First Nations EdD Cohort

Community of Learners Developing leaders in First Nations Education

Transformative. Intense. Rigorous.

These are the words students use to describe UW-Green Bay’s first-ever doctoral program—the only one of its kind in the state of Wisconsin—the Doctorate Degree in Education (Ed.D.) in First Nations Education. The four-year program enrolled its first cohort of 12 students in the fall of 2018.

This is exactly what UW-Green Bay Associate Professor and Program Director Lisa Poupart, Ph.D. had in mind as she and her colleagues developed the program. Born out of feedback from First Nations communities throughout the state, leaders asked for a very specific, rigorous program that would balance relational, face-to-face learning with concrete, usable outcomes requiring graduates to further promote cultural insurgence and the vitality of future generations.

“There’s a rigor to the program,” says Poupart. “The listening sessions provided this feedback—they want graduates who understand difficult concepts and can talk about them and write grants, etc. We are telling the students that their communities set a high standard, and we are going to hit those marks.”

Building Community

The Ed.D. in First Nations Education program is centered in indigenous knowledge systems and draws upon indigenous teaching and learning methods from elders and oral scholars, as well as faculty expertise. Classes consist of a set of core courses offered primarily in face-to-face settings, reflecting the strong commitment to the oral tradition rooted in First Nations culture. UW-Green Bay was a natural fit to host the first-of-its-kind doctoral program because of its 20-year history of teaching First Nations education at the University, and its tribal Elders in Residence program.

First Nations EdD Cohort
The Ed.D. in First Nations cohort of learners gathers for a meal following a Saturday class.

The inaugural cohort of 12 began its second fall term in 2019. According to Poupart, the cohort model accurately reflects indigenous teaching and learning, and reflects a true community. “We’ve built something within a community, and the group learns with and supports one another. To have these experiences together is really central to their success in the program.”

Bawaajigekwe Andrea DeBungie, a current student in the cohort, describes her 14 months within the program as transformative. DeBungie is a special education teacher in Ashland, Wisconsin and the recipient of the 2020 Special Services Teacher of the Year in Wisconsin. “The program is very different than anything I have ever experienced, as a teacher or anything,” says DeBungie. “The experiences have helped shape and reshape how I function as an educator, mother, human being.”

The group clearly considers itself a family of support for each other. “There is such encouragement and support within the cohort, and that 100% includes the instructors,” says DeBungie. “I would not be able to do this program otherwise. We all agreed and had conversations about this. We are stronger together.”

Transferring Knowledge

Her experiences have already had an impact in her classroom, specifically as it relates to what she calls the four R’s – relationships, respect, reciprocity and responsibility. “(The program) focuses on relationships, and all students benefit from teachers who invest into them. It has helped me become more intentional as an educator,” says DeBungie, “and work to shift the power dynamic in the classroom from one expert to a community of reciprocal learners and reciprocal relationship.”

“That has been the biggest thing for me. It’s so empowering and so liberating for me as an individual and for the students.”

Fellow cohort member, Waqnahwew Ben Grignon, is a traditional arts teacher at Menominee High School in Keshena, Wisconsin and the 2019 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year. A lifelong member of the Menominee Nation, he works to bridge the regular, traditional curriculum with indigenous thinking. His students recently discussed the geometric designs found in traditional beaded belts to help students remember geometric formulas.

The doctoral program challenges all students to think differently, reconnect with their original ancestral teachings and apply it to indigenous education right now. “One weekend we had a small group presentation of a book we were reading,” says Grignon. “This group chose to talk about the book while we were sewing baby moccasins.” Their discussion evolved into radical topics including governance and the state of education in indigenous communities.

“I’m now able to look at a material object (the moccasins) and think back to the discussions we had about the book and what it meant to sit together in community while doing a traditional art,” says Grignon, “and reconnect to the things our ancestors have been doing for thousands of years.”

Exceptional Learning

This type of learning opportunity is at the heart of the program. A weekend class, for instance, focused on generational healing, inviting a plant medicine elder to work with students. The group took plant medicine walks, participated in conversations about healing and cooked traditional, non-addictive pain medicine from student-gathered ingredients. “This was not a western formalized classroom,” says Poupart, “but indigenous formal learning.”

