17 faculty members chosen for Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship


Seventeen University of Michigan faculty members have been named 2021 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows, and will spend the summer reflecting, building skills and planning projects with public engagement experts across campus.

The fellowship, offered by the Center for Academic Innovation in partnership with units across campus, also provides financial and in-kind support for a public engagement project.

The center’s public engagement experts organize workshops and networking opportunities that showcase the breadth of public engagement expertise across the campus community, and coordinate reading and reflection activities for the intergenerational and interdisciplinary learning community.

The cohort includes 11 Fellows eager to explore and build their public engagement skills, and six Mentor Fellows with more experience in public engagement and who are interested in continued learning and being part of a larger public engagement community at U-M.

 “I applaud U-M’s inspiring new cohort of Public Engagement Faculty Fellows. A tremendous strength of our university’s faculty is their commitment and ambition to use their talents to serve society. The fellows and the Center for Academic Innovation are ensuring that we uphold the highest values of our public mission,” President Mark Schlissel said.

“The center is always focused on ways we can move U-M forward and help define what it means to be an inclusive higher education institution. It is vital to connect the work of the university to advancing societal goals, including through productive conversations and collaborations with public stakeholders,” said James DeVaney, founding executive director of the Center for Academic Innovation.

The 2021 Fellows are:

  • Michelle Bellino, assistant professor of education, School of Education.
  • Abigail A. Dumes, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies, LSA.
  • Monica Dus, assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, LSA.
  • Ashley Gearhardt, associate professor of psychology, LSA.
  • Anette Joseph-Gabriel, assistant professor of romance languages and literatures, LSA.
  • Wei Lu, professor of mechanical engineering, and of materials science and engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Okeoma Mmeje, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Medical School; professor of health behavior and health education, School of Public Health.
  • Rachel Rafael Neis, associate professor of history and Judaic studies, LSA.
  • Sarah Melissa Peitzmeier, assistant professor of nursing, School of Nursing.
  • Kira Thurman, assistant professor of Germanic languages and literatures, and of history, LSA.
  • Anthony Vanky, assistant professor of architecture and urban and regional planning, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

The 2021 Mentor Fellows are:

  • María Arquero de Alarcón, associate professor of architecture, and of urban and regional planning, Taubman College.
  • Mustafa Naseem, clinical assistant professor of information, School of Information.
  • Lisa DuRussel, assistant professor of practice of environment and sustainability, School for Environment and Sustainability.
  • Sheria G. Robinson-Lane, assistant professor of nursing, School of Nursing.
  • Teresa Satterfield, professor of romance languages and literatures, and of linguistics, LSA.
  • Sarah Stoddard, associate professor of nursing, School of Nursing; associate professor of health behavior and health education, School of Public Health.

The first phase of the fellowship is a five-week Studio Experience that focuses on skill development, reflection, exploration and brainstorming, networking and project development. It also forms the basis for a campuswide interdisciplinary learning community focused on public engagement, said Elyse Aurbach, public engagement lead at the Center for Academic Innovation.

“There is a huge amount of interest and expertise in public engagement at the University of Michigan, and our goal is to help bring everyone together — to build strong skills for ethical engagement, support faculty in learning from one another, and foster conversations that bridge gaps and open new ways of thinking across disciplines, research areas and spaces for engaging different publics.”

Using the skills and connections they gain during the Studio Experience, fellows can propose a public engagement project and be eligible for up to $10,000 in funding and in-kind support from the center and other campus units. This model was designed to support opportunities for innovation, interdisciplinarity and bringing together communities that do not frequently work together.


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