HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents

HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
Fall 2020

                                            Crises and

                                                                                             University Communications


Contents   4   	Student Research
                 During the Pandemic   8   	 Beyond Weather
                                                                14   	 Urban Wildlife
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
From the Director                            We communicated with students and
                                             faculty instructors throughout summer
                                                                                           crisis. We need to do better, we need
                                                                                           to work harder at creating equality and
                                             as the university poured resources into       justice, we can do better—as individuals,
                                             preparing for fall, devising safe modes       as educational institutions, as a society.
                                             for in-person teaching, and helping           I find support for that confidence in
                                             instructors to develop remotely taught        the ongoing engagement with social
                                             courses—many of them including                justice by so many Honors students,
                                             real-time virtual meetings and discus-        be it in leadership projects that benefit
                                             sions—that maintained pedagogical best        underserved community members or in
                                             practices and intellectual rigor.             research and outreach, investigating and
                                                  Honors shifted research gatherings       fighting bias and prejudice.
                                             to virtual modes and relied on faculty             How do we create community
                                             mentors to find different and safe            among Honors students while it’s
                                             ways for students to work on research         unsafe to bring groups together in
                                             projects (see the articles on Green           person? While we’ve had to give up
                                             Sheets and Summer Apprenticeships             our traditional large first-year gather-
                                             in this newsletter). Honors students          ings, we have instituted a new series
                                             have continued to engage in ambitious         of “Honors Student Faculty Connec-
                                             projects, many of them in the fields of       tion” virtual chats: every week this fall
                                             health care, medical innovation, social       at least one or two of my renowned
                                             justice, and technical innovation, all        faculty colleagues are meeting (virtu-
Greetings from Madison, and I hope           intended to improve lives and help us         ally) with small groups of Honors
you are well and healthy; words that         confront current challenges and crises.       freshmen to talk about their research,
have lost the casualness with which we       A partial list of projects is included in     their career trajectory, and their lived
used to utter them before the arrival        this newsletter.                              experience, to answer questions and
of COVID-19. As I write, the sunny                We shared graduating seniors’            share advice for success.
warm fall weather and gorgeous fall          and their families’ disappointment                 In all of this, our students have
colors outside belie the dramatic and        when they had to find new ways of             shown an amazing degree of fortitude,
distressing events of this year. Upheavals   celebrating, since the large gather-          adaptability, and resilience. UW–
have affected each and every one of us       ings that usually are such a big part         Madison has pulled together, everyone
and created turmoil in our students’         of Commencement festivities were              fully committed to making it possible
lives and those of their families. In        impossible this year. Technology has          for this university to keep doing what
March, campus responded to the very          been essential and helpful in all aspects     it does so well: educate students, open
real danger of COVID-19 by transi-           of how we carry on, but you prob-             intellectual and career doors, offer
tioning quickly and efficiently to remote    ably share my sense that the situation        leadership opportunities, and enable
teaching and operations, which was           has given all of us a new appreciation        research and collaborations that will
then extended through the end of the         for the human ties that connect us to         help address the current challenges.
semester and into summer. In spring,         each other. As our customary ways of          I hope you will enjoy reading about
I was teaching an in-person, high-           interacting and socializing have been         current students’ experiences. Please
interaction course in German theater         upended, there’s so much to everyday          know that we are grateful for your
practice. I was faced with the chal-         experience that we can no longer take         continuing support and cherish the
lenge of converting our live discussion,     for granted.                                  enduring Badger connection to you,
rehearsal, and performance meetings               Beyond our anxieties about health,       our alumni and friends! Warmest well-
to a “synchronous remote” format via         the economy, and an uncertain future,         wishes, and On, Wisconsin!
screen. For the most part, the transi-       we have had to grapple with appalling
tion worked surprisingly well, thanks to     acts of violence against Black, Indig-
students’ flexibility and engagement.        enous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
     After holding advising meetings         in recent months. Increasing awareness
virtually over the last half of the spring   of the deeply systemic nature of racial
semester, the Honors Advising Team           bias and injustice has led to a sense of      Sabine Gross
welcomed more than 400 new students          urgency to act for a better future: this is   L&S Honors Program Director and
to UW–Madison via virtual orientation.       among the positives to emerge from this       Professor of German

2 FALL 2020
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
Fall 2020 Message from the Dean                                                                          Staff
                                                                                                         Faculty Director

