From uncertain undergrad to full-ride Ph.D., E.S. alum is ready for next step

After transferring to UW-Green Bay as a sophomore, Adam Von Haden wasn’t sure what he wanted to study.

He’d started out as a Computer Science major, but the first-generation college student quickly realized that wasn’t for him.

So he took a few classes at UW-Green Bay, and before long discovered an academic — and career — pursuit that allowed him to explore a newfound passion for environmental science. Thanks to his own drive and the guidance of faculty members — particularly Associate Prof. Mathew Dornbush — Von Haden earned his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and his master’s in Environmental Science and Policy. In January, he’ll begin Ph.D. studies at UW-Madison, using a full-ride scholarship to further his passion and his career.

“I started taking classes and really got interested in environmental science,” Von Haden said “… I did take a few classes with Matt and we got to know each other, and that’s kind of how it started, at least in terms of pursuing a research career. I kind of figured out what I wanted to do within environmental science.

That research included an undergraduate project based in Texas, in which von Haden and Dornbush studied plant diversity and reproduction; and an undergrad/graduate study looking at biofuels closer to home. A graduate of Green Bay Preble High School, Von Haden will be the third UW-Green Bay student currently enrolled in the Madison Ph.D. program.

“It’s fun for me because I got to see him as this undergrad, with a ton of potential, getting introduced to this project in Texas,” said Dornbush, chair of the Environmental Science and Policy graduate program. “And then from there you could kind of see the spark catching and it’s like ‘oh, I could do this’ — and the from there I think it just snowballed.”
Even before deciding to pursue his Ph.D. — a decision he made relatively recently — Von Haden was furthering his research interests and trying his hand at teaching. He served as a limited-term employee doing biofuels research with Dornbush after earning his master’s in May 2011, and served as an associate lecturer during fall semester 2012. Von Haden says he’s more likely to do full-time research than to teach, but he hasn’t yet decided exactly where his career will take him.

With just days left until he moves to Madison, Von Haden is quick to credit UW-Green Bay — and especially Dornbush — for opening the door to academic and career success. But those who know Von Haden will just as rapidly say he’s blazed his own trail — and they’re confident he’ll continue to succeed.

“He’s earned every opportunity he’s had here,” Dornbush said. “These (thesis-based graduate programs) give us an opportunity to catch these fantastic students like Adam. … So he’s off to Madison and he’s going to continue down his career path, and some day that will come back. Some day Adam will be at a university somewhere, writing grants — and maybe some of our students will go work with Adam.”

In case you missed it: Highlights of a Spectacular 2012

There are year-end lists everywhere you look these days, counting down everything from famous flubs to fashion faux pas. Fortunately, UW-Green Bay’s year-end list is far more positive — in fact, it’s spectacular. In case you missed them the first time around, the links below take you to our online Spectacular 2012 round-up, 60-second video summary and full-page congratulatory advertisement from the Council of Trustees/UW-Green Bay Foundation Board of Directors. The ad, which lists 16 notable achievements from the 2012 calendar year, ran in the Dec. 23 and Dec. 25 editions of the Green Bay Press-Gazette and Post-Crescent of Appleton. Congratulations again on a Spectacular 2012, and here’s to another great year in 2013!

Spectacular 2012 round-up
60-second video summary
Full-page ad lists achievements

In the media: UW-Green Bay cheerleaders are athletes of the week

People around here know UW-Green Bay has some of the hardest-working cheerleaders in sports. After all, the cheer squad not only provides pep for campus teams, but also works the sidelines at Green Bay Packers home games, adding yet another element of awesome to the story of this small-city team. But now a few UW-Green Bay cheerleaders are receiving attention across the state, as well — in a media market that’s closer to Vikings territory than the Frozen Tundra. Eau Claire-based WEAU TV recently featured UW-Green Bay cheerleaders Caleb Schmidt, Vaughn Waite and Alec Schwinefus as its athletes of the week, lauding their skills and unique role in the Packers’ game-day experience. All three hail from Western Wisconsin. Check out the story.

Press-Gazette coverage of Kwanzaa highlights UW-Green Bay role

Boxing Day isn’t the only holiday being celebrated this Dec. 26, as an article in today’s Green Bay Press-Gazette reminds us. Today also marks the start of Kwanzaa, the African American holiday that focuses on the traditional African values of family, community, responsibility, commerce and self-improvement. As we told you here previously, UW-Green Bay is a co-sponsor of the annual community Kwanzaa celebration, which this year was held Saturday, Dec. 1 at the KI Convention Center. For today’s article, Press-Gazette reporter Charles Davis interviewed Education Prof. Jim Coates about the event. The paper also ran a photo of Chancellor Tom Harden speaking to celebration attendees. You can read the story, and view our full photo gallery from the event, by clicking the links below:

Green Bay Press-Gazette story
UW-Green Bay news

In the news: Staudinger and Kraft on gun issue

Staudinger weighs in for gun sales story …
The debate over gun control continues to dominate news cycles both locally and nationally, including here in Northeastern Wisconsin. The Press-Gazette on Wednesday (Dec. 26) ran a story on the increase in gun sales since the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and related fear that gun-control laws will be strengthened. Democracy and Justice Studies Prof. Alison Staudinger offered some analysis for the story, noting President Obama consistently has voiced support for Second Amendment rights. “Those who sell or make guns, just as any other industry, have an incentive to promote a narrative of Democrats as hostile to gun owners,” Staudinger said, “and link this narrative to broader concerns about the power and intrusiveness of the federal government.” Full story.

… and Kraft talks NRA for similarly themed piece
Prof. Emeritus Michael Kraft also has been recently sought for his analysis of gun-rights issues, and was featured in a story that ran in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune and elsewhere. The National Rifle Association, Kraft said, is a millions-member strong force that wields considerable lobbying power. “Historically, the NRA has been opposed to almost anything that would restrict gun sales or gun ownership,” Kraft said in an interview with Gannett Wisconsin Media reporter Ben Jones. Full story.

Archives’ Anderson pens guest article on nativity scene history

We here at UW-Green Bay are used to seeing cool stuff from Deb Anderson, the Archives and Area Research Center Coordinator known for invoking campus nostalgia with awesome photos and facts from the UW-Green Bay of old. On Saturday (Dec. 23), it was the community’s turn to see what Anderson has to offer, this time with a more personal bit of history befitting the season. Anderson’s guest article headlined a Press-Gazette feature on families’ nativity scenes, and the role the displays play in the Christmas season. You can read all about the history of Anderson’s family scene (purchased from Woolworth’s for 29 cents), and see a photo of it — along with Anderson and her son — click here.

Fond farewell: Jim Sams retirement celebration is Friday, Jan. 4

After more than 21 years of service to the University of Wisconsin, Jim Sams has made the decision to retire. His last day with Academic Technology Services and UW-Green Bay will be Friday, Jan. 4. A celebration of Jim’s University career will be held from 2-4 p.m. that day in IS 1034. Jim’s expertise with A/V equipment, broadcast technology, electronics, all things mechanical, his customer service skills — not to mention his general good nature — will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege of working with him. Please stop by to wish Jim well as he begins his new endeavor — retirement!

Don’t forget: Post those student job openings for spring

Most students may be away for the holidays, but here’s a friendly reminder that they’ll be back before you know it — and many still are seeking on-campus work. To post an opening for student employees, complete the easy fill-in-the-blank form or email a job description (including position requirements, wage rate, application instructions, and contact information) to As always, you can post your jobs directly in the Phoenix Recruitment On-Line (PRO) system. Click here for helpful instructions.