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.

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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.

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Tiny Earth Kickoff

Photos by Dan Moore, Office of Marketing and University Communication

Makenna Pucker

Manitowoc Campus student Makenna Pucker named ‘Promise Scholar’

Congratulations to Manitowoc Campus student Makenna Pucker ’20, who has been selected as a 2019 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar and will receive a $1,000 scholarship designated for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members.

Pucker outlined her future plans in this video. The Rosendale, Wis. native, plans to transfer to UW-Green Bay and is looking into a double major in Human Biology and Environmental Sciences. Eventually she hopes to become a psychiatrist or enter a medical field such as genetic counseling.

Associate Prof. Amy Kabrhel (Chemistry) is the advisor of Phi Theta Kappa on the Manitowoc Campus.

The Leaders of Promise Scholarship, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, recognizes 200 Phi Theta Kappa members with awards totaling $200,000. Recipients were selected by a panel of independent judges from nearly 900 applicants. Promise Scholars are selected based on outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated leadership potential.

The Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program was launched in 2001 to assist new Phi Theta Kappa members in obtaining an associate degree and encourage participation in Society programs.

Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations. Learn more at


Doing a Double Take: Twins receive Weyenberg and Phi Eta Sigma Scholarships

They share the same work ethic, values and leadership goals. They even have the same grade point average. And one day, they hope to be business partners.

Twins Kody and Kyle Klumb, both UW-Green Bay Business Administration majors, have begun a collection of  prestigious awards and recognition. In spring, each received a $2,500 scholarship that comes with the Weyenberg Prize for Excellence in Business. In summer of 2019, each received a $5,000 scholarship from Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

Honored by their achievements, they say they would have been disappointed if one of them had been overlooked.

Of the Weyenberg Awad, Kody Klumb said, “We are the same in so many ways. It would’ve been disappointing if I was the only one selected.”

“It makes it extra special to be able to share the honor together,” adds Kyle.

The Weyenberg Prize for Excellence and its corresponding scholarships are named in recognition of Tim Weyenberg, former CEO for Foth, an engineering company with a broad portfolio of clients, including Fortune 500 companies.

“Mr. Weyenberg is incredibly accomplished and being able to receive an award named after him is inspiring. I hope to follow a similar, successful career path,” says Kyle. “I believe it (the Weyenberg Prize} means going above and beyond to demonstrate a strong work ethic and leadership skills; wanting to make changes that will last and positively impact those around them. That’s exactly what Kyle and I want to do,” concludes Kody.

Identical beyond biology

Both Kody and Kyle say they are much more alike than they are different. Kyle says, “We both have very similar interests. We enjoy things such as boating, snowmobiling, and golfing.” Kody adds, “We are similar is so many ways: Our work ethic, competitiveness, willingness to help people, leadership goals, and respect for people.”

It’s no surprise then that the twins tout very similar, and impressive, resumes, and a perfect GPA.

Kody is emphasis in Finance. He will graduate with a major in Finance and a minor in Accounting with a professional goal of becoming a Certified Financial Planner. He is the vice president of the UW-Green Bay Student Finance Association. He is also a member of both the Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Societies and was selected as the Student Organization Leader for the month of November. He is also a student representative of the UW-Green Bay Strategic Budget Committee.

Kyle is majoring in Accounting and minoring in Business Administration. He wants to be a CPA. He serves as President of the UW-Green Bay Student Finance Association and is a Midwest Regional Conference Coordinator for the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. He is also a member of both the Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Societies. He, along with Kody, got the opportunity to speak at the national Phi Eta Sigma conference, and are Midwest Regional Conference coordinators for Phi Eta Sigma.

Their only major difference? Well, Kyle is more than an inch taller than Kody, although each fill out their 6-foot-plus frame.

Green Bay all the way

The Klumb family (from Marinette, Wis.) has deep roots at UW-Green Bay.

Kody explains, “My parents and relatives are graduates of the University and their degrees have led them to successful careers. I wanted to follow in their footsteps.” Kyle adds, “My mother [Laurie (Bergold) Klumb ’94 (Managerial Accounting)] is actually an accounting graduate, so I knew first hand that UW-Green Bay had a solid program. It’s like a family here, and family has always been important to me.” He concludes, “UW-Green Bay has been a solid name in our household. Given we knew the strength of the business program, we had no reason to look elsewhere.”

