- Aisha Bowe
Never let others define what is possible for you.
Alumna Aisha Bowe is the co-founder and CEO of STEMBoard, a technology solutions company that works to close the achievement gap by empowering historically underrepresented youth to help build transformational technologies.
Being an underrepresented minority herself, Bowe knows how important it is for young people to have positive mentors. Growing up, she was inspired by her father, who earned his degree in electrical engineering at the age of 40. She also credits the U-M Director of Inclusion and Multicultural Engineering Programs, Derrick Scott, for supporting her when she first arrived at the College of Engineering.
At the College, Bowe earned a BSE in aerospace engineering and a Master’s degree in space systems engineering. She also held an internship at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. After completing her Master’s in 2009, she began working at NASA Ames. She continued working there, going from mission engineer to aerospace engineer, until 2015. At that time, she left to focus on STEMBoard full-time.
STEMBoard is making strides. The company collaborates with historically black colleges and universities to host STEM camps. Through the camps, more than 170 students in two countries have received technical instruction designed and executed by STEMBoard experts at no cost.
Becoming the CEO of a successful company after working as a NASA engineer is not a small change, and Bowe credits her education at the College for preparing her to run a company. She especially thanks Professor Thomas Zurbuchen for encouraging her to take a course in entrepreneurship.
“That course prepared me to be a CEO,” Bowe says. “I couldn’t be happier or more grateful for my time at Michigan.”
Bowe’s advice for underrepresented minority students who are interested in a STEM career is to look at the things they don’t have as a positive thing. Some students may feel that they don’t have access to the same resources and connections as their peers, but that can be a good thing because it gives them a unique perspective, and today’s challenges need a variety of perspectives to find answers.
“My mantra is: never let others define what is possible for you,” Bowe adds.
April 11, 2016
- Bob Breck
Don’t wait until you graduate to get camera experience.
After visiting a broadcasting station in Chicago when he was thirteen, Alumnus Bob Breck knew he wanted to be a television meteorologist. Indeed, he grew up to be the chief meteorologist at Fox 8 News in New Orleans.
He received his Meteorology & Oceanography degree from U-M in 1969. When he was a student, he enjoyed spending time on the roof of the East Engineering Building.
“I had the fortunate responsibility to go on the roof each day and use the weather station to take measurements. They had a nice camera up there and I would take beautiful sunset pictures,” Breck says.
Breck also enjoyed going to the Big House during Bo Schembechler’s first year as coach, and celebrating birthdays at the Pretzel Bell.
After graduation, Breck searched for a broadcast job and was rejected by 33 television stations. In 1971, a station in Tampa gave him a chance. He spent two years in Tampa and then five years in Dayton, Ohio before he made it to WVUE in New Orleans, where he would spend almost four decades.
“I thought I would only stay in New Orleans for a few years, but the longer I stayed, the more I liked it. I also decided that I didn’t like winter,” Breck says.
Breck covered several hurricanes over the years, including Frederic in 1979, Juan in 1985, Andrew in 1992, Georges in 1998, Lilli in 2002, Ivan in 2004, Katrina and Rita in 2005, Gustav in 2008 and Isaac in 2012.
In 2008, he was named AMS (American Meteorological Society) Broadcaster of the Year. In June 2009, after passing a comprehensive exam on theoretical and operational meteorology, Breck was awarded the AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) Seal, making him the only chief meteorologist in New Orleans to display the AMS CBM. In April 2014, the National Hurricane Conference honored him with their Distinguished Achievement Award.
For those who aspire to a career in broadcast meteorology, Breck encourages gaining experience early on.
“Get to a television station, don’t wait until you graduate to get camera experience. You cannot go into a place looking like a deer in the headlights,” Breck advises.
January 14, 2016
- Anthony Torres
It's incredible how much interaction and personal attention we have from our professors while at a large, top-notch university like Michigan.
Many people enjoy watching loud thunderstorms on hot summer nights, but Undergraduate Student Anthony Torres isn’t just watching for fun. He’s studying thunderstorms in the Great Plains this summer as part of the Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) field campaign.
Torres is part of a group that collects surface-based observations of thunderstorm systems in an effort to improve forecasts of these sometimes damaging storms.
