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Four University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students took top honors in the March WiSYs Quick Pitch Showcase in which they impressed judges by racing against the clock to give three-minute presentations about the importance of their research to society.

Brianna Roberts, a kinesiology major from Beaver Dam, placed first in the Science and Technology Division; and Julia Thompson, an economics major from Kimberly won the Social Sciences and Humanities Division. They each received $300 and advance to the state final in May.

Clockwise from top left: UWO’s award-winning students Mikayla Cann, Brianna Roberts, Raiden Montero and Julia Thompson.

Mikayla Cann, a UWO nursing student from Belleville, earned second place and a $100 prize in Science and Technology for her presentation “An Integrative Review of Civil Liberty-Based Rationales for Vaccine Hesitancy and Denial.”

Japanese studies and history student Raiden Montero, of Gridley, California, took second place and a $100 prize in Social Sciences and Humanities for the presentation “Materialism and Post-Materialism’s Effects on the Emperor’s Role in Japan.”

This year’s campus-level WiSys Quick Pitches are taking place virtually due to continued concerns about the pandemic. The UW Oshkosh competitors presented during the same showcase as students at three other UW System schools—UW-La Crosse, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater. Winners were selected from each campus.

“Congratulations to the winners for their excellent presentations,” said WiSys President Arjun Sanga. “Chancellor Leavitt and UW Oshkosh have been excellent partners in embracing WiSys’ vision to engage student researchers. UW Oshkosh has embraced this developmental event and delivered a high level of participants despite the challenges of the pandemic. The students should be commended for not only the high numbers, but also the excellence of the presentations.”

Roberts worked with faculty mentor Brian Wallace on her presentation titled “The Extent Helmet Types Have on Helmet Motion in American Football Collisions.”

“My quick pitch revolved around conducting linear drop tests to compare the peak loading force, velocity, acceleration and more of two of the most commonly used football helmet types in American football,” she said. “Once completing these tests and calculating the data, Dr. Brian Wallace and I will inform the football staff and athletic trainers of our findings to help better protect UW Oshkosh’s football players.”

Competing in the pitch contest offers students an opportunity to hone their research and science communication skills.

“I have learned the best ways to avoid the use of technical jargon while still ensuring others fully understand what my research entails,” Roberts said.

Mentored by UWO faculty member Benjamin Artz, Thompson presented on their research project “Flexible Job Structure and the Gender Gap in Turnover: The Case of Information Technology Occupations,” which is in the initial planning stages.

“Still in the year 2021, women are disproportionately impacted by career interruptions, such as work-family balance challenges,” Thompson said. “My research aims to eliminate the current gender gap in job turnover by studying the impact of job structure on the retention of women, specifically in the information technology field (which I aspire to work in). Ultimately, I aspire to improve women’s labor market outcomes and facilitate their long-term career success.”

Thompson plans to conduct her research with Artz in fall 2021.

“This competition challenged me to present my research in a manner that is accessible to people outside my field of study. I enjoyed having the opportunity to share the value of my research with the UWO community,” she said.

Thirteen additional UWO students pitched their research in the showcase last week:

  • Becca Birriel, nursing, of Schaumburg, Illinois, “Culturally Sensitive Care in the Clinic: Understanding LGBTQIA+ Healthcare Best Practice Methods in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley Area Clinics”
  • Matthew Frisch, engineering/physics, of Rio, “Exploring New Nanofibers for Photovoltaic Cells”
  • Danielle Gratz, biology, of Deerfield, “Whale Skull Allometry”
  • Molly Hennig, vocal performance and music industry, of New Ulm, Minnesota: “A Vocalist’s Guide to ‘Mysteries of the Macabre’ by György Ligeti”
  • Jordyn Hussey, secondary art education, junior, of Combined Locks, “America the Unbeautiful”
  • Dorothy Mitchell, chemistry, of Phoenix, Illinois, “Development of a Polymer Recycling Experiment for the Undergraduate Laboratory”
  • Morgan Mulroe, anthropology, of Crystal Lake, Illinois, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG): The Epidemic, The Impact, Their Voices”
  • Ramzi Nasri, software technology, of Oshkosh, “VR Sport Technology”
  • Morgan Ringeisen, mechanical engineering technology, of Oshkosh, “Efficiency of Centralized Versus Decentralized Fluid Distribution Systems”
  • Stacey Sparks, secondary English education, of Kimberly, “Navigating States of Mind in Jane Austen’s Persuasion”
  • Sarah Trachte, English, of Winneconne,“Mastering Methods”
  • Sarah Woody, biology,of Sacramento, California, “Investing Heavy Metal Concentrations in Sediment, Cattail and Muskrat Tissues at a National Wildlife Refuge”
  • Elsa Zank, music performance, of Sun Prairie, “The Works of Barbara Strozzi”

For more information about the WiSys Quick Pitch Program or to watch the student presentations, visit