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June 2, 2016

SVSU student accepted to challenging University of Wisconsin summer research program in chemistry

A Saginaw Valley State University student is spending her summer pursuing a passion for chemistry research through a highly competitive program at a university nationally renowned for its graduate programs in chemistry.
Emily Dzurka, a chemistry major from Bay City, is participating in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from May 31 to Aug. 5. She will perform research with faculty, staff and students in the university’s Department of Chemistry, which U.S. News & World Report in 2014 ranked No. 9 nationally among higher education chemistry departments.

“I was so ecstatic when I found out,” Dzurka said. “I would love to go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for graduate school, so getting my feet wet like this is an amazing opportunity.”

Dzurka already has experience in chemistry research through opportunities at SVSU.

Through an SVSU partnership, she has worked as a co-op student at The Dow Chemical Company in Midland, where she managed analytical instrumentation and performed sample testing.

On campus, she teamed with advisor Stephanie Brouet, SVSU associate professor of chemistry, on undergraduate research projects involving molecule synthesis.

Brouet said about 700 people applied for 15 spots in UW-Madison’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

“So this is a very big opportunity,” Brouet said.

Having witnessed Dzurka’s determination to tackle complex research projects, Brouet is confident Dzurka is prepared for her latest challenge.

“She excels in lab work,” Brouet said. “She’s very self-motivated, very reliable and very professional in her approach. What’s most impressive is her dedication to organic chemistry. She’s very passionate about what she’s doing.”

A 2012 graduate of Bay City Western High School, Dzurka plans to earn a bachelor’s degree from SVSU in May 2017. She said laboratory work is one of her passions.

“I like to be in the lab, and enjoy running my own reactions to figure out what works and what doesn’t work,” Dzurka said. “They’re like puzzles that I like to figure out.”

Dzurka said she hopes one day to work full-time in research at Dow.

May 27, 2016

Bullock Creek teacher combines seat belt safety and STEM learning, thanks to SVSU & Dow Corning

Teacher Erin Martin decorates the walls of her Bullock Creek High School classroom with pop culture science flair.

Photos hang near the doorway, showing TV personalities such as Bill Nye The Science Guy, images from movies accompanied by science-themed quotes, and photos of her at a Star Trek convention, where she posed happily with actors from the popular TV and film franchise.

“I'm a Trekkie,” she admits proudly.

Even more than that, Martin is a self-professed pop culture science junkie. That characteristic helps inspire her love of learning real science, making it more accessible and fun. Making science more accessible and fun is a philosophy she tries to apply in her teaching approach.
Now, thanks to a community partnership aimed at improving K-12 education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Martin has more resources than ever in empowering that philosophy.

Martin is one of 16 area educators participating in The Dow Corning Foundation/ Saginaw Valley State University STEM Community Partnership. Funded by a $254,000 Dow Foundation Grant, the project connects teachers with SVSU faculty and Dow Corning officials as they work on ideas for stimulating student interest in STEM.

Martin and each teacher involved in the partnership plans to discuss how the program impacts their classroom during a symposium Tuesday, May 31, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in SVSU's Curtiss Hall banquet rooms. The event is free and open to the public.

Each teacher involved in the partnership develops lesson plans meant to engage students in STEM. Martin's project involves teaching students about the importance of seat belts on safety.

“I wanted to help my students learn but I also wanted to try to help people,” she said. “High school students do not wear their seat belts 100 percent of the time and the leading cause of death for teenagers 12- to 19-years-old is motor vehicle traffic accidents. I want to help save lives by increasing seat belt use.”

Martin isn't teaching that lesson simply by sharing math equations or using statistical analyses to illustrate seat belt safety. The lesson plan involves tasking students with assignments that involve real-life – albeit safe – simulations.

In Martin's classroom, not too far from those photos of celebrities, several boxes of Barbie Sisters Safari Cruiser toys are stacked against a wall. For the purposes of the classroom research, these miniature vehicles are used as stand-ins for the road-appropriate variety. Using sensory equipment purchased through The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership, her students are studying the physics of motor vehicle collisions.

The research is meant to give her students an idea of the devastating effects of crashes at higher speeds.

“The main question my project will answer,” she said, “is ‘Will measuring a small-scale crash and experiencing a life-sized simulated crash increase the seat belt use of physics students and increase their understanding of momentum?’”

The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership also connected Martin and her class with Dan Hinterman, an engineering and services manager at Dow Corning. Hinterman began visiting Martin's classes on a monthly basis in the fall, leading engineering-based activities while discussing the STEM industry with students.

One of Hinterman's first visits involved tasking students with designing miniature bridges using wooden construction sticks, rubber bands, masking tape and glue. The objective was to build a bridge spanning a 24-inch divide during an hour-long class. Students were grouped into several teams and competed against each other to see which bridge could carry the most weight.

Daniyelle Noel, a 16-year-old junior at the school, enjoyed the assignment.

“I really like that challenges like this force you to think outside the box, and I really enjoy the fun competitive way of presenting challenges,” she said.

Aaron Cummins, another 16-year-old junior, said hands-on activities such as those in Martin's physics class are more engaging for students than textbook-heavy assignments.

“I absolutely feel that these activities are inspiring to students,” Cummins said. “My classmates enjoy them also, and I think that many of them are surprised at how much fun engineering can be.”

Martin hopes both the lesson plans and networks made with the help of The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership will inspire her students to experience the same kind of “fun” in STEM that she experiences.

“I made a lot of connections through this program that will help me with this project and beyond,” Martin said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work on a project that I think will have a huge impact on my students’ learning and lives.”

May 25, 2016

SVSU Art Gallery hosting student exhibition

The University Art Gallery at Saginaw Valley State University is hosting its 11th annual Student Art Exhibition through Friday, June 17. A reception for the artists will be held Thursday, May 26 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The exhibition features works from all medium areas of current SVSU art students. The show consists of 84 pieces by 38 students.

Rachel Eichler, a graphic design major from Pigeon, received the Best in Show Award for her acrylic painting, “Night Walk.”

Juror awards were given to SVSU students Malory Kochanny, Emily Phillips, Jessica Smith, Sara Stedman, Adam Stuart, and Kurt Winger.
All gallery exhibitions and receptions are free and open to the public.  For open gallery hours or call (989) 964-4159.  The University Art Gallery is located in the Arbury Fine Arts Center on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University,

May 24, 2016

Bay City Western students analyze sports physics through SVSU, Dow Corning Foundation initiative

Jarret Deming is a natural with a tennis racquet in his grip. Until recently, he never considered how it could empower him to better understand physics.

On a brisk morning - temperatures below 40 degrees - the 17-year-old junior at Bay City Western High School doesn't appear phased by the cold as he swings at the tennis ball. Deming is a natural, after all.

But this year he is getting a little help on his tennis posture and follow through. That support isn't coming from a coach or a teammate or even a how-to video. It's happening in Deming’s third hour physics class, where science, sports and technology are colliding thanks to a community partnership aimed at improving K-12 education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

“I enjoy this more than sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher talk,” said Deming, who spent class time mapping out and analyzing the physics of his tennis form.

The lesson plan comes from Lisa Welch, a teacher participating in her second year as a participant in The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership.

The initiative is aimed at influencing 4,000 K-12 students within the Great Lakes Bay Region. Funded by a $254,000 Dow Corning Foundation grant, the project connects teachers with SVSU faculty and Dow Corning officials as they work on ideas for stimulating student interest in STEM.

In summer 2014, Welch was among 12 teachers in the region selected as part of the inaugural group of participants. In summer 2015, Welch was one of 16 educators enrolled in the initiative. She and her colleagues participated in education seminars and interacted with STEM professionals.

