UW System, Alliant Energy recognize outstanding students, teachers for 2022

[University of Wisconsin System] UW System, Alliant Energy recognize outstanding students, teachers for 2022

MADISON, Wis.—Four University of Wisconsin System students and four educators are being recognized today by the UW System and Alliant Energy Foundation for their outstanding achievements. The Alliant Energy Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Awards recognize the outstanding academic and community-service efforts of students from traditionally underrepresented minority groups who are pursuing a degree in business or engineering at UW-Madison or UW-Platteville. The Alliant Energy James R. Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize outstanding commitment to undergraduate student success and the ability to inspire in students an enthusiasm for learning. The awards are presented to students and educators from UW System campuses located within Alliant Energy’s service area.

“I commend the Alliant Energy Foundation for generously supporting these awards to recognize student achievement and influential teaching,” said UW System President Jay Rothman. “Congratulations to this year’s dedicated students and instructors on their impressive accomplishments.”

“We are honored to continue the legacy of these awards, which were created to recognize the hard work of students and faculty,” said Julie Bauer, executive director of the Alliant Energy Foundation. “These annual awards reflect Alliant Energy’s long-standing investment in education and our shared future.”

The recipients of the 16th annual Alliant Energy Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Awards are:

Asalia Diaz Ortega, UW-Platteville. A Chancellor Scholar, Diaz Ortega works at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs where she is a peer mentor and student worker. She is involved in the Society of Women Engineers, the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, A.S.I.A. Club, and the Latinx/e Student Union. She has also worked at the Kohler Co. in Kohler, Wis. Diaz Ortega plans to graduate in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering as well as a minor in Business Administration and an Engineering Management Certificate. Astrid Boado Harrison, UW-Madison. A Chancellor’s Scholar and Leaders in Engineering Excellence and Diversity (LEED) Scholar, Harrison is head tutor in UW-Madison’s Undergraduate Learning Center. She has worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in the Bureau of Structures. She is publicity coordinator for UW-Madison’s Chapter of Engineers Without Borders and is active in its Guatemala Project to construct a clean drinking water system in rural Guatemala. Harrison plans to graduate in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Certificate in International Engineering. She aspires to be a structural engineer. Azaria Osgood, UW-Platteville. Because of her passion for philanthropy and serving her community, Osgood joined the Theta Phi Alpha Sorority and was a member of the campus’s United Greek Council. Being a part of Theta Phi Alpha allowed her to take on leadership roles, such as social chair and parliamentarian, and also perform community service. She was an active member of the Pioneer Leadership Institute, a collaborative partnership between the Department of Athletics and Recreation and greater campus community. She was also involved in the Society for Human Management student chapter and the Black Student Union. Osgood graduated in August with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She would like to develop her career as a manager within a small, growing company and eventually create her own business. Jayla Thompson, UW-Madison. Thompson’s professional experience includes serving as a diversity consultant for the UW-Madison School of Business, an intern for American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, and a programming intern for the UW-Madison Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement. She is a publicist for the Wisconsin Black Student Union and chief operating officer for Diverse Leaders for Tomorrow. She earned first place for the spring 2020 American Family Insurance gALPHA Social Justice Program by developing a mentorship program for high schoolers. Thompson plans to graduate in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, minors in African American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies, as well as certifications in personal training and nutrition. She aspires to have her own marketing consulting firm that supports black business owners.

