Faculty News

Connecting U-M faculty to Michigan: 2019 Road Scholars participant Kamran Diba

By Terry Kosdrosky

Public Engagement & Impact


The Michigan Road Scholars Tour — an annual five-day traveling seminar that takes U-M faculty through the state — increases mutual knowledge and understanding between the university and the people of Michigan.

Now in its 20th running, the tour connects U-M faculty to Michigan’s communities, culture, economy, politics, history, educational systems, social issues, and geography. The Road Scholars Tour also encourages public service and outreach, revealing ways faculty can address important state issues through research, teaching, and creative activity.

You can keep up with the happenings on the tour May 6–10 by following #MIRoadScholars on Twitter.


One of this year’s Road Scholars is Kamran Diba, associate professor of anesthesiology and principal investigator of the Neural Circuits and Memory Lab. Diba studies neural activity in the brain related to learning, memory, and sleep. His research also has implications for aging and Alzheimer’s disease.


What interested you in the Road Scholars tour?


Diba: I first heard about Road Scholars when I was doing a Wolverine Express trip (run by the Center for Educational Outreach). One of the other participants had been a Road Scholar and recommended it as a great program.


I’m new to the state of Michigan, having just started here at U-M in August 2017. It seems like a great way to get grounded in the state. I’m not sure whether people in Michigan feel that the faculty at U-M represents them, but I would like to work toward increasing that sense of representation. The work we do in our teaching, research, and dissemination can directly benefit the state, so I think it’s also important for me to gain a better sense of the different places, people, economics, and overall concerns in Michigan. Through the Road Scholars program we can have these interactions and two-way learning about what we all do.


Before coming here I was at the University of Wisconsin for six years, and I regret not developing a stronger connection to that state. U-M has provided this unique opportunity to bridge that issue.


What are you hoping to learn?


Diba: I want to gain a better understanding of the diversity of this state. What are the different economic forces at play? Where do our students come from? What are some ways I could help make a difference? That’s what’s on my mind as I prepare for this trip. Another bonus will be learning from all the other Road Scholars from different disciplines and parts of campus.


How do you envision incorporating what you see and learn on this tour into your teaching and/or research?


Diba: I don’t have a fixed idea on that just yet, but I do hope it will help me make a stronger connection with people across the state of Michigan, and I hope that connection can help motivate me in a way. If you have a stronger connection to your environment and a sense of service and belonging, it tends to bring out your best.