On Campus – On Wisconsin https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Thu, 20 Sep 2018 14:07:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Transforming Research https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/transforming-research/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/transforming-research/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:27 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23715 Blue, pink, and white painted rainbow

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The Trans Research Lab at UW–Madison is noteworthy for its specialized focus on health outcomes for transgender people. But for founder Stephanie Budge PhD’11, the lab is more than that: it’s an old promise made good.

As a PhD student, Budge interviewed a transgender man for her career-counseling course. After discussing his career path with her at a coffee shop, he told her, “I just spent a couple hours with you. Now you can do something for me — you need to make therapists better for trans people.”

“I took that ask very literally,” says Budge, now an associate professor of counseling psychology at the UW.

Budge’s lab, staffed by students and community members who volunteer their time or receive course credit, aims to fill a substantial gap in research on effective therapy for transgender individuals. The center recently completed a pilot study that documented one-on-one psychotherapy sessions for 20 transgender individuals. The preliminary results are promising: all participants said that they experienced positive change after the sessions.

Mental health outcomes for transgender people are staggeringly negative, underscoring the need for the lab’s work. Nearly 40 percent of respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey reported that they recently experienced serious psychological distress, often related to mistreatment or harassment. Two out of every five respondents also had attempted suicide in their lifetimes — nine times the rate of the general population.

A primary contributor to these outcomes, Budge says, is stress that is uniquely experienced by marginalized groups. It can come both externally — from discrimination, harassment, or rejection — and internally, with how one processes that mistreatment.

While the lab continues to analyze its results, Budge says the research — providing more than 200 hours of free therapy from culturally competent therapists — is already meaningful. “Maybe in a few years, if this is just the norm, it won’t feel like it’s that big of a deal,” she says. “But in this time and in this moment, it feels really poignant.”

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Reckoning with History https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/reckoning-with-history/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/reckoning-with-history/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:26 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23738 People walk past a decorative wall in the Memorial Union

Bryce Richter

Between 1919 and 1926, two UW student organizations took the name Ku Klux Klan, and a report delving into that era of campus history “does not make for comfortable reading, nor should it,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

In the wake of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last fall, Blank appointed a study group to research the organizations and their connection to the national KKK. She also asked members of the group, which included UW history professors, to advise her on how the university can respond to this painful history.

The group’s report, released in April, found that the campus community in the early 1920s did not question the presence of two organizations bearing the KKK name, including one that was affiliated with the national white supremacist group Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The report also detailed what Blank calls “shameful examples” of the UW community’s treatment of black and Jewish students and of Native Americans, who were excluded from the student body during that era.

“The history the UW needs to confront was not the aberrant work of a few individuals but a pervasive culture of racial and religious bigotry, casual and unexamined in its prevalence, in which exclusion and indignity were routine, sanctioned in the institution’s daily life, and unchallenged by its leaders,” the report says.

The study group also considered the question of renaming campus spaces. But members decided that, first and foremost, the university needs to take more substantive action to address the past and reinvest in institutional change. “We want our collective reckoning with this history to consist of a great deal more than the purging of unpleasant reminders,” the report says.

However, the Wisconsin Union Council, which governs Memorial Union, voted in August to change the names of the Porter Butts Art Gallery and the Fredric March Play Circle — named for the union’s first director and the Oscar-winning actor, respectively. Both men belonged to an interfraternity society that used the Ku Klux Klan name in the early 1920s but was not affiliated with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The surviving family members of Butts publicly supported the move, which council members said would allow the Union to fulfill its mission by being more welcoming to students of all backgrounds. Butts ’24, MA’36 worked for inclusivity later in his life, including his refusal to allow segregated groups to use Wisconsin Union spaces. And in the 1950s, March ’20 fought persecution of Hollywood artists, many of them Jewish, by the House Un-American Activities Committee. The Union council plans to acknowledge the professional achievements of Butts in another way at Memorial Union.

In response to the study group report, the UW has committed up to $1 million to research and install a public history project “that will document and share the voices of those on campus who endured, fought, and overcame prejudice” throughout its history, Blank says. The university will also fund a proposal to hire a new faculty member in four progams: Afro-American Studies, American Indian Studies, Chican@/Latin@ Studies, and Asian American Studies.

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New Money https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/new-money/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/new-money/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:10 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23697 A store window displays a sign that reads "Bitcoin accepted here"

Thamerpic/Istock

The first recorded purchase with Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, used 10,000 tokens to buy two pizzas in 2010. But today, the same 10,000 digital coins would buy hundreds of Lamborghinis.

