2024 Faculty

Anati Alyaa Azhar :

Anati Alyaa Azhar

Originating from Malaysia, Anati received her B.S. in Molecular Biology from UMich. She enjoyed her research experience a lot and is now a 4th year PhD candidate in the department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. With Györgyi Csankovszki as an advisor, Anati’s research focuses on characterizing the interactors and regulators of the proteins participating in dosage compensation of C. elegans. Since Anati’s future career plans include teaching and mentoring, she is also a senior instructor in Developing Future Biologists (DFB), an educational outreach organization that aims to instill the core fundamentals of developmental biology in the next generation. Outside of research, Anati’s hobbies include storywriting, cooking and drawing.

Pat Boland :

Pat Boland

Pat is a Lecturer of Mathematics at the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus. Before receiving his BA from Providence College, he studied number theory and combinatorics in Budapest, Hungary. He later earned a PhD from the University of Massachusetts in geometry and topology. Pat came to the University of Michigan as a postdoctoral scholar in 2009 and has had the opportunity to teach a wide variety of undergraduate (and some graduate) math courses. One of his favorite courses to teach is Math 389 (Explorations in Mathematics). This course gives him the opportunity to guide young math researchers. Pat is proud to have given several talks to students in area high schools, including those affiliated with the Wolverine Pathways program. He currently enjoys researching interactions between number theory and hyperbolic geometry, is mildly obsessed with the Markoff numbers, and is interested in learning more physics.

Zhan Chen :

Zhan Chen

Zhan is a Michael D. Morris Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, Biophysics, and Applied Physics in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, and did his postdoctoral research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The research in his group at the University of Michigan is focused on the molecular level characterizations of complicated surfaces and interfaces, such as polymer surfaces, polymer interfaces, and interfacial proteins using advanced analytical techniques. Such research provides in-depth understanding of molecular mechanisms of biocompatibility, biofouling, and polymer adhesion. Zhan received his National Science Foundation Career Award in 2004, and his Beckman Young Investigator Award in 2003. He was named as a Dow Corning Assistant/Associate Professor between 2003 and 2006. He is a fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a senior editor of Langmuir, a flagship journal on interfacial science published by American Chemical Society. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling.

Mark Conger :

Mark Conger

Mark Conger Mark is a Lecturer and program developer of the Douglass Houghton Scholars Program. He received his B.A. degree from Williams College and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. In between his M.A. and Ph.D., he spent several years working as a professional computer programmer, and did lots of programming for fun as well. His research interests are in enumerative combinatorics and probability, but he considers himself a mathematical generalist. His recent work has focused on the mathematics of card shuffling and dealing. He is the recipient of the 2019 Golden Apple Award, the only teaching award at the University of Michigan given by students.  He has been teaching in MMSS since 2002.

Jen Cummings :

Jen Cummings

Jen is a Lecturer in the Biopsychology area of University of Michigan's Psychology Department, and teaches classes ranging from Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience to Hormones and Behavior and Sex Differences in Brain and Behavior. After earning her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2006, she began working as a research scientist at UM's Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute examining the role of hormones on reward-related circuitry in the brain, and the effects of motherhood on drug addiction. In 2013, Jen joined the Psychology Department to focus on teaching full-time, and has since developed a number of courses spanning all levels of undergraduate education at UM. While she finds there is much to enjoy about teaching, Jen is particularly passionate about making neuroscience understandable and accessible for students of all ages. When not molding young minds, Jen enjoys running, knitting, reading, and fly fishing.

