Brown County STEM Innovation Center grand opening

It’s Full STEAM Ahead with New STEM Innovation Center

There’s something truly special about this place. The brand-new 63,000-square-foot Brown County STEM Innovation Center on the UW-Green Bay campus faces south from the brow of a low hill just west of UW-Green Bay’s Laboratory Sciences building. Its horizontal stance is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style design and is surrounded by open spaces and natural vegetation.

The glass-and-steel frame suggests a modern facility with an industrial flair, open to the world, focused on the future. And that’s exactly what its inhabitants plan to deliver.

STEM Center grand opening
Brown County STEM Innovation Center Grand Opening

Inside, the lobby is sun-filled and colorful, with geometric designs on the walls and a vaulted ceiling that opens to second-floor classrooms and offices. A donor recognition wall dominates the west wall, and letters on an overhead bridge welcome you to the Richard J. Resch School of Engineering, with all of its promises.

“We see this facility as a catalyst for STEM education and business partnerships in Northeast Wisconsin,” said John Katers, dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “We want to make this region competitive with other parts of the state and the nation in terms of innovation and sustainability. This facility has the potential to attract the faculty, students and business partners to support that vision.

“This is a $15-million facility,” he continued, “with $5 million in funding each coming from the State of Wisconsin, Brown County and private donors. “We broke ground in September 2018 and opened the doors in September 2019. That’s a really quick accomplishment for agencies like ours, and I don’t think it could have happened without the right partners.”

Co-location creates many synergistic relationships. The University of Wisconsin-Extension Brown County program shares the first floor with Brown County’s Land & Water Conservation department. These agencies often interact with the public and provide complementary programming, so having their offices close to each other enhances public access.

East of the lobby and sharing its wall of windows is a large classroom space with partitionable walls. With the walls in place, the space configures into four classrooms. Without partitions, the space can accommodate up to 120 people for collaboration, symposiums and receptions. Just around the corner marks the entrance to the offices of the Einstein Project, which provides educational curriculum and hands-on materials for teachers and students, with a focus on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The Einstein Project area includes a warehouse for the hundreds of instructional materials they distribute to school districts across the state and a “makerspace”—a place where people (including engineering students) collaborate to share tools, materials and expertise on all sorts of creative and technical endeavors.

At the east end of the second floor, overlooking the main lobby, are three dedicated laboratory classrooms, one each for fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and instrumentation and controls.

STEM-Center-Aerial-1

Heading west across the bridge from the engineering labs, a door leads to a small, outdoor patio on the south side of the building. The patio is surrounded by a “green roof” of groundcover-like plants. UW-Extension will maintain the green roof, and participants in its Master Gardener program will maintain the gardens surrounding the building, including   the Jim and Doris Madigan Rose Garden. Also, on the second floor, there are faculty offices and small gathering spaces for faculty-student and student-student collaboration.

Another collaborative area is an instructional kitchen shared by the extension staff and the University. The extension staff prepares food samples they take to public schools as part of their FoodShare education program, and the University conducts classes as part of its Nutritional Science and Dietetics program.

“None of us could have afforded an instructional facility of this quality by ourselves,” said Katers. “Together, though, we were able to do it. You can already see the benefits for UW-Extension, our University programs, and students from the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay also receive instruction here. Eventually, this space will support our new Masters of Nutrition and Wellness program, expected to be in place by 2021.”

Even as Katers and his partners are racing to get the facility up to full speed, they are looking to the future.

“If you noticed, the sign near the donor wall in the lobby references ‘Phoenix Innovation Park,’” said Katers. “We have another 60-plus acres of land in this area for potential use. We don’t necessarily want to develop all of it, and we don’t have a timetable in mind, but now that we’ve made this partnership work, we’re open to other long-term aspirational partners who might want to develop their research and innovation operations here.”

If you can’t visit the Brown County STEM Innovation Center in person, take advantage of an online opportunity by searching “Brown County STEM Center Virtual Tour.”

