Mequon, Jan. 10, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With China’s historic moon landing last week and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 approaching this summer, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for space exploration.

A Concordia University Wisconsin professor is also adding to the “space race” this year from the comforts of Concordia’s Mequon campus. Dr. Paul Strycker, associate professor of science at CUW, is a co-investigator on a grant from NASA totaling more than $270,000 since 2015. He’s one of several CUW professors who are furthering their fields of study through research and educational outreach with the support of grant funding.

Here are some of the projects currently underway at Concordia.

1. Found: missing plume on the moon 

CUW project lead: Dr. Paul Strycker, associate professor of science 

Strycker’s efforts focus on uncovering the faint light from the 2009 Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission in recordings to determine the properties of this man-made lunar explosion. Four CUW undergraduate students have worked with Strycker on the grant since its start, traveling with him to collaborate and present results at multiple out-of-state conferences. 

2. A new dementia treatment 

CUW project lead: Dr. Daniel Sem, Batterman School of Business dean/professor of business and pharmaceutical sciences 

Sem is the recipient of three National Institutes of Health1 grants. His most recent one is a three-year grant awarded in fall 2015 and renewed last fall for another three years. He and his collaborators developed a stripped-down estrogen molecule that has proven effective in a model system for treating dementia in women. In July, after publishing their work and securing patent protection for their drug lead molecule, the three formed a startup, Estrigenix, which will allow them to continue their research.

3. Bringing science (and zebrafish) to Wisconsin high schools 

CUW project lead: Dr. Michael Pickart, associate professor of pharmaceutical science 

Pickart has joined the UW–Milwaukee (UWM) WInSTEP project, which helps pre-service, middle, and high school science teachers engage more students in classroom-based STEM research with an environmental health focus. The project is made possible by a five-year $1.25 million grant2 awarded in 2016 to UWM. Since joining CUW in 2012, Pickart has engaged hundreds of students each year—through WInSTEP and beyond—via Concordia’s zebrafish lab and in his role as education RIG director for the Zebrafish Disease Models Society.  

4. Health care for the homebound 

CUW project leads: Dr. Sharon Chappy, dean of nursing; Dr. Lois Harrison, associate professor of physical therapy; Dr. Stacey Kukor, clinical instructor of occupational therapy; Dr. Michael Oldani, director of interprofessional education (IPE); Dr. Travis Suss, assistant professor of pharmacy practice 

In spring 2018, Concordia faculty from the Schools of Nursing, Health Professions, and Pharmacy began a partnership with Fresh Meals on Wheels of Sheboygan County to offer free in-home health assessments to homebound individuals. Last semester, they began to involve CUW students in the effort. The work is supported by a $10,533 award from The Council of Independent Colleges’ Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults program, which is supported by the AARP Foundation.  

5. Great Migration art and education 

CUW project lead: Paul Calhoun, assistant professor of art 

In March 2017, Calhoun received a $9,250 grant from Bader Philanthropies, Inc. to engage students from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA) in learning about the historical period known as the Great Migration. The movement, which took place from 1916 to 1970, forever changed the culture of numerous northern cities, including Milwaukee, and created new forms of artistic expression. Under Calhoun’s lead, 15 Concordia students partnered with about 45 MHSA students to create two 12-by-12 murals and one large painting that pay it tribute.  

6. Anxiety-relieving coffee creamers and hot chocolate 

CUW project leads: Dr. Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori, pharmacy fellow; Dr. Michael Pickart, associate professor of pharmaceutical science; Dr. Christopher Cunningham, associate professor of pharmaceutical science 

Owusu-Ofori started The Satori Food Project in 2012 to build medical foods that improve mental health and well-being. Instead of taking hard-to-swallow pills that can cause fogginess, weight gain, and other unpleasant side effects, patients can try Satori Coffee Creamers and Satori Hot Chocolate mix to help them manage their anxiety and concentration disorders. Owusu-Ofori joined the CUW community in January 2018, where he continues his research into the relationship between proper nutrition and anxiety disorders under the mentorship of Pickart and Cunningham.   

7. STEAM camps and college-readiness 

CUW project lead: Dr. Michael Uden, vice provost of student enrollment and engagement 

Uden currently has two grants from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which he secured on behalf of CUW’s School of Education. The first one—a two-year $1,000 grant awarded in spring 2017—provides scholarships for students in grades 6-8 to attend science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) camps put on by CUW faculty each summer. The second grant, also awarded in 2017 and totaling $34,200, supports the College FAIR program, which empowers first-generation high school seniors or students from underrepresented populations to become college-ready while living on campus during an abridged three-week summer term.  

8. Tobacco-free through IPE 

CUW project leads: Cathy Cero-Jaeger, assistant professor of nursing; Dr. Michael Oldani, director of interprofessional education (IPE) 

In 2017, Concordia received a $15,000 grant from the American Cancer Society’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative Grant Program, supported by CVS Health Foundation, to help CUW become a campus that promotes a tobacco-free environment. Cero-Jaeger and Oldani are the faculty mentors for the student-led Tobacco-Free Through IPE Task Force, an interprofessional team of students who are leading advocacy efforts on campus. The grant also supported cessation counseling training through the American Lung Association for faculty and students in the pharmacy, nursing, and nurse practitioner programs. 

9. Antibiotics in the waterway

CUW project lead: Dr. Sarah Lovern, associate professor of physiology 

In 2014, Lovern began to receive funding from the Mick A. Naulin Foundation to research the impact of pharmaceuticals in the waterways. Lovern has involved CUW undergraduates in the effort, and together, they work with Daphnia magna, a tiny freshwater crustacean conducive to research because of its short lifespan. Lovern again received a renewal this year bringing the total award amount to $36,125. 


Kali Thiel
Concordia University Wisconsin