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Bruce B. Black, a retired professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, passed away in February 2017.

Black joined the UWO community in 1963 where he served as an instructor and faculty member in the Department of Psychology until 1990. He then served as a faculty member in the Department of Human Services and Professional Leadership until his retirement in 1992. Black received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Iowa State University, and a Ph.D. in industrial/organization psychology from Purdue University.

A memorial will be held in his honor at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, in Ballroom A at the UWO Alumni Welcome and Conference Center.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to contribute calendar items, campus announcements and other good news to UW Oshkosh Today.

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh microbiology graduate student Amanda Prigan is not used to working in the field. However, when she and other students embarked on a survey of tick-borne pathogens in Wisconsin, she found herself where she never expected to be … performing microbiology research in the forest.

Prigan’s objective in the field is to collect ticks and use them to determine the prevalence rates for Lyme disease and other microbes in a park in Wisconsin.

One way in which Prigan and her team collect ticks is by using a method called flagging. Flagging requires a researcher to drag a very soft white cloth around in fields and brush. Ticks mistake the flag for a potential host and cling to it when it passes them.

“We collected 150 ticks one day just using that method,” Prigan said. “They climb on there and they latch on and we just pick ’em right off with the tweezers.”

Later, in the lab, Prigan and her team dry the ticks for up to a week and extract their DNA. They test the extracted DNA to confirm that it comes from a deer tick, or Ixodes scapularis, and they test the DNA for the presence of Lyme disease or any of the other target microbes they are studying.

Prigan is a laboratorian at heart.

“I’m used to being in the hospital, in the basement, [with] no windows or anything,” she said.

Prigan’s research has pushed her out of her comfort zone by requiring her to work in the woods every morning. She says the field work she does, in addition to the personal relationships she has made with her advisers, is one of her favorite parts of her research.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. I like being outside,” she said.

Thirteen University of Wisconsin Oshkosh student scholars presented their research Tuesday at the fall 2017 Ronald E. McNair Showcase.

Much of the work on display took place over the summer as part of the McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to help first-generation students and underrepresented minorities realize their  potential by acquiring the skills needed to go to graduate school.

Students are paired with faculty mentors to help them navigate the research process.

“They have discovered the joy and struggle of academic inquiry and their lives will never be the same,” said Cordelia Bowlus, UWO’s McNair Scholars program director.

The students presenters included:

  • Leigh Hayes, senior, of Greenville, “A Test of the Metric Method for Estimating Sex Using the Human Radius,” with assistant anthropology professor Jordan Karsten;
  • Brianna Langs, junior, of St. Francis, “Comparative Analysis on Successful Classroom Strategies That Have Closed the Achievement Gap in Order To Offer Alternative Standards of Fairness in Standardized Test Composition and Interpretation,” with senior English lecturer Crystal Mueller; 
  • Santidra Love, senior, of Milwaukee, “Modeling Human Obesity with Ground Squirrels, with assistant biology professor Courtney Kurtz;
  • Deanna Luttenberger, junior, of Fond du Lac, “The Effect of Circadian Rhythms on False Memories in Visual and Audio Short- and Long-Term Memory,” with assistant psychology professor Justyna Olszewski;
  • Aimee Maher, senior, of Oshkosh,”Paint on Glass: Effects of Polymers on Viscosity and Adhesion to Non-Porous Surfaces,” with chemistry professor Jennifer Mihalick;
  • Andrew Miller, senior, Kaukauna, “The Limits of Exoplanet Detection by Amateur Astronomer,” with assistant astronomy professor Barton Pritzl;
  • David Morser, senior, of Kaukauna,”Homogeneous Metallicity Estimates of F-Type Dwarf Stars and Open Cluster,” with astronomy professor Nadejda Kaltcheva;
  • Holly Post, senior, of Fond du Lac, “Understanding Substrate Specificity in Glycoside Hydrolase Family 5,” with assistant biochemistry professor Christopher Bianchetti;
  • Alyssa Scott, senior, of Schofield, “The Effect of Technology Use on Children’s Language Acquisition,” with assistant psychology professor Sarah Kucker; 
  • Bonnie Smith, senior, of Oshkosh, “Learning in a Digital Age: Online Instruction for Student Populations Diagnosed with Emotional Behavioral Disabilities Compared with Other Students Diagnosed with Special Needs and their Non-Disabled Peers,” with special education professor Thomas Fischer;
  • Darlene Swenson, senior, of Oshkosh,”Liicugtukut Alutiiq: ‘Learning Alutiiq’ Evaluating the Methodologies of Alutiiq Language Revitalization Programs,” with assistant English professor Pascale Manning;
  • Aracely Torres, senior, of Fond du Lac, “Free Trade Versus Protectionist Economic Policies and Social Unrest in Mexico,” with assistant political science professor Michael Jasinski; and
  • Admiral Wieland, a senior, of Oshkosh, “A Comparative Study of the Committees To Investigate Commercialized Vice in Chicago and Wisconsin during the Progressive Era,” with associate women and gender studies professor Susan Rensing.

