Participating in SEISMIC

By Yunseo Cho, edited by Ashley Atkinson and Nita Tarchinski


SEISMIC is comprised of participants from ten partner institutions across the United States, as well as active external members and interested observers outside of the partner institutions. Our size is commendable, and it allows us as a collaborative to have a greater scope and larger audiences in mind during our work. It is even more incredible to think of the number of SEISMIC participants when one considers the fact that SEISMIC participation is volunteer-based. 

However, due to its volunteer-based nature, we in SEISMIC Central frequently hear that SEISMIC members often feel guilty that they are not able to put as much time towards SEISMIC as they would like. There is almost always a lot going on within the collaborative (e.g., emails, meetings, events, travel opportunities), leaving members to feel as if they are not keeping up with everything that SEISMIC has to offer. As a result, many SEISMIC members seem to believe that they are not as involved as they should be or want to be, because they assume that other participants are more active than they are.

Given this common belief throughout the collaboration, it is necessary for us to point out that no matter what one’s type of participation is, all types of participation are fine.  In addition to this, whether or not one is a part of a SEISMIC institution does not invalidate their contributions to and participation in SEISMIC. Below we share four common ways people participate in this collaboration.

The first type of participation, “Breaking News,” is the kind of participation that one would partake in if they are curious to know what is happening with SEISMIC, but they do not wish to be directly involved. Participants in this category receive monthly newsletters, and many also follow SEISMIC on Twitter for updates.

The second type of participation, “Aftershock,” best describes members of SEISMIC who are interested in activities and are also affiliated with one of the SEISMIC member institutions. Members in this category are able to attend SEISMIC speaker visits on their campus, can help coordinate these visits, and can also travel to other institutions as SEISMIC speakers.

Stephanie Walker, the Associate Director of the Science Learning Center at the University of Michigan, is one SEISMIC member whose participation aligns with this category. “I participate in SEISMIC through attending Speaker Events, engaging in the Annual Meetings, connecting at the campus meet up opportunities, and sharing the newsletter information with my department. As a staff member, I find it encouraging to learn about all of the ways faculty are working to make success in introductory STEM courses more equitable. I find my engagement in SEISMIC sparking new ideas to apply to my co-curricular work with students.”

George Rehrey, an Adjunct Instructor at Indiana University, says, “My participation in SEISMIC has truly advanced my understanding of how important and complicated issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are in higher education today. This has been especially true when it comes to issues of belongingness and how we might be able to mitigate them to help more students succeed in STEM.”

Stephanie Walker

George Rehrey

Earthquake” is the third type of participation. SEISMIC members in this type of participation are those who want to influence the direction of the Working Groups. They are involved in presenting the progress of their Working Group at conferences and speaker visits, attending Working Group meetings, influencing the direction of potential grant proposals, and overall, contributing to the vision and goals of the Working Group.

Lastly, “Epicenter” is the fourth type of SEISMIC participation. This type of participation is for those who want to be as involved as possible.  Members in the “Epicenter” category are project team members and thus share responsibility for the progress of specific projects. They are encouraged to write grant proposals as needed to fund specific projects; other ways they can contribute are opening up their classroom to a study, running analysis code, planning the experimental design, writing up results, and many other activities.

Laura Brown

Natasha Turman

Laura Brown, Senior Lecturer at Indiana University, says, “I teach organic chemistry at Indiana University, and I am interested in identifying and implementing evidence-based interventions that lead to more equitable and inclusive classrooms. I do not have a background in chemical education, but through SEISMIC I was able to team up with educational researchers and work with them towards this goal.”

Natasha Turman, the Director of the Women in Science and Engineering Residence Program (WISE RP) at the University of Michigan, says her SEISMIC participation looks like, “co-leading a project group, supporting student scholars, facilitating group meetings, reviewing literature, staying current on STEM education needs through a critical lens.”

These four types of participation listed above only serve as examples— SEISMIC members may well be at the boundary of two types or participate in a way that might not entirely fit with any of these categories. We encourage you to think about participation in SEISMIC as you might think about a buffet. SEISMIC is the restaurant, providing space, chairs, and company for your feast. Our activities are the dishes available on the buffet table. One chooses what works for them based on their time, interests, and levels of effort they are able to commit.  

If you would like to choose more dishes, then here are some resources to start looking: 


Yunseo Cho

Yunseo Cho served as a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central in 2021, playing a key role in managing the SEISMIC website, event planning, and preparing promotional materials for the collaboration.

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.


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.