Katherine Bruni

Fulbright honor takes UW-Green Bay graduate from Wisconsin to the Netherlands

Katherine Bruni has always wanted to make a positive impact on the world. She is well on her way.

While UW-Green Bay was her first stop from her hometown of Baraboo, Wis., the world awaits this passionate Phoenix whose next destination is the Netherlands to study public policy and human development with a focus on risk and vulnerability studies. Bruni will be earning a master’s degree at Maastricht University’s Public Policy and Human Development program—a dual-degree program with the United Nations University—made possible through a prestigious and competitive Fulbright grant.

Specifically, Bruni will be focusing on man-made and naturally occurring risks and disasters and looking at how we can predict, manage, and mitigate their impacts through policy.

Katherine Bruni
Katherine Bruni

“Essentially, I am studying how to help countries become even more resilient and adaptable by increasing the efficiency, equity, and effectiveness of their responses to crises while also managing the adverse socio-economic impacts these disasters can have.”

Associate Prof. Elizabeth Wheat, who has been working with Bruni since her first-year seminar on focusing on environmental justice, describes Bruni as “a truly extraordinary student who has overcome tremendous personal challenges in her life and worked incredibly hard as a Phoenix.”

Bruni says she “squeezed every bit of knowledge and opportunity” that she could during her time at the University.

While she started as an intended education major, that first-year seminar with Prof. Wheat provided a new interest — environmental justice. “The course and the topics covered in it really just lit a fire in me that has continued to grow ever since.”

She quickly switched majors to Environmental Policy and Planning and added Public Administration to her academic profile. But it was a term paper written for Natural Resource Law with Prof. Wheat that provided the confidence to excel in this academic area.

“I wrote my term paper on the natural resource management of Biscayne National Park which is a marine park off the coast of Florida. When I got the paper back at the end of the semester, there was a note from my professor saying that she really enjoyed the paper and she thought that I should submit it to the Midwest Political Science Association’s annual conference and she said she would provide the help to do so. It turned out to be one of the largest political science conferences in the United States.”

While her paper was accepted, it also developed into a comparative policy analysis where she analyzed natural resource management strategies utilized in Biscayne National Park as well as the Galápagos Marine Reserve; a concept that developed through a study abroad trip to Ecuador with Prof. Marcelo Cruz.

Among her long list of accomplishments, a policy analysis for a course with Prof. Helpap on clean water access in Kewaunee County, eventually led to her being invited to speak on the floor of the Wisconsin State Assembly. In her “spare time” she ran the Public and Environmental Affairs Council, served on the University’s sustainability committee, was a Resident Assistant for a year, and served as an economic teaching assistant.

The Fulbright grant, she says, is validating. “Being a Fulbright grant recipient is affirmative reinforcement that I am on the right path and can make a positive impact on this world. It is validating. Particularly because with the competitiveness of the graduate school I applied to as well as the grant itself, having passed all of those checkpoints reenforces the idea that I do have what it takes, and these institutions see that in me. Even if I have not realized my full potential yet—they are willing to help me along in that process.

“This grant allows me to pursue my passions without the restrictions and financial burdens that normally accompany a graduate degree program. Also, by not having to work for a living outside of attending graduate school full-time, I will have the opportunity to pursue internships that will enhance my education in the field, as well as volunteer opportunities where I can engage with the community outside of academia.”

“My experience at UWGB provided not only the competence to pursue a graduate degree but the confidence as well—and that is the key piece of the puzzle. I am extremely grateful for my time at UWGB because of the relationships I formed with professors, administration, and fellow students because that is what really pushed me to be able to apply to graduate school in another country as well as apply for a Fulbright grant.”


April 6 election: Stevens Point City Council District 5 candidate Q&A

STEVENS POINT – Rising taxes, affordable housing, and bike lanes and roads are among the key issues for the District 5 City Council candidates in the spring general election. District 5 incumbent Meleesa Johnson ’00 (Environmental Policy & Planning) will face challenger Marla Schultz and registered write-in challenger Tyler Paterick in the April 6 general election. Johnson, the City Council president, is seeking her fourth term in office. The race will appear on ballots alongside the race for state superintendent of public instruction.

Meleesa Johnson

Age: 64

Occupation and education: Marathon County Solid Waste Department Director and bachelor of science in environmental policy and planning from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Relevant experience: Led the effort to convert a vacant lot to Emerson Park, a place for neighbors to gather and children to play.

Spearheading the work to tackle housing affordability, housing availability and housing equity with a new housing taskforce.

Source: April 6 election: Stevens Point City Council District 5 candidate Q&A

New Leaf Foods celebrated AmeriCorps week March 7-13 with Maryssa Paulsen ’19

New Leaf Foods celebrated AmeriCorps week March 7-13 with Maryssa Paulsen ’19 (Environmental Policy and Planning, Public Administration). She has been serving as volunteer coordinator for New Leaf Foods since September of 2020 through the Volunteer Wisconsin AmeriCorps program. Paulsen has been a tremendous asset for the organization. Her skill and dedication are a credit to her and to her education at UW-Green Bay. “Her work has already increased our organizational capacity, and we are so proud of her! We want to share our appreciation with all of her fellow UWGB alumni and professors.”

Assistant Professor Michael Holly funded to help predict groundwater contamination

UW-Green Bay Assistant Professor Michael Holly
Assistant Professor Michael Holly

The Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin (FWC) awarded $122,000 to Assistant Professor Michael Holly (Environmental Science, Water Science) to lead a working group to investigate the environmental transport of PFAS. Research completed by the Sustainable Use of Biosolids (SUBS) working group (including PIs at UW-Platteville, Madison, and Stevens Point) will provide training and laboratory experience for undergraduate students at each campus. Completed work will help predict future PFAS groundwater contamination from soils receiving biosolids, facilitate generation of future land application guidelines to protect groundwater wells from PFAS, identify Wisconsin groundwater sources at risk, and evaluate a low-cost treatment to further minimize PFAS leaching.

Grad students lead Sea Grant discussion ‘Green Bay: A Saga of Life, Destruction and Restoration’ Oct. 22

In this installment of Wisconsin Sea Grant’s “Lake Talks” series, speakers Cadie Olson and Brandon Falish will cover the history of contamination and pollution of the Fox River and Green Bay, summarize ongoing remedial objectives and projects, and then discuss their own research. Olson and Falish are graduate students at UW-Green Bay. This is a free, informal science talk open to all. No special knowledge of the topic is needed or assumed! Time for audience questions will be included.

More about the speakers:

Cadie Olson researches the benthic macroinvertebrate communities of lower Green Bay and the Lower Fox River. She is a 2018 graduate of UW-Stevens Point with a degree in fisheries (and minors in biology and water resources, plus a GIS certificate). She has previously worked as an aquatic invertebrate biologist in northern Minnesota.

Brandon Falish is pursuing a master’s in environmental policy and planning. His thesis work looks at the carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signatures in the lower Green Bay to evaluate the health of the food web. He previously worked as a fish biologist for both the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

This free and public event is on Oct. 22, 2020, 7:00-8:00 p.m, via this link.

Ethics in Action awards virtual luncheon, Oct. 15

UW-Green Bay community, please consider attending the “Ethics in Action” awards luncheon that is being held this year for the first time as a virtual 45-minute event on Oct. 15, 2020. Formerly called the “Ethics in Business” award, since its inception in 2008, Prof. John Stoll and many campus students have assisted with its development. This year is a totally changed format, as you can see from the program information at the link below. Aside from your own attendance, it is an event worthy of student attendance (possibly as extra credit). Please help us promote ethical behavior in our regional community. Registration is free.


UW-Green Bay EMBI student interns help make the annual Green Bay Garden Blitz a great success

Caitlin Curtis gives the camera a thumbs up.

Pong Moua (Environmental Science) served as Garden Blitz communication coordinator and Caitlin Curtis (Environmental Policy and Planning) as assistant volunteer coordinator at the seventh annual Green Bay Garden Blitz from May 28-31, 2020. Moua (pictured above), Curtis and 48 volunteers installed 74 raised bed garden boxes at private homes, Kennedy School and Veterans Manor.

Facing challenges due to COVID-19 concerns, the 2020 Garden Blitz accomplished its goals safely and on schedule. Kim Diaz, Blitz coordinator, said “working with Pong and Caitlin was a joy because they were so talented, dedicated and willing to learn.”

Fresh veggies? Email Libby at the Campus Garden

Last year, this space shared a feature on student Libby Schmit, interning with the campus garden and hoop house.

This summer, Libby (Schmit) Courchaine, (Senior, Environmental Policy and Planning) continues to manage the gardens, now as the University’s garden technician and produce market manager. Recent items available include: microgreens, kale, swiss chard, beets, chives, basil and more.

To receive updates about the gardens and opportunities to order produce, email ibuakaa@uwgb.edu and you will be added to the weekly veggie sale list. All are welcome, not just the campus community!