Research Excellence

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is home to a diverse portfolio of research, scholarly, programmatic, entrepreneurial, and outreach activities.

UWM in the News

Connecting the central city to suburban jobs

October 1, 2021
Lingqian Hu
Robert Schneider
Yaidi Cancel Martinez
Lingqian Hu (Urban Planning), Robert Schneider (Urban Planning), Yaidi Cancel Martinez (Urban Planning and Center for Economic Development), and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission received a $1 million National Science Foundation Civic Innovation Challenge award. Their project, “User-Centered Mobility Solutions (UCMS): A New Vision to Connect Jobs and the Labor Force,” will test a pilot of on-demand microtransit service that aims to connect workers living in segregated, majority-Black neighborhoods in Milwaukee with jobs in suburban employment centers.From September 21, 2021 NSF news release:

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. National Science Foundation is announcing $15.9 million in awards to teams comprising civic partners such as local, state, and tribal officials and non-profit and community leaders to conduct and evaluate ready-to-implement pilot projects that address community-identified challenges.Gaps in equality and natural disasters can have a widespread impact, but the effects are seen and felt most sharply at the community level, when neighbors are the ones suffering. The Civic Innovation Challenge is designed to find community-based solutions to these challenges and make them sustainable, scalable and transferrable to other communities—from large to small and from rural to urban—across the US.

Stage 1 of the Civic Innovation Challenge awarded planning grants to 52 teams across 30 states as well as tribal regions, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. to refine concepts for projects designed to address use-inspired issues in their communities.

In Stage 2, 17 of those teams have been selected for awards of up to $1 million to conduct and evaluate ready-to-implement pilot projects in a 12-month timeframe. Teams will also collaborate across the entire program, sharing approaches and positioning projects to have wider impact.

“We applaud the efforts of all the teams who worked tirelessly to build partnerships between researchers and community stakeholders,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “We are excited to see the teams selected for the next phase begin their pilot projects and plant seeds of innovation across the country. This program demonstrates the value of research-community partnerships in rapidly translating cutting-edge science into community-based innovation and we look forward to seeing its positive impact across urban and rural communities.”

See entire release .

UWM Research Foundation awards 2021 Catalyst Grants

September 20, 2021

The UWM Research Foundation recently awarded Catalyst Grants to three projects.

Now in its fourteenth year, the Catalyst Grant Program has awarded over $5.5 million in seed funding for 101 projects. These projects have led to 55 issued patents, 31 license/option agreements, and more than $23.4 million in follow-on investments in UWM technologies.

A total of $150,000 is being awarded, thanks to the support of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. These grants support promising research and development in areas where UWM has the greatest potential to impact the regional economy through commercialization activities.

The award winners are as follows:

Mobile Produced Water Recycling and Resource Recovery System ($50,000)

Charles Paradis and Josh Swigart

Charles Paradis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Dept. of Geosciences
Josh Swigart, Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Geosciences Dr. Paradis’s research focuses on the fate, transport, and remediation of contaminants in the environment and groundwater. His background in hydrology and geology makes him an excellent mentor and partner to Josh Swigart, a PhD student who has invented a system to recycle produced water—naturally occurring water that comes out of the ground along with oil and gas. With the Catalyst funds, they will focus on recycling produced water from drilling activities in the 86,000-square-mile Permian Basin—in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

The overarching goal is to implement a novel water recycling technique at current deep-well injection stations for water re-sale for hydraulic fracturing, crop watering, potable water for livestock, and for inorganic metals resource recovery. This technique has the potential to allow deep-well injection stations to convert over to water recycling/resource recovery stations in a way that owners can financially benefit from accepting produced water.

Novel Bioreactor for the Removal of Persistent Chemicals from Contaminated Water ($50,000)

Shangping Xu, Yin Wang, and Erica Young

Shangping Xu, Ph.D., Professor, Geosciences
Yin Wang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Erica Young, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biological Sciences Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) represent a large group of man-made chemicals that are widely used in consumer products—cookware, packaging), airports, and military installations, to name a few. These chemicals do not break down in the environment or in the body, and are known to lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. A growing number of research papers have shown that PFAS contamination in water sources is widespread in the United States.

The goal of this project is to develop highly efficient, cost-effective bioreactors that can bioaccumulate large quantities of PFAS and aid in the removal of PFAS, particularly under challenging environmental conditions. These novel bioreactors can address existing challenges and may be used for the effective removal of PFAS from municipal and industrial wastewater, landfill leachate, groundwater pumped from PFAS pollution flumes, and discharge from membrane filtration systems.

