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Students represent Wis. to Congress

April 10, 2008

UW-River Falls will be sending two students to Washington DC to present their undergraduate research findings to senators and state representatives April 29.

Matthew Blodgett, a physics major, and Amanda Liesch, an international studies major, are the only two undergraduates in the state of Wisconsin to be selected for the trip.

Nationwide, 60 students were selected out of 255 to present their findings on Capitol Hill, physics professor James Madsen said.

“It is … a great honor to be selected, and have the opportunity to interact with other students and Congress people,” Madsen said in an e-mail.

It is especially impressive that UWRF is sending two students-the only two in the state, Terry Brown, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said.

“It really shows how good our undergraduate research program is,” Liesch said.

Liesch has been working on a soil presentation under the advisement of Bill Anderson, a professor in the plant and earth science department.

“It involves three different types of organic matter treatments and how that affects the soil structure,” she said.

Liesch got the news that she had been selected for the session Feb. 15, the day before her birthday.

“It was probably the bestest birthday present ever,” she said.

Blodgett’s poster focuses on the IceCube project, which is developing an ice-based telescope to detect certain astrological events by way of detecting the neutrinos that are produced by them.

Blodgett’s adviser is Madsen, who has been working on IceCube since 1998.

Undergraduate presenters will not only display their research, but also discuss their findings with their senators and state representatives.

“It is increasingly important that the scientific community works to ensure that those in the U.S. Congress who provide funding for science and science education have a clear understanding of the programs they fund and why these programs are important,” according to the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Web site. “Undergraduate research must be among those programs that members of Congress understand if it is to be supported.”

“Congress with the President sets the budget, so they are exactly the people with whom we need to connect,” Madsen said.

Student presenters will also attend speeches by congressman Vernon J. Ehlers and John Marburger, the science adviser to the President, according to the CUR Web site.

The session will begin April 29 with an orientation session and will conclude the evening of April 30, according to the CUR Web site.