Outlook Magazine - Fall 2023

Research Mentored

Students in many career paths benefit from supported experiential learning in the field and in the lab

Training the next generation of water scientists A $306,108 Freshwater Collabora tive of Wisconsin grant to enhance water-related training opportu nities supported eight research projects led by university faculty across multiple disciplines, includ ing the Red Cedar Basin Monitor ing Program. University and high school stu dents, led by co-director Keith Gilland, assistant professor of biology, monitored nutrient levels, algae blooms, water clarity and volume, and researched macro invertebrates and more at Gilbert Creek, lakes Menomin and Tainter, and the Hay River in Dunn County.

A positive change in land use & water quality Eleven students from universities across the nation studied the health of the Red Cedar watershed, which is affected by eutrophication – phosphorus and nitrogen pollu tion that causes blue-green algal blooms. LAKES REU students conducted research in anthropol ogy, psychology, biology and engi neering. Reviving the region’s lakes Every summer, students venture to area lakes with Senior Researcher Bill James, Center for Limnolog ical Research and Rehabilitation director, to analyze water quality and lake sediment to better under stand algal problems and find man agement options. At Half Moon Lake in Eau Claire, chemical applications reduced phosphorous and controlled curly leaf pondweed. Prior to treat ment, the beach was often closed because of algal blooms and poor water quality. Water clarity has improved, phosphorous is down by 60%, algal blooms are down by more than 70% and native aquatic plants are rebounding.

Ensuring food & water quality Caitlyn Lisota, a food science and technology junior, researched efforts that could help make water safer to drink and food safer to eat. She helped create a rapid, ready to-use, low-cost test kit for E. coli and coliforms. Lisota presented to state leaders at Research in the Rotunda at the state Capitol in March.

Preserving the Punchbowl Devil’s Punchbowl Preserve near Menomonie is a treasured geo logic wonder. Hundreds of people trek down the staircase each year to marvel at the waterfall and sandstone cliffs. In hopes to bring awareness to the Punchbowl’s biodiversity, envi ronmental science student Britney Serafina identified and catalogued more than 200 vascular plant spe cies; more than 30 mosses and liverworts, including two mosses new to Dunn County; 12 species of ferns and 12 species of sedge. In 1998, Stout University Founda tion donated the Punchbowl to the Landmark Conservancy, which protects and manages more than 40,000 acres in Wisconsin.

To the health of humankind In February, applied biochemistry and molecular biology student Joshua Rusnak began isolating bacteriophages, viral entities that infect some types of bacteria and could someday be a new way to treat drug-resistant infections. He uploaded his work to the National Center for Biotechnology Infor mation database for access by researchers around the world. “Research has greatly helped to solidify the often difficult con cepts we learn in the classroom and move them to a tangible space. Research is the space where you can observe theory come to life,” he said. EVCO donation & sustainable research With a focus on sustainability research and development, EVCO Plastics donated $100,000 to UW-Stout’s plastics engineering program. EVCO Chairman and CEO Dale Evans (’73) visited campus to present the donation. The funding supported five senior capstone projects by 11 students, who presented their projects at EVCO last spring. “There are 51 million tons of plastic consumed in a year and only 5% of this is being repurposed. We wanted to find a way to put this to use,” said Bradley Sarauer (’23) , who was hired by EVCO.

From biofuel to cancer cells Six applied biochemistry and molecular biology students used brewer’s yeast to metabolize lac tose and turn it into ethanol, an important biofuel. Another team studied yeast to better understand MCA1, a caspase protein that protects mul ticellular organisms, like humans, from out-of-control cell growth.





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