While intense and time-consuming, the program gives a place and space for these highly motivated and extremely committed learners to expand, grow and talk about similar challenges and experiences.

“We are creating a space for them to explore what they are already capable of doing,” says Poupart, “and the energy of that? They are unstoppable.”

–Story by freelance writer Kristin Bouchard ’93

Deceptively simple fruit fly may provide life-saving lessons according to UW-Green Bay researchers

The deceptively simple Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) may have life-saving lessons to share with the significantly more complex Homo sapiens, lessons that could lead to future changes in treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Douglas Brusich Fruit Fly Research-4According to a peer-reviewed research paper published recently in the journal Fly[1],  results from studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay suggest three significant findings with potential implications for humans:

  • First, repetitive, moderate blows to the head at short intervals have potential for serious injury. There appears to be a cumulative effect from a series of moderate blows within a short time frame, which can be as harmful as a single significant blow.
  • Second, the time frame for increased harm caused by repeated injuries can operate at shorter timescales than has been previously appreciated. The research suggests that consideration must be paid to repetitive injuries that occur closely together.
  • Finally, TBI caused an initial impairment of motor coordination, temporary recovery, and then a second, delayed impairment before full recovery was achieved. Single severe injuries caused the same impairment as repetitive moderate blows. Thus, if only using coordination measures, there is a risk for improperly determining an individual has recovered from a TBI event, whether severe or moderate, at an early time-point, when in fact they are still in the process of fully recovering.

By now you’re probably asking, “All of this from a fruit fly?”

“That’s a question I get a lot,” smiles Doug Brusich, assistant professor of Human Biology and leader of the research team. “People wonder why we use fruit flies and how results from those studies can have any relevance to humans.”

Brusich recited the reasons with the ease of someone who has answered this question many times before:

“Fruit fly genes mirror human genes very closely,” said Brusich, “so while findings may not be completely analogous, they usually point us to something that might be worthy of further study in mammals, including humans.

“Their genes are also easier to work with than mammal genes,” he continued. “For example, where mammals might have nine genes that govern sodium channels, fruit flies have one. If you make a change in that sodium channel and observe a result, you have a potential indication of a similar importance in mammals.

“Fruit flies also breed quickly, from larvae to adults in 10 days, and have 80-day life cycles,” said Brusich, “so we can develop hundreds of flies for study in a relatively short time. And we can use flies at varying stages of  their lives to see if age has any impact on the results.

“We also have to consider the financial and ethical aspects of our research,” he added. “Fruit flies are very inexpensive to maintain in the lab, especially compared to the cost of other potential subject animals like mice. And the ethical questions that arise when inflicting brain damage on flies are much less complex.

“It’s also important that the ways we produce injuries on flies in the lab is as similar to the ways humans experience TBIs,” Brusich concluded, “The results from fruit fly research come from impact and rotational forces that closely resemble forces humans might experience.”

Douglas Brusich Fruit Fly Research-3

Expanding the research to new levels

Brusich and his team at UW-Green Bay—former undergraduate student Lauren Putnam (2018), and current undergraduates Nathaniel Disher, Brooke Kalata and Ashley Willes—knew the literature contained well documented fruit fly studies of TBI based on single, high-impact strikes. They wondered, though, whether the methods in those studies could be used to study milder injuries, which are more common but less understood.

“There were two reasons we pursued this path,” explained Brusich. “First, mild head trauma is quite common and affects human health. Roughly 70-90% of the greater than 1.5 million annual TBI events resulting in hospital visits in the United States are classified as mild, however, just as many mild injuries are estimated to go unreported. Additionally, we have evidence that mild head injuries which fail to even meet classic criteria for a concussion result in changes in brain health.

“Second,” he continued, “mild injuries have so far been poorly studied or modeled by mammalian or fly models of TBI. This is in part because mild injuries don’t always generate noticeable outcomes. As a result, we have little information about mild TBI.

“Expanding our studies to reduced levels of severity opens the possibility of investigating similarities and/or differences in predisposition and consequences in response to severe versus mild TBI,” he concluded.

Douglas Brusich Fruit Fly Research-2

Is it dead or just sleeping?

Anyone who has swatted a house fly has seen the immediate effect of a (lucky) strike. The fly is temporarily stunned and may sit motionless for a short time before recovering and flying off to annoy you again.

