Eyzaguirre Honored for International Economics

Hugo Eyzaguirre, director of Northern Michigan University’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, has received the 2021 Patricia Elder International Award from the National Association of Economic Educators (NAEE). The award recognizes individuals whose outstanding and dedicated service and leadership have had a significant impact on the delivery or enhancement of economic education throughout the world. Eyzaguirre first got involved in the field in Peru, where he worked to create a center for economic education. There were no such entities functioning in Latin America at the time. “To instill the economic way of thinking in others is a cherished mission to me,” Eyzaguirre said. “Moreover, to support it across borders has been like a dream come true.”


Stacy Boyer Davis

Boyer-Davis Cited for Accounting Excellence

MBA Director and Professor Stacy Boyer-Davis is the recipient of the 2021 Accountant Teaching and Excellence Award from the Michigan Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She was nominated by a student and was recognized for her efforts in developing NMU’s 4+1 MBA program, which allows students to sit for the CPA Exam and earn their MBA in five years. “As a first-generation college student, I can speak to the importance of higher, continuous learning and the influence that a college education has imparted on my life,” Boyer-David said.

"Our work as educators is to encourage our students to challenge themselves, think more broadly and deeply, and develop their moral, ethical, and intellectual selves."

Whalen Receives NEH Award

English Professor Robert Whalen has been awarded a $300,000 Scholarly Editions and Translations Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support George Herbert: Complete Works, now under contract with Oxford University Press, the world’s leading publisher of scholarly editions. This is the project’s fourth NEH award. George Herbert (1593- 1633)—a contemporary of William Shakespeare and King James I—was public orator at the University of Cambridge, a priest in the Church of England, and one of the 17th century’s “metaphysical” poets.

George Herbert portrait


Afzelius's Crab

Cumberlidge Helps Find ‘25 Most Wanted’

Biology Professor Neil Cumberlidge participated in a Sierra Leone expedition that led to the rediscovery of two land-dwelling, rainbow-hued crabs “lost to science” for many years. The work was supported by a grant from Re:wild, a conservation organization supported by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, which funded the trip in search of one of the “25 Most Wanted” species that are on the edge of extinction. The Afzelius’s Crab hadn’t been sighted for 225 years, since 1796. The team also found six specimens of the Sierra Leone Crab, last spotted in 1955. African land crabs are unique and only five such species are known to exist. They live in burrows on the floor of rainforests far from water sources and may even climb trees.

“We’re optimistic that we found at least one healthy population of each lost species,” said Cumberlidge, who worked with Pierre Mvogo Ndongo of the University of Douala in Cameroon. “We plan to follow this expedition up with on-the-ground conservation of these threatened species. These forests are under immediate threat through deforestation, at large and small scales, ultimately driven by the expanding human population in West Africa,” Cumberlidge said in a Mongabay story.

Cumberlidge is a pre-eminent African freshwater crab expert who has described 14 new genera and identified more than 67 new species. The discoveries are featured in a video hosted by the actor Daniel Craig at


NMU faculty with a baby wolf

Peter White Scholar to Study Gray Wolves

Professor John Bruggink ’83 BS, ’87 MA has been selected as NMU’s 2021 Peter White Scholar. He will receive $17,500 to support his involvement in research on the homesite ecology of gray wolves in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem and fund the participation of master’s student Lucas Beck. The focus is on gaining a better understanding of habitat factors that influence where wolves choose to locate their homesites during pup-rearing season, and how those factors change as the pups develop and food availability varies.

This work is part of a collaboration with the Voyageurs Wolf Project, which grew out of Bruggink’s work with two former NMU master’s students: Tom Gable ’16 MS, who now serves as project lead, and Austin Homkes ’21 MS, who is a field biologist on the project. The alumni helped the project blossom through technological advances such as GPS collars that record the animals’ location every 20 minutes and new techniques for on-the-ground searches.

“They are a very polarizing species, but interesting from a biological perspective because they are a natural component of many ecosystems and, as apex predators, can have strong influences on the rest of the system. As they expand, there can be tension with humans in the areas they move into,” explained Bruggink. “We hope that land and wildlife managers can use this research to help minimize human disturbance to wolf homesites while still allowing people to use the land the way they want to as much as possible. Although we are focusing on the Greater Voyageurs ecosystem, we hope our work will have broader applicability to southern boreal forest habitat.”

New Sustainable Business Degree and Hub

NMU’s new Sustainability Hub for Innovation and the Environment (SHINE) complements the College of Business’ new bachelor’s degree program in sustainable business and enterprise creation. Professor and SHINE Interim Director Jes Thompson ’01 BS calls it a “Swiss army knife” academic major because of its broad, interdisciplinary approach.

“That would have been the major I had chosen if it were offered at Northern when I was a student,” she said. “There’s a book I love titled Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. It explains the drawbacks of overtraining students ad nauseam in one area and emphasizes the importance of cross training for a complex world. SHINE captures that spirit. We’re trying to help develop creative problem solvers capable of taking on leadership roles.”

