The UWM Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) opened in 2008 as a resource for undergraduates seeking on-campus research opportunities and faculty seeking enthusiastic, motivated undergraduate students with whom to collaborate. OUR programs, including the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), the Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) program, the UR@UWM program for incoming students, the First-Year Research Experience (FYRE), the Overseas Undergraduate Research Awards, the Conference Travel Awards, the Senior Excellence in Research Awards (SERA), the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award, the annual campus-wide UWM Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the SEEUWM program for high school students who want to learn about university research, are designed to connect students and faculty in collaborative research in all schools and colleges at UWM.

Office of Undergraduate Research Staff:

Nigel Rothfels, Director

Nigel in the Boundary Waters

Nigel attended college at the University of Utah, received an A.M. and Ph.D. in History from Harvard University, and has worked at UWM since 1994. He has held post-doctoral research fellowships from Princeton University, the Australian National University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he has been a visiting research professor at the University of Oslo. He is the author of Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo (2002) and the editor of a cross-disciplinary collection of essays, Representing Animals (2002). In 2015, his most recent book, Elephant House, a collaboration with Emeritus Professor of Film Dick Blau, was published by Penn State University Press. He is the founding director of the Office of Undergraduate Research at UWM. Email:

Kyla Esguerra, Deputy Director

Kyla Esguerra received her Master’s degree in English from the University of Notre Dame and undergraduate degrees in English and Psychology from Hope College. At UWM, she was a Lecturer in the English department and with the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program before becoming Associate Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research in 2008, and Deputy Director in 2015. She has served as an elected Councilor in the Undergraduate Research Program Director division of the national Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and is a current elected member of the executive board of the Wisconsin System Council on Undergraduate Research (WiSCUR).  She is also part of the instructional team for the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program. Off campus, she enjoys spending time with family and supporting local music. Email:

Tamara Long, Advisor


Tamara received her Master’s degree in Management with an emphasis in Organizational Development from the University of Phoenix – Brookfield, WI campus, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While attending UWM, she worked for the TRIO/Pre-College Programs, formally known as the Pre-College Academy. In her spare time, Tamara teaches information technology and graphic design courses at a local technical college. She enjoys working with students of all ages, designing, listening to jazz, and spending time with friends and family. Email:

Lisa Ruttenberg, Programs Coordinator

Lisa is pursuing her Master’s degree in Accounting along with a Certificate in State & Local Taxation from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has the ultimate goal of becoming a CPA. Her undergraduate degree is in Business and Management from Alverno, and included an emphasis in accounting and a minor computer science. She has years of IT and customer service experience, in addition to accounting.  Outside of work and studies, she is very family and community oriented. She enjoys cooking, baking, laughing, spending time with her family, and volunteering for community based organizations. Email:

Student Assistants

Michael Armanious

My name is Michael Armanious and I am a Biology major on a Pre-Med and a Pre-Anesthesiologist Assistant track and will graduate in the Spring of 2018. I have performed neuroscience and psychology research in Dr. James Moyer’s lab. I have also peer mentored a summer research program and been a Teacher Assistant in Research Seminars. I love working in the the Office of Undergraduate office, it is filled with kind, loving people who want to see all UWM students succeed.  It provides a perfect working environment and puts students on the right path.

Elena Farin


Elena is an undergraduate student from Appleton, WI working towards her Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies and a minor in Global Studies. She became a research assistant as a rising freshman through the UR@UWM Summer Research Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has been an assistant on two different projects relating to both local and international architecture. Her current research is on “Picturing Milwaukee” with Professor Arijit Sen. She plans to graduate from her undergraduate program in May of 2018.

Erin Green

My name is Erin Green and I am a sophomore and currently in the pre-nursing program in the College of Nursing here at UWM. I am originally from a suburb outside of Chicago, IL and I stay there when there are school breaks. I was a part of the UR@UWM research program where I made a strong bond with my professor who I was doing research for. Since then I continue to perform research on breast health, oral health, foot health and eye health with Dr. Underwood and her team.

Chelsea Kieler


Hello I’m Chelsea Kieler.  I am a School Psychology graduate student in the department of Educational Psychology.  In May 2015, I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at UWM.  While an undergraduate I participated in research with Dr. Lawson and Dr. Nguyen in the Learning and Development Department in the School of Education.  In addition to working at the Office of Undergraduate Research, I also teach a Group-X Kickboxing class at Klotsche.

Juan Orjuela

My name is Juan Orjuela and I am a senior double majoring in biological sciences and conservation and environmental sciences. I am currently in the pre-veterinary program at UWM hoping to attend veterinary school in 2018. I am originally from Bogota, Colombia, but migrated to Minneapolis, Minnesota, when I was 8 years old. I have performed research on the behavioral ecology of gray treefrogs with Dr. Gerlinde Höbel. I am currently a Lawton, WiscAMP, and McNair Scholar at UWM. I plan on graduating in May of 2017.