Business Administration provided a natural tug

“The thing that drew me most to my major was that it would allow me to combine my interest in numbers along with my passion to help others,” Kody said. Kyle agreed: “I have always had a strong passion for numbers and felt that becoming an accountant would be a great profession for me. Accounting is the backbone of every business so I felt I would have many career options.”

Both feel that UW-Green Bay and the Cofrin School of Business were the right choices.

Says Kody, “My experience here has been amazing! I have met so many great people. My instructors are top notch and go out of their way to help me succeed. I appreciate the smaller class size and the ability to easily reach my professors when I have questions.”

Ditto for Kyle. “My experience here at Green Bay has been great! I have met so many interesting people and have had so many opportunities. My professors are very knowledgeable in their discipline and I have learned so much. I am thankful I chose this school!”

Brotherly Bond from the beginning

Sans the six minutes between Kody and Kyle’s arrival into the world (Kody was the first born), they have remained together since inception. And they say they have no plans to change in the future.

Kyle explains, “Kody and I work well together. My career might take me temporarily down a different path but ultimately our goal is to one day be in business together.”

“We have a unique bond and work well together,” Kody says. “It would be rewarding to combine our work ethic and knowledge of the finance industry and use it to provide the best financial services to people.”

Story by freelance writer, Kim Viduski ’92

Photos by photographer/videographer Dan Moore, Office of Marketing and University Communication





Weidner Center Mural

New mural is now ‘live’ at the Weidner Center

Beau Thomas
Beau Thomas in front of his Studio Arts mural.

Same artist, different mural. Local artist and national artist Beau Thomas ’16 (Art and Design Arts) created a new mural on the UW-Green Bay campus. This time it’s backstage at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. Thomas created his first mural while still a student — a 50th anniversary mural on the exterior of the Studio Arts building, literally a couple hundred steps from the new Weidner Center backstage mural.

“We have noticed that the uptick in social media presence stems from putting the opportunities in the hands of those who are visiting the center,” says Weidner Center Executiive and Artistic Director, Kelli Strickland. “We made great strides in this regard with our ‘step and repeat’ backdrop in the lobby. Patrons lined up to take photos in front of it. We wanted to create the same opportunity for those performing at the Weidner who weren’t in the lobby but backstage.”

“The mural message of ‘live’ at the Weidner is at the heart of what differentiates the performing arts from all other entertainment,” Strickland explained. “We are live and in person. Not filtered through recording and a screen.”

She said Thomas was chosen because of relationship with the University and his strong track record of murals across the community.

Prof. Fermanich educates at NEW Water and NASA announcement

UW-Green Bay Professor Kevin Fermanich talks water quality at announcement

On May 30, 2019, NEW Water announced a partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to further the scientific knowledge of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. As part of their announcement, UW-Green Bay Prof. Kevin Fermanich (NAS) helped educate area leaders on water issues impacting Northeast Wisconsin.

In the photo, left to right: Prof. Kevin Fermanich, UW-Green Bay; Sarah Bartlett, Water Resources Specialist, NEW Water; Nancy Quirk, General Manager, Green Bay Water Utility; Tom Sigmund, Executive Director, NEW Water; Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich. Photo provided by the City of Green Bay.

“What happens on the land directly impacts water quality,” said Fermanich. “Our work in the watershed actively addresses the runoff issues that lead to water problems in the Bay. Through strategic partnerships, we will be able to achieve healthier waters for the community to enjoy.”

NEW Water was selected to partner with NASA due to its well-established Aquatic Monitoring Program, which has monitored area waters since 1986. NASA’s AERONET-OC instrument referred to as the SeaPRISM is mounted at one of NEW Water’s monitoring stations. To “ground truth” the water color measured by NASA satellites, data is collected at the surface of a body of water.

Learn more: Photos below provided by NEW Water.

NEW Water Bay Guardian Workboat[1]
NEW Water Bay Guardian
Water testing, NEW Water



Doug Higgins

Veteran TV meteorologist desires change of climate, sets course for the classroom

After 23 years in television weather-forecasting, Green Bay meteorologist Doug Higgins sensed a change in the climate of the newsroom.

“I kind of hit my own ‘glass ceiling’” he recalls. “I loved what I was doing and the people I worked with, but I could tell the news business was changing and I could not see a long-term future for me. I decided it was time to change careers.”

That was in 2015. With an air of confidence, Higgins tried his hand at sales, a career path several others in his family had navigated successfully.

“I failed miserably, twice!” he said with a sly smile, “so I decided to pursue something I had tried and enjoyed many years earlier: teaching. Carol and I decided it would be a good time for me to go back to school…literally.”

Higgins chose UW-Green Bay for three reasons: The University is conveniently close to his home in Green Bay, almost within walking distance; his wife and step-daughter are both graduates (Carol, ’08, Biology) and (Sarah ’18, Nursing), respectively, and the UW-Green Bay Education team impressed him from the first interview.

“When I met with the advisers here, they were welcoming, knowledgeable and encouraging,” he said. “Coming in as a non-traditional student, holding a bachelor’s degree in both Geography and Design, and lots of graduate credits in Meteorology, I was not sure where to start. They laid out a complete program for me to follow and pointed me in the right direction. All I had to do was set ‘em up and knock ‘em down.”

Higgins started that journey in fall of 2017. He found it somewhat challenging to be back in the classroom again, but says his life experiences are making him a better student this time around.

“I was not really a good student in high school,” said the Libertyville, Ill., native. “My attitude was not what it should have been and I have a learning disability. I have to study something three times before I can really grasp it. Having lived the life I have, I now realize how to manage that disability and the lessons from my earlier ‘failures’ fuels my focus in the classroom.”

Higgins is making steady progress on his new path and learning new ‘life lessons’ along the way.

“My favorite course so far has been Reading in the Content Area, taught by Prof. Tim Kaufman,” said Higgins. “He challenged us to develop creative and innovative ways to present information to middle school students. We could use technology or hands-on techniques or other approaches, which was not only fun, it was practical at any level.

“I’ve been able to apply those university classroom experiences to my high school classrooms at East High School,” he continued. “You know you need to adjust your approach when you look at the students and don’t see the engagement you’re looking for. It’s a little like leading an orchestra. Every student ‘plays their instrument’ in their own way and you need to keep them learning together as the semester progresses. It’s important to understand how each of them learns and make adjustments for that.”

Higgins is student-teaching three courses at Green Bay East: two freshman courses in Civics and Economics, and Contemporary World Issues for upperclassmen. He said the transition from student to teacher has been challenging, so he’s grateful for the support UW-Green Bay provides him.

“My biggest challenge has been managing the classroom,” he acknowledged. “I’m very comfortable being in front of the students and delivering the course content, but it’s a little intimidating to look out at those 30 students and figure out how to keep their attention. There are a lot of distractions at this level that get in the way of learning.

“I’m fortunate to have a veteran UW-Green Bay educator (teaching supervisor) Patricia Derozier, available to me as a resource,” he said. “Between my in-class teaching supervisors and her, I’m learning the tricks they have used over the years. Nothing about it is cookie-cutter, either; you have to know your students to know which approach to use. Sometimes just rearranging the seating chart makes a world of difference.”

Higgins knows Social Studies is the area in which he wants to land his permanent teaching role. Once certified, he will be eligible to teach middle school students, freshmen and sophomores. He completes his student-teaching in June 2019 and will submit his professional portfolio this summer. If all goes as he plans, he will enter full-time teaching in the fall, somewhere in the greater Green Bay area. His college work isn’t over yet, though, as he plans to complete his master’s in Earth Science Education.

“This feels so right to me,” said Higgins. “I love being in the classroom with the students and helping them learn. I am very open with them about my own experiences in school and in my career. In some way, I hope it helps them see that here’s a guy who worked through his own difficulties and made it out the other end, and if I can do it, they can do it.”

Mid-career professionals making a career change to teaching is a trend that began decades ago and continues to expand in popularity, according to Scott Ashmann, associate dean of the UW-Green Bay College of Health, Education and Social Welfare.

“Many school districts like to hire individuals who have had career experiences outside of education,” said Ashmann. “They bring a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and perspective with them that enhance the teaching and learning processes in the classroom.”

“If I were to offer advise to anyone considering a career change,” Higgins said thoughtfully, “I’d recommend they do something they like and that they know they are good at. I have worked with people who don’t have that combination and they are just frustrated all the time, even if the job pays well. It’s important that you enjoy what you’re doing and have self-confidence that you are doing it well.”

Higgins’ new career path exemplifies the power of personal responsibility in the old weather adage, “You can’t prevent a thunderstorm, but you can use the electricity.”

Story by freelance writer Jim Streed ’05
Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication