Campus briefs


Anouck Girard elected temporary SACUA member

Photo of Anouck Girard
Anouck Girard

Anouck Girard, professor of robotics and of aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering, will serve as a temporary member of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, effective Oct. 9. Girard joined the nine-member executive arm of the University of Michigan’s central faculty governance system to temporarily replace Lindsay Admon, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Medical School, who is away on maternity leave. Girard will serve as a SACUA member through Jan. 22, 2024. Senate Assembly members elected Girard in the election that also included Jessica Pasquale, assistant director for scholarly publishing and information services at the Law Library. The Senate Assembly consists of 77 elected faculty members from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.

U-M statement regarding Mideast violence

President Santa J. Ono issued a statement Oct. 10 regarding the ongoing violence in the Middle East, acknowledging its impact and suggesting support resources. “This violence has caused profound pain within the internationally and culturally diverse University of Michigan community,” Ono said. He said he began reaching out to the leaders of the major universities in Israel — Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Technion, Weizmann, and Ben Gurion — to express his concern for their students, faculty and staff, and reaffirmed U-M’s commitment to its work with those universities. “We remain committed to the values we cherish at U-M: equity, inclusion, fair treatment for all and respect for our differences. Together, we can support our entire community through acts of unity and community and a renewed commitment to working together toward a common goal – making the world we live in a better place for all,” he said. Read Ono’s complete statement.

Diversity in government contracts falls short of equal opportunity

When it comes to government contracts, diversity doesn’t necessarily translate into equity, according to a U-M study. Research by Benjamin Rosa, assistant professor of business economics and public policy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, finds efforts abound to create a level playing field on which firms from disadvantaged backgrounds have an equal opportunity to compete for contracts — but buyers may still discriminate within the disadvantaged group. The key, according to Rosa’s study, is network access: Government agencies and prime contractors favor working with known or established firms. An equally capable but unknown, disadvantaged firm might be overlooked, and affirmative action policies for disadvantaged firms may not reliably correct these inequities. For his research, Rosa focused on construction contracts issued by the state of New Mexico between January 2008 and January 2015 for the maintenance, construction and reconstruction of transportation systems. Read more about this study.

Space weather disrupts nocturnal bird migration, study finds

It’s well-known that birds and other animals rely on Earth’s magnetic field for long-distance navigation during seasonal migrations. But how do periodic disruptions of the planet’s magnetic field, caused by solar flares and other energetic outbursts, affect the reliability of those biological navigation systems? U-M researchers and their colleagues used massive, long-term datasets from networks of U.S. Doppler weather radar stations and ground-based magnetometers — devices that measure the intensity of local magnetic fields — to test for a possible link between geomagnetic disturbances and disruptions to nocturnal bird migration. They found a 9%-17% reduction in the number of migrating birds, in both spring and fall, during severe space weather events. And the birds that chose to migrate during such events seemed to experience more difficulty navigating, especially under overcast conditions in autumn. The new findings are published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more about the study.

Identifying some foods as addictive could stimulate research, shift attitudes

Conceptualizing ultra-processed foods high in carbohydrates and fats — candy, ice cream, potato chips — as addictive substances can contribute to efforts to improve health worldwide, according to a new international study led by a U-M researcher. The scientific understanding of addiction has changed in recent years but has often focused on smoking and drinking behaviors. Internationally, what has been considered addictive as it pertains to ultra-processed foods has become increasingly important to help people worldwide live healthier lives. Researchers from the United States, Brazil and Spain published a newly released analysis in Food For Thought, a special edition of the British Medical Journal. One of the papers, “Social, clinical, and policy implications of ultra-processed food addiction,” involved research by Ashley Gearhardt, professor of psychology who is an expert on addiction to ultra-processed food. “There is converging and consistent support for the validity and clinical relevance of ultra-processed food addiction,” she said. “By acknowledging that certain types of processed foods have the properties of addictive substances, we may be able to help improve global health.” Read more about this study.

Compiled by James Iseler, The University Record


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