Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace makes a difference throughout globe.

This story first appeared at wisc.edu.

Ashley Summers never imagined herself standing in the mountains of Ecuador when she first entered the Student Organization fair at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

But nine months later, the UW–Madison student from Wauwatosa would travel to a small community outside Cotacachi to work with local artisan group, Sumak Muyo.

“It was interesting seeing how the work we do in Wisconsin translates into these small communities, and it makes a difference in these women’s lives,” Summers says, “Because that’s what our organization is really about… giving these artisans the empowerment and the skills to run their own business.”

Summers is a part of Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace (WWBM), a student organization that collaborates with artisan groups from Mexico, Ecuador, Nepal, India and Kenya to sell their jewelry, scarves and bags in Madison. The profits are reinvested back into the artisans’ communities to support community development efforts such as education, health care and food.

The women in Ecuador use local beads, string and other materials to make their necklaces that are sold in Madison. JEN WAGMAN/UW-MADISON

The operations, marketing and sales for the Marketplace are primarily led by students. Janet Niewold, faculty advisor for the WWBM, believes this organization offers students opportunities to build skills in any career field they choose, whether it’s business, fashion, global health, graphic design or marketing.

“We are trying to develop economic opportunities [for students], so that they can get involved with the community using their skills,” Niewold says, “Because it’s the students’ skills that bring this project to life.”

Students begin the process by communicating with artisan groups, like Sumak Muyo, to discuss order timeline, products, questions and any other confusions. Then, the women of Sumak Muyo travel from their indigenous community, La Calera, to Otavalo to buy materials such as acai, pambil, coco, tagua nuts, beads and string if needed.

After they have their supplies, the artisans will gather at one of their homes to create the necklaces, or products for the order. When the order is finished, it will be sent to the United States, where WWBM pays for both the order and the shipping expenses. The final sale prices are calculated based on labor, time and materials.

The process can slightly vary depending on the community and what products they are creating. For example, the groups in Kenya make bags and rely on very traditional artisanship that only the older generations know, so instead of ordering products, a representative will buy bags during visits and use a lot of the funding for community development projects like a partnership building solar-powered lights with Insight Wisconsin. The products are then sold at local art fairs, in an online store and elsewhere.

The streets in the village of Tabuga, Ecuador. JEN WAGMAN/UW-MADISON


This interdisciplinary organization relies on various departments across the UW campus to coordinate “sustainable models for expanding product sales opportunities,” according to the website.

Jen Wagman, a student director for WWBM, explains that there are several components of the organization that students can participate in. For example, the organization’s origins derived from the global health certificate, but WWBM is a registered student organizations with the School of Business BBA program and collaborates the School of Human Ecology to analyze fashion trends. The project has financial and strategic aspects, as students can expand the marketplace and the awareness of fair trade practices in Madison.

Wagman, who’s from Verona, says “what draws student into the organization is having that true experience of what you might be doing someday,” and the ability to use their skills while making small differences in these artisans’ communities.

“Anyone can make a difference in any way, shape or form. It can be in any capacity, whether it’s in your dorm, in your apartment, in your house, and translate into these big world issues,” Wagman says, “Every day you impact so many people. Just being able to recognize that, even if you just buy a pair of earrings, you can have a big impact.”

Summers, event coordinator for WWBM, reiterated that any student who is interested in fair trade practices or applying their skills into a real business can get involved with the Marketplace. She says, “It’s a lot of work for a student organization, but you gain real skills, and it’s rewarding.”

For more information about the organization or would like to purchase their products, visit its website or email wwbmarketplace@gmail.com.

– See more at: http://news.wisc.edu/wisconsin-without-borders-marketplace-makes-a-difference-throughout-globe/#sthash.tFjNh46A.dpuf

Apply now for 2017 GHI and 4W grants and awards

Important information for Graduate Student Research Award applicants

Due to a technical issue, proposals for the Graduate Student Research Awards that were submitted by the February 13 application deadline may not have been received. GHI requests that individuals who submitted a proposal for this award category ONLY, please RE-SUBMIT your application (as a single PDF) by sending via email to globalhealth@ghi.wisc.edu.  The deadline for resubmissions is March 3, 2017.



The University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) and the 4W (Women, Well-being, Wisconsin and the World) Initiative are pleased to announce their 2016-2017 grant competition.

