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University of

Wisconsin Foundation annual report on stewardship



At the Wisconsin Energy Institute, innovation means sustainable clean energy that increases efficiency, diversifies the energy sector and supports the ecosysytem.

energy way holistic

Growing the

At the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI), researchers like Claudio Gratton are looking for ways to increase the nation’s bioenergy supply while preserving ecosystems and maintaining biodiversity. Gratton, right, is especially interested in how growing biofuels like switchgrass, harm or benefit insects such as bees and lady beetles, which, he says, provide landscape services like pest management and pollination. The new building brings many of the Institute’s 100 affiliated faculty members together in a facility designed to encourage collaboration. The state has approved Phase 2, which will add more laboratories that will be built with private funds. Photo by David Nevala.

18 University of Wisconsin Foundation

Lady beetles and energy to power your car or your lights may not seem as if they belong in the same sentence until you visit Professor Claudio Gratton, an entomologist working in the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Insects and energy, you quickly learn, intersect when crops such as switchgrass are grown for fuel. “When you think about growing energy, you’ve got to put it somewhere,” Gratton said. “If we change the landscapes, what is the impact on insects and pollination and pest suppression?” Gratton joins scientists from chemistry, engineering and biological research in the first phase of the WEI building, which opened in April. “The neat thing is that if you look at anything in my past, there’s nothing that would say I’m an energy researcher,” Gratton said. Gratton’s research team considers the impact of bioenergy crops on insects and, by extension, birds, wildlife and humans. “Insects are our allies,” he said, calling them ecosystem engineers that control harmful insects, pollinate crops

and decompose waste. “When they’re not there, we notice.” The choice to grow vast fields of corn and soybeans using herbicides and insecticides, for example, has disrupted natural systems and eliminated biodiversity. The monocultures cause a decline in lady beetles that eat aphids and other pests. At WEI, researchers look at a crop’s benefit or detriment to the entire ecosystem instead of just measuring its value by how much energy it can produce. Crossing traditional research boundaries from entomology to energy storage systems, WEI faculty are making game-changing discoveries to produce clean energy and conserve limited resources. “If we do it right,” Gratton said of WEI’s research, “and select the right plants in the right place and manage them correctly, we have the potential for a crop that can be sold for our energy and supports wildlife.” To learn more about the Wisconsin Energy Institute, visit — Ann Grauvogl

2012 Annual Report Innovation 19




Few of us can resist a golden retriever. Big, lovable, friendly. When Linda Nelson visited Malagold Kennels in DeForest, she expected to come home with a female golden retriever puppy. Instead, she met a pack of adults, discovered no puppies were available and was offered partownership in one of the boys.

Impressed by the research being done and the care her golden retrievers, including Solar Flare, pictured here, receive at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Linda Nelson, right, and her husband, John, included the School in their estate plans. Their gift, directed toward cancer research, will help, from left, Drs. Sandy Sawchuk, Tim Stein and David Vail improve the care and treatment of both animals and humans. 42


And so a love story began. Big Guy was “stunning, well-behaved, friendly, warm, sweet—and then he flopped over on his back,” Nelson remembered. She was sold, and Big Guy, who turned out to be one of the top 20 goldens in the country, was extraordinary. Today, she and her husband, John, share their home with Malagold’s Solar Flare, their fifth golden. The couple has had as many as three golden retrievers at once, and they give the dogs cowboy

“I am living evidence that research and innovation can lead to a better and longer life.” – John Nelson

Ensuring a Future

hats to wear for birthdays. “We adore our dogs,” Linda Nelson said. “They’re our kids.” Even after they’re gone, the Nelsons will continue to help the animals they love through their estate gift to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. After losing two dogs to cancer and watching the breed’s life expectancy decline, the Nelsons targeted their gift for cancer research. “This is a huge research project,” said Linda Nelson, who wishes she could spread the word to attract far more money for the project. “Bequests are critically important to the future of the School of Veterinary Medicine,” Dean Mark Markel said. Ten years ago, the School received about $800,000 a year in gifts; today, the total is closer to $6 million and half of that amount comes from estate gifts. Last year, a $3.5 million estate gift established an