–Story by freelance writer Jim Streed ’05

See also:

Photos: Brown County Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

UW-Green Bay was a co-sponsor of the 2020 Brown County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, Jan. 18, 2020. “2020: Envision Change. Act Now” was the theme of this year’s celebration, now in its 25th year, locally. The free event was held at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. A number of UW-Green Bay faculty and staff members are on the planning committee. Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

Brown County MLK Celebration 2020

– Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication

Video/photos take you back through 50 years of Jazz Fest

Looking forward to Jazz Fest 50 this Saturday, Jan. 25? Take a peek into the past through these photos capturing different Jazz Fests throughout the years, provided by the UW-Green Bay Archives and Area Research Center.

Jazz Fest, the second oldest jazz festival in Wisconsin, invites middle and high school jazz bands from across the state to celebrate the joy of jazz music! In addition to workshops and classes, these bands also participate in an afternoon concert on the last day of the event. This year’s concert is on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 4 p.m. in the Cofrin Family Hall at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts; this concert is free, and the public is welcomed and encouraged to attend. This year’s high school band guests include Ashwaubenon High School, Green Bay East High School, Pulaski Middle School, Pulaski High School, Two Rivers High School, Evansville High School, Preble High School, West DePere High School, Bay Port High School and Jefferson High School. The Jazz Fest celebration will be capped off with a concert by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The Squirrel Nut Zippers at the Weidner Center on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.

Read more about Jazz Fest and its history here, or contact Adam Gaines at 920-465-2440 or gainesa@uwgb.edu with any questions.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

Jazz Fest Photos from Archives

– Photos provided by the UW-Green Bay Archives and Area Research Center

UW-Green Bay Habitat for Humanity help families find a place to call home

UW-Green Bay Habitat for Humanity visited Taos, New Mexico over the week of Jan. 12 to help build, organize and restore buildings for local families to have a place to call home.

Shelby Smith (Communication) took charge of the Life at UWGB Instagram page during the trip to Taos, posting photos and keeping the UW-Green Bay community updated on how they were helping the community.

Smith said members of the group stayed busy every day of the trip. The fourth day of their trip consisted of tiling, grouting floors and painting house lot signs. Even in New Mexico, the group could not escape the snow! On the final day, members made final touches on the houses, but also celebrated their work with some fun in the snow. Snowball fights and saying goodbye to the connections they made in Taos capped off a fantastic trip. While there, members of the group got to meet the family they helped build a home for, and they experienced a home dedication ceremony.

During their off times, members were able to appreciate the beauty of the area. On the second day of visiting Taos, they hiked to see an ice cave at nearly 8,000 feet of elevation. This trip is captured in the photo above. They also visited Black Rock Hot Springs, hiked Vista Verde Trail Head, drove the Enchanted Circle and experienced the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. This was all part of their Cultural Day to better understand the community they were going to serve.

Past trips for the UW-Green Bay chapter included home builds in Hawaii, Illinois and North Carolina. The organization also visited Taos during winter break trip 2015.

For members of the group, the trip was a life-changing experience. On Instagram, they write, “There’s nothing better than traveling with friends, both old and new, and doing good in a community far away from your own. That’s the power of Habitat for Humanity.”

If you are interested in joining UWGB Habitat for Humanity, find the org on Instagram and Facebook, and look for its booth at the Spring OrgSmorg!

UW-Green Bay Habitat for Humanity 2020 Winter Trip
UWGB Habitat for Humanity, New Mexico Trip
UW-Green Bay Habitat for Humanity 2020 Winter Trip
UWGB Habitat for Humanity, New Mexico Trip
UW-Green Bay Habitat for Humanity 2020 Winter Trip
UWGB Habitat for Humanity, New Mexico Trip
UW-Green Bay Habitat for Humanity 2020 Winter Trip
UWGB Habitat for Humanity, New Mexico Trip
UW-Green Bay Habitat for Humanity 2020 Winter Trip
UWGB Habitat for Humanity, New Mexico Trip

 

Story by Emily Gerlikovski. Photos from Shelby Smith.

