CALS Awards: CALS Equity and Diversity Award and Excellence in International Activities Award recipients

Continuing with our celebration of this year’s CALS Awards recipients, we are sharing information about the winners of the CALS Equity and Diversity Award and Excellence in International Activities Award this week.

What’s Eating My Plants

This year’s CALS Equity and Diversity Award went to members of the student group “What’s Eating My Plants,” also known as WEMP. WEMP is a student organization founded by graduate students in the plant pathology department with the goal of bridging the gap between the university and the greater Madison community.

Since its founding, WEMP’s mission has been to increase scientific accessibility and literacy for underserved K-12 students. They have created platforms for individuals from various backgrounds to come together, participate in meaningful discussions, and learn from one another, covering topics such as industrial use of genetically- modified organisms, Mayan farming practices and careers in agricultural sciences.

This has led to a heightened understanding of agricultural sciences and greater engagement with scientific diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives.

What sets this group apart is their intentional focus on promoting diversity within the group and their ability to collaborate with local K-12 schools, organizations and social media to maximize their impact. Their diverse membership provides a variety of perspectives, experiences, and ideas, resulting in innovative and impactful initiatives.

These partnerships have led to increased exposure for the events, projects, and content produced by WEMP, allowing their diversity to shine.

Victor E. Cabrera

The Excellence in International Activities Award recognizes an individual engaged in international research, instruction, outreach, program development or service. This year’s recipient is Victor Cabrera.

Victor is a Professor and Extension-funded faculty member in Dairy Management in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, with expertise in the development and delivery of data-driven decision tools to optimize dairy herd management, enhance animal health and improve the environmental sustainability of dairy farming.

Over the past fifteen years, Victor has achieved a great balance between serving Wisconsin’s animal agriculture industry and building upon the Wisconsin Idea by sharing his expertise with collaborators and partners around the world.

Victor has developed an international reputation as a leader in the incorporation of “big data” into daily management decisions. He is highly sought after as a speaker, and in the past five years, he has provided seminars, short courses, and other training sessions to audiences all around the world.

Victor’s most significant commitment to international activities has been in China where he became the director of the Nestle Dairy Farming Institute in early 2020. His courses, as well as those offered by others during his tenure as project leader, have impacted thousands of dairy farmers and allied industry personnel throughout China. Several of the graduate students who participated in the courses have since come to UW–Madison to further their graduate studies.