                                                                                     Paulius Musteikis
                                                                                                         Sabine Gross
                                                                                                         Associate Director of
                                                                                                         Admissions and Research
                                                                                                         Matt Kohlstedt
                                                                                                         Associate Director of Advising and
                                                                                                         Sara Stephenson
                                                                                                         Academic Advisors
                                                                                                         Lisa Blum
                                                                                                         Christine Evans
                                                                                                         Peter Keys
                                                                                                         Program Administrator
                                                                                                         Erin Warner
                                                                                                         Speech Team Coach
                                                                                                         AJ Carver
In June, I was honored to assume the     L&S. I intend to support and elevate                            Office Assistants
role of Dean of the College of Letters   research opportunities for faculty, grad-                       Emma Langer
& Science, during one of the most        uate students, and undergraduates. The                          Barb Rasmussen
challenging times in my 25 years at      knowledge that we take for granted
UW–Madison. As we wrestle with a         today is based on curiosity-driven                              Find us on Facebook
global pandemic, social unrest, and      scholarship and creativity that started                         go.wisc.edu/LSHonorsFacebook
economic turmoil all at once, I am       decades ago. Now, more than ever, we
                                                                                                         Washburn Observatory
reminded of what makes a Letters &       need to feed that intellectual flame. We                        1401 Observatory Drive
Science education so timelessly impor-   need those big-picture thinkers to help                         Madison, WI 53706–1209
tant. The values we teach—compassion,    us solve complex problems and expand
intellectual curiosity, tolerance, and   the horizons of what we know.
resilience—prepare our students not           By the time you read this, if all                          honors@honors.ls.wisc.edu
only to flourish in good times, but to   goes as planned, the fall semester will                         www.honors.ls.wisc.edu
learn, grow, and change during periods   be well underway, with a mix of remote
of challenge and hardship.               learning and in-person courses, as well                         University Marketing
     Hard times—particularly times       as comprehensive protocols for keeping
                                                                                                         Cover photo
of protest—often bring about change.     everyone safe. The year ahead will
                                                                                                         Comet NEOWISE passed overhead
That’s overdue here at UW–Madison,       not be easy, but we will not lose heart.
                                                                                                         in the night sky in Cross Plains in July.
where many of our students of color      We will dig in—because that’s what                              UW–Madison’s Pine Bluff Observatory
have, for far too long, experienced a    Badgers do.                                                     is located in Cross Plains, but the comet
UW that feels less welcoming to them.         Thank you for all you do to                                was actually visible to the naked eye.
We pride ourselves on the world-class    support L&S. It means the world to us.
experience offered to our students,                                                                      The Honors Challenge is the alumni and
preparing them for positions of          On, Wisconsin!                                                  friends newsletter of the L&S Honors
leadership and illuminating their path                                                                   Program, and is produced using gifts
forward. A key leadership priority for                                                                   from alumni and friends.
me is creating an inclusive environ-                                                                     © 2020 The Board of Regents of the University of
ment where all students can feel at                                                                      Wisconsin System.

home and thrive.
     Another priority is research. We                                                                    The University of Wisconsin–Madison is an
                                         Eric M. Wilcots
                                                                                                         equal-opportunity and affirmative-action educator
are an “R1” (preeminent) research        Dean of the College of Letters                                  and employer. We promote excellence through
institution, and much of this ground-    & Science and Mary C. Jacoby                                    diversity in all programs.

breaking work happens right here in      Professor of Astronomy

                                                                                                         THE HONORS CHALLENGE                                3
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
Honors Students Conduct
Research During the Pandemic

Students Adapt                               candidate Ellen Hickman (x’21)
                                             analyzed Bong Joon-Ho’s 2019
                                                                                                            through the Chazen. Ben Sevart
                                                                                                            (Comprehensive Honors, x’22), found
Green Sheet Projects                         film Parasite and recorded a podcast                           that the increased availability of digital

During Disrupted                             interview about the film from the
                                             perspectives of theorists Marx, Weber,
                                                                                                            resources this spring actually aided
                                                                                                            his research, an analysis of two novels
Semester                                     and Tocqueville for her Classical
                                             Sociological Theory course. Rather
                                                                                                            by contemporary Indian author U.R.
                                                                                                            Ananthamurthy. Ben submitted presen-
By Christine Evans                           than visiting the physical Chazen                              tation slides to a virtual version of the
                                             Museum of Art in Madison, Greta                                Undergraduate Research Symposium

E    ach semester, several dozen             Schwiesow (Honors in the Liberal Arts,                         and did a live video presentation for
     Honors students design a project        x’22) visited the museum’s website and                         his classmates; he is now in the process
for one of their courses and submit a        virtual gallery. Fortunately, Greta still                      of submitting his work for publication.
proposal to the L&S Honors Program           had access to supplies and space to                            For everyone, meetings with profes-
to earn Honors credit for that                                                                                  sors and presentations were held via
experience. Named after the orig-                                                                               video-conferencing tools like Teams

                                                                                          Greta Schwiesow
inal color of the proposal forms,                                                                               and Blackboard Collaborate.
the “Green Sheet” process enables                                                                                 Sam Wood (Honors in the Liberal
students to collaborate with                                                                                    Arts, x’22) shared that his Green
their professors and expand their                                                                               Sheet project seemed even more
learning in a course for which no                                                                               worthwhile than it would have
Honors credit is regularly avail-                                                                               been in a regular semester. Sam and
able. Project topics for the Spring                                                                             Robert Mathieu, Albert E. Whitford
2020 semester ranged from the                                                                                   Professor of Astronomy, met for
evolution of circadian rhythms to                                                                               about an hour after class every two
contemporary impacts of anti-trust                                                                              weeks to discuss the materials Sam
regulation and disparities in health                                                                            had prepared, which ranged from
care for bisexual women of color.                                                                               historic works like Kepler's novel
     The Spring 2020 deadline for                                                                               Somnium to the original Star Trek
Green Sheet proposals fell two                                                                                  television show. In Sam’s words, “I
days after Chancellor Rebecca                                                                                   really appreciated the one-on‐one
Blank announced that face-to-face                                                                               interaction that the Green Sheet
instruction would be suspended                                                                                  provided during this time of such
following spring break and one                                                                                  separation. Meeting with Professor
day after Governor Evers declared                                                                               Mathieu throughout the change
a public-health emergency in                                                                                    from in-person to online allowed
Wisconsin due to COVID-19.            Oil painting on canvas by Greta Schwiesow (2020).
                                                                                                                me to stay connected and engaged
Given the uncertainty of the                                                                                in a very unique way, not only academi-
coming weeks, students completing                                                                           cally but personally.” At the end of the
Green Sheet projects and their profes-       produce the oil painting portion of her                        semester, Professor Mathieu invited
sors were encouraged to be flexible          project as intended. Her piece, a visual                       all students in Astronomy 140 to Sam’s
and adapt projects in response to the        representation of redlining, reflects her                      informal but informative virtual lecture,
new situation.                               research on housing discrimination in                          entitled "Looking Back to Look
     Many projects could transition          Milwaukee since the mid-twentieth                              Forward: The Implications of History
online with little modification. For         century, and she embraced the style                            and Pop Culture in the Search for
example, Comprehensive Honors                and technique of a piece she discovered                        Intelligent Life.”