That same group of Dow Corning Fellows plans to discuss how the program impacts their classroom during a symposium Tuesday, May 31, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in SVSU's Curtiss Hall banquet rooms. The event is free and open to the public.

Welch plans to share how Deming - and other students involved in her classroom's sports physics research - benefit from The Dow Corning Foundation and SVSU initiative.

Along with tennis balls, students in Welch's third hour physics class are hitting baseballs and golf balls in the name of science in the name of sports physics research. With iPad technology purchased through the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership, students are using computer software to produce 3-D maps of their peers simulating at-bats, tennis serves and golf ball chipping.

“I'm really interested to see what we learn from all this,” Welch said. “It's great seeing the way students are reacting to this. They are getting a chance to see firsthand how the topics we are learning in class apply in the bigger picture of sports perfection”

Welch said The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership has inspired her – and given her resources – to keep students engaged in STEM-geared learning.

Another benefit: “The network of people I've met, from SVSU and Dow Corning,” she said. “I'm not teaching in a small room anymore, on my own. I have a league of people who want to help me teach.”

Each Dow Corning Fellow is paired with an SVSU faculty member as well as professionals from Dow Corning. Welch works with Jason Pagano, assistant professor of chemistry, and Kelly Broker, a Dow Corning product development team leader.

Broker is impressed with how Welch has found new ways to engage students in STEM education.

“There's so much more to science than just what you learn in the classroom,” Broker said. “Experiences such as these give students such a broader perspective of what science is about.”

And it's not always exclusively about science, as Deming has discovered. Sometimes a STEM education ties in with elements of life that don't require hours of classroom lectures or thick textbooks to study. Sometimes a STEM education is found in the swing of a tennis racquet.

“This has been fun,” the 17-year-old says of the classroom assignment. “If it helps me understand the most efficient way to swing in tennis, then that's even better.”

May 24, 2016

SVSU honors outstanding nurses at annual awards

Saginaw Valley State University celebrated the valuable contributions of eight registered nurses in the Great Lakes Bay Region during the sixth annual Carleen K. Moore R.N. Nursing Excellence awards Tuesday, May 10 during National Nurses Week.

Established by SVSU's Department of Nursing, the honor recognizes the continual dedication, quality service and front-line leadership exhibited by nurses in clinical practice, education, leadership, and community service. Awards were presented in the categories of acute care, nurse educator, long-term care/rehabilitation, and nursing in the community.

•    Tracy Bruff of Saint Mary's of Michigan, received an Acute Care Nursing award; she was nominated by her Director, Jill Loftus. Bruff is described as the Saint Mary's “stroke clinical outcome queen!”  She works quietly and independently to continuously improve the work environment for patients, their families and staff.

•    Tiffini Jarstfer of MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland was one of three recipients of the Acute Care Nursing award; she was nominated by her nurse manager, Amy Barnhart. Jarstfer is cited as a role model for other nurses in how she treats her patients and coworkers. She also has been key in helping students to transform from shy and scared to confident take-charge professionals.

•    Eric Maher, the stoke coordinator at Saint Mary's of Michigan, also was a recipient of the Acute Care Nursing award; he too was nominated by his nurse manager, Loftus. Maher gets a “first touch” with patients when they first become aware of their stroke symptoms. Many departments have gained a strong respect for him due to his ability to coordinate the testing necessary for timely stroke intervention.

•    Cindy Baker of Marlette Regional Hospital, received one of two Community Nursing awards, she was nominated by her director, Vicki Meiburg. Baker successfully initiated and implemented the Patient Centered Medical Home Model of care delivery for six practices. A colleague said, “Cindy is a gifted Nursing Leader. She always puts the patient first in everything she does.”

•    Kathy Janer of the Bay County Health Department, was a recipient of the Community Nursing award; she was nominated by Molly Stapish and Joel Strasz, public health director for Bay County. Janer was part of the pilot school nurse program in Bay City Public Schools. One of her significant accomplishments was instituting best practices for medication administration in the school setting.

