Category Archives: Physics

Faculty Spotlight: Biplob Barman of UM-Flint Physics

Biplob Barman, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2017 as an assistant professor of physics.

Biplob Barman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physics

Biplob Barman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physics

Read below to learn more about him and the field of physics, or join him in one of his Winter 2018 classes:

  • PHY 143-01: College Physics I
    (held MW, 11:15 a.m. – 1:25 p.m., with Friday lab)
  • PHY 143-02: College Physics I
    (held MW 4 p.m. – 6:10 p.m., with Friday lab)

Students can register at or find more information about upcoming semesters at

In which area of physics are you most interested?
I am interested in experimental condensed matter physics, especially optical spectroscopy of semiconductor nanostructures.

Why are you passionate about your field? 
I am passionate about optical spectroscopy because it is one of the most fundamental fields of physics wherein one can study interaction of light with matter. Using this technique, one can use light of varying wavelengths to probe various properties in different types of nanomaterials, which are extremely important from a technological point of view.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
Travelling down memory lane, I believe it all started while working on physics labs in high school where a prism was used to separate white light into its constituent spectrum of colors. That was the beginning of this journey towards a PhD and I am glad I undertook it, because all along I have always been intrigued by the effect of light on different materials.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach? 
Besides introductory physics classes, I would love to teach the following courses:

  • Semiconductor Physics
  • Solid State Physics
  • Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic properties of Materials

What is your latest or favorite research project?
One of my favorite research projects has been the study of magnetic quantum dots, particularly their behavior as a function of the location of the magnetic dopants. Another area of research that I worked on was using Terahertz (Electromagnetic radiation between Microwaves and Infrared) time domain spectroscopy to study semiconductor charge carrier (electrons and holes) dynamics.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint? 
As a Physics faculty member, I hope to be able to nurture a sense of curiosity among the students and enhance their analytical and technical skills. As an educator and a guide, I would like to help the students reach a level where they are competent enough to choose between employment or further studies upon graduation. I hope to secure external funding to start an undergraduate research program wherein I can integrate material science engineering and Physics thereby imparting relevant technical skills necessary for success in their respective careers.

Why were you excited to join UM-Flint and the Flint community? 
I have always dreamt of bringing various aspects of cutting edge research accessible to the general public as a means to inspire them. UM-Flint, and the Flint community as a whole, provides the perfect platform to jumpstart a movement wherein I can get together with high school teachers of the community to incorporate STEM at a very early stage. More significantly, the demographics of the community brightens the prospect of organizing workshops in collaboration with local high school teachers to enhance STEM education in the community.

What do you hope for students in your field? 
I hope the students can utilize their skillset to excel in whichever career path they opt for and at the same time enlighten every individual they come across with the knowledge they acquired so as to create a society based on the pillars of science and reasoning.

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

  • Hard-work and honesty
  • Never say die attitude
  • An avid soccer fan

UM-Flint Physics and Hubble Telescope Research

Dr. Rajib Ganguly of UM-Flint Physics

Dr. Rajib Ganguly of UM-Flint Physics

In late June, 2016, Dr. Rajib Ganguly, Associate Chair of UM-Flint Physics and Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Sciences, Engineering and Physics, received some exciting news: his proposal to use the Hubble Telescope to observe eleven objects in deep space was approved.

Dr. Ganguly’s research will claim 19 of the spacecraft’s orbits during the next year. Over 891 proposals, requesting 25,600 orbits, were submitted this year–while only 3764 total orbits are available.

Dr. Ganguly’s successful proposal was a first for him and for UM-Flint.

In the UM-Flint Physics and Astronomy programs, Dr. Ganguly is known for his research on quasars–or, as he describes them, growing super-massive black holes that reside in the center of galaxies.

