scott Johnson, Dean of the School of Management, noted the small groups’ findings shared “the common theme of self-awareness, learning as a person, and being honest that you have vulnerabilities.” He added, “it’s a really special thing to be a teacher, but this applies to all walks of life.”

For more information on the Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching, and the ways in which they work to advance educators at UM-Flint, visit their website:



Exploring Education in Israel

What would you find if you traveled around the world and met with your professional counterparts? Would you expect to see a greater number of similarities or differences in the work they do?

Stephanie Gelderloos, the developmental reading and writing specialist in the College of Arts & Science’s English Department, was invited to travel to Israel to find out. While there, she joined a conversation about the education of international students and those traditionally considered to be at-risk. She traveled with a small group of Detroit-area educators and administrators known as the Detroit Education Delegation. They visited Israeli and Palestinian schools, immigration centers, and educational communities.

The Detroit Education Delegation on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem with the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock behind.

The Detroit Education Delegation on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem with the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock behind.

Through her English courses and the work done with department colleague Emily Feueherm on UM-Flint’s Bridge Program, Gelderloos is working regularly with students who come from non-traditional circumstances and who may not speak English as their first language. Although the experiences for some of the students in Israel’s schools are different, consider those with refugee status or children belonging to nomadic societies, most are relatable those of students at UM-Flint. In both cases, they may just need some extra thought and consideration for their backgrounds and day-to-day circumstances. The approach taken in Israel to satisfy the needs of these students, and their families, was the main focus of the trip. Gelderloos traveled with the hope of gaining insights and ideas on ways she can improve the work being done at UM-Flint, especially fostering inclusion and integration in a multicultural space.

Learning in Israel

Although the trip mainly centered around younger students, Gelderloos still found inspiration for her work at the university level. “One thing that stood out was that they did a lot more with the parents of the at-risk students… A big component of what they did at a lot of these schools was they got the parents involved, they had training for the parents, social activities for the parents, to get the parents together at the school. The schools were almost like community centers, so their focus was on training and educating and helping the parents to be better support for the kids. So, I thought ‘I wonder if we can do something like that? Is there something that we could do for the parents of our students to help them be better support for the students, to maybe help them notice when things aren’t going right and know how to best respond?'”

Visiting with staff and immigrants during Hebrew class in Ramla's Immigrant Absorption center.

Visiting with staff and immigrants during Hebrew class in Ramla’s Immigrant Absorption center.

One of the areas of similarity that Gelderloos found was an idea of community service or civic engagement through the schools and education centers. “A lot of people who you would think need service, who do need service, are actually out there doing service. The kids in these needy schools find purpose and also connect more to their community, especially the immigrant students, connect more by being helpful, by providing assistance, through food drives or other support activities.”

Gelderloos (left) at the Ma'apilim in Lod, Israel

Gelderloos (left) at the Ma’apilim in Lod, Israel

When asked about her feelings of an exchange focused purely on educational practices, Gelderloos said, “I think educators must be the best everywhere. [They are] well educated, their hearts are in the right place and they want to help people, help their students. They are generally very passionate about what they do, and they are always trying to find ways to do it better. We met a lot of people like that. We went into quite a few places with a lot of great programs that were trying new and different things. People who were really dedicated. One of the schools was open from 6am to 10pm to accommodate work schedules and also as a resource for parents in the evening. They offered Hebrew classes for free in the evening, and they had computer literacy classes for parents. They were functioning as not only a school but a community center.”

CAS_Tsur Baher

Delegation members at a school in Tsur Baher, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

There were stops on the trip where the differences were more noticeable. Gelderloos described the situation and approach at one such stop, “At the Bialek Rogozin school in Tel-Aviv, there are students from 51 countries. There were approximately 1200 students in 12 grades. They taught all the students Hebrew but they also taught nine languages – reading, writing, speaking, etc. – in nine languages so that if the students’ bid to remain in the country were denied, they would be able to go home and speak, read, and write in their native language. That way they don’t go back to school at a significant disadvantage. I was really impressed by this, and I have never heard of any program like this here in the U.S.”

Delegation members during a tour of the Nitzana Educational Community.

Delegation members during a tour of the Nitzana Educational Community.