3D Printing of Graphene Reinforced Nanocomposites ($50,000)

Pradeep Rohatgi

Pradeep Rohatgi, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Materials Science and Engineering Additive manufacturing has the potential to transform manufacturing as we know it, bringing production closer to demand and sustainability with its design freedom. Throughout industrial manufacturing, there is an increasing need for high performance materials as designers are moving away from conventional metals and standard materials. Graphene, a carbon-based material, has one of the highest strengths among the currently available reinforcements. Achieving the right ratios of graphene in the aluminum matrix is challenging and has not been possible to date with current techniques.

Dr. Rohatgi’s work will help develop a technology to produce graphene-reinforced nanocomposites that are ultralight, high strength, and high-temperature resistant. His work will enable industry manufacturing of high-perfomance materials that can be used in a range of applications including automotive, aerospace, and military.

Unprecedented clean-energy grant from DOE

September 13, 2021

Engineering Professor Ryo Amano (center), who directs the federally funded UWM Industrial Assessment Center, tours the Milwaukee plant of Husco International with his student evaluators.

  • See the August 4 UWM Report article.
  • See the August 26 CEAS article.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded funding to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to operate an Industrial Assessment Center, which offers free evaluations to manufacturers and wastewater treatment plants to help them reduce waste, save energy and reduce carbon emissions.

The Industrial Assessment Center at UWM, one of 32 nationwide and the only one in Wisconsin, also trains the next generation of energy-engineering professionals, because the assessments are carried out by UWM students.

Engineering Professor Ryo Amano (center), who directs the federally funded UWM Industrial Assessment Center, tours the Milwaukee plant of Husco International with his student evaluators.

UWM has operated the Department of Energy-supported center for most of the last 28 years. Because of UWM’s long history of IAC operation, DOE officials recommended UWM as a site for Vice President Kamala Harris’ May 2021 visit to promote the American Jobs Plan in Wisconsin.

The Department of Energy has committed $60 million over the next five years to support the Industrial Assessment Centers. A key strategic goal of the new funding is helping companies to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

Read more in the August 4, 2021 UWM Report.


Nine to receive 2020-2021 Research Recognition Awards

September 2, 2021

From top left: Ira Driscoll, Carolyn Eichner, Clark Evans, Nicolas Silvaggi. 2nd row: Anne Basting, Bonnie Klein-Tasman, Chia Vang, Elana Levine, Mark Netzloff.

Nine UWM faculty members have been chosen to receive the 2020-2021 Research Recognition Awards. They will be honored at the Fall Awards Ceremony October 13.

Office of Research/UWM Foundation Research Awards

These awards recognize and encourage UWM assistant and associate professors who have shown the potential to achieve distinction in their academic disciplines through scholarship, creative activity, and the dissemination of knowledge.

Awardee Department
Ira Driscoll Psychology
Carolyn Eichner History
Clark Evans Mathematics
Nicolas Silvaggi Chemistry

UWM Research Foundation Senior Faculty Awards

These awards recognize researchers who have a long history of significant contributions to their field of research. Unlike the Office of Research/UWM Foundation Research Awards which recognize assistant and associate professors, all research faculty members, except UWM Distinguished Professors, are eligible for these awards.

Awardee Department
Anne Basting English
Bonnie Klein-Tasman Psychology
Chia Vang History

Research in the Humanities Award

These biennial awards recognize outstanding scholarship and research in the humanities—specifically, the Departments of Africology; Art History; Communication; English; Foreign Languages and Literature; French, Italian, and Comparative Literature; History; Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies; Linguistics; Philosophy; and Spanish and Portuguese. Recipients have demonstrated a comprehensive grasp of the subject(s) of inquiry and research and made a substantive contribution to humanistic thought through a monograph or other scholarly publication during the two years prior to the award year.

Awardee Department
Elana Levine English
Mark Netzloff English

UWM astrophysicists excel

July 6, 2021

UWM researchers take leading role in first black hole-neutron star collision detection

For the first time, researchers have confirmed the detection of a collision between a black hole and a neutron star. In fact, the scientists detected not one but two such events occurring just 10 days apart in January 2020.

The extreme events made splashes in space that sent gravitational waves rippling across at least 900 million light-years to reach Earth. In each case, the neutron star was likely swallowed whole by its black hole partner.

The discovery was made by an international team of scientists that includes 22 members of UWM’s Center for Gravitation, Cosmology and Astrophysics.

Gravitational waves are disturbances in the curvature of space-time created by massive objects in motion. During the five years since the waves were first measured, a finding that led to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, researchers have identified more than 50 gravitational-wave signals from the merging of pairs of black holes and of pairs of neutron stars. Both black holes and neutron stars are the corpses of massive stars, with black holes being even more massive than neutron stars.

