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Senior chemistry major wins WiSys Quick Pitch @ UW-River Falls by explaining nanotech research

RIVER FALLS—Senior chemistry major Kimberly Mackiel won the WiSys Quick Pitch @ UW-River Falls on Dec. 2.

The student “pitch” competition inspires UW System students to consider the impact of their research and effectively communicate it to the public.

PHOTOS: WiSys Quick Pitch @ UW-River Falls 2019-2020

The title of Mackiel’s winning presentation about nanotechnology research was “Producing Polymer-Quantum Dot Composite Materials Through Direct Ligand Reaction.”

Nanotechnology is a readily growing billion dollar-industry and nanoparticles are being used in devices such as flat panel displays for better color saturation, according to Mackiel.

Mackiel, who won a $300 prize, is now eligible to participate in the WiSys Quick Pitch State Final at the WiSys SPARK Symposium in Madison, July 27-28.


Karly Anderson, a senior animal science major, took second place in the event and earned a $100 prize.

Anderson’s presentation was titled “Relationship of Captive Bolt Stunning Location with Basic Tissue Measurements and Exposed Cross-Sectional Brain Area in Cadaver Heads from Market Pigs.”

Anderson’s research focuses on finding a more consistent and humane method of on-farm euthanasia for market weight pigs using the common method of a penetrating captive bolt. 

As pigs mature, the frontal location becomes less effective due to changes in the thickness of the bone and tissue that protects the brain. Alternative locations for captive bolt euthanasia are needed for mature pigs, according to Anderson.


Anthony Craig took home the event’s People’s Choice Award, which is sponsored by the UW-River Falls Chancellor’s Office and voted on by the audience.

The senior neuroscience major’s popular presentation was titled “Reduction of Waste: Mechanochemically Induced Reactions”

Solvents—which have historically been used to assist in making and breaking bonds in chemical reactions—allow people to do many things. However, the use of solvents can be harmful due to the waste produced. One potentially advantageous route to consider is mechanochemistry, which can remove the solvents from chemical synthesis, reducing the amount of waste production, according to Craig.

WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.