It turns out the temporary disorientation we casually observe is one of the behaviors researchers look for after striking flies in the lab. They also have other behavioral clues to watch for and record.

But those clues are subtle and you can’t have a lab full of researchers swatting willy-nilly at a room full of flies that are smaller than a house fly’s wing. For one thing, the lab is only the size of a galley kitchen. For another, how would you observe and record any of the fruit flies’ behavior in such an environment? How do you set up a study that provides predictable levels of “swat” energy and enables recording of the results?

Brusich and his team arrived at a MacGyver-like solution by adapting a compression spring-powered device developed by researchers at UW-Madison specifically for fruit fly research. The original device produced a strike (a “swat”) by attaching a vial of 20 to 60 flies to the end of the 10-inch-long coil spring, affixing the spring horizontally to a padded surface, pulling the spring upward to a 90-degree deflection from the table, then releasing the spring to return to its horizontal position, stunning the flies in the vial.

This method has become known as the High-Impact Trauma (HIT) method and has been widely adopted in fly research.

For his team’s purpose, Brusich modified the device so it could reliably and accurately produce single or multiple strikes at 60-, 70-, 80- and 90-degree deflections. This enabled the team to examine the results of repetitive HIT events to about 34,000 fruit flies across varying levels of severity, from mild to severe.

The team also combined low-tech and high-tech solutions to study the fruit flies’ ability to walk (geotaxis) after TBI events. They used a plywood frame and elastic bands to hold several vials upright, then dropped the frame three times from a set height, forcing the flies to the bottom of the vial.

They then used a Logitech webcam to watch as the flies reacted: some scrambled to the top, some remained confused and some stayed at the bottom. Using screen shots and statistical modeling software, the flies’ actions were catalogued, timed and plotted.

The results of the study confirmed other researchers’ findings for severe TBI effects (strikes at 90-degree deflections) and produced the three novel results described above (arising from repetitive strikes at varying intervals that produce less severe, but cumulative, TBI effects).

“We were happy that our study produced results so consistent with what others had found,” said Brusich. “And we think the findings that resulted from expanding the methodology to less severe levels of TBI have potential implications for further study in fruit flies and mammals. Future findings could change the way we assess and treat TBI.”

From TBI to epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease

Brusich is already taking information from his TBI research into others areas of exploration.

“I initially got into studying epilepsy from experiments I conducted as part of my graduate thesis,” said Brusich. “I started using TBI in part to model post-traumatic epilepsy, which my lab is now studying. More broadly, TBI findings are relevant to aging and neurodegeneration, such as from dementias like Alzheimer’s, and so the more we learn from this model the better. TBI is also a trending topic in research, so the additional perks are that it is garnering more funding and becoming an attractive and enjoyable area of research for prospective students.

“I have long wanted my role to be a split research-teaching one at a primarily undergraduate school like UW-Green Bay,” he continued, “and the simple, low-cost set up of my lab is appropriate for undergraduate involvement. The supportive environment created by my dean and by the school in general has enabled us to carve out this niche for ourselves versus the research functions at some of the larger schools.”

Aspiring researchers welcome

Brusich hopes other students who share his passion for fundamental research will consider joining him.

“I always mention my research interests in the courses I teach and ask students to chat with me if they think they might be interested in research,” said Brusich.

“I compile a list of these students and others who have heard about the opportunity, then invite students from the list to interviews held once or twice a year. Students are always welcome to contact me (email is best) if they are interested in research.”

[1] Lauren J Putnam, Ashley M Willes, Brooke E Kalata, Nathaniel D Disher & Douglas J Brusich (2019): Expansion of a fly TBI model to four levels of injury severity reveals synergistic effects of repetitive injury for moderate injury conditions, Fly, DOI: 10.1080/19336934.2019.1664363.

Story by freelance writer Jim Streed ’05, photos by Dan Moore, UW-Green Bay photographer and videographer

Prof. Weinschenk’s Political Science Research Lab completes journal article

During the Fall 2019 semester, Associate Professor Aaron Weinschenk (Political Science) offered—for the first time ever at UW-Green Bay—a research lab in political science. (This year, there were 14 undergraduate students enrolled in the lab). The goal of the lab was to have students experience the research process from start to finish and help them develop and practice research skills, which Weinschenk says are increasingly important to employers.

This semester, the lab studied the nationalization of state supreme court elections. Previous research has shown that the correlation between voting patterns in presidential elections and sub-presidential contests (congress, gubernatorial, state legislative) has increased dramatically over the last several decades, but there have not been any studies on whether this is happening in the context of state supreme court elections.

Under Weinschenk’s supervision, students in the lab assembled an original dataset containing nearly 15,000 county-level state supreme court elections results (from 2000-2018). According to Weinschenk, this is an amazing feat because, unlike other types of elections, there is not a preexisting database of state supreme court election results. The students had to gather all of the election results themselves from government sources, which took several months to complete.

After assembling the dataset and conducting statistical analyses, Weinschenk and the students collaborated to write a journal article, which has now been completed and is available here for those who might be interested. The article will be submitted to a peer-reviewed political science journal focusing on elections very soon! All of the lab members will be listed as co-authors on the paper.

Weinschenk says it is important to develop and institutionalize high-impact experiences like this for undergraduate students. He notes that “research has shown that high-impact experiences help make students feel like they are in a supportive campus environment. In addition, participation in high-impact experiences can lead to boosts in GPA and increase the probability of retaining students.”

When asked about their experience doing undergraduate research, students in the lab reported that it was an incredibly valuable experience.

“The lab gave us the opportunity to conduct research on a different level than any other class and be able to submit it for publication,” Tara Sellen, one of this year’s lab members, said. “It was amazing to be a part of a hardworking group and to produce such a substantial product that can contribute to the literature.” She said students in the lab did something “we never thought we could accomplish.”

Amanda Loehrke, another one of the lab members, shared her experience.”Being a part of the Political Science Research Lab has been very rewarding,” Loehrke said. “Working with a group of peers to produce a research paper was challenging, educational, and very enjoyable. The experience has given me and my peers first-hand experience with the research process from collecting data to running statistical analyses to writing the final article. I am very thankful to have been part of the first research lab for the department and am looking forward to seeing if our paper gets published!”

Prof. Patricia Terry giving her commencement address

‘Set lofty goals and never be limited by someone else’s perception of your abilities,’ Prof. Terry tells grads

Prof. Patricia Terry’s address to UW-Green Bay’s 100th graduating class, Dec. 14, 2019.

Prof. Patricia Terry giving the UW-Green Bay Commencement Address
Prof. Patricia Terry

“Graduates, you may not think you have much in common with the faculty that have challenged you—sometimes way beyond the point of frustration, to questioning if our motives aren’t really just to torment you.  However, most of us have one thing in common—family and their expectations; Family that have supported us, loved us, and also occasionally also pushed us to heights of frustration. Even today, I continue to have some entertaining conversations with my family.

Every time he has seen me for the past 20 plus years, my father has told me that I have far exceeded his expectations for me and every time he says this, I have the same response: I may have exceeded your expectations for me, but I have not yet reached mine. I say to you, as you embark on your future, set lofty goals for yourself and never be limited by someone else’s perception of you and your abilities. Don’t ever let anyone but yourself define who you are and what makes you successful. Only you know what your life goals are and only you can know how good is good enough. Never live by anyone else’s standards for you. One thing I wish for you is that you will always like and respect the person you see in the mirror each day. If you live your life in a way that assures you will like the person you are, you will be truly successful. Be warned, though, this is much easier said than done. You will find times when it would be easy to put your head down and follow the crowd or chose not to speak up, even when you know someone needs to.  Being the person with the moral courage to speak up or do the right thing, even if it goes against the actions or opinions of those around you, is hard. It may cost you friends; it may not be the best thing for your career. But, if you can have the moral courage to stand up for what is right, regardless of the consequences, you will always respect yourself and that is the most important kind of success.

