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WSTS 2017 celebrates a decade of collaboration in UW System innovation

More than 250 University of Wisconsin innovators came together in Platteville for the 10th annual WSTS, a two-day symposium aimed at sparking collaboration between faculty, staff, students and industry partners across the state.

The conference featured scientific presentations, panel discussions and networking activities to highlight the potential for partnerships across disciplines and across campuses.

“We were thrilled to host such a key event for our state,” UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields said. “The research and innovative work through WiSys demonstrates the value of connecting University of Wisconsin resources with the business economy and it’s great to be showcasing this in our own region.”

WSTS also featured a student research poster symposium, where more than 50 student teams presented their projects to compete for cash prizes. For Sophie Moll, a UW-Stevens Point senior studying biochemistry and first-time attendee at WSTS, the symposium was not only an opportunity for networking and collaboration, but also to get valuable feedback and direction for her research.

“Going into the program, I was unsure what to expect,” Moll said. “Upon leaving I had been inspired to attempt to one day pursue my Ph.D. thanks to a professor I was able to meet through the symposium. I'm confident that looking back years from now the WSTS will be remembered as something of a personal turning point.”

This year’s event also gave University of Wisconsin students with creative, technological and engineering projects an opportunity to demonstrate their work through the inaugural Innovation Showcase. Fifteen student teams presented their prototypes, apps, computer games and creative work.

Other special sessions new to WSTS this year included the WiSys Quick Pitch State Final, where winners of four regional campus Quick Pitch competitions faced off in front of a statewide crowd to present their research in three minutes or less.

Quick Pitch State Finalists, from left to right: Elista Fisher, UW-Platteville; Leah Statz, UW-Platteville; McKenzie Scanlan, UW-Eau Claire; Maria Otto, UW-Green Bay; Kasey Stewart, UW Oshkosh

Also new this year, the Faculty Open Mic session echoed the Quick Pitch, giving UW System faculty members five minutes and three slides to present on their research, successful collaborations and programs, or collaboration needs. At a parallel session, students were invited to attend a special Career Panel to hear from various industry experts providing their insight on career development and how experience in undergraduate research creates valuable opportunities.

The annual evening dinner and networking event took place this year at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, IA, where WiSys Executive Director Arjun Sanga presented the 2017 Carl E. Gulbrandsen Innovator of the Year award to Dr. Brant Kedrowski, of UW Oshkosh.

WSTS 2018 will be hosted in partnership with UW-Parkside and is scheduled to take place late July 2018.

See photos from WSTS 2017 here.


WSTS 2017 Award Winners:

  • 1st place -  Nick Schlaeger, UW-River Falls: “Synthetic Compounds That Reduce Melanoma Stem Cell Population” mentors Aaron Monte and Cheng-Chen Huang
  • 2nd place – Pratigya Thapaliya, UW-Stout: “Modification of Layered Double Hydroxide (LDH) Nanoparticles with Antimicrobial Agents for Potential Food Packaging Applications” mentor Min DeGruson
  • 3rd place – Madeline Zilles and Bailey Rockwood, UW-Platteville: “Synthesis of a Sulfur Functionalized Monomer for Preparation of Functionalized Porous Organic Polymers” mentor Mohammad Rabbani


  • 1st place – Nikolai Lumpkins, UW-Parkside: “The Pillar” mentor Daryl Sauer
  • 2nd place – Daniel Johnson, Austin Lewer, Frank Coleman, Brax Waller, Emma Kornack, Abby Kuislea, Macy Helgeson, Jaylin Kue, Jim Marien, Mallory Schneider, Emilie Rosin, Jake Doetkott, Shelly Bustrak, UW-Stout: “Granite: Virtual Encounters with Sculpture” mentor Mitch Ogden

Nick Schlaeger, UW-River Falls “Synthetic Compounds That Reduce Melanoma Stem Cell Population” mentors Aaron Monte and Cheng-Chen Huang


  • 1st place – Leah Statz, UW-Platteville: “Analysis of Particle Size and Organic Matter in Recycled Sand Bedding”
  • 2nd place – Elista Fisher, UW-Platteville: “Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide on Beneficial Freshwater Organisms”