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Author Event | Cecile Richards Discusses Her Book "Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead"

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 11:48am

Cecile Richards has been an activist since she was taken to the principal’s office in seventh grade for wearing an armband in protest of the Vietnam War. Richards had an extraordinary childhood in ultra-conservative Texas, where her civil rights attorney father and activist mother taught their kids to be troublemakers. She had a front-row seat to observe the rise of women in American politics and watched her mother, Ann, transform from a housewife to an electrifying force in the Democratic party.

As a young woman, Richards worked as a labor organizer alongside women earning minimum wage, and learned that those in power don’t give it up without a fight. She experienced first-hand the misogyny, sexism, fake news, and the ever-looming threat of violence that constantly confront women who challenge authority.

Now, after years of advocacy, resistance, and progressive leadership, she shares her “truly inspiring” (Redbook) story for the first time—from the joy and heartbreak of activism to the challenges of raising kids, having a life, and making change, all the while garnering a reputation as “the most badass feminist EVER” (Teen Vogue).

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Bright Nights Community Forum | What is Neuroscience and How Can it Change Psychiatry?

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 10:19am

As we understand the brain better, we should be able to improve our diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disease. In fact, ideally, neuroscience should lead us to be able to fully understand and possibly even repair brain circuits important for mental health conditions. But how likely are we to achieve that ideal?  What stands in our way?

Through science and technology, we have discovered a great deal about the brain. However, emotional systems and psychiatric disease are incredibly complex. Modern neuroscience has focused its efforts and advances on the brains of experimental animals, but we are still far from moving these highly precise interventions onto humans. The question remains: how do we translate this advanced work into solutions for individuals with mental illness?

Dr. Brendon Watson, Assistant Professor for the Department of Psychiatry at Michigan Medicine, gives a brief overview presentation of our current standing in neuroscience in relation to psychiatric practices, and shares where he believes we are going. Dr. Watson speaks about the tension between theory and practice within research and the importance of moving towards non-invasive procedures.

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Sustainable Ann Arbor Forum | Health Equity

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 2:57pm

Join local and national experts to learn about health inequities, including a discussion on climate change, mental health, and the role of public health in addressing these inequities. 

Natalie Sampson, PhD, MPH,  (Assistant Professor, University of Michigan-Dearborn), Ellen Rabinowitz (Health Officer, Washtenaw County Health Department), Dr. Felicia Brabec (Washtenaw County Commissioner, District 4), and Dr. Paul Fleming (Assistant Professor of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan)

Sustainable Ann Arbor is an annual series presented by the City of Ann Arbor and hosted by the Ann Arbor District Library. The series includes four events held monthly through April, each with a focus on a different element of sustainability from Ann Arbor’s Sustainability Framework.

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Genealogical DNA Testing

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:36pm

Join Mary Henderson of the Association of Professional Genealogists for an introduction to DNA testing for genealogy purposes. After a brief overview of basic genetics, Mary discusses the types of DNA tests available — autosomal, Y, X and mitochondrial — and provides an overview of DNA testing companies including,, 23&me and My Heritage. Using an example of the DNA test result page provided by each company, Mary offers tips on how to navigate the findings.

Mary Henderson has 45 years of experience with traditional, document-based genealogy, and 6 years of experience with genetic genealogy.  She volunteers her services to adoptees seeking their birth parents and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

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Exploring the Mind | The Psychology of Germs, Disease, and Disgust

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 11:51am

Infectious diseases and the pathogens that cause them have been a serious problem throughout human history, with millions sickened and killed each year. In the modern world, hygiene and vaccinations help us manage this threat, but we also possess mental and physical defenses against germs. In this talk, Joshua Ackerman, Associate Professor of Psychology at U-M, discusses the emerging thinking on a set of defensive strategies grounded in our psychology – emotions, thought processes, and actions collectively called the “behavioral immune system.”

Feeling grossed out or avoidant when seeing spoiled food or sick people can help prevent infection, but these reactions also negatively affect our interactions with people, groups, and environments that in reality pose no danger. Disease-related thinking also spills over into how we see the world more generally, influencing aspects of our lives from cultural taboos to the products we buy. The psychology of germs, disease, and disgust may help us understand why.

This program was part of the "Exploring the Mind" series, a partnership with The University of Michigan Department of Psychology.

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Exploring the Mind | Sickness and Memory: How the Immune System Changes the Brain

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 4:05pm

Join Dr. Natalie Tronson, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, as she describes the way immune system changes during illness can interfere with memory formation, and how this affects the development of post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.

Memory is critical for the ability to function in the world. By storing and retrieving information about the relationships between places, events, and outcomes, our memories allow us to adjust our behavior to act in accordance with the current situation. We use our memory to navigate around our environment, efficiently finding our way to work and back home; to avoid dangerous places and things, to find food, and to recognize families, friends and colleagues. This central role of memory in our everyday lives means that disorders of memory are particularly impactful. Deficits in memory are one of the first and most notable symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, because they severely impact the ability for individuals to function independently in the world. Excessively strong memories are also problematic. For example, persistent memories of trauma contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, leading to individuals avoiding places that trigger retrieval of those memory. But how do memory processes go bad? One thing we know about memory systems is that many different factors in our lives can change how well memory is stored. Stress can make some memories stronger, and some memories weaker. Illness also changes how well we can learn and remember information. This flexibility in how memory systems work also means that they are vulnerable to disruption by stress and sickness.

