Category Archives: Research

Students Present 2016 Symposium at FIA

UM-Flint Visual Arts students are presenting the 5th Annual Art & Art History Student Symposium at the Flint Institute of Arts on Sunday, April 10, 2016. The celebration of research and creative scholarship in the arts will run from 1pm to 3:30pm. It is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. The Flint Institute of Arts is located at 1120 E Kearsley St, Flint, MI 48503.

Says Visual Arts faculty member Sarah Lippert, “The 5th Annual Art & Art History Student Symposium will feature exceptional scholarship from both undergraduate and graduate students at UM-Flint. Topics will have popular appeal, addressing famous African-American artists inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, how to manage vandalism in art museums, the tradition of still-life painting, and others. Door prizes and light refreshments will be provided, and everyone is welcome to this free event, in support of our student scholars.”

Student Presenters & Topics:

  • Emily Legleitner – Moka Hanga: A Lost Art & Its Revival
  • Angela Whitlock – Tony Shafrazi and Guernica: How Museums Can Benefit From Acts of Vandalism and Prevent Future Incidents
  • Mary Kelly – Overlooked Ornamentations: Italian Devotional Paintings as Images of Power
  • Leon Collins – Modern Day Renaissance Men
  • Marta Watters – Chardin: An Innovative Mind

Emily Legleitner with a mural she painted at Genesee Health System’s Children’s Autism Center.

Says student Emily Legleitner, “Through my studio art and art history studies at the University of Michigan-Flint, I have learned how art both influences and defines a culture and its history. Historically, visual art documents and portrays events and messages from nearly every angle of society. Studied in context with the artist’s environment, motives, and influence, one is presented with invaluable insight into the depths of history. This will be the second time I have participated in the Art and Art History Symposium. Last year I presented on the influence ancient Buddhist artwork has had on my own creative work. This year I will be presenting on the dying art of Mokuhanga printmaking, or Japanese watercolor printmaking. I am very excited to be discussing this topic, as the first student to take the new printmaking concentration offered at UM-Flint, I hope it will be an opportunity to introduce a topic not well known in the Flint artistic community.”

At the symposium, Leon Collins will be presenting “Modern Day Renaissance Men.” He says, “The definition of a Renaissance Man or Woman is tough to define in the 21st century world of transdisciplinarian visual artists. In the spirit of those who have influenced me in the creation of my art forms, I have become a self proclaimed ‘metamorphic’ artist of digital photographic images”

Leon Collins of UM-Flint's Visual Arts program

Leon Collins of UM-Flint’s Visual Arts program

For more information on the Art & Art History Symposium, and other offerings of the visual arts program at UM-Flint, please visit their website or call 810.766.6679.

Exploring Education in Israel

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

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

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

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

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

Learning in Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAS_Tsur Baher

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

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

Delegation members during a tour of the Nitzana Educational Community.

Delegation members during a tour of the Nitzana Educational Community.

Bringing the Experience Home

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

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

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

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

Joe Reinsel to be Artist in Residence in Baltimore, Maryland

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

Joe Reinsel - Assistant Professor in CVA

Joe Reinsel – Assistant Professor of Media Arts

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

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

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

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

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

Memberships: College Art Association

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Africana Studies and Theatre Enrich Actor’s Role in The Call


Kenyatta Brown on the set of “The Call”

Kenyatta Brown is a senior majoring in Africana Studies and minoring in Theatre. He is playing the role of Alemu, an immigrant from western Africa, in the upcoming UM-Flint production of The Call by Tanya Barfield.

Thanks to his courses in Africana Studies, Kenyatta was able to bring unique insight to the role. His own personal experiences from family life and growing up in Flint also helped to enrich his portrayal. Read on as he discusses his role in this new production.

How did you connect with this character?
When you get a character, one of the exercises that most directors will do is have the actors give that particular character a backstory. The backstory is the thing you think the character was doing before this particular box of two hours happened. What was this character doing before this happened? Why is this character like this? What happened in this character’s life? Because we all have a turning point in our lives that makes us think a certain way and act a certain way. So creating a backstory for Alemu—definitely my Africana studies helped me. Because of the genocide in his country, the guilt that he carries because he made it out—it’s kind of similar to how I felt growing up here and then going away to the Navy. I grew up in a rough neighborhood—so my friends were kind of stuck doing the same thing. When I came home to visit, I kind of felt guilty. They would see me and think ‘oh, you’ve got it going on,’ which I didn’t, but to them I did.

