Fearsome Phragmites? Grad student explores exotic, native species

A UW-Green Bay alumnus and current master’s student is investigating a much-maligned invasive species in Green Bay’s backyard — and exploring the idea that efforts at eradication might not be what’s best, after all. Matt Peter, a 2011 graduate of the University’s environmental science program, is working to broaden the knowledge of Phragmites on Door County shores, studying not just the loathed invasive plant, but also the native species. Extensive efforts to kill exotic Phragmites could have important implications for the native plants, as well, Peter says. He’s working with The Nature Conservancy to study the differences between the two and how each responds to various natural stimuli. Our new feature story has more.

Family first: Sykes featured in inspiring story on NBC26

NBC 26 ran a heartwarming story Saturday (Dec. 21) about Phoenix men’s basketball standout Keifer Sykes, and his efforts to bring his “family first” mentality to life both on and off the court in the wake of his father’s passing. James Sykes died of a heart attack the summer after Keifer’s freshman year, leaving the star guard feeling closed off and unwilling to reach out to teammates and friends. His healing process has evolved gradually as Sykes has taken on additional leadership roles, spent time with Coach Brian Wardle and learned to embrace his teammates — especially high school and Phoenix teammate Alfonzo McKinnie — as more than just players, the story says. Watch here.

Mark your calendar: SBDC presents no-cost webinars

The Small Business Development Center at UW-Green Bay will present three no-cost webinars during the first quarter of 2014, kicking off with “How to Boost Sales This Quarter” at noon on Jan. 21 and again at 1 p.m. on Jan. 23. The SBDC will present “How to Own Your Calendar,” providing advice on how to maximize and manage one’s time, at noon on Feb. 18 and 1 p.m. on Feb. 20. And March 18 and 20, the SBDC will present “How to Find and Engage New Customers,” at noon and 1 p.m., respectively. Each webinar session lasts 30 minutes, plus question-and-answer time. For more information, including how to register, check out our news release.

In the media: Phoenix, Packers cheering triplets featured on Milwaukee news

We’ve told you here before about UW-Green Bay cheerleaders Hannah, Gabrielle and Leah Buege, identical triplets who bring three times the pep to Phoenix and Green Bay Packers games throughout the teams’ seasons. Hailing from Menomonee Falls, the trio recently was featured — along with Phoenix cheer coach Ann Rodrian — in a story on Milwaukee’s Fox 6 news. You can check out the story (and do your best to tell the triplets apart).

Get a move on with Wellness Committee’s Winter Break Fitness Challenge

Here’s a friendly reminder that the UW-Green Bay Wellness Committee is presenting the Winter Break Fitness Challenge now through Jan. 26 at the Kress Events Center. Simply visit the Kress (all faculty and staff have free, unlimited access throughout the break) and check in at the front desk with your campus ID (a second pair of shoes also is required). Ask the front desk attendant for an entry slip for the challenge, and complete and return it for the chance to win awesome prizes. Check out the building’s hours here and get more details here.

Shelton column offers take on proposed downtown Walmart

Democracy and Justice Studies Assistant Prof. Jon Shelton wrote a guest column for Thursday’s (Dec. 26) Green Bay Press-Gazette, focusing on the ongoing debate surrounding a proposed downtown Walmart. Shelton’s essay explores minimum wage issues as they relate to the retailer, expressing concern about income inequality trends and what a downtown Walmart might bring to the area. You can check out the column, here.

Undergrad essay accepted for April poli sci conference

An essay from undergraduate Taylor Schmidt has been accepted for the April 3-6 Midwestern Political Science Association conference in Chicago. Assistant Prof. Dallas Blaney tells us Schmidt’s essay, “Foreign Aid, Solving Gender Inequality, and Empowering Women,” was accepted for a resources and development session during the annual gathering.

Alumni Rising: Peter investigates understudied native phragmites

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate student Matt Peter is out to broaden the base of knowledge of a currently understudied subject — the effects of native phragmites on Door County shores.

You see, it is the exotic invasive plant that seems to take over shorelines in a matter of a few years and are the scorn of naturalists, tourists and homeowners. The native species may be getting a bad rap, right along with it. Maybe.

Peter, a native of Rothschild, Wis. near Wausau, and a graduate of UW-Green Bay’s environmental science program in 2011, is working with The Nature Conservancy to study the differences between the two and how each responds to various natural stimuli. A recent feature in “Pulse,” a print and online resource for Door County art, news and entertainment, featured Peter’s work earlier this fall.

The feature explains an extensive effort to kill the exotic species in Door County and a possible indifference, and the effect it could have, if the native phragmites are destroyed along with the exotic.

“Native species, such as native Phragmties, have co-evolved with the other species in their ecosystem,” Peter explains. “Over time, each species has established its own niche within the natural environment and  has developed a set of services that it provides to the surrounding ecosystem. Essentially, each native species is a small piece of a very complex puzzle. Therefore, by eliminating the native Phragmites you may also be weakening the health of the ecosystem.”

He says that many organizations including The Nature Conservancy and “even the United States government” aim to protect and promote biodiversity.

“By definition, this requires them to focus on specific species genotypes (aka subspecies). Laws, like the Endangered Species Act, recognize the importance of protecting genetic diversity. Through an understanding of the importance of genetic diversity, the goal of our project is to determine differences in the native and exotic genotypes of Phragmites to help shape effective and efficient management strategies for conservation groups and land managers.”

