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2020-21 Chancellor’s Undergraduate Awards Ceremony honors outstanding students

May 26, 2021 By Doug Erickson

Photo: Bascom HallMore than 150 high-achieving students at UW–Madison were recently recognized during the 2020-21 Chancellor’s Undergraduate Awards Ceremony.

The annual event, held virtually this year, showcases academic excellence, public service and outstanding undergraduate research.

A majority of the students — 108 — received Wisconsin Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowships, which support undergraduate research done in collaboration with a faculty or staff advisor. To help offset research costs, each student winner receives $3,000 and each advisor $1,000.

This year’s Hilldale recipients include Skyler Finucane, whose winning research proposal will be appreciated by anyone who’s endured a buggy Wisconsin summer. She seeks to better understand why mosquitoes seem to play favorites when deciding whom to bite. She’ll test the idea that skin microbes drive the difference.

“Mosquitoes are attracted to odors that humans naturally release, like carbon dioxide emissions and lactic acid, but previous research cannot explain why mosquitoes seek out some people with greater frequency than other people,” says Finucane, a senior entomology and global health major from Algonquin, Illinois.

Lyric Bartholomay, a professor of veterinary medicine, will serve as Finucane’s faculty advisor.

Another Hilldale winner, Ryan Anderson, a senior biomedical engineering major from Fontana, Wisconsin, will study a different member of the animal kingdom, one more welcome in backyards. His research seeks to inform treatment options for older Labrador retrievers afflicted with laryngeal paralysis, a life-limiting disease that often causes respiratory distress and decreased mobility. His work could have wider applications.

“Because laryngeal paralysis in Labrador retrievers is similar to motor neuron diseases in humans, a greater understanding of its neurophysiology could help contribute to translational studies evaluating potential disease-modifying therapy for humans,” Anderson says.

Susannah Sample, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine, will serve as Anderson’s faculty advisor.

The dozens of winning Hilldale research projects span a wide spectrum of topics, from microfinance and women’s economic empowerment in Israel to how the power of language could reduce social bias.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank Photo: Jeff Miller

Other students recognized included winners of Holstrom Environmental Research Fellowships, Sophomore Research Fellowships, and Theodore Herfurth and Teddy Kubly Awards for Comprehensive Undergraduate Excellence.

Additionally, the ceremony honored recipients of many national awards and scholarships, including Tina Marshalek (Truman Scholarship), Hajjar Baban (Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans) and Alex Plum (finalist, Rhodes Scholar).

“I’m proud of every one of you. Congratulations!” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in her video comments.

A full list of award recipients can be found here.