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What Are We?

“A Zine About Students as Partners” is a participatory project extending beyond the classroom to showcase the collaborative work of students, faculty, and staff at the University of Michigan-Dearborn through the biannual publication of a zine. The zine is a collaborative endeavor, run by and featuring the content of students, faculty, and staff in academic and other creative mediums. The zine promotes the “students as partners” philosophy among our campus community, highlights the impressive collaborations and partnerships that already exist on our campus, and encourages students, faculty, and staff to experiment with new and innovative models in teaching, learning, and the production of knowledge.

Meet the Z-Board Team!

Dr. Maya Barak

Faculty Co-Editor-In-Chief

I’m an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice and affiliate of Women’s and Gender Studies at UM-Dearborn. When I’m not teaching or writing about matters of crime and justice through a critical lens, I love finding connections between crime, law, and pop culture. My vision of students, faculty, and staff as partners is aimed at fostering agency, collaboration, and empowerment. You can learn more about me here!

Christopher Thomas

Student Co-Editor-In-Chief

I’m an undergraduate of the College of Engineering and Computer Science majoring in Data Science. Some research interests include rationality, decision making, and discourse processing as well as how mood affects or relates to them behaviorally or neurophysiologically. Additionally, I’m interested in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and the various developments moving it closer to Natural Language Understanding (NLU). I hope that “students as partners” allows more personal connections to be cultivated between staff, students, and faculty, while any antagonism-feeding disconnect is seeded out in the process. If you want to chat with me, just email

Samuel Bellaire

Student zBoard Member

I am currently a graduate student in the College of Engineering and Computer Science pursuing my master’s degree in electrical engineering. During my undergraduate studies here at UM-Dearborn, my primary research focus was in electric and autonomous vehicles. Since I have started my graduate studies, I have also started to branch out into other research areas such as the medical field. I think that the philosophy of seeing students as partners is very important in engineering. Rather than sitting through a lecture, conducting research with faculty is a great learning experience, and students can often bring many new and innovative ideas to the table.

Autumm Caines

Staff zBoard Member

Hi there! I’m Autumm Caines, an Instructional Designer at the Hub for Teaching and Learning Resources here at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where I also teach occasionally. Working alongside faculty and students to analyze and design courses and modes of instruction, two things seem evident to me: one of the best ways for students to learn something is to teach it to someone else, and the best teachers learn from their students everyday. If you would like to check out my work, I try to curate and communicate the highlights at

Dr. Mike MacDonald

Faculty zBoard Member

My first paper in grad school was a rhetorical analysis of punk zines, and I’ve always been enamored by DIY punk projects (even if my own writing has taken more traditional forms), so it goes without saying that I am elated to be on the board of this zine! For my teaching and research interests, you can go here.

Zenon Sommers

Student zBoard Member

I am an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. degree in Behavioral & Biological Sciences and a B.A. degree in Psychology. As I finish my fourth year, I can look back on many experiences of collaboration, ranging from creating a psychology podcast with another student to conducting an independent research study with faculty to working with both faculty and staff as part of the supplemental instruction program on campus. I’m excited to be working with the zine to bring awareness to these kinds of collaborations and many more.