Category Archives: Psychology Department

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.

UM Regents Announce New Appointments for Promotion and Tenure

On Thursday, May 21st, the Regents of the University of Michigan approved recommendations for new appointments and promotions for regular associate and full professor ranks, with tenure and/or promotion of faculty on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. The CAS promotions are presented below in alphabetical order.

Dauda Abubakar Africana Studies Assistant Professor

Associate Professor Dauda Abubakar

Dauda Abubakar, associate professor of Africana studies, with tenure, Department of Africana Studies, and associate professor of political science, with tenure, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.


Professor Lois Alexander

Lois L. Alexander, professor of music, with tenure, Department of Music, College of Arts and Sciences.


Professor Jami Anderson

Jami L. Anderson, professor of philosophy, with tenure, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences.

Roy Barnes

Professor Roy Barnes

Roy C. Barnes, professor of sociology, with tenure, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, College of Arts and Sciences.

Julie Broadbent, associate professor of psychology, with tenure, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences.

Daniel Coffield Mathematics

Associate Professor Daniel Coffield

Daniel J. Coffield, Jr., associate professor of mathematics, with tenure, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences.


Professor John Ellis

John Stephen Ellis, professor of history, with tenure, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences.


Professor Michael Farmer

Michael E. Farmer, professor of computer science, with tenure, Department of Computer Science, Engineering and Physics, College of Arts and Sciences.

Associate Professor Rajib Ganguly

Rajib Ganguly, associate professor of physics, with tenure, Department of Computer Science, Engineering and Physics, College of Arts and Sciences.


Associate Professor Christopher Heidenreich

Christopher Heidenreich, associate professor of music, with tenure, Department of Music, College of Arts and Sciences.

Dan Lair

Associate Professor Daniel Lair

Daniel Lair, associate professor of communication, with tenure, Department of Communication and Visual Arts, College of Arts and Sciences.

Vickie Larsen

Associate Professor Vickie Jeanne Larsen

Vickie Jeanne Larsen, associate professor of English, with tenure, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences.

Shelby Newport

Associate Professor Shelby Newport

Shelby Newport, associate professor of theatre, with tenure, Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Arts and Sciences.


Associate Professor Greg Rybarczyk

Greg Rybarczyk, associate professor of earth and resource science, with tenure, Department of Earth and Resource Science, College of Arts and Sciences.

Congratulations to our new associate and full professors on their hard work and dedication to teaching and research. Your talents help create a quality experience for our College of Arts & Sciences students!



Congratulations CAS Staff Award Winners!

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Staff Council, visit their website:

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

Psychology Students Heading to MPA Meeting with Research

Dr. Jeannette Stein, UM-Flint Associate Professor of Psychology and a Regional Representative for the Midwestern Psychological Association, will travel with ten UM-Flint Psychology students to the annual MPA meeting in Chicago, IL, from April 30-May 2. While there, the students will present research born out of their required capstone research projects. Says Dr. Stein, “These students however went beyond course requirements and will truly complete the research process by reporting their results to the larger scientific community.”

Following are some of the projects that will be presented: 


Mary Christensen will present research on video games, self-esteem, and gender.

MARY CHRISTENSEN: I am bringing my correlation study that was done of video games, self-esteem, and gender to the conference. This was to see if a certain type a video game genre had affects on self-esteem of the player. Also, to see if one gender had higher self-esteem rating on a certain genre than the other genres. The genres that I looked at were role-playing/multi-player online, first-person shooter, casual, strategy, and simulation.


Michal Kirkwood will be presenting research on politeness theory.

MICHAL KIRKWOOD: The project I am presenting at MPA is an attempt to study an area of linguistics (politeness theory) using social psychology and psychology of personality protocols through interruption.  The intention of the research was to determine if a dominant personality trait would influence/dictate whether a participant would interrupt someone who is reading or someone who is texting if interruption was necessary.  The findings demonstrated that people with high agreeableness scores are significantly more likely to interrupt reading.  In less scientific terms, putting one’s face in a phone is a far better avoidance strategy than putting one’s face in a book.
I’m really excited to present this work at MPA for a myriad of reasons, but chiefly I am thrilled to demonstrate the caliber of our education and research work here at the University of Michigan-Flint.  There is considerable prestige associated with our Ann Arbor counterparts, but our Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program coupled with the opportunity to design one’s own study with direct faculty oversight is a UM-Flint point of excellence.  These experiences have already afforded me an edge in obtaining employment with community psychology projects through the Ann Arbor School of Public Health and archival research with the Ann Arbor School of Law.  I hope to explore graduate school options at the conference, and I can’t wait to demonstrate my UM-Flint pedigree to an interested national audience of peers.