Peter said he chose UW-Green Bay for its environmental science program. He chose to stay and pursue his master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy because of the faculty and graduate students he had an opportunity to interact with as an undergraduate.

“The ES&P faculty is outstanding and being able to work with many of them as an undergrad is really what drove me to stay here for grad school. Also, as an undergrad I interacted with many previous grad students and I was really impressed with the work that they were doing. I admired how challenging the program is and the quality of the work that is produced from the ES&P program.”

Peter is working toward a spring 2015 graduation date, and possible future career as a land manager or restoration ecologist.

Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.

 Matt Peter, Environmental Science and Policy graduate student, studies effects of native phragmites on Door County shores  Matt Peter, Environmental Science and Policy graduate student, studies effects of native phragmites on Door County shores  Matt Peter, Environmental Science and Policy graduate student, studies effects of native phragmites on Door County shores

Art program uses 360° virtual tour to increase exposure, enrollment

Virtual Art TourThe University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Art Program is taking the “360° experience” to a whole new visual level, with a 360° virtual tour of its facilities.

The virtual tour allows both web and mobile users to see UW-Green Bay’s exceptional studios and exhibition spaces. Users can use their mouse or mobile device to “move” laterally or vertically, and from one space to another, an experience that feels much like being there in person.

Art Program Virtual Tour

“Art and Design Unit Chair Jennifer Mokren and I noticed that when we give tours to students who are still undecided about where they plan to attend college, the minute they see our workspaces, they move UWGB to the top of their list,” said UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Alison Gates, Art Program chair. “Parents also react very positively during tours because they see the variety of work here and that our students take their art education very seriously.”

Gates and Mokren noticed that on Campus Preview Days, prospective students have only a short time to talk to academic major representatives, and often a tour to specific labs and studios is sacrificed for other informational sessions on financial aid and other topics. The 360° tour will help prospects see how UW-Green Bay’s Art facilities compare, and it will give those who live further from UW-Green Bay, including out-of-state prospects, an opportunity for a realistic virtual tour — and not just snapshots of spaces.

What prospects see on the 360° tour, according to Gates, are studio spaces that are pleasant and professional, allowing students to relax and be creative, while being able to access state-of-the art tools and equipment. The studios undergo constant revision and improvement, and faculty take great ownership in keeping the spaces current.

Click thumbnails below for a larger view of the studio spaces or see the entire virtual tour.
UW-Green Bay, Art Program Virtual Tour, December 2013 UW-Green Bay, Art Program Virtual Tour, December 2013 UW-Green Bay, Art Program Virtual Tour, December 2013 UW-Green Bay, Art Program Virtual Tour, December 2013

“The Art faculty work really hard on making the studios work, regardless of size or other restrictions,” Gates said. “We’ve been able to put one-time money into improving technology, so every studio now has a flat-screen for image viewing, for instance. We also have made great strides in general on improving the amount of wall space upon which students can hang work for review, and our studios are all exceptionally safe. The studios show the benefits of having full-time faculty teach in them and maintain them, different than classroom studios at schools where ad hoc or graduate students cycle in and out of the spaces short term.”

Gates said the tour welcomes the comparison between UW-Green Bay and other art programs and schools.

“We have more specific studio disciplines than any of our comparable UW System undergraduate institutions,” she said. “It’s absolutely true that if you come to UWGB for Art, you just get more for your money. Ask any of our alumni!”

The tour was recorded and produced by UW-Green Bay alumnus Jared Hoyman ’03, a Theatre graduate who owns a visual arts production company, Visible Tour. Hoyman, who often does virtual tours for customers trying to market their homes, approached UW-Green Bay Director of Marketing Sue Bodilly about his product and a pilot project “that would be a perfect for the 360° brand.”

“The timing couldn’t have been better for Jared to approach us about the exact type of creative tour the Art Program was looking for,” Bodilly said. “I am incredibly pleased that this has worked out for everyone involved. It is a perfect match for our 360° branding and it is a valuable tool for student recruitment and for highlighting our exceptional Art Program.”

The completed tour, which can be found on the Art Program website (www.uwgb.edu/art/), comes at an ideal time, Gates said. The Art faculty has worked hard at increasing the visibility on campus with art bombs (see feature story and photos) and new exhibitions spaces. This project is an extension of having a larger public be able to view the exceptional work of UW-Green Bay students and faculty. It also comes at a time when the Art Program is preparing for national reaccreditation.

Art Program Virtual Tour

“The filming day coincided perfectly so it wasn’t any extra work, really, because the visit had already been planned at a time when we’d have the Lawton Gallery full of excellently displayed, top-notch student work from the Annual Juried Student Show, and Studio Arts itself had been transformed into a three-story art gallery of sorts,” Gates said. “We simply chose the spaces we felt would give the broadest views of our program overall for anyone considering attending UWGB for Art.”

“The support we received from the University was great,” Gates added. “Everyone we spoke to about the project, from Admissions to the Office of Marketing and Communication, to (Liberal Arts and Sciences) Dean Scott Furlong — everyone was enthusiastic and offered excellent solutions to all the logistical problems we could have faced.

“The whole process has made me extremely happy to work on this kind of campus, where a couple professors can get an idea about the public perception of our program, and be empowered to run with it. Our 360° degree tour of Studio Arts also represents how faculty can experience 360 degrees of workplace engagement.”