Alessandro Danelon :

Alessandro Danelon

Alessandro is an assistant professor in mathematics at the University of Michigan. After completing his international undergraduate studies with curricula at the University of Milan, at the Mathematical Institute in Leiden, and at the University of Duisburg-Essen, in 2023 he earned his Ph.D. in applied algebraic geometry from the University of Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The focus of his research is to develop infinite-dimensional methods to deal with highly symmetric systems of polynomial equations. This research area has applications in theoretical computer science, chemistry and neural networks, to name but a few. Prior to his mathematical career, Alessandro graduated in 2013 in clarinet performance at the Conservatory of Music G. Verdi in Milan, and has kept playing and studying music besides his academical career. From 2017 to 2023 he has been first clarinet for CREA Orkest and Het Orkest Amsterdam and he has been playing in many chamber music ensembles in the amateur music scene in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Sean Fancher :

Sean Fancher

Sean Fancher is a postdoctoral researcher in the biophysics department here at University of Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Purdue University in 2019 after researching the ways in which individual cells can use cues from their environment and other cells to obtain more accurate information about their surroundings. He then went on to work in the physics department at the University of Pennsylvania and studied how fluid flow through a network of vessels is affected by the compliance of the vessel material. Now, he researches perturbations in chemical reaction networks and their optimal structures in the lab of Prof. Jordan Horowitz.

Ari Gafni :

Ari Gafni

Gafni is a retired Professor from the Department of Biophysics at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Following postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University he returned to the Weizmann Institute as a faculty member. His research focused on the mechanisms that feature in the folding of a newly synthesized polypeptide chain into the precisely formed and biologically active protein molecule. Gafni joined the University of Michigan in 1983 and developed long-lasting research into the role that incorrectly folded proteins play in several devastating human diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and type-2 diabetes. In these studies, Gafni used a variety of cutting-edge biophysical tools, including single molecule microscopy, a technique that allows one to address mechanistic details of the origin and evolution of molecular toxicity at a level of detail that is impossible to achieve by conventional experimental approaches. Beyond science, Gafni enjoys travel, reading and raising exotic plants.

Dina Gohar :

Dina Gohar

Dina is a Lecturer II in the University of Michigan's Psychology Department who is currently teaching undergraduate courses such as Introduction to Social Psychology, Advanced Laboratory in Social Psychology, and an upper-level seminar on the Science of Happiness. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Harvard University, a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology, and her doctorate in Clinical Psychology (and social psychology) at Duke University. She completed her pre-doctoral internship in lifespan Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan's Mary. A Rackham Institute, where she subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Child Clinical Psychology at the University Center for the Child and the Family (UCCF) in 2018.
Dina is passionate about teaching and helping students better understand and apply psychology to their everyday lives, and she has won several competitive teaching awards for distinguishing herself in this regard. She also enjoys conducting research on improving teaching and learning in the classroom and continuing her interdisciplinary doctoral program of research examining the self-processes and behaviors that contribute to human flourishing, such as self-presentation and self-regulation, and how they can be optimized. When not molding young minds in the classroom or therapy office as a lifespan clinical psychologist in a small private practice in Ann Arbor, Dina enjoys traveling as a foodie, walking/playing with her therapy dog, live music, and musical theatre on Broadway as a native New Yorker.
Isabel Hermsmeyer :

Isabel Hermsmeyer

Isabel Kane Hermsmeyer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She earned her undergraduate degree in Anthropology and master's in biology at UC San Diego. She has taught introductory courses concentrating in biological anthropology on the topics of osteology, comparative anatomy, and human skeletal health. She splits her time between the skeletal biology lab in Anthropology, and the MacDougald adipose (fat) lab at the Medical School. Her research focuses on how diet impacts body composition in humans and nonhuman primates, particularly how energetics influence adipose tissue distribution and bone health. When not in either of her labs, she is enjoying live music, watching horror movies or eating delicious food with friends.

Dragan Huterer :

Dragan Huterer

Dragan Huterer is a theoretical cosmologist and professor in the Department of Physics. His research is focused on trying to understand the nature and properties of "dark energy", a mysterious component that makes up about 70% of energy in the universe and makes its expansion accelerate, and whose understanding presents major unsolved problem in astrophysics and cosmology. Huterer grew up in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia) and received a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, was awarded UM’s Henry Russel Award for “exceptional scholarship and conspicuous ability as a teacher," and currently serves as the Associate Chair for the Physics Graduate Program.