Read below as Dr. Ganguly shares more information on his upcoming work with the Hubble Telescope and other areas of research:

In everyday terms, what is your field of research and study?
I’m interested in the understanding the biggest, most massive black holes in the Universe, how they grew to be that size, how that growth affects its surroundings, their relationship to the galaxies in which they reside. To do that, I combine both an empirical and a theoretical approach, using data from a wide variety of telescopes (including Hubble!) and computer simulations.

What do you find fascinating about this work?
That’s a loaded question that could be answered in a many ways! I once posed a somewhat related question to an group at a recent outreach event: What do you think is the most awesome thing about space? I got lots of interesting answers mostly naming specific objects, like black holes, or phenomena, like the expansion of the Universe. Then I told the audience my answer. I find it completely amazing that, using only information encoded in the light that we get here on Earth, and our own ingenuity, we can figure this out about things in space. It is striking that the Universe appears to obey certain rules and that we humans can have the audacity to try to figure out what those rules are. That might be a more generic answer for any us doing research in the physical sciences.

Without getting too esoteric, the current research effort is interesting on several levels. We (the astronomy community) are trying to tell the story of how structure emerged in the Universe, how galaxies formed from that structure, and how they evolve. The growth of supermassive black holes in the nuclei of galaxies appears to have a connection with that evolution. Furthermore, we observe that, in some of these actively growing black holes, there is a substantial amount of matter being expelled from the system, which seems counter-intuitive. How does matter escape from the vicinity of a black hole? There is interesting, and extreme, physics that is needed to explain what is going on.

By testing our ideas about how those rules of nature work in the extreme environment of a black hole, we can hope to improve our understanding of those rules. And with greater understanding comes a greater power to help ourselves.

Dr. Ganguly working with UM-Flint Physics students

Dr. Ganguly working with UM-Flint Physics students

What is your history with the Hubble Telescope?
I have a long history with the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble was launched in 1990 and I began graduate school at Penn State in 1996. My first task before classes even started in my first year was to help my to-be-advisor finish preparing proposals for, if I recall correctly, the fourth cycle of Hubble observations. (We’re heading into the 24th cycle now.) By the time I was in my fourth year of grad school, I was writing my own Hubble proposals. I actually wrote one to fund my PhD dissertation research which repurposed existing Hubble data. I defended my PhD in 2002, and my first post-doctoctoral position was as a research scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. That is basically ground-zero from where Hubble is operated, and the data are archived.

There are many divisions at the institute: a division for each of the instruments, a division for archiving the data, a division for conducting outreach, etc. My supervisor was connected to one of the instruments that was to go up with the fourth servicing mission. Of course, 2003 saw the tragic loss of Space Shuttle Columbia and the astronauts on board, which then grounded the remaining shuttle fleet, and the cancellation of that mission. That was not a happy time, and many of us had to reinvent our research goals/methodology, which I did during my second post-doctoral position at the University of Wyoming. Fate can be rather twisted, though. Eventually, the shuttle fleet was brought back for a time, Hubble was serviced again and those instruments brought new life to the observatory. My then-supervisor, Ken Sembach, is now the director of the Institute. And the new proposal that will see UM-Flint’s first Hubble observations will be taken with the very instrument that we were going to use back in 2003.

Who are you working with on this project?
For my sabbatical this past Winter semester, I went back to my old stomping grounds at Penn State. There, I continued working with my dissertation advisors, Professors Jane Charlton and Michael Eracleous. They are my primary collaborators on this project. I am also collaborating with Professor Charlton current graduate student (my academic brother), Chris Culliton, as well as Professor Eracleous’ post-doctoral researcher Dr. Jessie Runnoe. Dr. Runnoe actually did her PhD at the University of Wyoming, and worked with me while I was there. She will recently moved to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

How will the data from the Hubble help advance your particular research?
There are a number of questions regarding the matter that is being ejected by black holes that are growing in the cores of galaxies. How much is there? How does that compare with how much is falling in? How does it get ejected? The inflow likely takes the form of a thin disk accreting onto the black hole. What shape does the outflow take? What governs that shape?

