In the fall of 2014, Bob Wise took on a somewhat daunting task by becoming the first ever WiSys Regional Associate, a brand new role that was largely undefined.
As a long-time faculty member and researcher at UW Oshkosh, Wise was excited about the prospect of helping other innovators but was not sure what to expect.
“When I heard of the position, I saw it as a great opportunity to learn a new field with which I could integrate my previous experiences in grants administration, research and faculty development,” Wise said. “I knew Arjun had a great vision for the position and I wanted to be a part of something new. Indeed, the basics of the position were invented as we went along, and that was part of the fun.
Based in Madison, WiSys Technology Foundation assists 11 comprehensive campuses in the UW System, spread out over 65,000 square miles throughout the state of Wisconsin. More than 110,000 students and 3,300 faculty call these campuses home, making it difficult for WiSys’ small staff to make valuable connections with them all.
“Technology transfer is, by nature, a very personal business,” says WiSys Executive Director Arjun Sanga. “We need to be able to talk to people face-to-face to discuss and help develop their ideas. Following up with our innovators also helps to keep us informed of the important work being done across the system.”
Sanga designed the Regional Associate position to designate a staff member to create personal relationships on three or four campuses in a section of the state. UW Oshkosh showed immediate interest in the program, helping initially support the position and even suggesting an outstanding faculty member to take on the role.
Wise served on the UW Oshkosh Faculty Development Board and as a member of the UW System Applied Research Grant program, all while teaching biology. His expansive background in research and strong connection to faculty made him the perfect candidate to pilot the Regional Associate program.
Wise blazed the trail for future Regional Associates in other parts of Wisconsin and helped develop a strong program, the success of which can be seen not only in a significant increase in Invention Disclosures to WiSys, but also in the overall engagement of his campuses with WiSys programs.
After two years as the northeastern Regional Associate, Wise will be replaced by Mads Gjefsen as he is returning to the faculty in the Biology Department at UW Oshkosh, reactivating his research program and co-authoring a college-level plant anatomy textbook. Wise’s work in establishing effective UW System-wide outreach methods will continue to be appreciated at WiSys and he will be greatly missed.
“The vitality and growth of innovative WiSys outreach and programs will continue to be a valuable asset to the faculty, staff and students of UW System,” Wise said. “I’m proud to have been part of the WiSys team.”