Monday, June 22, 2020

Welcome Nathan!

"Microbial communities are some of the most taxonomically, phylogenetically, and functionally diverse biological systems on the planet...My research uses fieldwork and simulation modeling to understand the relative importance of these ecological processes for maintaining biodiversity in dynamic ecosystems."

Nathan Wisnoski is one of the newest Post-Doctoral candidates at the University of Wyoming.  He holds a historic passion for biology having received his B.S. in Biology - Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Texas at Austin as well as his Ph.D. in Biology - Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior from the Indiana University in Bloomington.  His most recent position at Indiana University afforded Nathan the experience of studying microbial ecology in the Lennon Lab, making him the perfect addition to our community.  

Nathan's past research endeavors included topics such as Dormancy in Metacommunities, Metacommunities in Stream Networks, Dispersal and Dormancy in Bacterioplankton Communities, LTER Metacommunities, and Dormancy, and Host-Phage Dynamics.  With such a broad spectrum of research interests, it's no wonder he holds authorship recognition in 10 publications, four of which are currently being reviewed, and is preparing drafts for 3 more.  To help fund this research, Nathan has 7 fellowships and awards under his belt alongside 2 substantial grants which, in total, add up to just over $81,000.

If that wasn't enough to impress you, Nathan has demonstrated his professionalism and dedication to his projects through numerous talks, posters, workshops, and teaching positions.  Mentorship and service have been a part of his life since the summer of 2015 as well.  These opportunities have continued to be a part of Nathan's life as he climbed the ladder of academic success.

With his higher education journey beginning in 2009, Nathan has been in the field for just over a decade.  He is highly respected in the academic community but boasts a plethora of hobbies outside of academia.  Nathan explains on his website that he enjoys playing guitar, listening to music, reading, hiking, and nature photography when he isn't in the lab, classroom, or writing a paper.  

Nathan is an all-around wonderful person.  He is bright, creative, and genuine.  We are thrilled to welcome him to the University of Wyoming!  

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Change STEMs From Within

“Recent events remind us of the need for acceptance, equity, and diversity in our communities.  We cannot challenge our racial filters if we do not see them for what they are.  We are aware that what we do is insufficient in itself in the face of violence against Black and Brown bodies and oppression of Black and 

Brown opportunities.”

You may have seen Wyoming EPSCoR’s solidarity statement upon its release a few weeks ago.  You may have seen similar statements released by campus and community partners.  These statements of support are great, but what happens when the dust settles?  What happens when your Facebook newsfeed returns to videos of tasty recipes, your best friend's wedding, and 5-minute crafts? 

The first steps toward a real change begin happening.

Wyoming EPSCoR seeks to demonstrate a sincere commitment to increasing equity, acceptance, and diversity in our community.  We may not fully understand the depth of the social justice movement happening across the U.S., but we are dedicated to standing as an ally with those who have been affected and walk in those shoes daily.  We wish to stand as a resource for those looking to become an ally themselves.  

If you read our solidarity statement, you know that “Wyoming NSF EPSCoR stands with our students, faculty, staff, and colleagues to bear witness to the legacies of historical injustices and inequities of racism…”

Science goes far beyond the stereotypical lab coat.  Wyoming EPSCoR plans to illustrate this by highlighting our researchers, faculty, staff, and students of color.  They are an integral part of our STEM programs on and off-campus, and we want to share their stories, experiences, and research with our community.  

While this is only the first step toward the finish line of true equity in STEM, we stand strong with our science family and look forward to recognizing their accomplishments in the field.  They have risen to the occasion to create a strong foundation for the future of STEM in Wyoming.  We support them and we will always stand with them.  

Stay tuned here, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, for more highlights and details on how Wyoming EPSCoR is taking a stand against racial inequity in STEM.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Wyoming NSF EPSCoR Solidarity Statement

Wyoming NSF EPSCoR stands with our students, faculty, staff, and colleagues to bear witness to the legacies of historical injustices and inequities of racism that have led to violence and death toward Black and Brown members of the human race. 

Recent events remind us of the need for acceptance, equity, and diversity in our communities. We cannot challenge our racial filters if we do not see them for what they are. We are aware that what we do is insufficient in itself in the face of violence against Black and Brown bodies and oppression of Black and Brown opportunities.

Wyoming NSF EPSCoR is committed to seeing our filters and dismantling them. We acknowledge that science has been used to perpetuate racism throughout history and it has wrongfully mistreated Black and Brown bodies ​and minds in the name of researchWe will work to increase equitable access to STEM education and careers for all individuals especially Black and Native American​ ​and Hispanic, through research and science outreach, service and economic programs, and STEM economic enfranchisement.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Researchers Persevere Despite COVID-19 Changes

"UW researchers shall pause field research starting now and extending at least until July 30, 2020.  Approaching that time, a reassessment will be made based on the evolution of our understanding of the COVID-19 situation."

Research never truly stops.  New findings are published each day, scientists are working in the field and running samples in the lab, and discoveries are being made.  The University of Wyoming released an email several weeks ago announcing their postponement of field research through the end of July.  But how can any scientist truly just stop?

The answer?  They can't.