Derek Mohamedally studied the relationship between inter hemispheric interaction and sexual fluidity.

DEREK MOHAMEDALLY: Inter hemispheric interaction (IHI) is the amount in which the left and right hemispheres of the brain freely communicate with each other.  An individual’s IHI ratio may be observed through how much more they prefer to use their dominant hand, versus the other.  The more dominant one hemisphere is over the other, the more dominate the corresponding hand is utilized than the other hand, for regular daily tasks.  Prior research has shown evidence that people with more hemispheric dominance and less IHI are tend to be more rigid (Oldfield, 1971). Those with higher IHI levels tend to incorporate new information into their self-schemas than the more hemispheric dominant individuals.  The need for structure, or rigidity, is negatively correlated with sexual fluidity, meaning the amount of variance or flexibility in one’s sexual orientation (Preciado & Peplau, 2012).  Therefore, through an associative property of sorts, it is feasible to infer that people with more flexible handedness may express more flexible sexuality.  It is not suggested that there is inherently more sexual fluidity in more evenhanded people, so much that more evenhanded people may be more likely to acknowledge and incorporate more variations of their sexual experiences, fantasies, dreams and attractions into their self-concept of their own sexuality.

The relationship between inter hemispheric interaction (based on strength of handedness) and sexual fluidity (flexibility of sexual orientation) is to be examined by online self-report surveys.  Inter hemispheric iteration is determined by the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (Oldfield, 1971) and flexibility of sexual orientation is recorded using the Epstein Sexual Orientation Inventory (Epstein, 2012).  The EHI asks hand preference for various tasks, while the ESOI asks specific questions relating to the degree of attraction toward each gender.

The results showed evidence that IHI people do express more sexual fluidity as hypothesized.  Women are much more sexually fluid as prior research suggests.  An additional interesting interaction was that women over 35 showed the most flexibility while men over 35 showed the least.


Jordan Sleva will present research on motivation and self-efficacy on weight loss.

JORDAN SLEVA: The worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled since 1980, according to the World Health Organization (WHO; 2008). This comes as no surprise, seeing as there is an abundance of foods high in fat, salt, and sugar that are easily accessible and affordable by all, consumerism-driven advertisements that are psychologically programmed to make you want more, and a lower availability of fresh produce than chips, candy, and pop. Those who choose to adopt weight-loss regimens find it difficult to adhere to them, and who’s to blame? My study focuses on the impact of both motivation (either controlled or autonomous) and self-efficacy (either high or low) on adherence to a self-elected weight-loss regimen. In order to find this, I used a self-report survey which incorporated the Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire (TSRQ; Ryan & Connell, 1989) and the Weight Efficacy Life-Style Questionnaire (WEL) with Added Items (Schulz, 2005) originally developed by Clark et. al (1991). Upon completion of the survey, each participant is deemed either High or Low in Self-Efficacy and Controlled or Autonomous in Motivation. Statistical analyses were then run to determine possible relationships between the aforementioned variables. It is imperative to understand the underlying causes of long-term adherence to a weight-loss regimen, what motivates an individual to adhere, what demotivates that individual, and how these discoveries can be applied to specific weight-loss programs in order to maximize adherence and long-term results.

Other students attending the MPA meeting with Stein are Nicole Moffitt, Samantha Turner, Anqi Hu, Kyle Manley, Amanda Shanesy, and Shytance Wren.

When asked about the importance of this type of work for undergraduate students, Stein said, “Research is hands on. Students learn by doing. They ask their own research questions, develop hypotheses and design studies to test those hypotheses.  Thus, students have choices and ownership of their work. They collaborate with one another and with me to improve their ideas.  There is a great deal of critical thought involved as the student progresses from idea to implementation to analysis. High expectations coupled with positive support from the instructor improve motivation and confidence. The effects of such an experience have been widely studied. ‘Undergraduate researchers learn tolerance for obstacles, how knowledge is constructed, independence, increased self-confidence, and a readiness for more demanding work. These benefits are an advantage in any career path.’  Importantly, these experiences make them better students, thus increasing student persistence and retention. Research conducted by the National office of Psi Chi (Psychology Honorary) also suggests that the independent research experience is THE factor that sets students apart on graduate school applications.”