Many years ago, my parents came to watch me compete in a 50 mile ultramarathon. At the end of a grueling day, my father, always ready with a sage comment, stood over me laying on the ground in exhaustion and made the astute observation, “You didn’t win.” Equally ready with the astute reply, I said, “Yes I did. You don’t always have to finish first to win the race. I wanted to know if I had what it took to run 50 miles and now I know the answer is yes. By that standard, I won.” Most of life is analogous to an ultramarathon. You all just finished one by completing a major and earning your degree. You may not have the highest gpa or the highest standing in your major, but you won the race by graduating. In any ultramarathon, there are always one or two or three times when you are no longer having fun and quitting sounds like a good idea. But, if you can focus on the end goal and remember that achieving it is more important than any momentary desire to quit, you will always win. When asked why I do ultramarathons, I use the life analogy.

Life is a series of ultramarathons and many goals require you to keep putting one foot in front of another, ignoring the voice in your head that wants to quit, and persevere even when the race is not that fun anymore. You may even trip and fall and have to get up, dust yourself off, ignore a little blood, and get moving again. That mindset got me through a Ph.D. in engineering, the exhausting process of getting tenure as a new faculty member, and many other long-term goals. The important thing is that you challenge yourself and give every attempt the best you have. You may not always be the fastest, strongest, smartest, or most talented person in any endeavor, but accept the challenge, run the race anyway. Life is a series of ultramarathons. Don’t spend yours on the sidelines watching people you think are better compete. Live life to the fullest, lace on your running shoes, and claim your place at the starting line. Most of the time, you won’t cross the finish line first, but if you join the grand race that is life and live it to its fullest, you are a winner.

I will leave you with a line from one of my favorite songs, “If you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”


Video: Tiny Earth at Lambeau Field is about scientific discovery

Students from UW-Green Bay and across the state came together on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 at Lambeau Field to give presentations about their findings regarding antibiotic resistance (see it happening via twitter). The hope is, that through the scientific research by students from across the world, new sources of antibiotics will be discovered. In September, the Green Bay Packers provided a soil sample from their practice field for UW-Green Bay students to analyze as part of their research.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.
Tiny Earth at Lambeau Field 2019

Photos by Sue Pischke, Marketing and University Communication

UW-Green Bay WIT advances female participation and leadership in technology sectors

Founded a short 20 months ago, UW-Green Bay’s student organization, Women in Technology (WIT), is seeking to end the long-existing stigma that men should dominate the technology field.

This stereotype is one felt personally by members within the organization, including current WIT President Emily Sawall and Vice President Amber Honnef—the only two females in one of their computer science classes. Incidentally, it was that gender gap that led to their bonding and eventual commitment to join WIT beginning with its inaugural meeting in March 2018. Taylor Reichow and Chloe Nutter, joined as secretary and treasurer, respectively.

The group is finding its identity—helping women to grow within the organization and helping other young women in the community spark an interest for technology. For instance, they took their robots on the road, recently, volunteering , mentoring and demonstrating at Green Bay West High School and the Children’s Museum of Green Bay.

“Seeing these girls faces light up at the sight of robots is amazing,” said Amber. WIT also volunteers with the Boy’s and Girl’s Club through a sponsorship with Microsoft Digispark to teach younger women about coding. “It’s great that we get to volunteer and show younger girls they have a place in technology,” said Emily.

The pervasive theme when asking WIT members about this organization was the connections made. “Companies come in and help build connections, as well as future internships,” said Taylor. “I have met some amazing people that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise,” said Emily. Some members of WIT went to Michigan Tech last April and met with professors about technology, and even met the creator of one of the texting features on Apple watches.

As a relatively new organization, WIT hopes to continue to gain more members while helping one another gain experience within the industry. “There is so much love and support from everyone in this organization.” said Chloe, “It will only take one meeting and you’ll never want to leave!”

WIT meets every other Monday at 5:30 p.m. in MAC 120. These meetings are always open and any prospective students interested in joining can come to a meeting anytime or email for more information about the organization.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.
Women in Technology at West High School

– Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communications; story by Joshua Konecke, student assistant.

Photos: ‘Las Cafeteras: Sounds of Resistance!’

UW-Green Bay welcomed music group Las Cafeteras on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019 in Phoenix Room C for a workshop titled “Sounds of Resistance!” The event was co-sponsored by UW-Green Bay Spanish, MESA, Organizacion Latino Americano, Women of Color organization and the Office of Student Life.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

Kwanzaa Celebration 2019

Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communications

James Kabrhel teaching a class.

