News & Media

UW-Eau Claire’s Carl Fossum wins WiSys statewide research communication competition

UW-Eau Claire chemistry and physics student Carl Fossum was named the 2021 WiSys Quick Pitch State Champion on May 26.

Fossum took first place in the research communication contest, featuring students from 11 different University of Wisconsin System campuses, for the presentation “Understanding the Severity of COVID-19: A Point of View Through the Lens of a Computational Chemist.”

WiSys Quick Pitch is a research “pitch” competition that inspires UW System students to consider the impact of their research. Participants have three minutes to impress a panel of judges with their research and their ability to articulate its larger importance to society. 

“Carl’s ability to communicate his research was impressive,” said WiSys President Arjun Sanga. “Students, like Carl, conduct high-level research throughout the UW System, but it is not enough to just do the research. You must be able to explain the ‘why.’ Research communication is critically important. Congratulations to Carl for being an example to his fellow undergraduate researchers.”

Fossum will receive a $700 prize for the first place finish.

UW-River Falls’ animal science student Blair Wermuth took second place and a $450 prize for the presentation “An Animal Welfare-Focused Exploration of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Dairy Supply Chain.”

UW-Superior business administration student Daniel Baker took third place and a $200 prize for the presentation “Income Inequality and the Effects on Pursuit of Education.”

The event’s other presenters included:

  • Maddie Culhane and Caleb Kulich, UW-Eau Claire
  • Kelly House, UW-Green Bay
  • Cullen Schull, UW-La Crosse
  • Brianna Roberts, UW Oshkosh
  • Julia Thompson, UW Oshkosh
  • Julia Jones, UW-Parkside
  • Gene Cruz, UW-Platteville
  • Isabel Dunn, UW-Stevens Point 
  • Myder Yang, UW-Stout
  • Alissa Santana, UW-Whitewater

Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski served as a judge for the event along with Joe Kremer, Director of the Tech Council Investor Networks and Tim Nelson, Regional Director of Innovation for Mayo Clinic in Northwest Wisconsin.

“Each of the proposals was as innovative as it was inspiring,” said Godlewski. “It was privilege to hear from Wisconsin’s future leaders about their ideas to tackle the biggest challenges we face. The WiSys Quick Pitch is also a testament to the prestige of our UW System and the brilliant faculty and staff who are empowering these young people to change the world.”

Each of the participants took first place, winning a $300 prize, in an earlier campus-level qualifier to advance to the state final. All participating students receive training and support to craft their presentations from WiSys and campus partners.

UW System President Tommy Thompson sent a recorded video message to the event’s participants congratulating them for their work and effort to share it with the public. “Your research matters,” Thompson declared.

The virtual event was part of the 2021 WiSys SPARK Symposium Virtual Series—which honors faculty, staff and student research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the UW System. For more information about the symposium’s events, visit

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.