Calling Dr. Brilliant

Dr Larry Brilliant gives polio drops to baby

When this seasoned epidemiologist launched his unconventional career in 1969, he fit the bill as the ‘hippie doctor’ with a penchant for Ram Dass and Wavy Gravy. Since then, this aptly named frontline worker has won public health victories over smallpox, blindness, Ebola, and COVID-19. Next? Monkeypox.

  1. Positively breaking the age code

    A silent epidemic of ageism is destroying our health, says Becca Levy, BA ’87. In her new book, the scientist breaks the age code to show how people who hold optimistic beliefs about the aging process experience more positive health outcomes than their negative counterparts.

  2. From rabbit hole to raging success

    ‘Depths of Wikipedia’ host Annie Rauwerda, BS ’22, only posts something to her 1.5 million social media followers ‘if it’s really zany.’ The comedian’s fans rely on her wiki-mining skills to unearth weird-but-true facts about trout tickling, Greek philosophers, and ancient Sumerian humor.

  3. Talent to spare, even in a writing class with Arthur Miller

    Future literary icon Arthur Miller outperformed him in class. Playwright/author Sinclair Lewis trashed his Hopwood entry. But when an observant professor championed Edmund Love’s tenacity and native talent, the 1936 graduate wrote his way to a thriving career.

  4. U-M appoints Santa Ono as new president

    In July, the Board of Regents named Santa J. Ono U-M’s 15th president. Ono is an accomplished biomedical researcher and the president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia. He steps into his U-M presidency Oct. 13, 2022.

  5. Meet the man who has everything

    Words cannot express Art Vuolo Jr.’s passion for the Michigan Wolverines, but his massive archive speaks for itself. This is Vuolo’s 43rd season recording every aspect of the home game-day experience, from untelevised half-time shows to behind-the-scenes moments.

  6. What your company needs to understand about digital privacy (but probably doesn’t)

    Michigan Ross professor Ruslan Momot shares insights about how companies should start to approach privacy, including a major shift in the way websites use cookies and how to think about data as something to be sourced sustainably.

Watershed moments

Let’s raise a cool glass to U-M’s civil and environmental engineers who are creating a remote, real-time network of water sensors on the streams and rivers of Macomb County. The network allows local NGOs, government officials, river users, and decision-makers to observe and adapt to changes in flow dynamics across seasons, conditions, and long-term climate changes. Images are by Marcin Szczepanski, College of Engineering.

  • Diagnosis

    Students and faculty in U-M’s Digital Water Lab at the College of Engineering (COE) are collaborating with experts in the Center for Social Solutions (CSS) in the College of Literature, Science & the Arts to measure and better understand flooding in vulnerable communities.



    Engineers on bridge
  • Installation

    American businesses are expected to lose $50 billion in output in 2022 alone due to flooding, says COE’s Branko Kerkez, Arthur F. Thurnau associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. Flooding creates more damage than earthquakes and forest fires put together, he says.


    Experts install sensors on bridge
  • Timing is everything

    When installed throughout a watershed, these cost-effective devices will provide researchers with greater situational awareness of a flooding event in real time.


    Setting up sensor on bridge
  • Response and recovery

    The partnership with COE’s Kerkez and his team emphasizes the connection between data and humans, says Julie Arbit, research associate in the Center for Social Solutions (CSS).

    “We’re looking at the response and recovery phases of disasters: Who is flooded at this moment, what resources do they need, and how much damage has been incurred?”

    Measurements at the bridge
  • Making sense

    Addressing social inequity is a large motivator for the kind of engineering work Kerkez does. The collaboration with Arbit and CSS is ideal, he says.

    “Rather than just us as engineers focusing on flooding and saying, ‘Hey we have interesting solutions,’ we actually can work with somebody who understands how the community functions and what their priorities are so that the solutions we build actually make sense.”

  • Scaling up

    Researchers are evaluating “a ton of different variables and exploring a lot of different datasets,” to create a scalable methodology for application elsewhere, says CSS’ Arbit.

    “When you are able to evaluate on a very small scale how vulnerable or how resilient households are, you can make sure that equity is built into new policies, not just equality,” she says.