4 FALL 2020
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
For several students’ Green Sheet      connect to health care. She had planned         something about what this crisis means
plans, COVID-19 and its impacts were        to research exhibits and objects from           for us as a society or how and why it’s
more disruptive. The ability to attend      the special collections of Ebling Health        unfolding the way it is.”
talks at a professional conference or       Sciences Library and explore how                     The Green Sheet experience regu-
volunteer at the Henry Vilas Zoo had        literature and art influence how society        larly fosters deeper interaction with
vanished. When possible, however,           thinks about topics in medicine. After          course material and ideas. In Spring
Honors students adjusted their proj-        the Ebling Library closed in March,             2020, the experience also required
ects to lean into the moment they           she and her instructor, Dr. Colin Gillis,       adapting plans to rapidly changing
found themselves in. Megan Johnston         revised the plan: Megan would write             conditions and finding alternative ways
(Honors in the Liberal Arts, ’20) had       about the developments with COVID-              to meet one’s goals. Honors students
always intended for her project in a        19, incorporating five or six artifacts         responded to these challenges with
Literature and Medicine course to           that, as Megan explained, “crystallize          grace and an eagerness to learn.

Honors Summer
Apprentices Meet
By Honors graduate Emma Langer

O     n July 24, twenty-two Honors
      Summer Research Appren-
tices gathered virtually to share their
summer research projects with their
peers. While Apprentices tradition-
ally assemble in July for a retreat in         Upper Left: Vivian Phan, Upper Right: Brandon Dawning, Lower Left: Tristan Argall,
the beautiful driftless area to the west       Lower Right: Aishwarya Bangalore Sunil

of Madison, the new format proved           research being conducted at                     explained how she had been working
to be a well-received adaptation to         UW–Madison.                                     more on literature review and data
the current circumstances. Unlike the             Adaptability, a skill we are all          analysis, so that “once fully present in
all-day retreat with longer presenta-       learning amidst a global pandemic,              lab in the fall” she may “conduct her
tions and concurrent panels, the virtual    was in evidence in every aspect of              experiments and test her hypotheses.”
symposium allowed apprentices and           the virtual Research Apprentice                 Despite less than ideal conditions,
mentors to join remotely and hear           symposium. Some students acknowl-               Research Apprentices took the oppor-
short “flash talks” about the fascinating   edged changes in their research that            tunity to participate in other aspects of
undergraduate research. Screen-sharing      occurred due to COVID-19. Shuyi                 the research process, staying safe yet
via the virtual meeting platform Webex      Zhang, presenting his research on               engaged.
allowed students to explain their topics    Polydicyclopentadiene Thermoset                      Bringing together students and
using visual aids. Groupings this year      Material, stated he “can’t actually be          faculty by way of research is integral to
followed guiding themes, including          in the lab, so [his] study has shifted a        the Honors Program and something
chemical and mathematical analytics,        little bit to focus more on the topic           not lost despite uncertain circum-
medical microbiology and entomology,        in general rather than specifics.” Like         stances—circumstances that required
environmental studies and conserva-         Shuyi, many Apprentices circumnavi-             flexibility of students, staff, and faculty.
tion, behavioral studies and disorders,     gated roadblocks and took a spin on             Together we navigated uncertainty and
human pathology, and language and           traditional laboratory research, often          explored new modes of conducting and
communication. Honors students were         stepping back to reveal a bigger picture.       presenting research that may extend to
engaged and excited to both present         Others emphasized the long-term                 a post-pandemic world.
and learn about other groundbreaking        plans for their research. Amy Yadev

                                                                                                THE HONORS CHALLENGE                  5
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
In summer 2020, Honors students received Honors funding
   for the following Senior Honors Thesis Research projects:
   •   Swedish Neutrality during the Second World                 •   Identification of Phagocytizing Myeloid Cells in
       War: The Writings of Stig Dagerman and Eyvind                  Central Nervous System Tuberculosis
                                                                  •   High-Energy Gamma Ray Astronomy with the
   •   How Does Modern Life Affect Memory Retrieval?                  Prototype Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope
   •   Behavioral Differences between Video Game                  •   Music, Meaning and Disintegration: Exploring the
       Addicts and Non-Addicted Video Game Players                    Power of Musical Sound
   •   For Freedom and Democracy? American Post-                  •   Infectious-Disease Response: A Century in Review
       WWII Global Interventionism and Modern Impacts
                                                                  •   Explainable Machine Learning (XAI) Algorithms for
   •   The Battle of the Bodies: Investigating the Erotic             Day Trading in the Stock Market
       and the Ideal Body in Italian Renaissance Art
                                                                  •   From UNEEM to Nous Pas Bouger: Mali’s Youth
   •   Identity Construction and Maintenance Among                    as a Force of Change
       Transnational Adoptees: Creating One World Out
                                                                  •   Interactions Between Categorical Representations
       of Two
                                                                      and Physical Knowledge
   •   Xenophobic Policies in the Name of Gratitude:
                                                                  •   Bolstering the US-India Strategic Partnership:
       Refugee Experiences with the German and Austrian
                                                                      Insight from France, Israel, and Russia
                                                                  •   Grapheme-Phoneme Predictability: A Targeted
   •   Effect of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expan-
                                                                      Approach to Phonics
       sion on Health-Care Expenditures for Low-Income

   DECEMBER 2019: The Honors Winter Commencement (before COVID-19 struck) was a relaxed yet festive celebration held in Wash-
   burn Observatory. L&S Dean Eric Wilcots chats with graduates and family members after addressing remarks to the group.

