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Research with community impact

Much of the research conducted by the UMSI faculty and students takes place off campus in the wider world, addressing real-world problems like improving maternal health, inspiring young women in STEM fields, exploring the privacy implications of artificial intelligence or making fresh, nutritious foods available in urban “food deserts.”  

Improving mother-child health with Super Abbu

Clinical assistant professor Mustafa Naseem and team launched a platform in Pakistan aimed at improving the engagement of fathers in pregnancy and childbirth. Research has shown that when the male partner is involved, women and children have better outcomes. His pilot program to help address this issue was Super Abbu (or Super Dad), a call-in service to answer men’s questions about pregnancy and infancy.

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Employing technology to improve lives in southeast Detroit

Assistant professor Tawanna Dillahunt is interested in identifying needs and opportunities to use technology to have a positive impact on human behavior. Her research team, Social Innovation Group, seeks to build and enhance innovative technologies to solve real-world problems. Among her recent projects are helping Eastside Detroit residents launch a local tourism business and using food delivery services to improve nutrition for inner city “food desert” dwellers.

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Helping high school girls achieve STEM success

Assistant professor Robin Brewer works with Brave Initiatives-Detroit to inspire girls in middle school and high school to see themselves as technology creators and designers. “Young women in underserved communities, at under-resourced schools, tend to lose sight of technology in high school, thinking it’s something for boys or simply out of reach,” says Robin. “We get girls outside of their comfort zones. They get really excited to see something they’ve built at one of our coding camps. They love it.”

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Using street theater to improve healthcare

Maternal and child death rates are rising abroad and in the United States. Everywhere, mortality rates are particularly high among low-literacy families. Kentaro Toyama, WK Kellogg Professor of Community Information, has secured a grant to present educational information using digital street theater in the U.S., Pakistan and South Africa. Information presented this way is more accessible to the low-literacy families that need reliable information about healthcare in order to reduce mortality rates than mainstream sources.

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Making Makerspaces in Michigan

Clinical associate professor Kristin Fontichiaro has conducted Maker workshops throughout rural Michigan for the past few years, teaching librarians and others how to turn their libraries into Makerspaces — places where children can get interested in science, math and technology as they explore and experiment with new crafts, gadgets and media. 

Pursuing privacy in the digital age

Assistant professor Florian Schaub is a renowned expert in the area of privacy and security. He is the author of Privacy in Mobile and Pervasive Computing. His research spans privacy, human-computer interaction, mobile and ubiquitous computing, and the Internet of Things. Among his concerns is making consumers aware of how technology is eroding privacy protections through the introduction of smart speakers into homes. 

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