Funded Projects
Faculty Development Fund (FDF)
Project Title Overview of the Project
Integrating socially-engaged, participatory design pedagogy in complex sociotechnical contexts
Aditi Verma
Engineering - Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences
Stephen Raiman
Engineering - Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences
Engineering - Materials Science and Engineering
Kevin Field
Engineering - Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences
Todd Randall Allen
Engineering - Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences


Nuclear energy technologies– fission and fusion – are increasingly regarded as vital contributors to climate mitigation efforts underway with the goal of deeply decarbonizing our energy systems by mid-century. However, the history of energy technology development (including nuclear energy) demonstrates that the process of designing and using energy technologies creates significant inequities – extractive and waste management facilities are typically sited around communities of color and low-income communities whereas the power-producing facilities are sited around affluent (predominantly white) communities. In neither case do communities have a say in the design of the facility being built in their community and seldom have a say in the decision to even site that facility. If we are to equitably develop our energy systems of the future, there is an urgent need to reverse this worrying trend. To that end, we aim to train future developers of nuclear energy technologies – fission and fusion – to acknowledge and incorporate social, ethical, and environmental considerations in their engineering practice as well as seek direct community input in the early stages of design.

Our specific aim in this project is to integrate socially engaged, participatory design practices across undergraduate course offerings in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences.

Our project goals are to:
1. Improve the next offering of ENGR100.910;
2. Develop socially-engaged participatory design modules for NERS 250, NERS 425, NERS 491
3. Extract generalizable findings on implementing socially engaged, participatory design in the context of complex engineered systems to be shared with engineering education and design research audiences.
SMTD OperaLab
Caitlin Lynch
Music, Theatre & Dance
Jayce Ogren
Music, Theatre & Dance


SMTD OperaLab will serve as an incubator for new work, establishing a collaborative learning environment for singers, instrumentalists, composers and librettists.  OperaLab will bring renowned artists to U-M to workshop projects ahead of their professional premiere, giving students the opportunity to participate in the creative process. Committed to works with social and political relevance, OperaLab will engage the broader U-M and Southeast Michigan communities in their development and presentation.

OperaLab will be led by Assistant Professor of Voice Caitlin Lynch and Assistant Professor of Conducting Jayce Ogren, with significant support from Voice Department Professors Scott Piper (Chair), Kirk Severtson and Mo Zhou. Conducting, Composition, Creative Writing, and Engagement and Outreach will also benefit, and will be involved in its implementation. 

In winter 2024, OperaLab will launch with The Pigeon Keeper, a heartfelt and socially-conscious piece commissioned by Santa Fe Opera. The complete artistic team—including composer David Hanlon and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann—will come to campus for a 7 day residency, culminating in a workshop presentation in Stamps Auditorium.  The project will include 17 voice students and 8 players from the Contemporary Directions Ensemble, providing natural opportunities for mentorship with the visiting professionals. 
OperaLab’s second edition will include 21 student singers and the full University Philharmonia Orchestra in an adaptation of Sandra Cisneros’s beloved novella The House on Mango Street, presented at Hill Auditorium in October 2024.  In preparation, Cisneros (also the librettist) and composer Derek Bermel (a U-M alum) will work with students in masterclasses and rehearsals. 
Understanding Digital Wellness: Creating Peer-to-Peer Interventions with Middle School Students
Beth Sherman
Social Work


Digital wellness is the pursuit of an intentional and healthy relationship with technology both in school and in personal life. Digital wellness prioritizes dialogue over strict rules, allowing individuals to discover and establish their own goals and values for their online experiences. The interprofessional 3-credit Peer-to-Peer Digital Wellness course builds on 10 years of engagement between UM Education students and Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) middle schoolers and provides a unique instructional approach to preparing UM students to focus on mental health wellness about digital device use. With AAPS partners, we will pilot the course in Winter 2024, preparing UM undergraduate and graduate students to become familiar with digital wellness research, middle school mindsets, and facilitation skills. The UM students will then host AAPS 6th graders for two campus visits where the UM students will facilitate activities on unpacking and understanding digital wellness with the tweens. The course then shifts into a community-based learning component when the UM students visit local middle schools weekly to mentor the AAPS students in designing digital wellness activities for their peers. UM students will benefit from a gradual release of responsibility model, gaining independence in working with youth from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, building mentorship and project management skills, and improving their own digital wellness as well as provide guidance to youth, consistent with UM DEI 2.0 goals. Project funding will remove barriers to participation by supporting UM student travel to schools, providing meals to participants, and providing essential program curriculum development and evaluation.
Vocal Combat Technique for BFA Actors in Theatre & Drama
Jeremy Sortore
Music, Theatre & Dance


