2022 in Review: Top Public Engagement & Impact Features

A medical student creates a trailchair program that makes nature more accessible to all. A tech company in the UP designs satellite propulsion systems to improve spaceflight. And faculty members travel across the state to connect with communities on a variety of topics. These are just three of the significant public engagement efforts that took place at the University of Michigan this year.

With over 70,000 views of 81 articles published, the Public Engagement & Impact website continues to be a platform dedicated to highlighting the experiences, expertise, and engagement efforts of U-M faculty, students, and staff.

These were the top 10 Public Engagement & Impact features of 2022:

Good Morning America Surprises U-M’s Dr. Okanlami with $1M Award

Dr. Okanlami in a wheelchair posing in front of balloons that read 1,000,000

Oluwaferanmi “Feranmi” Okanlami, MD, known as “Dr. O,” was surprised not only by Robin Roberts and Good Morning America with a live segment on Oct. 20—but also with being named the recipient of a $1 million award from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. During the segment, Roberts described Okanlami’s efforts as “changing the narrative to show that disability doesn’t mean inability.” She also emphasized his mission to advocate for students with disabilities and make adaptive sports accessible for all.

Advancing Equitable Access to Nature Spaces

Spending time outside has been proven to promote overall well-being—and U-M medical and graduate student Kiley Adams, an avid lover of the outdoors, is helping ensure that everyone can enjoy the trails. Adams secured a grant to purchase a trailchair, which is a hybrid between a wheelchair and a mountain bike that uses thicker tires with a strong grip and a third wheel at the front for better balance. It also has a seatbelt and a lever design to help with navigating hills. Working with community partners, trailchairs are now available for free to anyone who wants to use one at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor and Island Lake State Recreation Area in Brighton.

Kiley Adams shows the trailchair

Space Startup Success in the Upper Peninsula

University of Michigan alumnus and CEO of Orbion Space Technology Dr. Lyon (Brad) King is no stranger to out-of-this-world technological advancement. From the company’s Upper Peninsula headquarters, the Orbion team has developed revolutionary small satellite propulsion systems designed to make spaceflight more simple, affordable, and reliable.

The Responsibilities of Social Media Platforms and Users

As the Constance F. and Arnold C. Pohs Professor of Telecommunication in the Department of Communication and Media, Scott Campbell, PhD investigates ways to change the dynamics between self and society in a digital context. With social media platforms constantly evolving, Campbell outlined some of the ways platforms are reducing disturbing content, shared ethical strategies users can practice online, and explained “media mindedness.”

Bringing Faculty & Communities Together

Image of faculty standing on stairs for a photo

Connecting faculty and communities increases knowledge and understanding of educational systems, economic issues, and societal challenges. The Michigan Road Scholars Tour, a five-day traveling seminar for faculty throughout Michigan, does just that. The educational tour enables faculty from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses to not only see the state that many U-M students call home, it also provides opportunities to interact with the people who live there.

Regent Paul Brown on his ‘Up North’ Upbringing and U-M’s Northern Michigan Impact

Paul Brown, chair of the Board of Regents, shared his excitement leading up to the Regents’ meeting in St. Ignace in July. The unprecedented event was designed to elevate the University of Michigan’s impact across northern Michigan and longstanding commitment to the region from which he hails. A native of Petoskey, Brown received his BA and MBA from the University of Michigan and his JD from Wayne State University. He was elected to the Board of Regents in 2018.

Protecting the Health and Safety of Nail Salon Employees

In recent years, national concern for the health and safety of nail salon workers in the US has increased significantly. The Michigan Healthy Nail Salon Cooperative (MHNSC), formed in 2016, is dedicated to investigating hazards, raising awareness through educating, and identifying solutions to ensure a healthy and safe environment for nail salon owners and workers. Aurora Le, John G. Searle Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the U-M School of Public Health, and Marie-Anne Rosemberg, Assistant Professor in the U-M School of Nursing and core faculty at the U-M Education and Research Center (ERC) program funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), talked about the MHNSC’s research, education, and advocacy efforts.

Special Series: International Day of Women and Girls in Science

To help further achieve gender equality and empower women and girls around the globe, International Day of Women and Girls in Science is observed annually on February 11. In honor of this day, we celebrate some of the inspiring women researchers at U-M. From exploring issues of equity in technology advancements, to studying transgender health care rights, to developing pipelines to create greater diversity in STEM programs, the breadth and depth of impactful research conducted by women researchers at U-M is remarkable and has significant societal impact.

Perseverance and Positivity Amid a Pandemic

In March, Preeti N. Malani, MD, MSJ, a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and former Chief Health Officer at the University of Michigan, detailed her experiences helping lead the campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reflected on the resilience of the campus community, shared advice for Wolverines to navigate the rest of the academic year.

Equity-Centered Engineering: What Is It and How Can It Move Michigan Forward?

Alec D. Gallimore, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan, believes engineers should approach their work through a lens of equity if they are to create lasting and meaningful solutions. He discusses Michigan Engineering’s commitment to equity-centered, people-first engineering—and its potential impact on the state of Michigan—in this Q&A.

By Erica Colaianne