•    Colleen Markel of who was a recipient of the Nursing Education award, was nominated by Greg Ghilardi, vice president of human resources for MidMichigan Medical Center. Markel served as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit for 20 years before accepting her current position as manager of workforce development. She is described as exceedingly student-focused in her role, where she and her team coordinate nursing clinical placements for more 400 students per semester from seven different colleges and universities.

•    Karen Rezmer of Covenant HealthCare, received one of two of the Long-Term Care/Rehabilitation Nursing awards; she was nominated by her director, Christine Clayton. Rezmer meets and greets her residents each day, reviews their charts, and discusses their care and progress with them, their physician and their family. She is known and appreciated by the residents and their families in addressing daily care needs.

•    Patti Krenz, who was a recipient of a Long-Term Care/Rehabilitation Nursing award, is currently a staff nurse at McLaren Bay Special Care. She developed the “Precious Reflections” support group more than 25 years ago, and continues to serve as a facilitator to provide support for those who have experienced the death of a full-term baby or miscarriage.

The awards were presented by SVSU alumna Ellen Talbott, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer for McLaren Bay Region. The ceremony featured Judy Ruland, dean of SVSU’s College of Health and Human Services, as a guest speaker.

May 18, 2016

SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing adapts and perseveres to again place among world’s best

The Saginaw Valley State University Cardinal Formula Racing team competed well and finished highly during the 2016 Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) Collegiate Design Series at Michigan International Speedway May 11-14.

“I'm thrilled with my students,” said Brooks Byam, SVSU professor of mechanical engineering and the team's adviser. “They're a sophisticated race team that can build a car, get it ready and have it go fast right away. They're just awesome.”

Teams from higher education institutions across the globe attend the series, where student teams design and build an Indy-style race car over the course of the year. The competition features multiple competition categories such as endurance, acceleration, autocross, cost, presentation, and skid pad. The scores from each category determine an overall tally.

The competition is tougher than ever before, Byam said.

The evidence: While this year's SVSU team placed 30th out of 120 teams in the competition by scoring 568 points, last year's team placed higher – 26th – despite scoring nearly 50 points fewer.

“We're facing a lot more graduate schools from overseas, with students working at big, European professional sports car companies,” he said. “It's really tough.”

The top three teams in the 2016 competition arrived from Germany and Austria.

Year after year, SVSU has proven itself as one of the top university teams with exclusively undergraduate students. For the second consecutive year in 2016, SVSU placed highest among schools without a graduate program in engineering.

To put 30th place in perspective, SVSU’s students outperformed teams from schools such as University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (who finished No. 46 overall), as well as Duke (No. 37), Northwestern (No. 53) and Georgia Tech (No. 54).
(A full list is published at

Byam said the FSAE contest - and the year of preparation that precedes it - offers valuable learning experiences for SVSU students eyeing a career in engineering.

“The competition is results-oriented, there's a tight time line, a tight budget, and you have to perform at your absolute peak in a globally-competitive environment,” he said. “If you have to hire someone to be an engineer, you want to be able to check those boxes. Students who can check those boxes will make an impact on the industry.”

Ryan Whitman, the team's captain and a mechanical engineering major from Standish, said working with Cardinal Formula Racing opened doors for him professionally.

“It's prepared me for everything I want to do with my career after college,” he said. “I want to work in racing or performance vehicles, and this has been a great experience for me.”

Whitman recently began a spring- and summer-long internship at Auburn Hills-based Chrysler's SRT (street and racing technology) division.

“The only reason I got this opportunity is through Cardinal Formula Racing,” Whitman said. “Chrysler looked at my résumé, saw I had the experience and brought me here.”

