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UW-Green Bay faculty receive MCW Award

Excellent teachers are committed to advancing medical students’ learning and are the base for achieving the Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) core mission in education. The Curriculum and Evaluation Committee (CEC) recently recognized and affirmed individuals that advanced student learning and provided added value to the medical student curriculum at MCW. The CEC recognized the following UW-Green Bay faculty as MCW’s Outstanding Medical Student Teachers for 2019-2020:

  • Associate Prof. James Marker
  • Associate Prof. Brian Merkel
  • Associate Dean Amanda Nelson
  • Associate Prof. Uwe Pott

Congratulations to those who received this award!

Amanda Nelson, MCW Award
Amanda Nelson
Brian Merkel, MCW Award
Brian Merkel
Uwe Pott, MCW Award
Uwe Pott
James Marker

Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduates (and alumna Julia Shariff) join state’s growing medical field

Graduates of the first class from the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay program are now practicing Wisconsin doctors. UW-Green Bay alumna, Julia Shariff ’15 (Human Biology, Spanish) is among these graduates joining the growing medical field and open to staying in the state, which would help to meet Wisconsin’s strong need for new doctors. Read more from Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Discovering new antibiotics is focus of Dec. 7 event at Lambeau Field

There are more than 200 registered and 67 posters ready for presentation for the Tiny Earth event at Lambeau Field on Dec. 7, 2018. “Tiny Earth undergraduate students from across Green Bay and Wisconsin bent on a mission to discovery new antibiotics are convening at Lambeau Field on Friday to present their research,” said UW-Green Bay (and Medical College of Wisconsin instructor) Prof. Brian Merkel (Human Biology). The event is sponsored by Medical College of Wisconsin Green Bay and Cherney labs.

Tiny Earth is an innovative program spanning 44 states and 15 countries that inspires and retains students in the sciences while addressing one of the most pressing global health challenges of our century: the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. Tiny Earth centers around an introductory biology course in which students perform hands-on field and laboratory research on soil in the hunt for new antibiotics.

The Tiny Earth in Titletown event was conceived by biology instructors and administrators at UW-Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) to showcase the innovative science, research, and teaching taking place in northeast Wisconsin. Participating institutions include UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, College of the Menominee Nation, Marian University, UW-Fond du Lac, Milwaukee Area Technical College, UW-Parkside, UW-Waukesha County, UW-Whitewater, UW-Rock County, Madison College, UW-Madison, Northcentral Technical College, and UW-River Falls.

The evening will include a student poster competition and a conversation discussing efforts by Wisconsin’s students to harness the full potential of the state’s soil to tackle the looming public health crisis, antibiotic resistance. Area scientists will judge student submissions and awards and prizes will be presented to winning students.

Please feel free to contact Brian Merkel ( for more information.



Julia Shariff standing in front of the Medical College of Wisconsin building sign

First Class: UW-Green Bay and MCW Green Bay grad can’t wait to begin ‘paying it forward’ in her hometown

Julia Shariff in cap and gown at graduation
Julia Shariff on graduation day

“Surreal” and “emotional” are words used by newly titled, Dr. Julia Shariff ’15 (Human Biology and Spanish) as she described her graduation ceremony from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Green Bay campus in June of 2018.

Shariff is the first UW-Green Bay graduate to be accepted into the newly formed medical college; and a member of the first class of graduates from the MCW Green Bay campus. For this Green Bay native, the ceremony represents the culmination of years of hard work, perseverance and unfaltering campus and community support.

Now she’s one step closer to returning the favor and caring for those who have unselfishly supported her.

The best decision

Julia’s senior year at Southwest High School in Green Bay piqued her interest in medicine. Nearing graduation, she toured a number of colleges throughout the state, including UW-Green Bay. “It just clicked,” says Shariff, “I felt really comfortable,” and she learned that the Human Biology program would help her explore her options in medicine — whether as a pre-med student or another path. It felt like home.

Upon enrolling at UW-Green Bay, her enthusiasm for Human Biology, including the classes and encouragement from professors drove her to take the pre-med path. “Once I started, I realized how strong the department was,” says Shariff. “They provided the classes and tools available for pre-med students, and a tremendous amount of academic support.” Passionate, hands-on professors, who are dedicated to their students created a learning environment that helped Shariff thrive.

Reflecting on her years at UW-Green Bay, it clearly was “…one of the best decisions I’ve made, academically.”

New campus, hometown support

As Julia neared her final semesters at UW-Green Bay, the Medical College of Wisconsin was finalizing their plans to partner with both UW-Green Bay and St. Norbert College for their satellite campus, housed at the St. Norbert College campus in De Pere. Shariff explored a number of medical school options in the Midwest and the east coast and decided to interview with the brand new MCW-Green Bay campus. The pull of her hometown, and most importantly the support she would receive while enduring the rigors of medical school, made the decision to explore this new, local option an easy one. When her acceptance letter from MCW-Green Bay arrived, she knew she had made another excellent choice. Having her grandfather, Faculty Emeritus Ismail Shariff (Economics) on campus, couldn’t hurt. (See the feature on Prof. Shariff and his legacy at UWGB.)

Julia Shariff with Bellin's Bart Miller in Spring 2015
Julia Shariff with Bellin’s Bart Miller in Spring 2015

Being a part of the inaugural class of this brand-new regional medical school, Julia was both excited and nervous. A new environment, a brand-new program… She wasn’t sure how things would go, and yet knew she and her new classmates would make the program their own. She credits her outstanding academic preparation from UW-Green Bay for making her feel confident in those first weeks and months at MCW-Green Bay. “You’re never fully prepared for the workload (of medical school,)” says Shariff. “But I felt very prepared academically.”

In fact, one of the most enjoyable parts of medical school at the MCW Green Bay campus was its “newness.” Shariff enjoyed the influence that her inaugural class had on the campus. “We really had to take the reins and help to create the campus from the ground up,” she says. Providing feedback, creating student organizations and creating an atmosphere of support for classmates and families was a large part of her medical school experience. “As one speaker said at graduation, ‘we experienced life together’ and that bonds you, especially during the difficult times.”

The supportive atmosphere helped students succeed. At the spring matching ceremony, where each final-year medical student is “matched” with the hospital where they will do their residency, all students were successfully matched. 100%. Not bad for a completely new medical school in a sports-crazy Northeast Wisconsin town.

Rooted in Wisconsin

In July, Julia begins her three-year residency program at Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, with focus in internal medicine. “I have always believed that life presents itself to you and shows you your path in different ways,” says Shariff, and she remains open to the possibilities that her medical career may provide. The program at Gunderson offers flexibility to explore the many different medical specialties, which allows Shariff to keep her options open. She has already considered a fellowship in endocrinology, which would be another 2-4 years.

Regardless of her final choice, she definitely wants to stay in the area. “We are very aware of the physician shortage in our state,” states Shariff, and hopes her and her classmates will have an impact on that shortage. All graduates from the MCW-Green Bay campus are completing their residency programs either in the state of Wisconsin or the near Midwest region. “I honestly wouldn’t trade the support and education that I’ve had for anything, and wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of people from UW-Green Bay and MCW and the Green Bay community,” says Shariff. “I feel a big responsibility to pay it forward to both campuses and hopefully can come back and thank people for the support that I’ve received.”

She’s already begun. When asked about advice that she’d give to all students as they make decisions on what to do after high school; “Be open to be inspired,” says Shariff, “the capacity of your mind and resilience is so much more than we think it is, and we can be our worst enemy. If you think for one second, ‘I think I can do this,’ hold onto that thought. That’s so much more powerful than anything else.”

Story by Kristin Bouchard ’93. MCW photos submitted by Holly Botsford

University of Wisconsin–Green Bay Names Katers Dean of College of Science and Technology

GREEN BAY, WI – University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller today announced the appointment of UWGB Professor John Katers, Ph. D., to the position of founding Dean of UWGB’s College of Science and Technology. Katers is the first dean to be appointed in the University’s new four-college model, the first major restructuring of academic administration at the University in two decades. Katers’ appointment is effective July 1, 2016.

John Katers, Ph.D.
John Katers, Ph.D.

“It is very exciting to have someone of Dr. Katers’ ability and national reputation to become the inaugural dean of the new College of Science and Technology, Chancellor Miller noted. “His leadership will be extremely important to our success.”

The Dean of the College of Science and Technology is responsible for budget, personnel, curriculum, strategic planning and constituent relations in promoting the University and the College’s programs. The Dean provides academic and administrative leadership and oversight of interdisciplinary and disciplinary programs in the College.

According to Miller, initial plans for the College place Human Biology, Natural and Applied Sciences (NAS), the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, and the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay partnership within the College of Science and Technology. The Chancellor noted that the plan is still under review and could involve additional programs and majors.

“It is a tremendous honor to be named the founding Dean of the College of Science and Technology at UWGB,” Katers stated. “Having been at the university for more than 25 years as a student and now a faculty member, I have realized the benefits of UWGB’s unique, solutions-based educational approach first-hand and look forward to fostering new opportunities in the sciences for students, faculty and the community. ”

Katers noted that setting a course for the future is even more of an honor as the University concludes its 50-year celebration. “It’s exciting to be a part of developing the vision for the next 50 years,” Katers added. “Our recent partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin and our new Engineering Technology programs are great examples of how we are aligning our courses and preparing students for the emerging needs of the marketplace.”

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approved UWGB’s restructuring plan in December of 2015. By July 1, the University will be organized into four colleges to more strategically align the University’s educational programs with the growing commercial, social and cultural needs of the region. The four colleges are:

  • The College of Health, Education and Social Welfare
  • The Austin E. Cofrin School of Business
  • The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • The College of Science and Technology

“We are excited about the University’s efforts to reorganize and align with the community,” noted Dan Madigan, president of Feeco International, an expert in providing industry leading process design, engineering and manufacturing to the fertilizer, agriculture, mining and minerals, utility, paper, and chemical processing industries. “This is exactly what we need to be successful. We look forward to working more closely and collaboratively with the College of Science and Technology and Dean Katers on the challenges we face in the region.”

Katers has been employed at UW-Green Bay since 1995, initially working for the University of Wisconsin Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center as a Recycling Specialist before joining the Natural and Applied Sciences (NAS) faculty in 1999. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2004, and promoted to Professor in 2012. He served as Chair of NAS since 2012, and has served as chair of the collaborative Online Masters in Sustainable Management (SMGT) program since its inception in 2012, a collaborative effort with UW Extension and four other UW campuses.

An award-winning educator and leader, Katers was named a Wisconsin Idea Fellow by the UW System in recognition of his outstanding public service and outreach to business and industry. In 2013, he was awarded a Fulbright Specialist position and worked collaboratively with faculty at the Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago, Chile, on sustainability issues. He serves as director of the University’s Environmental Management Business Institute (EMBI). Katers holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Business Administration and a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from UW-Green Bay and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Marquette University.

About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,700 students. The University transforms lives and communities through exceptional and award-winning teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, and a problem-solving approach to education. For more information, visit


Health science students have wealth of opportunities

Life-changing experiences can be found outside the classroom and in community partnerships. For UWGB health science students, that could be a Study Abroad trip to Germany or a trip across town to the Medical College of Wisconsin. Alumna Julia Shariff was the first UWGB graduate to gain acceptance into the brand new program — MCW-Green Bay, right here, in her hometown. Watch the video to see the many transforming experiences available to UWGB students who dream of a career in health sciences.

May grad Shariff posts at MCW-Green Bay site

Julia Shariff, who graduated in May 2015 in Human Biology and Spanish, is a first-year medical student at MCW-Green Bay. She’s also a blogger, offering a look-behind-the-scenes at the road to becoming a physician. You can see her latest entry at the MCW site,


Faculty note: Hanke joins MCW as assistant dean

The Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay has announced the appointment of UW-Green Bay Prof. Craig Hanke as Assistant Dean for Curriculum. He has been involved with the coordination of the MCW-Green Bay science faculty and serves as a member of the MCW-Green Bay Community Advisory Board. For the past 14 years a member of the Human Biology faculty at UWGB, Hanke retains his teaching affiliation with UWGB this fall.

Shariff first of UW-Green Bay grads to join MCW-Green Bay

shariff-top-storyJulia Shariff is still wrapping her head around the possibility of one day being called, “Dr. Shariff.”

The May 2015 UW-Green Bay Human Biology and Spanish graduate took a major step toward her long-awaited goal with recent acceptance into the inaugural class of the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Classes begin this summer.

“To be honest, the idea of med school seemed like something other people did, not someone like me… The reason I decided to declare my major and head down that path was because of the amazing faculty at UWGB. I had always had support from my family to follow my dreams, but having a respected non-family source of support and belief in my abilities was what I needed to take the plunge.”

Being able to stay in Green Bay while in medical school is providing a level of comfort for Shariff (pictured with Bellin’s Bart Miller, above). The Green Bay Southwest High School graduate recognizes the value of “staying home” for her undergraduate degree, and will follow in the footsteps of a number of family members who took the same path.

“The benefits of staying in Green Bay are numerous,” she says. “It will both decrease the cost of living, but ease the transition into medical school. I’ve heard that the first year comes with its own academic adjustments so taking on medical school in Green Bay provides me with comfort and familiarity. I absolutely love the atmosphere of Green Bay — not too big and not too small. There’s plenty to do and opportunities to learn in this area. Having a medical school in Green Bay brings a lot to the area, especially when it comes to establishing community physicians.”

Shariff already has an insider perspective into health care in the region, having shadowed at Bellin Hospital in preparation for a research project, “The Lost Connection: Benefits of being a bilingual professional in the U.S. healthcare system,” which earned her prestigious selection as a “Posters in the Rotunda” showcase presenter in Madison in Spring of 2015.

Her project provided insight into the Green Bay area’s growing population of Spanish-speaking residents.

In true interdisciplinary fashion, Shariff developed the idea in collaboration with Prof. Cristina Ortiz of UW-Green Bay’s Spanish and Humanistic Studies academic programs.

“As Julia’s adviser, I conveyed to her that medical schools are seeking well-rounded students who are knowledgeable and have academic experiences beyond the sciences,” Ortiz says. “Her Spanish skills and academic work in Spanish have been key players in positioning Julia as the desirable candidate she is for medical school.”

Explains Shariff, “My research methods consisted of a lot of field observation, interviews, and of course investigation of previous reports and studies. I interviewed three individuals specifically: a bilingual doctor, a bilingual physician’s assistant and a Spanish interpreter. Through my research I developed a list of pros and cons for various communication methods in the healthcare system, thus determining the overall most efficient and practical method was the employment of a bilingual physician.”

Shariff studied abroad, in Spain, as part of her undergraduate experience. She was also an active tutor for the Organic Chemistry class, while serving as UWGB’s Health Science Club president, and co-president of UWGB’s Colleges Against Cancer organization.

“Green Bay is founded on the tight knit community and surrounding areas, and the promotion of this network is huge in the message MCW-Green Bay wants to send: promoting community based health care and cooperation of health systems in the state,” Shariff said.

“It has been a very long process, and to be accepted at such a respected institution as the Medical College of Wisconsin is both an honor and a privilege!”

Medical College faculty to include UW-Green Bay professors

The Medical College of Wisconsin is beginning to fill adjunct faculty positions for its MCW-Green Bay campus. Individuals from St. Norbert College and UW-Green Bay have been identified to participate in basic science instruction for first-year medical students at the new regional campus opening later this year. UW-Green Bay accounted for two-thirds of the local educators invited to a reception and orientation session last month at the College’s Milwaukee headquarters. Those taking part were:

Craig Hanke, Ph.D., associate professor of human biology
Dennis Lorenz, Ph.D., associate professor of human development and psychology
James Marker, Ph.D., associate professor of human biology
Daniel Meinhardt, Ph.D., associate professor of human biology
Brian Merkel, Ph.D., associate professor of human biology
Amanda Nelson, Ph.D., associate professor of human biology
Debra Pearson, Ph.D., RD, associate professor of human biology and nutrition
Uwe Pott, Ph.D., associate professor of human biology
Dean Von Dras, Ph.D., professor of psychology and human development
Sarah VanderZanden, DVM, associate lecturer of human biology and practicing veterinarian

Medical College of Wisconsin will also recruit instructors and mentors from among the ranks of local physicians. Read the full article.