The students were asked about what this opportunity means to them and their academic career.

Said Sleva, “As an undergraduate Psychology student, presenting my research at the Midwestern Psychological Association Annual Meeting is quite an honor! Not only does it provide me the opportunity to network with my peers and professionals in the field, it gives me experience presenting, discussing, and analyzing my work. I plan to further my education by earning a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience; this experience can give me the ‘edge’ I need as a candidate in the sea of graduate school applications.”

Mohamedally added, “I am very excited and honored to be presenting my research at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference this year. I’m proud of my research, and the work Dr. Stein and I put into it and look forward to being able to share it with the psychology academic community. These conferences give us a chance to share our knowledge and hard work as well as gain further insight into our work by answering questions about our studies we may not have considered. Presenting our research helps us to envision ourselves as future professionals and experience the results of how we have evolved academically. For those us who have graduate school aspirations it is particularly valuable as it gives us a chance to meet representatives, talk to experts in our fields and show the value of our work.  Even just attending will be akin to an artist attending a new art exhibit or museum; seeing everyone’s research will provide us with new ideas, and inspiration for future research.”

For more information on the Psychology Department, and the learning and research opportunities they offer their students, visit the Psychology Department website.

Advising on Secondary TCP Changes: March 30-April 2

The Secondary Teacher Certificate Program at UM-Flint is undergoing changes that will be effective in Fall 2015. The new model will better prepare our students to be high school teachers. All who are currently enrolled in a Secondary Teacher Certificate Program or considering teaching high school students should attend one of four upcoming advising sessions:

 • Monday, March 30th, 4pm-5pm 

• Tuesday, March 31st, 11am-12pm 

• Wednesday, April 1st, 11am-12pm

• Thursday, April 2nd, 4pm-5pm

Sessions will be held in the Center for Educator Prep in 410 French Hall. Each session will contain the same content. Multiple program advisors will be on hand to present information and answer questions. The changes will affect students who are already enrolled in a Secondary TCP.

For more information, visit or call 810.762.3257.


UM-Flint Students Join Pedaling for Parkinson’s Research


Dr. Nathaniel Miller demonstrates how to measure the speed at which people tap their fingers, this can be used to assess slowed movement with Parkinson’s Disease.

“It doesn’t feel like I have Parkinson’s when I’m on the bike.” These words, spoken between two friends on a tandem bike ride, became the roots of Pedaling for Parkinson’s, a foundation dedicated to using cycling as a method of mitigating the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease — a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects movement, cognition, and quality of life. The friends were Cathy Frazier and Dr. Jay Alberts, and their journey is well documented through articles and webpages across the internet.

At the University of Michigan-Flint, the Psychology Department’s Dr. Nathaniel Miller is doing his part to add to this body of Parkinson’s research. Along with his UROP research assistant Matthew Davis, Miller spends time gathering data from YMCAs in Ann Arbor and Jackson, MI, working with patients in the Neuromotor Behavior Lab at UM-Ann Arbor, and analyzing findings at their UM-Flint lab. A second assistant, Jamie Staudacher, will join the team soon. This research is funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation.

The central idea of Pedaling for Parkinson’s is that physical activity, if increased beyond a patient’s normal routine, can add to quality of life and reduce some motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) like tremors, poor handwriting, and uneven gait. Consenting patients participating in the program have baseline scores for their motor and cognitive skills recorded at the onset and throughout the duration of the program; the cycling takes place at local YMCAs where three times a week they engage in an hour of exercise: a 10 minute warm-up, 40 minutes of vigorous cycling, and 10 minutes of cool-down. Keys to the treatment appear to lie in the addition of forced exercise to the patient’s lifestyle–that is exercise above and beyond the intensity that they would normally keep on their own. In the case of cycling, this means upping the RPMs of a bike’s pedals and increasing their heart rate. Pedaling for Parkinson’s most often will pair an experienced cyclist with a PD patient on a tandem bike to ensure the increased RPMs.

When asked about his personal connection to this particular research, Miller says, “I had been conducting research on Parkinson’s Disease since my dissertation project. I developed an interest in PD, specifically, because my grandfather had been diagnosed with the disease while I was in graduate school, which prompted me to use my research interests to help individuals with PD. I was fortunate to become involved with the Ann Arbor and Jackson YMCA’s PFP programs from the very beginning. It has been extremely rewarding to use the knowledge and skills I have developed conducting research on PD and the skills that I have learned through my hobby of cycling to help this program develop and grow locally.”

His research assistants also came to the project with personal interests in and connections to brain disease, disorder, and injury.

This research is a natural fit for connecting university researchers and students with their communities, and it offers an approachable and familiar path for patient participants. Says Miller, “One of the most exciting benefits of this research is that it may offer a low-cost and effective intervention to help mitigate some of the symptoms of PD. Exercise facilities, such as the YMCA, already have most of the equipment available to offer the program, so start up costs are minimal. Additionally, our preliminary results suggest that this exercise program might be effective for mitigating some of the symptoms of PD that are relatively unresponsive to medications. Finally, community-based exercise programs provide an excellent opportunity for individuals with PD to become more physically active in a safe environment. Individuals with PD are less active than their non-PD peers, which can negatively affect their quality of life.” Miller and his RA Davis both note an additional and positive social effect of the program: patients, their caregivers and families, along with the researchers, are able to discover a sense of community and support within the research project.


Dr. Miller works with Matthew Davis to analyze sound files from research on Parkinson’s Disease; Jamie Staudacher, new to the research project, reviews information on Pedaling for Parkinson’s.

Davis, who has been working on the PD research since the Fall 2014 semester, has found his role in the research to be invaluable. He says, “I not only get to witness the actual process of a research project, but I get to see how it affects the world around us. I learn a lot through going to class, listening to lectures, and taking notes on my assigned readings, but that knowledge pales in comparison to the knowledge gained by my first-hand experience.” Staudacher who is only days into the research, has similar hopes for her time on the project.

Dr. Miller echoed his students’ feelings on the type of learning that comes with this research, “From my perspective, this project offers a unique opportunity for students to gain experiences relevant to their future career goals, regardless of what career avenue they may pursue . . . For example, students who have helped with this project have come from very different academic backgrounds with very different career goals, including pre-dental, pre-physical therapy, neuroscience, psychology, movement science and pre-medical students. Because this project offers opportunities that range from applied experience working with older adults/individuals with PD to more research oriented experiences working in the laboratory (collecting and analyzing data), every student has walked away with experiences that will directly impact their future careers and help them develop skills necessary for the next step that they plan to take in their career path. Additionally, students gain a better understanding of what it is like, from the patient’s perspective, to face life with a neurodegenerative disorder.”

When asked about what’s next for his involvement with Pedaling for Parkinson’s, Dr. Miller said, “I would like to help start a PFP group in this region, as I think it would provide an excellent opportunity for engaged learning amongst UM-Flint students while also providing opportunities for individuals with PD in the area. I hope to continue this line of research in the future, along with studying the benefits of exercise for cognitive and motor issues in other populations.”

For more information on his Pedaling for Parkinson’s research, contact Dr. Nathaniel Miller at

For other undergraduate research opportunities, visit the UROP website.

Update: Dr. Miller’s research was also featured in an MLive article:

Dr. Susan Gano-Phillips Appointed as Associate Dean of CAS

Dr. Susan Gano-Phillips, Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

On December 18th, 2014, the Regents of UM-Flint approved Dr. Susan Gano-Phillips as Associate Dean of the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences. Her appointment is retroactively effective December 1, 2014, and extends through June 30, 2018.

Professor Gano-Phillips received her B.S. degree from the University of Michigan in 1988, and her M.A. degree and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991 and 1995, respectively. She joined the faculty at the University of Michigan-Flint in 1994 as a lecturer cum assistant professor, was appointed as an assistant professor in 1995, promoted to associate professor, with tenure, in 2000, and to professor in 2011. Professor Gano-Phillips served as a research and training coordinator for the Early Childhood Development Center from 2002-03, director of the Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching from 2003-07, Fulbright Scholar in general education at the City University of Hong Kong in 2008-09, acting assistant dean, College of Arts and Sciences during 2010, chair, Department of Psychology in 2012-13, and interim associate dean, College of Arts and Sciences, since July 2013.

Professor Gano-Phillips’ research interests are in the area of General Education reform and institutional change.  She has published one book, A Process Approach to General Education Reform (2010) and over a dozen refereed articles. She has also made over 30 conference presentations, and delivered almost 50 professional development workshops. Her service record is very extensive including serving on the Psychology Department’s Freeman Scholarship Committee, Graduate Program Development Committee, many faculty searches, coordinator of the Harriet M. Wall Lecture; and within the College, Executive Committee, Curriculum Committee, Academic Standards Committee, and STEM Initiatives Work Group.

