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Director's Letter

By Shobita Parthasarathy

Despite the challenges of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, STPP is continuing to advance our mission of addressing urgent questions at the intersection of science, technology, policy, and society. In November we received a $400,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to support our efforts to bring communities into conversations about emerging technology and science. Through this grant, we will continue to build relationships with civil society groups and policymakers concerned with technology, science, equity, and society, both at the national level and locally in the Detroit and Flint areas as well as Ann Arbor’s home of Washtenaw County. 

In January, STPP co-sponsored a pollination workshop as a part of Bold Challenges, a new initiative led by the Office of the Vice President for Research that integrates social and technical sciences from across the University of Michigan to address societal challenges that intersect equity, health, infrastructure and sustainability. The workshop brought together over 30 faculty, staff, and community leaders to facilitate connections and partnerships on the theme of "Better health outcomes through better built environments."

Building on the work of our previous Technology Assessment Project on vaccine hesitancy and my intellectual property-related research, I will be serving as an advisor to the Global Vaccine Equity Ideas Lab, an intensive workshop that will gather 25-30 U-M faculty from multiple disciplines to come together and develop a wide array of novel, collaborative approaches to global vaccine equity.
Our final public event of the academic year will be an in-person, live streamed panel discussion on the future of engineering education. On Monday, March 21, 2022, from 4-5:30 pm, Cultivating Socially Responsible Engineers: The Role of Universities and Public Policy will convene leaders in academia and government to discuss what needs to change in STEM education policy to center equity and justice in the training of the next generation of scientists and technologists. We hope you’ll join us!

Check out all of the other exciting STPP news below!
STPP Receives Ford Foundation Grant

In the fall, STPP was awarded a $400,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to support our efforts to bring communities into conversations about emerging technology and science. 

 Read more here.
STPP Staff News

Welcoming Kristin Burgard

Kristin Burgard joined the STPP team early this year as our first Partnerships Coordinator to support our new community partnership efforts.

She comes to us from the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS), where she was the outreach and partnership manager, and before that she worked with U-M's Economic Growth Institute. Kristin brings a wealth of experience building relationships in communities across Michigan, and we couldn't be more thrilled to welcome her to our team. 

Molly Kleinman Promoted to Managing Director

Molly Kleinman has a long history with the STPP Program, first as a graduate certificate student and over the last three and a half years as its Program Manager. 

This promotion to Managing Director is in recognition of Molly's excellent work over the last few years, as we grow and expand the STPP Program. In particular, she has been an invaluable asset as STPP has increased its applied research portfolio (including initiating the Technology Assessment Project), strengthened its faculty, student, and alumni relations, and sought external funding. In the coming years, she will be central to our efforts to expand educational offerings, develop external partnerships with communities of practice, and increase our public and policy engagement.

Please join us in congratulating Molly!
Upcoming Events
Cultivating socially responsible engineers:
The role of universities and public policy

March 21, 2022
4:00 - 5:30 pm

Betty Ford Auditorium
And Live Streamed 

Join STPP for a panel discussion that will convene leaders in academia and government working in the field of public interest technology to discuss the role of universities and public policy in cultivating socially responsible engineers. 

Amy Ko, Professor, Information School, University of Washington-Seattle
Tim McKay, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education; Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics, Astronomy, and Education; University of Michigan
Johanna Okerland, Postdoctoral Fellow, Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan
José Zayas-Castro, Division Director, NSF Division of Engineering Education and Centers, National Science Foundation

Moderated by Alec Gallimore, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, University of Michigan.

Learn more here
Spotlight on STPP Community Members
Stephanie Sandoval-Pistorius focuses on people-centered medical research

Stephanie Sandoval-Pistorius (Ph.D., STPP '22) is pursuing her Ph.D. in neuroscience at Michigan Medicine, studying the molecular underpinnings of Parkinson’s disease. She talked to STPP about her plans for UCSF for her postdoctoral training at UCSF, and how STPP was an important part of her graduate studies.

Read more here
STPP in the Field
Natasha Dacic, PhD candidate in Climate and Space Science & Engineering and STPP certificate student, traveled to climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland as a member of the University of Michigan’s Delegation. 

Read more here
Elana Goldenkoff, PhD candidate in Kinesiology and STPP certificate student, helped staff Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission public hearings across the state, as part of a joint MSU/UM student effort.

Read more here
Event Highlights
Fatima Hassan: Global vaccine equity and health justice

Fatima Hassan, human rights lawyer, social justice activist, and the founder of the Health Justice Initiative in South Africa, and Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Towsley Policymaker in Residence at the Ford School of Public Policy discussed global vaccine equity and health justice.

Read more here


Jacqueline Patterson on environmental and climate justice

Jacqueline Patterson, Founder and Executive Director of The Chisholm Legacy Project, and Kyle Whyte, Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan and affiliate of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program, discussed environmental and climate justice.

Read more here


Science for the people: Innovation policy in the United States

Kumar Garg, senior managing director at Schmidt Futures and former assistant director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Shobita Parthasarathy, professor of public policy and director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program discussed deploying science, technology, and data for the public good.

Read more here

Faculty Affiliate News
Credit: Thomas Fuchs

Glenn F and Gladys H Knoll Department Chair of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences and Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Todd Allen testified before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee

Ford School Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence Abdul El-Sayed published an article in Scientific American discussing the need to regulate medical algorithm use in health care. 

Ford School Assistant Professor Ben Green explored tech ethics and its boundaries in a paper in the Journal of Social Computing.

Associate Professor of Organizational Studies and Sociology Elizabeth Popp Berman published an article in The Washington Post on the problems of inflation and the political opportunities it may create.

Ford School Associate Professor Catherine Hausman published a paper in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management on how the lack of information related to pollution exposure is a key issue for low-income households.  

School of Information Associate Professor Tawanna Dillahunt was named a 2021 Association for Computing Machinery Distinguished Member, recognizing her outstanding contributions to the field. 

STPP Director and Professor of Public Policy Shobita Parthasarathy has been selected to serve on a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) that will help guide federal judges on questions of science, technology, and medicine in litigation. She’ll make a big impact on the federal judiciary as courts consider cases that involve emerging science and technology. She also published an article on health innovation policy for Democracy Collaborative

Keep In Touch with STPP

As always, we want to hear from you! We want to hear your professional and life updates. You can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn, or email us at

Our mailing address is:
Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
University of Michigan
735 South State Street | Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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University of Michigan Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program · 735 S State St · 4204 Weill Hall · Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091 · USA

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