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UW-Parkside students recognized for research communication skills at WiSys Quick Pitch competition

UW-Parkside Chancellor Dr. Debbie Ford, center-right, and WiSys Regional Intellectual Property and Licensing Associate Allee Marti, left, congratulate UW-Parkside students Elise Zevitz, center-left, and Elisa Kurber, right, for their successful participation in the WiSys Quick Pitch @ UW-Parkside (Photo courtesy of Laura Mason, UW-Parkside).

SOMERS—UW-Parkside students Elise Zevitz and Elisa Kurber were recognized for their outstanding research communication skills in the WiSys Quick Pitch @ UW-Parkside on April 19.

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

Elise Zevitz, a senior, took first place and a $300 prize for the presentation on "Harnessing the UV-Blocking Power of Plants Toward a New Generation of Green Sunscreen." Zevitz's research looked at plant-based compounds as an alternative to currently-used synthetic UV filters in sunscreen that have been criticized for potential negative effects on health and the environment.

Zevitz's faculty advisor is UW-Parkside Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry Dr. Ilirian Dhimitruka. 

Zevitz’s first-place win provides the opportunity to represent UW-Parkside in the WiSys Quick Pitch State Finals during the WiSys SPARK Symposium at UW Oshkosh, Aug. 6-8.

Elisa Kurber, a senior, won second place and a $125 prize in the competition for the presentation on "Storytelling Through Video Games." With the video game industry growing rapidly, Kurber’s project delved into analyzing video games as a form of communication, comparable to other forms of media.

Kurber's faculty advisor is UW-Parkside Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Adrienne Viramontes.

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. Deborah Ford, Chancellor, UW-Parkside
  • Willie Jude II, Vice Chancellor for Advancement, UW-Parkside
  • Scott Menke, Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration, UW-Parkside


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.