6 FALL 2020
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
May 2020 Distinguished Honors Faculty Awards
E    very year, we invite Honors
     students to nominate faculty
who have had a special impact as
                                           WILLIAM BEMENT
                                           Professor of Integrative Biology
                                           “Professor Bement made a topic that I didn’t think I would
teachers of Honors courses, as supervi-    enjoy very fun by being super upbeat and engaging. He
sors of Honors theses, or as teachers      deeply cared about all of the students and is very friendly
and mentors of Honors students for         and approachable!”
the Distinguished Honors Faculty
Award. The Honors Faculty Advi-
                                           KAREN BRITLAND
sory Committee selects the most
                                           Professor of English
outstanding nominees for the
                                           “I am not one to fill out forms like this, but Professor
award. With the March 2020 shift
                                           Britland is truly deserving of recognition. She is kind-
to remote instruction made neces-
                                           hearted, compassionate, and absolutely hilarious.”
sary by COVID-19 and the resulting
changes and challenges, we expected
fewer nominations this year. We were
wrong—in the midst of upheaval, more       SHUCHI CHAWLA
than thirty Honors students took the       Professor of Computer Sciences
time to nominate faculty instructors       “Professor Chawla has been an amazing academic advisor
and mentors for an Honors Distin-          for me. She has been there to guide me every step of the
guished Faculty Award in eloquent          way. Professor Chawla excels at helping students and I
testimonials, expressing appreciation      would never be where I am today without her help.”
and gratitude for the engagement
of faculty in the Letters & Science
                                           SONG GAO
Honors Program. In May 2020, the
                                           Professor of Geography
Faculty Honors Committee conferred
                                           “Professor Gao is hands-down the most caring and
Distinguished Honors Faculty status on
                                           passionate professor I have had. Over the two years I spent
six outstanding faculty colleagues and
                                           in his courses, he did not treat me differently compared to
an additional “Honorable Mention” for
                                           his graduate students. Rather, he encouraged me to share
five more colleagues. (A list of Distin-
                                           my ideas and to have critical discussions with all his students
guished Honors Faculty, including
                                           in and out of class.”
awardees of years past, can be found
on the L&S Honors website in the
“About” tab at honors.ls.wisc.edu/         PATRICK IBER
distinguished-honors-faculty-award.)       Professor of History
                                           “Professor Patrick Iber taught me the importance of chal-
                                           lenging my personal beliefs and worldview through rigorous
Distinguished Honors Faculty               debate and understanding of new perspectives. While
Honorable Mention 2020:                    initially taking his class to fulfill the geography breadth
                                           requirement in pursuit of a degree in history, my experience
STEVEN BROOKE, Political Science           with Professor Iber quickly became hugely impactful.”
                                           MARIO ORTIZ ROBLES
DAN KAPUST, Political Science
                                           Professor of English
JONATHAN MARTIN, Atmospheric               “I have been surprised at every turn how supportive and
and Oceanic Sciences                       willing Professor Ortiz Robles is to help me with my proj-
STEVE NADLER, Philosophy                   ects. He has truly gone above and beyond to improve my
                                           undergraduate experience. He is deserving of this honor and
YURI SAALMAN, Psychology
                                           many others.”

                                                                    THE HONORS CHALLENGE                 7
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
Beyond Weather                                                                        responsible for one week’s discussion
                                                                                      topic in the broad category of ‘Science
                                                                                      in the News.’ Importantly, science can

H      ow do you take your knowledge       Public Radio, they answer an amazing       mean physical, mathematical, natural,
       of weather and climate beyond       array of questions about the weather       social, or biological sciences.” The
the level of the daily weather forecast?   and its phenomena posed by members         student in charge selects readings in
If you’re a UW–Madison student,            of the public.                             advance, delivers an opening state-
you have the opportunity to enroll              Martin’s syllabus for AOS 101         ment and an outline for the discussion,
in Jonathan Martin’s Atmospheric           promises “we will end up speaking          which they then moderate. Martin
and Oceanic Sciences 101: Weather          intelligently about fascinating and        provides initial guidance, including
and Climate. For the past two years,       dazzling entities like cyclones, severe    tips on public speaking, and describes
this course has included a discussion      weather, and hurricanes.” The course       his own role for the remainder of
section for Honors students led by         has always been popular with Honors        the semester as follows: “I keep track
Professor Martin himself. Martin has       (and non-Honors) students. Being able      of who is participating and almost
been a faculty member in the Depart-       to earn Honors credit by enrolling for     always say nothing so as to encourage
ment of Atmospheric and Oceanic            weekly meetings with Martin makes it       completely free exchange among the
Sciences for 27 years. His enthusiasm      even better.                               Honors students themselves.” He is
about the weather is infectious: he is          Unlike some faculty members,          pleased with the result: “What happens,
apt to mention “its phenomenological       Martin is not fazed by the fact that       seemingly magically, is that the conver-
beauty and its physical elegance” and      many students take his course to fulfill   sation takes on a life of its own and is
the ways in which “the atmosphere          a science requirement rather than          informed by the various interests and
influences almost every facet of our       pre-existing interest in the topic. He     developing expertise of the students.”
lives.” For more than 20 years, Martin     appreciates “the reality that almost            Students second his enthusiasm,
has also teamed up with his colleague      none of my students in AOS 101 are         as noted by a participant in Martin’s
Steve Ackerman as the “Weather             as interested in the weather as I was      Spring 2020 Honors section, “Over
Guys.” In their weekly column in the       at their age,” which has led him to        the semester, we have discussed reus-
Wisconsin State Journal (also as a blog    devise a unique format for his Honors      able batteries, philosophy questions
at https://wxguys.ssec.wisc.edu/) and      discussion section: “Each student          that have made me think harder than
monthly radio broadcast on Wisconsin       (or occasionally pair of students) is      I ever thought I could, politics, and so

                                                                                                                                  University Communications
                                                                                      Colorful bands of the Aurora Borealis, or
                                                                                      “northern lights,” glow in the nighttime
                                                                                      sky above boats in Lake Mendota mooring
                                                                                      field near the Memorial Union Terrace
                                                                                      during a strong solar storm in 2015.