Her university work has included chair of the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee, Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Budget and Strategic Planning, Ad Hoc Committee on University Admissions Standards, North Central Association Reaccreditation Self-Study Committee, and General Education Design Team and Steering Committee, to name a few.

Her professional service has included serving as editorial reviewer and/or consultant for several journals as well as for Division 2 proposals for the American Psychological Association Conference.

Says Dr. Albert Price, Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, “Susan Gano-Phillips appointment as the Associate Dean of CAS is a continuation of the leadership she has demonstrated throughout her tenure at UM-Flint. She has successfully served as the Director of the Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching, Chair of the Psychology Department, an Executive Committee member, and Interim Associate Dean. My role as Interim Dean has been made greatly more enjoyable due to Susan’s administrative skill, incredible work ethic and positive attitude.”

Saying Goodbye to Dr. Eric Freedman of Psychology

FreedmanThe University of Michigan-Flint College of Arts & Sciences would like to extend deepest condolences and best wishes to the family of Dr. Eric Gordon Freedman.

Dr. Freedman, a longtime member of our Psychology Department, passed away on December 10th.

He was a beloved faculty member, touching the lives of thousands of students over his time at UM-Flint.

Per his obituary: Dr. Freedman received his BA from Brandeis University, and his PhD from the University of Maine. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Memphis State University. He was a professor of cognitive psychology at Michigan Technological University from 1988-1993 and at the University of Michigan-Flint from 1993-2014. Dr. Freedman’s research is widely published in scientific journals and psychology books. He mentored numerous undergraduate psychology students who worked with him on his research on perception and executive function. Dr. Freedman shared with students his love of conducting research to explore how the mind works.

His family has asked that the funeral service truly be a celebration of Eric’s life, and not a sad affair. In that spirit, his wife Donna plans to wear purple – his favorite color – instead of black. She invites all attending to wear purple or another bright color in honor of Eric and his wishes. Following is the remaining text from his obituary which contains details on his funeral services.

FREEDMAN, Eric Gordon Ph.D. – Age 56, of Flint, died December 10, 2014 at his home. Funeral services will be held 11 AM Friday, December 12, 2014 at Temple Beth El, 5150 Calkins Road, Flint Township. Rabbi Karen Companez will officiate. Family and friends will gather for Shiva from 7:00 to 9:00 PM Saturday at Temple Beth El. All are welcome to attend and may share favorite stories of Eric. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Temple Beth El – FLRTY (Flint Reform Temple Youth) to support youth programs at Temple Beth El.

Dr. Freedman was born June 26, 1958 in Boston MA, the son of Edwin and Ruth Freedman. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Donna Fry; children, Hannah of Flint and Samuel of Lowell; step-daughters, Kathryn Welch of Cleveland, OH and Kristina Welch of Chicago, IL; father, Edwin Freedman; sister, Jacki (Michael) Fallman of Boston, MA. He was preceded in death by his mother, Ruth. Online condolences may be posted on the obituaries page of

Dr. Freedman relished exploring life with his wife Dr. Fry whether it was traveling to see other cultures, trying new culinary experiences, wandering through art museums, or simply exploring nearby points of interest. Dr. Freedman recently fulfilled a life-long dream by traveling to Israel. He also enjoyed engaging friends and family in intellectual conversations on a variety of topics and had a great sense of humor.

As an active member of Temple Beth El in Flint, Dr. Freedman served on the Board of Directors, Ivriah Board, and Ritual Committee over the years. He was also an active participant in the Temple Beth El Brotherhood. He recently served on the Bollywood Fundraising Committee and Board of Directors for the Jewish Community Federation.

Giving BlueDay – Tuesday, December 2nd

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

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

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


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

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





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


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

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



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

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





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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations to the December 2014 CAS Maize & Blue Award Winners!


The Maize and Blue Award is the highest academic award bestowed upon graduates of the University of Michigan-Flint. Recipients not only have to show excellence in their coursework and GPAs (3.75 or better), but must also be nominated by their faculty/department to be eligible. Nominees are considered based on their intellectual maturity and depth, character, talent, and service to their department, community, and UM-Flint. The Scholarships, Awards, and Special Events Committee and the Provost then chooses up to thirteen outstanding students from each graduating class to receive the Maize and Blue Award.

