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 Student Profiles

  • Miles Wilkerson

    Miles is a PhD student in the Department of History, studying the Atlantic slave trade from a disability studies lens. His work will connect the history of corporeal, cognitive, and sensory impairment from the slave castles of the West African shore to colonial North America and the Caribbean.

  • Margarethe McDonald

    Margarethe is a PhD student in Communication Sciences and Disorders studying child language development. She focuses on the effect of native and non-native accents on child production and perception of a second language.

  • Ellen LeClere

    Ellen is a PhD candidate in the Information School investigating the ethical issues surrounding large-scale digitization of Civil Rights Movement-era materials by archivists.“Digitization projects are rapidly becoming the standard for access among cultural heritage institutions, but the work is relatively understudied in terms of how it conflicts with archival subjects’ expectations of privacy,” she explains.

  • Juliette Bruce

    Juliette is a PhD student in the Department of Mathematics. She is interested in using algebraic techniques to study the geometry of systems of equations with multiple variables, or polynomials.

  • Lucian Rothe

    Lucian Rothe is a PhD candidate in German, with a minor in Second Language Acquisition. He studies how foreign language learners perceive and imagine teachers and native speakers of different foreign languages.

  • 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.

  • Archiving today’s culture for tomorrow’s researchers, through podcasts

    When Samuel Hansen started producing podcasts about mathematics and science, it was possible for a small, independent podcast like Hansen’s to rank in the country’s top 60 most popular shows. Now, the top charts are dominated by network-produced podcasts, a change that has taken place in the last 10 years alone – but not the last the world of podcasting will see. To preserve podcasts as they are now, and archive the changes within them, a project at UW–Madison is dedicated to making today’s podcasts available well into the future.

  • Taking a hands-on approach to catalyst research

    To Keishla Rivera-Dones, chemical engineering is about more than dealing with chemical reactions; it’s about understanding the building blocks of everything. A PhD student at UW–Madison in the Dumesic and Huber Research Groups, Rivera-Dones works with supported metal catalysts and applies them to promote and improve the efficiency of chemical reactions.

  • Looking for links between language and action

    Say you’re given a list of six random words. You hear them once, and after a short delay, you have to repeat as many as you can remember. Your recall ability is based on what’s known as your working memory span. But it’s limited by constraints that vary from person to person and may be based on an individual’s experience with language.

  • Applying machine learning models to improve dairy farm management

    As new technologies have opened doors for dairy farms to harness more data from their herds than ever before, farmers around the state have embraced these innovations. That leaves farmers with vast amounts of data – on cows, herds, farms, the market, crops, and soils – but, as of yet, no way to integrate the entirety of that data into farm management.

  • Helping the average person teach a robot new tricks

    Imagine a future where robots at home are more than just disc-shaped vacuum cleaners – a future where they are autonomous agents that can perform our everyday tasks. Though we may not always realize it, these tasks require a lot of physical responsiveness to the environment that is natural for humans but a core challenge of robotics.

  • Building a better water quality measurement platform

    With a background in engineering and environmental science, alumnus Paul Schramm had the perfect mix of skills to work on a water quality measurement project that brought new possibilities into the field of limnology.

  • Exploring an antiviral factor that helps, rather than hinders, influenza

    Mitch Ledwith is motivated every day by the excitement that comes with new, and sometimes unexpected, discoveries. As a PhD student in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a research assistant in the Mehle lab, Ledwith has been a firsthand witness to just one of those exciting discoveries on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, through a project funded by a UW2020 grant.

  • Luke Loken

    Luke Loken is a hydrologic research technician for the USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center and concurrently pursuing a PhD in Freshwater and Marine Sciences in Emily Stanley’s lab at the Center for Limnology. He and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin developed a new tool to better understand aquatic ecosystems.

  • Eun Ha Namkung

    Eun Ha Namkung is a PhD candidate in the School of Social Work and graduate assistant at the Waisman Center. Her research interests center around the dynamics and consequences of family caregiving over the life course. Most of her recent work examines families of an adult child with intellectual and developmental disabilities or serious mental illnesses.

  • Katherine Amato

    Katherine Amato is a second-year PhD student conducting research in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Mehle. Her research examines how influenza virus interacts with the cellular environment during infection.

  • Rachel Silver

    Ph.D. candidate, Educational Policy Studies, Anthropology Faculty advisor: Nancy Kendall, Associate Professor, Educational Policy Studies; Claire Wendland, Professor, Anthropology Rachel Silver’s research explores the relationship between discourse on girls’ education and sexuality in international development and the …

  • Jaye Gardiner

    PhD Candidate, Cancer Biology Faculty advisor: Nathan M. Sherer, Assistant Professor, Cancer Biology Jaye is a fifth year graduate student in the Cancer Biology program. She is a graduate research assistant in the Sherer Lab. Her …

  • Amir Mashal

    PhD Candidate, Electrical Engineering Faculty advisor: Michael S. Arnold, Associate Professor, Electrical and Materials Science Engineering Amir Mashal is a fourth year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Electrical and Materials Science Engineering at UW–Madison. Mashal’s …

  • Adrienne Wood

    PhD Candidate, Psychology Faculty advisor: Paula Niedenthal, Professor, Psychology Wood is a fifth year Ph.D. student in psychology at UW–Madison. Wood studies the mechanisms that guide humans’ recognition of facial expression of emotion, and has been …

  • Adela Cedillo

    Ph.D. Candidate, History Faculty advisor: Steve J. Stern, Professor, History Adela Cedillo is a fourth-year student pursing a PhD in history at UW–Madison. Cedillo’s dissertation research contributes to an emerging field of study that re-conceptualizes the …

  • José Rodriguez-Molina

    PhD Candidate, Cellular and Molecular Pathology Faculty advisor: John Svaren, Professor, Comparative Biosciences José Rodriguez-Molina is a fifth year PhD student in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology program at UW–Madison and the School of Medicine Public …

  • Sofiya Hupalo

    PhD Candidate, Neuroscience Faculty advisor: Craig W. Berridge, Professor, Psychology Sofiya Hupalo is interested in the neuropeptide, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). CRF has been studied extensively for over three decades as a stress-related neurotransmitter, but no one …

  • Melissa Charenko

    PhD Candidate, History of Science, Medicine and Technology Faculty advisor: Gregg Mitman, Professor, History of Science Melissa Charenko’s research explores the origins, development, and consequences of discussions about anthropogenic change and deep time. Through her research …

  • Samuel Acuña

    PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering Faculty advisor: Darryl Thelen, Professor, Mechanical Engineering Samuel Acuña is third year PhD student in mechanical engineering. He is a member of the UW–Madison Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab. The focus of his research …

  • Elsa Noterman

    PhD Candidate, Geography Faculty advisor: Keith Woodward, Associate Professor, Geography Elsa Noterman is a PhD student in geography. Her research focuses on the socio-spatial struggles involved in the ongoing development and management of multiple material and …

  • Jose “Tony” Jimenez-Torres

    PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering Faculty advisor: David J. Beebe, Professor, Biomedical Engineering Tony Jimenez-Torres is a fifth year PhD student in biomedical engineering. His research involves the design and development of microfluidic tools that are used …

  • Maia Pujara

    PhD Candidate, Neuroscience Faculty advisor: Michael R. Koenigs, Associate Professor, Psychiatry Maia Pujara’s research focuses on understanding how the brain processes information about rewards to guide decisions. Because the ventromedial portion of the prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) …

  • Monica Yue

    PhD Candidate, Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Faculty advisor: Richard Peterson, Professor, School of Pharmacy Monica Yue investigates the effects of TCDD on development in the embryonic zebrafish. TCDD is a ubiquitous and persistent environmental contaminant, and …

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