In a previous study, we identified targets in the existing archive of Hubble observations that were also luminous in the radio band. Radio emission arises from jets of material travelling at relativistic speeds along the rotation axis of the black hole. As a by-product, we can use radio maps to gauge the orientation of these systems. We found two things from that study: (1) nearly all of the radio-luminous objects are viewed with the jet pointing roughly toward us, and (2) none of them show evidence for outflowing material. So, the question is: Are these two things related? Is this telling us something important about the geometry of the outflowing gas? Or is there something more fundamentally, and subtly, heinous about growing black holes with jets that prevent them from having the types of outflows we observe in other objects. [I should note here that the jet itself does not include a sufficient amount of material to provide an explanation for the ejected matter that we observe.] So, we identified a sample of radio-luminous objects where the jets are not directed toward us and convincingly proposed to observe them to test the hypothesis that this is just an orientation effect, that we are getting at the actual geometry of the outflowing gas. A “null” result – that we don’t find any outflows in the proposed sample – will indicate the latter option, which might be even more interesting in terms of understanding what physics is important in driving outflows.

How will UM-Flint students be involved in this research?\
There are a number of aspects of this particular project that my students will assist me with. As the data are collected by Hubble and transmitted down the Earth and archived, we will need to download the data, and to process it so that we can make measurements of it. (The processing has to do with accounting for the ways in which the telescope and camera behave, and calibrating the data.) Since our primary goal is a fishing expedition, our first step will be to count the fish and to compare the statistics of outflows with other samples of objects. Furthermore, for any outflows that are detected, we want to use the high resolution afforded by the Hubble Space Telescope to make measure how much gas there is, and the characterize its physical conditions. This will shed clues as to the nature of the outflowing gas, and the relevant physical processes that affect/drive it.

What value can the general public find in attending your outreach events?
Science is fun, and exciting, and important, and necessary. There isn’t really a price tag on the scope of human knowledge about how nature works, and the rigorous means we use to expand both the breadth and depth of that knowledge. Our primary vehicle for public outreach is a massive event that we call AstroNite, offered once during each of the semesters (October for Fall, April for Winter).  During those events, we have activities that cover how we use information that is encoded in light to learn things about the Universe, what kinds of tools and machinery (e.g., telescopes, Mars Rovers) we use to explore other places, and how we can use observations to infer the story of planets, stars, galaxies, and the Universe as a whole.

This is the boldest and most audacious application of scientific principles – learning about no less than the entire Universe with just what we have figured out here on our tiny, precious Earth–and we use it to help inspire the next Carl Sagan, or Richard Feynman, or Stephen Hawking.

For more information on UM-Flint Physics, visit

Alumni Spotlight: Todd Butler, PhD

Todd M. Butler, PhD – Honors Physics, 2010

Todd Butler, Physics Alum

What are you doing now?
Following my tenure at UM-flint, I completed my M.S. and PhD degrees in metallurgical engineering at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. I am currently employed by UES, Inc. and work at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an on-site contractor in the materials and manufacturing directorate. My current duties include assisting in the analytical characterization of several metal-based AFRL research projects.  This includes the ability to alter the direction of certain aspects of each project. I am actively participating in research related to direct air force related applications. My current goal is to continue to develop into a tenured scientist and remain actively present in the scientific community by disseminating results through conferences and peer-reviewed manuscripts. I’ve also had an interest to potentially return to academia in the future.

How did your University of Michigan-Flint education prepare you for what you are doing now or the career you’ve had?
I owe much of my success today to experiences encountered at UM-Flint, and in particular the honors program. Classes at UM-Flint taught me how to actively think and understand scientific principles. They also provided me with a fundamental understanding of math and science that I found rivaled many other institutions. I was also active in undergraduate research, which taught me how to figure things out (problem solve) and how to properly approach challenges in life. My entire career at UM-Flint more than adequately prepared me for further graduate studies.

