University of Minnesota Week of SEISMIC

By Nita Tarchinski, edited by Ashley Atkinson

All Gas, No Breaks

University of Minnesota Week of SEISMIC, September 26-30, 2022

We kicked off our second half of the Weeks of SEISMIC with a lovely week in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Learning from the spring Weeks of SEISMIC, we narrowed down our activities to three days, with time to explore the local area as well.  

Tuesday was a virtual day that began with lightning talks from five UMN speakers – Anita Schucardt, Joel Schneider, Michelle Driessen, Meaghan Stein, and Abdi Warfa. These lightning talks, affectionately referred to by Jesse Lewis as “midwestern thunderstorms” given their not-so-lightning pace, showcased local efforts to make introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive. Questions that came up during these talks pointed to shared challenges associated with changing introductory STEM courses. In particular, the common faculty question of, “how do I do these changes given the limited time I have with my students?”

Next up was a series of Measurement Working Group presentations from seven members of the Working Group – Becky Matz, Meaghan Pearson, Sarah Castle, Stefano Fiorini, Angel Sylvester, Kameryn Denaro, and Victoria Farrar. This session provided a phenomenal overview of projects in the Measurement Working Group and how our collaborators are approaching their work.  Meaghan Pearson challenged us to consider the motivations for our work, consider how our lived experiences shape how we approach our work,  and to use structural measures instead of individual identity variables for our Measurements work. We wrapped up the evening with a delicious dinner at Aster Cafe.

Day 2 started with a presentation from Project Manager Nita Tarchinski on the different aspects of SEISMIC and how to get involved. As usual, this presentation was accompanied by SEISMIC trivia questions and opportunities to take home some SEISMIC swag. Participants also shared ideas for advertising our 2023 SEISMIC Scholars undergraduate research program to wider audiences, including using the LSAMP and TRIO networks.

Sarah Hammarlund was up next with a presentation on the Belonging Project and its impact on STEM courses at UMN. Sarah shared insights on the efficacy of the sense of belonging interventions and how instructors might move forward to support students’ sense of belonging. Instructors interested to try the intervention in their courses are welcome to reach out to Sarah for materials (

The UMN students of SEISMIC were next, reflecting on the work they’ve done in SEISMIC and where they are now. Former SEISMIC Scholars Arianna Stancari and Kaitlyn Mateychuk presented, as well as former Measurement fellow Angel Sylvester and current Research Coordinator Jesse Lewis. Some themes from the student presentations included SEISMIC doing a great job of providing connections for individuals and SEISMIC providing a way in for students to understand inequity in STEM education.

We wrapped up our presentations with a book talk from W. Carson Byrd on his recent book, “Behind the Diversity Numbers: Achieving Racial Equity on Campus,” followed by a book signing for in-person attendees.

Dinner was lovely in a private room at the Campus Club, with a sunset view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline.

The final day began with a presentation from Kristin Osiecki on lessons from the UMN Teaching and Learning Center. Kristin shared an important message that, “DEI is more than student demographics. Defining student groups creates stigmas and reinforces power and privilege structures.”

Lalo Gonzalez was our final speaker with a presentation on the Office Hours project. After collecting data for several terms on office hours practices and student experiences, Lalo had a few key recommendations for instructors. First, to “demystify and demythify” the purpose of office hours. This involves being explicit about what office hours are for and addressing misconceptions students may have about them. Another recommendation was to offer additional options for the timing of office hours.

We wrapped up the UMN Week of SEISMIC with reflections on how the week went and next steps for the UMN team. One more meal on the patio of the Campus Club, and the Week came to a close. One thing is for sure – with the packed afternoon schedule, we were really all gas, no breaks! We look forward to visiting again soon!




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.

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.