The Senior Excellence in Research Award (SERA) goes to a small group of seniors who have been significantly active in undergraduate research during their time at UWM and who propose a research plan for their senior year.  Applications are due April 1 for the following academic year.  The SERA award recipients meet monthly to discuss their research progress and will share their outcomes with an oral presentation at a colloquium in the spring. They also serve as ambassadors for undergraduate research in various ways including class visits, outreach events and media interviews.

Application extension to May 1st, 2021

If you are interested in applying please see our application page for more details.

2019-20 SERA Recipients
2018-19 SERA Recipients
2017-18 SERA Recipients
2016-17 SERA Recipients

2020-2021 Recipients











Louis Chapman
is a senior studying civil engineering at UW-Milwaukee. His research takes place under the direction of Dr. Marcia Silva and involves investigation of a filtration mechanism to remove ammonia from water. Many researchers are looking into ways to remove contaminants from the water column in order to reduce the impact of unwanted chemical discharge into the lakes and rivers. Louis began work on this project in 2018, funded through SURF, and looks forward to the opportunity to publish his findings during his senior year. He enjoys participating in the UWM organization “Engineers for Sustainable Design and Culture” where his contributions are often met with little enthusiasm despite the good-hearted and open-minded nature of the group. Louis plans to continue working in the Milwaukee water industry after graduating and anticipates pursuing further studies in water-related infrastructures. He can often be found doodling on whiteboards in the library, cooking dinner (his favorite is chicken), or watching Rachel Maddow. Email:














Ismael Coello is a senior at UW-Milwaukee studying materials engineering and is glad that he chose this career path because it allows him to bridge the gap in theoretical knowledge and actual performance of many types of products. He hopes to contribute to technology through research by continuing to enhance the way that people use material objects to their advantage. Being a first-generation DACA student, he knows what it is like to not have guidance or to feel overwhelmed in a new environment. Thankfully, he has found mentors and a community willing to help him through the process. He has been involved in research with Dr. Benjamin Church since his freshman year and enjoys doing research in this lab because of the learning opportunities obtained while contributing to a meaningful project on decoking of stainless-steel cracking tubes. Research has allowed him to have a manufacturing internship and a Research and Development co-op, which has helped him learn information outside of the academic environment. Ismael has been able develop skills through presenting his research, communicating with professionals, and challenging himself with projects. He is looking forward to new experiences during his last year at UWM before going on to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering. Email:





Jocelyn Jarvis is a senior pursing majors in psychology and philosophy with a certificate in quantitative social data analysis. She is a McNair scholar as well as a past SURF recipient. Jocelyn has has been involved with undergraduate research since she first transferred to UWM in the fall of 2018 and has had the pleasure of working in three labs on campus; the Child Stress and Coping Laboratory, the Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology Laboratory, and the Adult Neuropsychology Laboratory. Each lab experience has given her a different insight into all of the possibilities that research has to offer. In the Child Stress and Coping Laboratory she works with Dr. Davies investigating issues related to coping and adaptation of children and families experiencing extreme stress, such as pediatric chronic illness. Within Dr. Davies lab she is currently helping to write a manuscript on “Community Parents’ Experiences of Concern Dismissal by a Pediatric Provider”. In Dr. Lisdahls’ Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology Laboratory they mainly work on The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Studyä consortium, which is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. In Dr. Lisdahl’s lab Jocelyn is a research assistant who runs sessions and administers experimental tasks to the adolescent participants. Within Dr. Osmon’s Adult Neuropsychology Laboratory she mainly runs participants for his ongoing studies and is currently helping him on a manuscript investigating executive control functioning in college students. Jocelyn has worked on several different poster presentations over her academic career at UWM and her work has been accepted at conferences such as the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, the Midwest Psychological Association Conference, and the Research Society on Alcoholism. Jocelyn is also the Vice President of the UWM Chapter of Mortar Board National Honor Society. Outside of academia, Jocelyn focuses on giving back to the community through her volunteer work at Cope Crisis Hotline, Walker’s Point Youth and Family Shelter, and at Eighty-First Elementary School. She has also had the opportunity to work for John Hopkin’s University as a resident assistant for their Center for Talented Youth Program. Email:


Anna Kaminski is a senior at UWM and plans to graduate with a degree in atmospheric science in May of 2021. She has worked with Dr. Clark Evans since the fall of 2019. During the summer of 2018, she got the opportunity to participate in an internship in Geneva, NY studying and researching a climatology on atmospheric rivers in the northeast United States. This opportunity allowed her to continue that project in the fall of 2018. For the past year and a half, Anna has continued to pursue this project studying atmospheric rivers and created a 30 year climatology with peers and mentors from 5 different universities. Throughout the academic year of 2019-20, she has prepared an article for publication and was submitted in August 2020 with lead authorship. She was awarded a SURF award for the summer of 2020 and will be focusing on developing an algorithm to objectively identify tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones, or a mixture of the two which is considered a hybrid. When there is a more accurate way of objectively defining cyclones, large numbers of data and images can be put into this algorithm to characterize cyclones and can be used to more effectively and efficiently conduct research regarding tropical and extratropical cyclones. Anna also actively participates in the Atmospheric Science Club and attends national conferences to present her research. After graduation, Anna plans to pursue graduate school in atmospheric science in order to one day conduct research alongside NASA. Email:


Sofia Mattson is a senior pursuing a BS in psychology, a minor in Spanish, an Honors Degree with Distinction, and continues lessons in harp music. Although harp performance has had her heart since the age of 6, she she hopes to pursue a career in neuropsychology. The summer before attending her Freshman year at UWM, Sofia developed an LLC named Harp Music Therapy, an attempt to combine her interests of psychology and harp music, under an internship for the cultivation of intellectual property. It did not take long before she realized she needed to do a lot more research in the vast field of psychology before she sold anything claiming to be therapeutic. Thus, she joined the Affective Neuroscience Lab at UWM as an undergraduate research assistant since 2018 under the mentorship of Dr. Christine Larson. Since then, the studies in which Sofia have been involved focus on attention and working memory capacity using electroencephalography, and she has presented posters for the UWM Undergraduate Research Symposiums and the Association for Psychological Science. After one semester in the lab, she advanced to a lead research assistant position and received support from the SURF program as of the following fall 2019 semester to continue this research. Guided by Dr. Larson, Sofia aims to complete her senior capstone investigating how fear conditioned stimuli impact working memory processes. Ultimately, Sofia looks forward to achieving a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology and potentially combining her various disciplines to reach a diverse patient population. Email:


Paul Newcomb is a fourth-year student majoring in Ethnic Studies, and pursuing minors in History and African and African Diaspora studies. They have been involved in undergraduate research since 2018, when they first worked as a SURF student for Dr. Amanda Seligman for the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee. After a summer of working on that project, Paul began collaborating with Dr. Rachel Buff and several other students on a number of projects including media analysis of deportations in Trump’s United States; oral histories with immigrant rights activists and Jewish civil rights activists; and drop-in Ethnic Studies curriculums in Riverside High School and Audubon High School. Paul also spent a semester working as an assistant in the Digital Humanities Lab, learning how to write metadata for the Emil Seidel and Socialist Milwaukee digital collection. Other miscellaneous research experience includes volunteering at the American Black Holocaust Museum and the Hostile Terrains project at UWM. Paul’s current project is a collaborative project with several other undergraduate students documenting the revolutionary uprisings across Milwaukee and Wisconsin. The project is seeking to answer questions centered around community ownership of archives and the ethics and responsibilities of archivists who are documenting revolutionary activism in a racist and colonialist police state. Outside of their research, Paul has been active in community organizing in Milwaukee and is an active member of Students for a Democratic Society at UWM. Email:


Noah Wolfe is working on his undergraduate degree in K-12 Exceptional Education. Simultaneously, Noah is in his first year of the Accelerated Master’s Program working towards a master’s degree in Exceptional Education. He has worked with Dr. Chris Lawson in the Department of Educational Psychology for the past three years, beginning in the summer of 2017. In Dr. Lawson’s lab, Noah has been performing extensive research on understanding the development of inductive generalizations within school-aged children. How do children develop the skills that allow them to generalize information they learned in one context to another context? Noah has presented research at multiple conference presentations throughout the Midwest, has a publication in the Journal of Cognitive Science, and has received recognition from Chancellor Mark Mone, Dean Alan Shoho and more. In the 2020-21 academic year, Noah will be focusing specifically on how inductive generalization skills differ between students with and without disabilities. He will explore this by conducting basic developmental research that examines the development of inductive reasoning and applied research designed to understand how children learn to generalize in a variety of contexts. After graduating, Noah intends on finishing his master’s degree in Exceptional Education and intends on teaching in Milwaukee Public Schools, utilizing the knowledge he has gained from his cognitive development research into his classroom and pedagogy. Email: