Campus briefs


Women’s gymnastics team claims program’s first national championship

It all came down to one final routine, as every other event had finished. University of Michigan junior Abby Heiskell stood alone on the beam as the rest of the No. 2-ranked U-M women’s gymnastics team watched and waited for the final score to flash. Needing a 9.8500 for the Wolverines to capture their first championship, Heiskell delivered with a 9.9250, and Michigan became the 2021 national champion with a program-best 198.2500 on April 17 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. U-M joined an exclusive club, becoming just the seventh team to ever capture an NCAA women’s gymnastics title, scoring the third-best score in championship history and the best score in Michigan history. The Wolverines join Georgia, Utah, UCLA, Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida as the only women’s gymnastics teams in the country to win a national championship. U-M led throughout the meet, taking a slight 0.0500 advantage after the first rotation over the field before going up by 0.1375 for the second and third rotations. The all-around trio of Heiskell, Sierra Brooks and Natalie Wojcik all posted scores of 39.7000 or higher to take the top three spots in Michigan NCAA all-around history. For more on the team and its national title.

Nominations open for Distinguished University Innovator Award

Nominations are being accepted for the Distinguished University Innovator Award, which honors faculty members who have made important and lasting contributions to society by developing novel ideas and insights through their research, and then translating them to practice. The award was established in 2007 by the Office of the Vice President for Research and is supported by endowments from the U-M Office of Research and the Stephen and Rosamund Forrest Family Foundation. It is open to current members of the tenure/tenure track, research or clinical faculty or a team of up to three faculty members. The award comes with a $5,000 honorarium for the individual recipient or to be shared by team recipients. Nominations will be accepted until June 11, with the announcement of the winner expected in early September. For more on the award and how to submit a nomination.

Institute for Research on Women and Gender awards 12 faculty seed grants

The university’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender has awarded 12 seed grants for faculty projects on women, gender and sexuality. The grants support individual research activities, as well as collaborative projects, pilot studies, and initial research efforts, with nearly $70,000 awarded. The IRWG Faculty Seed Grant program, established in 1996, supports disciplinary and interdisciplinary faculty projects on women, gender and sexuality with annual awards. For a full list of award winners and details about their projects.

Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies announces 2021-22 fellows

The Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies has announced that 13 scholars from four countries are 2021-22 Frankel Institute Fellows. They will explore various aspects of religious, cultural and political life, focusing on the theme of “Second Temple Judaism: The Challenge of Diversity” and how diversity of ethnicity, religion, social status, gender, age and ability was as much a feature of the ancient Mediterranean world as it is in the present. The fellows will share their scholarship via several events taking place throughout the year, organized in collaboration with the Enoch Seminar. For a list of 2021–22 Frankel Institute Fellows and their fields of research.

New $2M project aims to overhaul automotive recycling

As society moves toward a cleaner transportation sector, a new $2 million project at U-M aims to develop easier and more cost-effective ways to make recyclable, lightweight automotive sheet metals. The project is a key effort as major car manufacturers look to lightweight light-duty trucks and shift away from internal-combustion engines toward electric cars that require more lightweight components to increase vehicle range. “The Clean Sheet Project” seeks to develop new design tools and establish best practices for material producers and carmakers with a focus on recycling from start to finish in production. While the group’s initial focus will be on energy-intensive aluminum and advanced high-strength steel automotive sheet metals, it could eventually include guidelines for all manner of materials, including plastics, polymers and electric vehicle, or EV, batteries. “We need to reduce the environmental impacts of vehicle production going forward, and one of the ways to do that is to boost the production of these lightweight sheet metals from recycled materials,” said Daniel Cooper, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, who leads the project. “Not only will that reduce emissions from the automotive production process, it will also help to limit destructive mining for raw materials.” For more on the project.

Compiled by Jeff Bleiler, The University Record


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