Meet six UW Oshkosh faculty scholars

The discipline, medium and scale may change, but Andrew Redington has always been drawn to the visual arts. In high school and college, he gravitated to theatre and set design, even completing an apprenticeship with the Santa Fe Opera before earning a Master of Fine Arts. High-quality craftsmanship has remained at the heart of Redington’s exploration of such concepts as consumerism, mass production, need and greed. Past work has been selected for exhibition at venues ranging from the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Penn., to the 21st Texas National Art Exhibition at Stephen F. Austin State University. Redington recently unveiled a massive public monument called Cornerstone Emergence commissioned by the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts in Fond du Lac.


With a penchant for solving difficult problems, Eric Hiatt made a radical career change from successful master auto mechanic to a life in academia. To sort out Earth’s long and convoluted history, the evolution of life and other weighty earth science questions, he has collected, hauled home and analyzed hundreds of pounds of rock from Antarctica to Bermuda. As a Fulbright Scholar, Hiatt’s current work is taking him to Brazil for several months, where he’s studying the transition between the last major “Snowball Earth” event and the massive climate change and the addition of oxygen that followed, which set the stage for animals and plants to evolve.

Eric Brunsell is an expert in the science of teaching science. Drawing on his years in the classroom as a physics teacher in Appleton and a decade in academia, he focuses on finding the best methods for science teachers to help students make sense of scientific phenomena. He looks for synergies between the theoretical underpinnings of how people learn science and the practical day-to-day strategies of teachers who have mastered the art of daily instruction. His current focus is on helping school systems implement the new Next Generation Science Standards. As the chief operating officer for the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers and the professional development division director with the National Science Teachers Association’s board of directors, his work impacts thousands of teachers in Wisconsin and across the country.


You’d think microeconomist Chad Cotti would be all about the numbers. But, in reality, his research has more to do with understanding human behavior than household budgeting. The Oshkosh Corporation Endowed Professor studies the unintended impacts of public policy changes on health. He has analyzed how implementing smoking bans and opening new casinos impact drunk driving fatalities in communities. His research results have made headlines with such prominent media outlets as The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, USA Today and The Washington Post.


Just as Paula McNiel started her doctoral work in nursing, her mother was diagnosed with dementia. As the disease progressed, she felt like she was losing her mother in bits and pieces yet noticed that some activities seemed to really bring her back to life. Those experiences influenced McNiel’s interest in studying geriatrics and community health. For her doctorate of nursing practice capstone project, she developed a brain fitness program to enhance memory among patients and YMCA seniors. Recent collaborations with Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh have included studying the impact of first-in-the-state Namaste Care and Cycling Without Age programs, both designed to enhance quality of life for older adults.


Since the 1990s, college students have been drawn to Japanese language classes by their interest in anime, manga and other aspects of Japanese pop culture. Yoshiro Hanai works to find ways to capture that enthusiasm and infuse his Japanese language classes with aspects of the culture from day one—a departure from traditional foreign language courses that focus on linguistics, vocabulary and grammar. For the past three summers, he has traveled back to his homeland to develop courses on contemporary Japanese culture and society. His recent research also will culminate in publication of a Japanese language textbook in 2016 to help other educators incorporate pop culture into their classes. On Friday afternoons, Hanai can be heard practicing with the Oshkosh Taiko drumming team in Albee Hall.



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