Another thing in the backstory, I try to find similarities to me and the person, the character. One similarity is that Alemu’s father had died of sickness and my father died of cancer. There’s a part in the story where he’s wishing he could do something, but there is nothing he can do—same here, you know? So, that allowed me to kind of feel where Alemu was coming from.

How do you feel about this role?
It’s funny because with this role there were so many qualities that I could relate to in him. But then, on another note, it was very challenging because of things like the accent. He’s a little weird, so he brings a little comic relief, but I don’t want him to come off as stupid or just as the ‘funny guy.’ That’s my goal for the character. You have to walk that thin line and you have to be careful. Because you want to portray the right thing—what you want the audience to get.

How do you feel about the ambiguity surrounding some of this play’s characters and situations?
That’s the beauty of this playwright. She doesn’t answer any questions. So I think this particular play is a great play to come and see. Especially if you like to debate afterwards or if you like to have a dialogue with those you’re with when you see it. It’s a good piece for conversation. She leaves it out there, and there are so many issues in this hour and thirty minutes!

I’m excited about the last day that we perform, that has the Q & A session [with the audience] afterwards. I’m curious about what people will ask. All she says is that Alemu is from West Africa; she doesn’t say what country. It’s not just his character that’s ambiguous; there are five characters and for each there are questions that can still loom after the play.

What advice do you have for audience members?
Come with an open mind, because it will benefit you. Be open to things that you don’t agree with—lifestyles you don’t agree with, or cultures that you don’t necessarily get into. Just come open.

What did you take away from this role and this play?
This play made me think about trust. In Flint the term “genocide” is floating around with the water issue. I thought about things like the Tuskegee experiment. When the people don’t trust the powers that be, there’s something happening within that. It’s a scary thing sometimes.

I dug deep into this. I thought, ‘What if I didn’t have the water issues here? Would I have dug so deep?’ Being human, I had to ask myself that. I have to check myself in a way, wondering if I am as sensitive to others as I need to be.

What has it been like being a student of Africana Studies and Theatre?
For me, it’s great and it’s challenging, too, because I’ve been away from college for some years and just came back this year. From the Africana Studies standpoint, it’s great, just learning more about my culture that I didn’t even know, which I love.

It’s learning about the thing that I love and who I am, and then learning about what I love to do. . . Combining the two is perfect. I think this play, for me, it came on time. Opening night is my father’s birthday. I haven’t been on the stage in three years. In LA, I was doing film and TV, too, but I got custody of my daughter three years ago and theatre takes a lot of time. So this is my first play being back on stage, on his birthday. So, I’m excited.

The Call opens on January 29 and runs on select days through February 7, 2016. For show times and ticket information, visit and click “current season.”

There will be a Special Discussion with the Director on Wednesday, February 3, at 2pm in the Thompson Center for Learning & Teaching, 134 Thompson Library. Join in to learn about the play and gain insight into the artistic choices used to present this dynamic story.

Meet Dr. Matthew Spradling, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

spradlingName: Matthew Spradling
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: CSEP – Computer Science & Information Systems

Classes I teach:
CSC 381 – Introduction to Theory of Computation
CSC 575 – Algorithm and Complexity Analysis
At the University of Kentucky: Introduction to Computer Science
Other interests include: Game theory, social networks, and computer science ethics.

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications:
Spradling, M., Goldsmith, J., Stability in Role Based Hedonic Games, 28th International Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society Conference, 2015.
Spradling, M., Roles and Teams Hedonic Games, 19th AAAI Doctoral Consortium, 2014.
Spradling, M., Goldsmith, J., Liu, X., Dadi, C., & Li, Z. Roles and Teams Hedonic Game, 3rd International Conference on Algorithmic Decision Theory, 2013.
Also presented without proceedings at 7th Multidisciplinary Workshop on Advances in Preference Handling at IJCAI’13, 2013.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
Coalition formation
Cooperative game theory
Theoretical computer science
Preference representation, elicitation and reasoning

Verizon fellowship, University of Kentucky Department of Computer Science, 2015
Nominated, University of Kentucky ACM Teaching Assistant Award, 2014
Duncan E. Clarke Memorial Innovation Award, University of Kentucky Department of Computer Science, 2013

Ph.D. Computer Science, University of Kentucky, 2015
Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning, University of Kentucky, 2014
B.S. Computer Science, University of Kentucky, 2010
B.S. Business Administration: Marketing, Philosophy Minor, University of Louisville, 2005

Member, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

How I fell in love with my field:
It is my experience that any sort of “love” tends to be there all the while, only announcing itself in an unexpected moment. My first computer was a Commodore 64 when I was 4; as a result computers have, in my memory, always been accessible. I like being able to make something useful with only time and effort. Things started getting serious when I was introduced to theory of computation; this made me pursue a graduate career. Finding a problem out in the wild, modeling it formally, and publishing the results let me know I was probably “in love.” But all of that pales in comparison to the moment when a student in a class I am teaching “gets it.” That moment is what drives me.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
I hope to give direction and support to students who need it, to discover new research interests though students and colleagues, and to have a lot of fun. I hope to introduce some new courses to the list of “courses I love to teach.” I hope to meet at least a few students who are interested in theory of computation. If at least a few of my students end up pursuing teaching careers, I would be extremely pleased.

