Students present research and capstone projects to community

By Shawna Connor

(Richland Center, Wis.) - On Friday, April 28, University of Wisconsin-Richland hosted the spring 2017 Student Research & Creativity Symposium.  The campus hosts a symposium each semester in order to share exceptional student effort with the larger community.  More recently, as students graduate from UW-Richland’s Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree program, the symposium serves as a degree requirement, where graduating seniors must present their capstone project.

Presenters for the spring 2017 event and their topics included:

  • Madison Cooper of Richland Center presenting, “Pets and Babies” – Madison recruited fellow students Jason Brunner, Stephen Weigel and Khushal Das to present her play.  This piece was also read at the Friends of the Spring Green Public Library Betty Irwin Play Contest, where it won 2nd place.  Madison plans to attend University of Wisconsin-River Falls next year pursuing a degree in Business Administration Management.
  • Kelsey Thorell of Wonewoc presenting, “Finals Week: A College Student’s Worst Nightmare.” Kelsey wrote this nonfiction piece for Creative Writing with Professor Marnie Dresser.  It shows the importance of being resilient about your mistakes.  Kelsey will be transferring to University of Wisconsin-Madison next semester to attend the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • Jaci Bedtka of Steuben presenting, “A Peek Inside My Grandmother’s House - A Case Study in Public History at the Local Level.”  Jaci researched this topic for her Independent Study with Professor Aharon Zorea.  Simultaneously, she also took an internship with the Richland Heritage Project, which was housed at the History Room in the Brewer Public Library.  She adapted skills used in both courses to complete this project.  Jaci plans to transfer to University of Wisconsin-La Crosse next year with a major in Museum Studies.  
  • Emily Zorea of Richland Center presenting, “Serving Hispanic/Latino Community Residents at Brewer Public Library,” her capstone project for the BAAS degree program.  During the academic year, Emily worked on an original research project to find an answer to the question, “How can Brewer Public Library better serve the literacy and community needs of the Hispanic/Latino residents in Richland County?”  Utilizing a new knowledge of the Spanish language, census data, national studies and local interviews with Hispanic/Latino residents of Richland County as well as local stakeholders who also serve the Hispanic/Latino community, Emily created a formal needs assessment for Brewer Public Library that not only answers the original research question, but provides an action plan for future library program planning, collection development and outreach opportunities with the purpose of strengthening our community relationships. Zorea is a graduating senior in the BAAS degree program and will be attending University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Masters of Library and Informational Sciences Program with an emphasis in children and youth services.  Emily is the first BAAS graduate from the University of Wisconsin Colleges to be accepted into graduate school.

Student research in the form of artwork was also on display during the event.  UW-Richland Art Lecturer Gregory Johnson recruits art students and coordinates the displays each semester.  “Research is often considered to live within the realm of numbers and words, but this is not its only place to play. The creation of visual objects can both subsume traditional research and build on it. When the artist set out to put brush to canvas, the artists needs to have prior knowledge of physical materials and how they behave and then build on that knowledge to produce the results they desire. This comes from research and knowledge learned through direct experience. An artist when creating an artifact is not that different from a scientist they are both engaged in experimentation, yet the artist’s research is spoken through the visual,” Johnson explains. 

Symposium attendees enjoyed the following artwork:

  • “Still-Life Project” – Dave Neff of Blue River
  • “Self-Portrait Project” – Jay Mahtani of Japan
  • “Landscape Project” – Lynne Eichinger of Richland Center

Student Research & Creativity Symposium events are sponsored by the UW-Richland Undergraduate Research Committee.  For more information about UW-Richland, visit  For more information about the Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences degree program, visit







Still-Life Project by Dave Neff

Self-Portrait Project by Jay Mahtani

Landscape Project by Lynne Eichinger

RLN Spring 2017 Symposium presenters (L to R): Cooper, Zorea, Bedtka & Thorell


Shawna Connor