Moodle’s new look for fall semester

The newest version of Moodle sports a mobile-friendly interface and a new, streamlined, “look and feel” along with various improvements including:

  • Ability to see all enrolled courses at-a-glance with optional “My Course Links” block
  • Drag-and-drop functionality for activities
  • New question types, including essays with answer templates, STACK questions and more.

To learn about the new version of Moodle, please review the new features documentation or register to attend the upcoming “What’s New in Moodle” training noted below.


Whether you are new to Moodle or an experienced instructor looking to better utilize your learning management system, there are a number of trainings coming up. Please remember to register if you can.

New classes should be accessed through the UW portal or by going to:

If you have any questions, please contact Tom Tabone at


Animal sciences senior gains first-hand research experience during FRI summer undergraduate program


Nicole Baker presents her research.

The Food Research Institute (FRI) Undergraduate Research Scholars presented their final research projects on Thursday, July 31.

FRI Research Scholar Nicole Baker, a senior Animal Sciences major, conducted her summer research on the “Effect of prolonged cooling on Clostridium perfringens growth in a cured, ready-to-eat ham.” Baker’s research was sponsored by the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors.

“It is an honor to be able to contribute to improving food safety in the meat industry with my summer project,” Baker said. “The results of the project are expected to have an impact on the design of some processors’ HACCP plans, which is very exciting for me.”

Each summer, the FRI Summer Undergraduate Research Program supports talented UW–Madison students seeking a B.S. degree. The students work full-time on a food safety project in the laboratory of an FRI mentor, learn about food safety issues through weekly tutorials, and visit food processing facilities. The program culminates with the students’ final research presentations.

Baker’s project focused on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service Appendix B stabilization guidelines for cured meat products. Baker used five cooling profiles that extended the time in which a ham containing 200 parts per million (ppm) of the antimicrobial sodium nitrite and 547 ppm of cure accelerator sodium erythorbate remained in phase one (130 to 80°F) or phase two (80 to 45°F) of Appendix B cooling guidelines. C. perfringens growth was tracked throughout each cooling curve.

FRI Associate Director Kathy Glass acted as Baker’s laboratory mentor, and Executive Committee members Jeff Sindelar and Andy Milkowski were research mentors throughout the project. Many full-time FRI staff also helped train techniques Baker used to carry out the research.

“Working with my mentors and the other staff at the lab was a very positive experience. Everyone was so helpful in taking time out to teach things that were completely new to me. They were always up for discussing my data with me and were immensely helpful every step of the way,” Baker said.

Baker’s research found that when 200 ppm sodium nitrite and 547 ppm sodium erythorbate were used to cure ham, the growth of C. perfringens was prevented, regardless of the amount of time phase one or phase two cooling was extended during her experiment. Baker noted, “One overarching theme of my research was that sodium nitrite is a powerful antimicrobial, especially when used with a cure accelerator.”

The opportunity to present her findings to an audience also provided Baker with a unique learning experience. “A huge part of the process was learning how to effectively communicate my results to others. Learning to present data in a clear way was a challenging, yet growth-promoting opportunity,” she said.

Baker said the entire research process — from planning the details of the research and conducting the experiments to reviewing the results and presenting the final project — was all part of an educational journey that she will value long into her future.

“My favorite part was the sense of accomplishment that was felt after successfully organizing an experiment and achieving clear results,” Baker said. “I learned so much about food safety by just being around experienced food microbiologists, and I have taken a lot of knowledge home with me.”

About the Food Research Institute

The Food Research Institute (FRI), a part of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, operates its own laboratories and administers its own research and service programs. The mission of FRI is to catalyze multidisciplinary and collaborative research on microbial foodborne pathogens and toxins and to provide training, outreach and service to enhance the safety of the food supply. To fulfill this mission, FRI conducts fundamental and applied research, provides accurate and useful information and expertise, delivers quality education and training, and provides leadership in identifying and resolving food safety issues to meet community, government, and industry needs.

For more information, please contact Lindsey Jahn, associate outreach specialist for FRI, at or 608-263-4229.

Kelli Cameron to lead CALS international programs for students

Cameron_KelliKelli Cameron will join CALS on Aug. 25 to lead study abroad and international internship programs for students.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with CALS students, faculty and staff as we discover, plan and promote study abroad programs,” Cameron says. “Studying abroad is not about the destination, but the journey. Every step of the process helps develop our personal abilities and professional interests.”

Cameron brings to the position a rich and diverse background in both higher education and industry, says Sarah Pfatteicher, CALS associate dean for academic affairs.

“Kelli has expertise not only in international education, but also in agriculture, fundraising, marketing and more,” Pfatteicher says. “This breadth, along with Kelli’s infectious enthusiasm, will serve our students well and help to ensure continued strong engagement by CALS in global education.”

Cameron’s prior positions include posts at Blackhawk Technical College, Purdue University, American Family Insurance, and Johnsonville Sausage. She holds a B.S. in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Extension from Iowa State, and an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in International Extension Education, from Purdue University.

