Communicating Research to the General Public
The Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy invites doctoral candidates in science and engineering
to include a chapter in their Ph.D. thesis that describes their scholarly research to non-science audiences.
To participate in this program, individual degree candidates should:
  • Please indicate your intention to create a chapter for non-specialists—before you begin working on it—by sending an email to as soon as possible.
  • Indicate your department and when you plan to complete your thesis (including defense date if known) in the content of this first email.
  • Review the guidelines and samples posted HERE.
  • To initiate the review and editing process, submit your first draft no less than four weeks before the dissertation defense date.


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.




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.

WISL, in collaboration with the UW-Madison Graduate School, 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 Ph.D. candidates.

Sharing the chapters with a
member of Congress

Read why Stanford professors believe that "Writing Matters"

Newscripts: A new chapter for doctorates
Chemical & Engineering News, 11/30/2020

Thesis-writing program shares joy of scientific research
UW News, 11/5/2020



Thesis Awardees


Abigail Bartlett, Ph.D. 2024

"Biochemical investigations of uncharacterized, redox-active enzymes in lipid metabolism"

Matthew R.F. Blackburn, Ph.D. 2024

"Structural Analysis of a Ubiquitous Proton Pump by Mass Spectrometry
and Cryo-Electron Microscopy"

Kyle C. H. Chin, Ph.D. 2024

"From Molecules to Models:
Advances in the 3D Printing of Polymeric Materials
Toward Improved Control, Functionality, and Sustainability"

Amber Lim, Ph.D. 2024

"18-n+m Isomerism in Transition Metal-Main Group Intermetallics:
Chemical Pressure-Directed Configurations of Electronically Viable Structures"

Katherine Parrish, Ph.D. 2024

"Investigating Chiral Light-Matter Interactions in Photonic Materials"

Vincent Rigoglioso, Ph.D. 2024

"Assessing and Optimizing the Performance of Photoredox-Mediated Metal-Free
Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization in Batch and Flow Reactors"


Laura Elmendorf, Ph.D. 2023

"Combined Spectroscopic and Computational Studies
of Free and Enzyme-Bound B12 Species"

Audrey Evans, Ph.D. 2023

"Towards real-time monitoring of microwave ablation
using microwave-induced thermoacoustic signals"

Olivia Harwood, Ph.D. 2023

"Evaluating Immune Responses to Therapeutic Vaccination and Correlates of
Post-Treatment Control in SIV+ Mauritian Cynomolgus Macaques"

Peyton Higgins, Ph.D. 2023

"Substrate Multiplexed Screening Guides Development of Biocatalysts
for Friedel-Crafts Alkylation of Aromatic Amino Acids"

Rachel Hildebrand, Ph.D. 2023

"Disrupting the Balance: On the Host-Pathogen Homeostasis of M. tuberculosis
from vaccine characterization to superinfection dynamics"

Bo Peng Lear, Ph.D. 2023

"Adult mammalian central nervous system regeneration"

Scott Lucchini, Ph.D. 2023

"The Magellanic Corona and its Role in the Evolution of the Magellanic Stream"

Jericha Mill, Ph.D. 2023

"Mass Spectrometry Techniques for Metabolomic Studies
of Aging and Age-Related Diseases"

Ashley Phetsanthad, Ph.D. 2023

"Developing Mass Spectrometry-Based Strategies for the Enhanced Characterization
of Biomolecules in the Nervous System"

Gina Roesch, Ph.D. 2023

"Innovation in Mass Spectrometry Instrumentation for Applications
in Cryogenic Ion Vibrational Spectroscopy"

Daniel Salgueiro, Ph.D. 2023

"Tuning Reactivity in C(sp3)—C(sp2) Cross-Electrophile Coupling"

Lauren Schrader, Ph.D. 2023

"Circadian Rhythms, Circadian Disruption, and the Impact
on Gene Expression and Health in Humans"

Dylan Tabang, Ph.D. 2023

"Leveraging Mass Spectrometry to Probe Protein Post-Translational Modifications
in Pancreatic Disease"

Jonas Widness, Ph.D. 2023

"Semiconductor Quantum Dots for Synthetic Photoredox Catalysis
and Method Development for Cross Electrophile Coupling"


Erin Birdsall, Ph.D. 2022

"2D Infrared Spectroscopy for the Study of Membrane bound Proteins and Peptides"

Aryel Clarke, Ph.D. 2022

"LGD-1 regulation of ESCRT-III during multivesicular endosome biogenesis"