UW-Green Bay’s ‘Dr. K’, James Kabrhel receives Underkofler Award for Teaching

For James Kabrhel, helping his students fall in love with science, in a world that is increasingly anti-science, or accepting of pseudoscience, is one of the joys of his job.

As a teacher of General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry at UW-Green Bay, Sheboygan Campus, Kabrhel uses current events and items in the news to make subjects that can be both boring and overwhelming,  interesting and appealing.

James Kabrhel-1Kabrhel’s ongoing commitment to helping students understand the difference between science and pseudoscience, as well as his ability to educate undergraduate students is what compelled Gregory Davis, former UW-Green Bay provost to nominate Kabrhel for the 2019 Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. Kabrhel was presented with the award, Friday, October 25 at the Alliant Energy Awards Ceremony, in Madison.

“From a personal perspective, his name came to light soon after we were aware that the Sheboygan campus was to become part of UW-Green Bay,” Davis said in his nomination letter. “In the intervening time—roughly a year and a half— I have heard many exceedingly strong comments as to his ability and dedication to the education of undergraduate students. It is so clear from student comments that James ability in this realm is atypical—in the good way! I am also delighted to see the commitment that James has made to providing students with guidance in understanding the difference between science and pseudoscience.”

Given each year to a teacher who personifies dedication, the Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award is an endowed award from Alliant Energy and is awarded to three teachers each year within the University of Wisconsin System from the Madison, Platteville, Baraboo, Fond du Lac, Richland, Rock or Sheboygan campuses. The award committee looks for teachers who not only communicate their subject matter effectively, but also inspire in their students an enthusiasm for learning.

Kabrhel said that he enjoys starting college students on their scientific career.

“I noticed my students had a very high stress level,” he said. “It seemed like they were stressed out all the time. I wanted to be able to give them a choice of assignments—to create a video or a podcast about a subject—that would let them have more control.”

Kabrhel’s classes incorporate current events and issues into the classroom discussion, and the assignments as well.

“More than a decade’s worth of teaching chemistry at the UW Colleges has provided me with many different perspectives on education and scientific understanding. The rise of the Internet and a vastly changed political climate has wrought a large increase in anti-intellectualism and anti-science sentiment,” Kabrhel said. “At the same time, we have made profound advancements in technology and medicines. At the intersection of these two aspects of society are students who are ready to learn. For those students, I have incorporated ways to deal with the aforementioned changes: discussion of how pseudoscience has pervaded our culture, and the use of different media in instruction and presentation of scientific concepts.”

For his students, the combining of media in instruction and focusing on current events makes science classes easier to digest.

“I had not anticipated becoming a Chemistry major, as I had a previous teacher who had not set a good impression of the field. Though my interest was piqued, I had lost my momentum within the subject. However, from the first day of general Chemistry with Dr. K, my faith had been restored,” said Sabrina Maric, one of Kabrhel’s students. “Pseudoscience is a topic that is regularly discussed in class. This is one of the ways that Dr. K is able to keep a bunch of tired college students awake at morning lectures. The conversations around this topic are not only enjoyable in the classroom, but they manage to establish critical thinking of the outside world.”

Maric said Kabrhel would insert current news articles about pseudoscience into lectures, and link them back to concepts already presented in class. In one example, she said the topic of discussion was Monsanto and the use of pesticides. Maric said Kabrhel went through what chemicals Monsanto used and at what dosages they were harmful to people at. Then, she said, he switched the conversation to organic farming and non-GMO food looking at the pseudoscience there while talking about concepts such as what does organic really mean?

“The connection between the topics discussed in class and current events allows for us as students to easily apply what we learn in the classroom to our daily lives, which is what Dr. K has established to be his ultimate goal in his courses and display his genuine interest for the subject,” Maric said.

His classes help students understand the greater picture, some students said.

In a recommendation letter, Lydia Luebke and her organic chemistry classmates said Kabrhel was committed to his students’ success.

“Dr. Kabrhel has always put his entire heart and work ethic into teaching his students. He always provides his students with the latest experiments and shows us how our chemistry coursework relates to industry, medicine, and research,” Luebke wrote. “Dr. Kabrhel has an even greater purpose as an educator; teaching his students about what the term ‘organic’ means in the public domain. He requires every student to submit a project pertaining to this idea in General Chemistry. In this project, students learn the importance of understanding marketing campaigns by capitalizing on consumers’ limited knowledge about the true meaning of organic, a compound containing carbon. By requiring his students to submit these paper/video projects, we begin to understand the complicated field of agriculture and how the field of chemistry has influenced agriculture over the last decades as farmers are faced with dwindling tillable land supply, greater production cost and increased demand.”

