Communicating Research to the General Public

The Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy invites doctoral candidates in the chemical sciences
to include a chapter in their Ph.D. thesis that describes their
scholarly research to non-science audiences.

More information on how to begin writing your own chapter can be found here.

The dual mission of the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy
is to promote literacy in science, mathematics and technology
among the general public and to attract future generations
to careers in research, teaching and public service.


~ Honor Roll 2017-2019 ~


At the March 5, 2010 UW-Madison Chemistry Department Colloquium, Prof. Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, the director of the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy (WISL), encouraged all UW-Madison chemistry Ph.D. candidates to include a chapter in their Ph.D. thesis communicating their research to non-scientists. The goal is to explain the candidate’s scholarly research and its significance to a wider audience that includes family members, friends, civic groups, newspaper reporters, program officers at appropriate funding agencies, state legislators, and members of the U.S. Congress.

Over 50 Ph.D. degree recipients have successfully completed their theses and included such a chapter.

WISL encourages the inclusion of such chapters in all Ph.D. theses everywhere through the cooperation of Ph.D. candidates and their mentors. WISL is now offering additional awards of $250 for UW-Madison chemistry Ph.D. candidates.

Sharing the chapters with a
member of Congress

Read why Stanford professors believe that "Writing Matters"


Thesis Awardees


Anurag Agrawal, Ph.D. 2019

"Understanding Spatiotemporal Aspects of Antimicrobial Peptide Attack on Single,
Live Bacteria Using Time-Lapse Fluorescence Microscopy"

Madeleine Beasley, Ph.D. 2019

"In Situ Characterization of Vapor-Deposited Organic Glasses"

Jill Chipman, Ph.D. 2019

"Modifications to M2M’ Heterometallic Chain Compounds
and their Spectroscopic, Magnetic, and Electronic Consequences"

Emily Ehlerding, Ph.D. 2019

"Molecular Imaging for Personalized Cancer Immunotherapy"

Caitlin Keller, Ph.D. 2019

"Mass Spectrometry Method Development and Application to
Investigate Plant-Microbe and Microbiome-Host Symbiosis"

Kassandra Knapper, Ph.D. 2019

"Advanced fabrication of toroidal optical microresonators
for label-free photothermal imaging and spectroscopy"

Samuel Krerowicz, Ph.D. 2019

"Restructuring of Large, Double-Stranded DNA Molecules
through Self-Assembly to form Microscale Objects"

Thomas Sobyra, Ph.D. 2019

"The Uptake and Reactivity of Organic and Atmospheric Gases
in Salty and Surfactant-Coated Water Microjets"

Sean Staudt, Ph.D. 2019

"Heterogeneous Reactions of Nocturnal Nitrogen Oxides
at Atmospherically Relevant Aqueous Interfaces"


Anna Brezny, Ph.D. 2018

"Kinetic and Mechanistic Studies of Rh(Bis(diazaphospholane))-Catalyzed
Asymmetric Hydroformylation"

Amanda Buchberger, Ph.D. 2018

“Development and Application of Quantitative and Qualitative Mass Spectrometry Techniques
to Probe Crustacean Neuropeptides and Beyond”

Allison C. Cardiel, Ph.D. 2018

“Developing Cu-based Photoelectrodes and Electrocatalytic Processes
for Efficient Solar Water Splitting and Biomass Conversion”

Stephen Kubota, Ph.D. 2018

“Developing catalytic pathways for the valorization of biomass-based platform molecules
via electrochemical reduction and oxidation reactions”

Lydia H. Manger, Ph.D. 2018

“Fluorescence Anisotropy Measurements of Single Molecules to Probe
Solution-Phase Conformational Heterogeneity of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins”

Christina Marvin, Ph.D. 2018

“Spatial and Temporal Delivery of Small Molecules from Long Wavelength Sensitive Phototherapeutics Using Erythrocytes as Biological Carriers”

Sonisilpa Mohapatra, Ph.D. 2018

“Functional mapping of the components of the E. coli translational machinery”

Keren Turton, Ph.D. 2018

Case studies of cryptic proteins contributing to shape change in eosinophils:
Workflows to investigate STAT3, LOCGEF and NHSL2

Melinda Shearer, Ph.D. 2018

“Correlating Spatial Heterogeneity with Electronic and Optical Properties
of Transition Metal Dichalcogenides”

Zhilin Yang, Ph.D. 2018

“Single-Cell, Real-Time Detection of Antimicrobial Peptide’s Attack in Live E. coli Cells”


Bingming Chen, Ph.D. 2017

"Development of Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization
and Liquid Chromatography - Electrospray Ionization Based
Mass Spectrometric Techniques for Characterizing and
Quantifying Endogenous and Therapeutic Biomolecules"

Ling Hao, Ph.D. 2017

"Advancing Mass Spectrometry-based Metabolomic and Proteomics:
From Method Development to Disease Applications"

Bradley Jones, Ph.D. 2017

Implementation of Asymmetric Hydroformylation with Rhodium Bisdiazaphos Catalysts:
AHF in Flow and Rh-Catalyzed Hydroacylation”

Thiago Monteiro Araújo dos Santos, Ph.D. 2017

"Chemical-biological studies of cell division and intracellular organization in bacteria"

Kazimer Lennon Skubi, Ph.D. 2017

"New Strategies for Catalytic Stereocontrol in Photochemical Synthesis"

Ananya Ray-Soni, Ph.D. 2017

"Trigger loop dynamics aid intrinsic transcription termination
by Escherichia coli RNA polymerase"

Emily Wilkerson, Ph.D. 2017

"Method Optimization and Application of Mass Spectrometry
to the Field of Hematology"


Amanda Corcos, Ph.D. 2016

"Bimetallic Reactive Intermediates Containing Late Transition Metals"

Erin Gemperline, Ph.D. 2016

"Method Development and Application of Mass Spectrometry Imaging to Study
Symbiotic Relationships Between Bacteria and Host Organisms"


David Wesley Brogden, Ph.D. 2015

"Synthetic, Spectroscopic, and Computational Studies of Bimetallic and Trimetallic
2,2’-Dipyridylamide Compounds"

Jennifer A. Faust, Ph.D. 2015

"Collisions and Reactions with Glycerol Films and Water Microjets:
Exploring the Chemistry of Interfacial Ions"

Christopher D. Jordan, Ph.D. 2015

"Spectroscopic and Computational Investigation of Adenosylcobalamin-Dependent Enzymes
and a Membrane-Bound Fatty Acid Desaturate"

Ambalika Sagarika Khadria, Ph.D. 2015

"FRET-based biophysical characterization of bacterial divisome transmembrane proteins"

Dr. Khadria also interpreted her thesis through dance. The video can be viewed here.

Tracey A. Oudenhoven, Ph.D. 2015

"Advances in 2D IR Spectroscopy and Applications to Sensitized Thin Films"

Nambirajan Rangarajan, Ph.D. 2015

"Time-lapse fluorescence microscopy of the effects of
antimicrobial peptides on single, live Escherichia coli cells"


Tyler Adint, Ph.D. 2014

"Improving Accessibility of Asymmetric Hydroformylation
through Ligand Libraries and Immobilization"

Veronica Berns, Ph.D. 2014

"Chemical Pressure and Its Applications to the Tsai-Type Quasicrystal"

Erin Selene Boyle, Ph.D. 2014

"New Mixed Vibrational-Electronic Methods in Fully Coherent Multidimensional
Spectroscopy: Progress Toward Metal Active Site Characterization"

Joseph P. Gerdt, Ph.D. 2014

“Quorum Sensing Inhibition in Pseudomonas aeruginosa:
Investigations Into Mechanism and Resistance Development”

Amber Jain, Ph.D. 2014

"Timescales of Large Amplitude Motion — Classical and Quantum Considerations"

Eleanor Rolfe Nelsen, Ph.D. 2014

"Interception and characterization of catalyst species in rhodium-bis(diazaphospholane)-catalyzed asymmetric hydroformylation"

Laura Ruiz Espelt, Ph.D. 2014

"Controlling the Chemistry of Photogenerated Radicals with
Lewis and Brønsted Acid Co-Catalysts"


Jennifer E. Laaser, Ph.D. 2013

"New Methods for Nonlinear Vibrational Spectroscopy of Materials and Biophysical Interfaces"


Stephen B. Block, Ph.D. 2012

"Picosecond and Femtosecond Coherent Multidimensional Spectroscopy
of Colloidal PbSe Quantum Dot Structure and Dynamics"

Alexander J. L. Clemens, Ph.D. 2012

"Part I. Synthesis of Garner’s Aldehyde and Efforts Toward the
Synthesis of Tapentadol via an Asymmetric Hydroformylation/Reductive Amination Sequence"

"Part II. Development of a Rhodium-Mediated Domino Annulation and
Efforts Toward the Total Synthesis of Linderagalactone C"

Joshua P. DiGangi, Ph.D. 2012

"Formaldehyde as a Probe of Rural Volatile Organic Compound Oxidation"

Laura Anne Kopff, Ph.D. 2012

"Matrix-Isolation, Photochemistry, and Spectroscopy of Benzothienyl Diazo Compounds"

Jayashree Nagesh, Ph.D. 2012

"Spectroscopy and vibrational dynamics of Methoxy and D-Methoxy radicals"

Jason D. Russell, Ph.D. 2012

"Strategies for Protein and Peptide Characterization and Quanitfication
using Electron-Transfer Dissociation Mass Spectrometry and Instrinsic Fluorescence"

Yevgeniya Turov, Ph.D. 2012

"New Axial Reactivity of Trimetallic Compounds"


Benjamin P. Bratton, Ph.D. 2011

"Dynamics of RNA Polymerase and DNA Foci in Live Escherichia coli"

Melissa M. Galloway, Ph.D. 2011

"Mechanisms of VOC Oxidation and Aerosol Formation:
Atmospheric Organic Chemistry of Glyoxal"

Amanda Long, Ph.D. 2011

"New Diruthenium Nitrido Compounds and
Intra- and Intermolecular Reactivity with Aryl C-H Bonds"

Ashok Sekhar, Ph.D. 2011

"Mechanistic Investigations on Hsp70 Chaperone-Mediated Protein Folding and Photo-CIDNP Enhancements in Heteronuclear Correlation NMR Spectroscopy"

Matt Windsor, Ph.D. 2011

"Development of a ß-Peptide Retroaldolase and Efforts
Toward Other Catalytic Foldamers"

Read about Matt's experience with the WISL Thesis Award


Susan M. Brastad, Ph.D. 2010

"Investigation of Proton Exchange Reactions between Acidic Gases
and Protic Solvents Containing Dissolved Ions"

Andrew J. Huisman, Ph.D. 2010

"Measurements and Modeling of Glyoxal: Insights into Rural Photochemistry
and Secondary Organic Aerosol Production"

Suzanne Elizabeth Kulevich, Ph.D. 2010

"Hydrophobic Modification of Peptides to Enhance
Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry Analysis"

Elizabeth C. Landis, Ph.D. 2010

"Molecular Monolayers for Attaching Electroactive Molecules
to Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanofibers"

Margrith Mattmann, Ph.D. 2010

"Interrupting Bacterial Conversations: Designing Chemicals to Control
Quorum Sensing in Pseudomonas Aeruginosa"

Jessica Lynn Menke, Ph.D. 2010

"Computational and Matrix-Isolation Spectroscopy Studies of Cyanocyclobutadienes"

Beth M. Moscato-Goodpaster, Ph.D. 2010

"Information-Rich Investigations into Catalytic Olefin Polymerization:
Technique Development and Mechanistic Studies"

Avery Watkins, Ph.D. 2010

"Synthetic and Mechanistic Studies of Rhodium-Catalyzed Asymmetric
Hydroformylation with Diazaphospholane Ligands"