Torres became involved with the campaign after spending last summer as a protégé with SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Science) at UCAR. The director of the program asked the protégés if any of them would be interested in participating in the field campaign in 2015, and Torres immediately expressed his interest.
Torres advises fellow students to seek opportunities in undergraduate research.
“As an undergrad, no one expects you to know everything at first. However, the experience you gain from undergraduate research is invaluable. It's the perfect opportunity to learn how to answer questions that have never been answered before, travel, network, and make professional connections that last a lifetime. If you're unsure about your career, undergraduate research is a great way to get your feet wet and learn more about your field.”
While having research opportunities is certainly a benefit of being an AOSS student, Torres says his favorite thing about AOSS is the “tight-knit community.”
“It's incredible how much interaction and personal attention we have from our professors while at a large, top-notch university like Michigan,” he says.
When asked what drew Torres to the AOSS program, he said, “I have had a lifelong love and fascination with the weather, and being surrounded by people with the same passion is an amazing experience.”
June 5, 2015
- Diana Thatcher
Staying with AOSS was a huge benefit for me. Instead of taking the usual courses, I was able to focus on classes directly related to my research.
Doctoral Student Diana Thatcher is spending February through August 2015 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) as a Visiting Graduate Student Fellow.
“The Graduate Student Visitor Program is a great chance to experience working outside of AOSS,” Thatcher says. “This 6-month visit allows me to meet a variety of scientists from different fields and collaborate effectively... There is such a wealth of knowledge here that I only have to walk down the hall to find expert advice on my research. NCAR is also the perfect place for anybody who enjoys spending time outdoors. Although I certainly miss Michigan, it is worth it for all of the hiking and skiing. I highly recommend that all PhD students spend some time working at another institution and collaborating with other researchers.”
Thatcher earned her undergraduate degree at AOSS, but she says coming here for her PhD was a surprise.
“I had already begun an undergraduate research project with my advisor, Dr. Christiane Jablonowski, and decided to continue this project as a PhD. Staying with AOSS was a huge benefit for me. Instead of taking the usual courses, I was able to focus on classes directly related to my research, such as numerical methods classes.”
When asked about her favorite experiences at AOSS, Thatcher said, “All of the social activities, from intramural sports to holiday celebrations, keep graduate school interesting. I also enjoy the chance to present my research without attending conferences. AOSS Flash Talks, MGU, EGS, and other U-M symposiums throughout the year are great opportunities to present my research and receive feedback before traveling to major conferences.”
Thatcher says that finding the right advisor is the most important factor to consider when choosing a PhD program.
“A good advisor will be able to suggest research projects that are interesting for their students and provide mentoring throughout the PhD program,” Thatcher says.
Daher says her favorite part about AOSS is the people.
“Other important considerations are the program’s selection of relevant classes and opportunities to use university resources, such as specialty lab equipment or high-performance computers,” Thatcher adds. “Choosing a PhD program is a very personal decision, so don’t be afraid to go against conventional wisdom. It’s ok to let outside factors, such as typical weather, urban vs. rural location, or the proximity to family members, play a role in choosing a PhD program. Generally, it is recommended that PhD students go to a different institution than their undergraduate institution, but staying at U-M was the best choice for me.”
April 3, 2015
Faculty and Staff
- Mark Moldwin
"Communication and inspiration are common to both science and the arts and we can work together to benefit both of our domains. "
And this year, Mark established a new Arts/Lab Student Residency in conjunction with the U-M ArtsEngine program. The Inaugural Moldwin Prize is designed for undergrad students enrolled in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning or the School of Music, Theatre and Dance interested in collaboration with students engaged in research practice in an engineering lab.
Professor Moldwin was inspired to establish the residency in a discussion he had with a colleague. "I was a attending a workshop with [University of Illinois chemistry professor] Catherine Murphy. She told me all about her program, and I came away very inspired."
When asked what he expects students will gain from this experience, Mark says, "I hope it is a two-way street. That my students get to learn about design and creativity from an artistic perspective, as well as learn how to communicate to non-science experts the work that they are doing. I hope that the Art Prize Fellows learn a little bit about science and engineering methods and space science."
