Chemistry students attend graduate research symposium

November 19, 2013

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Seven University of Wisconsin-Platteville chemistry students attended the graduate research symposium at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., in October. The purpose of the event was to showcase the graduate program at Wayne State University and allow students the opportunity to present their undergraduate research during a poster session.

Two students from UW-Platteville presented their undergraduate research. They are Joseph McKillip, a junior majoring in chemistry with a biochemistry emphasis from Kenosha, Wis., and James Waldschmidt, a senior majoring in chemistry from De Pere, Wis., who is planning on attending graduate school after completing his undergraduate degree.

“I think the most important benefit of attending this symposium is the first hand accounts from current graduate students,” said McKillip. “They gave honest advice and shared their stories. Some make graduate school sound like the daunting task that it is, but others still are encouraging because no matter how tough it is, they love what they're doing.”

McKillip gave a presentation on the development of chemical methods for lignin modification. Lignin is most commonly derived from the cell walls of plants.

“This was the second time that I have taken students to the symposium,” said Dr. Raja Annamalai, assistant professor in the chemistry department at UW-Platteville. “Many of the students that went are hoping to attend graduate school. The chemistry department at UW-Platteville is focused on preparing students for a job in the chemical industry. The department feels that undergraduate research is an important part of a degree and helps in future careers. We focus on preparing students for careers and graduate school.”

“Attending the symposium made me realize that graduate school is for me and opened me up to the possibilities available in the future,” said Rebecca Schmitt, a senior chemistry major with a DNA emphasis from Green Bay, Wis. “The topics in chemistry are endless and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

“After going to Wayne State University and seeing the research presented, I realized that I need to focus on a specific area in the field of chemistry,” said Ethan Bremer, a junior biochemistry major from Reedsville, Wis. “Focusing on one interest will allow me to go further in my future.”

Contact: Dr. Raja Annamalai, UW-Platteville Chemistry Department, (608) 342-6091,

Written by: Ethan Giebel, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications,
(608) 342-1194,

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