8 FALL 2020
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
Martin is thrilled when students

                                                                                             Sabine Gross
                                                                                                            share questions, stories, or their excite-
                                                                                                            ment about the weather with him; he
                                                                                                            makes time before and after class to
                                                                                                            connect with students, and students
                                                                                                            mention that he makes an effort to get
                                                                                                            to know them personally. In perhaps
                                                                                                            too many courses, Honors credit is
                                                                                                            conferred through the writing of an
                                                                                                            additional or longer paper; Martin feels
                                                                                                            that he “reaps the dividend of intel-
                                                                                                            lectual creativity that comes from their
                                                                                                            being freed from that expectation.”
                                                                                                            Students in the course, says Martin,
                                                                                                            “do not work less seriously, they just
                                                                                                            work differently in the context I try
                                                                                                            to provide for them, and it is really
                                                                                                            invigorating.” Honors students appre-
Jonathan Martin points out features of clouds on a fine autumn morning in Madison.
                                                                                                            ciate the wide-ranging format Martin
                                                                                                            provides: it allows them to engage
many more topics that relate to the              Induction,” “The Role of Standard-
                                                                                                            broadly and deeply. Martin, in turn,
interests of all the students in the class.      ized Tests in American Education,” and
                                                                                                            feels that he benefits as well: “I want
As a result of this class, I have felt like      “Recycling Batteries in the Tesla Era.”)
                                                                                                            to take advantage of their interests and
my critical thinking has immensely               Clearly the Honors section achieves
                                                                                                            learn new things myself.” Second-year
sharpened to an amount where I have              one of the goals Martin formulates in
                                                                                                            Honors student and political science
noticed it, and I have been exposed to           his syllabus, namely, to convince his
                                                                                                            major Cordy Nguyen took AOS 101 in
topics that I never found interest in            students “that there is no such thing
                                                                                                            Spring 2020 and sums up the impact of
yet I have learned so much.” (Other              as ‘humanities thinking’ or ‘business
                                                                                                            the course on her: “This is what I came
recent topics have included “Symbiosis           thinking’ or ‘science thinking’—there
                                                                                                            to UW–Madison to experience. I know
of the Sciences and Humanities,” “The            is just thinking—and success in this
                                                                                                            that I will remember Professor Martin
Bystander Effect,” “The Problem of               course will require thinking!”
                                                                                                            for many, many years to come.”

Creating Community for
Fellow Students
The Honors Student Organization (HSO) enables
Honors students to get engaged more deeply in the
Honors community. For 2020–21, HSO has re-designed
its executive board and devised better communication
avenues to reach all students. This year, HSO leader-
ship places a special emphasis on community building
through the creation of Tea & Talk, “a socially-driven
time at which HSO members can tune in and connect
with peers and board members.” Additional initiatives
include virtual study groups, the longstanding tradi-
                                                                   The 2020-21 Honors Student Organization: Co-presidents Asha Jain and
tion of “Wednesdays at Washburn" with some of the                  Max Herteen and board members Hannah Emberts (Academic Chair), Julia
most entertaining speakers on campus, and an increased             Tuttle (Social Chair), Anisa Ciaciura (Communications Chair) and Lucy Kuo
service-oriented presence on campus through a part-                (Service Chair) hold a remote meeting on August 13 with Honors advisors
                                                                   Christine Evans and Pete Keys and Director Sabine Gross.
nership with the Morgridge Center for Public Service.
HSO has great plans for this year!

                                                                                                               THE HONORS CHALLENGE                 9
HonorsChallenge Crises and Opportunities - Contents
Parting Thoughts from 2020 Honors Graduates
about their Honors Experience
LAUREN HARTMAN                                                           LAURA DOWNER
BA with Comprehensive                                                    BA with Honors in the Liberal
Honors | Major: English |                                                Arts | Majors: German, Interna-
Certificate: Business                                                    tional Studies, Political Science
Throughout my four years                                                 My Honors experience was a
at Madison, I have loved the                                             constant reminder to challenge
opportunities and relationships                                          myself to go beyond the assigned
that being a part of the Honors                                          lectures and reading. Completing
program has given me. When I                                             extra projects in Honors-designated
took smaller Honors courses that                                         courses somehow made me want
were led by professors, attended                                         to go beyond the syllabus in all my
Honors academic advising                                                 other courses.
appointments with advisors
who actually knew my name,
and recognized fellow Honors
students in my classes, I felt like                                                                                MARY GRACE
more than just another number
at a massive university. I will                                                                                    BA with Honors in
miss being a part of the Honors                                                                                    the Liberal Arts | Ma-
community!                                                                                                         jors: Political Science,
                                                                                                                   Spanish | Certificates:
                                                                                                                   Gender & Women’s
                                                                                                                   Studies, Environmen-
                                                                                                                   tal Studies
                                                                                                                   The Honors experience
                                                                                                                   gave me a unique oppor-
                                                                                                                   tunity to engage more
                                                                                                                   closely with professors
                                      AARON BARENBAUM                                                              and think more critically
                                      BS with Comprehensive Honors | Majors: Neurobiology,                         about my courses. I am
                                      Psychology (Honors)                                                          very grateful that I had
                                      One of the most rewarding experiences in my time as an undergraduate         the chance to get such
                                      at UW–Madison was the conduction of my Senior Honors Thesis. Being           individualized attention
                                      given the opportunity to design and conduct my own original research         and feedback throughout
                                      project and see some of the interesting results that were found was a rare   my education.
                                      moment of genuine pride.

                                                            CARLIE SERVAIS
                                                            BA with Honors in the Liberal Arts | Majors: Neurobiology, Psychology
                                                            Being an Honors student allowed me to meet and interact with so many
                                                            amazing people. All of my Honors classes were led by amazing professors and
                                                            the Honors discussion sections were chances for me to meet classmates and peers
                                                            that shared the same interests as me. Some of my best friends are people I met in
                                                            Honors classes! Without these opportunities, I definitely would not have had the
                                                            chance to experience so many different perspectives and personalities.

10 FALL 2020
                                                                                        BA with Comprehensive Honors | Major:
                                                                                        English | Certificate: Digital Studies
                                                                                        Joining the Honors program was one of the best deci-
                                                                                        sions I made during my time at UW–Madison because
                                                                                        it allowed me to go above and beyond in a wide variety
                                                                                        of disciplines. While I am an English major, the Honors
                                                                                        courses I took in the sciences were some of my favorites
                                                                                        and I developed a passion for sustainability because of
                                                                                        them. My Honors experience has made me a better
                                                                                        thinker and a more rounded individual who is able to
                                                                                        look at a problem from multiple perspectives.

                                                              REBECCA HANKS
                                                              BA with Comprehensive Honors | Majors:
                                                              International Studies, Political Science
                                                              (Honors) | Certificate: African Studies
                                                              I’m so fortunate to have been part of the L&S
                                                              Honors community for the past four years! This
                                                              program allowed me to take on an enriching and
                                                              diverse course load, to develop lasting connections
                                                              with peers and professors alike, and to attend a
                                                              wide variety of interesting events and workshops.
                                                              It gave me so many amazing memories and
                                                              experiences here in Madison, all of which I will
                                                              bring with me as I start new professional and           LEAH GERLACH
ADITYA EASWARAN KRISHNAN                                      personal journeys in the years to come.
BS with Comprehensive Honors | Major: Geol-                                                                           BS with Honors in the
ogy & Geophysics | Certificate: Scandinavian                                                                          Liberal Arts | Major:
Studies                                                                                                               Neurobiology | Certifi-
                                                                                                                      cate: Global Health
Between the people, experiences, and resources, joining
                                                                                                                      My Honors courses have
the University of Wisconsin and the Honors program
                                                                                                                      been some of the most
was without a doubt one of the best decisions of my
                                                                                                                      memorable throughout
life. My experience of taking honors classes is unpar-
                                                                                                                      my undergraduate
alleled. They felt like an infusion of fresh ideas and
                                                                                                                      career. They have given
perspectives. This program has allowed me to make
                                                                                                                      me the opportunity to
the most out of my college experience and excel at life.
                                                                                                                      study topics far outside
                                                                                                                      my major and gain
                                                JUNDA CHEN                                                            knowledge in a wide
                                                BS with Comprehensive Honors | Majors: Computer                       variety of topics. I have
                                                Sciences (Honors), Mathematics                                        also met some great
                                                I came here because I didn’t just want to learn about math or         friends and mentors
                                                just computer science. I wanted to learn more about the world,        through the Honors
                                                this broader existence that I shall have the ability to appreciate    program, and I will
                                                it and live with it. I didn’t want my major to restrain my            always look back on it as
                                                eyesight. I wanted to be liberally educated. The Comprehensive        an important part of my
                                                Honors program gave me the drive to spend my days and nights          time at UW–Madison.
                                                on subjects that I had never thought of learning: French litera-
                                                ture, philosophy, astronomy, biochemistry, rhetoric, architecture,
                                                and design. It also gave me the opportunity to connect and learn
                                                with amazing people.

                                                                                                      THE HONORS CHALLENGE                  11
     Your generosity provides the funding for awards that allows Honors students to engage in groundbreaking research, supports
     Research Apprenticeships and ambitious Senior Honors Theses, and enables students to carry out leadership projects that
     benefit campus and the broader community. We are proud of what Honors students have achieved with your help. Your gifts
     make it possible for us to support students this coming year and in the future, and to continue
     building an Honors community on campus! We rely on you, our alumni and friends, to help
     our students realize their goals and turn dreams into reality.
                                                                                                   “I have been giddy when-
                                                                                                    ever I walk to my lab in
     By Mail                                                                                    excitement for the work that is
                                                                SOPHIA NEHRING
     Send a check made payable to the UW Foundation to:                                      leading the charge for all research
                                                                FIRMINO (’20, BS with
     University of Wisconsin Foundation                                                         like it. I have a commitment to
                                                                Honors in the Major,
     US Bank Lockbox                                                                          you, as donors, and the rest of the
                                                                Molecular Biology)           scientific community to ensure that
     P.O. Box 78807
                                                                on her Senior Honors         I do the best that I can in order not
     Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807
                                                                Thesis grant                     to waste your investment and
                                                                                                   advance our knowledge in
     Indicate “L&S Honors Program” for donations to our                                                     healthcare.
     General Fund; please note if you prefer your donation
     to go to a specific fund such as the Spector Excellence
     Fund or the Director’s Fund. You can find a gift form
     to download and send with your check at the “Make a                   While I was able to get
     Gift” link on our website.                                             involved with cutting-
                                                                        edge research investigating
     Online                                                          gene mutations as a cause of Rett
     Please use the “Make a Gift” link on the L&S Honors           syndrome, I was also able to develop
                                                                                                                  GRETA BROWN
     website to make an online gift directly (honors.ls.wisc.   lasting and respectful relationships with
                                                                my mentors. This apprenticeship led to an         (’20, BS with
     edu/make-a-gift).                                           invitation to join their team as an under-       Comprehensive
                                                                 graduate research assistant which then           Honors) on her
     Contact me anytime with your questions and                   led to an expansion of my network into          Honors Research
     suggestions!                                                  other research labs on campus. It also         Apprenticeship grant
     Sabine Gross, L&S Honors Faculty Director,                      positioned me to provide training
     director@honors.ls.wisc.edu, (608) 246-9937                      and mentoring opportunities of
                                                                         my own as a trusted senior
                                                                              member of their
     For planned giving information, please contact
     Abby Funseth at the UW Foundation:
     abby.funseth@supportuw.org, (608) 405-0433