Professional actors are frequently asked to perform vocal maneuvers well beyond the scope of everyday life. Particularly in the rapidly-expanding video game industry, demands for vocally aggressive “extreme voice” sounds such as grunting, shouting, and screaming are leading to rampant vocal injury among voiceover artists. Vocal Combat Technique (VCT) is a recent evidence-based innovation for training actors in vocal extremes that has been shown to reduce vocal fatigue and mitigate dysphonia (hoarseness), pain, and vocal handicap. VCT sidesteps more traditional methods that encourage the actor to imaginatively induce distressing psychological states and instead focuses on concrete protocols, based in physiological and acoustic principles of voice production, for reproducing aggressive sounds separate from an imaginative process. Similar to developments in the emerging theatrical intimacy field, where
choreography is replacing reliance on actor “chemistry”, this innovation in trauma-informed pedagogy is aligned with the principle of critical engagement of difference espoused by CRLT in its Equity-Focused Teaching framework. VCT promises to provide equitable access to learning/performance opportunities in extreme voice through transparent, scaffolded pedagogy.
This project would bring VCT to the University of Michigan Department of Theatre & Drama by training the faculty instructor of theatrical voice/speech in the method and implementing it within the BFA professional acting curriculum. The primary goal of the project is to increase marketable job skills and occupational safety for student actors by expanding faculty expertise in this important emerging subdiscipline.
Integration of AI and Computational Sciences in Nuclear Engineering Education
Majdi Radaideh
Engineering - Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences


NERS at U-M has a rich history of providing theoretical education. However, Nuclear Engineering (NE) education has largely adhered to traditional, theory-centric methods, with limited incorporation of modern tools, including high-performance computing, simulation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning (AI/ML). In the early 2010s, several efforts have attempted for modernizing NE education through augmented reality, modern textbooks with Python, open-source tools, and online courses. Despite these strides, significant gaps remain. NE education innovations have often existed in isolation and have not been fully integrated into mainstream curricula. Additionally, there is a dearth of AI/ML topics in NE education, despite their relevance in the digital era of nuclear power plants. This project seeks to bridge these gaps by achieving two objectives. First, integrating computational science and computer simulation in the nuclear reactor design course (NERS 442) to seamlessly integrate both theoretical and computational instruction throughout the entire semester. Second, development and teaching of a “new” discipline-focused applied AI/ML course (NERS 490/590) to introduce NERS students to the recent state-of-the-art topics in AI/ML along with their coding techniques; allowing NERS students to witness the potential of AI/ML in the context of nuclear science and engineering without delving in complex theory. These courses will equip NERS students with computational skills and AI/ML knowledge, enhancing their readiness for industry, senior design, and graduate research. The broad impact of such philosophy extends beyond NERS, potentially influencing U-M engineering education and NE education at other institutions.
Inclusive Simulation for Weight Bias Reduction to Prepare Students for Equity-Driven Nursing Practice


The obesity epidemic in the U.S. impacts roughly 42% of individuals (CDC, 2021), and a 66% rise in weight discrimination has occurred over the past decade (Fruh et al., 2016). Obesity impacts not only physical health and wellbeing but influences the quality of care that overweight and obese individuals receive. To address this inequity, this project aims to use inclusive simulation strategies to educate nursing students in the care of overweight/obese patients.
Currently, all simulation manikins in the School of Nursing represent a thin body type. This inhibits hands-on content for overweight/obese patients in the curriculum. If selected for funding, we aim to improve our existing practice by disrupting the thin body type norm of training equipment. Money from the Faculty Development Fund would aid in purchasing four bariatric obesity simulation suits (Sim U Suit, 2022) that can be weighted and fit over existing manikins or live persons. These suits will allow for more realistic student experiences to enhance the quality of learning in the care of overweight/obese patients.
Simulated student experiences with the suits will be created based on the level of clinical development. Students will be invited to complete a survey prior to and immediately after their training or simulation to measure cultural humility, overweight/obesity bias, and the perceived effectiveness of the simulation. This project has the potential to positively influence the readiness of graduating and registered nurses to engage in inclusive practices and reduce weight biases, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.
Supported Study Groups in Key Second Year STEM Courses
Nina White
LSA - Mathematics
Greg Bodwin
Engineering - Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Engineering - Computer Science and Engineering (CSE)
Kolby Gadd


Inspired by programs such as Treisman’s Emerging Scholars Program, this project will create, support, and refine models for out-of-class study groups in the specific context of key second-year courses for Math, Computer Science, and Statistics majors at our institution. The goals of these groups include building students’ content knowledge, self-sufficient collaborative learning skills, and sense of belonging in the discipline. This proposal aims, specifically, to evaluate and compare distinct models for out-of-class study groups. The models range from intensive support (with graduate student “guides”, extra faculty office hours, and more) to less supported (reflection assignments). There are two primary undergraduate populations these groups are serving: first is MaCSS scholars---a recently funded scholarship program for low-income math, stats, and computer science majors; second is students, more generally, in Math 214, Math 215, and EECS 203. Best practices for supporting these study groups that learn from this implementation and evaluation will be shared broadly with instructors and coordinators of mathematics, statistics, and computer science courses at the University.
Developing and Evaluating a Large Team-Based Learning Organic Chemistry Course
Nicole Tuttle
LSA - Chemistry
LSA - Comprehensive Studies


In Spring 2022, I experimented with moving Chem 215 (generally a traditional lecture/discussion course) to flipped, team-based design. These changes led to some more equitable outcomes as desired (such as a reduced withdraw rate), but further development and evaluation is required to fully understand the impacts. This proposal seeks funds to research and develop: (1) rethinking the discussion section and how it can best be used, since the "lecture" portion of the course generally functions as the discussion section used to; (2) training a new generation of GSIs/UIAs to facilitate group work during, which is training they generally have not previously received; and (3) evaluate the changes to the course on students and instructors. The impacts of this work are potentially quite significant; about 140 students take Chem 215 in Spring semester, but the course serves ~1500 students annually. The Chemistry building is undergoing planning for a renovation, and so the moment is now to consider future team-based classroom needs. Evaluation of the course changes will focus on both undergraduate students, with a particular focus on the development of confidence around learning chemistry and a growth mindset, and the undergraduate and graduate instructors in the course, looking at their sense of a growth mindset, confidence with organic chemistry, persistence, and sense of themselves as a teaching professional.
Activating Service Learning in Entrepreneurship & Leadership
Antonio Cuyler
Music, Theatre & Dance


Through this project, I will identify, select, and partner with 25 cultural organizations across the U. S. to implement service learning in three courses: Arts in Community Engagement, Cultural Policy, and Managing Cultural Organizations About, By, For, and Near People of the Global Majority. Research has found, at a minimum, that implementing service learning into these courses will lead to gains in academic abilities, career skills development, and an overall positive college experience for students (Cuyler, 2017; Cuyler, 2018; Miller et al., 2022). Furthermore, successfully implementing service learning into my courses, could compel further evidence-based curricular enhancements because this project represents a potential improvement upon and departure from existing practice within the Department of Entrepreneurship & Leadership because few courses utilize service learning or community service as an opportunity to innovate in teaching and learning within the discipline. I will use analysis of student work, course assignment, documents review, and syllabi to disseminate, document, and evaluate this project’s four SMART goals.
Musical Theatre Wellness Initiative
Catherine A. Walker
Music, Theatre & Dance


The Musical Theatre Department is strongly committed to the health and well-being of our student and faculty community. This 3-tiered initiative is designed to enhance the wellness of the musical theatre students and provide professional development for faculty. This collaborative, multidimensional proposal involves 90 students and 18 faculty and includes Physical Assessments for Injury Prevention; Vocal Health & Pedagogy; Somatic Training in the Art of Conscious Breathing. As a direct result of the pandemic, e-learning became common practice and the hours of use of electronic devices increased substantially. Studies have linked this increased device usage to diminished physical and emotional health in both students and faculty. There has been a noticeable change in the student's connection to their bodies, breathing, posture, and alignment as well as diminished concentration, anxiety, digestive health, and quality sleep. This type of training will enrich the curriculum and teach awareness, the practice of self-care, and wellness, which will serve our students as they enter this demanding profession. This Wellness Initiative will support the physical, vocal, and emotional health of both our students and faculty. The health of an individual directly impacts the health of the community writ large. Since musical theatre requires collaboration and engagement in group activities, this wellness initiative will have an impact on the health of both the individual and the collective community. This proposal is in alignment with the University of Michigan’s commitment to a campus-wide Well-being Collective to make our campus a better place to live, work, and learn.
Worldbuilding Game
Alina Nazmeeva
Architecture and Urban Planning


This proposal seeks funding to create, test and evaluate an advanced prototype of a creative game, titled Worldbuilding Game that facilitates and structures interdisciplinary and collaborative learning in design. The continuous development of the Worldbuilding Game as a method of teaching and learning serves two major goals that improve the existing teaching practices in design disciplines and beyond. First, as an educator in the design field I am particularly interested in implementing gamified learning practices in my classes as a way to introduce inclusive and collaborative learning. Worldbuilding Game is a departure from the existing design studio teaching practice that often excessively focuses on individual work. As a method of inclusive learning, and a part of anti-racist and inclusive pedagogy, Worldbuilding Game has a capacity to incorporate interests, experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, creative proposals, and ideas from all students in a gamified, playful context. Second, gamification methods – using game elements in non-game contexts – are utilized to promote change and challenge both disciplinary epistemic brackets and siloed knowledge. In the design studio classroom context, worldbuilding aids in crafting a rigorous contextual framework that supersedes singular imaginations, contingent on individual experiences, positions and affinities. Going beyond thinking as an urban designer or an architect, during this exercise students engage in role-playing actors, with perspectives, affinities and positions that may differ or oppose their own.
Evaluating and Refining the Health Equity via Anti-Racist Teaching (HEART) training
Paul Fleming
Public Health
Melissa Creary
Public Health


The “Health Equity via Anti-Racist Teaching”, or HEART project is aiming to transform the way that Public Health and allied health sciences is taught so that future health professionals will learn in an anti-racist environment and have an anti-racist toolkit to address inequities. The HEART project is an online course to train health instructors (including graduate student instructors) on how to implement anti-racist teaching principles and reduce barriers to anti-racist teaching methods. The curriculum is already created and includes six different modules with readings and about 10 hours of new recorded video content (e.g. a combination of video lectures and montages of anti-racist teaching experts). The initial build of this training program has been funded by Poverty Solutions and the School of Public Health. To further the powerful potential impact of this project, the creators would like to use $10,000 for mixed-methods evaluation to refine the effectiveness of this training and create an implementation guide for health training programs to utilize this training content for a group of instructors (i.e. GSI training or faculty professional development). The evaluation money would be used for conducting focus groups of faculty and GSI that will go through the curriculum. In response to this evaluation, the curriculum can be revised and refined, preparing it to be further implemented and distributed to Schools of Public Health, Nursing, Social Work, and beyond.
Curriculum development for Language, Disability, and Neurodiversity
Jonathan Brennan
LSA - Linguistics
Natasha Abner
LSA - Linguistics


We propose bring scholarship connected to disability justice and neurodiversity into required "core" Linguistics courses at the 300 level. We develop curricular units that move topics of disability and neurodiversity from the periphery to the center of our curriculum. These units will address topics that are already recognized as key materials for these levels (e.g., reasoning about meaning in discourse, the acquisition of grammar, or processing variability in language perception) but which can be made richer when combined with a disability and neurodiversity lens. With such a lens, we move away from a curriculum that contrasts a binary “typical” with “atypical” language towards one that embraces a fuller range of human language experiences.
Are we All on the Same Page? Capturing and Visualizing Real-time Multi-source Evaluations using MIRROR in Team-Based Simulations
Vitaliy Popov
Medical School


To enhance the current high-stakes learning environment, technological advances are needed to provide team- and learner-specific feedback to coach learners in retaining and improving cognitive and behavioral skills required for team-based clinical care (Kozlowski & Chao, 2018; Rosen et al., 2018a,b). This project aims to fill this gap by building upon the previously validated Radar graphical tool to develop and evaluate a novel real-time 3600 assessment and feedback system: MIRROR (MultIsource RadaR Tool On Team Reflexivity). MIRROR maps the four constructs of clinical decision-making (seeking information from the patient, seeking information from the team, evaluating information, and planning and acting on a decision), where output is a visualization of multisource evaluations from the instructor, peer-observers, learner, and team on a given simulated situation. Through this, instructors will be able to provide new insights and personalized feedback during reflection-based debriefing sessions to allow for more meaningful reflection, targeted intervention, and rapid development of these complex skills.