WARF-Funded Graduate Students

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) plays an essential role in supporting the innovative research and graduate education that are cornerstones of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. WARF invests in graduate education through University Fellowships and Advanced Opportunities Fellowships/Graduate Research Scholars. The following profiles illustrate the diverse and important ways that WARF contributes to graduate student success at UW–Madison.

WARF-Funded Student Profiles

  • Kurt Kuehne

    PhD student, Sociology
    Kurt’s dissertation research studies the politics of low-wage labor migration in the modern, global economy. Using a comparative case study in Southeast Asia, he discusses the hidden costs for migrant workers that come with temporary guest worker programs.

  • Karen García Escorcia

    PhD student, Spanish
    Karen studies debt as a literary motif and a protagonist that has the power to actively impact literary characters, their ideologies, and their interpersonal relationships.

  • Brianna Lafoon

    PhD student, History and Educational Policy Studies
    Brianna's research examines how schooling intersected with nation-building and expansion in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, specifically regarding African American, immigrant, and colonial subjects.

  • Steffen Silvis

    PhD student, Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies
    Steffen studies the role that Japanese Noh theatre played in the development of American modernist drama and dance.

  • Laura M. Alexander

    PhD candidate, Microbiology
    As a member of Dr. Jan Peter van Pijkeren’s probiotics lab, Laura focuses on the development of the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri as a biotherapeutic delivery vehicle.

  • Dylan Schmitz

    PhD student, Mechanical Engineering
    Dylan studies how wearable robotic exoskeletons change the forces on the tendons and ligaments inside the body.

  • Mónica Rodríguez Morris

    MS student, Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Mónica’s research focuses on sustainability and life cycle assessments. Specifically, she works on the impact of bioplastics on solid waste management infrastructure and the environment.

  • Alexander Cole

    PhD student, Physics
    Alexander Cole is pursuing a PhD in physics, performing research at the intersection of string theory, cosmology, and data science. Cole is interested in connecting string theory to our universe.

  • Samuel Porter

    PhD candidate, History
    Samuel writes in his dissertation about the long process of Japan’s military demobilization after World War II. He argues that demobilization was protracted and incomplete, and that public hostility toward servicemen as well as occupation policies in Japan prevented veterans from successfully reintegrating into society once they were home.

  • Jorge Guerrero

    PhD student, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
    Jorge came to UW–Madison for graduate school with a SciMed GRS Fellowship and joined Nathan Sherer's lab to study HIV transmission. He focuses on how dendritic cells - one of the first types of cells that HIV encounters when it enters the body through a mucus membrane - aid or prevent the transmission process.

  • More WARF posts

UW2020 Graduate Students

The UW2020 initiative encourages collaborative, innovative approaches to some of the biggest questions faced by researchers today. Graduate students play a key role in these grant projects, adding insight, creativity, and expertise to their research teams. These features explore how UW–Madison graduate students working on UW2020 projects are contributing to their fields, their communities, and the world.

UW2020 is underwritten by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) with combined funding from other sources.

UW2020 Graduate Student Profiles

  • Project creates a digital space for visually-focused humanities scholarship

    A digital humanities platform at UW–Madison is developing a tool that makes visually focused objects such as medieval manuscripts available online. Digital Mappa is headed by Martin Foys in the English department along with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, and is funded in part by a UW2020 grant from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). The platform allows users to build projects in a digital space, with the ability to link documents to one another, make comments, highlight interesting points, and collaborate with others.

  • Collecting data on kids’ environments and health

    Researchers use all sorts of methods to collect their data. For one project on campus, that method takes the form of a cute, animal-shaped backpack. Graduate student Amy Schultz specializes in environmental epidemiology, which studies how environmental factors affect human health at the population level. She is a leading research assistant on a project called CREATE: Cumulative Risks, Early Development, and Emerging Academic Trajectories.

  • Translating raw data into insight

    Niko Escanilla was drawn from his background in mathematics to graduate study in artificial intelligence and machine learning because he was looking for a discipline that could be applied in real world and clinical settings. As a graduate student in Computer Sciences, Escanilla had the chance to put those techniques to work as a research assistant on a UW2020-funded project, assessing variables that can predict the risk of breast cancer.

  • See all UW2020 Grad Student Profiles

What are UW2020 grants?

The goal of UW2020 is to stimulate and support highly innovative and groundbreaking research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This initiative seeks to support research projects that are high-risk, high-impact, and transformative as well as those that require the acquisition of shared instruments or equipment that will open new avenues for innovative and significant research.