12 FALL 2020
Additional Honors Student Projects Made Possible by
      Honors Supporters
      With funding from Honors supporters, Honors students completed these and other projects this year as Summer
      Research Apprentices, in Senior Thesis research, or through Leadership Award community involvement.

      •    A campuswide initiative to improve first response to            •   Analysis of functionally distinct smiles in human
           heart attacks                                                       interaction
      •    An elementary-school literacy initiative that incor-            •   Cold tolerance of reproductive structures in plants
           porates current research in the selection of texts
                                                                           •   The effect of vocal emotion on infant word learning
      •    The effects of social media use on young adults
                                                                           •   Cell structure and aging
      •    Analyzing complex nonlinear turbulent dynamical
                                                                           •   Improvements in human wound healing
                                                                           •   Working with collaborative robots
      •    Soil sampling and herbivore behavior
                                                                           •   Developing effective approaches to combat
      •    The origin of life
                                                                               inflammation, infections, neurogeneration, neuro-
      •    Better ways of measuring air pollution                              pathology, diabetes, colon and pancreatic cancer,
                                                                               leukemia, Parkinson’s and dementia, and COVID-19
      •    Stress and mindfulness

Spring 2020 Honors Graduation Speaker
Claire Evensen, the Spring 2020 Honors                                                   creativity as a writer, scientist, artist, and thinker.
graduation speaker, graduated in May with a                                                  Through it all, we’ve found the things we love,
bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and math-                                                     we’ve probably found a couple of things we hate,
ematics and with Comprehensive Honors.                                                             and, most importantly, we’ve found that we
She has begun a master’s degree program                                                             don’t need to be defined by a singular passion
in mathematical modeling and scientific                                                             or goal.
computing at the University of Oxford                                                                       Unfortunately, liberal arts educa-
in Oxford, England. Claire is a Marshall,                                                           tions are facing challenges right now as some
Goldwater, and Astronaut scholar; she has                                                          universities shift their focus toward preparing
won a number of campus awards for her                                                             students for particular career paths. I think this
research; and she was one of three recipients                                                  kind of shift ignores one of the most important
of the 2020 Dean’s Prize, awarded annually to                                               aspects of a college education: exploration and flex-
the most outstanding scholars in the graduating                                       ibility. If there was ever a prime time to support the love
senior class in the College of Letters & Science.                           of learning, college is it; when else will an aspiring programmer
     Here are excerpts from Claire’s Honors Commencement                   have the chance to read a wide range of Asian American litera-
address (full text/recording on the Honors website at honors.              ture, or a future psychologist have the chance to take a class on
ls.wisc.edu/spring-2020-honors-commencement):                              climate change? Once we have moved on from UW–Madison, we
                                                                           will have to work much harder to find the same diverse learning
By pursuing an Honors Program, we challenged ourselves to stretch          opportunities, so a liberal arts education can quite literally be a
our abilities, to find the willingness to fail sometimes, and to develop   once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

                                                                                                       THE HONORS CHALLENGE                      13
From a Pioneering Geographer to Urban Wildlife
Studies at the UW–Madison
Tracing a Line of Continuity in Research and Support for Honors Students