endowment that provides about $150,000 for scholarships a year. An earlier estate gift endowed a chair and laboratory in comparable oncology, which advances cancer treatment for animals and humans. “Bequests build a pipeline, so future generations are going to benefit from those gifts,” Markel said. The Nelsons are still young but knew it was time to put their estate in order. They also made bequests to the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, named after environmentalist Gaylord Nelson, and the College of Engineering. “It occurred to us we ought to be responsible about these things while we were still able,” John Nelson said. He called it a recognition of the uncertainty of life. “We have had very good and successful lives,” Linda Nelson added. “However, we were forced by health events to recognize that we might not be around for as long as we’d hoped. And frankly, since our great dogs are lousy

money managers, we needed to make a plan for our estate.” Supporting canine cancer research made sense to John Nelson, who was successfully treated for cancer with measures not available 20 years ago. “I am living evidence that research and innovation can lead to a better and longer life,” he said. Chair of the Nelson Institute’s Board of Visitors, Nelson believes the organization will continue to be an environmental foundation for the university community as it works on matters significant to the human condition. In engineering, where he is an adjunct faculty member, Nelson wants to encourage a very good program that the industry finds beneficial. Making an estate gift is not about being remembered, John Nelson said. “I just think it’s part of a continuum and a responsibility one has when one has means beyond needs.”








Perched in her airy fourth-floor office in the Biochemistry Addition at the University of Wisconsin– Madison, Professor Laura Kiessling pulls up multiple PowerPoint presentations to illustrate her work with carbohydrates that have nothing to do with breakfast cereal. “There’s not a cell on earth that is not decorated with a thick, complex carbohydrate coat,” she said.

Professor Laura Kiessling, left, and alumna Caroline Davis are linked by gifts from James Mao. Kiessling, who investigates carbohydrates to find new ways to treat diseases, holds the Mao-funded Laurens Anderson Professorship, and Davis, who works at Promega Corporation in Madison, received the Mao Distinguished Graduate Fellowship. Mao, pictured with his wife, Rose, and UW–Madison classmates, above right, fled communist China after World War II. UNIVERSITYOF OFWISCONSIN WISCONSINFOUNDATION FOUNDATION 26 || UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN FOUNDATION

Kiessling’s investigation into these carbohydrates is leading to better ways to culture stem cells and to new approaches for treating diseases such as tuberculosis, which affects a third of the world’s population. Her cutting-edge work spills over into classes that train students to use techniques of both chemistry and biology. Across the country, retired biochemist James Chieh-Hsia Mao (’58 MS ALS, ’64 PhD ALS) never hesitates as he winds through tropical forests, banks of hibiscus and gardens in full bloom inside the

Lives, One Treatment, One Student at a Time “These These sorts of contributions now can have so much more effect than they would have even 10 years ago.” – Laura Kiessling 4.5-acre conservatory at Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia. Keeping up is a challenge as the spry 84-year-old finds his way to the orchids, the living green wall and out to the dancing fountains. He volunteered here for a decade after he retired from Abbott Laboratories, where he studied how antibiotics work.

Mao’s generosity also supports the Mao Distinguished Graduate Fellowship; former recipients are working in Russia, China and Madison. Undergraduates also benefit from Mao’s gift to the Rural Youth Scholarship in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He also is a long-time supporter of stem cell research.

UW–Madison Professor Emeritus Laurens Anderson was an inspiration to Kiessling and Mao. So inspired was Mao that he established a professorship to honor the man with whom he studied plant chemistry. Today, Kiessling holds that professorship. “These sorts of contributions now can have so much more effect than they would have even 10 years ago,” she said, noting the decline in federal and state dollars.

Mao’s willingness to help others was shaped in the aftermath of Mao Zedong’s victory in the Chinese Civil War. The Mao family had worked for the Nationalist Party of China and lost the home that sheltered 10 families to the Communists. Mao escaped with his grandfather to Taiwan, leaving everyone else behind. One brother was sent to a coal mine; another to a farm; an uncle was sent to the electric chair. As the son of an air force officer killed by the Japanese during World War II, Mao received a scholarship to

The professorship allows her to hire post-doctoral graduate students for research and administrative assistance.