Grad students: Submit proposals for Plant Sciences Symposium by Aug. 31

The Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council (PSGSC) is in the midst of planning the annual UW-Madison Plant Sciences Symposium. This fall our symposium will be entitled Plants and Society: Integrating Food and Science in Today’s Culture. The theme of the the integration of multiple disciplines and perspectives in addressing research inquires related to agriculture.

This year we are adding four 15-minute presentations to the schedule. PSGSC invites students from departments related to agriculture to join us in creating another great symposium. This is a great opportunity for students to work on professional presentation skills as well as receive recognition from the UW-Madison community, and the larger international audience that the symposium attracts via the live webinar.

The symposium will be held on Friday, October 3rd in Union South. We would like to give everyone an opportunity to apply for the chance to be one of our featured speakers in this year’s symposium. Student presenters will be given 15 minutes to talk about their work, followed by 5 minutes for questions.

To apply please send a brief abstract (max 300 words) describing the research you would like to present and a current CV to After review by the council, finalists may be asked to participate in brief interviews. The deadline for applications is August 31; selections will be made by September 8.

Advising grad students on careers outside academia – Aug. 25

Supporting Graduate Students and Postdocs in Their Search for Careers Outside Academia: A Conversation with Sue BasallaMonday, August 25, 10:30–11:30 am, 350 Bascom Hall. Faculty and staff play an important role in the career development of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.  But we don’t always know how to advise those pursuing the many career options outside academia.  Hear from Sue Basalla, an expert who has experienced the post-academic job search, written extensively on the subject of finding careers beyond the tenure track, and can share advice and answer questions. This event is for UW-Madison faculty and staff. Please register here.

Graduate students and postdocs are invited to a presentation later that day: Secrets of a Ph.D. Headhunter—5 Key Tips for Landing a Job Outside Academia. August 25, 3–4:15 pm, 1125 DeLuca Biochemistry Building, 420 Henry Mall. You are welcome to attend and can register for that event here.


Sue Basalla earned her Ph.D. in English at Princeton University and for more than a decade has been a regular columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Beyond the Ivory Tower” column as well as a frequent speaker at universities across the nation on alternative careers for graduate students and postdocs. She is a principal with Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, an executive firm specializing in higher education.

WARF hiring grad students and post-docs for its Ambassadors program

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) Ambassador Program enhances the vital connection between research on campus and technology transfer. Engaging students and post-docs to serve as WARF Ambassadors augments WARF’s visibility and presence among researchers on campus.
WARF is seeking graduate students and postdocs for the 2014-15 academic year to:

  • Increase understanding and awareness of WARF’s role across campus by creating opportunities for WARF staff to connect with researchers, including graduate students and postdocs
  • Help set up sessions across campus to discuss WARFs technology commercialization process
  • Encourage students, staff and faculty to contact WARF with new inventions, questions and technology commercialization ideas
  • Present information about WARF’s technology commercialization process at campus poster sessions
  • Participate in developing and planning the annual WARF Discovery Challenge Research Symposium

Qualified applicants will:

  • Be graduate students or postdocs in scientific or technical disciplines
  • Have substantially completed their coursework, ideally having achieved dissertator status or equivalent
  • Obtain approval from their supervisor or major professor to participate in the program
  • Be able to commit 5-10 hours/month to the program

Particularly strong applicants are energetic, effective at networking with students, faculty and staff on campus and have an interest in the process of moving discoveries from early concept to the marketplace.

WARF Ambassadors will receive a monthly stipend for each month of active service as well as semester-end bonuses in the form of travel allowances related to their graduate studies/postdoctoral work.

Apply online at the WARF Career Portal
Once an online profile has been created, you will receive a survey application. This survey application must be completed no later than August 18, 2014 (5 pm). Interviews will be conducted August 25 – September 5, 2014. Ambassadors are expected to participate in the training program Monday, September 8 – Friday, September 12, 2014 (8:30-10:30 a.m. at the Discovery Building).

Summer internship introduces landscape architecture student to Japanese gardens


Lily Mank at Anderson Japanese Gardens.

When first-timers visit a Japanese-style garden during the summer, one thing tends to stick out: it’s primarily green.

“One of the comments we get the most is there aren’t a lot of flowers, that everything is monochromatic green,” says CALS landscape architecture senior Lily Mank, a summer intern at the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois.

Yet people love what they see.

The predominance of green summer foliage, notes Mank, is just one aspect that makes Japanese gardens unique. More broadly, it’s the special way that basic elements – stone, water and plants – are brought together and the emotions these landscapes evoke.

The internship, offered for the first time this year, has given Mank the opportunity to rotate through many aspects of running the garden, including design, management, marketing and event planning, planting and construction.

It also included time with Hoichi Kurisu, who has been the chief designer of the Anderson Japanese Gardens since in 1978. Although Kurisu doesn’t have a formal degree in landscape architecture, he is considered a leader in the field of Japanese garden design. In June, Mank spent a full day with Kurisu on an active garden construction site in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“It was really interesting to see how Hoichi develops his designs and also to hear the story of how he was inspired to become a landscape architect,” says Mank. “It was an incredible opportunity to spent time with him. He shared his whole life story with me.”

When school starts up this fall, Mank will wrap up her internship by writing a report on therapeutic gardens, a particular interest of hers. It will be informed, in part, by yet another experience afforded by the internship: working with garden staff on the campus of the Rosecrance Griffin Williamson drug rehabilitation center in Rockford. The Rosecrance garden, also designed by Kurisu, is an integral part of the facility’s treatment program.

“Seeing the benefits of the therapeutic garden first-hand was incredible,” she says. “It was probably my favorite experience.”

AJG irises

Photo courtesy of Anderson Japanese Gardens.


Ten Outstanding Sophomores recognized by WALSAA

Outstanding Sophomores 2014.  Winners of the Outstanding Sophomore Award include, from left to right, WALSAA Scholarship Co-Chairman Robb Bender, CALS Dean Kathryn VandenBosch, Abigail Ball, Katherine Griswold, Maria Gruetzmacher, Bethany Dado, Amanda Belltrame, Daniel Fox, Luke Drachenberg, Jayne-Norah Ntambi, Erica Ballmer, Patrick Carney and WALSAA President & Scholarship Co-Chairman Bryan Ren

Outstanding Sophomores 2014. From left to right, WALSAA Scholarship Co-Chairman Robb Bender, CALS Dean Kathryn VandenBosch, Abigail Ball, Katherine Griswold, Maria Gruetzmacher, Bethany Dado, Amanda Beltrame, Daniel Fox, Luke Drachenberg, Jayne-Norah Ntambi, Erica Ballmer, Patrick Carney and WALSAA President & Scholarship Co-Chairman Bryan Renk.

The Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association recently continued its proud tradition of promoting student excellence at UW–Madison. After an unprecedented 86 submitted applications, the WALSAA scholarship committee narrowed down its search for the top 10 Outstanding Sophomores through a rigorous prescreening process that focused equally on academic achievement, campus involvement/leadership, community service, and relevant experience. From these 86 applicants, 24 were selected to interview in front of a panel of three WALSAA board members. Ten final awardees were selected based on interview performance.

“It’s truly amazing what these students can accomplish in less than two years at Madison,” said Robb Bender, cochairman of the scholarship committee. “Although difficult to choose just 10 students, these well-rounded individuals are the cream of the crop.”

Winners of the Outstanding Sophomore Award include: Abigail Ball, Waterford, animal science/dairy science; Erica Ballmer, Janesville, dairy science/life sciences communication; Amanda Beltrame, Brookfield, biochemistry; Patrick Carney, Madison, genetics; Bethany Dado, Amery, dairy science/genetics; Luke Drachenberg, Arena, agricultural business management/economics; Daniel Fox, Deerfield, Ill., biology; Katherine Griswold, Black Earth, life sciences communication; Maria Gruetzmacher, Stillwater, Minn., dietetics; and Jayne-Norah Ntambi, Fitchburg, nutritional sciences.

WALSAA (Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the connection of CALS students, faculty and alumni.

CALS student Alison Wedig elected state president of Wisconsin FFA


Alison Wedig

For the second year in a row, the Wisconsin FFA will be led by a CALS student. In June, Alison Wedig, a second year Life Sciences Communication major, was elected state president of the organization. Last year, Logan Wells, a CALS forest and wildlife ecology major, held the position

When Alison, who grew up near Darlington, Wisconsin, starts school again this fall, she won’t be taking a full load of courses. That’s because her FFA duties come first, she says.

And there certainly are a lot of them.

Alison shared via email: “This year as Wisconsin FFA state president I will meet thousands of enthusiastic FFA members and travel over 15,000 miles across the state promoting agricultural education and the FFA. In addition to meeting with [FFA] members on the local, state and national level, the state officer team will meet with leaders in government, education, business and agriculture.”

For more information about Alison and her goals for this important leadership position, read this The Country Today article.

Food team’s Walking Wok walks off with 2nd place

Walking_wok_duoCALS students did well in the highly competitive food product development contests at the Institute of Food Technology’s Food Expo and Annual Meeting, June 21-23 in New Orleans. The IFTSA & Mars Team earned 2nd place for its Walking Wok, while the IFTSA/Disney Team’s Pocahontas’ Canoe Cruisers received an honorable mention and the UW-Madison Food Science Club was runner up for Chapter of the Year.

When they weren’t preparing for oral presentations, poster presentations, and tasting sessions with the judges, they wandered through to the food industry’s biggest trade show, where vendors from every corner of the globe showcased new ingredients, equipment and market research. “The experience was both overwhelming and excitingly eye-opening,” says Emily Harbison, incoming president of the Food Science Club. “The experience gave students a peek into their potential futures, an educational experience to say the least.”