Field research may be on hold, but students, faculty, and community scientists alike are continuing to press forward with their research in any manner possible.  Showing true grit, and a passion for their diverse STEM fields, individuals are beginning to crunch data and work on samples that were collected prior to the pandemic.  According to the email received from UW,

"Evaluation of a detailed plan that addresses how the CDC guidelines on social distancing and disinfection will be applied to ensure the safety of students 
and faculty."

The community is working together to ensure proper safety guidelines are in place as students and faculty alike continue to muddle through the re-writes of their original research proposals.  All the while, they are continuing to fight for time in the lab to work on their samples and run their data.  

Wyoming EPSCoR is doing their part to come up with a plan to move much of their summer research ventures online to maintain connection with their community.  Working together with the university, a plan will come together to ensure scientists, researchers, students, and community members are supported during this crazy time.  Summer research plans may be put on hold, but no one is giving up.

The future is wildly uncertain, but one thing is unchanging.  

Research doesn't stop.  Neither will we.      

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Own It Winners Announced!

After a week long effort to view, judge, and scrutinize over the nominees, this year's Own It winners have been announced!

Own It helps to increase the visibility of an often overlooked group in STEM.  Recognizing women for their role and participation in STEM fields encourages us all to rise to the occasion.

It quickly became evident that there are numerous women in Laramie and at the University of Wyoming making an impact in various STEM fields.  Whether it be in the lab, out in the field, through community service, during a lecture in a classroom, or by mentoring others, each nominee demonstrated immense passion for, and dedication to, STEM.

While the judging committee would have liked to see each nominee receive and Own It Award, they are proud to announce this year's winners!

Drum roll please.

  • Undergraduate Student - Aisha Balogun Mohammed

  • Graduate Student - Rhiannon Jakopak

  • STEM Professional - Jane Crayton

  • Pre Tenured Faculty - Karen Mruk

  • Tenured Faculty - Jennifer Eisenhauer Tanner

  • Antell Diversity Award - Bethann Garramon Merkle

  • Committee Choice - Jessica Sutter and Rachel Watson

The judging committee could not be more proud of the hard work and dedication shown to the STEM fields by this year's winners.  Each are strong researchers, mentors, leaders, and active members of the STEM community.  We are so proud to share these individuals with you!

Congratulations to the 2020 Own It winners!

Monday, April 13, 2020

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's....a Foldscope!

With 140x magnification and 2 micron resolution, amazing things are about to be discovered through the Foldscope!

Students competing in this year's Wyoming State Science Fair were invited to the University of Wyoming Ecology and Biogeochemistry Core Lab to explore their facilities, share research ideas, and most importantly receive their very own Foldscope!

Known as the 2020 Wyoming State Science Fair Foldscope Party, nearly 100 students celebrated their success at the fair by touring labs and the UW Geology Museum while testing out their new Foldscopes.  The scopes were distributed instead of t-shirts at this year's event and, based on the pictures, was an exciting way to conclude this year's fair!

The Foldscope, invented by Mantu Paresh, is a high tech paper microscope that allows scientists of all ages to further explore the world around them.  Students had the opportunity to build, and learn how to use their scopes, at this year's Foldscope Party.  Between the Ecology BGC Lab and the UW Geology Museum, there were plenty of opportunities to test them out.

Check out the gallery below for a look into the night's activities and excitement!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Who's That Girl?

Wondering who's been posting stories on the blog?  Enjoying the Facebook posts and curious as to who's been writing them?  Wishing you had a face and a name to send questions and story ideas to?  Look no further, it's time to meet this year's EPSCoR Communication Intern, Morgan Patton.

Morgan is a first-year Graduate student in the Communication and Journalism Department at the University of Wyoming.  She is pursuing a Master's in Communication while teaching public speaking courses as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.  Morgan previously attended the University of Northern Colorado where she earned her Bachelor's Degree in two different areas.  She double majored in Communication Studies as well as Journalism and Media Studies with an emphasis in Strategic Communication.  

In addition to being a full time student, Morgan worked with UNC Admissions where she was a Student Ambassador, Tour Guide, Admissions Assistant, Outreach Caller, Student Event Organizer, and Social Media Coordinator.  She also volunteered as a State Rifle Instructor, Weld County Shooting Sports Council Vice-President, and Orion Team Member for Colorado 4-H Shooting Sports.  What can we say?  She has a passion for working with people.  Her work experience, coupled with her schooling, has made her a promising candidate for this year's Communication Internship.  

As organizations look to move completely online, Morgan plans to step into a Public Relations Coordinator position.  She will be working with the EPSCoR team to create an entirely virtual platform where audiences can continue gathering and sharing research.  

While she keeps busy with work, school, and her professional life, Morgan also enjoys volunteering with Colorado 4-H Shooting Sports, spending time with family, taking her dog (Mando) on walks, reading, meeting up with friends for Bible study, taking photos, singing, filling out her planner, working on her boyfriend's family ranch, and finding new ways to get involved in her local community.  

We are so excited to introduce you to this year's EPSCoR Communication Intern!  If you do have any story ideas or questions about the program, Morgan would love to hear from you!  Feel free to contact her at