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Rhiannon_CarrA University of Wisconsin Oshkosh graduate student was among those honored at the ninth-annual Wisconsin Science and Technology Symposium (WSTS), which hosted more than 50 unique student poster presentations, ranging from improved solar energy conversion techniques to psychological research on aggression.

Rhiannon Carr, of Kaukauna and a master’s student working in UW Oshkosh biotechnologist Toivo Kallas’ lab, took first place in the competition with her presentation titled, “Metabolic engineering for β-Pinene production in marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus Sp. PCC 7002.”

Her work, on which a divisional patent application has been filed through WiSys, detailed the potential to replace conventional fossil fuels with microbes produced by plants and commonly referred to as blue-green algae. Carr won a $250 cash prize from WiSys.

Wise_Bob2In addition, the Robert R. Wise Award was given to the student poster team whose presentation effectively communicated a strong impact on Wisconsin’s society and economy. The award was named in honor of WiSys’ first regional associate, Bob Wise, who had an incredible impact on the program and the foundation throughout his two years in the position.

As an alumnus of UW-Stevens Point and a faculty member at UW Oshkosh, where he was the head of the faculty research development program, Wise represents research excellence at the UW regional comprehensive campuses.

UW Oshkosh students Robert Krueger, of Waukesha; and Klaire Laux, of Oshkosh, along with a team of students led by Sabrina Mueller-Spitz, won the Robert R. Wise Award and a $150 cash prize for their project, “Deinococcus Aquaticus: Life or death in a biofilm driven by desiccation tolerance.”

The diverse poster topics on display at WSTS represented the vast student and faculty research being done at UWO and across the UW System.

A panel of more than 30 poster competition judges deliberated over the posters, evaluating intellectual merit, research methods, quality of the students’ presentations, and significance or potential impact of the project. In addition to awards for the best posters, awards for the best game design and most impactful poster were added to the competition this year.

UW-Eau Claire student Heather Hintz was awarded second place and a $150 cash prize for her work on “Pi-expanded coumarins with switchable propeller geometries” under the mentorship of Dr. Bart Dahl.

In third place, UW-Platteville students Patrick Drazkowski, Autumn Nelson, Jamison Tibbetts and Nicholas Loes won $100 for their project, “Nitrogen-rich porous organic polymer for separation of carbon dioxide,” in Dr. Mohammad Rabbani’s lab.

New this year to WSTS, a special gaming showcase highlighted some of the impressive computer sciences work being done by students across the UW System. Three student teams demonstrated their gaming projects and competed for another $100 cash prize. The winning team, Katherine Stull, Jeremy Behreandt, Andrew Condon and Bill Miller of UW-Whitewater, presented their project titled, “A Dream Within a Dream,” designed to interactively teach middle school students about the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

All student and faculty projects were displayed throughout the two-day conference, allowing industry partners, UW System faculty and potential future collaborators the opportunity to thoroughly peruse the impressive research being done at the University of Wisconsin comprehensive campuses.

WiSys Technology Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) supporting organization of the UW System. WiSys supports 11 four-year universities, 13 freshman-sophomore UW College campuses and statewide UW-Extension to identify innovative technologies and bring them to the marketplace.

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