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Seminar follows Wisconsin rivers on statewide bus tour

June 25, 2019

By Catherine Reiland
Director, Wisconsin Idea Seminar

Rivers shaped our learning during the Wisconsin Idea Seminar 2019 River Tour, where over five days and 600 miles 40 faculty and academic staff made stops at some of Wisconsin’s famous waterways: the Milwaukee, the Wisconsin, the Mississippi, and the Kickapoo. We learned how communities developed at the water’s edge and how their orientation to their local rivers have evolved over time. We heard directly from Wisconsinites about their relationships to water and land and how they leverage community energy and knowledge to solve problems.

The Wisconsin Idea Seminar serves to introduce new faculty and staff to the Wisconsin Idea, highlight mutually beneficial collaborations between UW–Madison and communities across the state, and offer opportunities to experience the places and spaces many of our UW–Madison students call home.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW GALLERY | click on any image to launch slideshow

On our journey we shared a meal with entrepreneurs and community leaders at Milwaukee’s Sherman Phoenix, a vibrant food hall and entrepreneurial hub that rose out of a neighborhood’s trauma. We paddled down the Milwaukee River, putting our oars into water that a century before had been an open sewer, yet today is a site of recreation thanks to comprehensive pollution abatement initiatives that began in the 1970s.

We walked through cow barns at Rosy-Lane Holsteins and learned how the operators carefully conserve water and are committed to the health of their animals and the environment. We visited patient rooms at the La Farge Medical Clinic and were inspired by its staff’s dedication to the health and well-being of nearby Amish communities. We crossed a nine-foot navigation channel in the Mississippi River where barges laden with soybeans, corn and fertilizer travel to market.

We sketched out ideas in chalk at Stevens Point’s IDEA Center and spoke with students at De Soto Middle/High School about their plans and aspirations for the future. We ended our journey in the heart of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, where clean water flows from natural springs on Ho-Chunk sacred land. Filling our water bottles at the spring reminded us of our relationship to water and its power to nourish, cleanse and shape our lives.

The Wisconsin Idea Seminar is a program of the Provost’s Office and is made possible with the support of many UW–Madison schools and colleges and the Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of the Capital Times and long-time underwriter of the seminar since 1985.

Wisconsin Idea Seminar 2019 Participants

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Karthik Anantharaman
Assistant Professor, Bacteriology
Academic specialty/research interests: Microbial sulfur metabolism, microbial community interactions, biogeochemistry, coevolution of viruses and their hosts

Jennifer Blazek
Director, Farm & Industry Short Course, Academic Affairs
Academic specialty/research interests: I have developed a specialization in intercultural communication and farm human resource management. My master’s research was on the sustainability of dairy agro-ecosystems.

Todd Newman
Assistant Professor, Life Sciences Communication
Academic specialty/research interests: Science communication, strategic communication, marketing

College of Engineering

Hannah Blum
Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Academic specialty/research interests: Cold-formed steel structures, steel structures, stainless-steel structures, structural stability, structural reliability

Amanda Smith
Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs, Industrial and Systems Engineering
Academic specialty/research interests: During my Ph.D., my research was in mathematical optimization, applying integer programming to solve engineering problems. In my current role, I teach undergraduate courses, spearhead our curriculum revisions, and work closely with student services.

College of Letters & Science

Soh-Hyun Altino
Associate Professor of Violin, Music
Academic specialty/research interests: Violin performance, chamber music, teacher training

Christian Andresen
Assistant Professor, Geography
Academic specialty/research interests: Arctic ecology and climate change; unmanned aerial systems (aka drones)

Keith Bechtol
Assistant Professor, Physics
Academic specialty/research interests: Astrophysics and cosmology. Statistical analysis of large datasets. I study the 95% of the universe that is not made of atoms. I am currently helping to build a telescope in Chile that will catalog tens of billions of stars, galaxies and solar system objects.

John Eason
Associate Professor, Sociology
Academic specialty/research interests: Punishment, race, crime, community and urban sociology
Member, Faculty Senate

Lisa Ellis
Senior Lecturer, Communication Arts
Academic specialty/research interests: Documentary cinema studies and production

Kirill Ospovat
Assistant Professor, German, Nordic, and Slavic
Academic specialty/research interests: Russian literature and culture of the imperial period

Katerina Somers
Assistant Professor, German, Nordic and Slavic
Academic specialty/Research interests: Historical linguistics

Zachary Wickens
Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Academic specialty/research interests: I am specialized in organic chemistry. My research aims to discover new tools that could be deployed in the preparation of organic molecules for diverse applications including human health.

Jun Zhu
Professor, Statistics
Academic specialty/research interests: Spatial statistics and spatio-temporal statistics applied to agricultural, biological, environmental, ecological, medical and social sciences.

Cooperative Extension

Danielle Hairston-Green
Director, Human Development and Relationships
Academic specialty/research interests: Human development, childhood disorders, child and adolescent therapy, college experience, non-cognitive skill development, food insecurity

Division of Enrollment Management

Greg Offerman
Associate Director – Advising & Outreach, Office of Student Financial Aid
Academic specialty/research interests: I lead the advising and outreach efforts for the Office of Student Financial Aid, where we serve the prospective students of Wisconsin as they seek to invest in their higher education, and the current students of UW–Madison as they earn their degrees.