Michael Jones :

Michael Jones

Michael A. Jones earned his B.S. degree from Santa Clara University and M.A. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Northwestern University. After a 3-year position at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a 1-year visiting position at Loyola University in Chicago, he taught for 10 years at Montclair State University in New Jersey. In August 2008, he became an Associate Editor for Mathematical Reviews, a division of the American Mathematical Society based in Ann Arbor. His research interests include the development and application of mathematics to analyze the social sciences, including economics, political science, psychology, and law. His 5-year term as editor for Mathematical Association of America’s Mathematics Magazine ended in 2019.

Cheyenne Lei :

Cheyenne Lei

Dr. Cheyenne Lei is a Research Fellow within the Institute for Global Change Biology in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. in Geography at Michigan State University. Dr. Lei is interested in coupled human-environment change, atmospheric physics, geographic information systems, remote sensing, and landscape ecology. Dr. Lei’s research explores the major factors which influence surface reflectivity, in order to elucidate the mechanisms driving climate warming processes between coupled human-environment exchanges in unique ecosystems and landscapes. Lei’s work has not only been highlighted by the Department of Energy in 2021 for the broader scientific community and government policy, but also has been used as a major educational stepping stone in classroom projects for high school and outreach programs. Her efforts span a wide range of applications, from purely ecological research, such as greenhouse gas exchange in natural ecosystems, to industrial applications, such as landscape conversion for food versus fuel needs, irrigation optimization, as well as agricultural carbon sequestration. In her free time, she is an avid motorcyclist. As a certified United States Motorcycle Safety Foundation Instructor, Lei often teaches and demonstrates the basics of motorcycle safety and riding to beginner and advanced riders.

Anne McNeil :

Anne McNeil

Anne McNeil is a Carol A. Fierke Professor of Chemistry and Macromolecular Science and Engineering, as well as an HHMI Professor. Her research is aimed at addressing some of the world's biggest challenges through chemical recycling or upcycling of waste plastics, developing methods to capture microplastics, measuring microplastics in the environment, and designing redox active molecules for energy storage applications. She has won several awards for excellence in both teaching and research. She is also the proud mom of two kids.

Hector Mendoza :

Hector Mendoza

Hector is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. Under the tutelage of Györgyi Csankovszki, Hector is currently investigating the epigenetic processes involved in the maintenance of sex chromosomes. Hector is also an IRACDA fellow, participating in pedagogical training with faculty from partner institutions in the Metro Detroit area. Hector’s future career plans include starting his own research program and mentor the next generation of future scientists. Outside of the laboratory, Hector enjoys science fiction media, cooking, and creative writing.

Lon Mitchell :

Lon Mitchell

Lon holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Kansas, while his musical training includes a Bachelors of Music in Music Theory and Composition from Central Michigan University and graduate study in carillon performance at KU.   He is currently on the faculty at the University of South Florida and a Carillonneur member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.  Previous appointments include positions at the University of Malta as a Fulbright Scholar, the American Mathematical Society, and as faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Toronto.

Minh Nguyen :

Minh Nguyen

Minh Nguyen is a cosmologist and a Leinweber Research Fellow at the Leinweber Center for Theoretical Physics, Department of Physics, University of Michigan. Minh studies how millions of galaxies are distributed across the universe, specifically the hierarchical pattern and structure in their distribution, to better understand gravity, dark matter and dark energy. While gravity pulls everything, including dark matter—the invisible matter that makes up more than 25% of our universe—together, dark energy—the mysterious energy that makes up almost 70% of our universe—tend to push space and everything apart. Studying the clustering and clumpiness of galaxies and matter therefore provide key insights into their nature. More about Minh’s research can be found on his homepage.

Minh taught MMSS last year as a guest lecturer and is very excited to teach it again this year as a main lecturer. He is further a Science Communication Fellows at the UM Museum of Natural History. Minh received his PhD in Astronomy from the IMPRS-Astro program at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich for his work at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics. Before that, he received his MSc in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the AstroMundus program.

