Fake news, real coverage: How conspiracy theories spread through media and politics

Half of the American public believes in a popular conspiracy theory. Take the idea that the compact fluorescent light bulbs are a form of mind control, the U.S. government was behind the terrorist attack on 9/11, or any number of theories connected to big political names, and someone believes it. Graduate student Jordan Foley studies how today’s media ecology contributes to spreading conspiracy narratives.

When rivers move borders: PhD student writes on boundaries and belonging in the Colorado River borderlands

In 1907, Cocopah Indians who had been living in Mexico suddenly found themselves farming land in the United States. The Colorado River that marked the border between the U.S. and Mexico had moved around them. That stretch of the Colorado River shifted unpredictably across its floodplain before the Hoover Dam was completed in 1936. The conflicts and alliances that arose from this ever-changing landscape are the focus of Daniel Grant’s dissertation on belonging and exclusion in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands from the late-19th through mid-20th centuries.

Beyond translation: PhD student headed to Smithsonian to study art, technology, and global belonging

There are two major collections of Korean American artist Nam June Paik’s work. Kyungso Min has already studied the collection at South Korea’s Nam June Paik Art Center. So, the natural next step for Min, a doctoral student in art history at UW–Madison, was to study the Nam June Paik Archive housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.This summer, Min will have the chance to do just that as a Smithsonian Institution Fellow.

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.

Graduate student research connects Wisconsin farmers to new ideas for land management

On Honey Creek Farm in Green Lake County, there is a roughly eight-acre patch of wooded land in addition to the open pasture. Farmer Jim Quick raises grass-fed beef and is looking into a way to let his livestock graze the wooded part of his land while also revitalizing the woods. Quick has become interested in the managed integration of his livestock with trees and forage, known as silvopasture. Diane Mayerfeld and Keefe Keeley, both graduate students at UW–Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, study silvopasture and, in the course of their studies, share that knowledge with farmers across Wisconsin.

Good chemistry: Protecting lakes and streams with natural chemical compounds

As a graduate student, Sarah Balgooyen has researched phenolic contaminants and their presence in water systems. Phenolic contaminants such as BPA – the chemical commonly known from plastic water bottles – enter lakes and streams where they harm the ecosystem. Other phenolic compounds often come from pharmaceuticals or personal care products.

Balgooyen focuses on a mechanism that could help break down these chemicals before they reach the ecosystems at all: oxidation by manganese oxide.

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.

Astrophysical discovery rekindles excitement among researchers

Deep in the ice beneath the South Pole, an array of sensors in the IceCube detector picked up on something in September 2017 that hinted at a solution to a centuries-old mystery.

In the following months, a team of international scientists including a number of UW-Madison graduate students scrutinized everything they knew about the cosmic event. They arrived at the conclusion that the subatomic, ghostly particle called a neutrino that entered the detector had come from a specific type of galaxy, far away from Earth.

Graduate degree bolsters clinician’s research into preventing blindness

The technology for an eye specialist to review a picture of a patient’s eye taken miles away to screen for eye disease has been around for decades. Yet, less than half of Wisconsin adults with diabetes, who are particularly vulnerable to vision-threatening diseases, get annual eye screenings. Yao Liu, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, has been working to increase access to this technology.