"Communication and inspiration are common to both science and the arts and we can work together to benefit both of our domains. "
February 3, 2017
- Debbie Eddy
I love getting close-up and personal with nature's inhabitants, while at the same time respecting them by capturing their images from afar.
Nature and animal lovers in Climate & Space know to visit Staff Member Debbie Eddy regularly, for she often has beautiful photos to share of nature and wildlife in Ann Arbor.
“I think I've always been interested in taking pictures of nature, but the real joy started when I got my first digital camera in 2012. It is a Nikon Coolpix P510 with 42x zoom! That's what I really love; it gets me in real close to the wildlife. I never knew sparrows were so colorful. And starlings — all iridescent purples and greens,” Eddy says of her hobby.
Many of Eddy’s photos come from North Campus, but she also takes photos at home and makes special trips to local gardens.
“I enjoy just sitting in my family room and snapping pictures of the birds at the feeder, though the pictures are sharper if I'm outside with the birds and the butterflies. But a really good place to find creatures other than backyard denizens is at Matthaei Botanical Gardens on Dixboro Road.”
Eddy recalls that her most recent visit to Matthaei did not have as much wildlife as she had hoped, but she still came back with nice pictures of a great blue heron, painted turtles, butterflies, a killdeer, and a little green frog.
“I love getting close-up and personal with nature's inhabitants, while at the same time respecting them by capturing their images from afar,” Eddy says on what she enjoys about photography. “On the other hand, the macro feature on my camera means to get a good close-up of small things, like bees covered in pollen and a preying mantis I found on my shed, I have to put the camera inches from them. That can be — interesting. It is also interesting to look at the photos and see the birds staring back at me. Seems like they are as interested in me as I am in them. And this often happens when I'm taking their picture from inside the house. How did they know?!”
In addition to photography, Eddy enjoys crafts.
“I'm not sure which gives me more pleasure, getting a marvelous photo of a bird or animal, or crafting a critter of my own for my Etsy shop," Eddy says.
“Lately I've been thinking about making a dragon…I'll have to see what I can come up with before the True North Craft Show in November. Of course, I also need to make some more cats. Maybe another cat with a book, and a mouse sitting on the pages. Any cat lover knows that's their trick: sitting in the middle of the magazine you're trying to read. So I think turnabout is fair play.”
Eddy’s advice for new shutterbugs is: “Get the best camera you can afford.”
“I bought this camera because I was frustrated with my old point and shoot not giving me the picture I had envisioned when I framed it in the viewfinder. So a digital camera is sooooo much better. No film to keep replacing, no waiting until it is developed to see what you actually got, and no paying for the developing. With my camera, it has a lot of stuff preset for you, so you can take great shots practically right out of the box. It has settings for parties, landscapes, nightscapes, fireworks, sports (what I use the most for active wildlife) and many, many more. Or you can turn it to manual and do all the setups yourself, if you know what you're doing. So you can grow as a photographer at your own pace. And the very best, I got it for ‘free’ using my credit card reward points. I've heard the newer version of this camera has 60x zoom!”
September 8, 2015
- Mike Combi
We almost never accomplish anything significant alone.
Professor Mike Combi received the 2013 Collegiate Research Professorship Award from the University of Michigan Office of the Vice President for Research.
These awards are designed to recognize exceptional scholarly achievement and an impact on advancing knowledge in science and engineering.
Combi has also received the Distinguished Research Scientist Award from the University and an Outstanding Research Scientist award from the College of Engineering.
His research interests include observation and modeling of the spatial and velocity distribution of neutral and ionized cometary gases and dust, Mars’ exosphere and atmospheric escape, cometary x-ray observations and planetary satellite atmospheric structure.
Currently, Combi is a co-investigator for both the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) team, and the Visual and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) team, parts of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which arrives at the comet in late 2014.
Combi is also the U-M Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) director and has been a member of numerous NASA and other national panels, such as the Hubble Space Telescope Planetary Science Review Panel, the Planetary Systems Science Management Operations Working Group and the National Academy of Sciences' COMPLEX.
"It is a great honor to receive this award from the Office of the Vice President for Research and especially to be considered in the same company of those who have won this award before. I must also acknowledge and give credit to the contributions of all the past and current colleagues and students with whom I have worked, because we almost never accomplish anything significant alone."
June 19, 2013