The team has formed partnerships with several companies in the industry over the years, and those networks often help students land jobs after graduation. For instance, Buena Vista-based Nexteer Automotive, which donated tires as well as trucks and trailers to transport the students' car and equipment this year, employs several Cardinal Formula Racing alumni.

“Nexteer has been a huge supporter of our program because they know what kind of students come from this program,” Byam said.

The FSAE competition helps students keep score of their skills in ways that aren't measured in final points tallies.

For instance, this year's team's toughest challenge at the Michigan International Speedway happened when a judge's interpretation of a competition rule forced the students to perform some on-the-spot welding during the technical inspection portion of the competition, Byam said.

When a judge ruled that the SVSU car's fuel tank was too exposed to the ground, the team added a steel frame beneath the tank. The work partly damaged the vehicle's electrical system. The students discovered the damage later during a timed portion of the competition.

“They fixed the problem but our time was running out. They had less time to go through their normal processes and procedures, so they overlooked some things that cost us,” Byam said. “We probably could have gotten another 30 points out of the car if that hadn't happened.”

Another 30 points would have landed the team in 20th place.

While the lost points irked the competitive side of Byam, he said being forced to adapt the vehicle on the fly provided valuable training for the students.

“All these things the judges can throw at them – where the students have to react and innovate – helps them in the long run,” Byam said. “It's about learning. That's what we do.”

For more on SVSU’s Cardinal Formula Racing Program, visit

May 18, 2016

SVSU students to partner with Hidden Harvest for 2016 ‘Battle of the Valleys’

Saginaw Valley State University's Student Association has selected its charitable partner for the 14th annual “Battle of the Valleys” fundraising competition. SVSU students will raise funds for Hidden Harvest when they compete against their rivals from Grand Valley State University during the week-long challenge this coming fall.

Hidden Harvest strives to alleviate hunger and end food waste in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The organization provides a safe, coordinated system of rescuing surplus food and redistributing it – free of charge, – to recipient agencies that feed people in need.

Hidden Harvest rescues surplus food from area restaurants, food wholesalers, bakeries, grocery stores, farms, and anyplace else that has good, nutritious food to donate. SVSU Dining Services has participated as a food supplier for several years. Hidden Harvest then distributes good, surplus food to soup kitchens, food pantries, after-school programs, senior centers, shelters and other agencies serving those in need.

The SVSU Student Association hopes the selection will remind students at both schools of the importance and true meaning of “Battle of the Valleys,” which began in 2003 to capitalize upon the schools' football rivalry by raising funds for deserving non-profits. Over the past 13 years, the competition has generated $508,850 in charitable donations between the two schools. SVSU students have raised a total of $331,329, winning ten of the thirteen annual competitions.

In 2015, SVSU students raised $24,540 in one week for Get Outside for a Healthier Inside, an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation whose goal is to increase physical activity and promote healthy living in Saginaw, focusing specifically on building parks and maintaining trails.

The 2016 “Battle of the Valleys” fundraising campaign will be held October 30-November 5.

May 17, 2016

SVSU chooses next class for leadership development program

SVSU chooses next class for leadership development program

A Saginaw Valley State University selection committee chose 10 students to participate in the 18th class of the highly competitive Roberts Fellowship Program.

The year-long leadership development initiative empowers students to grow through both academic course work and extracurricular activities designed to enhance their potential as future political, economic and civic leaders. The program culminates in a trip to Asia to provide the Fellows with an international perspective on leadership.

This year's class was selected in part for demonstrating academic excellence and leadership potential.

The students selected as Roberts Fellows for the 2016-17 academic year include:
•    Nikolas Berkobien, a psychology major from Saginaw
•    Reanna Cantrall, a biology major from Frankenmuth
•    Brandon Errer, a political science major from Saginaw
•    Kevin Finley, an accounting major from Flint
•    Stephen Holihan, a biology major from Saginaw
•    Imran Khan, a computer science major from the Asian nation of Bangladesh
•    Sandra Lamarche, an international business major from Frankenmuth
•    Christina Micale, a psychology major from Macomb
•    Samuel Oswald, a psychology major from Midland
•    Natalie Schneider, a business management major from Saginaw

To qualify, students must have completed between 48 and 100 credit hours with a minimum grade point average of 3.40 and pass a rigorous selection process. Students are chosen based upon their academic accomplishment, a record of university and community service, and other evidence of leadership potential.

