MADISON – The Research, Economic Development, and Innovation (REDI) Committee of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will recognize three recipients of Regent Scholar grants at the board’s Feb. 4 meeting in Madison.

The Regent Scholar program was introduced in 2014 to recognize and reward innovative faculty-student research and to provide support for collaborative project initiatives with Wisconsin business and industry.

“The idea behind the Regent Scholar program is to encourage cutting-edge undergraduate research and collaboration that could have the potential to lead to job creation and foster entrepreneurship,” said Regent and REDI Committee chair Tim Higgins.

Key objectives of the Regent Scholar grant program include providing summer funding support for faculty to engage in research and other scholarly activities while stimulating innovation and industry outreach at UW System campuses across a wide spectrum of academic pursuits.

“This program recognizes and honors outside-the-box thinking by UW faculty and undergraduates across Wisconsin,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “The Regent Scholar grants provide recognition at the highest level for work done by our dedicated and talented faculty to prepare a high quality workforce and ultimately to accelerate business and community development statewide.”

The 2016 UW System Regent Scholar grant recipients are:

  • UW-Eau Claire, Associate Professor Joseph Hupy, $50,000 grant
    Lowering overhead inventory costs within the industrial aggregate and sand mining industry using Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) technology
  • Project description: The purpose of this student/faculty collaborative research is to stimulate innovative applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) that directly connect to growing demand in the geospatial workforce and to foster regional economic development. The proposal specifically targets lowering overhead costs for volumetric analysis within the industrial sand and aggregate mining industry using UAS technology.


  • UW-Platteville, Assistant Professor Mohammad Rabbani, $50,000 grant
    Design and synthesis of nitrogen-rich porous organic polymers with ultra-small pores and uses in construction of porous membranes for gas separation application
  • Project description: Landfill gas, which is produced from municipal solid waste at landfills, has been long touted as a promising energy source in Wisconsin and the Tri-State (Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa) area. However, landfill gas is approximately 50% carbon dioxide (CO2), and CO2 removal remains a big hurdle to make this a potent, money-making energy source. This project outlines research designed to prepare porous membrane composites using nitrogen-rich and ultra-porous organic polymers to separate CO2 from gas mixtures which could provide significant value to CO2 gas separation technology. The project also serves as an opportunity for undergraduate students and faculty at UW-Platteville to work together in a cutting-edge technology, collaborating with industry partners in Wisconsin and the Tri-State area.


  • UW-Oshkosh, Professor Toivo Kallas, $50,000 grant
    Bioengineering of a newly discovered, ultra fast-growing cyanobacterium for enhanced carbon capture and chemicals production
  • Project description: Mitigation of carbon emissions is a global economic and ecological imperative. Microalgae can help address this through their very high photosynthetic efficiency for carbon capture. The project will enable undergraduate students to engineer and characterize an ultra-fast growing cyanobacterium (blue-green alga) for carbon conversion to isoprene, a precursor for synthetic rubber, pharmaceuticals, and biofuels.  The project will jump-start development of the ultra-fast alga, which will accelerate algal strain engineering and progress toward commercially viable industrial CO2 capture by carbon conversion to high-value chemicals.


Regent Scholar grants are awarded competitively based on recommendations by a selection committee including both public and private sector experts from a variety of sectors:

  • Mark Tyler, President/CEO of OEM Fabricators; UW System Regent
  • Frank Cannella, Founder of Cannella Response Television
  • Aaron Hagar, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Bob Jokisch, UW System Special Assistant to the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs
  • Mark Pioli, Policy and Planning Analyst, UW System Office of Policy Analysis and Research
  • John Russell, CEO/President of Columbus Community Hospital

Media Contact

Alex Hummel UW System (608) 262-4463