The Future Faculty Graduate Student Instructor (FFGSI) program supports the professional development of graduate students who are interested in working with faculty and staff on an educational development project. Projects support the educational mission of the department and include a range of activities such as course development and outreach. Only graduate students in the UM Department of Chemistry who are assigned as a graduate student instructor (GSI) can participate. The program releases GSIs from 50% of their appointment, enabling them to devote ~10 hours a week toward their selected FFGSI project.
If you are interested in participating as an FFGSI, read the project descriptions provided below and email the faculty member who is leading the project. General questions about the program should be directed to Prof. Ginger Shultz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2023-2024 FFGSI Projects
Chem 516 - Professional Skill Development in Chemistry
Dr. Julie Biteen (email@example.com)
Chem 516 aims to prepare University of Michigan Chemistry PhD students for their future professional careers by complementing skills gained through the completion of a research-based thesis with instruction in: proposal writing; reading and analyzing publications; communication; and academic professional guidelines in Chemistry. The FFGSI will assist in shaping and implementing the curriculum including designing training exercises, developing assessment rubrics, creating evaluation metrics, and coordinating with programming partners including the UM Library, Sweetland Writing Center, Rackham, and CAPS.
AI-based Approach to Improve Students’ Ability to Engage with Scientific Literature
Dr. Yulia Sevryugin (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dr. Kevyn Collins-Thompson (UMSI)
As early as 1990, Gopen and Swan suggested that writing and reading are closely related skills, and that scientific writing can only be improved through understanding of how readers go about their reading. Writing an experimental report or a literature mini-review is now the common assignment in Chemistry classes, where students’ skills to read scientific manuscripts are often taken for granted. Reading difficulties impede students’ understanding of technical literature, as well as its analysis and synthesis. As a result, students’ mini-review papers are often simple, superficial summaries of scholarly works that students reviewed for the study, as opposed to insightful synthesis that results from deeper understanding of the reading materials. With a MIDAS grant, Dr. Sevryugina is set to explore how people learn new technical vocabulary, what surrounding contexts are most helpful for this learning, and how literacy training in STEM can be enhanced through AI-based approaches that leverage recent advances in deep learning for novel prediction tasks that involve modeling the difficulty and contextual informativeness of technical content. The FFGSI will assist Dr. Sevryugina in the development of the above-mentioned project and applying it to teaching scientific writing in Chemistry courses Specific activities include analysis of students’ written reports, development and implementation of a special vocabulary, students recruitment for focus groups, selection and distribution of instructional materials for the class, collection of students’ feedback, as well as technical assistance and general guidance to students provided on daily basis throughout their coursework.
CHEM 260, 461, 463 (Physical Chemistry) Development of Interactive Computer Demos for Undergraduate Physical Chemistry Courses
Prof. Eitan Geva (email@example.com)
A new pedagogy, called Compute-to-Learn (C2L), is being implemented within the framework of a supplemental, peer-led weekly 2 hour session, in a studio environment, where undergraduate students enrolled in introductory Physical Chemistry courses (Chem260 and Chem230) collaborate to create interactive computer demonstrations of basic Physical Chemistry concepts, using Wolfram Mathematica (a powerful computing environment commonly used in academia, industry, and education). The C2L pedagogy emphasizes action-based learning activities designed to promote students’ integration of new idea, within a collaborative apprenticeship environment that mimics the authentic experience of how science is done in real life. Senior undergraduate students who participated in a previous iteration of the studio serve as peer leaders whose role is to guide activities and help the students stay on track towards completing the project within the 13-week semester. The FFGSIs assigned to this project will be charged with further development of the pedagogy and assessment tools of its impact on students learning and outlook, as well as training, supervising and mentoring the undergraduate peer leaders and coordinating studio activities.”
