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A vole (a fuzzy little field mouse) doesn’t appear to have all that much to do with a pachycephalosaurid (a dinosaur with a thick, bony cranium like a hardhat).

Yet, separated by eons, these two species have one significant thing in common: Both have been the subjects of faculty and student collaborative research projects at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in the last year or two.

As in any academic year, millions of dollars in funding for collaborative research – whether it’s conducted in the halls of science or the archives of libraries and museums – flows into UW Oshkosh. It fuels the deep, high-impact investigations of faculty members and students examining and publishing papers on an array of subjects, phenomenon and potential solutions to environmental or societal problems. The work of UW Oshkosh’s Office of Grants and Faculty Development is critical to support the array of research work.

And long, meticulous, challenging and rewarding work it is.

UW Oshkosh Assistant Prof. of Environmental Studies and Biology M. Elsbeth (Misty) McPhee and her research students remain curious: What can the tiny field voles they have captured, tagged and studied for months in a native habitat north of Oshkosh and in a campus lab tell us about the reintegration of captive animal species into the wild?

“What we’re looking at is how generations in captivity or time in captivity affects behavior,” McPhee said during her and two research students’ field stop to their outdoor laboratory – a woodsy-fringed meadow – north of the city of Oshkosh in September. “What I am interested in is the success of reintroduction programs.”

“We’re curious to know about behavior just because it better helps us understand animals, and not just voles,” McPhee’s student assistant Sara Hagedorn said. “Voles are just good model species to help us realize that animals do act differently and there is a difference with animals in captivity and in wild behaviors.”


Cut to dinosaur research…

In April, Geology Department Assistant Professor Joe Peterson and undergraduate research students made a trip to Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh with dino bones in hand.

Peterson and UW Oshkosh students Collin Dischler, a junior studying geology, and Carol Bigalke, a senior studying geology and anthropology, examined the bone fragments as they passed through an Aurora CT scan machine. The scan produced digital, 3D images of small slices of the specimens, which helped the researchers develop new questions about and study the behavior and injuries of the Stegoceras, Hansseusia and Colepiocephale, all types of bony-skulled pachycephalosaurid dinosaurs that lived more than 75 million years ago.


Two projects. Just two examples of UW Oshkosh’s collaborative research power supported by the Office of Grants and Faculty Development. Others include:

On Oct. 6, two students (one former student, the other graduating this year) and Department of History Professor Stephen Kercher, Ph.D., shared receipt of an award from the Wisconsin Historical Society for a Neenah Historical Society (NHS) exhibit. As the consultant to NHS, Kercher helped develop the exhibit with the involvement of UW Oshkosh students. Kercher also worked with two other history students on the development of the November “Iraq War in Retrospect” symposium.

A record-breaking 34 scholarly papers were submitted to Oshkosh Scholar, the UW Oshkosh undergraduate research journal. Michelle Kuhl, Ph.D., (History and Oshkosh Scholar faculty adviser) and Susan Surendonk (Oshkosh Scholar managing editor) met with all 34 student authors and their faculty advisers to fine-tune their submissions. The journal is a collaborative undertaking as student authors work with both their faculty advisers and the Oshkosh Scholar editorial team (Kuhl, Surendonk, and student editors Amy Knoll and Arielle Smith) to produce polished, scholarly research.

Students who present at the annual UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity event collaborated with their faculty advisers. The event was held at UW Parkside on April 27. The following UW Oshkosh students presented:

  •             Steven Bartel (faculty adviser Nadia Kaltcheva, Physics and Astronomy).
  •             Kevin Moran (Nadia Kaltcheva).
  •             Jaime Castillo and Holly Ozanich (Teri Shors, Biology/Microbiology).
  •             Jefferson Lich (Stephanie May de Montigny, Anthropology).
  •             Kristine Knox (Sabrina Mueller-Spitz, Biology/Microbiology).
  •             Jessica De Larwelle (Erin Winterrowd, Psychology).
  •             Kayla Kasten (Erin Winterrowd, Psychology).
  •             Matthew Knollenberg (Samuel David, Chemistry).
  •             Mitchell Matheny (Nadia Kaltcheva, Physics and Astronomy).
  •             Kyle Moerchen (Susan Rensing, History).
  •             Eric Anderson (Jeff Lipschutz, Art).
  •             Paige Anunson (Jennifer Schuttlefield, Chemistry).
  •             Alexander Turinske and Scott Nelson (Nenad Stojilovic, Physics).


The UW Oshkosh Student/Faculty Collaborative Research program annually awards stipends with supplies and/or expense allowances to both undergraduate and graduate students who are collaborating with faculty advisers. The following students and their faculty advisers were recipients of the 2012-2013 Student/Faculty Collaborative Research awards:

Graduate Student/Faculty Collaborative Research Awards ($3,000 Stipend & $500 Supplies/Expenses):

  • Ashley Winker (Gregory Adler and Michelle Michalski, Biology and Microbiology), Blood Parasites in Two Species of Tropical Rats;
  • Andrew Sabai (Robert Pillsbury, Biology and Microbiology), Cattail Invasion of Native Wetland Communities in Winnebago System Wetlands: Analysis and Modeling;
  • Bradley Spanbauer (Stephanie Spehar, Anthropology), Seed Protection from Beetle Larvae Infestation Through Dispersal by the African Savannah Elephant (Loxodonta Africana Africana);
  • Justin Zangl (Toivo Kallas, Biology and Microbiology), Protease Inactivation for Isolation of a Functional Cytochrome b6f Electron Transfer Complex from the Cyanobacterium Synechococcus PCC 7002.


Pat J. Koll Graduate Student/Faculty Collaborative Research Award ($3,000 Stipend & $500 Supplies/ Expenses):

  • Heather Flick (Susan McFadden, Psychology), End of Life Planning by Low Income, Community-Dwelling Elders.


Undergraduate Student/Faculty Collaborative Research Awards ($2,500 Stipend & $500 Supplies/Expenses):

  • Ryan Bures (Dana Merriman, Biology and Microbiology), Is Reactive Gliosis After Optic Nerve Crush Muted in the 13-lined Ground Squirrel Retina?;
  • Jacqueline Charapata (Marguerite Parks, Educational Leadership), Establishing Critical Thinking and Multicultural Education in Rural Wisconsin Elementary Schools;
  • Brandi Deptula (Eric Matson, Biology and Microbiology), Diversity and Function of Bacteria Related to the Newly Isolated Organism JT5, a Possible Lignocellulose-degrading Species from the Gut of an Evolutionarily Higher Termite;
  • Collin Dischler (Joseph Peterson, Geology), 3D Modeling of Battle Injuries in Dinosaurs;
  • Alyssa McCumber (Robert Stelzer, Biology and Microbiology), Are Nitrate Concentration and Dissolved Oxygen Correlated in Stream Sediments?;
  • Martin Meder (Marianne Johnson, Economics), The Efficacy of Aquatic Invasive Species Funding;
  • Beth Molnar (Roberta Maguire, English), Beyond Redemption: Flannery O’Connor’s Search for Divinity in the South;
  • Sitha Thor (Teri Shors, Thomas Lammers and Neil Harriman, Biology and Microbiology), Screening Hmong Herbs/Plants for Antiviral Properties;
  • Erica Vander Mause (James Paulson, Chemistry), Is Histone H3 Phosphorylation Required for Chromosome Condensation?;
  • Samantha Wallschlaeger (Doug Heil, Communication, Radio-TV-Film), Long Shot: A Screenplay.


Information for this UW Oshkosh Today report was, in part, provided by the Office of Grants and Faculty Development.

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