GHI grant program

The GHI competitive grant program is designed to support global health efforts of faculty, staff and graduate students across campus, fostering the Wisconsin Idea locally and globally.

The deadline for GHI grant applications is 5:00 p.m. February 13, 2017. Seed Grant applicants must also submit a Letter of Intent by 5:00 p.m. December 1, 2016.

The Institute will again offer grants in four categories:

  • Seed Grants will support efforts to launch new global health research projects and make them competitive for sustained external funding. Two grants of up to $50,000 each will be awarded. Application information is available here.
  • Graduate Student Research Awards supports doctoral students pursuing work in any relevant discipline whose graduate work will enhance global health activities on the UW-Madison campus and beyond. Up to five grants of up to $5,000 each will be awarded. Application information is available here.
  • Visiting Scholar Awards brings visitors to UW-Madison who substantially enhance global health activities on campus in collaboration with a sponsoring UW-Madison faculty member or faculty team. Up to seven grants of up to $8,000 will be awarded. Application information is available here.
  • Faculty and Staff Travel Awards are available for UW-Madison faculty and staff who are GHI affiliates. They can be used for international travel related to educational and research activities. Up to 12 grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded. Application information is available here.

To learn more about previous grant recipients, visit the global health research pages. For more information about the grants and grant process, contact Monet Haskins, 265-9299.

4W award program

For the first time, 4W will offer two awards. The 4W Innovation Award of up to $7,500 will allow a faculty or academic staff member to devote time to developing a key initiative related to women and well-being and aligned with the vision and core values of 4W. The 4W Engagement Grants for Emerging Scholars will support graduate and professional students who are engaged in research related to women and well-being in Wisconsin or around the world. Proposals are due Friday by 5:00 P.M., January 6, 2017. Learn more.

UW-Madison at forefront of innovation in nuclear energy

This article first appeared on www.engr.wisc.edu on April 9, 2016.

For countries to sharply reduce carbon emissions while also meeting the increasing demand for electrical energy, it’s widely recognized that nuclear power needs to be part of the solution.

Next-generation advanced nuclear reactors promise to compete economically with natural gas. These advanced reactor technologies are safer and more efficient than the conventional light water reactors operating today.

However, for advanced nuclear reactors to make an impact on cutting carbon emissions fast enough to stem climate change, the advanced nuclear sector and government need to work together to develop and deploy the next generation of reactors at a more rapid pace, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison Engineering Physics Assistant Professor Raluca Scarlat.

“We need plans quickly for new reactors—and quickly is not a word that’s been used in nuclear,” Scarlat says. “In order to change that, we need a lot of bright minds coming into this field. We need a lot of innovation.”

To help accelerate innovation in advanced nuclear and highlight nuclear’s role in addressing climate change, the think tank Third Way and the Idaho National Laboratory partnered with Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to host a first-of-its-kindadvanced nuclear summit and showcase in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 2016.

During the showcase portion of the event, Scarlat, along with research collaborators from the University of California-Berkeley and MIT, gave a presentation on the innovative fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactor (FHR) concept that they’re working on developing. FHR is an advanced reactor design that uses a solid fuel and molten (liquid) salt as a coolant.

From left: Distinguished Research Professor Kumar Sridharan, Assistant Professor Raluca Scarlat and Research Professor Mark Anderson next to a storage container for high-temperature salt. Photo credit: Gregory Vershbow
From left: Distinguished Research Professor Kumar Sridharan, Assistant Professor Raluca Scarlat and Research Professor Mark Anderson, all principle investigators in the UW-Madison engineering physics department researching molten salts, standing next to a storage container for high-temperature salt. Photo credit: Gregory Vershbow

Several startup companies also presented their novel reactor concepts in the showcase, and Scarlat says it was very exciting to see the progress being made by nuclear entrepreneurs in this area.

Scarlat says companies like TerraPower, which was founded by Bill Gates, are helping drive innovation in advanced nuclear technology. TerraPower, which is working on developing a molten chloride salt reactor, is part of a public-private partnership that was recently awarded up to $40 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop the technology.

And when these growing companies want to recruit top talent, they look to UW-Madison. For example, Brian Kelleher, who earned his PhD at UW-Madison working on the FHR project under Engineering Physics Distinguished Research Professor Kumar Sridharan, is now working at TerraPower.