Students selected to be Roberts Fellows will be required to complete a 3-credit "Leadership Seminar" in the fall and winter semesters, within one or more academic departments. During the year, the Fellows will also meet for informal seminars and discussions with various political, business and civic leaders from throughout the Great Lakes Bay region. Andrew Swihart, professor of psychology, and Brian Thomas, associate professor of sociology, serve as the group's faculty advisers.

Established in 1999, the program is named in honor of Donna Roberts of Midland, who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to SVSU through her personal generosity and prior service on the Board of Control and the Board of Fellows. A respected attorney, business leader and philanthropist, Roberts retired from The Dow Chemical Company, where she was Secretary and Assistant General Counsel. She is an honorary director of the SVSU Foundation Board.

May 9, 2016

SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing hopes for better final day during 2016 international contest

The faculty adviser for the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinal Formula Racing team says hard work, dedication and teamwork could propel this group to a strong finish at the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series later this week at Michigan International Speedway.

Then again, one bad break could undo all of that.

“This is a sophisticated race team, and we are prepared and we are ready,” said Brooks Byam, SVSU professor of mechanical engineering and the team’s adviser since 1998. “Sometimes, though, it can come down to racing luck.”

Byam and last year’s team learned that the hard way when a 10-cent oil line broke during the final day of the annual competition. The team still finished in 26th place out of 110 institutions – the highest of any exclusively undergraduate team – but likely would have finished in the top 10 if not for the malfunction, he said.

“We were so unbelievably close, it was heartbreaking,” Byam said.

This year’s team hopes to combine last year’s performance with better luck when the annual competition kicks off again at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan May 11-14.

Recognized by his peers, Byam received the Society of Automotive Engineers Carroll Smith Mentor's Cup in 2013, an award given to one faculty member annually who advises college formula racing programs.

Teams from higher education institutions across the globe attend the series, which features multiple competition categories such as endurance, acceleration, autocross, cost, presentation, and skid pad. The scores from each category determine an overall tally.

The defending overall champion was Austria-based Graz University of Technology, whose students for the last six years have stayed in SVSU housing facilities in the days leading up to the competition.

The hospitality allows Byam and his students a sneak peak at the competition.

“I have a hard time sometimes believing that students built these,” Byam said. “These look like professionally-built cars. The competition is unbelievably stiff.”

Despite last year’s setback, SVSU recorded the highest overall finish among institutions without a graduate program in engineering, thanks to top 15 showings in categories such as acceleration, autocross, cost, presentation, and skid pad. The oil line break happened during the endurance competition.

The 26th-place overall finish was the fifth-best all-time showing for SVSU’s team. Four times Cardinal Formula Racing hast placed in the top 20 overall: sixth place in 2002, eighth in 2005, 14th in 2008 and 18th in 2010.

May 9, 2016

Outstanding SVSU Criminal Justice Alum Sworn in as Saginaw Police Officer Tonight

Outstanding SVSU Criminal Justice Alum Sworn in as Saginaw Police Officer Tonight
Monday, May 9, 6:30 p.m.
Saginaw City Hall

Included in the four new officers who will be sworn in to the Saginaw Police Department Monday, May 9 is Terrance Moore, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2015.  He was named SVSU’s Outstanding Criminal Justice graduate last year, and remains enrolled at SVSU pursuing a master’s degree in administrative science.

Terrance recently graduated from the police academy and will take part in a swearing in ceremony at 6:30 p.m. at Saginaw City Hall.

For more about Terrance, visit

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