The College of Arts and Sciences would like to recognize and congratulate our student recipients for this great achievement! Read below to learn more about our winners through the faculty who nominated them:

Grace A. Carey, BA double major in Anthropology and Sociology
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by Hisyar Ozsoy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology:

“Grace has an excellent academic record and graduated with a 3.99 GPA in August 2014 (Anthropology and Sociology Majors, Honors Program, and a minor in International and Global Studies). Her academic record speaks for itself. She is very intelligent, diligent, resourceful and open-minded. Her intelligence, intellectual curiosity and dedication truly distinguish her scholarship from others. The quality of character she displays in interpersonal relationships and the talents she demonstrates in extracurricular activities also distinguish her from others. Grace has displayed an extraordinary rapport with other students, staff and faculty and has been singled out by many as a treasured member of the UM-Flint community. She has been an active member of several student intellectual communities and clubs and someone who enriches the intellectual life of the community. I simply could not think of a more deserving candidate for this award. Seven faculty gave Grace their strongest recommendation possible, for she fully embodies the pillars of the Maize and Blue Award – intellectual depth, talent, character, and service to the community – and has effectively used these to contribute to the efforts to ‘revitalize Flint’ toward making it a better place for all.”

Rebecca A. Horning, BS in Applied Psychology
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by Dr. Hillary Heinze, Assoc. Professor of Psychology:

Becca was unanimously supported by our faculty [for the Maize and Blue Award], most of us have been fortunate to work with her in various capacities and contexts. Throughout her time at the University of Michigan-Flint, Becca has demonstrated a range of interests, being involved in virtually all aspects of psychology–research, community service, supplementary instruction/tutoring and peer mentoring. I will highlight the many ways in which Becca personifies the core pillars of this award: intellectual depth, talent, character and service to the department, university and community.

Perhaps most importantly, Becca is truly passionate about psychology. She is curious, engaged in her learning, consistently going above and beyond what is required to enhance her knowledge, skills and experience in psychology. Dr. Bellamy describes Becca as “a student who clearly has a zest and curiosity for learning that makes her standout amongst her peers and is at the top of her class”. Dr. Stein notes that Becca is a pleasure to work with because she is so eager to learn: “…Becca seems to see challenges as opportunities for growth. She takes responsibility and seeks out additional material and guidance.  It has never been ‘how can I get an A’. It has been about committing to changes that will allow her to get the most from her education.”

Becca not only has excelled in courses required for her degree; she has pursued numerous supplementary and/or elective departmental and university opportunities, further demonstrating her passion for psychology and love of learning. She has presented her research at student and professional research conferences (Midwest Psychological Association), she has attended leadership workshops, engaged in study abroad (Netherlands), completed a psychology internship (Fenton Schools), and assumed leadership roles in student clubs and organizations (Psychology Club; Golden Key; Psi Chi). In addition to her own research, she has assisted ongoing faculty research projects.

As noted across achievements and involvements, Becca is clearly not motivated by grades or building a resume, but by her passion for learning, doing good work and helping others. Interpersonally, she is one of those students you hope to have in class or collaborate with (hence, her involvement with so many department faculty and richness of faculty comments). She is engaged in courses and discussion, thoughtful, and she always seems to be smiling and bubbling over with excitement, whether discussing her organizational involvements, courses, internship, research activities, study abroad, or academic plans.

Even when facing significant challenges, Becca remains positive and solution focused. Dr. Stein notes, “Things don’t always go as planned. Becca’s positive attitude allows her to easily overcome obstacles. As a researcher, she was flexible and able to make adjustments as necessary. She responds well to criticism…I find this to be quite rare among our students.” Another common thread is her conscientiousness and dedication to helping others, whether it be her classmates, children in the schools, UMF students or vulnerable individuals within the Flint community. She is kind, warm and always willing to help, often putting the needs of others above her own.

In all that she does, Becca personifies intellectual depth, talent, character, and commitment to service, to not only excel in her coursework, campus and community activities, but to inspire excellence in others. We believe she will continue to inspire positive change in future endeavors. She has the [Psychology] department’s highest recommendation.

Andrew M. Slabchuck, BA in Philosophy
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by Dr. Jami Anderson, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy; Dr. Benedicte Veillet, Asst. Professor of Philosophy; Dr. Simon Cushing, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Anderson: “As both his instructor and his advisor, I believe I have gotten to know Andy during the past few years and am well positioned to assess his merits for this award.

