Encourage students to participate in UW’s Undergraduate Symposium

The Annual Undergraduate Symposium is a forum designed to showcase undergraduate students’ creativity, achievement and talent across all disciplines through oral presentations, poster sessions, exhibitions, film shorts (new this year), and performances. The Undergraduate Symposium is open to all University of Wisconsin-Madison students enrolled during the 2014-2015 academic year, including those who graduated in December.

Please encourage your undergraduate students–who are engaged in research, service learning, fine art and performance–to take advantage of this opportunity to present their work to the campus community and public-at-large. I hope you will also consider encouraging students in your classes to attend the Symposium even if they are not presenting.

This year’s Undergraduate Symposium will be held Thursday, April 16, 2015, in Union South. The schedule includes a film shorts session, a performance workshop where students can perform and discuss their creative process, and a reception at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, click here. Questions can be directed to Laurie Mayberry, Assistant Vice Provost, at 262-5246 or laurie.mayberry@wisc.edu.

Three Minute Thesis competition – Feb. 16

Grad students: Can you explain your thesis research in JUST 3 MINUTES? There’s only one way to find out…

Three Minute Thesis® (3MT®) is an international competition in which Ph.D. students explain their thesis research to a general audience. The competition is open to any UW-Madison graduate student in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, and math). Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three contestants.

Everyone is welcome to attend the competition on February 16, 1:00-3:00, at H.F. DeLuca Forum, Discovery Building. A reception, sponsored by Sigma Aldrich, will follow. Please RSVP here.

This event was organized by Graduate Women in Science, WARF and the Graduate School.

Submit courses to fulfilll the CALS International Studies requirement

CALS Academic Affairs requests proposals for courses to be considered eligible to fulfill the college’s 3-credit International Studies (IS) requirement.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the recent revision of course criteria by the CALS International Committee, all courses currently listed in DARS must be resubmitted for approval.

Deadline for submissions is February 20, 2015.

For more information, visit: http://www.cals.wisc.edu/isrequirement/

How to submit:

To submit a new course for consideration, please complete an online survey (http://www.cals.wisc.edu/isrequirement/) with the following information:

1. Updated course syllabus
2. Statement of how the course meets the below goals and criteria
3. Contact information for the course coordinator

To have a previously-approved course reviewed under the new criteria, please contact Masarah Van Eyck, masarah.vaneyck@wisc.edu.

Call for applications: Educational Innovation (EI) Small Grant Program

Applications are now being accepted for the UW-Madison’s 2015 Educational Innovation (EI) Small Grant Program. The program supports faculty and staff in their efforts to experiment with new technologies and new ways of learning by providing grants of up to $15,000 each.

Priority will be given to projects that focus on transforming the undergraduate experience through active, student–centered teaching approaches and evaluative practices. Examples of project themes may include community engagement, research mentorship, learning communities, field- based experiences, blended learning and technology-enhanced environments.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 1, 2015, or for as long as funds remain available.

More information about the program and how to apply can be found in this EI_Small_Grant announcement or online at edinnovation.wisc.edu/ei-small-grant-program.

Please direct any questions to Mo Bischof  at mo.bischof@wisc.edu, or Steve Cramer  at steven.cramer@wisc.edu.

GHI seeks abstracts for 2015 Global Health Symposium

The Global Health Institute (GHI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announces a call for abstracts for the Global Health Symposium 2015—Advancing Health in an Interdependent World. The symposium begins at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2015, and will be held in multiple rooms on the first floor of the Health Sciences Learning Center. Dr. Keith Martin, executive director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health and former member of the Canadian Parliament, will be the keynote speaker.

We hope you will submit an abstract and share this information with students and colleagues who are also working to improve health for all in Wisconsin and around the globe. The call is open to faculty, staff and students from across campus who are involved in global health. The deadline for abstracts is 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16.

Nominations open for Outstanding Returning Adult Student Awards

Do you know an exceptional returning adult student? Do you value the contributions to our campus made by returning adult students?

You can help recognize these students by nominating them for the 2014-15 Dean of Students Outstanding Returning Adult Student Awards.

These awards recognize two returning adult undergraduates whose exceptional determination and perseverance have enabled them to pursue their academic work and to contribute to the community by demonstrating leadership and service.

A Nominee must be:

  • currently enrolled at UW-Madison as a senior undergraduate degree candidate who began or resumed University work after a significant interruption (usually five or more years) in their formal education.
  • earning their first undergraduate degree and have a cumulative GPA which reflects academic success.
  • anticipating graduation in May, August or December of 2015
  • a NEW nominee for the award (not previously considered)


Go to the Adult Career & Special Student Services web site at http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/advising/adultstudent-award.htm to find the nomination link.

Nomination deadline is 5:00 pm February 16, 2015.

Please share this email with others who may be interested in nominating a student.

Call for proposals for the 2015 Teaching and Learning Symposium

Proposals for the 2015 UW-Madison Teaching and Learning Symposium are due Sunday, January 25, 2015. The theme of this year’s symposium is “Accelerate Active Learning.”

By pivoting our attention to active learning, we engage and inspire students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The 2015 Teaching and Learning Symposium aims to bring us together to share ideas, strengthen collaboration, and take risks so we can accelerate progress toward excellent educational experiences for our students and for ourselves.

We seek proposals for engaging sessions and posters that spotlight active learning in all corners of UW–Madison, for example:

1. approaches that change the learning environment of traditional classrooms by rethinking the role of engagement, research, or technology;

2. learning innovations that span disciplines;

3. collaborations that enable us to be more effective and efficient;

4. student engagement in new modes of learning that augment and enhance their educational experiences; or

5. models that improve learning outcomes and academic achievement for all students.

Faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students are all welcome to submit proposals to lead a session or present a poster.

Proposed presentations should be 60 minutes long and feature clear plans for the audience to participate in the session. Posters submissions should have a clear purpose and connect to the symposium theme. Presentation and poster submission forms are at: https://tlsymposium.wisc.edu/call.htm

Contact Sheila Stoeckel, Co-Chair, at sheila.stoeckel@wisc.edu, if you need more information.

New award supports grad student travel to organic ag conferences

A new award, supported by Roger Blobaum, has been established for CALS graduate students wishing to travel to organic agriculture conferences. Blobaum, a CALS Honorary Recognition Award recipient in 2013, has been a leader in organic research, education, advocacy and policymaking since the 1970s. The award is managed by the horticulture department, but is available to be used by all CALS students for the purpose stated.

Roger Blobaum Student Travel Fund

Purpose: To support organic farming conference travel for College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) graduate students that are engaged in organic research in CALS. Funds should be used to cover expenses related to conferences such as travel, registration, meals and lodging. The conference must take place during the 2015 calendar year.


  • Student must be a full-time CALS Graduate Student conducting organic research (Undergraduate students may be considered for an award if they are planning to engage in organic research later in their academic career)
  • The event that the student is attending must be identified as a conference on organic agriculture

For details about how to apply, download this form: Roger_Blobaum_Student_Travel_Fund.

Deadline: February 1st, 2015

For questions, contact Katheryn Jones at kjones26@wisc.edu.

Student’s new nonprofit supports students with physical illness

Sharon Strader

Shannon Strader, a CALS biology major who graduated this past weekend, founded Bella Soul, a nonprofit organization, to support full-time college students struggling with a physical illness.

For young adults, the transition from high school to college and a more independent lifestyle can be a challenging new experience. Tack on a physical illness and mounting medical bills and the traditional stressors of college life grow exponentially.

Shannon Strader, a CALS biology major who graduated this past weekend, founded Bella Soul, a nonprofit organization, to support full-time college students struggling with a physical illness.

As a senior in high school, Strader was diagnosed with a rare kidney and vascular disease, the symptoms of which had plagued her entire life. In the summer between high school and college, doctors at the Mayo Clinic performed a novel nine-hour surgery to treat the disease.

Shannon Strader with her twin sister Lauryn.

Strader then moved from her hometown of Metamora, Ill., to attend UW-Madison and study neurobiology and regenerative medicine. She has been working in the regenerative biology lab at the Morgridge Institute for Research, led by renowned stem cell scientist James Thomson, since her freshman year.

“I came to Madison to work in Jamie’s lab — it was a lifelong dream,” says Strader. “My twin sister had severe cerebral palsy, so at a young age I was initiated into the hospital and all that came with it. The avenue I found hope in was research.”

Strader’s work at the Morgridge Institute, and, later, her final neurobiology thesis project, involved DNMT3B, a gene that plays an important part in embryonic development.

“Its function has been related to leukemia, brain tumors, all these different diseases that deal with blood or neural disorders,” says Strader. “I guess I was trying to link what happened to my sister and I together—because mine was a vascular problem and hers was more neural.”

Shannon Strader (middle) at the 2014 Bella Soul gala with James Thomson and Jessica Antosiewicz-Bourget, both researchers in the Morgridge Institute for Research’s regenerative biology group.

“Shannon’s enthusiasm was infectious for everyone in the lab,” says Thomson.  “I’m amazed by what she has accomplished as an undergraduate, both in the lab and in establishing Bella Soul. We’ve been lucky to have her around for the last four years.”

But while Strader had found her place in Madison, complications and additional surgeries continued to affect her physical health throughout her first years of college, and medical bills piled on top of tuition statements.

Strader had problems finding support and resources to manage the problems she was facing.

“The more I talked to other people about their experiences, the more I realized we had the same challenges,” Strader says. “Once you turn 18, you transition into being an adult and can get lost in the cracks. There’s just so much going on without time to advocate for yourself.”

Strader says she benefited from the McBurney Disability Resource Center, a disability services office on the UW-Madison campus. “They have wonderful advisors and were very helpful and supportive in the ways they could be,” she says.

Bella Soul originated as a forum for students with physical illness to share their stories and create a network of emotional support. The organization has since evolved to include financial scholarships to be used for school or medical expenses.

Bella Soul received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in August 2014 and held a late fall gala, co-sponsored by the McBurney Center, to celebrate the milestone. The 200 attendees included a mix of doctors, researchers, professors and students, as well as the 2014 Bella Soul scholarship recipient.

Strader says the gala, intended as an annual event, raised enough money to provide two more scholarships that will be awarded in early 2015. The plan is to expand Bella Soul and start chapters at other universities, as well as provide resources for hospitals to share with teenagers transitioning to college.

Strader will be participating in UW-Madison Winter Commencement ceremonies on Dec. 21 and hopes to eventually attend medical school. She plans to take the next year off to study the MCAT and take additional courses. Right now, her focus is on spreading the word that Bella Soul exists as a resource and a way for students to find support.

Current efforts have been supported by the work of Kathryn Mazack and Cathy Trueba of the McBurney Center and UW-Madison students Jamie Holt, Alex Ritger, Harris Sinsley and Lauren Wilmet.

To learn more about Bella Soul, visit http://livebellasoul.org.