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UW-La Crosse students Adeline Hendrix, Christine Starshak and Molly Ellmann recognized for research communication skills

Adeline Hendrix, left, Christine Starshak, center, and Molly Ellmann, right, present their research at the WiSys Quick Pitch @ UW-La Crosse in May. (Photos Courtesy of Jen Towner, Photographer, UW-La Crosse).

LA CROSSE—UW-La Crosse students Adeline Hendrix, Christine Starshak and Molly Ellmann were recognized for their research communication skills in the WiSys Quick Pitch @ UW-La Crosse on May 5.

The student “pitch” competition inspires UW System students to consider the impact of their research and effectively communicate it to the public. Students have three minutes to impress a panel of judges with their pitch.

Adeline Hendrix, a first-year student, earned first place and a $300 prize for the presentation “Diversity in Children’s Books at UW-La Crosse.”

Hendrix’s research project is analyzing the state of diversity in children’s books at the Alice Hagar Curriculum Center in the Murphy Library at UW-La Crosse. The center supports the education curriculum of the School of Education and any children's and young adult literature courses taught at the university.

Noting that “children's books function as mirrors and windows for children to learn and see themselves represented,” Hendrix hopes the research project provides tools to create a more diverse children's library.

Hendrix’s faculty advisor is UW-La Crosse Associate Professor Academic Librarian Teri Holford.

The win gives Hendrix the opportunity to represent UW-La Crosse in the WiSys Quick Pitch State Finals during the WiSys SPARK Symposium at UW Oshkosh, Aug. 6-8.


Starshak, a sophomore, won second place and a $125 prize in the competition for the presentation “A Firm Grip on Independence and Accessibility.”

Starshak’s faculty advisor is UW-La Crosse Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Mary Zimmerman.


Molly Ellmann, a first-year student, was awarded the evening’s People’s Choice Award for the presentation "Addressing Issues of Access and Equity: Navigating the Effects of COVID-19 in Schooling for English Language Learners." The award was voted on by the audience.

Ellmann’s faculty advisor is UW-La Crosse Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Dr. Jancarlos (J.C.) Wagner-Romero.

Overall, five students participated in this year’s WiSys Quick Pitch @ UW-La Crosse. Other “pitchers” included:

  • Mackenzie Geschke, "Connect."
  • Ivan Ngian, "Magnetic Moment of Deuteron-Quark Gluon Plasma."

In order to participate in WiSys Quick Pitch, students must complete a training and mentorship session with WiSys and campus leaders. These sessions help students craft their presentation and instill confidence. 

All participating students receive the WiSys Research Communication badge to denote their newly developed skill. The digital credential may be added to the students’ resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

The judges for the competition were:

  • Dr. Joe Gow, Chancellor, UW-La Crosse
  • Dr. Betsy Morgan, Provost & Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, UW-La Crosse                                                                     
  • Dr. Sandra Grunwald, Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, UW-La Crosse


As a nonprofit organization supporting research, innovation and entrepreneurship at Wisconsin’s regional public universities, WiSys set out to develop a program to incentivize and train student researchers to share their work to a lay audience including the public, mentors and policymakers.

WiSys first piloted the program at UW-Eau Claire in 2015. Since then, the program has been expanded to 10 other UW System institutions. The winners from the institutional competitions compete at the statewide finals held at WiSys’ annual summer symposium. Through the program, more than 80 students receive research communication training and experience each year. Nearly 500 UW System student researchers have participated since 2015.

The program’s objectives include:

  • Encouraging student researchers to recognize the value of their work.
  • Providing students tools for effectively communicating their research to the public without jargon.
  • Highlighting the depth and breadth of student research taking place at public universities.
  • Promoting information sharing to create new opportunities or collaborations.
  • Celebrating student work and accomplishments.

For more information about the WiSys Quick Pitch Program, 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.