Read more in the June 29, 2021 UWM Report.

Funding renewed for NANOGrav center, which includes UWM

An international team of astronomers, including several from UWM, have renewed funding from the National Science Foundation for their work in detecting and characterizing low-frequency gravitational waves, a transformational challenge in astrophysics.

The NSF has awarded a $17 million grant over five years to the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) for operation of the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center (PFC).

The low-frequency gravitational-wave detectors used by NANOGrav PFC are millisecond pulsars—rapidly spinning, superdense remains of massive stars that have exploded as supernovas. These ultra-stable stars are nature’s most precise celestial clocks, appearing to “tick” every time their beamed emissions sweep past the Earth, like the beacon on a lighthouse. Gravitational waves cause small but detectable fluctuations in the measured arrival times of the radio pulses on Earth.

Read more in the June 21, 2021 UWM Report.

5 startups earn UWM Research Foundation bridge grants

May 26, 2021

Five UWM startup companies have been awarded the first round of funding from the UWM Research Foundation’s new bridge grant program, which leverages a $200,000 matching grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation that was announced last year.  The funding will support UWM startups that are managed by faculty, students or staff that have licensed intellectual property from the Research Foundation. This “gap” funding is meant to compensate for the shortage of capital for university-based innovations.

Through donations from individuals and donors such as Bader Philanthropies and Clarios, the Research Foundation has raised just over half of their portion, and plan to award the remaining match, phase II, in early 2022.

Each of the following—five of UWM’s 15 launched campus startups—has been awarded up to $25,000 through the program.

COnovate Inc., formerly SafeLi, was co-founded by Carol Hirschmugl and Marija Gajdardziska-Josifovska. With the funding, the researchers are applying a novel, carbon-based nanomaterial that they discovered to lithium-ion batteries. When used in the batteries’ anode, the material boosts performance and safety of the batteries compared to current technology. Estrigenix Therapeutics Inc. is a collaboration among Karyn Frick (UWM), William Donaldson (Marquette University), and Dan Sem (Concordia University). The company’s goal is to develop and commercialize first-in-class therapeutics to treat hot flashes and memory dysfunction in menopausal women. The startup aims to develop and license a molecule-compound to a pharmaceutical partner. Pantherics Incorporated was originally founded by Douglas Stafford and Alexander “Leggy” Arnold. The company focuses on developing and commercializing novel therapeutics for chronic inflammation. The company’s lead drug compound is being developed as an oral medication that will replace inhalers for reducing lung inflammation in persistent asthma. RoddyMedical LLC is headquartered in the UWM Innovation Campus and headed by nursing doctoral student Lindsey Roddy. The company’s SafeMover is a single-use device designed to organize and secure different types of medical tubes and cords to improve IV medication safety and eliminate hazardous cord dislodgement.

Co-founded by Ching Hong Yang, T3 BioScience LLC is commercializing non-antibiotic agricultural products that protect crops from infection by harmful bacteria and fungus. It has shown that its lead product, RejuAgro, is more effective than antibiotics currently being used by farmers to protect against crop infection.

Originally appeared May 13, 2021 in UWM Report.

Udvadia named a 2021 UW System Regent Scholar

April 15, 2021

Ava Udvadia, UWM associate professor of biological sciences, has been named by the University of Wisconsin System as one of three 2021 Regent Scholar recipients. The honor recognizes both Udvadia’s research into the genetics that allow healing of nerve damage and also her efforts to encourage undergraduates to participate in that work.

The UWS Regent Scholar program, which was introduced in 2014, provides a one-time $50,000 grant to individual faculty members or campus programs that undertake undergraduate research projects having the potential to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and talent development.

“This is significant recognition and a wonderful statement about the exponential impact of Dr. Udvadia’s work,” said UWM Chancellor Mark Mone. “We are extremely proud of Dr. Udvadia and her students. I commend her for carrying the torch for future young scientists and researchers.”

Udvadia’s research may one day provide new treatments for human eye injuries or diseases, such as glaucoma, that cause permanent vision loss.

Her work is inspired by fish, which can restore full function of their optical nerve cells after damage and regain lost sight. Vision requires both the light information detected by eyes and its translation by the brain, a connection made by the optical nerve cells.

This process of replacing the cellular parts needed to transmit visual information to the brain is called regeneration. However, the central nervous system cells in humans do not regenerate, even though they have the same genes and pathways used by fish.

