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​UW-Platteville’s Kaitlyn Timmins wins 2019 WiSys Poster Symposium

UW-Platteville student Kaitlyn Timmins receives the first place prize in the 2019 WSTS Poster Symposium from WiSys Regional Associate Brian Walsh.

MENOMONIE—UW-Platteville student Kaitlyn Timmins’ research poster “Protecting the Planets from Microbial Contamination” took first place during WiSys’ annual Poster Symposium on July 22.

The student poster competition was held at UW-Stout during WiSys’ annual celebration of research and innovation, known as WSTS.

PHOTOS: 2019 WSTS Poster Symposium & Innovation Showcase

UW-Platteville’s Assistant Professor Dr. Mark Levenstein is Timmins’ faculty advisor.

Timmins also won the Poster Symposium’s Robert R. Wise Award for Commercial Relevance. The award is presented to a student poster demonstrating significant innovative, economic and societal impact. 

The award honors Robert R. Wise who was the first WiSys Regional Associate. He piloted the important WiSys program which brought the organization closer to UW campuses throughout the state.

Poster Abstract:

NASA has sent six rovers to Mars, four successfully, and has proposed a future mission to return samples of Martian rocks, soils, and atmosphere to Earth. NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection is tasked to consider the implications of alien microbial life on other planets. Bacteria can survive in the vacuum of space, making it crucial to limit the introduction of alien species into Earth’s biosphere. First Contact™ polymer is designed to atomically clean optical surfaces through adhesion. It has been used to fully remove particulate from telescope lenses, LIGO’s interferometer, and even the Hope Diamond. Here, we demonstrate that First Contact™ can remove Bacillus atrophaeus spores from glass, aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel, validating its role as an important tool to protect the planet from alien colonization.


WiSys Regional Associate Brian Walsh, left, presents UW-Platteville students (from left to right) Evan Majerus, Nathanael Braukhoff, Zhiwei Yang and Austin Fitzgerald with the second place prize in the 2019 WSTS Poster Symposium.

UW-Platteville students Nathanael Braukhoff, Austin Fitzgerald, Evan Majerus and Zhiwei Yang took second place in the competition with their poster “Applying Predictive Models to Course Curriculums for Early Struggling Students.” 

Dr. Douglas Selent and Dr. Seth Adjei are the students’ faculty advisors.

Poster Abstract:

The purpose of this research is to provide data and tools necessary for students and faculty advisors to predict and prevent academic struggle. The dataset we used consists of historical grade data mined from UW-Platteville graduates and withdrawals between the years 2013 and 2018. Our research questions are the following: 1) What is the likelihood for each grade per course that students have taken, 2) How well can we predict a student’s next term GPA using their previous term GPA, 3) Given varying amounts of prior course performance data, what is the probability that a student will graduate, 4) What is the percentage of students who have struggled while attending UW-Platteville, 5) What are the correlations between grades of all course combinations, 6) Given student performance data on prerequisite courses how accurate and how far into the future can we predict post-requisite course performance. We have found that 76% of students in both the Computer Science and Software Engineering programs have struggled at some point during their time at UW-Platteville. We compared the performance of multiple predictive models. We used Zero-R as our baseline model and compared that to regression models and Gradient Boosted Trees. We found that Gradient Boosted Trees and the regression models outperformed the Zero-R model, but performed comparatively to each other. We observed the strength of monotonic relationships between grades in courses of different departments; computer science and math courses show high correlations as expected. We are currently implementing our predictive models into an application for faculty advisors to use.


Akanksha Gurtu, left, receives the third place prize in the 2019 Poster Symposium from WiSys Regional Associate Brian Walsh.

UW-Green Bay student Akanksha Gurtu’s poster “Sustainable Conversion of Contaminated Water into Potable Water” won third place in the competition.

UW-Green Bay Assistant Professor Dr. Mandeep Bakshi is Gurtu’s faculty advisor.

Poster Abstract:

Magnetic nanoparticles (NPs) belong to a unique class of nanomaterials with enormous interesting applications in environmental sustainability and in health care. Iron oxide NPs are the most common and widely studied nanomaterials. They are much easier to synthesize at low cost and mainly exist as a-Fe2O3 and Fe3O4 known as hematite and magnetite, respectively. Hydrothermal synthesis is the most common route to synthesize iron oxide NPs. To achieve successful applications, NPs should exist independently in the aqueous phase to provide a maximum surface area. This can be achieved by producing “surface-active magnetic NPs” which is a relatively new class of nanomaterials with little information available in the literature. Surface activity helps the NPs to exploit their applications at immiscible interfaces such as that of the bacterium cell membrane in an aqueous medium. “Surface-active NPs” can be chemically modified to interact with the bacterium cell membrane and hence, they can be employed to remove bacterial contaminations from freshwater simply by applying the external magnetic field. The aim of the present study is to design sustainable biotechnology by using “surface-active magnetic NPs” for removing bacterial contaminations at low cost with high efficiency.

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.