National Taiwan University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy because he wanted to make farmers’ lives easier. Mao’s wife, Rose, was the daughter of a northern Chinese industrialist. The family fled to Taiwan as Communist control spread. Coming to the UW–Madison on a scholarship, James Mao earned a master’s degree in agronomy and a doctorate in biochemistry. Rose Mao earned a doctorate in nutrition from Iowa State University. James Mao invests in the UW–Madison because he is grateful and believes science will improve lives. “I think I’m very lucky,” he said. “As far as I have enough money, why don’t I give some to help people?”




Gifts in Action


University of Wisconsin Foundation

Gifts in Action

Fueling Dreams: Chad Navis studies, encourages entrepreneurship There are only two degrees of separation between Pure Fix Cycles, a fixed-gear bicycle business in Los Angeles, and Cascia Films, a video production company in Wisconsin. Professor Chad Navis in the Wisconsin School of Business links the young entrepreneurs and inspired them to start their successful companies. Navis, assistant professor of management and

business opportunity two years ago. This year, they expect Pure Fix Cycles ( to do $5 million in business. “We wouldn’t have known how to write a business plan from scratch without the entrepreneurship class,” Stoffers said, adding Navis was always ready to talk about big ideas and help with business strategies. Stoffers and Fishman won second place in the Burrill Business Plan Competition. The inexpensive, easy-to-maintain and easy-to-customize fixed-gear bicycles are increasingly popular on college campuses. “Teach Me How to Bucky,” an online music video that went viral, was only the beginning for video maker Cascia, who shot a commercial with filmmaker

human resources, once planned to be an entrepreneur

David Zucker (“The Naked Gun”) in June in Eagle

until he discovered the potential of research to

River, Wisconsin. Cascia Films (,

minimize risk, create value and generate new

his video production company, has created

knowledge. He brings his love of the topic and

commercials for Harley Davidson and videos for

his insights into classes such as Entrepreneurial

the Green Bay Packers.

Management, where students, including Pure Fix

Cascia took the entrepreneurship class to learn

founders Michael Fishman (’11 BS BUS) and Austin

how to start a business. “(Navis’) interest was

Stoffers (’11 BS BUS) and Cascia film founder

inspiring,” Cascia said, adding he also was

Logan Cascia (’12 BS BUS), learn how to start

encouraged by entrepreneurs who spoke to the

successful companies.

class. This year, he was invited back to tell his story.

Fixed-gear bicycles were the new thing in Los Angeles when Fishman and Stoffers saw their

Coincidentally, Cascia also met his “Teach Me How to Bucky” partner the first day of the

Austin Stoffers, left, and Michael Fishman learned to write a business plan in entrepreneurship class, after which they launched Pure Fix Cycles.

W isconsin



G r e a t Pe o p l e


Filmmaker Logan Cascia leveraged an entrepreneurship class into a video production business.

entrepreneurship class, when Quincy Harrison

at how individuals order their world and how

ended up in the wrong room. The men clicked and

entrepreneurs draw on that to succeed, he said.

the rest is history.

In his first paper, Navis found former rivals XM and Sirius did a lot right when they jointly


The psychology of entrepreneurship

helped the public understand satellite radio

Psychology is as important as sociology and

before they jockeyed for audience share. “Until

economics when Navis examines how, and to

people really understood what it was, audiences

what effect, entrepreneurs pursue and give

didn’t distinguish between the two firms,” he

meaning to their new ventures. Psychology looks

said. Building an overall audience benefited both

University of Wisconsin Foundation

Gifts in Action

companies, which have since merged. Online

backwards, the bike moves backwards. Riding

grocers, however, did not create a unified view of

a fixie has grown in popularity because of its

the value of their service, and most failed, Navis

fundamental simplicity. This is a bike with very

said. Companies invested millions of dollars to

few parts.

change how customers shop for groceries, and the

“What people see first is price and

plan could have succeeded, he said. The dot-com

customization,” Fishman said. College campuses

bubble burst, however, and funds dried up when

are usually flat, so fixies are easy to use and need

investors were unable to recognize and separate the

almost no maintenance.

distinct merits of online grocers from e-commerce firms more generally.

