Friends of the Waisman Center 2013 Annual Reception

Hailey Farrell, Waisman Communications

The Friends of the Waisman Center Annual Meeting was held on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 in the Waisman Center’s Ziemann Suite to celebrate the previous year’s achievements. Waisman Center Director Marsha Mailick, PhD, began the program with an overview of activities and accomplishments that occurred throughout 2012-2013 and discussed future plans for the center’s 40th anniversary. Friend’s board members, staff, students and families of the Waisman Center attended the event to honor the recipients of this year’s student fellowships and awards.

Fellowship Awards

Jeannette Anderson Hoffman Memorial Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship

Recipient: Samuel Hurley

Samuel was nominated by Andy Alexander,PhD for his research focused on neuroimaging methods to characterize brain white matter in a broad range of pediatric and neurodegenerative disorders.  As Alexander stated in his nomination, “Of all the students that I’ve mentored over the year, I think that Sam best embodies all of the characteristics of a successful interdisciplinary researcher. He truly enjoys learning new areas, understanding the problem from all ends, working with researchers from all disciplines and contributing to the solution. He is highly motivated, technically adept, generous with his time and ideas and an excellent communicator.”

Wayne and Jean Roper Memorial Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship

Recipient: Natalie Patzlaff

Natalie is a graduate student researching FXR1, a protein closely related to the fragile X protein, FMRP, in Xinyu Zhao’s lab. Natalie’s research requires very technical procedures and assays which she has mastered and now teaches. As Xinyu Zhoa, PhD commented in her nomination, “Natalie is highly goal-oriented and organized. She never hesitates to ask new questions and to learn novel concepts. Her experimental design, planning, and record are excellent. She frequently contributes to the improvement of lab operations. Her greatest strengths include her strong basic knowledge of biomedical science and her ability to extract the essential information from complex concepts.  I consider Natalie as one of the best graduate students I have known during my career and I feel fortunate to be her advisor.”

Student Awards

Graduate Research Award

Alvin L Berman and Ruth Bleier Memorial Research Award

Recipient: Brianna McMillan

Brianna was nominated as a result of her research in the Infant Learning Lab. Jenny Saffran, PhD- Director of the Infant Learning Lab, noted Brianna’s abilities in her nomination letter stating, “I was very impressed by the way in which she developed her ideas; she has a good intuition for finding problems to study! Brianna’s work has great potential both with respect to basic science and infant learning and potential translation, particularly with regard to vulnerable populations where noise is potentially a major barrier to successful learning.”

Graduate Research Award

University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Recipient: Michelle Johnson

Michelle was nominated by Josh Lapin for her student internship with the Waisman Community Training, Intervention, and Evaluation Services (TIES). Michelle’s responsibilities with TIES included working directly with individuals and their families, facilitating two groups for people with developmental disabilities discussing relationships and sexuality. Lapin noted in his nomination that, “Michelle is compassionate, has a wonderful sense of humor and has shown leadership skills throughout her time with us. I recently spoke with a co-worker who remarked, ‘Michelle is so good, sometimes I forget that she is a student.’ I think we all feel that way about Michelle’s time with us. She has a very bright future ahead of her.”

Undergraduate Research Award

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center

Recipient: Enio Perez

Enio was nominated for his work in the lab of David Gamm, MD, PhD, which focuses its research on the use of stem cells for retinal degenerative diseases. As Gamm and Joe Phillips stated in their nomination, “Enio readily accepts all new challenges and rapidly grasps new techniques. In the lab, he behaves much more like a graduate student than an undergrad. He strives to learn the reasoning behind the projects he is assigned and constantly contributes his own ideas towards the projects he is working on.  Above all, Enio has a warm, outgoing personality and is a pleasure to have in the lab.”


Classified Staff Award

Recipients Susan Ellmauer and Choutae Yang

Susan and Choutae from Human Resources were both nominated for this award by Terri Peck who noted in her nomination that, “Susan and Choutae are an excellent team and a pleasure to work with. They strive to provide outstanding customer service to the employees of the Waisman Center. They have acquired expert knowledge regarding their responsibilities related to payroll, benefits and recruitment and come to work every day determined to do their best and to cheerfully provide the highest level of customer service they possibly can. They are the first point of contact for all new employees and are very welcoming. They represent the Waisman Center well to new staff. They are upbeat even under stressful situations. I feel very fortunate to work with both Susan and Choutae. ”

Academic Staff Award

Recipients: Shelly Godar and Barb Roeber

Shelly was nominated by Ruth Litovsky, PhD for her work as lab manager for the Binaural Hearing and Speech Lab. Litovsky’s nomination letter acknowledged Shelly’s commitment to the Waisman Center, “Shelly has an outstanding list of skills. She was the first person that I ever hired to help run my lab and she has stayed on from the beginning. She has demonstrated commitment, leadership, never-ending patience and grace. What every PI needs is a lab manager who is organized, responsible and has expertise in the field of science under investigation. Shelly brings all of that to my lab and much more. She has become the glue that holds the lab in place, and we have an outstanding climate in the lab in large part due to Shelly. I cannot imagine a more talented lab manager in this environment. More important, I cannot imagine working with someone who has greater integrity, honesty and immense work ethic, whose long term goal is to help patients, and to support the work of the students and postdocs in the lab.”

Barb was nominated by Seth Pollak, PhD for her work as the community outreach coordinator for the Child Emotion Lab. Pollak acknowledged Barb’s hard work and commitment to the Waisman Center in his nomination letter stating, “Barb has worked at the Waisman Center since 1996 and has truly dedicated herself to serving children and families. Barb consistently shows an extremely high degree of professionalism, cheer, good will, and positivity. She also has consistently applied herself to efforts that promote the Waisman Center generally and are not specific to her own position or role within the Center. I have never seen her fail to put in extra effort or dedicate her personal time.”

Volunteer Family Award

Recipient: Kris Wiegand and her children Shanna and Kayla

Kris and her family were nominated by Barb Roeber in the Child Emotion Lab for their extraordinary contributions to child development research. Over the past 6.5 years, Kris’ children, Shanna and Kayla, have participated in 19 studies in the Child Emotion Lab-that is nearly every study conducted in the past 6.5 years. As Barb commented in her nomination letter, “Several times each year, Kris will call to see if we have new studies the girls could help with. Every research and staff member in our lab who has had contact with the Wiegand Family has nothing but glowing remarks about them. I hear over and over, ‘Great family to work with! So pleasant and cooperative!’  It is terrific for us to have such a strong relationship with a community family. We can call them early on in a study when we are working out the bugs, knowing they will, first of all, come, and second of all, be patient with us. They are a wonderful family to have pilot a study. They are quite simply a dream family for a research lab!”