Mary Orczykowski :

Mary Orczykowski

Mary Orczykowski is a faculty member in Anatomical Sciences at the University of Michigan Medical School. She completed her undergraduate degrees in Biology and German at Oakland University in 2011 and her Ph.D. in Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine in 2017. At the University of Michigan, she has dedicated her time to guiding students (undergraduate, graduate, medical, and dental) in understanding and appreciating the inner workings of the human body. She has a special interest in training undergraduate teaching assistants to teach peers in the anatomy lab. She also enjoys creating colorful 3D models and illustrations to help demonstrate concepts and relationships in new ways. Outside of anatomy, she spends time in her Ann Arbor home with her family (husband, 2 cats, and hedgehog), exploring the natural world, building enclosures for rescued animals at the Creature Conservancy, training in aerial silks and sling, making friends with squirrels, and listening to audiobooks and podcasts.

Jianming Qian :

Jianming Qian

Jianming Qian is the David M Dennison collegiate professor of physics at the University of Michigan. He received his BSc from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1985 and his PhD in physics from MIT in 1991. He joined the University of Michigan first as a postdoctoral research fellow in 1991, later as an assistant professor in 1993, and was promoted to professor in 2005. His research is focused on the understanding of the matter and their interactions at the smallest scale. His research accomplishments include the determination of three light neutrino species, the discoveries of the top quark and the Higgs boson. He received the distinguished faculty achievement award from the University in 2014 and was named the collegiate professor in 2015. He is currently a member of the ATLAS Collaboration, studying proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland. Beyond teaching and research, he enjoys travel, learning about history and culture, and exploring nature.

Georg Raithel :

Georg Raithel

Georg is a Professor in the Department of Physics. Georg received his Ph.D. at the University of Munich. In his research, he employs laser-cooled rubidium atoms to study matter waves in optical lattices and in other atom trapping devices, and to investigate interaction processes involving cold, very highly excited atoms (Rydberg atoms) and cold plasmas. In his spare time and vacations, Georg enjoys bicycling, skiing, camping and sailing with his family.

Sarah Raubenheimer :

Sarah Raubenheimer

Sarah is a Researcher and Program Manager for the Institute for Global Change Biology at the
University of Michigan. Sarah studied a BSc in Botany and Zoology followed by a BSc honors in Biodiversity and Conservation in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. She later earned a PhD from Rhodes University in South Africa in plant physiological responses to climate change. Sarah then worked as Instrument Scientist and Researcher at the Rhodes University Elevated CO 2 Facility, Africa’s first large-scale plant climate change experiment facility, focusing on the effect of climatic changes on the valuable savanna regions of southern Africa. Her recent work has focused on how grassland and savannas are changing with climate change across the globe. When not working on science, Sarah can be found hiking and running in any mountains and forests to be found, from the Drakensberg to the Himalayas.

Corinna Schindler :

Corinna Schindler

Corinna Schindler is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. from ETH Zurich in Switzerland.  For her postdoctoral studies, Corinna joined the laboratory of Eric N. Jacobsen at Harvard University as a Feodor Lynen Postdoctoral Fellow to work in the field of asymmetric catalysis. The primary goal of her research program is to develop new synthetic methods based on transition metal catalysis to enable the synthesis of biologically active natural and unnatural products.

