UW-Platteville students recognized at Research in the Rotunda

Written by Ruth Wendlandt on |

University of Wisconsin-Platteville undergraduate researchers filled the state Capitol showcasing their projects at the 18th annual Research in the Rotunda held on Wednesday. Seven research teams from UW-Platteville and UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County presented their findings to lawmakers, state leaders, alumni and the public. Nearly 150 students from across the UW System participated in the event.  

“Thank you to the faculty,” said Rose Smyrski, vice chancellor for University Relations and chief of staff, External Relations. “Thank you so much for working with these students and for creating this opportunity. If it wasn’t for you and your dedication, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Students expressed their excitement with their return to the Capitol after last year’s event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s cool to show off what we have been working on and to see all the other projects from the universities and the other groups at UW-Platteville,” said Dane Adams, a junior mechanical engineering major from Baldwin, Wisconsin. “I’m excited to show off what UW-Platteville has to offer to our representatives and to show them how great of a campus we are.”

Group members of the “Plastic Management and a New Life” research team highlighted the importance of sustainability and working with recycled materials. Their research is focused on creating simple and affordable machines – that anyone can build – to increase recyclability. This includes a shredder, injection molder, sheet press and vacuum former.

“Sustainability is the future,” said Sydney Singer, a sophomore engineering physics major from Roscoe, Illinois. “A lot of one-time plastic is being used not only on our campus, but also across the United States and world. We aim to reduce the amount of plastic that’s ending up in landfills. It’s going to be a big problem. We need to work on it now, turning plastic into other things and reusing it.”

“I enjoy this research and it’s important,” added Olivia Schweiger, a sophomore, mechanical engineering major from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. “We have worked so hard on it. Sharing the information with everyone can help other people take inspiration from it and with sustainability in America.”

Katelyn Zajicek, a sophomore, business administration major at UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County, who is from Portage, Wisconsin, is working with entrepreneurs in Columbia and Sauk counties. She is researching the question, “How Will Small Hometown Businesses Survive the Age of Technology?” 

“My biggest takeaway is the passion that these people have. They are doing what they do because it’s what they love,” she said. “They need somebody to come in and help connect all of them so that they can help each other succeed as one big industry rather than individual businesses.”

Zajicek emphasized how small businesses are an essential part of all communities. 

“We need to do something,” she said. “Even if we find different ways to do it. If we connect these businesses together and give them the resources, they need to connect online and be able to make those deliveries themselves like other big companies; they will succeed.”

Throughout the day, students discussed the importance of how their research can impact other parts of the state, country and world. S. Blossom Ramos and Grace Trenkamp, two members of the research project titled, “Groundwater Access Impacts Tree Productivity in the Central Sands of Wisconsin,” explained how their materials go beyond their field work in central Wisconsin. 

“What happens in our project area in the Central Sands is true for the whole state,” said Ramos. “When it comes to the world everything depends on water management.”

Trenkamp recognized the resources the team is able to use on campus to examine their data.

“I hope [the public] can see how the new Boebel Hall renovations and TREES Lab can produce a product of research that can impact the entire world, not just the sites we looked at,” she said. “They can understand that groundwater affects the entire ecosystem.”   

Students shared the importance of having the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research and the platform to present in Madison.

“I have never done anything like this before. It’s really cool,” said Natalie Hayes, a senior chemistry major. “UW-Platteville does a lot of undergraduate research and has a long history of presenting at Research in the Rotunda. It’s important to keep it going and show the UW System that it’s important for students’ work to be shown.”  

For more information about the student presenters and their research projects, visit the individual links below.

2022 Research Projects:

Carbon Nanotube Electronics

Characteristics of Bentonite Barriers Under Varying Temperatures and Chemical Conditions

Energy Harvesting with Advanced Materials

Groundwater Access Impacts Tree Productivity in the Central Sands of Wisconsin

Plastic Management and a New Life

Turning on the Light: Developing Next Generation Agrochemicals via Organic Photochemistry

How Will Small Hometown Businesses Survive the Age of Technology?

Mussel Populations and Habitat Suitability in Southwest Wisconsin

Evaluation of Filter Media for Phosphorous Removal Systems