Andy possesses all the traits that make him an ideal student. His papers are excellent: his analyses of the issues are intelligent, his writing is clear, his arguments well-structured and his reasoning persuasive. Andy is engaged: he comes to class prepared for enthusiastic discussion and, while he takes the matters seriously, he is genuinely pleasant to discuss ideas with. He obviously values input from his classmates and they enjoy his company and respect his ideas. What is most impressive, though, is the commitment Andy brings to his university education. . . during the past few years Andy has had to face and overcome amazing obstacles—ones that would prove far too much to handle for many of us. Yet, not only has Andy survived, he has succeeded.

During the past year, I have watched Andy move beyond simply being an excellent philosophy student in the classroom to becoming what I think of as a genuine citizen of philosophy. In February 2014, he presented a paper (“Chess and Regress”) at the undergraduate conference hosted by the Philosophy Department and the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics; he later published his paper in the student managed undergraduate journal compos mentis. This year he is a very active Vice President of our Philosophy Club and helped grow that club from last year’s flabby four-member group to the throng that now meets for hours on end every single Thursday afternoon. (I am witness to this group’s weekly enthusiasm as I teach my Metaethics course in the same room they hold their meetings and every week I have to hustle them out of the room because they cannot tear themselves away from the conversation—and there is Andy, right in the midst of it, not only sharing his ideas but mentoring our younger, new majors and minors.) He will also help organize the upcoming 3rd Annual undergraduate philosophy conference in February 2015 as well as help organize the two compos mentis journal publications that will be published during Winter semester.

Andy told me a week or so ago that he has finally settled on a career plan, which is to go to law school to study disability law. He is fully aware of how difficult it is for individuals who have disabilities to enjoy the full accessibility they have a right to, which would allow them to live to their full potential. I am confident that Andy will not only succeed in law school, but will work hard to make the world a fairer and better place. Andy Slabchuck is one of the best students I have had the honor to teach at UM-Flint and therefore it is with mixed feelings that I contemplate his upcoming graduation. On the one hand, I regret that he will no longer be a student in my philosophy courses, yet on the other I look forward to news of his future accomplishments. I have no doubt that he will do honor to both the Philosophy Department and the University of Michigan-Flint.

Elisa C. Taylor, BFA – Performance
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by William Irwin, Assoc. Professor & Chair of Theatre: 

I could think of no one more deserving when I was asked to nominate candidates for the Maize and Blue Award. While working with Elisa in the Theatre Department I have been amazed by her vigorous commitment to bettering herself and her peers’ experience in the theatre. Even in the face of some adverse circumstances, Elisa conducts herself with poise and with sensitivity to her fellow classmates. She always exhibits compassion and sincere empathy.  She is also passionately curious about the world and how things work. Further, I can attest without hesitation that her work ethic, sincerity, preparation, communication skills and generosity make her a true delight to work with and know. Similarly, she possesses a natural ease and engaging vibrancy, which make her ideally suited for any classroom, rehearsal hall, and/or social situation. Students of theatre will be hard-pressed to find a better peer-mentor while exploring the craft. She has a great, off-beat sense of humor, never takes herself too seriously and possesses a sincerity that makes all with whom she comes in contact feel comfortable. She is a team player and is exemplary in her conduct, solidarity and maturity. Our entire department has been enriched by her presence.

Finally, her service work has been impressive and impactful. She has been deeply committed to serving our department, our university, and the community (both locally and internationally.) As Treasurer of the UM-Flint Student Theatre Group, she has worked tirelessly at securing funds and organizing travel arrangements in order for theatre students to attend meaningful master-classes and/or professional workshops. She also contributes regularly to F.U.E.L., future minded University-students for environmentally-conscious living, as the organization’s vice-president. She serves as the vice-president of the UM-Flint College Democrats where she promotes progressive public policy and encourages her peers to actively participate [in] local, regional and national politics. Additionally, she contributes regularly to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Flint River Clean-up initiatives. Her most impactful service, in my estimation, has been her work in Tanzania where she has volunteered with the Aston Vision Orphanage teaching English and Math where she also worked tirelessly to raise funds and initiate the construction of new restroom facilities for the orphanage. I find this level of service to be incredible when combined with her level of academic success, creative productivity and employment responsibilities. She is truly impressive and selfless.

JoAnn S. Zak, BA in English
Graduating with High Honors

Nominated by Dr. Jacqueline Zeff, Professor of English – Literature