Find Your Ditto: Mobile Platform that Connects Individuals Living with the Same Chronic Illness Locally for On-demand, In-person Support

Parisa Soraya

MHI ’17, Health Informatics

Over one-half of all American adults live with one or more chronic medical conditions. The staggering rates of depression and suicide on college campuses have led to an increased push on administration to better serve the mental health needs of its students. Counseling services at universities are typically understaffed and the mental health of students living with chronic illness are typically not specifically met. Outside of college campuses, the chronic illness community at large is enormously disconnected. Often called “invisible illnesses,” feelings of loneliness are pervasive among these populations as patients do not feel fully understood or interpersonally connected, resulting in a high prevalence of depression. Find Your Ditto seeks to flip the traditional hospital support group structure on its head–no longer are individuals with chronic illness confined to getting support on a restricted date/time/location/topic basis. With Find Your Ditto, individuals with chronic illness can find a support system whenever and wherever they need it and begin to feel like “it’s not just me.” No other service for individuals with chronic illness provides an opportunity for on-demand nor in-person peer support. We are collaborating with the University of Michigan University Health Services (UHS) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to promote the service to University of Michigan students.

Library Mentor: Patricia Anderson

Using Guppies to Bring Ecology and Evolution to Low-income Communities

Sarah Westrick

PhD ’20, Psychology

Our overarching goal is to bring science to underprivileged communities in a way that is engaging and interactive for students. By using live animals in our activities, we can engage students of all ages and increase the accessibility of ecology and evolution, an underdeveloped area of curriculum in the K-12 classroom. I propose we develop a Trinidadian guppy population specifically for use in outreach in the fields of evolution, ecology, and neuroethology. Guppies are an ideal system for this project because there are many different activities that can be done to explore different ecological and evolutionary concepts. In their natural environment, guppies exist in a gradient of environments that differ by food-availability and predation risk. Between these populations, we see large differences in morphology, behavior, and color that are easily identified by students of all ages. By using wild guppies in outreach, we can take advantage of these conspicuous differences produced by natural selection to teach evolutionary concepts to students. This project will be initiated in collaboration with MYELIN (Mentoring Youth and Early Leaders in Neuroscience), a student-led organization that serves a local community of underprivileged K-12 students. Partnering with CAN (Community Action Network), a non-profit organization dedicated to serving and providing support to the under-resourced communities located in Ann Arbor, MYELIN brings hands-on science activities to local after-school community centers in efforts to increase science literacy and interest amongst local student populations.

Library Mentors: Angie Oehrli and Karen Downing

Mentality Magazine

Madalyn Purcell

BSI ’17, School of Information

Mentality Magazine is the first magazine at the University of Michigan dedicated solely to mental health. Through our magazine, we strive to open the dialogue and encourage people to prioritize their mental health. Mental health is a rising topic that is relevant to every single person at this university, yet it is often misunderstood or unaddressed. We aim to educate the Michigan community about mental health and what it really means to be affected by a mental illness. We also aim to change how people view and talk about mental health, how they treat others who are struggling, and how they address their own mental health and that of the people around them. The content of our magazine will include personal stories, inspirational pieces, artwork, photo features, spotlights on other student organizations, and interviews with professionals/experts. We also plan to promote the common interests of the many campus organizations devoted to mental health, such as Active Minds, SAPAC, WSN, and CAPS, by collaborating with them to publicize relevant campus events, news, and resources. Our publication will be completely free and distributed across campus in effort to engage as many people as we can in our conversations. By printing a mental health magazine, we are taking advantage of a unique opportunity to represent mental health through visual art, photography, design, and written articles – all of which can be physically placed in front of people and can inspire them to discuss mental health and thereby see its importance.

Library Mentors: Hailey Mooney and Breanna Hamm

Serving with Pride: Expanding Information about Nondiscriminatory Service Providers for LGBT Older Adults

Angela Perone

PhD ’19, Social Work & Sociology

In response to the discrimination that older adults in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community face in healthcare, employment, and businesses, “Serving with Pride” created a novel resource guide for LGBT older adults, allies, and service providers. LGBT older adults often struggle to find affirming service providers that commit to providing just services with dignity and care. This resource guide (both in electronic and print versions) will signal which organizations and businesses have policies protecting this community through the use of innovative icons. It also will provide the first focus on service providers in the aging network, an area often overlooked in such guides. Additionally, “Serving with Pride” will require organizations listed to sign a commitment to provide affirming and equal services to LGBT older adults.

Library Mentor: Darlene Nichols


Emily Mylrea

BFA ’17, Art & Design

I will be creating eight large-scale paintings based on Okinawa bingata, a type of textile with patterns unique to the Ryukyu Islands. Bingata is characterized by their bright and exotic images often used for traditional garments similar to kimono; however, it differs greatly from the aesthetic practice of mainland Japan. Okinawa has a rich history. For many centuries, it was the main port island of the East. As a result, Okinawa formed a hybrid culture, appropriating food, religion and art from countries such as India, China, and smaller surrounding islands. Japan never truly embraced Ryukyuan as one of its own. To make matters worse, the aftermath of WWII resulted in the American occupation of Okinawa. As someone that was born and raised in Okinawa before moving to America, I have struggled in finding a place to belong, further complicated by the tension between my two homes. I will be working with UMMA and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology to research the history and gather diverse images of Western patterns and Asian/Okinawan patterns. These patterns will be layered over and under each other multiple times to address the complicated relationships formed between Okinawa, mainland Japan, and America, while exploring my own identity through these relationships. Through my personal examination of multicultural background, I will consider how identities intersect. Inviting multiracial people to join this conversation is pertinent in our society to encourage understanding of diverse experiences.

Library Mentor: Jamie Vander Broek

Promoting Kangaroo Care Through Design of a Hybrid Infant Warmer

Meghna Menon

BSE ’18, Electrical Engineering

In 2015, the World Bank recorded 53.1 infant deaths per 1,000 child births in low-income countries. Studies have shown that kangaroo care (KC), which is defined as skin-to-skin contact between the caregiver and infant, significantly improves health and developmental outcomes for infants. However, many of the current infant incubators and other infant warming devices lack this aspect of skin-to-skin contact. The Initiative is a team developed out of the university student group Michigan-Health Engineered for All Lives (M-HEAL) that is working to combine this method with a standalone incubator device to create a sustainable, low cost hybrid infant warmer for developing areas in the world. This project aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3.2: By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce…under- five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births. In order to introduce our device into communities that are willing to accept it culturally, The Initiative is working with Soddo Christian Hospital in Soddo, Ethiopia as well as partnering with the organization Clinic At A Time (CAAT) based in the northern Gojjam region of the country. We currently interface with the UMHS to get active clinician input from nurses and neonatologists to ensure our device will find success in Ethiopia in the coming years. Our team is prototyping and testing our infant warmer device throughout the 2016-2017 year as well as planning travel to meet our community partners in Ethiopia in May of 2017 to collect user feedback. Our Team Website: Our Website under MHEAL:

Library Mentor: Leena Lalwani

Chicanos of La Raza: Latinos and Political Expression through Third Party Politics

Isabel McMullen

BA ’17, Political Science and Spanish

This project is an exploration of a political third party in the American southwest active in the 1970s called the Raza Unida Party. This party was formed by Chicanos (Mexican-Americans) and designed to address specific issues within the Chicano community at the local level. I want to understand how supporters and leaders of the party overcame resource, education, and organization challenges to form a political party, how the leaders measured and defined their own success, and what effects their success had on the community. I plan to answer these questions in two primary ways. First, I will be using data from Census and other surveys to look at demographic data like housing, income, education rates, Hispanic population and more in certain areas where RUP was present and not present across time. Through this process I hope to determine whether there were significant differences between RUP counties and non-RUP counties and whether improvements were made across time where the party was prominent. The second part of my research will be archival work in the University of Michigan libraries and the Benson library at the University of Texas where the Raza Unida Party records are stored. I also will be conducting interviews with original members of the party in order to gain a more complete picture of the nuances that define their political participation. Beyond the fact that this research is a case study of a population and historical movement which is not widely recognized or understood, the implications extend far beyond just this one case and can provide depth and understanding to models of minority participation in local politics.

Library Mentor: Julie Herrada

I Killed the Cow

Larissa Marten

BFA ’17, Theatre & Drama

I Killed the Cow is a devised, solo, multi-media theatre piece that I have written under the supervision of Gillian Eaton, Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Michigan. It will be performed in the Duderstadt Video Center in March 2017. During both performances, it will be filmed, and on the last performance it will be live streamed. I Killed the Cow centers around the journey of one woman, as she unearths the moments that have shaped her into the sexual being that she is. This piece begs the question: how can we become fully actualized sexual beings, with the stigmas and experiences associated to sex in today’s society. As a multimedia theatre piece, I Killed the Cow includes components of many different art forms. Despite being a solo show, the creative process requires the expertise of a composer, sound engineer, and an entire film team to tackle the supporting art forms that will bolster the solo performance itself. As such, each of these roles will offer students from a wide range of artistic fields the opportunity to lead their own components of the creative process and hire their own support teams to successfully complete the original score, filmed projections, and live design components that will complement the performance on stage. Additionally the audience will be integral to the show. The show begins with each audience member answering questions on a sheet of paper, such as, “My first sexual partner’s name was…” and, “The last person I talked to about sex was…” There are moments in the show where I, the performer, will use these names as extra characters in the story; creating audience inclusion without forcing participation.

Library Mentor: Meredith Kahn


UNITE Michigan: ‘Understanding provider Networks and Identifying services for victims of human Trafficking and Exploitation in Michigan

Jessica Lowen

PhD ‘18, Anthropology

The UNITE Michigan project investigates factors that contribute to the problem trafficking victims and their advocates in accessing services. The explore the source of this issue, UNITE Michigan is building an inventory of Michigan organizations that are involved in anti-human trafficking efforts and gathering information about the services these groups provide. The final product will be an interactive comprehensive digital map that will be publically available and may improve the process by which activists, advocates, and providers refer victims and survivors to services for housing, legal help, and rehabilitation. The project objectives include: organizing data for a dissertation on anti-trafficking social movements, identifying service gaps and redundancies, and  creating a referral directory for service providers. The map will also capture the financial, personal, and referral relationships among these organizations. This map will be made publicly available online, initially via a link to my U-M website and eventually transferred to a site associated with a well-established social service agency in Detroit. In this way, the resource can be maintained and/or adapted to future community needs.

Library Mentor: Justin Joque

Soulless: A Social Entrepreneurship Start-up that Needs Art to Educate People about Ecology and Combat Mass Extinctions in Ecuador

Chris Karounos

MS ‘19, Natural Resources and Environment

This student team is seeking to combat ongoing deforestation and prevent species extinctions through the creation of a social impact video game. The game’s purpose is two-pronged. First, it is educational. In order to advance in the game, the player must apply concepts in ecology and conservation. In addition to being educational, the second purpose is to donate a portion of revenue to fund real life reforestation projects run by Third Millennium Alliance in Ecuador. Its real-world significance is not only through educating the online community but also through curbing biodiversity loss and climate change (regenerating tropical forests sequester megatons of carbon dioxide). This innovation will serve the international community by mitigating climate change through funding reforestation You can learn more about current team members at

Library Mentor: Justin Schell