Do you have any reflections on your choice of Physics as a major? What do you love about this field?
I am very happy that I chose to learn physics for an undergraduate degree. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time. Interestingly enough, I did not pursue physics for a graduate degree and studied metallurgical and materials engineering instead. However, my time as a physics major provided me with a toolbox of skills for any scientific problem or challenge. The whole idea around physics is to understand the main concepts and be able to apply them to non-ideal problems. This ultimately made my transition to a materials scientist relatively easy. I found that it gave me an edge over other engineering majors and allowed me to think about problems and challenges in a different way.  It also made my graduate classes much easier in comparison to some of the challenging undergraduate physics courses.

Who made the biggest impact on your UM-Flint career?
I would say that two individuals stand out with regards to my experience at UM-Flint. They include both Mojtaba Vaziri, who was my mentor and research advisor, and Maureen Thum, who was my mentor in the honors program. Dr. Vaziri provided a continuous supply of encouragement in both classwork and also scientific research. Through him, I participated in several research conferences as an undergraduate, where I was able to disseminate my own results. I highly value my experience with Dr. Vaziri because he helped shape me into the scientist I am today. In addition, Dr. Thum was definitely the most memorable individual at UM-Flint. She always exhibited a high level of enthusiasm and it was clear that she cared for you. I owe my writing ability to her, since she molded me into a great writer. This has helped me in an immeasurable way as an engineer and scientist who often writes proposals, reports, and peer-reviewed manuscripts.

Describe a firsthand example of an impactful learning experience at UM-Flint.
The most impactful learning experience I can remember is my off-campus study for my senior year in the honors program. We were required to conduct a research project off-site and develop an introductory proposal, conduct the research off-site, and ultimately provide a scientific thesis at the end. I chose to participate in an REU physics program in Alabama, where I worked on a materials science related project with CVD diamond films. This experience opened my eyes to the field of materials science and metallurgy.  Ironically, I ended up at the University of Alabama Tuscaloosa for my graduate degrees in metallurgical engineering. I honestly believe that without such an experience at UM-Flint, I would not be where I am today.

Working with a transmission electron microscope (TEM) during graduate school.

Todd Butler working with a transmission electron microscope (TEM) during graduate school.

What does UM-Flint do better than any other university?
UM-Flint provides a personal sense of encouragement and knowledge that other larger institutions don’t necessarily exhibit. I enjoyed the smaller classes and personal lifelong relationships that I was able to develop with key faculty in my major. I think that these attributes ultimately fostered a higher level of learning and thought. I am quite happy with my choice of UM-Flint for my undergraduate career because I was truly prepared for future endeavors.

What advice would you give to an incoming UM-Flint freshman?
I would tell UM-Flint freshman that they chose the right institution. I would also recommend that they learn as much as possible, since the opportunity is there. It is essential to take advantage of the unique opportunities that UM-Flint delivers, both academically and socially. Specific to science majors, I would also recommend talking with faculty and mentors early on and try to actively pursue research all throughout their tenure at UM-Flint. Lastly, I would tell them to take all of the classes they can, since they will be taught by highly experienced faculty that love to teach. One doesn’t truly realize the opportunity for learning until you graduate and look back at all of the topics and courses that you wish you would have pursued as a student.

What advice do you have for graduating seniors entering the job field?
I would advise graduating seniors to hold their heads high and be confident with the degree that you earned at UM-Flint. As a graduate student, I rivaled the skills of many other students that attended top ten big name schools. In my professional career at the Air Force Research Laboratory, I [work] actively with world experts and have the ability to speak at a high level with them. Don’t be afraid to pursue your dream job or dream school, as I know if you worked hard at UM-Flint you will be ready for anything that comes your way!

What are your hopes for the UM-Flint of the future?
I hope that UM-Flint continues a high level of academic preparation for students that I encountered in my experience. I would like to see the institution grow and develop a reputation similar to the Ann Arbor campus.

