CALS professors to advise Wisconsin Idea Fellowship projects

Three CALS professors will act as faculty mentors for 2015-2016 Wisconsin Idea Fellowship student projects. The 17th year of the fellowships feature six projects, which were collectively awarded over $30,000. The projects, which aim to solve issues identified by local or global communities, will be implemented over the next 12 months.

The three projects involving CALS faculty and students address issues in Africa and include a project that aims to reduce the prevalence of waterborne disease in South Africa; another that will explore insect-eating practices in Zambia to address hunger; and a third that will work to empower women and improve sanitation through a soap-making training program in Uganda.

More about each of the projects:

Waterborne Disease Prevention in Kumanzimdaka, South Africa
Faculty Mentor: Michael Bell, Professor in Community & Environmental Sociology
Student: Theo Loo, Microbiology and Global Health

Currently, 40% of South Africa’s population lives in rural areas with little access to clean water, leading to illness and disease. In 2014, Theo and three classmates conducted a rapid health impact assessment that outlined several physical water source protection strategies to prevent waterborne diseases in Kumanzimdaka, South Africa.

This WIF project builds on that assessment with the goal of reducing the prevalence of waterborne diseases in Kumanzimdaka. The project will conduct water testing and water sterilization workshops, establish a community dialogue, and map houses, community centers, livestock feeding pastures and latrines. The project will then produce a recommendation for physical water source protection strategies, and has the potential to lay the groundwork for a systematic approach to reducing waterborne diseases across rural South Africa.

Expanding Entomophagy: Investigating potential barriers to mealworm consumption in Zambia and the United States
Faculty Mentor: Susan Paskewitz, Professor in Entomology
Student: Marjorie Kersten, Community and Environmental Sociology and Global Health

48% of Zambia’s population experienced food insecurity from 2012-2014, with December- March being the particularly difficult “hungry season” between crop production. But protein-rich insects provide a potential solution.

This WIF project will explore existing entomophagy (insect-eating) practices in Zambia through a survey focusing particularly on women, who are typically the primary contributors in developing world food systems. Based on the results, the project will develop complete meal plans that incorporate insects into traditional Zambian food.

The long-term goal of this project is to increase the acceptance and frequency of entomophagy within the Lusaka and Southern Province of Zambia and to improve food security and nutrition.

The Soap Project: Women’s Empowerment & Sanitation in Lweza, Uganda
Faculty Mentor: James Ntambi, Professor in Biochemistry and Nutritional Sciences
Students: Mackenzie Carlson, Gender & Women’s Studies, and Corinne Praska, Genetics

On a previous trip to Lweza, Uganda, Mackenzie and Corinne had the opportunity to develop relationships with the community and learn about its needs. Women, in particular, expressed excitement for obtaining skills to make products that they could then sell to gain independence and economic stability. Local health care providers also expressed the need for better sanitation.

This WIF project aims to tackle both issues by launching a soap-making training program in the village. The project also aims to promote youth development, further educational opportunities and stimulate the local economy. Additionally, the project will develop marketing strategies to build long-term structures for the production and sales of local-made soap.

To read more about the fellowships and the other projects chosen this year, visit

CALS biochemistry grad student chosen to attend science advocacy workshop in D.C.

Danielle LohmanDanielle Lohman, a Ph.D. candidate in Biochemistry, is one of two UW-Madison students recently chosen to attend the Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering 2015 Workshop in Washington, D.C. in April. Lohman is a member of the Pagliarini lab, which investigates the biochemical basis for mitochondrial dysfunction.

The workshop, sponsored by a coalition of scientific groups, is organized to educate students about the role of science in policy-making, to introduce them to the federal policy-making process and to empower them to become a voice for basic research. The day after the workshop, students will meet with their elected Members of Congress and congressional staff members to put into practice what they learn.

The graduate students chosen to attend were selected by the Graduate School through a competitive process based on their interest and involvement in science policy and advocacy.

Find out more about the workshop at or

Request for proposals: CIAS mini-grants for graduate student research

The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) invites graduate student applications for the center’s 2015 summer mini-grant program, which is made possible through a generous donation from the Single Step Foundation. These awards will provide up to $2,000 for graduate student research. Undergraduate research is not eligible for funding.

For more information, visit:

Adam Gaspar recognized as a Future Leader in Science

Adam GasparAdam Gaspar, a graduate student in agronomy, was recognized recently as a 2015 Future Leader in Science. The award is from the Agronomy Society of America (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). Adam is one of 18 students to receive the award for their interest and engagement in science advocacy. He will receive a trip to Washington D.C. to participate in the annual ASA, CSSA and SSSA Congressional Visits Day where he will meet with members of Congress and advocate for agricultural and environmental research.

