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Alumni Update

Appreciation for U-M Anthro from Michael Bangert, MA '91

Posted May 2023

Thirty years ago, I left the PhD program. Albeit skeptical, Richard Ford signed off on my request to take a break. I returned to the place where the program sent me the year prior, Korea. Both trips changed my life forever. For enabling that, I’ll forever hold U-M Anthro close to my heart.

Roberto Frisancho was my steadfast advisor who gave me many opportunities including a chance to work with the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HHANES) dataset. While nothing directly came of it, the experience sparked an interest in clinical data that I’ve tried to sate with a +2 decade long career in clinical research. While I’ve had very modest success compared to my contemporaries (e.g. Rachel Albalak at CDC), I have no complaints. Through providing admin/SME support for various clinical research applications and environments (EDC, CTMS, eTMF, RTSM, ePRO, medical decision support software, logical data fabric/data virtualization, etc), I’ve been able to meet and collaborate with people around the world with an aim of saving lives and improving quality of life.

Every now and then, I’m reminded of Traditions with Roy (Skip) Rappaport and Tom Fricke. During one class, I brought up a controversial discussion topic with my classmates and Kim Hill. My performance was underwhelming, if not inauspicious. Perhaps, few remember that day, but it left an enduring impression that has helped inform my approach to uncomfortable conversations in clinical research relating to subject safety, study design, regulatory compliance, project budgets, etc. For all the experiences and opportunities, thank you U-M Anthro.


Reflections on West Hall, by Michigan Anthropology Student Brady G'sell

As for many students, West Hall 210 has become emblematic of my experience of Anthropology classes at Michigan. Occasionally, in the midst of an animated discussion amongst a small class of colleagues, collected around a communal table, snug from the chill of the Michigan winter, I think back to my father’s days in this very building as an undergraduate engineering student in 1960. His experience of “West Engine” consisted of creaky wooden floors, single incandescent bulbs in glass globes hanging from the ceiling, wooden desks with attached, swiveling chairs, and cooling or heating via windows and transom doors or giant steam radiators that periodically sputtered and/or banged that left classrooms either stifling or freezing with little moderation.

Many of those radiators are still present today and when I see them, I remember stories my father would tell me of "Brandy" the fraternity St. Bernard who kept cool in the winter by rolling in dirty snow, or better, garbage and would subsequently accompany my father to class only to slump down next to the radiator to nap. Thus, his memories of 8:30 AM classes in the stifling heat of West Engine were of the smell of drying dog and the sound of snoring (canine and other) listening to a heavily-accented T.A. talk about Entropy or Laplace transforms while nursing a hangover and dreading mid-terms next week. While the architecture in West Hall may be more amenable, the life of the student remains much the same, though I will take my anthropology seminars over his engineering lectures any day.

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