On scifun.org

WISL Thesis Award Program

Rep. Tammy Baldwin

On November 12, 2010, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., visited the University of Wisconsin Chemistry Department for a departmental colloquium. After her talk on topics such as her personal connections to the sciences, the challenges that science funding faces in upcoming Congressional sessions, and how she works with her colleagues across the aisle, WISL Director Bassam Shakhashiri presented her with a booklet entitled "Chemistry Graduate Research and Education."

WISL encourages all Ph.D. chemistry candidates [this program has since been expanded to include UW PhD candidates in all of the sciences and engineering] to include a chapter in their Ph.D. thesis communicating their research to non-scientists, and pledging a cash award from the WISL for each successfully completed chapter; the booklet presented to Rep. Baldwin contained the eight chapters that WISL has received so far. The goal of the chapters is to explain the candidate's scholarly research and its significance to a wider audience that includes family members, friends, civic groups, newspaper reporters, state legislators, and members of the U.S. Congress. Additional copies of the booklet will be shared with other elected officials, as well as news services, industry leaders, grant officers and others.

"Looking back, I’m not sure I would have discovered my passion for science communication if it wasn’t for the opportunities provided by the UW Chemistry Dept. and WISL. Thank you." ~ Matt Windsor
“I have to say, writing this was more difficult than I anticipated. As scientists, we get pulled into our own little worlds. We are surrounded by others in the same field, and we rarely think about trying to explain what it is we do to others who are not familiar with the field. I admit to doing this myself, but I have been able to pass on some of my experience to you by writing this.” ~ Jessica Lynn Menke
“During the course of my graduate career, I have often found myself struggling to explain to a friend, or family member what exactly I have been researching for the past five years. This is a position that perhaps all scientists have found themselves in at some point or another. The difficulty in effectively communicating science (especially chemistry) is comprised primarily of technical jargon. In this chapter I will attempt to explain my graduate research to a general audience. It is my hope that after reading this chapter, you will have a clear understanding of not only what I have been doing for the last five years, but why this research is of a broad societal interest.” ~ Avery Watkins

In 2010, the printed booklet was phased out in favor of an online archive of all the thesis chapters submitted.

View the full list on the main thesis chapter page.


For more information contact SciFun@chem.wisc.edu