Even though millions of people now use cryptocurrencies, there’s still much unknown — and much feared — about the volatile assets, says Brad Chandler, director of the business school’s Nicholas Center for Corporate Finance and Investment Banking. That’s one reason he’s launching a one-credit cryptocurrencies class this fall.

“I think cryptocurrency use has really rattled traditional financial institutions,” he says. “I came to the conclusion that our students needed to have some exposure to this to be ready for the workforce.”

One way that cryptocurrencies differ from traditional assets is how they’re traded. Dollar transactions are facilitated and tracked by centralized financial institutions, such as credit card companies or banks.

Cryptocurrencies instead work through a decentralized system. When a Bitcoin transaction occurs, the record is shared with everyone in the digital network and is added to a list of transactions called a block. New blocks are verified every 10 minutes by the first person in the network whose computer can solve the block’s equation. After verification, it’s added to the list of verified blocks called a blockchain.

This is what corporations are most interested in, according to Chandler: “blockchain, not Bitcoin.”

Chandler’s class will explore more than how cryptocurrency works. He wants students to examine different enterprise solutions companies could use to harness blockchain technology. For example, how could Walmart use blockchain to track product deliveries from factories to stores across the country?

“There’s no textbook on this subject. My biggest goal for the class, actually, is to engage [students] with new technologies that are undefined,” Chandler says. “If we wait until it’s all figured out, we will be left behind.”

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On the Mend https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/on-the-mend/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/on-the-mend/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:10 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23720 Ferguson the donkey is pictured wearing a prothetic leg

Bryce Richter

Ferguson the miniature donkey got a hand — actually a leg — from the School of Veterinary Medicine recently to replace a deformed hoof. The procedure was a first for the UW’s large animal hospital: amputation with a prosthesis is complex and rare for creatures such as horses or donkeys, who bear more weight in their front limbs. See more images.

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Campus Construction https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/campus-construction/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/campus-construction/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:09 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23718 Construction workers standing in a lift inspect second story windows on a campus building

Bryce Richter

Major projects are under way on the UW–Madison campus to remove bottlenecks for students who need access to chemistry classes to graduate, modernize campus dairy operations, and make more room for meat science teaching and research.

Chemistry building expansion and renovation

A new 10-level tower will house undergraduate instructional labs; renovations to the existing chemistry building will modernize teaching labs original to the 1964 building and add more classrooms, study spaces, and offices for undergraduate chemistry staff.

Babcock Dairy plant renovation/Center for Dairy Research addition

A three-story addition will bring the facility that produces ice cream and other products up to date with modern manufacturing practices, as well as provide a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility.

Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery building

The new meat research facility (pictured above) will include a demonstration suite, a biosecurity level 2 food safety lab, classrooms, office and support spaces, and a retail store featuring student-made food products.

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Deadly Cold https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/deadly-cold/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/deadly-cold/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:09 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23722 A chimpanzee sits among green leafy plants

Richard Wrangham

It wasn’t poachers or predators who killed some of the wild chimpanzees living in Uganda’s Kibale National Park — it was the common cold.

UW researchers made the startling discovery when investigating a 2013 outbreak of severe coughing and sneezing among a community of 56 chimps. Five of them died from the human cold virus known as rhinovirus C, including a two-year-old whose body was quickly recovered and autopsied after her death.

“It was surprising to find it in chimpanzees, and it was equally surprising that it could kill healthy chimpanzees outright,” says Tony Goldberg, a professor in the UW’s School of Veterinary Medicine who for years has worked in Uganda tracking viruses in animals. Goldberg was featured in the spring 2017 issue of On Wisconsin.

The findings, says Goldberg, are a cautionary tale about human interactions with wild apes. In Africa, people encounter chimpanzees and other apes when human settlements expand into habitats and when the animals leave the forests to raid crops.

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Calling All Docs https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/calling-all-docs/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/calling-all-docs/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:08 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23699 Photo of healthcare worker in scrubs holding a baby

Istock

More than one-third of Wisconsin’s 72 counties do not have an ob-gyn physician.

Through the development of its Rural Residency Program, UW–Madison’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is working to build up this workforce, says Jody Silva, program manager. The program, which is beginning its second year, is the nation’s first to offer specific resident training for rural women’s health.

The shortage, as documented in a 2014 report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is the result of several factors, such as rural hospitals closing obstetrics units and the number of retiring physicians outpacing the number of new physicians.

“Ultimately, what that means is a lot of rural women are having to drive really long distances just to seek [obstetric] care,” Silva says.

The department’s Rural Residency Program recruits residents with a commitment to rural communities and helps them gain the confidence they need to work in settings that typically do not have the same resources as urban and academic health centers.

