Volume 14, Number 5

Featured Stories

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Alumni Accomplishments 

Bill Christianson (‘11, Master of Public Administration) was elected to a four-year term as the Comptroller for the City of Milwaukee. The Comptroller serves as the city’s chief financial officer and audits the city’s finances, in addition to serving as a watchdog for city spending. Christianson served as the deputy comptroller under the previous comptroller, who decided not to seek reelection.  

Roy Dietsch (‘08, BA Economics) was named the Entrepreneurship Winner at BizTimes Media’s Innovation + Entrepreneurship Forum in late 2023. Dietsch is the founder and CEO of PartsBadger, a custom machining company that serves southeastern Wisconsin. During his acceptance speech, Dietsch thanked educators who supported his journey, including Avik Chakrabarti (Economics)

Megan O’Halloran (‘02, BA Spanish) was appointed the executive director of the Franciscan Peacemakers, a Milwaukee-based program to assist women escaping prostitution, addiction, and homelessness. O’Halloran was previously the director of development and communications at Walker’s Point Youth & Family Center. 

Janine Kwapis (‘13, PhD Psychology) received the New Investigator Award in Aging and Biology and Geroscience Research from the American Federation for Aging Research. The award confers a three-year, $375,000 grant to support Kwapis’ research which explores how dysregulation of an enzyme called histone deacetylase HDAC3 impacts how memories are updated. Kwapis is the Paul Berg Early Career Professor in the Biological Sciences at Penn State. 

Laurels & Accolades 

Brenda Cárdenas’ (English) book Trace (Red Hen Press, 2023) won the Society of Midland Authors 2023 Poetry Book Award honoring the Society’s choices for the best books by Midwest authors published in 2023. Trace is also a finalist for Foreword Review’s Indie Poetry Prize for books that present work that uses language for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or instead of, its apparent communication value. 

Sarah Riforgiate (Communication) was recently honored with the 2024 Warren Mentorship Award. The award, given by the Central States Communication Association at their convention in early April, recognizes a mid-career scholar who excels in all aspects of their career (teaching, research/creativity, service, and engagement), but most importantly is an excellent mentor to students. 

In the Media and Around the Community 

The solar eclipse captured the entire country’s gaze on April 8. The UWM Planetarium hosted a viewing party to help an audience of thousands safely watch as the moon passed between the Earth and the sun, obscuring its light. Several area news outlets, including WISN 12 News, WUWM Radio, CBS 58 News, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the event. The Journal Sentinel even created a photo gallery of pictures from the event. 

Around the eclipse, Jean Creighton (Planetarium) was much in demand to explain the science of the event. She described how to safely view April 8’s solar eclipse in an article in the Milwaukee Record, spoke about when Wisconsin will next be in the path of totality of a solar eclipse in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and talked about the science of the eclipse with CBS 58 News.  

Purchasing car insurance can be confusing and frustrating, so Rachael Jurek (Journalism, Advertising, & Media Studies) gave some tips on WalletHub to ease the process. 

Road salt makes its way into freshwater lakes and streams via groundwater, Charles Paradis (Geosciences) said in an Urban Milwaukee article. 

Members of the Anthropology Department are engaged in an archaeological survey at Willow Creek Preserve near the Sheboygan River, according to WHBL Radio, and are working to preserve the remains of a Native American Village in Oshkosh, according to the Oshkosh Northwestern. 

Between now and November, things like President Biden’s handling of Israel, former President Donald Trump’s legal cases, and other factors will impact the election, Kathleen Dolan (Political Science) told Spectrum 1 News

After a rare 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck New York, CBS 58 News spoke with Robert Graziano (Geosciences) about the phenomenon. 

Brett Ketter (Geosciences) explained the circumstances under which Wisconsin could experience an earthquake to WQOW Radio

Inflation continues to impact the economy, and that means the Federal Reserve is unlikely to lower interest rates anytime soon, Kundan Kishor (Economics) told CBS 58 News

Alumna Michele Christian (‘98, MA History and MLIS in Library and Information Science) was profiled in The Brookings Register to highlight her job as an archivist and special collections librarian at South Dakota State University. 

Chia Youyee Vang (History) told Spectrum 1 News that she hopes new legislation requiring that Asian-American history be taught in schools will help students gain a better understanding of Hmong history and raise the visibility of Wisconsin’s Hmong population. 

The Badger Herald turned to Sara Benesh (Political Science) for commentary after Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley announced that she would retire in 2025. 

After Taiwanese tech company Foxconn failed to live up to its promises to bring  thousands of jobs to its proposed factory in Mt. Pleasant, despite incredible tax incentives, Marc Levine (emeritus History) said in Milwaukee Magazine that state and local officials agree that such wild incentives are “not justified.”  

After human remains were found in various locations around Cudahy and Milwaukee County, Emily Middleton (Anthropology) explained to Fox 6 News how investigators and might proceed with the case. 

Though TikTok represents an effective tool for business owners, Michael Mirer (Journalism, Advertising, & Media Studies) explained on CBS58 News that lawmakers are concerned about how TikTok’s Chinese parent company is using users’ data. 

Chris Young (Conservation & Environmental Science) told 620 WTMJ Radio on  
Earth Day that the Earth is more than a rock or planet; it’s a system. 

Kay Wells (Art History) described the reactions of people who viewed a display of miniature rooms at the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition in an article published in The Atlantic and republished on MSN News

Ashley Lemke (Anthropology) talked to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about what might be found on the floor of Lake Michigan and underwater research. 

People in Print 

Michael Liston (Philosophy). 2024. Review of “Penelope Maddy, A Plea for Natural Philosophy.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Online. 

PhD student Pratiti Ketoki (English). 2024. How Tintin Became Bengali: Understanding Translations as After-Work. French Studies Bulletin , 45(169-170): 28-31.  

Christine Wolf (Global Studies). 2024. Review of “The Great Upheaval: Higher Educations Past, Present, and Uncertain Future.” Global Studies Literature Review, 13. 

Shiri Noy and Timothy O’Brien (Sociology). 2024. Science and the Pulpit: Clerical Perspectives on Science and Religion in the United States. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Online first


UWM alumnus and social work expert Edward Gumz (‘65, MS Social Work; ‘86, PhD Urban Studies) passed away in April at the age of 82. Gumz had an enormous impact on the social welfare of the cities of Milwaukee and Chicago. From 1964-86, he was a social worker with multiple social service organizations in Milwaukee, and the Children’s Service Society in particular.  

After earning his PhD, Gumz joined the Department of Social Work as a faculty member at the University of Oshkosh, and later joined the faculty in the School of Social Work at Loyola University in Chicago. He retired in 2015. He volunteered his time as a board member for the Counseling Center of Lakeview and also authored Professionals and their Work in the Family Divorce Court (1987).  

Gumz’s legacy lies not only in the people he assisted in his role as a social worker, but also in the multitude of students who became social workers under his guidance. 

For a full obituary, please see the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.