Doug Shaw :

Doug Shaw

Dr. Shaw is a full professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. While he was at Michigan, he won the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. He's also won teaching awards at the Universities of Illinois, Minnesota, and Northern Iowa. He's published on the Collatz Conjecture, the teaching of calculus, and all sorts of other things including a problem that was discovered during an MMSS session. In addition to writing books on teaching calculus, a pre-calculus textbook, and collaborative creativity he is a combinatorist and a big fan of graph theory and game theory. He's directed an improv comedy troupe, a storytelling show, livestreams a puppet show, and loves action and games of many kinds.
Vanessa Sih :

Vanessa Sih

Vanessa Sih is a professor in the Physics Department and investigates electron and nuclear spin dynamics in semiconductors using laser pulses.  Vanessa earned her bachelor’s degree in Applied Physics from Caltech and her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.  She has also conducted research on silicon photonics at Intel and on photonic crystal cavities at Stanford.
Randy Singer :

Randy Singer

Randy is an Assistant Research Scientist and Collection Manager for the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the Ann Arbor Campus. His research focuses on ecology and the natural history of deep-sea fishes. Randy also uses chemistry to help to develop new ways for preserving and caring for natural history specimens in museums. In his area of research he has discovered new species, mapped where species live and what environments they prefer and has added to what we know about our planet's largest ecosystem - the deep sea! Randy also has the pleasure of overseeing the fish division of one of the world's largest natural history museums. These museums house millions of specimens collected over hundreds of years by other scientists and are used in research and education by thousands of people all over the world. Randy grew up in the United States in the state of Florida and received his B.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia and his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.

Corey Stephenson :

Corey Stephenson

Corey received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Waterloo and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. After conducting postdoctoral studies at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, he joined the Department of Chemistry at Boston University as an Assistant Professor in 2007. He was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in February 2013, and in July 2013, joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Michigan as an Associate Professor. Research in the Stephenson group is focused primarily upon the development of new strategies and methodologies for the synthesis of natural products and biomass degradation with a particular interest in processes which utilize the redox chemistry of visible light activated metal complexes. Corey has been a recipient of several awards of the past seven years recognizing excellence in research and teaching including: the Boehringer-Ingelheim New Investigator Award (2010), an NSF CAREER award (2011-2016), the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2011-2013), the Amgen Young Investigator Award (2011), the Novartis Early Career Award in Organic Chemistry (2012-2015), the Eli Lilly Grantee Award (2013-2015), the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2013) and the EOS Best Reagent Award (2014).

Martin Strauss :

Martin Strauss

Martin is a Professor in the Departments of Mathematics and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He received his A.B. degree from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from Rutgers University, both in mathematics. He previously held positions at Iowa State University and AT&T Labs-Research. His research interests include fundamental algorithms, especially randomized and approximation algorithms; algorithms for massive data sets; signal processing and computational harmonic analysis; computer security and cryptography; complexity theory. He has developed an activity for the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum. For the past few years, has been leading the math club at a local elementary school, whose activities include competing in the Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools. In his spare time, he enjoys trail running.

Ramón Torres-Isea :

Ramón Torres-Isea

Ramón is an Adjunct Lecturer in Physics and Director of the Advanced Physics Laboratories at the University of Michigan. He is co-recipient (with Prof. Carl Akerlof, Univ. of Michigan) of the American Physical Society 2015 Jonathan Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert Award for Excellence in Advanced Laboratory Instruction.  He received his B.S. and M.S. in Physics from Eastern Michigan University in 1980 and 1983, and quickly developed a career as an industrial physicist.  Since his return to academia at the University of Iowa in 1995, he has been dedicated to the improvement of teaching laboratories, concentrating exclusively in laboratories at the Intermediate and Advanced levels during the past 24 years. He has taught at the technical, undergraduate, and graduate levels for thirty years. He also initiated and directed for many years the University of Michigan Physics Olympiad.

Monica Valluri :

Monica Valluri

Monica Valluri uses numerical calculations and simulations to probe observed galactic phenomena in order to understand the physical processes that produce them. Her current focus areas are dark objects whose presence we learn about via their gravitational effects on stars: supermassive black holes and dark matter halos. She has been working to develop sophisticated tools to use the motions stars close to the centers of galaxies to measure the masses of their supermassive black holes and to understand how these black holes affect the properties of their host galaxies. She has also been working on using the motions of millions of ancient stars in the Milky Way's halo to determine the properties of dark matter and compare the properties with those from large simulations of the universe.