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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Spotlight on faculty and staff researchers

Jade Wang says this is an exciting time to be studying microbiology

The Wisconsin Idea Seminar is a five-day traveling study tour that introduces UW–Madison faculty, academic staff, and administrators to the Wisconsin Idea and the university’s commitment to use university expertise and resources to address the problems of the state.

“We visited a cherry farm and a cheese factory – family owned businesses that get advice and value feedback from the UW,” says Jade. “UW-Madison is not an isolated ivory tower where people just study and publish. What we study can be directly related to everything and everyone — basic science is very much applicable to medicine and to agricultural practices.”

Wang’s research is funded in part by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch grant. Hatch grants are used to support continuing agricultural research at 1862 Land-grant institutions, as well as state agricultural experiment stations. Funds are to be used to conduct research that promotes permanent and effective agricultural industry of the United States, including research into basic to the problems of agriculture. Wang’s Hatch grant is funding research to understand why some bacteria are antibiotic tolerant and how they develop resistance.

“We are making good progress and hopefully what we learn can be used later to potentiate antibiotic therapy,” she says. “We study bacteria mostly on petri dishes, but what we learned about them is applicable to their growth in nature.”

Wang contends that through education and investing in research, UW-Madison is helping people survive and even thrive in a global market.

“Students- not just graduate students, but also undergraduate students, are performing frontier research in my lab — where we are answering questions that even the professors don’t know the answer – that’s when students understand the complexity of science and the importance of research,” she notes. “To be able to think critically is so important. Doing frontier research allows education to be real and useful.”

Now is an exciting time to be studying microbiology, explains Wang, who came to UW-Madison in 2012. New findings are leading to more questions in the field, new experimental tools and approaches are invented to address questions with biological and clinical significance.