“This recruiting shows we’re effectively training our students at UW-Madison to work on these advanced nuclear technologies, and that is feeding this new resurgence of innovation in nuclear,” Scarlat says.

To enhance students’ educational experience, Scarlat reached out to a number of molten salt reactor companies to see if they would be interested in serving as advisors for student design teams in NEEP 412: Nuclear Reactor Design. Scarlat says the response from the companies was tremendous, with six agreeing to serve as team advisors. “By building connections with these companies, we’re also reinforcing the fact that we’re training students in this area and companies can recruit talented engineering grads from us,” she says.

In addition to the innovative FHR research and training students, Scarlat says UW-Madison’s unique capabilities for handling and studying molten salts containing beryllium make the university a leader in advanced nuclear.

Because beryllium is highly toxic, it’s difficult to build facilities that can handle these kinds of high-temperature salts. UW-Madison is the only university in the country with the safety procedures in place to handle and purify beryllium fluoride salts and with faculty members who have experimental expertise with these molten salts.

“Our experimental facilities are quite unique at UW-Madison, and we can assist nuclear companies by doing measurements that are specific to their reactor designs,” Scarlat says.

Written by Adam Malecek

2016 Wisconsin Without Borders Awards honor eight outstanding projects

Photo by Corinne Praska

Photo by Corinne Praska, Morgridge Center for Public Service

This story was first published on the Morgridge Center for Community Service  website site.

Eight UW-Madison projects are being honored for their community-engaged focus on global malnutrition, waterborne illness, Wisconsin Native public health, Latina women’s mental health and more. Three of the winners, Marjorie Kersten, Theo Loo and Andrew Denu are global health students.

The 2016 Wisconsin Without Borders Awards honor the work of students, faculty, staff and community partners that demonstrates excellence in collaboration between the university and local and global communities. Winners this year represent efforts spanning seven countries. Each award carries a cash prize of up to $1,500.

Wisconsin Without Borders, a campus-wide alliance, selected winners in four different categories, including the brand new 4W Award. Winners will be honored at a campus ceremony on Thursday, April 21 from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Wisconsin Idea Room at the Education Building. The ceremony is open to the entire campus and community.

Wisconsin Without Borders (WWB) is a UW-Madison alliance and award program that recognizes globally-engaged interdisciplinary scholarship and fosters excellence by networking through joint learning activities. WWB draws on the history and values of the Wisconsin Idea and the many remarkable partnerships that UW-Madison faculty members and students have initiated, both in Wisconsin and around the world.

WWB is a partnership between the Morgridge Center for Public Service, the Global Health Institute and the International Division.

4W Award

Expanding Entomophagy: Investigating Potential Mealworm and Cricket Consumption, Zambia

 Marjorie Kersten, undergraduate, Community and Environmental Sociology and Global Health

Community Partner: Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects (MIGHTi)

Insect micro-livestock farming has the potential to be a direct solution to malnutrition, food insecurity, poverty, and economic inequality disproportionately faced by Zambian women. Part of the research conducted worked to address quality of life issues for women by providing baseline data to community partners that would allow them to more successfully develop and implement insect micro-livestock farmers in collaboration with women’s cooperatives in Zambia.

Peter Bosscher Award (Individual)

Muddied Waters: Water Security Management in Mmangweni Village, South Africa

Recipient: Theo Loo, undergraduate, Microbiology and Global Health

Community Partner:  Indwe Trust NPC

Currently, 40% of South Africa’s population lives in rural areas with little access to clean water, leading to illness and disease. This project was designed with the goal of reducing the prevalence of waterborne diseases in Kumanzimdaka, South Africa. The project conducted water testing and water sterilization workshops, established a community dialogue, and mapped houses, community centers, livestock feeding pastures and latrines. The project has produced a recommendation for physical water source protection strategies in Kumanzimdaka and has the potential to lay the groundwork for a systematic approach to reducing waterborne diseases across rural South Africa.