Natalie Tronson is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. After her undergraduate degree from the University of New South Wales, in Australia, Dr. Tronson moved to the United States and completed her PhD at Yale University, followed by a post-doctoral position at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on how the brain stores and retrieves memory, how memory is changed during stress and illness, and sex differences in these processes. Dr. Tronson’s research combines behavioral approaches and molecular analyses in an animal model of memory, with the goal of identifying new ways to prevent and treat memory disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.

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Exploring the Mind | Do the Roots of Psychopathy Lie in Early Childhood?

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 12:55pm

The cold and calculating psychopath captures our imagination in movies and books, but what do we know about psychopathy and its development? In this talk, Luke W. Hyde briefly describes what we know about psychopathy in adults and examine an early risk factor for psychopathy in children and teens. The lecture includes a description of recent findings which aid our understanding of the development of psychopathic traits via “nature” and “nurture", and presents research identifying potentially malleable and preventable risk factors for this dangerous outcome.

Luke W. Hyde, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Clinical and Developmental areas of the Department of Psychology. He received BA from Williams College and PhD in Clinical and Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience. He research focuses on the development of antisocial behavior (e.g., aggression, rule breaking) in youth and the impacts of adversity on youth and families. Much of this research has focused on how experiences like parenting and living in a dangerous neighborhood impact children’s brain and behavior leading to psychopathology.

Dr. Hyde’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Brain and Behavior Foundation, and the Avielle Foundation. This research has been recognized by early career awards from the Society for Research in Psychopathology, the Association for Psychological Science, and Division 7 (Developmental Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.

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Bright Nights Community Forum | Postpartum Depression: What You Don't Expect When You're Expecting

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 12:34am

Women frequently experience mild mood changes during or after pregnancy, but if these symptoms become severe, they require treatment. Often misunderstood and conflated with the “baby blues,” postpartum depression occurs in nearly 15 percent of women and can interfere with their ability to care for or bond with their babies. Although highly treatable, many women are reluctant to seek care for a variety of reasons including lack of information about the illness, misconceptions about its treatment, and shame due to stigma and societal pressures.

Samantha Shaw, MD, Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry at Michigan Medicine, gives a brief overview presentation reviewing the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression; treatment options; and strategies to avoid common “traps” of postpartum depression. The presentation is followed by questions and discussion with a panel of experts including Lisa Anderson, MSW, Social Worker, Michigan Medicine; Monica Starkman, MD, Associate Professor Emerita of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School.

This event was a partnership with the U-M Depression Center. For more information on the Center, visit their website or contact Stephanie Salazar, 232-0330, or

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Bright Nights Community Forum | Self-Help Tools on the Internet for Mood Disorders: A Practical Guide

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 5:12pm

If you or a family member has struggled with a mood disorder, have you ever thought about getting help online?

eHealth is the use of technologies such as online psychotherapy, informational websites, social media, forums, blogs, and video games to educate, provide social support, encourage screening for disorders, offer self-help strategies and psychotherapy, and reduce stigma. By using eHealth technologies, people can access mental health materials whenever and wherever they like, work at any speed that is comfortable in the privacy of their own home, and play an active role in their health. Further research and development of eHealth tools for mood disorders is needed. However, the availability and quality of these tools has increased considerably over the last decade.

In order to provide an overview of self-help tools on the Internet, how to determine the quality of a particular tool, and to share some specific examples of available eHealth initiatives, the University of Michigan Depression Center and the Ann Arbor District Library presented this Bright Nights community forum.

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In Our Own Words

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 12:20pm

Courageous survivors of Larry Nassar and the leaders of organizations fighting sexual assault unite for a panel discussion on the landmark case against the former Michigan State University physician convicted of abusing hundreds of girls and women.

Wayne County SAFE’s Trinea Gonczar and three other Nassar victims Larissa Boyce, Jessica Smith and Christina Baker Barba will conduct a panel discussion on the impact of these historic cases at a launch event for They will joined by Brigitte Gurden from Lansing’s Eve Inc., Natalie Rogers of Reclaim MSU, Michigan Public Radio Reporter Kate Wells and Alexa St. John, editor of the Michigan Daily.

On November 8th, the Heartland Independent Film Forum with the support of its media sponsor, the Michigan Daily, will launch a new website with a searchable database presenting more than 1,400 pages of unabridged victim impact statements at inourownwords.usThis resource is designed to help students, their professors, families, journalists and attorneys understand this decades-long pattern of abuse so that it never happens again. Created by web designer James Sparling, the site also honors the brave women who, with the help of the Indianapolis Star, broke this story.