2018-19 Wisconsin Idea Fellowships Awarded to Nine Projects

Past WIF Recipients
Theo Loo, Mallory Swenson, Hasan Nadeem and Michelle Tong are former UW-Madison undergraduates to have received past Wisconsin Idea Fellowships.

The 2018-19 Wisconsin Idea Fellowships have been awarded to nine outstanding undergraduate projects at home and across the globe.

The projects, which are all rooted in the concept of addressing needs identified by community partners, range in topic from food insecurity, the disparity in education, addressing ecosystem issues and more. A total of 11 UW-Madison undergraduate students are part of this year’s projects, sponsored by the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

Now in its 20th year, Wisconsin Idea Fellowships (WIF) are awarded annually to UW-Madison undergraduate projects working to solve issues identified by local or global communities. Fellowships are awarded to semester-long or year-long projects designed by an undergraduate student or group of students in collaboration with a community organization and a UW faculty or staff member.

Projects receive both logistical support as well as financial support—up to $7,000 in total depending on project scope and duration. A portion of each project’s funding is awarded to students as a personal stipend, allowing them to pursue a WIF project using time they might have otherwise worked a job. Some projects will begin this summer, and some will last through next May.

Included in this year’s program are also two annual special awards sponsored by: The Michael Thornton and Nora Medina Social Innovation Award, and the American Family Social Entrepreneurship Award.


2018-2019 Wisconsin Idea Fellowships

1. Addressing Food Insecurity at Madison College: Fostering Discussion, Reducing Stigma and Establishing Collaborative Initiatives

Students: Susan Maloney & Abigail Sann
Faculty Advisor: Randy Stoecker
Community Partner: Madison College

This project has received the “Michael Thornton and Nora Medina Social Innovation Award,” a special honor made possible by a generous endowment fund for WIF projects that support ethnically diverse communities with affordable housing or issues to help close the academic resource gap.

This project will work to address the problem of food insecurity at two-year academic institutions as compared to four-year institutions.  The student team will work with the Student Senate at Madison Area Technical College (MATC), who have identified food insecurity to be a problem for many of its students.  Through a holistic assessment of current programs and resources, discussions with students and trial events addressing food insecurity, the team will work with MATC’s Student Senate to develop and implement one large-scale project to address food insecurity on the MATC campus.


2. UW MANRRS Agricultural Immersion and College Readiness Prep for Underrepresented High School Students in Milwaukee

Students: Abagail Catania & Sarah Neufcourt
Faculty Advisor: Thomas Browne
Community Partner: Vincent High School Agriculture Program

This project promotes equity, diversity and success in agriculture and natural resources related studies as well as college readiness for underrepresented students in Milwaukee, WI.  In partnership with Vincent High School in Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Minorities of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (UW MANRRS), high-school students will participate in a four-day Agricultural Immersion and College Readiness program on the UW-Madison campus.  Students will attend interactive agriculture workshops and college readiness sessions,as well as hear from students and faculty at UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.


3. Providing an Accessible Art Education for Children

Student: Masha Vodyanyk
Faculty Advisor: Doug Rosenberg
Community Partner: Eagle Heights Community Center

This project is focused on bringing art education to children in the Eagle Heights community at a time when they are still developing fine motor skills and learning how to express themselves in different ways.  Specifically, each lesson will focus on a different historic art style, subject and/or medium. Students will not only explore different ways of curating art, they will also learn the history of different movements and the artists who lead them.


4. Farmer’s Markets for All?  A Look into the True Accessibility of Farmer’s Markets to SNAP Participants

Student: Chloe Green
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Alfonso Morales
Community Partner: REAP Food Group

This project has been awarded an American Family Insurance Social Entrepreneurship Award made possible by a generous donation from American Family Insurance.

This project aims to answer how to make farmers markets in Dane, Milwaukee and Marathon counties more accessible for members of the community who receive federal nutrition assistance, such as SNAP.  In partnership with REAP Food Group, this project will work to collect data through surveys and interviews of the use and economic importance of local food markets as well as what deters individuals receiving assistance form accessing local farmers markets.


5. Personal Growth-Based Learning: Developing Evidence-Based Interventions to Eliminate the STEM Disparity in Wisconsin

Student: Skylyn Worzalla
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Anna Kaatz
Community Partner: Milwaukee School of Languages Mathletes

This project has been awarded an American Family Insurance Social Entrepreneurship Award made possible by a generous donation from American Family Insurance.

The purpose of this project is to encourage youth of varying socioeconomic backgrounds who are often not exposed to STEM education, to pursue interests in STEM.  In partnership with the Milwaukee School of Languages, this student will use her academic background in computer science, as well as her personal ties to the Milwaukee community, to address a socioeconomic gap in STEM exposure and interest through seminars that allow students to gain hands-on experience.


6. Improving Access to Genetic Testing for Plain Communities in Wisconsin

Student: Clare McGuire
Faculty Advisor: Vanessa Horner
Community Partner: LaFarge Medical Clinic

In this project, students and faculty partner with the LaFarge Medical Clinic to address high cost genetic testing within the Plain communities in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Plain Communities include approximately 20,000 Amish and Mennonite members.  These fairly isolated communities have witnessed an increased prevalence of genetic disorders due to founder effects and limited gene pool variance.  To ameliorate these issues, students and faculty are working to design a new method for genetic testing that would be low-cost and would not require community members to travel long distances to a clinic.


7. Service-Learning on a Lion Reintroduction Program at Akagera National Park, Rwanda

Student: Jacob Olson
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Adrian Treves
Community Partner: Akagera National Park, Akagera Management Company

In this project, the student and faculty team partner with the Akagera National Park in Rwanda to study and address the ecosystem effects of lion reintroduction.  The work with the Akagera managers will include studying the effects lion reintroduction has on the park’s ecosystem, outreach and support for park visitors, as well as assist in local community efforts to minimize human-wildlife conflicts.


8. The Water Vest: A Water Transportation Device

Student: Molly Snow
Faculty Advisor: Lesley Sager
Community Partner: Samburu Girls Foundation and the Tharaka Women’s Welfare Program

This project addresses the intersection of income inequality and sustainability in Kenya.  There is a long history of women and girls embarking on strenuous treks over varying distances just to obtain water.  Water is typically carried in heavy loads on their heads, causing headaches, neck and spine damage.  The Water Vest provides an alternative carrying method that causes less physical damage to the women using them.  This team will also focus on collaborating with the women to make these vests themselves in order to sustain this practice for years to come.


9. Eva, P.E. Bridging the Gap Between Classroom and Career

Student: Tyler Klink
Faculty Advisor: Angela Pakes Ahlman
Community Partner: Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association

In collaboration with the Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), this project will focus on encouraging young women in middle school to take interest in STEM fields and gain real-world experience through field trips and experiences in civil engineering and sustainability.  Students will have the opportunity to participate in interactive classroom activities and field trips to affiliated businesses and organizations, where students will learn about how they work and provide service to the community.