Peter Bosscher Award (Group)

Village Health Project (VHP), Uganda

Recipients: James Ntambi (faculty, Biochemistry), Andrew Denu, (undergraduate, Biology and Global Health) Mackenzie Carlson (undergraduate, Gender & Women’s Studies) and Corinne Praska (undergraduate, Genetics)

Community Partner: Village Health Project-Uganda

VHP-Uganda, founded more than 15 years ago, is a community-based organization (CBO) that supports multiple ongoing efforts in Lweza, Uganda. VHP-Uganda has given UW-Madison students, faculty and staff a local CBO that is able to engage and mobilize people in the community around issues identified by community members. Through the program (and now another one that focuses on mobile clinics) students are offered opportunities to work alongside community members in addressing some of the most critical needs as identified by the community in areas such as livestock, agriculture, micro-enterprise development.

Recognition in Community Based Research

Women and One Health: Empowerment of Women in Rural Agriculture, Ghana

Recipient: Sophia Friedson-Ridenour, 4W postdoctoral research associate, Center for Research on Gender and Women

Community Partner: 
Women farmers and women’s farmer organizations in Northern Ghana

Funded by a UW-Madison Global Health Institute Seed Grant, this research explores the empowerment and wellbeing of women in agriculture in Northern Ghana. Inspired by the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), the study uses a community-based qualitative research methodology to accomplish two goals: 1) Explore the sense women make of the domains being used to measure their empowerment. 2) Expand the areas being used to measure the empowerment of women in agriculture to encompass greater measures of wellbeing such as woman’s aspirations, capabilities, and her sense of self-efficacy, dimensions of agency and hence empowerment that the WEAI does not currently attend to.

Honorable Mention in Community Based Research

Venga y Relájese! A Pilot Stress Reduction Curriculum for Latina Women, Wisconsin and Peru

Recipient: Elizabeth Abbs, medical student, School of Medicine and Public Health

Community Partner:
 Aurora Walker’s Point Community Center, Milwaukee, WI; Colegio Pitagoras, Lima, Peru

Stress can negatively affect the human body, increasing risk for depression, anxiety, insomnia, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems. Women living in poverty, especially those with a migration history, often live in a state of chronic stress compounded by various social, economic, and environmental factors. As a Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) project, ¡Venga y Relájese! (Come! and Relax!) was designed to provide a sustainable introduction to meditation, meaningful social interactions and self-compassion to the women of Aurora’s Walker’s Point Community Clinic, in Milwaukee. The program is currently in the process of expanding to Lima, Peru.

Excellence in Service Learning (Group)

Traditions in Health, Wisconsin

Recipients: Melissa Metoxen, Dr. Jacquelynn Arbuckle, Dr. Christine Athmann, Lauren Cornelius, Lina Martin, Tim Frandy, staff and faculty, School of Medicine and Public Health

Community Partner: 
Oneida Nation and Lac du Flambeau tribal communities

Traditions of Health offers a holistic intervention to promote healthy lifestyles in Native American communities through the learning of traditional knowledge and through relationship building between Native students at UW-Madison and Wisconsin’s tribal communities. Cultural-based interventions have been shown to have extraordinary results, particularly in Native American communities. This program involves traditional foodways, the healthy lifeways associated with their cultivation and harvest and the experiential learning of traditional Native food-culture in Wisconsin’s Native communities.

Excellence in Service Learning (Individual)

Conservation and Sustainable Development Service-Learning in rural Ecuador

Recipient: Catherine Woodward, faculty associate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Community Partner:
 Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation

The goal of involving students in this community-based research project in Ecuador is two-fold: First, to guide students in developing cultural competencies as they apply their college education and language skills in sociocultural contexts that are novel to them; and second, to facilitate a beneficial exchange of knowledge between US students and rural Ecuadorians that helps address economic and environmental challenges that are global in scope. The impact of this involvement includes a greater awareness from both students and local people of the importance of stewardship of water resources and increased capacity within the community to address water quality problems. More than 30 students have been involved in this work.

Recognition in Service Learning (Individual)

Multicultural Theatre for Rural Schools, Wisconsin

Recipient: Manon van de Water, professor, Slavic Languages

Community Partner: 
Taliesin Preserve and Rural School Districts

This project offers a quality multicultural theatre program to underprivileged rural schools in partnership with the Taliesin Preserve. The project was an extension of the annual Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) production that has been part of the regular season of the Department of Theatre and Drama’s University Theatre. This project successfully brings together a number of constituencies, forges connections between the rural community and the University, between graduate students, undergraduate students, and school-age students and between the arts and education.

By Mark Bennett/ April 12, 2016.