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Chopp, Wenaas and Burrows Scholarships

Joshua Roe

Joshua Roe

The Joseph Chopp Scholarship did more than help Joshua Roe '08 pay for college. It helped launch his dream of becoming a physician specializing in tropical diseases.

Roe, who will graduate in May with a perfect grade point average in the rigorous cell biology and physiology honors major, is currently applying to medical schools.

He said the Chopp Scholarship helps distinguish him from other, equally talented medical school applicants.

"If you have done research and they haven't, it helps set you apart," he said.

Of course, it also helps that he comes with high recommendations from his teachers. Daryle Waechter-Brulla, an associate professor of biology, called Roe "an exceptionally thoughtful young man. He approaches his classes and his research with careful and reasoned thinking."

"This is the kind of student who challenges us to do our best as faculty and then makes it easy at the same time," he added.

Roe, 22, a Madison native, received the Chopp Scholarship at the end of his sophomore year. Named for the late biology professor Joseph Chopp, and his wife, Madelaine, the scholarship provides $2,000 toward tuition, and, more importantly, $500 in research funds.

Roe chose to work with Catherine Chan, then a new faculty member at UW-Whitewater, and study calcium signaling in plants. His scholarship, along with grant money, helped set up and begin research in her lab.

It also led him to present his research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in California and in Maryland, and to talk to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents about the work he was doing.

"This is one of the best schools in the country for supporting undergraduate research," Roe said.

Another undergraduate who did research in Chan's lab would agree. Two years ago, Ryan Kohlmeyer received the Wenaas Scholarship, named for the late chemistry professor Paul Wenaas, and designed to honor students who excel in chemistry.

Kohlmeyer, 22, a New Berlin native, said he enjoyed meeting Esther Wenaas, and telling her what the scholarship meant to him.

"I greatly appreciate them," he said. "They're very generous to donate back to the campus and the community."

As a UW-Whitewater undergraduate, Kohlmeyer, like Roe, participated in research on the pathways that plants use to move calcium, and presented his research results at NCUR in California.

Kohlmeyer said the scholarship was a big help.

"It helped take off some of the stress of being really, really in debt," he said.

It also helped him graduate in three years, rather than the usual four, and to begin his doctoral studies in organic chemistry at UW-Milwaukee, where he is researching carbon nano tubes, which have many potential applications, including uses in stem cell research.

Scholarships aren't just for students in the sciences. The Robert and Marian Burrows Award - started by Robert Burrows, professor emeritus of English, and his wife, Marian - awards a $500 tuition credit to English majors who are studying literature and may pursue a career in teaching.

Elizabeth Kim, associate professor of English, said the award gives the faculty a chance to single out top students.

James Gapinski

James Gapinski

One of this year's award winners, James Gapinski, a senior from Delafield, is doing a senior research project on ekphrastic poetry (think, "Ode on a Grecian Urn," only more modern).

His research project theorizes about the relationship of ekphrastic poetry to abstract painting. He traveled to the Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis, where he viewed the collection of contemporary abstract painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly and composed poems based on those paintings. Like Roe, he presented his research project at NCUR in Salisbury, Maryland.

"James impressed me with his penetrating intelligence," professor Kim said. "I also found his insights into emerging writers' issues acute and sensitive, which made him an admirable writing tutor."

In addition to his work with other students as a writing tutor, Gapinski founded and edits a journal dedicated to ekphrastic poetry. (You can read more about it at http://www.

Candace Smith

Candace Smith

One of Gapinski's fellow tutors in the university's Writing Center, Candace Smith, also received a Burrows Award. Smith, a senior from Elkhorn, will graduate this summer with degrees in German and English literature, and a perfect grade point average.

"A meticulous reader, Candace always had precise and insightful responses to the readings, and the thoughtfulness of her observations encouraged other students to think outside the lines as well," Kim said. "She also showed a genuine passion for her studies that made the classroom environment even more dynamic."

For fun, Smith said she likes to read the poet Rainer Maria Rilke in German, and then in English, to compare the original to the translation. She said she enjoyed being able to explore cultures through literature, taking classes that ranged from Asian literature to Native American literature to the geography of gender.

Smith said the money from the Burrows Award wasn't as important to her as what the award symbolizes. "For me, the encouragement from my professors is what means so much to me," she said.

Smith, 23, said she will likely go to graduate school in the future, but in the nearer term, she's either going to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Germany or join a group such as the Peace Corps.

"I want to be right there where you feel like you can change things by helping people," she said. "I'd love to teach English in a Third World country."