SMART Center Outreach: Developing outreach tools for the Single Molecule Analysis in Real-Time (SMART) Center
Prof. Nils Walter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There is an urgent need to capitalize on the recent successes of single molecule and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, as underscored by the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (to three founders of the field with ties to the U-M.) Starting in 2010, the U-M invested in this leading-edge research area through support of a successful NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) application that seeded the Single Molecule Analysis in Real- Time (SMART) Center, housed in Chemistry and Biophysics, but open to all users across the entire U-M. The center has broad impacts for basic and applied sciences from systems biology to materials design. Research groups already versed in single molecule analysis and those that never before experienced them are successfully using the SMART Center’s microscopes.
To enhance outreach across campus and beyond, three types of activities need to be developed: (1) hands-on demonstrations of assays that users developed on the SMART Center microscopes, to be integrated as modules into existing undergraduate and graduate courses at the U-M such as Chem 352, Biophys 450, and Biophys 521; (2) a “Single Molecule Roadshow” to bring mobile hands-on experimentation to inner-city high schools in the Detroit school district with large underrepresented groups, Ann Arbor’s Hands-on Museum, and Detroit’s Science Center; and (3) web-based information and activities to introduce the concepts of single molecule research. In combination, we expect these efforts to provide for the kind of stimulating intellectual immersion that is known to foster innovation and the ‘eureka’ effect in young minds.
CHEM 216, Lab Practical Implementation and Development
Prof. John Wolfe (email@example.com)
This project will involve the continued development of an end-of term lab practical exercise for Chem 216. Initial stages have seen the successful implementation and refinement of the exercise, as well as adjustments to the weekly laboratory schedule to complement the practical mode of assessment and desired learning outcomes for Chem 216. Further work in Fall 2023 will include further refinements to the weekly assignments of the Chem 216 curriculum; characterizing student perceptions and student learning outcomes based on the changes made; characterizing the impacts this course structure has on other invested parties, especially GSIs and lab support staff; and organizing the curriculum products into a consolidated package of files and instructions, to enable incoming instructors to take full advantage of the materials.
CHEM 262 (Mathematical Methods), Symbolic & numerical “computer math” in chemistry
Prof. Paul Zimmerman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This project will use Mathematica to set up, solve, and visualize problems in Chem 262. The course has 12 weekly homework assignments and the goal will be to modernize and refine one problem for each assignment (Matlab —> Mathematica). To help chemistry students dig deeper into these problems, a focus will be on connecting each Mathematica problem to a familiar chemical concept. About 10 hours per exercise will be required to develop and refine the course material.
CHEM 461 Everyday Quantum Chemistry
Prof. Dominika Zgid (email@example.com)
The FFGSI who will be attached to the CHEM 461 class (quantum chemistry) will be working on (i) finding the best examples that show how quantum mechanics is employed everyday and leads to modern technology (ii) designing homeworks in such a way that students can focus on understanding the class material and self-learning with only moderate math and computer skills (iii) researching teaching quantum mechanics in a fun way where the students can use 3D visualization technology to help then see orbitals and crystal structures. The main question that this FFGSI will be investigating is how to make quantum mechanics fun, exciting, and accessible to a broad audience of undergraduate students taking chemistry classes.
DIVAS (Digital Imaging & Vision Applications in Science) Scholars Program
Prof. Ginger Shultz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Whether it is medical images, aerial pictures of fields or ecosystems taken from drones, scans of colorimetric chemical reactions, or a snapshot of a weird rash you got after a hike, image data is everywhere and tells us much about the natural world. The DIVAS Alliance Program helps undergraduate students learn basic computational skills for collecting data from images in a collaborative environment with students and faculty from institutions in Nebraska, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. The program will recruit underserved individuals, including cis- and transgender women, nonbinary individuals, differently-abled individuals, and underrepresented minorities. An FFGSI will participate in DIVAS Alliance events, coordinate with project leaders from around the country, help organize events on the UM campus, and mentor UM undergraduates who participate in the program.
Instructor Support and Professional Development in Chemistry
Prof. Ginger Shultz (email@example.com)
College-level chemistry instructors learn about teaching on the job, often relying on imperfect feedback (i.e., student evaluations) to improve their teaching. The FFGSI will assist in identifying, adapting, and developing tools that can help instructors in the Department of Chemistry reflect on their teaching and grow as educators. The FFGSI will learn about educator professional development and evaluation.