For more information on the programs that prepared Todd for his successful career as a scientist, visit our Physics and Honors Program websites. To register for an upcoming semester, visit

AstroNite at UM-Flint: April 16, 2016

AstroNite activities at UM-Flint

AstroNite activities at UM-Flint

Visit UM-Flint and enjoy a family-oriented open house that’s out of this world!

As part of the International Day of Astronomy sponsored by the Astronomical League, UM-Flint Physics and Longway Planetarium have joined for a night that is sure to make your imagination soar to the stars. AstroNite is a free and fun way for all ages to celebrate astronomy. Activities explore rainbow forensics, planetary science, telescopes and other instruments, stars, cosmology, and more through hands-on learning, games, and crafts.

In addition to being a great resource for local families, AstroNite provides a unique teaching opportunity for the physics program’s students. Notes Justin Wisby, Physics and Mathematics majors, “I have been helping out with AstroNite for a couple of years now, ever since my first semester here. AstroNite is a key event each year which allows all participates a chance to learn something new. Since the demographic of your audience changes throughout the night, all presenters must vary their presentation style to help their audience understand. Knowing physics is not the difficult part, it is convincing others you do. AstroNite is the typical introduction of presenting physics, an experience that all new physics students at UM-Flint must have.”

For more information, or to RSVP, visit the event’s Facebook page.

CAS Recognizes December 2015 Graduates with Honors

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


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

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

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

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

Photos are available from the evening. Visit our album at

Congratulations to all of our graduates!


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

December 2015 Maize & Blue Winners Announced

MAIZE&BLUEThe Scholarships, Awards and Special Events Committee and Provost Douglas Knerr announced that December 2015 recipients of the Maize and Blue Distinguished Scholar Award, the highest academic award bestowed upon the graduates of the University of Michigan-Flint. Join us in congratulating these outstanding students and all those nominated!

Joshua D. Ahlborn**
Bachelor of Science – Computer Science

Paul A. Fulkerson** (Double Major)
Bachelor of Arts – English-Writing Specialization
Bachelor of Arts – Economics

Nathan S. Holbeck** (Double Major)
Bachelor of Science – Health Care Administration
Bachelor of Arts – Physics

Taylor E. Mata**
Bachelor of Arts – English

Dawn M Watters**
Bachelor of Science – Applied Psychology

David T. Yeoman**
Bachelor of Science – Environmental Science & Planning

These awards will be presented at the commencement program on December 20, 2015.

Giving Blueday – December 1, 2015

Impact students. Start a journey. Fund the future.

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

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

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

Give proud, give loud, and GO BLUE!


AfricanaStudies.StampAfricana Studies
The Africana Studies Department is dedicated to diversity and global awareness. To do so they utilize literature, theatre, film, and traditional academic studies. Each year they bring Africa Week to the Flint Community and they work with the Flint Public Library to present a visiting writer or author.
Share or Give:

Dr. Aiyer was an associate professor of anthropology and a passionate researcher and teacher. The Regents of the University of Michigan regarded him as “a valued student advisor [and a] respected leader in his department.” Make a gift to his namesake scholarship and help future students who demonstrate a special commitment to education.
Share or Give:

The Biology Department is celebrating two of its dedicated faculty by requesting gifts to their memorial funds. The Eugene “Doc” Studier Scholarship offers research support to Biology graduate students. The Holly Sucic Memorial Scholarship serves students in the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology programs.
Share or Give: or

ChemBio.StampChemistry & Biochemistry: BLECKER CHEMISTRY SCHOLARSHIP
Professor Harry H. Blecker was the founder of the Department of Chemistry and a faculty member from 1957 to 1989. This fund honors him and helps Chemistry students complete their studies at UM-Flint. In his obituary, Professor Blecker’s family said “It was important to him to help future generations. This vision was his passion for working with thousands of students at UM-Flint.”
Share or Give:

ComVisArts.StampCommunication: UM-FLINT DEBATE TEAM
The UM-Flint Debate team has had a winning tradition at national-level debate for the last few years. Gifts made to this fund will allow the team to continue traveling and debating at tournaments near and far. Although housed in the Communication Program, the team is open to all UM-Flint students. Give today and keep them the Victors of Debate!
Share or Give:

ComScience.StampComputer Science & Information Systems
Help fund study and research by Computer Science & Information Systems students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
Share or Give:

CriminalJustice.StampCriminal Justice
Help fund study and research by Criminal Justice students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
Share or Give:

EarthScience.StampEarth & Resource Science
Help fund study and research by Earth & Resource Science students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the department leaders.
Share or Give:

Economics.StampEconomics: SCHOLARSHIP FUND
The Department of Economics awards $500 scholarships every semester to our highest achieving majors. These scholarships allow students to cover any cost associated with attending, such as tuition, books, fees, etc.  Our students are very grateful to the generosity of our donors, as these scholarships make a meaningful impact on their lives.
Share or Give:

Help fund study and research by Engineering students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
Share or Give:

Every student has to buy books, but English majors have to buy a LOT of books! In the department we try to keep book costs as low as we can, but the reading remains essential. We were all cash-strapped English majors ourselves, and that’s why we want to establish the English Book Scholarship Fund. For us, anything we can do to defray these expenses is worth doing, but we can’t do it alone.
Share or Give:

FLLshortForeign Language & Literatures: MONICA KARNES SCHOLARSHIP
Monica Karnes was a student in Spanish at UM-Flint. Although she was seriously ill, she “continued to pursue her education . . . demonstrating a commitment to excellence which is in the best tradition of the University.” Our UM-Flint Chapter of the Phi Sigma Iota Int’l Foreign Language Honors Society established this fund in 1985 in her memory “to benefit students who share Monica’s hopes, her dreams, and her spirit.”
Share or Give:

Help one of our students travel to London, England, for our first international internship! This experience will have a profound effect on their love of history and future studies and career. The student will work at the Museum of London.
Share or Give:

InterGlobalStudies.StampInternational & Global Studies: STUDY ABROAD SCHOLARSHIP
Named for Dr. Matthew Hilton-Watson, associate professor of Foreign Language and the Director of the International and Global Studies Program, this scholarship helps undergraduate and graduate students travel the globe. Give the gift of experience, diversity, and expanded horizons to UM-Flint students while you pay tribute to Dr. Matt.
Share or Give:

Math.StampMathematics: FAMILY MATH NIGHT
Twice each year the Math Department hosts Family Math Night, a free event where young children and their families have fun together with math. The kids learn two important lessons: math can be fun, and they can do it! Help us continue this tradition of community engagement and inspiring future mathematics majors!
Share or Give:

Voice. Instrumental. Classical. Jazz. Contemporary. Music can mean so many things, but, at UM-Flint, each definition has passionate students in common. Your gift to this scholarship will help future Music majors follow their dreams toward a life of making music. Encourage them to embrace creativity! This is an endowed scholarship, so your gift will be continuous.
Share or Give:

Our Candace Bolter Scholarship is $2,500 away from reaching endowment status. Once endowed, the scholarship will always be available to fund future Philosophy students. Says past recipient Thomas Mann, “[scholarships] give the student the sense that someone else believes in what they’re striving for, and for the student, that can mean the world.”
Share or Give:

Help fund study and research by Physics students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
Share or Give:

PoliticalScience.StampPolitical Science
Help fund study and research by Political Science students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
Share or Give:

Help fund study and research by Psychology students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
Share or Give:

Professor Albert Price served as Director of the Master of Public Administration Program for 24 of the its 35 years. He was also one of the program’s best known faculty members and a mentor to many of its graduates. Donations to this scholarship will help future MPA students complete the program that means so much to Dr. Price.
Share or Give:

Gifts to this fund will benefit our students AND our city! Established in 2010 to honor the memory of Professor Wilfred Marston,
this endowed fund supports students who undertake a civic engagement project with a sociologically relevant research component that focuses on the improvement of Flint.
Share or Give:

Official.Theatre.Horz.Sig.png.binTheatre & Dance: FRIENDS SCHOLARSHIP
This fund supports Theatre & Dance students as they cultivate the necessary tools, both artistic and personal, to meet the demands of an ever evolving world and profession. With your support our students will stand ready to take a place of responsibility in the community at large and excel as fearless artists, flexible workers, and compassionate citizens. Thank you for giving!
Share or Give:

Visual Arts & Art History: STUDENT TRAVEL
The Visual Arts and Art History Faculty would like support for students and student travel for Giving Blueday. In summer 2015 our students traveled to Paris, France. They loved the experience and can already see the benefits of their time there. Your gift will allow future Visual Arts & Art History students the chance to expand their horizons and find new inspiration!
Share or Give:

WomenGenderStudies.StampWomen’s & Gender Studies: CRITICAL DIFFERENCE FUND
The WGS would like gifts to be made to the Women’s Education Center Critical Difference Fund. This small grant helps students facing emergency situations stay in school. Says one recipient, “I believe this grant is important because everyone needs help sometimes and even the littlest thing can save a life.” Give today and be a victor for those who need it the most.
Share or Give:

WritingCenterlogoWriting Center: C. SCOTT RUSSELL SCHOLARSHIP
The C. Scott Russell Scholarship helps writing students with the expense of higher education. The scholarship is awarded to students enrolled in English 109: College Writing Workshop based on their writing improvement and financial need. ENG 109 is designed as an independent study in writing. Students focus on writing issues that interest them and are important to their academic success.
Share or Give:

Meet Ayana Ghosh – 2015 Alumna of CAS, UM-Flint

Ayana is the featured “New Alumni” from the October 2015 CAS Alumni Newsletter. Read below to get to know this incredible graduate!

Ayana Ghosh, UM-Flint Alumna

Name: Ayana Ghosh
Majors: Physics, Abstract Mathematics
Student Groups/Campus Involvement: Indian Student Association (Chair- 2014-2015), The Michigan Times (2011-2014), International Center (Employee and volunteer, 2011-2015), Society of Physics Students (2011-2015), Student Success Center ( Tutor- Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics- 2011-2013, Supplemental Instruction Leader- Physics – 2012-2015), First Street Ambassador (2013-2015), Dance Instructor (2014-2015), Undergraduate Research Assistant (UROP- 2011-2015)
Year of Graduation: May 2015

Where are you heading next?
I’m pursuing my PhD in Physics and Material Science at New Mexico State University. Throughout my PhD, I will be collaborating with national labs like Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Argonne via research fellowships.

I would like to be a scientist in near future. On completion of my doctoral degree, I plan to do postdoctoral studies at a national lab or an academic institution.

**UPDATE** Ayana sent us an note on November 4th with her updated plans:

I am moving to University of Connecticut from January 2016. They offered me a PhD position in Material Science department, which is among top 25 public research programs in the country. I will be working in collaboration with Pfizer and Argonne National Lab.

Also one of my papers got published last month in the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A.

How did your University of Michigan-Flint education prepare you for what you are doing next?
If I have to phrase it one line, I will just say, “UM-Flint gave me all that I expected and much more to build me in every way what I am now!” My department always supported me throughout my undergraduate career, to excel in research by providing me funding as well as opportunities to travel to different conferences to present my research. I also had the chance to balance out between finishing two majors in four academic years and engaging myself on an average of five jobs on campus. All of these have really helped me to focus on my career more along with nurturing my hobbies.

Who is the person(s) who made the biggest impact on your UM-Flint career (professor, advisor, mentor, fellow student, an alum, other)? How specifically did they affect your life?
It is really hard to take one name for this question. I would mention Dr. James Alsup andDr. Maureen Thum for sure.

Dr. Alsup trusted my research capabilities from the very onset of my undergraduate career. I couldn’t excel in research without [the] effort and encouragement that came from his part.