The program has partnered with the Grand Rapids-based nonprofit People First Economy. The two entities, with student involvement, will deploy technical assistance and sustainability expertise to a cohort of Marquette-area businesses. The program seeks to help businesses implement positive and measurable place-based impacts related to diverse workforces, sustainable supply chains, carbon footprint reduction, environmental stewardship, and community impact. The program is funded in part by Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“A lot of small businesses don’t have access to consulting services or would have to pay a hefty premium, especially in larger markets. To bring free environmental and social responsibility consulting to the community provides something that not a lot of other places have,” said Thompson.

SHINE is also supporting on-campus initiatives. “Right now, SHINE is a virtual place; we don’t operate out of a physical location,” Thompson said. “Perhaps that will change if we’re able to secure private funding to have a permanent home on campus, expand our efforts and hire a fulltime director.” Learn more at


Chahine and Boyer in front of a logo

Controlled Farming

The indoor agriculture program has received a special delivery to enhance education, research and partnership opportunities. A new shipping container that houses a state-of-the-art growing center is located just outside of the Jacobetti Complex. Its operation will be supervised by students and the produce it generates will be distributed to NMU’s hospitality management program and campus dining facilities.

The container is equipped with cloud software so that water, nutrient and pH levels can be monitored and controlled remotely via cell phone. LED lighting for the plants doubles as a heat source. There is also an air-conditioning system. “Students will germinate seeds, grow seedlings and transfer those into the container’s vertical growing channels to reach full maturity,” said Professor and Program Coordinator Kim Smith Kolasa ’87 BS, ’98 MAE, ’19 EDS. “They will grow leafy greens—from lettuces to kale to chards—and herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley. On the research and experimental side, they will work on growing fruiting crops like strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes.”

The containers can be “daisy chained” and stacked in urban areas where space is at a premium. The program also plans to add commercial growing systems in the former airplane hangar in the Jacobetti Complex. The combination of the building and self-contained setups will better prepare students for what they are most likely to encounter in the professional realm after graduation.

"I'm from Atlanta, Georgia, and I came to Northern because I'm really interested in new methods of sustainability," said Amir Chahine, Co-President of the NMU Indoor AG Club, who will oversee the sales and business partnership aspects of the shipper container operation. "I'm surprised indoor agriculture isn't more widespread. That's what I'm here for - to make this a more common practice."

Improving the U.P. Food System

NMU’s Center for Rural Health is exploring the feasibility of an aggregation, distribution and light food processing facility serving Marquette and Alger Counties, funded by a $194,000 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

“This infrastructure will address food insecurity, support the growth of the local and charitable food system, and increase access to nutrient-dense food for the entire U.P.,” said Center Director Elise Bur. “It would be the first multiuse structure of this kind in the U.P. and also has the potential to serve as a model for other rural areas across the nation.”

The project will bring together businesses, service agencies, school systems and farmers to plan for a sustainable food system in the region. The U.P.’s widely dispersed population and lack of food infrastructure requires that the majority of food be transported from downstate. “This minimizes access to high-quality food,” Bur said. “It also hinders local farms from developing new markets and drives up the cost of distributing food for businesses and charitable food giving organizations.”

Students from multiple departments will be involved in the initiative, getting real-life experience in working collaboratively with multiple agencies.

student working with leafy greens


Jes Thompson and Bill Digneit

Seeking Bright Ideas. New Adventures...

By Sarah O'Neill '10 BA

When NMU College of Business Professor Jes Thompson’s ’01 BS expertise in communication, research and strategy met the creative, artistically business-inclined mind of Theater and Dance Co- Director Bill Digneit ’08 BS, a light shined even more brightly on the idea of innovation at NMU. As recently appointed co-directors of SISU: The Innovation Institute at NMU, the pair has spearheaded the process of facilitating change. To help advance their efforts, a $1 million Program Incentive Fund (PIF) has been established, with proposals currently being accepted for awards to be funded in March 2022.

“I am honored to be co-director of SISU: The Innovation Institute at NMU because there are so many brilliant ideas on this campus and SISU has the responsibility of lifting them up to help build a brighter future here at NMU,” Digneit said. “SISU is innovating new educational opportunities today so the students of tomorrow can earn a degree in a way that works for them.”

"Higher education is on the brink of massive, radical change,” Thompson said. “With SISU, we have an opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive. I believe that we need to engage our creative minds and intelligent colleagues today so that we’ll be ready to thrive tomorrow.”

Programs like SISU are needed today more than ever because of the change occurring in higher education.

The PIF was created to invest in innovative programs, program enhancement, and retention initiatives. Specifically, PIF awards have been designed to motivate faculty and staff to propose interdisciplinary, collaborative and transformational programs and projects that embody NMU’s core values and current strategic focus areas. Previous awards provided funds to more than a dozen departments to implement new and innovative programs and projects to enhance retention and increase enrollment at NMU, such as the recently launched Sustainability Hub for Innovation and Environment (SHINE).

All NMU community members, students and alumni are encouraged to submit proposals to the Bright Ideas. New Adventures initiative for review now through December 1.

For more information on proposal and submission guidelines visit