What I hope for students in my field:
I hope for our students to maintain and grow their curiosity and thoughtfulness. I hope for them to be actors in their environment; to have confidence and endeavor toward a better world. For each student, I hope that “the world” will only grow more accessible as it grows larger.

Three things you should know about me:
I have been an exchange student to Japan, but I need to study the language.

I am interested in games of all shapes and sizes, be they serious, non-serious, or unintentionally serious.

I enjoy singing, poetry, and a good coffee shop.


For more information on Dr. Spradling’s department, visit

Shelby Newport Wins Innovative Teaching Award; Shares Methods with Campus


Shelby Newport–Chair, Associate Professor, and Resident Costume Designer for the UM-Flint Department of Theatre & Dance–is the recipient of this year’s Region III Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Innovative Teaching Award, presented at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Milwaukee, WI. The award recognizes Newport’s use of social media in her courses.

In her application’s teaching statement, Newport notes, “Using social media elements in the classroom have allowed me to open up the discussion and classroom interactions between students even before they enter the room. It has also shifted the ownership to the students; I have found that when they feel a responsibility for some of the course material, they are much more engaged.”

She adds, “My hope is that students will thrive in a classroom that puts them in the passenger seat, as a navigator and co-pilot.”


Shelby Newport working backstage with UM-Flint Theatre students.

The previous department Chair, Associate Professor William Irwin, described an example of her approach in his letter of recommendation to the selection committee: “In her Clothing and Western Culture course, all students are required to post images via Pinterest exemplifying specific characteristics of the period they are studying. Shelby skillfully uses a shared Pinterest board which students collectively submit their research/discussion images to. After projecting the Pinterest board images on the classroom screen, Shelby clicks on each student’s submission for that class and asks them to speak briefly on their choice and how it exemplifies the period. This is an effective use of technology in the classroom that not only supports student learning but also in a way that is innovative, relevant and interesting to those in her class. It also supports additional course activities, research, and enhances the provision of information and resources to students, as well as foster interactivity and collaboration among them.”

The adaptability and fluid nature of social media seems to suit her teaching philosophy. Says Newport, “I accept each day as a learning experience, and realize the importance of remaining open-minded and flexible. With this in mind, I too will continue my education; seeking new opportunities, observing the teaching methods of others, taking advantage of extended learning courses, and most of all remaining prepared to grow and change.”

Irwin seemed especially appreciative of the inclusive benefits of Newport’s social media methods. “[Shelby] has been committed and incredibly successful in recognizing each student’s capabilities while providing them with appropriate challenges without ever alienating anyone. This is a significant juggling act that requires her to possess not only an immense sensitivity to each individual’s needs, but also an innovative spirit that makes her classes accessible and meaningful for all . . . Shelby has proven to be expert in integrating students’ own interests and passions into the curriculum and has enabled them to flourish as learners. Going a step further, she has demonstrated a commitment to sharing her talents with her colleagues.”

The UM-Flint Office of Extended Learning (OEL) has also recognized Newport’s talents and willingness to share with others in her field: a new online course based on her methods and experiences will be offered to faculty beginning in February 2016.

Social Media in the College Classroom will introduce key concepts and social media tools that can be integrated into the university classroom. Faculty will learn about the benefits to students and to classroom learning when social media is thoughtfully woven into the course, rather than prohibited from the learning environment. Various social media platforms are covered and faculty will get hands on experience creating accounts and utilizing them.

Newport developed and recorded materials and the online course was created around her lectures and demonstrations. According to Katie Curnow, Marketing Coordinator for OEL, “[Shelby] is the creative and pedagogical force behind it.”

For questions about enrolling or about the course, email

To congratulate Shelby on her ATHE award, visit one of the UM-Flint Theatre & Dance Department’s social media accounts!


