Office of the President
Posters in the Rotunda Remarks - April 22, 2009
Posters in the
President Kevin P. Reilly
April 22, 2009
- Good morning, everyone. I’m Kevin Reilly, President
of the University of Wisconsin System. It is my pleasure to welcome you
all to this year’s “Posters in the Rotunda: A Celebration of Undergraduate
Research.” This is the sixth annual “Posters”
event, and we are delighted to be joined again by members of the Board of
Regents, university leaders from around the state, legislators and their
staffs, and, of course, our students and faculty. I encourage everyone to
look around, ask questions … and be prepared to be impressed!
- This is one of those times when we get to toot
our horn a bit. We often talk about our universities as founts of creativity
and innovation, as places where new ideas are nurtured and explored. Here
today, we get to witness some of the fruits of this work, as we meet students
and their mentors, and see firsthand the exciting breadth and diversity of
the research projects being done at our UW institutions by motivated and
- Today’s celebration – and that’s an apt description – is
an opportunity for students and their faculty advisors to showcase their
research and how that work connects to real-world concerns like healthcare,
education, environmental sustainability, and many other critical issues.
- Particularly in challenging economic times such
as we’re now facing, academic research and development can be a shining,
inspiring example of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that is so
necessary for economic recovery, and the future growth of our communities,
state, and nation.
- As many of you probably know, our celebration
also happens to coincide with the annual observance of Earth Day. It’s an
appropriate convergence. Many of our UW students are doing research related
to creating a healthy, sustainable environment.
- From UW-Milwaukee, Ryan Goetz and Alyssa Hartson
have been looking at rooftops in a whole new way, doing research that evaluates
the feasibility of growing edible plants on urban green roofs. Amanda Liesch,
from UW-River Falls, is here presenting her research on the relationship
between earthworm survival and biochar, a derivative of biofuels that is
used to improve soil quality. From UW-Madison, Erin Conrad has been doing
research investigating the effect of inert ingredients on pesticide absorption.
- The scope of our students’ research
goes far beyond Earth Day, of course. There’s Joanne Ehrmantraut, from UW-Stout,
who is here presenting her research on the attitudes of teachers and others
toward inclusion of children with special needs in public elementary schools. From
UW-Whitewater, Naomi Szpot presents her research on Chippewa Treaty rights
in northern Wisconsin. And Ryan VandeYacht, from UW-Green Bay, has been
investigating the feasibility of connecting the Port of Green Bay to ocean
carriers providing global container service accessing the Great Lakes.
- While the practical applications of the research
you see here today may or may not impact you directly, academic research
in general benefits all of us. In fact, according to a recent report by
the Wisconsin Technology Council, academic research and development generates
$1.1 billion annually for our state’s economy. It also creates more than
38,000 jobs right here in Wisconsin. A vibrant research culture not only
supports existing Wisconsin businesses, but it can attract new high tech
industry, and create new business spin-offs as well.
- For our students, getting involved in undergraduate
research projects enriches their overall UW education. These students, armed
with creative, problem-solving skills, and backed up by hands-on experience,
will become the sought-after workers of tomorrow, whether they go on to careers
in research, or apply the skills and knowledge that they’ve gained to other
- If today’s celebration shows us anything, it
is that if we can give our students the right resources and support, UW System
undergraduates are capable of extraordinary things.
- At this time, I would like to thank two legislators
who are showing their support today by hosting our visit in the rotunda – Senator
Dan Kapanke and Representative Jennifer Shilling. Last week, they also hosted
the 23rd annual National Council on Undergraduate Research Conference,
which was held for the first time at UW-La Crosse. Thousands of undergraduate
researchers from more than 30 states participated in the event.
- Senator Kapanke, Representative Shilling, and
other legislators will be meeting personally with many of our students and
alumni today. I know that our Assembly members and Senators love to see
these bright, young, enthusiastic constituents. At the same time, our students
feel privileged to get a glimpse of their government at work.
- Speaking of bright young students, I would now like to hand the podium over to UW-La Crosse student Matthew Groshek. Matthew, a biology major, has been investigating the competition between Reed Canary grass and Silver Maple seedlings. His faculty mentor is Dr. Meredith Thomsen. Matthew…
- Thank you, Matthew.
- I am also very pleased to introduce Tim Murray, a 2002 graduate of UW-Platteville. For the past six years, Tim has been an electrical engineer working with UW-Madison’s IceCube project, an international project to construct a massive telescope at the South Pole, that will look for extremely high energy neutrinos that come from supernova explosions, gamma-ray bursts, black holes, and other extra-galactic events, and here I thought that all the extra-galactic events happened in this building!. Tim has made four trips to the South Pole with the project – so I think it’s probably safe to say that Wisconsin winters don’t faze him much. To tell us more, here’s Tim …
- Thank you, Tim.
- As we’ve just heard from Matthew and Tim, UW
students today are engaged in the kinds of exciting research that captures
the imagination, and holds real promise for shaping future advances in science.
- These student researchers embody the talent
and strong Wisconsin work ethic that can flourish with proper support and
prudent investments. We should all be excited about the bright futures they
have ahead of them, and hope those futures will lead each into thriving careers
here in our state.
- I would encourage everyone here today to spend
some time with these students and their faculty mentors. I think you’ll
find, as I have, that it’s an uplifting experience.
- Universities these days are asked to fill many
roles, but one of our primary goals has always been to arm our students with
the necessary knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to greet the future,
with all its unknown challenges, with confidence and optimism.
- This mission, this purpose, lies at the heart
of what happens in our classrooms and laboratories every day, in the formal
and informal discussions groups, and in the overall UW experience.
- As you walk around today and see the amazing
work that is being done at our institutions all across this state, please
think about how supporting the university can provide tremendous benefits
for all of us in Wisconsin, and how crucial an investment in the UW System
is to the future economic strength of our state.
- We look forward to working with Governor Doyle
and members of the state Legislature to make sure that higher education remains
accessible to all of Wisconsin’s residents, and that this university maintains
the high-quality academic performance for which it is known.
- Thanks again to all of you for being here, and
especially to those involved in preparing for this event.
I’d invite everyone to check out all the wonderful work that’s being done
at UW – and enjoy learning about it.
- Thanks for listening.