H      ow do Madison residents feel
       about coyotes in their neighbor-
hood? This is the question Raina Eddy
                                                                                             Senior Honors Thesis projects to this
                                                                                             day. Over the past half-century, it has
                                                                                             allowed hundreds of students to carry
investigated in her Senior Honors                                                            out research with faculty, engaging in a
Thesis, “Living with Coyotes: Madison                                                        special culminating experience of their
Citizens’ Experiences and Attitudes,”                                                        undergraduate studies at UW–Madison
conducted with Professor of Geog-                                                            that often is also an important step
raphy Lisa Naughton. Raina was                                                               toward graduate studies and continuing
awarded a Trewartha Senior Honors                                                            in research. Many careers of Honors
Thesis grant for her work. This is a         Lisa and Raina at the door of Lisa’s office.    students have been shaped decisively
timely topic—there is abundant wildlife      Lisa has removed her name plate for this
                                             photo so that the original writing – Glenn
                                                                                             by research carried out thanks to the
on campus and in Madison, as well            Trewartha’s name – is visible.                  support of the Trewartha Undergrad-
as in many other residential areas in                                                        uate Research Fund.
the US, showing how well some wild           coyotes and for the most part value                  Raina has been working with
animals can adapt to urban conditions.       their presence. This is true even for           Naughton to prepare her insights into
Following the news confirms that             some residents who have lost pets to            human-coyote interactions for publica-
this is a hotly contested topic. While       coyotes! For Raina and Naughton,                tion in her free time while holding a
some citizens welcome the evidence of        Raina’s Senior Thesis award was                 position as a geospatial technician with
animals’ presence, others feel fearful,      particularly meaningful, as Naughton            Continental Mapping. Her findings
especially in the case of wild carnivores.   explains: “I’m especially delighted that        have the potential to help shape public
Insights into the public’s attitudes can     Raina Eddy won a Trewartha award                policy, and her work is a continuation
help shape policy, an area of research       to support her Senior Honors Thesis             of the beneficial influence that Glenn
for Lisa Naughton. Affiliated as well        research. Glenn Trewartha is a major            Trewartha, his work, and the Trewar-
with the Nelson Institute for Environ-       figure in the field of geography and            thas’ generosity in supporting student
mental Studies, Naughton conducts            he was on the UW faculty. In fact, I’m          research have had over many decades.
research in conservation biology both        fortunate to have inherited his office in
internationally—focusing on tropical         Science Hall on campus.”
forests, for instance in Ecuador—and              Glenn Trewartha, who died in 1984
locally, in the Midwest and in Madison.      and was survived by his wife Sarita
Naughton has been on the UW faculty          (†2011), was a faculty member on
for more than two decades. This year         campus for four decades, a passionate
she was elected as a member of the           and rigorous teacher and mentor, and
American Academy of Arts & Sciences.         an internationally renowned authority
She has received a Chancellor’s              in his field. He coined the term “the
Distinguished Teaching award and is a        greenhouse effect” in 1937, in his
sought-after mentor for students.            textbook An Introduction to Weather
     Raina Eddy’s study (based on a          and Climate, which he saw through five
detailed survey sent to 275 residents)       editions over the next forty years.
focused on the extent to which actual             Fifty years ago, Glenn and Sarita
encounters with wildlife shaped              Trewartha made a gift in support of
residents’ perceptions of coyotes.           outstanding undergraduate research at
Among her findings: inhabitants of           UW–Madison
a westside neighborhood adjacent to          that continues      Raina Eddy celebrates her
                                                                 graduation with Professor
Owen Conservancy in Madison have             supporting          Lisa Naughton, her Senior
a surprisingly positive attitude toward      students’           Thesis supervisor.

14 FALL 2020
Blum is a lively and engaging

                                                                                             Sabine Gross (3)
                                                                                                                speaker; listeners are exposed to new
                                                                                                                knowledge as well as surprises, such as
                                                                                                                her statement “I really love poisonous
                                                                                                                things.” (She admits to being “a failed
                                                                                                                Honors chemistry major.”) Indeed,
                                                                                                                The Poison Squad is Blum’s second
                                                                                                                book-length foray into poisons, after
                                                                                                                her 2010 The Poisoner’s Handbook, and
                                                                                                                for some years she wrote a monthly
                                                                                                                “Poison Pen” column on environ-
                                                                                                                mental chemistry for the New York
                                                                                                                Times. Blum enjoyed Honors students’
                                                                                                                questions and shared a wealth of details
                                                                                                                about her motivation to write (“Every
After her talk and discussion with Honors students, Deborah Blum signs copies of her book.                      book author looks for the ‘why’ behind
                                                                                                                events”) as well as the amount of

A Riveting Story of Food Safety                                                                                 historical research (boxes and boxes of
                                                                                                                material) that goes into each project
Honors Students Meet with Go Big Read Author                                                                    and the process of writing (make your
                                                                                                                style transparent to make it do its job).
Deborah Blum                                                                                                    According to Blum, all her books have
                                                                                                                something in common: “I write books
“Eating food was one of the top ten                  Honors students were treated to a                          in which it is very clear that one person
causes of death in the nineteenth                luncheon and informal discussion with                          can make a difference. It’s really impor-
century!” This was not the only                  the Go Big Read author during her                              tant to know that we have people in
surprising and illuminating insight              campus visit in October 2019. A bit of                         our history who can make a difference.”
offered by Deborah Blum, author of               history: The Honors Program had a                              Blum makes history and chemistry
the 2019 Go Big Read book The Poison             book-of-the-year initiative of its own,                        come alive, fleshes out the social and
Squad during her campus visit. Reading           as one way of creating an intellectual                         political dimension, and creates vivid
her book profoundly changes the way              community for Honors students, years                           characters from solid historical facts
you look at, drink, eat, think about,            before the campus “Go Big Read”                                and archival material. She speaks the
and taste your food. The book includes           program was started. Some of you, our                          way she writes: clear, engaging, driven
gruesome accounts of how adulterated             cherished alumni and readers, may                              by common sense and with the convic-
milk killed hundreds of children in the          remember: in 2003, the second year of                          tion that knowledge can be power and
past; it features a chemist who delib-           the Honors book initiative, the choice                         make the world better. Asked what she
erately poisoned his staff (they were            was Deborah Blum’s unforgettable Love                          considers the best thing about jour-
willing and committed participants);             at Goon Park.                                                  nalism, she sums up: “Someone else
and it presents stories of political chica-                                                                     pays you to learn!”
nery, maneuvering, and mayhem. The
book tackles chemistry and corruption,
idealism and profit, civic engagement
and government, individual courage
and the impact of legislation. It is an
impeccably researched, original, and
eye-opening work of historical scholar-
ship. The author, a Pulitzer-winning
journalist and writer of popular-
science nonfiction at its best, taught
at UW–Madison until 2015 and now
directs the Knight Science Journalism
program at MIT.

                                                                                                                 THE HONORS CHALLENGE                15
Nonprofit Org.
                                                                                 U.S. Postage
                                                                                 Madison, WI
L&S Honors Program                                                              Permit No. 658
Washburn Observatory
1401 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1209

L&S Honors
by the Numbers

    400+                                1550
         Courses offered
         for Honors each
                                                Honors students

                                                                           Honors degrees

                           Typical class size
                            for Honors-only
                                courses                    Unique Honors
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