2023 SEISMIC Summer Meeting

By Ashley Atkinson, edited by Nita Tarchinski

Celebrating SEISMIC 1.0: The Final Summer Meeting

The SEISMIC Community gathers one last time to share accomplishments and discuss hopes for the future!

2023 SEISMIC Summer Meeting Group Photo

In early 2019, members of ten public research institutions came together to address a common observation: there is a persistent problem of inequity and non-inclusion in STEM introductory courses. Regardless of where in the country an institution was located, data analysis showed that student performance was affected by identity. Educators, researchers, students, and staff alike knew that change needed to happen, and that change needed to be both at a local level and, ultimately, across institutions. Thus, SEISMIC – Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses – was formed.

Fast forward four years, and SEISMIC has made shockwaves that traveled far beyond its epicenter. With four themed working groups engaging in collaborative work as well as individuals from different institutions teaming up, a plethora of presentations and publications have radiated from SEISMIC. In addition, ten Weeks of SEISMIC, three cohorts of SEISMIC Scholars, and four Annual Meetings have kept the community rumbling with enthusiasm.

As the original grant SEISMIC was founded on ends, one last Summer Meeting was needed to celebrate the collaboration’s accomplishments. The 2023 SEISMIC Summer Meeting took place Wednesday, June 21 through Friday, June 23 in Ann Arbor, MI. Featuring both in-person and hybrid events, the SEISMIC community gathered one final time to share research talks, workshops, panels, and posters. Just as importantly, the community considered what a “SEISMIC 2.0” would look like, and how momentum could continue.

Day One: Wednesday, June 21

The conference began Wednesday morning, with swag bags and breakfast for all. After participants had settled in, the Collaboration Council (CoCo) kicked off the conference with their Opening Remarks. The CoCo, designed to guide the activities of the collaboration and uphold the SEISMIC principles of operation, went over the 2023 SEISMIC Climate Survey Report by CEDER and shared some of our members’ accomplishments over the past year. Awarded grants, publications, podcasts, and other resources all deserved recognition.

After the CoCo’s presentation, participants had the opportunity to visit one of two rooms to participate in workshops and listen in on research talks. The first workshop was titled “Integrating Critical Perspectives into STEM Education” and was given by Dr. Natasha Turman. Dr. Turman did a fantastic job explaining the concepts of Deconstruction and Reconstruction and how they can be applied to STEM education. Dr. Matthew Kaplan and Dr. Denise Galarza Sepúlveda conducted a workshop called “The Ecosystem of Large Foundational Course” and explained how the complex web of relationships, motivations, and constraints at the instructor, departmental, and school levels function much like an ecosystem. Overall, both workshops provided important perspectives and effective tools for creating change in the classroom.

The Collaboration Council (CoCo)

Two research talks were given on Wednesday morning as well: “Leveraging cluster analysis to more deeply examine student success across SEISMIC campuses” presented by Dr. Kameryn Denaro and Dr. Brian Sato followed by “From courses to curricula: Integrating data science skills into life science education” presented by Dr. Nate Emery. Dr. Denaro and Dr. Sato described the Bright Spots project and how courses with minimal opportunity grade gaps can serve as models for more equitable STEM outcomes. Similarly, Dr. Emery discussed how The Biological and Environmental Data Education (BEDE) Network works to support instructors as they integrate data science skills into undergraduate biology and environmental science curricula. Already, the SEISMIC Summer Meeting was sparking conversation and inspiration, with plenty of discussions happening afterward!

That afternoon, conference participants enjoyed lunch while listening to keynote speaker Dr. Tati Russo-Tait, an Assistant Professor from the University of Georgia, present on her experience examining instructors’ beliefs to advance equity and justice in STEM learning environments. Dr. Russo-Tait described her process of interviewing STEM instructors and their attitudes towards deficit narratives, as well as how well they could identify racial injustice.

Afterward, three different panels took place, continuing the choose-your-own-adventure theme. Nita Tarchinski, SEISMIC’s Project Manager, hosted a panel on The STEM Equity Learning Community (SELC) Grant, and facilitators of the project shared their plans. Emily Bonem and her panel discussed Purdue’s Student Pedagogy Advocates (SPA) program, which enhances STEM teaching through student partnership. In addition, Lalo Gonzalez hosted a panel about the Office Hours project, giving an overview of the SEISMIC Project, and prompting other panelists to share their experiences. All three of these panels were a fantastic way to get a sneak peek at what it’s like to be a part of these projects.

The SELC Project Panel

One last workshop also occurred that afternoon, hosted by members of the Center for Academic Innovation at the University of Michigan: Kyle Small, Ben Hayward, and Holly Derry. They provided an overview of the ECoach technology developed to support students in their largest and most difficult courses. This workshop was also continued Thursday morning, where participants had more practice applying the ECoach technology.

Wednesday was wound down with a Tai Chi class with Madeleine Gonin and a Tap Dance Class with Kameryn Denaro – they were definitely needed!

Day Two: Thursday, June 22

After breakfast and some individual conversations Thursday morning, the momentum continued with participants breaking out into parallel sessions to listen to more research talks. Dr. Kameryn Denaro began the session with her presentation of the effects of concurrent enrollment preparatory courses on persistence in general chemistry. She discussed how various factors make preparatory courses either more successful or less, including how closely the prep class aligns with the core course and both the students’ and instructors’ attitudes toward the class. William Nicholas Bork Rodriguez also presented on a concurrent intervention: digital backchannels. Using an online forum board such as Piazza, students were able to ask questions anonymously during class or after. While Rodriguez’s study is still ongoing, gender-based performance gaps are already beginning to close. 

Dr. Sean Garrett-Roe’s research talk focused on student-centered assessment in large general chemistry courses. Dr. Garrett-Roe explained how Marzano’s Taxonomy could be applied to mastery-based grading and how this can increase student motivation to study for the course as well as improve grades. Dr. Jill Robinson’s research talk also focused on assessments in large chemistry courses. She described how by flipping her classroom, recruiting more undergraduate learning assistants, and offering additional assessments, she was able to promote and increase student success and sense of belonging.

Dr. Corrin Clarkson gave a fantastic talk on how she is currently using the Indiana University Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PEER) program to promote participation in courses. Small peer-led study sessions, promoted via email messages, were advertised to students during the Fall 2022 semester. Dr. Clarkson discussed the results and plans for the future. Dr. Becky Matz gave an equally impressive talk on giving behavioral nudges in STEM introductory courses using ECoach. Students received emails about their course related to information, structure, or assistance for making decisions. So far, the messaging has helped students overall, and different techniques will be experimented with in the future.

Dr. Kameryn Denaro

Dr. Sean Garrett-Roe

Offering an alternative perspective, Dr. Chandralekha Singh presented on ecological belonging interventions in STEM courses. She defined important terms such as stereotype threat and self-efficacy and how classroom practices can impact these. By addressing insecurities and doubts in the classroom, students can reflect and are more likely to have a sense of belonging. Finally, Dr. Madeleine Gonin and Dr. Nikeetha Farfan D’Souza gave a talk on designing and building equitable large classes using student feedback. Using a faculty learning community model, they worked with groups of instructors to analyze student feedback and understand motivations.

Dr. Archie Holmes

After lunch, keynote speaker Dr. Archie Holmes gave a presentation titled “Beyond the Classroom: UT System’s Approach to Ensuring Equitable Opportunities for All Students to Achieve Educational and Post-Graduation Success”. He provided insight into the inner workings of the University of Texas System and the support structures that exist for students’ intellectual and social development. He also highlighted the work that still needs to be accomplished and the importance of continuing the fight for equity and inclusion in higher education.

To close out Thursday, participants gathered for a group picture in front of Angell Hall (see the top of this blog post) before enjoying a poster reception in the LSA Multipurpose Room. With 15 posters on display, the reception was incredibly informative and a blast at the same time. In addition, people voted on which posters they wanted to hear about the following morning!

Day Three: Friday, June 23

Before hearing more about the posters that received the most votes, participants were able to make their own Treat To-Go bag with books recommended or written by SEISMIC members, snacks from Ann Arbor, and “vintage” SEISMIC swag! Finally, the CoCo closed out the conference with a panel featuring past and current SEISMIC leadership and some group Jamboards. Spirits were high as the best parts of SEISMIC 1.0 were highlighted and the hopes for SEISMIC 2.0 were voiced. Overall, everyone could agree on one thing: the community is the core. We are more powerful in numbers, can impact more people, and can make more change.


While no one is quite sure when the next in-person meeting will be, the need for the important work SEISMIC does remains. As SEISMIC 1.0 winds down, the motivation to fight for equity and inclusion in STEM introductory courses remains steadfast. Regardless of what the future of SEISMIC looks like, the members of SEISMIC will continue to fight for the progress that must occur.

The 2023 SEISMIC Scholars – Welcome!



Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication. She is currently pursuing an MA in Science Writing and Johns Hopkins University.


Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.