Research Partners

The Environmental Interpretive Center’s Faculty Associates Initiative (EIC-FAI) is a program designed to foster interdisciplinary teaching and research collaborations between UM-Dearborn faculty across the University who are pursuing activities related to sustainability, conservation, and environmental research and education. Below is a list of EIC Faculty Associates along with their respective teaching and research interests.


Dr. Melissa Bowlin, Associate Professor 
Department of Natural Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters 

Dr. Bowlin studies the ecophysiology of avian migration in an attempt to determine how a costly, risky life history strategy like migration can evolve. Her research involves placing small devices on migratory birds to determine how, where and when they move as well as how much energy they use while doing so. Dr. Bowlin’s teaching responsibilities include Comparative Animal Physiology and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy. She is also the adviser for the UM-Dearborn pre-veterinarian club.


Dr. Christopher Burke, Associate Professor
Science Education, College of Education, Health, and Human Services 

Dr. Burke's research focus is on issues of equity and social justice in science education. In particular his focus in on the school community interactions in urban settings and how these shape student engagement and student learning. Currently he is looking at the impact of integrating school and community gardens into the curriculum on student engagement and school community relationships. In addition, he is interested in how you effectively prepare pre-service teachers to integrate gardening and garden science into the curriculum.


Dr. Anne Danielson-Francois, Associate Professor
Department of Natural Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Dr. Danielson-Francois studies arthropod mating behavior using both ecological and evolutionary approaches. Specific research interests include the mating systems of spiders, sexual selection, and sperm competition. She is also interested in the impact of anthropogenic pollutants on local populations of arthropods in southeastern Michigan. Teaching responsibilities related to her research include Behavioral Biology, Behavior and Evolution, and Biology of Spiders.


Dr. Francine Dolins, Associate Professor
Department of Behavioral Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Dr. Dolins investigates navigational and foraging behavior of nonhuman primates, and how ecological challenges and environmental types alter spatial behavior using both lab and field methods. She also works on conservation education in Madagascar and Michigan schools, promoting understanding of human impacts on the environment, scientific principles of ecology, and the importance of conservation of endangered species and their habitats. Current research projects include studying wild lemur ranging behavior in southern Madagascar and the use of virtual environments to examine chimpanzee and human spatial cognitive abilities, comparatively. Dr. Dolins’ teaching includes courses on Animal Behavior, Experimental Psychology, and Evolutionary Psychology.


Dr. Kent Murray, Professor
Department of Natural Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Dr Murray studies sources of pollution to the Great Lakes, land use impacts on groundwater and surface water quality, contaminant hydrogeology, and the environmental impacts of hazardous waste sites. His interests also include brownfield assessment and redevelopment, the fate and transport of metals in the environment, and how heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, affect human health. Dr. Murray’s teaching responsibilities include Groundwater Hydrology, Environmental Geology, Energy Resources, Oceanography, Soil in the Environment, and Urban Watersheds.


Dr. Jacob Napieralski, Professor
Department of Natural Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Dr. Napieralski is a surface geologist interested in environmental change. Recent research includes reconstructing glacial history, monitoring and modeling urban streamflow, and developing geospatial techniques to analyze environmental and social issues. Dr. Napieralski is also interested in enhancing field-based pedagogy and engaging students in environmental sustainability. His teaching responsibilities include Geomorphology, Remote Sensing, Field Methods, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Introduction to Environmental Science, Glacial Geology, and Spatial Analysis and GIS.


Dr. Natalie Sampson, Assistant Professor
College of Education, Health, and Human Services 

Dr. Sampson conducts community-engaged research to study social and physical environments and their effects on human health. She works to bring interdisciplinary evidence to land use, transportation, water infrastructure, and climate change planning efforts in Detroit. She is a steering committee member of the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative and a member of the statewide Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. Dr. Sampson teaches courses in the Department of Health and Human Services’ public health and community health education programs.


Dr. David Susko, Associate Professor
Department of Natural Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Dr. Susko studies the ecology of weedy and invasive plants and how they interact with native species, as well as agricultural crops. Particular research interests include the mating systems of plants, proximate and ultimate causal factors of fruit and seed abortion and maturation, and maternal environmental effects on offspring fitness. He is also interested in evaluating sustainable agricultural practices. Dr. Susko’s teaching responsibilities include Plant Biology, Plant Ecology, Plant Physiology, and Invasive Species Ecology.


Dr. Sonia Tiquia, Professor
Department of Natural Sciences
College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters

Dr. Tiquia’s research takes a multidisciplinary approach that seeks to understand the ecology, physiology, and genetics/genomics underlying important microbial processes in nature. She is one of the pioneers of functional gene microarrays, an approach that permits the simultaneous analysis of thousands of genes involved in the processes of nitrification, denitrification, nitrogen fixation, methane oxidation, and sulfate reduction in the environment. Her research can be divided in three project areas, all of which have basic research components; several have considerable public interest and some have an applied component. These three main areas include: (1) Microbial community dynamics and diversity in natural environments and engineered systems; (2) Application of molecular tools in contaminant remediation, global climate change, public health, industrial and agricultural practice; and (3) Waste processing biology and microbiology. She teaches Microbiology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Microbial Physiology and Microbial Genetics.