Bringing the Experience Home

When asked how she would be able to use and share what she’d learned on her trip, Gelderloos said, “I learned a number of things that I think could be beneficial to the students in our Bridge Program while visiting schools with high immigrant populations and the immigration absorption center in Ramla. For example, I learned about special programs that employed immigrants who have been in the country for some years as resources and mentors for newly arrived immigrants. I thought that we could use a similar tactic to help our international students integrate better and faster into our community. In addition, I did get some ideas for strategies to help at-risk students, and even a few ideas for assignments that help students explore their place in the university and the world once they leave UM-Flint. Finally, I learned about several programs that helped both foreign students and at-risk students successfully become integrated into the community via service activities. These service activities not only increase their self confidence, they also connect them to their community in a profound way. Emily and I have discussed adding service as a way to integrate the Bridge Programs students, and I will encourage other faculty members to consider adding service projects to their courses.”

Gelderloos will give a presentation about her trip to her colleagues in the English Department later this month. She said, “My presentation will mostly go over what I’ve been working on, what I got out of it as a developmental teacher and as a person who works with the international students regularly.”

The trip was organized by Jennifer Lewis from Wayne State University and was funded in large part by The Jewish Agency, with additional funding from the UM-Flint English department. Notes Gelderloos, “I am very grateful to all of them for this amazing experience.”

To learn more about the English Department and the university’s Bridge Program, visit

Joe Reinsel to be Artist in Residence in Baltimore, Maryland

Joe Reinsel of our Visual Arts Program has been selected as an Artist in Residence for the Neighborhood Lights program in Baltimore, Maryland. He’ll partner with his selected neighborhood, Little Italy, to “create an illuminated public art project during ht inaugural Light City Baltimore festival, March 28-April 3, 2016. Get to know more about this talented faculty member:

Joe Reinsel - Assistant Professor in CVA

Joe Reinsel – Assistant Professor of Media Arts

Name: Joseph Reinsel
Title: Assistant Professor of Media Arts
Programs: Art and Art History

Classes I teach: I teach courses in Interactive Art and Design

Professional Descrption: Joe Reinsel uses media, video, and sound to explore ideas about architectural space, time, and touch. His creative work continues to considers interaction and the environment and each work investigates different facets of communication such as video work for public installation, collective storytelling, and interactive exhibitions. He is the recipient of grants from The Flint Public Art Project, International Society of Electronic Arts, Maryland State Arts Council, Baltimore Museum of Art, New York State Council for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Baltimore City Office of Promotion and the Arts, and University of Michigan among others. Also he has presented work in thirteen countries on four continents at venues such as Museum of Contemporary Art(Chile), Corcoran Gallery of Art, Ars Electronica, Centro Cultural São Paulo (Brazil), Centro Cultural de España(Mexico), ZeroOne, and SIGGRAPH.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest: New Media and Interactive Art/Design

Degree(s)/Education: M.F.A. in Integrated Electronic Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, M.A. in Composition, Radford University

Memberships: College Art Association

How I fell in love with my field: I think I was always creating art work. Being a student in higher education it gave me the chance to understand my development and gave me skills to keep learning as I create new art work. As a professor and professional artist, every time I make a new art work I feel that I learn something from it through the creative action and the conversation that I am having with the medium I use to express my ideas. Learning is crucial in each new piece that I create.

What I hope for students in my field: For students, when you are creating something, whether it is work on art, a design project or even a written paper for a class, each of these efforts are creative acts. Your voice is used in each of them. As you grow and graduate from UM-Flint that voice is your way to navigate yourself in the future. While at UM-Flint, hone your voice and grow it and make it your own.


A photo from Reinsel’s Facebook page shows “a mockup for ‘Il Tartufo Lucent'”

How would you describe your particular Light City project? A community based project that illuminates the community of Little Italy through projection mapped light piece on the facade of St. Leo the Great at the cross streets of Exeter St. and Stiles St. in Baltimore, MD

How did the Little Italy neighborhood inspire or inform your art? I am interested in the stories and people of the neighborhood and I have gather a very large collection of still images that will be incorporated into the project.

In what ways are projects like Neighborhood Lights important for citizens and cities? This event is important to cities is because it creates new vantage points for discussion about communities and cities.

What will become of your work once the festival concludes on April 3? The work will only exist during Light City Baltimore.

What’s next for your as an artist? I am beginning to work on new ideas and concepts for new projects. Please follow my developments at

For more information on the Visual Arts & Art History Programs at UM-Flint, and their talented faculty, visit

Bendle High School Students Visit UM-Flint, Downtown to Better Understand Water Crisis

Dr. Marty Kaufman was one of a series of Flint experts and residents who spoke to Bendle High School students about understanding the Flint water crisis.