Dr. Maureen Thum is one of the incredible personalities I have met on campus. She not only ensured my success in my majors but also helped me developing my skills for graduate schools and thereafter. I would also like to thank the staff of International Center and First Street Residence Hall for being my continuous support through those years. They gave me a home in the midst of unknown.

What is the value of UM-Flint professors developing curricula in which classroom learning & concepts are applied to real world situations?
Coming from science background, I highly think the hands-on-research environment [is] very useful for students. It is really not possible to know the science without actually doing it. You can learn from books but until and unless you try to apply it somewhere useful, it is not that valuable in my opinion. Also doing labs and research enhances learning process. To do good research, you should always have to read a lot to know what has been done before in the field. Therefore, it helps you to get the whole picture of the past and the present of the respective field.

In classroom environments, the professors ensure that students engage in collaborative learning by assigning different projects, grouping the students, discussing the ideas. I think this way the students also get to talk to their peers and see how they think about a specific topic.

The higher level courses in the curriculum generally include capstone projects where one or more students pair up to build a project which help them to gravitate and spread their knowledge.

Describe a firsthand example of an engaged learning experience at UM-Flint.
I got engaged in undergraduate research through my first semester at UM-Flint. This was a very crucial step for me since I want to be a research scientist in the future. Beginning it early has helped me to develop so many skills that are really useful in my future career. I could go to many conferences to present my research work, which gave me opportunities to connect with people sharing similar interests. Since I like to travel and see the world, this is also a great way to do science and get out of your daily world.

What do you think UM-Flint does better than any other university?
In UM-Flint you aren’t just a number! You are a student, taught by qualified professors in respective fields in a reasonable class size. This is highly important at the early stages of career, because building strong foundations is all you need to later succeed in life.

What advice would you give to an incoming UM-Flint freshman?
Work hard, grab all the opportunities that you can. It might look small but it has a lot to offer if you have an eye to look for it. Bug your professors as much as you want, because here they are ready to help any time.

Describe “the UM-Flint of the future.” What could it be? What should it be? For students? For Flint? For the world?
For students it should be the ‘learning hub’
For Flint it should be the signature of empowerment of the city.
And for the world, the students should prove what they can be, where they can reach, even coming from a small campus as UM-Flint! Go Blue!

To learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences at UM-Flint, visit

CAS Faculty Welcomed and Honored at 2015 Convocation

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

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

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


Brian DiBlassio discusses teaching musical elements online.

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Lois Alexander, Professor of Music: Teaching Excellence Award

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

Kathy Schellenberg, Associate Professor of Sociology: Distinguished Service Award

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Chris Pearson Named Interim Associate Dean of CAS

Chris Pearson CSEP Professor of Physics

Chris Pearson, Professor of Physics and Interim Associate Dean of CAS

Per an announcement made by Susan Gano Phillips, Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences: 

I am delighted to announce that Chris Pearson will serve as an Interim Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences effective August 10, 2015, pending Board of Regents approval.  Chris is an experimental physicist who received his B.A. degree from Hamline University in 1989 and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1995.  He was appointed to a post-doctoral research position at the University of California-Davis prior to joining the faculty at the University of Michigan-Flint as an Assistant Professor in 1998.  He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2004 and Professor in 2011.  His research focuses on understanding the physics of semiconductor surfaces and he has published 20 journal articles and has made more than 50 conference presentations.  Additionally, he is interested in physics pedagogical research and helped transform the instruction of introductory physics through the integration of lecture and lab.

Professor Pearson has held various committee and service roles including Chair of the department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics, as well as member of the Executive Committee of the College, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Budget and Strategic Planning, the Faculty Council, and the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee.  Professor Pearson will retain his responsibility as current chairperson of the department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics while serving as the Interim Associate Dean of CAS.

Chris will join Associate Dean Roy Barnes in providing leadership within the College. I am confident that Chris and Roy’s leadership will provide stability, momentum, and innovation for the College during the upcoming year.

Best Regards,
Susan Gano-Phillips
Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences