The annual UW System’s Research in the Rotunda will return to the Capitol for its 18th year on Wednesday. Students and faculty are especially eager to share their work after the event was canceled last year due to COVID-19.
“Our students and faculty are really looking forward to sharing their research in person this year. Part of what makes this event unique is the students’ opportunity to share their work in person with lawmakers and the public,” UW System Media Director Mark Pitsch told The Daily Cardinal.
A grand total of 444 UW System students and their faculty advisors will showcase their research to an audience of legislators, state leaders, lawmakers and UW alumni. The event is free to the general public.
“Students are doing research on everything from COVID-19 to water quality to agriculture to education and more. The work they do will contribute knowledge to those fields,” Pitsch said.
There will be a total of 89 presentations at the annual event. A presentation on police shootings involving African Americans and another about the impacts of wastewater and air ventilation on COVID-19 are among the few presentations being showcased this year.
Shalea Carter, a student at UW-Whitewater, researched the effects of mandated de-escalation and diversity training on the rate of police shootings involving African Americans. She explained in her project video that her research is important because of the growing issue of police brutality in the African American community.
“I thought that maybe this research could help get the change that we needed and help find a path that could lead to a better tomorrow,” Carter said. “Because of that, I decided to make the focus of this research on the rate of shootings lessening in correlation to state mandated training.”
At the end of her study, Carter found that if there was a state mandated de-escalation and diversity training, there would be a 9.4% decline in the rate of police shootings involving African Americans.
Another presentation done by UW-Eau Claire students Logan Anderson, Alex Barker, Breanna Wiese and Danielle Zahnn explored COVID-19 prevention through wastewater and ventilation testing. The researchers even helped build COVID-19 box fan filters to protect classrooms.
“This research is really important. It’s really hands-on and yields results. I know a lot of universities around the nation are conducting research like this, like MIT and Stanford, and I think it’s amazing that I get to be a part of this big picture,” Anderson said.
The UW System is a national leader in undergraduate research. Each project displays the personal and intellectual growth of the student researchers, representing the important role undergraduates have within the UW System, according to UW President Tommy Thompson.
“They are a tangible representation of the UW System’s ongoing commitment to build the talent pipeline and to expand knowledge and ideas that are instrumental to the state’s success,” Thompson said in the event program. “Their efforts to extend knowledge beyond the boundaries of campus and to stimulate society through their research exemplify the Wisconsin Idea and make us all very proud of them, our university system and our state.”