The recipients of the 32nd annual Alliant Energy James R. Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Awards are:

Daniel Erman, Professor, Department of Mathematics, UW-Madison. Dr. Erman teaches advanced undergraduate and graduate algebra courses as well as two to three calculus lectures a semester to a total of 500 to 800 students. To manage this scale, he introduced changes to increase quality, consistency, and accessibility, many of which are now part of REACH, a campuswide educational innovation program. To improve tutoring services, Erman assisted in creating a major new Math Learning Center. Since 2013, he has organized the Madison Math Circle outreach program, sponsored by the math department, which introduces hundreds of middle and high school students to math and science. He created a Numberphile YouTube video on a famous mathematical problem that has been viewed over six million times. Erman chairs the department’s committee on teaching assistant (TA) performance, where he engaged students, faculty, and academic staff to evaluate TAs more equitably. He provides guidance on logistical aspects of teaching, especially for large calculus courses, for many new faculty and academic staff. Matthew Fencl, Associate Professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County.Dr. Fencl’s expertise is in personal fitness, adventure education, and outdoor pursuits. During his career, he has taught and developed multiple new courses, successfully converted many face-to-face courses to be used in online curricula, and has been an innovator in new methods to maximize student learning, growth, and development. Many former students stay in touch, and he has had students tell him how they changed majors and began new and different careers in education, athletic training, and public health because of classes they took with him. He holds Exercise Physiology and Exercise in Medicine Level II certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine and has presented at the Wisconsin Health and Physical Education Association. He has also published articles in health- and fitness-associated scholarly journals. Christopher Schulenburg, Professor, Department of Humanities, UW-Platteville. Dr. Schulenburg’s teaching philosophy encourages tomorrow’s employees to communicate with co-workers across borders and between cultures. A key objective of all his courses is that of communicative competence. He keeps his teaching strategies, course materials, and curriculum aligned with best practices in the field. His pedagogical methods demand hands-on participation among his students, using the target language in situations like those students might encounter in their professions. He creates an atmosphere in class that strives to replicate study-abroad circumstances and has supported students in study abroad and undergraduate research initiatives. He has published over 20 articles on Latin American literature in various refereed journals. Schulenburg is active in regional and national associations of foreign language instructors. He earned the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success in 2020, the UW-Platteville Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 2019, and the UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education Teaching Excellence Award in 2015. Catherine Woodward, Teaching Faculty III, Department of Botany, UW-Madison. Dr. Woodward has dedicated over 20 years to teaching botany and conservation biology, finding that students learn best when they make connections between new content and prior knowledge and experiences. Her goal is to engender “biophilia” – a love of nature – by helping students understand how their own well-being is linked to the biology and conservation of the world’s most biodiverse and threatened ecosystems. She offers students a tropical semester abroad in Ecuador, spending time in environments ranging from high in the Andes mountains to the Galápagos Islands to the Amazon rainforest. In 2017, she obtained a Professional Certificate in Online Education to improve her online pedagogy and recently participated in the Discussion Project to become a more effective facilitator of inclusive and productive class interactions. In 2020, she earned an Exceptional Mentorship Award from the university’s Undergraduate Research Scholars program.

About the Awards

The Alliant Energy Foundation established an endowment in 2006 to honor Erroll B. Davis, Jr.’s distinguished record of public service. Davis, the first African-American leader of a “Business Week 1000” company, is a former chief executive of Alliant Energy and a former member of the UW System’s Board of Regents. He was interim Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools from 2012 to 2014.

The James R. Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Awards are given as a tribute to the energy company’s long-time senior executive, James R. Underkofler (1923–2015), who was a staunch proponent of excellence in undergraduate teaching. He spent his entire career with the Wisconsin Power and Light Co. (now Alliant Energy), ending with his retirement in 1990 as chairman and CEO.

Both award programs are administered by the UW System’s Office of Academic and Student Affairs. For more information about each of this year’s recipients, see the 2022 awards program online.

For more information about the awards, visit:

The University of Wisconsin System serves approximately 161,000 students. Awarding nearly 37,000 degrees annually, the UW System is Wisconsin’s talent pipeline, putting graduates in position to increase their earning power, contribute to their communities, and make Wisconsin a better place to live. Nearly 90 percent of in-state UW System graduates stay in Wisconsin five years after earning a degree – with a median salary of more than $66,000. The UW System provides a 23:1 return on state investment. UW System universities also contribute to the richness of Wisconsin’s culture and economy with groundbreaking research, new companies and patents, and boundless creative intellectual energy.