LSC grads tackle entrepreneurship to make their dreams a reality

LSC grads go on to have careers in numerous fields, whether it’s digital marketing, technical writing, broadcast production, or science outreach.  More still go on to create their own ventures through entrepreneurship. These individuals imagine new opportunities not yet in the marketplace and take action to create successful enterprises. The businesses they create span a range of industries from agriculture to health and fitness and technology development.

Andy Peterson with his wife, Jenna, and daughter, Shirley.

One LSC entrepreneur is 2008 grad, Andy Peterson. Andy started working on a plan for his business, Limousin Live, in his LSC capstone, allowing him to jump into the company directly after graduation.  Today, Andy owns two companies. Limousin Live which helps ranchers market their herd’s genetics through quality content and information, and Peterson Craftsman Meats where he raises and harvests high-quality meats.

“LSC impacted both of my businesses by helping guide me to the industries that were the best fit for my interests,” says Peterson.  While in school, Andy learned to produce podcasts through an information radio class with LSC’s Larry Meiller, and mastered content marketing and website design from LSC’s Don Stanley and Sarah Botham. Right off the bat, he was able to provide high-quality websites and content to his ranch clients and bring social marketing strategies to the cattle arena.

“To me, LSC totally encapsulates the Wisconsin Idea because it allowed me the space to be creative. The classes in LSC provided me the tools and resources to be successful and the creative room to explore different business solutions,” notes Andy.
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LSC Alumni Profile: 2014 grad Dexter Patterson finds his purpose at LSC

Today, Dexter Patterson (BS ’14) is busier than ever. In addition to serving as the social and digital media specialist for the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, he is in the process of building a media company, and pursuing his master’s degree at the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. According to Dexter, LSC defined his badger experience and helped him find his purpose.

Learn more about his LSC experience below:

LSC offers online courses this summer for undergrads, grads, and non-majors alike

Summer is right around the corner and the Department of Life Sciences Communication is offering a variety of classes to educate undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree students in both the theoretical and applied side of science communication.  LSC is offering five classes this summer and each are online allowing students to enroll from all over the world.

Classes include LSC 350: Visualizing Science and Technology, an introductory course on the visual communication of science taught by professor Shiela Reaves. This online course overviews the principles of design, perception, and cognition, and outlines techniques used to portray science in the media.  Students explore visual communication through illustrated lectures and visual image analysis in both written assignments and team presentations.

LSC’s five online classes provide UW students around the globe the opportunity to participate.

LSC faculty affiliate Don Stanley is teaching LSC 432: Social Media in the Life Sciences, an online course overviewing the foundations of content marketing.  The course outlines effective digital marketing strategies and explores how social media can be leveraged for success.  Students learn tools for social media communication specific to the sciences and are tasked with building their personal social media presence.

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LSC’s Patty Loew helps facilitate University of Wisconsin and Native Nations partnership

Much of LSC professor Patty Loew’s research has focused on how indigenous people use media to form identity, reconstruct the past, and assert their sovereignty and treaty rights.  A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Loew’s passion for First Nation communities has led her to write multiple books and articles on Native topics, produce Native-themed documentaries, and teach various courses related to indigenous populations including the course LSC 444: Native American Environmental Issues and the Media.

LSC’s Patty Loew speaking at the 2015 UW/Native Nations Summit on Environment and Health.

Recently, her passions led her to a unique project. Loew is now working with the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) leading the UW-Native Nations Initiative, a partnership between UW-Madison, UW-Extension, and UW Colleges to improve the relationship between the University of Wisconsin and the twelve Indian nations located in the state.

In the past UW-Madison, UW-Extension, and UW Colleges have partnered with Native Nations on various efforts surrounding health services, environmental preservation, economic development, education, and more.  However, past partnership and support has sometimes been uneven, informal, or unsustainable.  The UW-Native Nations Initiative aims to build more respectful and reciprocal partnerships between the University of Wisconsin and Native Nation communities across the state.

“We haven’t done a good job of making our UW campuses welcoming spaces for Native students and our research approaches haven’t always been respectful.  We believe that we need to make changes,” Loew said.
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LSC’s science communication colloquium featured an exciting lineup

This semester’s LSC science communication colloquium brought acclaimed speakers from near and far. Every week of the semester attendees of the colloquium heard from experts in bioethics, science communication, scientific art, science and technology studies, science policy, and new information technologies, among other interesting areas.

Check out the list of speakers below. You can click each speakers’ name for more information about them. After each speaker, a link by their names will take you to a video and audio stream of their talk.  Continue reading

Life Sciences Communication graduates have promising job prospects

With the start of the semester, many students are now on the job market for the first time or they are starting the last semester of their undergraduate careers. Searching for a job can sometimes seem like a daunting task, but students can take solace in the promising job outlook for agriculture related fields.

IMG_2781 (1)“LSC majors know how prepared they are for their career choices in communicating science – they understand research methods so they can stay current and most importantly they understand audiences and what attracts them across digital platforms. This confidence results in better job interviews, and ultimately in great jobs” notes LSC professor and director of undergraduate studies, Shiela Reaves.

The recently released 2015/2016 Entry-level Job Report for Recent Graduates in Agriculture and Related Disciplines provides insight into the number of graduates and starting salaries for those graduating from colleges in agriculture and life sciences.  The report shows that although overall entry-level salaries have stayed relatively constant, the number of entry-level positions is on the rise.
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Alumni profile: LSC grad Sara Schoenborn leverages her education to achieve success in diverse fields

Graduates from the Department of Life Sciences Communication go on to have successful careers in a wide range of industries – partly because the knowledge they learn at LSC can be applied to a wide variety of jobs.  LSC alum, Sara Schoenborn (BS ’10) has used her expertise for a successful career.

Sara Schoenborn

After graduating, Sara pursued her dream of working in the media industry, working as the assistant editor for Agri-View, an agricultural newspaper in Wisconsin.  Sara, who was also a Dairy Science major, found the job to be a perfect mix of her passions. While at Agri-View, she put to use the skills she learned at LSC, including researching and writing stories with compelling narratives, creating a strong digital media footprint, and designing print layouts.  She also used the knowledge she learned in her classes to ensure she was portraying individuals in a fair and balanced way.

After approximately three years she decided it was time for a new challenge. In the spring of 2013, Sara became the executive director of Wisconsin FFA Foundation – an organization dedicated to making a positive difference in students’ lives through agricultural education. “I really viewed my job as a way to give back to an organization I was a part of while I was in high school. It was my opportunity to give back and carry on that tradition for other students,” Sara said.
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LSC research methods course teaches students fundamental skills for success

You might not expect a single course to help prepare students for careers in advertising, journalism, market research, digital marketing, and public relations among others. But LSC 250: Research Methods in the Communication Industry does just that. The course teaches students the skills needed to synthesize and analyze data – an important skill in a broad range of fields.

LSC 250 focuses on developing research method skills including understanding research reports and data, identifying markets, segmenting audiences, measuring attitudes and developing effective campaign strategies and messages.

According to LSC chair Dominique Brossard, “The skills students learn in LSC 250 are fundamental for future academic research, but it is important to remember students will use those same skills when they graduate and move on to work in the industry.  Identifying and articulating trends in data is critical.”

Assistant Professor Neil Stenhouse teaches students data visualization skills

LSC’s Neil Stenhouse teaches students how to effectively communicate quantitative findings.

Through the course, students learn to design and conduct surveys, experiments and other forms of inquiry, interpret data, and write reports clearly demonstrating data significance.  Additionally, students work in groups to create an experimental or observational study with their peers.

“This course is really helping me. I am planning on getting a certificate in business so this course is giving me a lot of the background knowledge needed for a career in a variety of business fields,” notes LSC major Elizabeth Woidat. “The concepts in this course can apply to a lot of different majors.  It is also good to have this background knowledge when participating in research on campus.”
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Ph.D. student examines the relationship between technology, conservation and public opinion

Story by Sarah Krier. Sarah is an undergraduate student majoring in LSC and the Department of Life Sciences Communication 2016-17 Lenore Landry Scholar

Populations of the Hawaiian honeycreeper, a colorful bird native to Hawaii, struggle to survive due to bird malaria transmitted by non-native mosquitos. Gene-editing and de-extinction techniques could offer promising avenues for adapting the species to adversity—but how does the public feel about these interventions?

The relationship between public opinion and scientific interventions is exactly what Patrice Kohl, a doctoral student in the Department of Life Sciences Communication, is working to understand. Kohl takes an interdisciplinary look at how the public reacts to conservation efforts to prevent extinction, much like the Hawaiian honeycreeper.

Patrice Kohl

Patrice Kohl

Kohl was recently awarded an Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) fellowship from the National Science Foundation. IGERT funds graduate students across the country, encouraging research that fosters strong collaborative bonds across disciplines while their advisor participates in interdisciplinary activities. The UW-Madison IGERT program that Kohl is funded through, which involves her Ph.D. advisor LSC chair Dominique Brossard, focuses on novel ecosystems. While the exact definition and parameters of novel ecosystems are debated, they can generally be described as ecosystems whose historical trajectory has been influenced and changed by human intervention.
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Recent LSC graduate brings knowledge and skills to new Wisconsin startup

Undergraduate alumna of the Department of Life Sciences Communication leave campus with strong theoretical knowledge, valuable communication skills, and lasting connections.  That was certainly the case for LSC graduate Megan Madsen, BS 2011.

While a LSC undergraduate student, Madsen interned at IceCube Neutrino Observatory.  She was also involved in the UW-Madison National Agri-Marketing Association chapter (NAMA) and the NAMA marketing team.  While a part of the NAMA marketing team Madsen worked alongside fellow students to create and present a comprehensive marketing plan for a product not yet introduced to the market. LSC Faculty Associate Sarah Botham serves as the NAMA faculty advisor, and it was during this time that Madsen and Botham formed a strong mentor relationship.

After graduating Madsen continued to use her science communication skills at IceCube, where she worked full-time as a community and education coordinator for over four years. During that time, Madsen further developed the skills and knowledge she gained at LSC and continued to nurture the relationships she made while a student at UW-Madison.

LSC grad Megan Madsen and LSC Faculty Associate Sarah Botham

LSC grad Megan Madsen and LSC Faculty Associate Sarah Botham

When it came time for a new challenge, Madsen reached out to Botham for professional guidance.  Botham, who is an entrepreneur as well as a writer, consultant and educator, had the perfect opportunity.  She had recently started a new business – WiscoBoxes™ – a themed gift box company that features only and all Wisconsin products in boxes with themes such as a badger box, a baby box, a chocolate and wine box, and others. Madsen is now the brand manager for WiscoBoxes where she is at work designing a company website, conducting market research and developing product guidelines for the company.
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