Meet Amanda Kahl Smith of Criminal Justice


Name: Amanda Smith
Title: Instructor cum Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
Department: Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminal Justice

Classes I teach:
CRJ 185: Intro to Criminal Justice
CRJ 385: Elite Deviance

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications:
I’m a member of the American Society of Criminology and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Kramer, Ronald C. and Amanda Smith. 2013. “Death Flies Down: The Bombing of Civilians and the Paradox of International Law.” Book chapter in Towards a Victimology of State Crime, D. Rothe and D. Kauzlarich (eds.). Routledge.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
My research focuses broadly on the intersections of class inequality, power, and crime. Currently, I have two active research projects. In the first, I investigate the role of the economy in the major social institutions and how institutional pathways to high crime rates vary in the United States. In my second project, I research the United States’ use of drone warfare as state crime.

All-University Graduate Teaching Effectiveness, WMU, 2013

Sociology PhD Western Michigan University, currently ABD, expected fall 2015
Applied Criminology MS Northern Arizona University 2011
Criminology & Criminal Justice BS Northern Arizona University 2009

American Society of Criminology
Society for the Study of Social Problems

How I fell in love with my field:
In the years leading up to the Great Recession, I worked for a major bank as a mortgage processor. At the time, the mortgage fraud I was seeing concerned me, but I did not understand the larger forces behind it. I chose to focus my studies on criminology as a way to come to terms with these issues. I still have questions.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
I hope to encourage my students to critically think about and engage the world around them.

What I hope for students in my field:
I hope to inspire my students to think about crime as a complex social problem in need of creative solutions that potentially go beyond the criminal justice system.

Three things you should know about me:
I am the oldest of five children.

I am a reformed cat person. My Chihuahua, Commander Sisko, is my world.

I crochet in my free time.

UM-Flint Well Represented & Winning at Kennedy Center Theatre Festival

Shelby Newport, Theater & Dance Department Chair, Associate Professor, and Resident Costume Designer at UM-Flint, is attending the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region 3 Festival with a number of her students and fellow faculty members. She sent the following update of “UMF’s great involvement” at the event. She notes that “in addition to the students listed below, we also have other students who are here attending workshops and performing in other projects.”

UM-Flint students are competing in the following categories:

Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Nominations: 

  • Shelby Coleman with partner Andrew Eisengruber
  • Britton Paige with partner Lucas Moquin*
  • Mark Vukelich with partner Kyle Clark**
  • George Marzonie with partner Seth Hart
  • Christine Micheala-Kay Nogaj with partner Josh Cornea
  • Paul Docter with partner Gage Webster*
    *Passed on to the semi-final round on Thursday
    ** Passed on to Final Round on Friday

Allied Design & Technologies Award: 

  • Lydia Parker- Mask Design for Romeo & Juliet
Stage Management Fellowship:
  • Madaline Harkema- Romeo & Juliet
  • Corey Boughton- Romeo & Juliet 
National Playwriting Program- One Act Play
  • Chazz Irwin, with his play More Real Than It Should Be
10 Minute Play Festival Director
  • Paul Docter, directing Wandering featuring Shelby Coleman, Nick LaRosa and Andrew Eisengruber

UM-Flint Students participate in the Costume Parade at the KCACTF

Newport added, “Our costumes from Romeo & Juliet were selected to be one of 11 schools represented in the Costume Parade last night at the Pabst Theatre. Chazz Irwin, Farrell Tatum and Christine Micheala Nogaj showed off their costumes; Madaline Harkema was the stage manager for the event and Maria Oakley and Alli Switalski worked wardrobe crew.” (Pictured above.)

During the festival, Lisa Borton, Theatre Lecturer and Resident Scenic Designer, and Newport will be presenting two workshops titled “How to Get a Summer Job in Theatre.”

Andrew Morton, Theatre Lecturer and Director, is busy as the Vice Chair of Playwriting at the festival, coordinating events like the National Playwriting Program.

Nicole Broughton, Theatre Lecturer and Stage Management Advisor,  is coordinating all of the Stage Managers for the KCACTF events.

In addition to her recognition and participation in other areas of the festival, Newport was awarded the American Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Prize for Innovative Teaching this year for the region.

Congratulations to all of our students and faculty!

For more information on this award-winning and dedicated department, visit the Theatre & Dance Department website.

You can see their outstanding work first hand in their upcoming production of The Call, opening January 29 in the UM-Flint Theatre.

2015 Cell-ebration Winners Announced

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 1.48.22 PM

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


Jill Slater of Biology discusses a poster with a student.

Slater announced the poster award winners this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

CSIS Research Includes Drones, Software


One of the drones used in research by Dr. Mark Allison and his student assistants.