Besides the research component, McNair scholars are offered additional services and seminars, such as academic and career development, GRE application and preparation and graduate site visits.

Find out more about McNair’s impact for students in the following video:


Learn more:



NBC 26, Sept. 20

Fox 11, Sept 19

The 2017-2018 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh theatre season, Life’s a Beach, opens Oct. 5 with Edward Albee’s, Seascape, directed by Jane Purse-Wiedenhoeft. The production has performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 7 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8 at Fredric March Theatre.

Seascape begins with married couple, Nancy and Charlie, sharing a picnic lunch on the beach as they contemplate decisions about their next stage of life. Little do they know that they are about to get the surprise of their lives. Unexpected and intriguing guests interrupt their tranquil setting and their world is turned upside down. Through a series of absurd events, Nancy and Charlie learn to value their years of marriage and to appreciate a future that promises new possibilities for moving forward.

“This play is fun, absurd and heart-warming at the same time!” Purse-Wiedenhoeft said. “Audiences will be drawn to our mid-life couple that is struggling with what is next in their relationship and lives. They are taken on a journey of surprise and regeneration that we can all appreciate, whatever our age.”

The four UW Oshkosh actors are Parker Sweeney, Garret Johnson, Kelli Wambold and Mary Margaret Clementi.

Purse-Wiedenhoeft said the four are junior and senior students, making the production a great showcase for their growth as actors in the theatre performance program.

“As students mature in their acting skills, it makes the rehearsal process much more intensive and yet easy because of the training that they are able to bring to the rehearsals and to the performances,” she said. “I am so thrilled to be collaborating with this positive and hard-working group of theatre majors.”

The playwright, Albee, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1975 for Seascape.

Ticket prices are $14 for general, $11 for senior citizen or alumni and $5 for UWO students with ID; tickets may be purchased online and at the box office, which will be open noon to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday the week of the production, and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. evenings of performances. On Sundays, the box office will open one hour before show time.

Other UW Oshkosh theatre productions and events this season:

The Fantasticks, Nov. 16-19, books and lyrics by Tom Jones; music by Harvey Schmidt; based on Les Romanesques by Edmond Rostad, directed by Merlaine Angwall; Rabbit Hole, Feb. 15-18, 2018, by David Lindsay-Abaire, directed by Richard Kalinoski; The Tempest, April 26-29, 2018, by William Shakespeare, directed by Merlaine Angwall.

Learn more:

At Homecoming each fall, alumni often take a moment to reminisce about all the connections they made through their residence hall experiences.

That will surely be the case this October for 2006 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh grads Kevin Damask, a journalist with Capital Newspapers in Portage, and Jennifer Rabas, a substance abuse prevention specialist with UW-Madison’s University Health Services.

Fletcher Hall brought the couple together … even though they never lived in the residence hall at the same time. Damask lived in Fletcher from spring 2001 to spring 2002, while Rabas moved there in fall 2002.

“We just missed each other,” she said.

Fast forward to 2015 when the couple met online.

“When we found out we both attended UWO around the same time—that was definitely a connection,” Damask said. “Then to find out we only missed living in Fletcher by one semester was pretty crazy.”

They also quickly figured out they had other UWO experiences in common. For example, they both were in the media booth during Homecoming 2005 and never knew it. She was there as part of the Reeve Union Board’s special events committee, and he was the sports editor for the Advance-Titan.

Fletcher flashback

Damask remembers best the lifelong friendships he forged at Fletcher.

“I enrolled midway through the 2000-2001 academic year and moved in on Super Bowl Sunday,” he said. “I was the new kid on the first floor and didn’t know a soul, but all the guys welcomed me with open arms, and I really appreciated that. What’s really great about attending a university is students have the opportunity to meet kids from all walks of life.”

Those friendships proved invaluable to Damask in the aftermath of the terrorists attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I remember walking to the bathroom to shower and get ready for classes and noticed a lot of guys had their TVs on and tuned to the news. I thought that was strange since ESPN, Comedy Central and MTV were about the only channels we watched,” he said. “When I came back from my shower, my buddy told me some planes had crashed into the Twin Towers.”

Damask was floored by the news.

“Living in Fletcher among fellow students provided a sense of comfort during a time of chaos and uncertainly in our country.”

In her role as Fletcher Hall secretary during her sophomore year, Rabas made some of her most favorite memories with the hall government team.

“We went to leadership camp, helped everyone move in, had the best late-night grilled cheese fundraisers, spent a ton of time doing the minutes in the hall government office and just really had a great bond.”

When Rabas hit a bit of a rough patch trying to manage school and extracurricular activities, she turned to her assistant hall director Chrissy Lambie, who continues to serve UWO today as the marketing manager and College of Nursing/ACCEL career adviser with Career Services.

“She helped push me and checked in with me regularly to make sure I was doing well,” Rabas explained. “I actually decided I wanted to go into student affairs that year and began talking with people who could help me get connected to things like the Oshkosh Placement Exchange and the Future Leaders of Student Affairs group.”

Welcome home

“Our connection to UWO and more importantly to Fletcher Hall was what led us to finally meet in person, and the rest is history,” Rabas said. “We went to a few football playoff games last fall and had the best time, so we are planning to come back this year for Homecoming.”

Damask is especially excited to see that the Titan football program has risen to national prominence.

“Watching them compete for a national championship last season was such a pride boost for alumni throughout the country,” he said.

Damask and Rabas both were impressed with recent changes on campus.

“I was blown away by how different campus looks,” Damask said. “It’s really nice to see the University invest in new projects to make sure the campus looks appealing. I think when a campus looks great, it promotes learning and students want to go to class, work hard and earn their degrees.”

The couple plans to be back on campus for Homecoming 2017 on Oct. 7.

Besides the traditional activities (Tour de Titan Bike Ride, Tent City pregame celebration and the Titan football game against UW-Stevens Point), alumni can gather in the morning in the newly renovated Reeve Memorial Union for tours and an open house.

Then from Reeve, tours will depart every 15 minutes between 9 and 10:45 a.m. for Fletcher Hall, where visitors can see the lobby, computer lab, an example of a new student room, a variety of new lounge spaces and recreational facilities.

“I can’t wait to see how Fletcher looks after the renovation. While I know it won’t look the same as it did when I attended UWO, It’s great to know current and future students will have the benefit of enjoying all the perks,” Damask said.

A grand opening celebration

Following Homecoming weekend at UW Oshkosh, a grand opening celebration will be held at Fletcher Hall, along with Reeve Memorial Union. The celebratory event, which includes ribbon cuttings at each renovated building, will take place at 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9 at the Horizon Village Amphitheater outside of Reeve Union.

Campus and community members are welcome to take tours of both new student-centered spaces.

Learn more:

WalletHub, Sept. 18

The Northwestern, Sept. 18

WFRV, Sept. 18