A graduate of Juniata College in Pennsylvania, Kabrhel earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 2006. He began working as a lecturer in chemistry in 2007 at UW-Sheboygan (now UW-Green Bay, Sheboygan Campus), before moving up to assistant professor and, in 2015, associate professor. In the fall of 2015, Kabrhel also served as the interim associate dean of academic affairs for the Sheboygan campus. In 2015, Kabrhel was awarded the Arthur M. Kaplan Award recognizing outstanding contributions to education by the faculty and academic staff of UW Colleges. And in 2018, he was nominated for the UW College Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in teaching.

Kabrhel also extends his love of science outside the classroom, often presenting lectures on pseudoscience in the classrooms of other professors. Kabrhel is also the organizer of Cool Chemistry shows which he does with his wife, Amy Kabrhel, a professor of chemistry at UW-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus. In Cool Chemistry, the Kabrhels and students from his chemistry classes perform chemistry demonstrations for kids five and up every spring.

“His passion for teaching and science truly shines through in our annual Cool Chemistry shows. James is the organizer of this show, and coordinates his general Chemistry and Organic Chemistry students to select, practice, and perform chemistry demonstrations for an audience of up to 300 people each year,” said Karrie E. Rukamp, senior lecturer with the Department of Chemistry in the UW college system. “Additionally, James serves as the host and emcee for the event- in which capacity he explains all the science behind each of the experiments performed, in ways that anyone, from small child to adult, can easily understand.”

Kabrhel said he plans to spend the award money on attending chemistry and chemistry education conferences to learn more about the science he loves so much, as well as how to better teach it. The best parts of inserting current events into his lectures, he said, is finding out about the topics he covers.

“We may talk about any number of things—like gluten free diets, or the label chemical free, or about herbal supplements,” Kabrhel said. “The best part about talking about them in class is that I get to learn about these things too.”

Feature by freelance writer Liz Carey
Photos by Dan Moore, UW-Green Bay Office of Marketing and University Communication


UW-Green Bay student Shontrea Hogans receives statewide award

UW-Green Bay student Shontrea Hogans (Psychology, ’20) is the winner of the first annual statewide Wisconsin Leadership Community Choice Award for College Student Leader of the Year. Hogans and the other winners received their awards at the Wisconsin Leadership Summit on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. CAHSS and Effect selected Hogans as their featured student last week. She says she wants to leave UW-Green Bay a better place, especially for multicultural students. “I hope that UWGB is a better place for them to thrive not just survive,” she said.

Tiny Earth Kickoff Event

Photos: Tiny Earth kicks-off with soil from the Green Bay Packers

The next big win emerging from the Green Bay Packers’ practice fields could be life-saving bacteria. Student and faculty researchers from UW-Green Bay and area high schools will examine a soil sample from the Packers’ Clark Hinkle Field as part of the Tiny Earth project, which aims to identify bacteria in the earth strong enough to beat diseases that have become resistant to antibiotics.

According to UW-Green Bay Biology Professor Brian Merkel, about 70 percent of the antibiotics used today come from soil bacteria. But the discovery of new ones have drastically slowed. And a 2013 analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that at least two-million people contract an antibiotic-resistant infection each year.

After analyzing soil samples, including the one from the Packers’ Ray Nitschke, students and faculty will gather at the The Tiny Earth Symposium, held at the Lambeau Field Atrium, Dec. 6, 2019, to showcase their findings. At the same time, 10,000 students from across the globe are doing similar research, hoping for the next big discovery.

Merkel calls this a “student-sourcing” event. The larger the group of students, the more reasonable it is to expect a greater frequency of discoveries, he said. The kick-off event took place on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019 at Brown County’s STEM Innovation Center on the UW-Green Bay campus, with representation from UW-Green Bay, the Green Bay Packers and Tiny Earth.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

Tiny Earth Kickoff

Photos by Dan Moore, Office of Marketing and University Communication