Adam conducts research to answer applied soybean management questions that help producers increase their yields, profitability and sustainability. His advisor is Shawn Conley, associate professor of agronomy. Adam will graduate in May of 2017 with a Ph.D. in agronomy and a specialization in crop production and management.

ASA, CSSA and SSSA are scientific societies based in Madison, WI, helping their 10,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy, crop, soil sciences and related disciplines.

Call for proposals: new CALS undergrad courses in food systems

The CALS Strategic Plan identified Food Systems as a priority theme for the college, and listening sessions have identified the need for course options that introduce students to the basics of food systems and the important roles that agriculture plays in such systems.

The CALS Dean’s office is soliciting proposals from CALS faculty and instructional academic staff to develop individual courses or a series of courses within this broad topic to begin in Spring 2016. Collaborative proposals are highly encouraged.

This link will take you to the RFP with details of how to submit a proposal.

The deadline for submission is April 3, 2015.

Submit your course to fulfill the CALS International Studies requirement

Due to the recent revision of course criteria by the CALS International Committee, CALS Academic Affairs requests proposals for courses to be considered eligible to fulfill the college’s three-credit International Studies (IS) requirement. The deadline is February 20.

PLEASE NOTE: All courses currently listed in DARS as fulfilling the requirement MUST BE RESUBMITTED for approval under these new criteria.

For information, visit:

Courses will be reviewed by the CALS Curriculum Committee in late March with the aim of publishing an updated list of eligible courses in time for fall course registration.

Please contact Masarah Van Eyck,, with questions. If your course is currently listed as eligible in DARS and you would like assistance submitting, please contact Masarah Van Eyck,

BioCommons space launches new e-newsletter

Organizers of the new BioCommons space in Steenbock Library recently launched an e-newsletter and are encouraging students in the biological sciences—and their advisors—to sign up. The newsletter will share info about biology-related events and opportunities on campus.

Click here to subscribe.

If you have any ideas or feedback, you can contact the BioCommons staff at

Scholarship available for student with chronic health problems, physical disabilities or disease

Bella Soul, a non-profit founded to address, support, and provide financial aid in the form of scholarships to college students who have chronic health problems, physical disabilities, and disease, is now accepting applications for its second scholarship in memory of Dr. Neal First and Joey Stowell. Application materials are available online here.

Requirements for scholarship: The recipient must be a college student living with a physical ailment, physical disease, and/or physical disability. He or she must be enrolled as full-time student and must not be on academic probation. The recipient can live in any state and attend any university.

Applications are due by 11:59 pm on March 2nd, 2015. Please send finished applications to

Encourage students to participate in CALS Undergrad Research Symposium

The CALS Undergraduate Research Symposium will take place on April 21st this year. Please encourage the students who are conducting research in your lab to participate. They will need to fill out this application by March 12th:

Please forward along this eCALS post and/or print and share this flyer: CALS Undergraduate Research Symposium.


Supporting students in distress: The role of faculty and staff at UW-Madison

Suicide is a known health concern for college students on all campuses nationwide. As members of our campus community, you have regular interaction with students and your actions contribute to their academic and personal success. Statistically speaking, it is highly likely that you will work with a student at some point that is at risk for psychological distress. Knowing what to do in these situations is an important part of suicide prevention on campus.

We would like to remind you of At-Risk for University Faculty & Staff. At-Risk is a UHS sponsored online, interactive program that builds skills in interacting effectively with students in distress. We encourage all faculty and staff to complete this 40-minute training designed to help you:

1. Recognize students experiencing high levels of distress
2. Respond to students and determine the need for referral
3. Refer the student to campus or local resources and services available

At-Risk will remain available online and can be revisited any number of times. The program is applicable to all UW-Madison faculty, staff, instructors, teaching assistants, and student leaders. Building capacity to respond to students in a helpful way is an evidence-based strategy that is an important part of a multi-faceted suicide prevention approach.

To access the At-Risk training program, please follow these instructions:
* Click Link:
* Click “Access Training”
* Fill out form using enrollment key: wisc608
* Note: No identifying information is linked with responses in the program.

Please share this information with colleagues. Completing this training and acting with the resulting knowledge will improve our campus climate around mental health and contribute to the success of your students. If you have questions, please contact Valerie Kowis at You can also visit the Umatter Suicide Prevention website at for more information.


Steven M. Cramer, PhD, PE
Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning and Professor

Danielle R. Oakley, PhD
Director, Mental Health Services and Clinical Professor