Dr. Mark Allison, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Information Systems, is working with students on research that focuses on drones and software design. He brings nearly a decade of experience with software engineering and artificial intelligence to the project.

When asked to describe the research and its goals, Allison said, “This project investigates how multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) may function as a team towards a common goal. We will apply software models to accomplish communication and collaboration in the context of search and rescue.”

He continued, “As drones become smaller, more capable and cheaper, we need to look to new ways of applying them to benefit humans. Current approaches to UAVs typically involve manual operation. As our machines become more complex, we need to minimize human interaction, we need software capable of making decisions on our behalf. I know visions of robot overlords may spring to mind- but… We crave more and more complex machines yet we want our interaction to be easy and intuitive. Our only solution is that invisible entity known as SOFTWARE. Our ultimate aim is to give a team of drones high level objectives (for example – Find the Cat). They should be capable of self-organization and collaboration to achieve the task if possible.”



Sopheak Pouv, a current Graduate Student Research Assistant, holds one of the drones.

Allison began the research when he joined UM-Flint in Fall 2014, building off of a previous project. “We had successfully applied software models in energy management and cloud computing. The application towards artificial intelligence seemed the next natural hurdle. It’s research; we constantly seek bigger dragons.”

The idea of individual drones working together is complex. Allison notes, “Human communication and cooperation to accomplish tasks is so rich and complex that we ourselves have not fully understood its intricacies in all our years on this blue planet. Our approach tries not to capture all this dynamism but to selectively apply concepts (we don’t want that slacker drone to go off and peruse a leisurely jaunt in the park). We want to use technology that has only matured in the last 10 or less years to revisit the challenges that were elusive. This research path is not simple. There are many difficult challenges, however an incremental approach is our best bet.”

    This research project uses Java as the general purpose language and
    UML in modeling.
    The mini-drone application uses JADE (Java Agent DEvelopment
    Framework) scripting.
    For energy management the project team has built their own language.
    Building prototypes
    Running tests on these prototypes
    Collecting data


Anil Kumar Kuvvarapu, a Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA), has been working with Allison for over a year. He’s enjoyed his time in the lab and the complexity of the project: “I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new, authentic solutions to problems which are multidisciplinary. Such tasks are typically complex and require a lot of time, but the experience is worth it.”

Another GSRA, Sopheak Pouv, has been working with the research team since September 2015. He described why the project was a good fit for him: “the position requires students who understand programming language well, especially Java language. I have been involved in software development for almost 8 years. In addition, this research project is aligned to my interests and needs.” Already the project has offered him new experiences, “I can get many benefits from this research project. This is my first time writing Java code to work with mechanical devices like drones. I think it is a new dimensional experience.” 

The team hopes their work will lead to drones being able to help in situations into which humans cannot or should not go. For example, buildings collapsed from fire or earthquakes. Allison added, “Secondarily, the quest will give insights into complex cyber-physical control systems with possible applications towards traffic control, automotive engineering, aerospace, etc.”

Allison was asked about the engaged learning opportunity such research offers students. He responded, “Let’s face it, our millennial students are tough to get impressed with technology; they have super telephones and smart cars. This challenge is even more difficult when the tools of your trade is theories, abstractions, and other intangibles. Outside of research, the drones may be used as a teaching tool. Somehow whenever students see an immediate reaction in real time (the drone moving up and down – and crashing, a lot of crashing), it brings a sense of concreteness to the principles, and of accomplishment.” He plans to integrate the research into his classes, noting, “there should not be a line drawn between research and teaching.”


Students fly a drone during Allison’s class.

Allison works to keep the experience approachable for his students, “This is an opportunity for students to experience challenges which fall outside the textbook and classroom. Working with minimal guidance. It is refreshing to see students transition from being guided to leading the exploration of their tiny sub topic. When they ask, ‘how do I get this to work?’, and I say ‘Beats me, if anyone knew then it wouldn’t be worth perusing – research, remember.’ You can see the moment when they realize that they have the opportunity and the empowerment to solve a tiny problem on their own without assistance. We just have to make the challenge not too difficult as to frustrate.”

Kuvvarapu also spoke to the benefit of such research, “The projects I have been working on at UM-Flint are extremely engaging. I don’t think there is anywhere else that I would have gotten this experience and learning climate. UM-Flint creates a very nurturing yet exciting learning environment to me. Upon graduation, I will most probably seek a job in the software industry, and with my research skills I am confident.”

For information on the Computer Science & Information Systems program, including research projects, visit

Portions of this post were compiled by Srikanth Reddy Bogala, Graduate Student in Computer Science