Director of Undergraduate Studies Shiela Reaves retiring at end of semester

LSC faculty with Professor Reaves at her retirement party.

We are both delighted and disheartened to announce that LSC Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Shiela Reaves will be retiring at the end of the fall semester. Reaves has been with the department since 2001 and is also an affiliate faculty member of American Indian Studies. She specializes in visual communication and is interested in how neuroscience supports interdisciplinary theories of visual imagery used in science communication and visual messages.

Before coming to UW-Madison,  Reaves worked as a photographer for The Capital Times in Madison, WI. She was the first full-time female photojournalist on a Wisconsin daily newspaper and won Wisconsin Newspaper Photographers Association awards in news and sports.

Her research on the ethics of visual manipulation in the media has been published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the Newspaper Research Journal, and the Journal of Mass Media Ethics, among other outlets. More recently she was a member of the interdisciplinary steering committee of the University of Wisconsin–Madison McPherson Eye Research Institute and of the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies.

Reaves’ interest in visual communication began during the “Decade of the Brain,” a time in the 90’s when technological advancements led to many important discoveries in the field of neuroscience. These innovations allowed Reaves to further research specific areas in visual communication, such as color contrast cues and why the brain is drawn to certain images, concepts which she applied extensively in her teaching and research.

LSC Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Shiela Reaves

When asked about her time with LSC, Reaves said, “They [LSC] let me create space for myself that continued to build on my experience in visual communication and photojournalism. It also provided the opportunity to share my passion for the subjects by educating students.”

Reaves was an admired instructor and her courses were highly sought after every semester. Her more recent courses include: LSC 350: Visualizing Science & Technology, which educates students about the principles in the visual communication of science information; LSC 430: Communicating Science with Narrative, a course that helps students understand how narrative theory influences audiences when presented with science related information; and LSC 450: Documentary Photography for the Sciences, that trains students in visual storytelling and how to think photographically for communicating science, health, and the environment.

Reaves was also the Faculty Director of a large, introductory level undergraduate course that teaches students about the fundamentals of effective written and spoken communication, LSC 100: Science and Storytelling. Reaves revamped the course and made it extremely appealing to freshmen interested in science, environment, agriculture and health, who learn fundamental skills of writing and public speaking at the college level. Her course is often cited as an example of a successful Comm A course.

Also as the Faculty Director, Reaves coached and mentored a team of teaching assistants (TA) who each lead two sections of the course. TA’s describe the long-lasting impact Reaves made with her direction and guidance in the course.

“Shiela was an incredible professor to work for. She was always there for all the students and I’ll forever be grateful for the wisdoms she shared and for her mentorship,” said LSC graduate student and previous LSC 100 TA, Christopher Wirz.

Reaves was always dedicated to serve the university and expand the Wisconsin Idea. She served on the editorial boards of Visual Communication Quarterly and the Journal of Mass Media Ethics. She also serves on the nonprofit educational wing for News From Indian Country. During her tenure at UW-Madison, Reaves was also involved on many committees on campus including the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee, UW-Madison General Education Committee, and UW-Madison General Education Subcommittees and never hesitated to dedicate her time in service to the campus community and beyond.

Professor Reaves and a group of current and previous LSC students at her retirement party

When asked about her favorite memory with LSC, Reaves spoke about the department’s move to Hiram Smith Hall. “It is one of the oldest building on campus and looked as if it were straight out of a fairytale,” Reaves described, “As with most finer things, Hiram proved to better with age. Each year brought special memories I will always hold close to my heart. I hope it and LSC continues to provide a lot of great memories for students, faculty, and staff in the future.”

After retirement, Reaves plans to dedicate time to doing her favorite things: reading books, taking long walks, meditating, and socializing with her friends. “I’m embracing the cliché of being a retiree and going to Florida for some relaxation.” she said.

Even though she’s retiring, Reaves wishes remain active in the LSC community by volunteering in the department. She wants to maintain a connection with faculty and students because she says she loves LSC and doesn’t want this part of her life to stop.

“Shiela has been an incredible member of LSC community. Her vision for undergraduate education contributed to making LSC the leader in science communication. She will truly be missed so we are really happy she wants to remain involved with LSC,” said LSC professor and chair, Dominique Brossard.