Facilities Planning and Management

Missy Nergard
Director of Sustainability
Academic specialty/research interests: Organizational systems in higher education and their impact on transdisciplinary research and teaching. Systems thinking and systems efficiency related to the three principal systems of sustainability (economic vitality, society, environment).

General Services

Edward Brown
Chief of Staff/Special Assistant, Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement
Academic specialty/Research interests: Higher education administration

International Division

David Fields
Associate Director, Center for East Asian Studies
Academic specialty/research interests: I am a specialist in U.S.-Korean relations and am the associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies.

Law School

Bryce Pierson
Director of Continuing Legal Education, Continuing Legal Education for Wisconsin
Academic specialty/research interests: Criminal law

Office of the Provost

Lisa Carter
Vice Provost for Libraries, University Librarian, General Library System
Academic specialty/Research interests: Libraries leadership and administration, special collections, area studies, connecting distinctive materials with communities

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education

Allison Bender
Outreach and Events Coordinator, Wisconsin Energy Institute
Academic specialty/research interests: I’m responsible for developing collaborations with campus, community and scientific partners to create and implement targeted outreach and informal science education programs for the Wisconsin Energy Institute and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

School of Education

Yeohyun Ahn
Assistant Professor, Art
Academic specialty/research interests: Graphic design, UI/UX, design for social change, interaction design, diversity on U.S. campuses, computational visualization

Colleen Conroy
Assistant Professor, Theatre and Drama
Academic specialty/research interests: Voice and actor training. Research and teaching interests include the application of Laban efforts in an integrative approach to actor training and gender spectrum communication training.

Tomiko Jones
Assistant Professor, Art
Academic specialty/research interests: Photography, interdisciplinary arts, relational art, culture, ecology, environment

School of Human Ecology

Michelle Kwasny
Academic Director, MS Design + Innovation (proposed 2020), Design Studies
Academic specialty/research interests: I specialize in design research and strategic innovation, having spent the past eight years at a product design and innovation firm. I co-direct a proposed MS in design + innovation and lead design research and strategy work out of the Chancellor’s Office.

School of Medicine and Public Health

Heidi Dvinge
Assistant Professor, Biomolecular Chemistry
Academic specialty/research interests: Molecular cancer biology

Mary Henningfield
Associate Director, Family Medicine and Community Health
Academic specialty/research interests: My background includes clinical research, physician/patient education and patient advocacy. As the associate director for the Wisconsin Research and Education Network, I am responsible for engaging primary care practices in research.

Lindsay Kalan
Assistant Professor, Medical Microbiology & Immunology
Academic specialty/research interests: The human skin microbiome and diabetic wound healing

Karola Kreitmair
Assistant Professor, Medical History and Bioethics
Academic specialty/research interests: Clinical ethics, neuroethics, philosophy of mind, research ethics

School of Pharmacy

Jason Peters
Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Academic specialty/research interests: Bacterial genetics, antibiotic resistant bacteria

School of Veterinary Medicine

LaTasha Crawford
Assistant Professor, Pathobiological Sciences
Academic specialty/research interests: Translational pain research and comparative neuropathology

Sathish Kumar
Associate Professor, Comparative Biosciences
Academic specialty/Research interests: My research focuses on determining 1) fetal origins of hypertension, 2) sex-specific hypertension and diabetes mechanisms, and 3) developing interventional strategies to combat cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Joao Paulo Martins
Assistant Professor, Medical Sciences
Academic specialty/research interests: Academic specialty: bovine reproduction. Research interests: ovarian dynamics, luteolysis, embryonic and fetal development, pregnancy maintenance and synchronization of ovulation strategies. Research focus: improving fertility of lactating dairy cows.

Jayshree Samanta
Assistant Professor, Comparative Biosciences
Academic specialty/research interests: Neuroscience; research interest: neural stem cells in regeneration of myelin

University Relations

Danielle Lawry
Graphic Designer, University Marketing
Academic specialty/research interests: Graphic design, brand maintenance

Wisconsin School of Business

Karen Stroud Felton
Director of Pre-College Programs, Bachelor of Business Administration
Academic specialty/research interests: Undergraduate recruitment and enrollment; higher education administration; college preparation for high school students

Wisconsin Idea Seminar Staff

Catherine Reiland
Director, Office of the Provost
Academic specialty/research interests: Designing events and programs that celebrate the valuable contributions the University of Wisconsin makes to our local communities and the world. Research and intellectual interests include tourist productions, performance, memory, and museum studies.

Yvonne Quamme
Assistant to the Provost, Office of the Provost
Professional Experiences: Business administration and financial management

Bethany Prochnow
Wisconsin Idea Seminar Communications Intern, Office of the Provost
Academic Specialty/Research Interests: Double-majoring in life sciences communication and environmental studies