Martha Floy, Ph.D. 2022

"Advancing Cardiac Tissue Engineering from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells
by Incorporation of Epicardial and Fibroblast Cell Populations"

Shannon Goes, Ph.D. 2022

"Mediated Electroorganic Oxidations: Applications in Pharmaceutical Building Block Synthesis and Lignin Valorization"

Jonathan Greenhalgh, Ph.D. 2022

"Machine Learning Based Protein Engineering for Microbial Chemical Production"

Lillian Hislop, Ph.D. 2022

"Genetic associations of sugarcane mosaic virus resistance and endosperm carbohydrate composition in sweet corn (Zea mays.)"

Levi Hogan, Ph.D. 2022

"Single Nanoparticle Absorption Spectroscopy:
Chemical Dynamics using Optical Microresonators"

Tesia D. Janicki, Ph.D. 2022

"Atomistic computational approaches in molecular models and inorganic crystallization"

Kendall Kamp, Ph.D. 2022

"FAST and Frivolous: Five Years Studying Chemical Pressures and
Soft Atomic Motions in Intermetallic Structural Transitions"

Andrew Knutson, Ph.D. 2022

"Investigating the Role of Microglia in Gestational Intermittent Hypoxia-Induced
Cognitive Deficits in Rats"

Prasanth Kumar, Ph.D. 2022

"Characterization and Engineering of a Promiscuous L-Threonine Transaldolase to
Access Novel Amino Acid Building Blocks"

Victoria Lason, Ph.D. 2022

"Characterizing Insect Feeding Behaviors which Influence
Epiphytic Salmonella Enterica Populations"

Beth Lett, Ph.D. 2022

"Genetic influences of reproductive events in cattle"

Josephine Mitchell, Ph.D. 2022

"Coordination of ion channel delivery and dendrite growth
in Drosophila sensory neurons"

Hiba Nassereddine, Ph.D. 2022

"Use of Traffic Conflicts to Estimate Vehicle-Pedestrian Safety at Signalized Intersections"

Feng Pan, Ph.D. 2022

"Exploring Plasmonic-Photonic Coupled Systems Using
Microcavity-Based Single-Particle Spectroscopy"

Deepika Rao, Ph.D. 2022

"Designing a Patient-Centered Opioid Misuse Screening and Brief Intervention
for the Community Pharmacy"

Chris Sauer, Ph.D. 2022

"Development of Multiplex Mass Spectrometry Methods for Probing the
Response to Copper Toxicity in the Blue Crab"

Summer Sherman, Ph.D. 2022

"Utilizing Cryogenic Ion Vibrational Spectroscopy to Investigate How Side Chains Affect
Structure and Solvation of Small Peptides"

Christopher Unterberger, Ph.D. 2022

"Growth Hormone Disruption and Its Therapeutic Potential
in Models of Prostate and Breast Cancer"

Nishant Verma, Ph.D. 2022

"Detection of Acute Biomarkers to Optimize Target Engagement in Bioelectronic Medicine"

Maria Zdanovskaia, Ph.D. 2022

"The Study of Nitrogen-Containing Molecules of Astrochemical Importance using
Rotational Spectroscopy and Computational Chemistry"

Katherine Ziebarth, Ph.D. 2022

"Progress in Understanding Kinetics of Homogeneous Catalytic Reactions"


Jennifer E. Bird, Ph.D. 2021

"Rural Cancer Disparities and Communication Needs"

Rebeca Fernandez, Ph.D. 2021

"Structural, Spectroscopic, and Kinetic Investigation of Cysteamine Dioxygenase"

Elizabeth Greenhalgh, Ph.D. 2021

"Spectroscopic and Computational Investigations of the Cobalamin Containing Enzymes
EutT, CblC, PceA, and QueG"

Christina Hansen, Ph.D. 2021

"Structured Aggregation of Germline Determinants in Danionin Embryonic Development"

Tina R. Lynch, Ph.D. 2021

"From niche signaling to its transcriptional control over C. elegans stem cells:
an in vivo view"

Justin McKetney, Ph.D. 2021

"Advancing Mass Spectrometry-based Proteomic Analysis Strategies for the
Investigation of Human Health and Disease"

Christopher S. Morrow, Ph.D. 2021

"Finding the bottleneck in brain rejuvenation: mechanisms underlying
neural stem cell quiescence exit"

Sachin Muley, Ph.D. 2021

"Structure-property correlations in metallic glass and amorphous carbon films"

Arrielle C. Opotowsky, Ph.D. 2021

"Spent Nuclear Fuel Attribution using Statistical Methods:
Impacts of Information Reduction on Prediction Performance"

Michael D. Roy, Ph.D. 2021

"An Exploration of the Redox Behavior and Higher Oxidation States of
Diruthenium Paddlewheel Complexes"

David Schlais, Ph.D. 2021

"Modeling and Designing Secure Tightly-Coupled Accelerators in CPUs"

Sophia Sdao, Ph.D. 2021

"Cyclin-dependent kinases 1 and 2 control β-cell metabolism and insulin secretion"

Catherine N. Steffel, Ph.D. 2021

"Quantitative Ultrasound Imaging Parameters for Evaluation of Carotid Atherosclerotic Plaque"

Yue Gui, Ph.D. 2021

"Phase Transitions in Molecular Solids: Understanding Polymorphic Transformation
and Crystal Nucleation, and Engineering Amorphous Drugs for Global Health"


Camille Bishop, Ph.D. 2020

"Vapor deposition rate modifies order in highly structured glasses"

Jennifer R. Bratburd, Ph.D. 2020

"Host-microbiome interactions impacting pathogen and mutualist colonization
within defensive symbioses"

Kyle Brown, Ph.D. 2020

"Novel Proteomic Approaches to Characterize Endogenous Membrane Proteins"

Kellen DeLaney, Ph.D. 2020

"Mass Spectrometry Methods and Applications for Functional Characterization
of the Crustacean Neuropeptidome"

Taylor A. Evans, Ph.D. 2020

"Development of antimony-containing catalysts and semiconductors for
(photo)electrochemical fuel production"

Dacheng Fan, Ph.D. 2020

"Investigating the O-GlcNAc cycling enzymes: substrate recognition,
enzymatic activity, and biological functions"

Bridget Garnier, Ph.D. 2020

"Faulting in southern Guatemala and implications for
the North America – forearc – Caribbean triple junction"

Yun Hang, Ph.D. 2020

"New Light on Earth's Energy Budget and Its Implication for Solar Energy Potential"

Joshua M. Herzog, Ph.D. 2020

"Quantitative Temperature & Formaldehyde Concentration Imaging for
High-Pressure Turbulent Fuel Jet Ignition"

Nicole M. Lane Starr, Ph.D. 2020

"The Role of Oxylipins at the Intersection of Rhinovirus Infection and Asthma"

Elizabeth Laudadio, Ph.D. 2020

"Chemical Transformations of Lithium Cobalt Oxide Nanoparticles
in Model Environmental Systems"

Vanessa Linke, Ph.D. 2020

"Linking Mass Spectrometry and Genetics for Studying the Various Biological Roles of Lipids"

Margaret Lumley, Ph.D. 2020

"Development of Electrode Materials for Electrochemical Desalination and Solar Water Splitting"

Mainak Mustafi, Ph.D. 2020

"Dynamics of EF-Tu/ternary complex in live E. coli using superresolution imaging"

Mengyao Niu, Ph.D. 2020

"Whisper with Lipids: Fungal Oxylipins in Development and
Host Interactions in Aspergillus fumigatus"

Dinesh Pattabiraman, Ph.D. 2020

"Impact of Inverter Control on the Dynamic Performance of Power Systems
with High Penetration of Inverter-based Resources"

Megan Petti, Ph.D. 2020

"Development of Novel Surface Sensitive
and Surface Specific Two-Dimensional Spectroscopies

Zach Rolfs, Ph.D. 2020

"Novel Strategies for Identifying Endogenous Peptides
and Determining Protein Turnover Rates"

Video: Zach talks about his experience writing this chapter

Leah Schaffer, Ph.D. 2020

"Integrated Proteomic Strategies for Proteoform Discovery"

Trisha Tucholski, Ph.D. 2020

"Defining the Human Heart Proteoform Landscape with Top-down Proteomics"

Shannon Walsh, Ph.D. 2020

"Effects of age and mechanical loading on articular cartilage metabolism
and corresponding consequences for tissue health"

Kyle Wegner, Ph.D. 2020

"A Glitch in the Matrix:
Exploring the Role of Prostatic Collagen in Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction"

Yanyu Zhu, Ph.D. 2020

"Single-Cell Detection of Antimicrobial Peptide’s Attack on Live E. coli
by Super-Resolution Fluorescence Microscopy"


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"