Wonder what our alumni are up to? We’re glad you asked. In the spring of 2016, LSC launched its alumni profile series. This page serves as a way to showcase the amazing things our alumni are doing and also give a glimpse to current and prospective students about what they can do with their LSC degree. The profiles below are listed in reverse chronological order of graduation date.
Laura Strugnell (B.S. ’17)
Junior Communications Consultant
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (As of November ’17)
In Spring 2017, Laura Strugnell (B.S. ’17) tapped the mail icon on her phone and found an email sent to the Life Sciences Communication (LSC) undergraduate student listserv. Strugnell was searching for a job, and the email advertised a communications position in Texcoco, Mexico at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (know as CIMMYT for its Spanish name Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo).
A Madison native, Strugnell hadn’t planned to get a job outside the U.S. However, she had taken a variety of agriculture classes and worked in a horticulture lab while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so she knew about CIMMYT’s global reputation. The more she thought about it, the more convinced she became that working at CIMMYT could be a prime opportunity to put her LSC education to work.
Dexter Patterson (B.S. ’14)
Social Media and Digital Marketing Specialist
Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (As of May ’17)
Jill Peters (B.S. ’14)
Park Ranger – Science Communication
National Park Service – Fire Island National Seashore (As of March ’17)
Jill Peters, BS ’14, has always been drawn to nature. Peters grew up in a national park in northern Wisconsin, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where she dreamed of working in the field. So, when she came to UW-Madison she decided to major in Biology and she got to work studying with the hope of one day doing conservation work in the great outdoors.
However, it wasn’t long until she realized Biology wasn’t quite the right fit. “Biology just felt a bit too broad for what I wanted to do,” notes Peters. Luckily, one of her friends recommended the Department of Life Sciences Communication, and according to Jill it was the perfect major. “I always knew I wanted to work in conservation in some capacity, but I also wanted to have a creative outlet. I always wanted to do communications because I love writing and photography – they just come naturally to me.” So, in her third year at UW Jill decided to major in LSC and get her certificate in Environmental Studies.
A passion for nutrition, health, and communication led Paige Miller to the Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC). A 2014 Bachelor of Science graduate of LSC, she brings the skill sets and theories she picked up in LSC to her position as a digital communications specialist for Legato Healthcare Marketing near Green Bay, Wis. LSC sat down with Miller to ask her about how she uses her education and why her time with LSC is so valuable to her.
Question: Can you describe what your current position entails and explain how a UW–Madison and LSC education has been useful to you?
Miller: As a digital communications specialist at Legato Healthcare Marketing, I work with our clients—mostly rural hospitals and specialty clinics—on developing digital marketing strategies. I get to work with our account teams to align digital strategies with overall marketing goals, and I work with our creative team to ensure our digital content follows best practices. I’ve worked on everything from brand awareness campaigns for hospitals to promoting new primary care clinics and specialty service lines like urology, orthopedics and gastroenterology. Most of my projects involve keyword research, content creation, social strategy, SEO/SEM and analytics. I have a huge role in website redesigns; my job is to create the structure and navigation for sites and make sure the content is optimized for search. So I build the sitemaps and make sure the design will be easy to use for people visiting the site. My favorite projects to work on are content marketing plans that promote health and wellness and encourage audiences to take an active role in their health.
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.
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.
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.
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 other 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.
Check back soon for more profiles!
Want more info on our alumni? Check out this article on the promising job prospects for LSC graduates. Also, see the Wordle below of different types of positions graduates earn with their LSC degrees in areas like biological sciences, agriculture, health, and the environment.