From All Directions

March 29, 2021

The 2021 UWM Research magazine highlights the diversity of approaches UWM is taking to tackle COVID-19: Pushing the boundaries of the natural sciences, social sciences, public health, and the arts.

  • Sandra McLellan, professor of freshwater sciences
    Using wastewater as a COVID-19 warning system.
  • Konstantin Sobolev, professor of civil and environmental engineering
    Developing a longlasting spray coating that could both repel and sterilize virus-laden droplets.
  • Anne Basting, professor of English
    Easing isolation through the power of imagination.
  • Min Sook Park, professor of information studies
    Investigating how people interpret information about COVID-19 in graphs, maps and charts presented by the media..
  • David Frick, professor of chemistry
    Seeking antiviral drugs to fight COVID-19.
  • Amanda Simanek, associate professor of epidemiology
    A social approach to fighting COVID-19 misinformation
  • Simone C.O. Conceição, professor of adult and continuing education
    Improving connections: Creating a sense of presence online to give students a fuller learning experience..
  • James Peoples, professor of economics
    Flying under ominous economic skies: Unprecedented challenges for the airline industry.

See UWM Research 2021 for these and many other articles on UWM research.

A look at UWM’s award-winning undergraduate researchers

February 4, 2021

UWM’s award-winning undergraduate research program encourages and highlights the work of students all over campus. Every year a number of these researchers are chosen to receive the Senior Excellence in Research Award (SERA).

Below are the 2020-21 award winners, and their faculty mentors.

Awardee Mentor
Jocelyn Jarvis, Psychology Krista Lisdahl
Ismael Coello Ramirez, Materials Engineering Benjamin Church
Anna Kaminski, Atmospheric Science Clark Evans
Louis Chapman, Civil Engineering Marcia Silva
Paul Newcomb, Ethnic Studies Rachel Ida Buff
Noah Wolfe, Exceptional Education Chris Lawson
Sofia Mattson, Psychology Christine Larson
Profiles of each researcher appear in the February 2 UWM Report.


UWM researchers among the top 2 percent of scientists worldwide, based on citations

December 18, 2020
Fifty-nine scientists at UWM are listed in a ranking of the top 2% of scientists in the world in a study by Stanford University. The list includes two who passed away in recent years, Arun Garg (Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering) and Richard M. Warren (Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Psychology). The study identifies the top scholars in their field by considering how often their work has been cited over the course of their careers. Their order of appearance on the list, and in the image (from top left) is below. Row 1
Pradeep Rohatgi, Distinguished Professor, Materials Science & Engineering
Leonard Parker, Professor Emeritus, Physics
Neil Oldridge, Professor Emeritus, Occupational Science & Technology (not pictured)
Belle Rose Ragins, Professor, Management (Lubar School)
Michael Nosonovsky, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
George W. Hanson, Professor, Electrical Engineering
Mohsen Bahmani-Oskooee, Distinguished Professor, Economics
Scott Gronert, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Yue Liu, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mark D. Schwartz, Distinguished Professor, Geography
Nadya Fouad, Distinguished Professor, Educational Psychology
Karyn M. Frick, Professor, Psychology
Row 2
Michael Weinert, Distinguished Professor, Physics
Fred J. Helmstetter, Distinguished Professor, Psychology
Peter O. Dunn, Distinguished Professor, Biological Sciences
Patrick R. Brady, Professor, Physics
Deyang Qu, Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Mark Dietz, Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Dawn K. Erb, Professor, Physics
Patricia E. Stevens, Professor Emerita, Nursing
John L. Friedman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Physics
Mike Allen, Professor, Communication
Lingfeng Wang, Professor, Electrical Engineering
Row 3
Peter M. Sheehan, Emeritus Adjunct Professor, Geosciences
Daniel F. Agterberg, Professor, Physics
Linda A. Whittingham, Professor, Biological Sciences
Mark J. McBride, Professor, Biological Sciences
John A. Berges, Professor, Biological Sciences
Ernest Alexander, Professor Emeritus, Urban Planning (not pictured)
Robert Greenler, Professor Emeritus, Physics
David H. Petering, Distinguished Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Mark V. Johnston, Professor Emeritus, Occupational Science & Technology
David L. Kaplan, Professor, Physics
Fatemeh Mariam Zahedi, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Lubar School of Business
Barbara R. Pauloski, Associate Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders
Row 4
Wilfred T. Tysoe, Distinguished Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Alan G. Wiseman, Associate Professor, Physics
Konstantin Sobolev, Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Jolien Creighton, Professor, Physics
John Janssen, Professor, Freshwater Sciences
Carolyn Rubin Aita, Professor Emerita, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Krishna M. Pillai, Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Adel Nasiri, Professor, Electrical Engineering
Changshan Wu, Professor, Geography
Christine R. Kovach, Distinguished Professor, Nursing
George Sosnovsky, Professor Emeritus, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Row 5
Elizabeth C. Devine, Professor Emerita, Nursing
Jun Zhang, Professor, Electrical Engineering
Hugo Lopez, Professor, Materials Science & Engineering
Anoop K. Dhingra, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Hope A. Olson, Professor Emerita, Information Studies
Dietmar Wolfram, Professor, Information Studies
Richard Grusin, Professor, English
Devendra K. Misra, Professor, Electrical Engineering
Junhong Chen, Professor, Materials Science & Engineering
Iris Xie, Professor, Information Studies
George Morris, Adjunct Faculty, Public Health