The men started their business while still in school, ordering 165 bikes that they sold in two

Navis and co-author Mary Ann Glynn from

weeks. They went to trade shows, pitched stores

Boston College received the 2011 and 2012 IDEA

in Madison and then moved back to Los Angeles,

Thought Leader Award from the Entrepreneurship

where fixies have taken off. So far, they’ve sold

Division of the Academy of Management for

about 7,000 bikes and operate a 20,000-square-

their papers about how new market categories

foot warehouse in Burbank. “We’re really, really

emerge and entrepreneurial identity. Navis

busy,” Fishman said, giving Navis credit for

also is a principal in the Initiative for Studies in

encouraging them and talking through strategies

Transformational Entrepreneurship and is faculty

and big ideas.

director of the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan

Cascia had the Cascia Films concept in mind

Competition. Philanthropy supports Navis’ research,

when he took the entrepreneurship class. He had

and he brings the results into his classrooms to

a camera, and the class showed him how to start

help students bring their dream to fruition. One

and grow a business, he said. When Navis liked

of the unexpected benefits of teaching has been an

his business model, Cascia was encouraged to start

ongoing connection to students, he said.

his video production company. Every new project has built on previous success, he said. The “Teach

Fueling dreams

Me How to Bucky” video marketed itself, and then

Fishman and Stoffers, both from small Los Angeles

artists started calling him to build viral marketing

high schools, were looking for a big school

campaigns. He’s mostly produced music videos and

experience when they chose the University of

commercials, which can be seen on his website.

Wisconsin-Madison. The real estate majors enrolled

The “Packer Rock Anthem” caught Zucker’s eye,

in entrepreneurship class because they were

and the filmmaker emailed to see if Cascia might

interested in starting their own business. “We’ve

be interested in making a video together. Cascia

always been really ambitious dudes,” Stoffers said.

hopes the relationship will continue. “It’s pretty cool

“We always wanted to do our own thing.”

to have a connection to a director without going through an agent,” he said. – Ann Grauvogl

The fixed-gear bikes are called “fixies,” according to the business’ website. Mechanically, the cog on the back wheel is fixed to the wheel instead of having a ball bearing system that allows the wheel to spin independently. On fixies, if you pedal forward, the bike moves forward. If you pedal



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W isconsin



Gifts in Action

Extending Wisconsin's raspberry season When it comes to growing fruit crops in Wisconsin, high tunnels—which most of us would see as tall hoop houses—are becoming all the rage. Hundreds have gone up thanks to a federal cost-sharing program, and they promise to conserve resources and extend growing seasons for customer favorites such as raspberries. Fruit growers, however, don’t know how plants’

into November, she said. “It’s really a whole new

nutritional needs change if they’re grown in a 14-foot

market that’s available and extends the fresh fruit

high tunnel. A new high tunnel, paid for through

season in Wisconsin.”

the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College

The trial looks at how to best grow raspberries

of Agricultural and Life Sciences Annual Fund,

with no rainfall, higher temperatures and a longer

makes it possible for Rebecca Harbut, an assistant

season. The demands on the plant are higher, Harbut

professor of horticulture and a UW Extension fruit

said, and she’s studying how to maximize yields

crop specialist, to find needed answers. Local growers

with minimum added nutrients. The high tunnel

helped build the tunnel last spring at the West

also opens the door to study production of dwarf

Madison Agricultural Research Station.

sweet cherry trees and whether strawberries can be

Grants don’t generally cover infrastructure costs,

grown vertically to maximize production in a small

Harbut said. But she’ll be able to leverage having a

space. All of that work will be helpful for urban

high tunnel to secure grants to improve fruit production.

agriculture as well, Harbut said. – Ann Grauvogl

“We really appreciate the flexibility that the Annual Fund allows us to invest money where we need it most,” Dean Kathryn VandenBosch said. Not only does the annual fund allow the College to be nimble in pursuing developing opportunities or addressing issues; it also allows the dean to attract other dollars. Giving to the Annual Fund is about trusting that the funds will be used to address the College’s greatest needs, said professor emeritus Allan Bringe, a regular donor. Instead of designating his gift for a particular use, he believes the College will know how to best use it. Harbut is working with fall-bearing plants that begin producing in mid- to late-August and continue through frost. A high tunnel can extend the season


University of Wisconsin Foundation



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� Professor Rebecca Harbut, front, and student Michael Muehlbauer check raspberries growing in a 14-foot high tunnel, where they’re working to lengthen Wisconsin’s growing season. W isconsin



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