New semester brings new opportunities for LSC students

Life Sciences Communication University of Wisconsin MadisonTuesday, September 6th, marks the start of the fall semester and we are excited to welcome students back to Hiram Smith Hall. The faculty and staff at the Department of Life Sciences Communication are looking forward to meeting new and returning graduate and undergraduate students as they begin their classes.

We have many exciting classes and projects going on this fall in LSC and we hope to see students from across the department involved.
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LSC courses offer exciting opportunities for learning this summer

LSC is continuing its commitment to student learning through four stimulating summer classes.  Courses vary in topic from social media to visual communication, and this year three of the four classes are offered online to allow students across the globe to experience the LSC curriculum.


Online classes provide UW students around the globe the opportunity to participate in LSC coursework.

“We are proud of our portfolio of three online courses this summer, from ethnic studies to social media and visualizing science. UW students living anywhere in the country or around the globe can earn UW credit with Internet access. For instance, my online students include some currently based in Europe, South America and the Middle East,” notes Shiela Reaves, LSC Director of Undergraduate Studies.
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Wolfgang Hoffmann, long-time filmmaker and photographer for CALS, dies at 69

The following is a press release published by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences which has been republished here.

Wolfgang Hoffmann, who chronicled CALS on film for 45 years, passed away in his home on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. He was 69 years old.

Wolfgang HoffmannHoffmann was born and raised in Germany, where he completed studies at the Bavarian State Academy for Photography in 1970. The following year, he moved to the United States to take a position at UW-Madison as a filmmaker and photographer in the Department of Agricultural Journalism, now the Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC). In this primarily outreach role, Hoffmann produced educational films and took photos illustrating a wide range of agricultural and natural resources subjects.

“Wolfgang was an outstanding photographer and filmmaker. His work was exacting and he produced wonderful films and photos that told the story he wanted to convey in beautiful ways,” says LSC emeritus professor Larry Meiller, who was Hoffmann’s colleague from the beginning. “At the same time he was a warm human being who made friends easily and was liked by virtually everyone. We are fortunate to have had him as a colleague and, even more, as a great friend.”

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Patty Loew helps coordinate ceremonial tobacco plants at UW

LSC Professor Patty Loew works extensively with Native communities in Wisconsin. She is co-leading the Native Nations Initiative between UW-Madison, UW-Extension and UW Colleges, and she co-founded the Tribal Youth Media Initiative with fellow LSC faculty member Don Stanley, among other projects.

A close-up of the ceremonial tobacco plant

A close-up of the ceremonial tobacco plant

While spending time in tribal communities Loew often gifts asema, or ceremonial tobacco, to elders and tribal officials. “In many native communities, including those in the Upper Great Lakes Region, asema is used in pipe ceremonies which formalize special occasions.  Tobacco is offered as a way to demonstrate good intentions or thankfulness.  It’s given to elders to show respect,” says Loew.

One day a conversation between Loew and interim Assistant Dean in the School of Education, Aaron Bird Bear, spurred an idea- why couldn’t UW grow it? With the encouragement of LSC Chair Dominique Brossard, Loew reached out to Horticulture Chair Irwin Goldman. Dr. Goldman was enthusiastic about the idea of growing ceremonial tobacco, as was Oneida Nation’s Farm Director Jeff Metoxen.

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Paul Fanlund: For embattled UW, is blasting back smart?

The following column was written by Paul Funland, editor and executive publisher of The Capital Times. It’s been published by The Capital Times and republished here. 

UW Madison science communication professor Dietram Scheufele says a more effective response to GOP attacks on higher education in Wisconsin would be to win the hearts and minds of political noncombatants across the state.

UW-Madison science communication professor Dietram Scheufele says a more effective response to GOP attacks on higher education in Wisconsin would be to win the hearts and minds of political noncombatants across the state.

In March 2013, Rebecca Blank had to know the touchy political terrain onto which she was stepping.

The last hurdle to her getting the job offer as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison was her then-current role as acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce for President Obama. Legislative Republicans were wary of her, but were eventually reassured that she was an apolitical, economics policy wonk and that her husband worked for a conservative think tank, according to my sources privy to the process at the time.

These days, Blank is warning campus faculty that the ongoing war of words pitting UW against Gov. Scott Walker and other statehouse Republicans has reached a danger point.

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Agri-marketing team brings home national championship

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) marketing team brought home the national championship on Thursday, April 14. The students also earned $5,500 in scholarships, out of a total $9,000 up for grabs among the 30 universities present at the competition, as well as a John Deere Award.

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The winning NAMA marketing team from left to right: Jordan Gaal, Erica Ballmer, Jaime Sawle, Kate Griswold, Sarah Fletcher Botham (NAMA advisor), Brandon Maly, Mariah Martin, Sydney Endres and Savannah Waller.

LSC is the UW–Madison NAMA student chapter’s department sponsor and one of LSC’s faculty members has advised the chapter since it was created in 1980. Faculty associate Sarah Botham is the current faculty advisor of the chapter and marketing team. The last time the NAMA chapter took first place was in 1996, under LSC’s Tom Schomisch, who retired in 2004 and sadly passed away last year.

“The students very much deserve this honor,” Botham said. “I really had a feeling that this year’s product and presentation were really extraordinary, and it’s great to see the students’ hard work pay off.” Continue reading

Alumni profile: Signe Brewster’s LSC education leads to writing career in Silicon Valley

Whether it’s artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robots, 3-D printing, drones, or space, Signe Brewster’s got it covered. This 2012 graduate of the Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC) puts what she learned during her undergrad to use every day as a freelance science and technology journalist in San Francisco, CA.

LHC cavern

During her internship in Switzerland at CERN, Brewster got to tour the facilities that house the particle collider and particle accelerator.

While getting her Bachelor of Science in LSC, Brewster took a slew of classes that covered science writing, photography, marketing, communication theory, and risk communication. Along the way she picked up skills and theories she now applies to every word of her writing. After graduation, she traveled to Switzerland to intern at CERN for six months, writing about physics. She then found herself in a fellowship at WIRED, putting her on the west coast. From there she was a staff writer at Gigaom, before becoming a full-time freelancer in the summer of 2015.

“I write about emerging hardware, which is anything that’s on the fringe, and I think about if it’s going to be a viable technology that can impact the world,” said Brewster, who originally hails from Minneapolis, MN. “LSC really prepared me to write about these topics. In my professional life, everyone does a double take when they hear that there is a degree that combines science and writing.” Continue reading

Life On the Air: An Interview With Larry Meiller

In 1967, Larry Meiller was in his final semester of college to graduate as a meat and animal sciences major when he decided to take a radio class in the Department of Agricultural Journalism, now known as the Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC). That class would set him on a path to becoming one of the most well-known voices on Wisconsin Public Radio and a distinguished professor in LSC.

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Public Radio.

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Public Radio.

Meiller’s radio career has spanned nearly five decades, and he continues to host a 90-minute morning talk show called The Larry Meiller Show every weekday, bringing environmental, agricultural and human interest stories to his many listeners. When not hosting his show, he can be found performing numerous faculty duties in LSC, including teaching LSC 360: Information Radio. The class helps students learn how to become masters of audio themselves. “The cool thing with the radio class is I think I can do a better job teaching since I do the radio show every day, and I can share that with my students,” Meiller said. Continue reading

Junior Sarah Krier brings Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic to youth camp

Sarah Krier, a junior majoring in life sciences communication and environmental studies, had already spent two seasons as a camp counselor in Hudson. But this past summer she wanted to do something deeper: impart the teachings of Aldo Leopold to young people.


LSC and environmental studies junior Sarah Krier teaches students about the work of Aldo Leopold at YMCA Camp DayCroix.

In particular she wanted to draw from a recent massive open online course (MOOC), “The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Aldo Leopold, Perceptive Hunting, and Conservation,” featuring wildlife ecology professor Tim Van Deelen.

“I never fully appreciated the outdoors until my dad took me hunting when I was 12. For the first time I felt that nature is a community I’m a part of,” says Krier. While hunting was not on the camp’s agenda, the course’s overarching concepts certainly could be: “I wanted every child to be able to form a personal connection with the outdoors.” Continue reading

Advanced classes help students explore risk communication and internships

What do the country’s largest forestry research and development laboratory, a company working to improve infection prevention, and another that uses breath-analyzing technology to advance point-of-care diagnostics all have in common? They each utilized the skills of seniors in two of the most advanced undergraduate classes in the Department of Life Sciences Communication this semester.

Students in LSC 640: Case Studies in the Communication of Science and Technology, one of the department’s capstone courses, each secure an internship that allows them to bring together the many theories and skills they’ve learned during their undergraduate experience. Many seniors also take another high-level class called LSC 625: Risk Communication, where they learn the complexities of how to talk about risk in the context of other knowledge they’ve gained in LSC.


LSC celebrated its December 2015 graduates with a small reception. Many of the students who graduated took LSC 640 and LSC 625 during their last semester. These advanced classes help students bring together everything they’ve learned in their previous semesters.

“[LSC 640] is a hands-on component that complements their course work over their LSC careers,” said Tom Still, the LSC senior lecturer who teaches the class. “The goal is to provide an internship experience that gives students a glimpse at how their skills can apply to the real world.” Continue reading