UWM astronomer helps discover extrasolar “space weather”

December 16, 2020

If you wanted to look for life on planets around stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets, you would first locate the ones in the “Goldilocks zone.” That’s the area – not too close, not too far – at just the right distance from a star where a planet might have liquid water.

Unlike the sun, most stars in the Milky Way galaxy are small, relatively cool red dwarfs – called M dwarfs. Proxima Centauri, the sun’s closest neighbor at only 4 light years away, is an M dwarf with two exoplanets that could be habitable.

However, stars, including M dwarfs, emit flares – brief but powerful eruptions of intense electromagnetic radiation that occur on the stellar surface. And, at least for the sun, these components of “space weather” are accompanied by clouds of ionized gas that could harm life.

Using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder radio telescope in Western Australia, astronomers including David Kaplan, UWM associate professor of physics, have linked stellar flares with accompanying bursts of radio waves.

Read more in the December 9 UWM Report.

Recent coronavirus research at UWM

November 24, 2020

UWM research spotlights pandemic’s impact on the arts

Nonprofit organizations in the arts face significant challenges as they try weathering fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report from the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at UWM found that 40% of arts nonprofits in Wisconsin have been forced to provide programs or services at a “severely reduced” capacity. The median financial impact per organization surveyed in the report was a loss of $30,000.

Bryce Lord, associate director of the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management, says the economic impact of the arts is often underappreciated.

Read more in the October 5, 2020 UWM Report.

UWM awarded COVID-19 rapid response grant from the Zilber Family Foundation

Lorraine Malcoe and the Zilber School of Public Health received a COVID-19 rapid response grant from the Zilber Family Foundation titled, “A Coordinated Community-Driven Response to COVID-19 in Milwaukee’s Black Communities,” that will focus on minimizing the immediate economic, social, and health impacts of the pandemic within Black communities in Milwaukee.

From the From the Office of the Provost November 23, 2020.

Improving the public’s understanding of COVID-19 data in charts and graphs

A UWM researcher is part of a team that is investigating how people interpret information about COVID-19 in graphs, maps and charts presented by the media.

A team of scientists from four universities, including UWM’s Min Sook Park, has been awarded a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate not only whether the public understands these data representations, but also whether their level of understanding influences their perceptions of the pandemic’s severity.

Read more in the August 14, 2020 UWM Report.

Distinguished Professorships

UWM Distinguished Professors have a significant impact on their fields of study. With remarkable productivity, international reputations, and glowing testimonials from peers, UWM Distinguished Professors continue to make significant scholarly contributions to their disciplines. Of the 57 professors who have achieved this status since 1973, 31 remain on the faculty, continuing their leadership role at UWM. The Office of Research also maintains information on the selection, roles, and responsibilities of UWM Distinguished Professors (PDF), and the Historical List of Distinguished Professors.

Centers, Institutes, and Laboratories

UWM is home to more than 100 centers, institutes, and laboratories. These entities conduct research and scholarship, programs, and outreach in order to contribute to the scientific, cultural, educational, and economic conditions of the campus, region, and globe. These centers, institutes, and laboratories generate millions of dollars of extramural research awards each year in order to advance the mission of each entity and the University.

Discovery and Innovation Grant (DIG)

The Discovery and Innovation Grant (DIG) (formerly RGI) is a competitive internal seed funding program that supports high-quality, innovative research by investing in projects selected through an independent and objective process.

Advancing Research and Creativity (ARC) program

(Formerly RACAS) Advancing Research and Creativity (ARC) is an internal research funding program for projects in all disciplines and at any stage of development. Funded work must be completed within a 12- to 18-month timeline. Awards are expected to result in scholarly, scientific, and artistic outcomes. The review process uses internal and external reviewers.