The program offers a four-year training track and accepts one resident per year, with that resident spending about 20 percent of his or her time practicing in rural Wisconsin. Its inaugural resident, Laura McDowell MDx’21, was one of more than 100 applicants. She says her first year in the program has given her a realistic idea of what to expect while also affirming that she wants to work in a rural community.

“I feel really blessed and humbled to be the first one,” McDowell says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better residency match.”

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At the Movies https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/at-the-movies/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/at-the-movies/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:08 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23701 Crazy Rich Asians change representation on the big screen?]]> A scene from the movie "Crazy Rich Asians" where two women and a man wearing formal attire converse with one another

Q: It’s been 25 years since a majority Asian cast played on the big screen, with The Joy Luck Club. Will Crazy Rich Asians change Hollywood?

We probably won’t see another movie like this anytime soon, says Lori Kido Lopez, a UW associate professor of communication arts and an expert in Asian American media representation. Hollywood holds assumptions steeped in racism, she says, namely that mainstream audiences aren’t interested in Asian American stories. Because studios invest millions into movies up front, the industry tends to be risk averse and gravitates toward “safe options.”

When minority filmmakers move from independent cinema to the mainstream, they’re often forced to make compromises to appeal to white audiences, such as adding white characters or de-politicizing plotlines. In recent years, Asian Americans have used Twitter campaigns to spark a national conversation. For example, #whitewashedOUT criticized Hollywood for casting white actors in Asian roles. Lopez notes that Asian Americans have campaigned for greater representation for decades, and progress is slow. “The way the movie industry came to those assumptions is just something that’s so deeply baked into our culture that one movie is not going to shake it,” she says. “But this movie could be a stepping-stone for other big changes.”

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Agriculture by Air https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/agriculture-by-air/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/agriculture-by-air/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 14:24:42 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23064 Illustration of drone flying over farmland

John Miller

Right now, cranberry growers who suspect that pests have invaded their crop have two options: hunt around in the beds themselves, examining each individual plant, or spray the entire field and risk wasting costly resources.

But agricultural engineers at UW–Madison are trying to change that by experimenting with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, that could take a more comprehensive look at cranberry plants that might be infected.

They fitted a UAV with two special cameras that capture temperature and other information. Unhealthy plants exhibit signs of stress that the device can detect, including how leaves reflect light patterns.

Healthy plants are key for Wisconsin, which has 21,000 acres of cranberry marshes in 20 counties and grows more than half of all the cranberries in the world. Cranberry country lies east of the Wisconsin River, beginning at the Wisconsin Dells and stretching north.

The ultimate goal for Brian Luck, an assistant professor of biological systems engineering, and his research team is to use machine-learning technologies, much like facial recognition on Facebook, to predict what exactly is wrong with diseased plants. But for now, the research is in its primary stages as they collect baseline data in greenhouses and move out to cranberry beds this summer for real-world deployment.

As with any new technology, there are a few hurdles to clear before the practice can be widely implemented. Though UAVs are commercially available, the cost is high. And to fly one for commercial purposes, a farmer must be licensed through the Federal Aviation Administration.

Still, researchers say the potential benefits for farmers are exciting. “The more precise data you have on the field, the more precisely you can manage it, which can lead to more efficient and sustainable agriculture,” says Jessica Drewry PhD’17, a postdoctoral assistant on the project.

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Audio Philes https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/audio-philes/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/audio-philes/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 14:24:42 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23077 People seated in chairs face each and operate audio recording equipment

Sarah Morton

Four years ago, Jeremy Morris launched his podcast class at the UW — and the word podcast wasn’t even in the title of the communication arts course.

Then Serial debuted. The true-crime monster hit was part of a wave of new podcasts that turned the tide, to the point that last year, Nielsen reported a full 40 percent of the U.S. population — or 112 million people — had listened to a podcast.

Now, in the midst of the golden age of podcasts, the course has a new name — Sound Cultures: Podcasting and Music — and increased demand. Morris, an associate professor of media and cultural studies, exposes students to a wide variety of podcasts and gives them hands-on experience with manipulating audio.

“I like to remind them that the software is going to change,” says Morris, who produced a music podcast as a graduate student and recently received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to make podcasts easier for scholars and the public to research. “It’s more about understanding the role sound can play.”

From a first assignment of making a sound “playlist” of their day to the final project creating a pilot episode of a new podcast, Morris hopes students critically analyze how sound constructs their everyday lives and the ways it is linked to issues of age, race, class, gender, history, and culture.

“I want students to think about why they hear what they hear,” he says. “Sounds aren’t as universal as we think they are.”

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