Video: Cheering on the Pack is fun for Phoenix Cheer Team

While it may be common for college cheerleaders to cheer on football teams, not many college cheerleaders can say they cheer for their local NFL football team. Green Bay Phoenix Cheer Team, along with St. Norbert College cheerleaders, are collegiate cheerleaders of the Green Bay Packers, of which UW-Green Bay is a Higher Education Partner. They showed their support for the Packers at a number of pep rallies, and of course, they were present at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Jan. 12 for the Packers play-off win against the Seattle Seahawks. Members of the Cheer Team call it an “amazing opportunity” to cheer for both the Phoenix and the Packers.

Video: Gaines talks Jazz Fest 50 in preparing for Jan. 25 event

Jazz Fest is celebrating its 50th anniversary starting on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 on UW-Green Bay’s campus. Associate Prof. of Music Adam Gaines explains the history of Jazz Fest and what people can expect from this year’s lineup. Below is the list of events:

  • Thursday, January 23 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Join jazz alumni at the Blue Opus, 1390 Bellevue St, Green Bay, for music and socializing. Suggested donation of $10 at the door with funds going towards the UWGB Jazz Ensemble tour of Slovakia.
  • Saturday, January 25 at 4 p.m.: A half dozen area school Jazz bands will take part in a FREE public concert. The concert will be held in the Cofrin Family Hall at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Saturday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m.: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band & The Squirrel Nut Zippers concert at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at $20.50. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.weidnercenter.com/events.

 

Photographer Dan Moore’s Top 10 Photos of 2019

Editor’s note: In his role as UW-Green Bay photographer/videographer Dan Moore writes one blog post a year, always a reflection back on his favorite photos of the year. See his take on 2019…

As both the new year (definitely) and a new decade (depending on your stance in the “there-was-no-year-zero debate”) begin, here are 10 of my favorite photos from last year:

Lunar Eclipse Over the Cofrin Library

Top 10 2019-1-1

This was right in my wheelhouse as a photographer. It was about zero degrees, which was neat, and the sky was clear, so all I had to figure out a way to frame things in an interesting way and be done before I lost feeling in my fingers.

Krash the Kress

Krash the Kress

Krash the Kress is such a fun event, and this crew looked to be having the most fun of all.

Joe Schoenebeck Feature

Joe Schoenebeck

If you’ve ever met Joe, you already know that his enthusiasm for science demonstrations is unsurpassed. The challenge with this shot was getting an image where the spark was arcing. It took a lot of frames but I got one.

Rehearsals for Julius Caesar

Top 10 2019-4

I can count on getting interesting expressions from the actors in the Theater program, but this shot form the rehearsals for Julius Caesar is my favorite.

Phoenix Sculpture in the Fall

Top 10 2019-5

Shortly after the Phoenix Rising sculpture was installed, I was walking from the Cofrin Library to Theatre Hall and noticed how the trees framed the sculpture, and thought, “That’s going to look pretty great with some fall colors.” It did.

Goat Yoga in the Quad

Top 10 2019-6

Hello there, goat!

Camp Lloyd Buddies

Top 10 2019-7

The connections built during Camp Lloyd are truly amazing, and I think this photo captures the bond between the campers and the UW-Green Bay student buddies.

GB Welcome Party at Lambeau

Top 10 2019-8

As part of GB Welcome, freshmen participated in a community service project followed by at party inside the Lambeau Field Atrium. This year’s freshmen were serious about having a good time.

Winter in Autumn

Top 10 2019-9

An early snowfall blanketed campus before all of the leaves had a chance to fall. I thought this maple was particularly stunning set against the whites of the sky, snow and science buildings.

Commencement

Top 10 2019-10

Many years ago, when I graduated from UW-Green Bay, I remember the feeling of looking around the Weidner Center for family and generally trying to soak in as much of the atmosphere as possible. It’s something you only get to do once, but I love seeing the looks on the faces of each semesters’ graduates and having a pretty good idea what they are feeling.

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