Dr. Marty Kaufman was one of a series of Flint experts and residents who spoke to Bendle High School students about understanding the Flint water crisis.

UM-Flint’s Secondary Teacher Certificate Program (TCP) has been undergoing a change in focus, moving away from more traditional models to one focused on place-based education. In this new approach, TCP students are spending more time connecting with diverse community populations through community- and school-based fieldwork and projects.

Tiffini Hurley, a current TCP candidate at UM-Flint, is student teaching at Bendle High School where her senior class is reading the novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The book explores struggles of the working class in industrialized cities, including living conditions and work environments. To help her students better connect with the content and themes of the book, Hurley organized a day of activities outside of the classroom focused on “Understanding the Flint Water Crisis.”

When asked about her goals for the day, Hurley said, “I hoped that the students would gain perspective on what a community really looks like in times of hardship and what the need actually is in Flint. By doing this they can enact change in the world around them. Especially since they are about to graduate, I want to send them into the world with a sense of empowerment.”

Danielle De La Mare, one of Hurley’s TCP faculty members at UM-Flint, noted how thrilled she is that the place-based model is already a part of her student’s teaching process: “The work Tiffini has done with her students is nothing short of amazing! Few teachers, let alone student teachers, take on projects this extensive. Hopefully our new place-based teacher education program will inspire more of this in the future.”

Suzanne Knight, another TCP faculty member, added, “Tiffini is our first teacher candidate to do a full place-based project during student teaching. However, these projects are also largely collaborative. It took the efforts of her mentor teacher; two other teachers at Bendle High School (one English, one science); and Leyla Sanker and others in University Outreach.”

Bendle High School students cross campus to sessions focused on understanding the Flint water crisis.

Bendle High School students walk across campus to sessions focused on understanding the Flint water crisis.

The Bendle students arrived at the Northbank Center in downtown Flint early on Friday, March 18. As a full group they listened to Jenny McArdle of the United Way of Genesee County discuss community needs and volunteer efforts as they related to the water crisis response. The high schoolers then split into three groups, organized by topic: Health and Human Impacts, Economic Impacts, and Environment and Infrastructure.

Health and Human Impacts

The first group was led by Ms. Erin Brown from Bendle and Kye Bright of UM-Flint’s University Outreach and AmeriCorps. From the Northbank Center Ballroom they headed to the Innovation Incubator on the building’s second floor.

Bright presented “Exploring the Water Crisis from a Resident’s Perspective,” focusing on politics, media, and the human impact of the situation. The group also discussed responding to the crisis at a neighborhood level.

Mr. Todd Barden of Bendle High School sits with his students for presentations on understanding the Flint water crisis.

Mr. Todd Barden of Bendle High School sits with his students for presentations on understanding the Flint water crisis.

Economic Impacts

Tiffini Hurley led the second group, along with Sara McDonnell of UM-Flint Outreach.

Their first speaker was Janet Van Der Winkle, Executive Director of the Flint River Corridor Alliance (FRCA) and co-owner of Flint’s Tenacity Brewing.

From there the group made their way downtown to speak with local business owners and managers about their experiences and responses to the water crisis. The first stops were Blackstone’s Pub & Grill and 501 Bar & Grill. Each restaurant had their general manager on hand to speak to the students. The group then headed to the newly-opened Local Grocer where Franklin, a co-owner, discussed his business’ perspective on investing in local food systems and Michigan’s economy.

Environment and Infrastructure

Troy Rosencrants speaks to Bendle High School students about using geographic information systems to map lead pipes in Flint, Michigan.

Troy Rosencrants speaks to Bendle High School students about using geographic information systems to map lead pipes in Flint, Michigan.

The third group walked across campus, and the Flint River, to the Department of Earth & Resource Science (ERS) in the Murchie Science Building. They were accompanied by their teachers Mr. Todd Barden and and Ms. Elizabeth Seavey, and Leyla Sanker of UM-Flint Outreach.

While in the ERS department, the students listened to Professor Marty Kaufman speak on lead and Flint’s infrastructure and Troy Rosencrants, Director of the UM-Flint GIS Center, who presented an introduction to geographic information systems and mapping the lead lines in Flint.

Tiffani Hurley, student teacher, and her Economic Impact group on the bus to their next destination

Tiffini Hurley, student teacher, and her Economic Impact group on the bus to their next destination

Late in the morning the students returned to Northbank Center for lunch, reflection, and group discussions. They also made plans for upcoming projects.

When asked for some final thoughts, Hurley said, “The day went better than I could have imagined! There was so much support from the community. Leyla and the Univeristy Outreach were so instrumental in bringing my brain child to life I couldn’t be more grateful. I want to really thank Dr. Knight for pushing me, Dr. De La Mare for teaching me that being in the moment is more valuable than many things, and the teachers at Bendle High School for helping support me in the crazy journey. When we returned to the school there were students coming up to me and thanking me. I am so flattered and humbled by the vulnerability the students have shown, how they’ve embraced this process, and the young men and women I see them becoming.”
A Bendle High School student poses in downtown Flint during a class visit to "Understand the Flint Water Crisis"

A Bendle High School student poses in downtown Flint during a class visit aimed at “Understanding the Flint Water Crisis”

For more information on place-based education at UM-Flint, contact a member of the Secondary Teacher Certificate Program by visiting their website. For information on UM-Flint efforts in the community, contact University Outreach. For information on this specific project, please email Tiffini Hurley at

UM-Flint’s First Full-Scale Opera, Hansel & Gretel, on Stage February 19 & 21, 2016


Hansel and Gretel spy a gingerbread house in the woods.

Dr. Joshua May of the UM-Flint Department of Music had a vision of bringing opera to his students and the Flint community. He began with small, portable productions of The Three Little Pigs and Jack and the Beanstalk, performing at area schools and the Flint Farmers’ Market. Now he has moved on to a full-scale production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s nineteenth century opera Hansel and Gretel. Held on the UM-Flint Theatre stage for public audiences on February 19th and 21st, the performance will bring to life the classic fairy tale of two children lost in the woods who are confronted by an evil witch with a love of gingerbread.

The major roles in the cast feature UM-Flint undergrads, graduate students, and alumni:

  • Gretel: Marada Dahl (Voice Performance, Music Major, Sophomore)
  • Hansel: Miranda Mooney (2015 Alumni, Music Voice Performance)
  • Mother: Amanda Rodman (Music Education/Voice Performance, Junior)
  • Father: Kevin Starnes (2002 Alumni, Current Grad Student – M.A. in Arts Administration)
  • Sandman: Jhane Perdue (Music Major, Voice Performance Major, Freshman)
  • Dew Fairy: Erica Kennedy (Theater Music Minor, Voice, Freshman)
  • Witch: Hannah Wikaryasz (Voice Performance, Music Major, Senior)

Dr. May notes that this performance opportunity is quite unique for his students, as most music programs do not offer operatic roles to undergraduates. To prepare, he’s been working with them to increase the range and strength of their voices. This is especially important as operas are most often performed without microphones on the singers. The students are embracing this opportunity for artistic and technical growth, and are appreciative of the noteworthy addition an opera makes on their future resumes.

Hannah Wikaryasz of Highland, MI, who plays the Witch says, “This role has helped me to work on expanding my vocal range, has introduced me to working with collaborative artists in a way that I am not used to (orchestra vs. just piano accompaniment), and has given me more experience in this style of music, expanding my abilities as a performer.”

Kevin Starnes of Flint, MI, will be playing the Father. (He grew a beard just for the role!) He has been singing in operas and musical theatre for years, but still found growth under Dr. May’s tutelage. He laughed as he recounted how once daunting notes are now easily within his range.

Opera’s dramatic elements provide additional challenges to the singers. Notes Starnes, “The biggest challenge for me in acting and singing simultaneously is always body mechanics. Sometimes the best way to emote what’s happening on stage might not be the best way to produce the sound that you need. A lot of my time was spent figuring out how I could best communicate the director’s vision while still maintaining the integrity of the sound.”

Wikaryasz is less experienced on the stage, but has come to embrace her role: “At first, I had a hard time stepping out of the box and actually becoming the Witch, instead of being myself as the Witch. Once I was able to let go of any uncertainty, it became much easier for me to get into character. I think the music and lyrics make it easy to get into the acting aspect.”

As Wikaryasz said, this production of Hansel and Gretel has been one of collaboration. Dr. May has received costume assistance from the Kearsley Park Players and the Flint School of Performing Arts; make-up assistance is coming from the Detroit Opera House. The UM-Flint Theatre Department helped with set construction and design. Young performers from the Flint Youth Ballet and the Flint Youth Chorus will join the cast on stage. UM-Flint Music students of the Collegiate Chapter of the National Association for Music Education are acting as teaching artists, visiting area schools and teaching children about the elements of opera. Carol Chaney, UM-Flint Lecturer and Music Department Technology Specialist, has designed an animated element that will wow the audience.

The Music Education students have an especially important role during dress rehearsal on Thursday, February 18th. They will serve as guides to 350 elementary school students who are visiting campus to interact with the vocalists and musicians before the show and then watch the full production. Says Karen Salvador, Assistant Professor of Music Education, “This opera outreach provides amazing opportunities for UM-Flint students and children all over Flint. Music education students are gaining real-world teaching experience in Flint classrooms, Flint children are interacting with college students, seeing live opera performed right in their school, and learning more about music in a hands-on, immersive way. Josh’s vision for this outreach is exactly in line with our university’s mission to partner with communities in ways that are meaningful to all parties. I know that this is an experience that will help shape our Collegiate-NAfME students as teachers, and it could also be an inspiration for a child who loves music.”

The cast is excited for this chance to share the show with a young audience. Says Starnes, “This is by far my favorite part of this production. I’ve loved opera since I was a kid (thank you Bugs Bunny), but I never got the chance to actually learn what opera was until far later. This brings the kids up close and personal so that they can develop an appreciation for the art form early.”

Adds Wikaryasz, “I am ecstatic that children are being involved. I think it is really important for them to be exposed to this kind of music. There are a lot of kids who have never heard or seen an opera before, so giving them a chance to see the opera and learn about it is really special.”

Music lovers of all ages are invited to come see Hansel and Gretel. Shows are Friday, February 19th, at 7:30pm, and Sunday, February 21, at 2pm, in the UM-Flint Theatre (303 E. Kearsley Street, Flint, MI 48502). General admission is only $5; students with a valid ID are free.

For more information please contact the UM-Flint Department of Music at 810.762.3377,, or visit

Funding and grants for the project were provided by the Nartel Family Foundation, the James A. Welch Foundation, UM-Flint’s University Outreach, and the Department of Music.

Meet Amanda Taylor of UM-Flint Psychology

Amanda Taylor, M.S.
Title: Lecturer III
Department: Psychology

Classes I teach:
PSY 100 – Principles of Psychology
PSY 309 – Abnormal Psychology
PSY 323 – Advanced Research and Writing in Psychology
PSY 336 – Psychology of Personality
PSY 351 – Techniques of Behavioral Change
PSY 352 – Introduction to Clinical Psychology

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications:
I am a clinician working in private practice in Ann Arbor MI. I work with adolescents and adults with various disorders, and specialize in anxiety and personality disorders. As evidence based practice is my priority, I use Acceptance and Commitment therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and other empirically supported treatments to help foster fulfillment in the lives of the people I work with.

In addition to my clinical work, teaching psychology is an infinitely rewarding challenge that I am incredibly grateful to have in my life. I enjoy, more than anything, fostering students’ ability to critically think about important matters in our field, and in our world.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
My research interests surround deception. More specifically, the emotion regulation properties of deception, and the development and maintenance of deception as verbal behavior.

B.A. Political Science and Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, 2010
M.S. Clinical Behavioral Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, 2013

Association for Contextual and Behavioral Science
Association for Psychological Science
Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan

How I fell in love with my field:
As an undergrad, I was somewhat lackadaisically making my way through a political science course trajectory, with the aim of becoming a lawyer. I took a forensic psychology class, in hopes for an easy “A.” But instead, what I got was an amazing research opportunity with a psychology faculty member to look at the emotion regulation properties of illegal behaviors – and I realized that behavior (no matter how deviant) is always conditioned from some sort of antecedent or context, and that compassion as a response was more appealing to me than litigation. I have since become a behavior analyst who uses compassion and mindfulness in everyday practice to foster meaningful relationships with people whose behavior has at times felt out of control for them. And, I really love it.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
I hope to continue down the road of intellectual engagement in areas that matter to me, and I hope to foster relationships and connections with people who love learning about the world as much as I do.

What I hope for students in my field:
I hope to inspire students to live authentic, meaningful lives by way of critical thinking and intellectual engagement with important, real life issues – much in the same way I was inspired as a undergraduate student, years ago.

Something you should know about me:
I live in Ann Arbor, and love the commute! There are few other times in my life where I can be with thoughts for an hour and listen to music as loud as I choose!

To learn more about the Psychology Department at UM-Flint, visit their website