Friday Features - Aug. 4, 2017

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Friday Features
August 4, 2017

Chemistry camp introduces young minds to undergraduate research

Chemistry CampDuring the week of July 23-28, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s first Chemistry Summer Research Program hosted 15 students from high schools in Platteville, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the noble network in Chicago, Illinois. This weeklong camp introduced high school students to the value of undergraduate research in chemistry. The students took classes, attended the poster session at the Wisconsin Science and Technology Symposium, held review sessions and explored the UW-Platteville campus. The students presented their research and experiences from the week at the closing ceremony on Friday.

Dr. Chanaka Mendis, professor of chemistry and acting assistant provost of academic planning, said the main motivation behind the program was “to provide opportunities in chemistry for area students; attract quality students to campus; and to showcase our talented faculty, program and state-of-the art instruments and projects.”

Mendis measures the success of the program by the fact that they “attracted 15 students from the tri-state area” and he has “already heard that at least two or three are interested in coming to UW-Platteville and a couple of others will be thinking about coming here, as well.”

The camp allowed the high school students to learn best practices for experiments in lab, share what they learned with their peers and gain some insight into college life. Lucy Tian, a high school student from Platteville, said she learned that “chemistry isn’t just sitting in a classroom or lab. It’s learning how to apply it to real life.” Tian also said this week gave her a “broader mindset about the sciences.”

“This week was an adventure,” Mattie Tejeda, a high school student from Chicago, said. “I got to meet new people and experience college. I really enjoyed the labs. High school experiments are fun, but college experiments are more fun because we got to work with more advanced materials.” Tejeda said that she is now considering majoring in chemistry.

Counselors Jamison Tibbets, junior chemistry major and math minor, and Rachel Eckmann, junior chemistry major and forensic investigation minor, spent the entire week with the high school students. Tibbets and Eckmann served as resident assistants, tour guides, lab assistants and mentors for the students.

Aside from helping the high school students, Tibbets and Eckmann both had personal gains from the camp. Tibbets said, “As a prospective Ph.D. student who wants to teach college, this week allowed me to experience sharing advice on college and undergraduate research.” Eckmann said, “In addition to sharing my tips directly related to chemistry and STEM research, I was able to pass on advice related to time management and teamwork and the importance of those two ideas in college.”

The faculty and staff involved in the camp include Dr. June Li, camp director and instructor; Jessica Munz, camp coordinator; Dr. Raja Annamalai, instructor; Dr. Brian Barry, instructor; and Dr. Mohammad Rabbani, instructor.

UW-Platteville recognized for top online Master’s in Project Management

TheBestColleges ranked the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Online in the Top 20 Project Management online degree programs for 2017. According to the higher education information website, online master’s degree programs in project management provide individuals the opportunity to increase their earning potential and open the door for jobs in a high-growth market, and the top project management institutions across the country included in its list offer high-quality programs to meet students’ needs.

“Our program is honored to be ranked among the top online master’s degrees in project management,” Bill Haskins, program coordinator for the UW-Platteville Master of Science in Project Management, said. “We strive for excellence in the full range of knowledge and skills that relate to project success, and we are grateful to be recognized for our successful efforts.”

Individuals with a master’s in project management are well-equipped to lead teams by communicating tasks and goals effectively. Although project managers can be found in any organization, they are most common in industries that include construction, engineering architecture, information technology, and telecommunications.

According to the Project Management Institute’s Growth Forecast, there will be an estimated 12 percent rise in demand for project managers, totaling more than six million available jobs by 2020. Graduates with a master’s in project management can expect a positive job outlook and competitive salary. The median salary for a project manager with a master’s degree is $113,000.

Highway Technician Certification Program co-hosts workshop

Conference CenterLast week, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Highway Technician Certification Program co-hosted the Multi-Regional Training and Certification workshop at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa. This annual, two-day workshop is a time for state materials training and certification programs to come together and receive updates from Federal Highway, M-TRAC partners and other networking cohorts while discussing what is or isn’t working for the programs. Of 13 states included in the training and certification program, eight were in attendance at the workshop. This includes Iowa, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Kansas and Wisconsin.

“This is a valuable networking workshop for our very unique programs,” Jodi Pluemer, director of UW-Platteville’s HTCP, said.

M-TRAC is one of five regional training partnerships working through the Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council to help train a qualified workforce to maintain and rehabilitate the nation's aging roads and bridges. Since 1991, UW-Platteville’s HTCP has certified that one has demonstrated abilities to engage in quality control or quality assurance activities in highway work contracted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Isbister presents research at international conference

Dr. Dong Isbister, assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, recently presented her research on environmental humanities and transnational feminism at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment’s 12th biennial conference, “Rust/Resistance: Works of Recovery,” held at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She will incorporate the research into her teaching this fall and spring.

The conference drew scholars, writers, activists, humanists, publishers, artists and graduate students representing many countries from all continents, offering approximately 177 panels on a range of topics in environmental humanities as well as seminars, workshops, keynotes and opportunities to participate in service learning field trips at businesses and organizations in the Detroit area.

Isbister organized and co-chaired one of the panels, “Creative Resistance: Ethnic Minority Women and Ecomemory in China’s Environmental Literature,” at which she presented her paper, “Re/membering the Fallen Sacred Birch Tree: Ecological Destruction and Resistance in Dawur Environmental Literature.”

Interested in various ways in which creative writings of ethnic minority women writers in China are used to complicate the interconnectedness of nature, ethnic identity, and gender, Isbister did a case analysis of a Dawur woman writer’s short story in the context of burial rituals and discussed the impacts and implications of ecological destruction and sustenance of ethnic minority groups. 

In addition, Isbister co-authored a pre-conference seminar paper, “Transindigenous Ecocriticism in the Making: Literary Imagination and Praxis of Decoloniality and Ecoethnography.” The seminar, “Intersections of Environmental Humanities and Indigenous Studies,” sought to advance discussion of the intersections between Indigenous studies and ecocriticism. She also did a three-hour, service learning in the Forgotten Harvest’s repacking facility in Oak Park, Michigan.

Isbister said that the conference enabled her to present her research, interact with peers from other countries, stay informed in cutting-edge research and the direction in the field and learn about local communities and their efforts to build healthy relationships among people and within the environment.

“The scope and depth of the seminars and panels on environmental humanities and various relationships on the earth as well as real-time interaction with local communities are beyond words,” said Isbister. “I not only shared my research, but also felt enlightened and encouraged. I developed so many teaching points and ideas by listening to the presentations and talking with conference attendees from different institutions and organizations in the world. The conference will have a long-lasting impact on my research, teaching and engagement in service learning.”

Isbister said that scholarship not only informs her teaching, it is also a fundamental component of personal and professional success in her life.

“Scholarship, in general, helps me generate new ideas and develop a deeper vision and understanding of the nature of teaching and reflect on my own teaching goals and objectives,” said Isbister. “It allows me to take time to synthesize information, think through readings and consider my own intellectual journey. It also allows me to engage in critical dialogues with my peers, explore viable connections between research and teaching and integrate specific areas of interest and disciplines into my course design and instructional activities, which helps students expand their knowledge and worldview.”


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