Students win three awards at research symposium

November 15, 2017
Group photo of student researchers
Jonathan Ley
Samantha Hoerner

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Six University of Wisconsin-Platteville students recently presented their undergraduate research at the fifth annual Riveredge Nature Center’s Student Research Symposium, “Connections in Nature,” held in Saukville, Wisconsin. Those in attendance included faculty, undergraduate students and graduate students from across the UW System as well as local experts and community members. The presentations were a huge success, with UW-Platteville students bringing home three out of the four undergraduate presentation awards, including Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation, Runner-up for Best Poster Presentation, and Runner-up for Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation.

Dr. Evan Larson, associate professor of geography at UW-Platteville, said he was proud of the students for doing an outstanding job both at the conference and through all of the efforts that led them to that point.

“Undergraduate research is a powerful teaching tool and helps students develop as thinkers, communicators and doers,” said Larson. “These students took ownership of ideas, developed them into projects and advanced how we understand our world to work. These experiences develop skill sets that boost competence, confidence and abilities with direct benefits to success in college, the workplace and life.”

Adam Donaldson, a senior geography major from Kronenwetter, Wisconsin, received Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation award for his presentation “Reading the Rings of Red Pine to Illuminate the Historical Fire Regime at the University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center.” Donaldson’s research, funded through a Pioneer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and a Lake States Fire Science Consortium internship, examined the fire history of Cloquet Forestry Center in Minnesota.

“When I received the award, I felt really excited,” said Donaldson. “I was pretty unsure of my presentation skills going in, but working with my professors and having the opportunity to practice presenting with the other students really improved my presentation. I enjoyed having the opportunity to share my research with a community of people who are involved in similar work. The research is important because my data suggest we need to reintegrate humans into our definition of wilderness.”

Greg Arther, a senior geography major from Spring Grove, Illinois, received a Runner-up award for his poster presentation “Exploring the Current and Future Potential Distributions of Four Lyme Disease Hosts.” Arther’s research examined the impacts of climate change on the distribution of Lyme’s disease host species.

Samantha Hoerner, a senior animal science major from Dubuque, Iowa, received a Runner-up for Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation award for her presentation “Screening for the Causative Agent of White-nose Syndrome on Summer Bat Populations in Southwest Wisconsin.” Hoerner’s research examined and analyzed new genetic samples for Pseudogymnoascus destructans, a fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats.

In addition to Donaldson, Arther and Hoerner, the following UW-Platteville students presented their research at the symposium:
• Jonathan Ley presented “Reconstructing Groundwater Variability in the Driftless Area Using Juniperus Virginiana.”
• Lindsay Neitzel and Maegan Mills presented “Influence of Water Column Stability on Zooplankton Assemblages in Lake Annie, Florida.”
• Jaidyn Hranicka presented “A Study of Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) and its Location in Different Soil, Cover, and Hydric Types Using GIS.”

UW-Platteville faculty advisors included Larson; Dr. Chris Underwood, assistant professor of geography; Dr. Lynnette Dornak, assistant professor of geography; Dr. Jeff Huebschman, professor of biology; and Dr. Becky Doyle-Morin, associate professor of biology.

View more information about the symposium online.


Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, University Relations Specialist, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


Subscribe to news at University of Wisconsin-Platteville using our RSS feed.