UW Highlights

As Wyoming’s only university, the University of Wyoming is committed to explore, create, and share knowledge. Wyoming Public Media captures the work of scholars, learners, and leaders who are committed to serving the state of Wyoming and contributing to national and international intellectual growth. You can hear some of our stories and features on these pages. They reflect the work of hundreds of individuals dedicated to the University of Wyoming vision to imagine the future and to create it.

University of Wyoming

A UW professor has co-authored a study that shows a nearly two-million-year-old grinding tool might have actually been used as a weapon.

For years, scientists  have believed round stones, called spheroids, were used by early humans to grind and shape other objects. Spheroids have been found in archaeological sites in South Africa and elsewhere. Archaeologists believe they date back as far as the Early Stone Age, nearly two million years ago.

Cassidy Newkirk

The Arizona Final Salute Foundation has commissioned a University of Wyoming student to create a painting of the USS Arizona for the 75th anniversary of its sinking at Pearl Harbor. Cassidy Newkirk received the commission last October 17, 100 years to the day after the USS Arizona itself was commissioned.

Stroock Forum

  

Every year, a forum in honor of former Ambassador Tom Stroock delves into an issue facing Wyoming. This year the focus will be on sovereign wealth funds such as Wyoming’s permanent mineral trust fund and rainy day accounts.

Bob Beck

  

  

It’s safe to say that 2015 was a terrible year for the University of Wyoming football team. A slew of key injuries, coupled with inexperience on the defensive end, saw the Cowboys finish with a horrific 2 win and 10 loss record. The good news is that Wyoming returns 18 starters from last year’s team and the hope is that they will be much improved. 

BHP Imaging

A University of Wyoming trail building program has created a summer work crew specifically for veterans in need of a job. The Wyoming Veterans Trail Crew will be a part of the Wyoming Conservation Corps beginning next May.

Ortegon

  

This week the University of Wyoming hosted a summer institute for an organization that supports women of color in academia. One of the guest speakers was Sarah Ortegon, artist and former Miss Native American USA. Wyoming Public Radio’s Maggie Mullen spoke with Ortegon about her paintings currently exhibited at the UW Art Museum, partly inspired by her childhood on the Wind River Reservation. Her work will be exhibited until September 2.

The University of Wyoming broke records last year for private donations, with total gifts in fiscal year 2016 totaling $63.1 million. 

The record year comes amid a major downturn in the energy sector, the state’s number one industry. 

“Let me just say, [it] could not be better timing,” said Ben Blalock, president of the University of Wyoming Foundation. 

Blalock said they didn’t expect the increase, but that when you look at where private giving comes from it is less surprising.

Melodie Edwards

Out under the cottonwoods in her backyard near Fort Washakie, Eastern Shoshone member Pat Bergie shows off her new raised-bed garden.

“Those are the tomatoes, strawberries,” she says, pointing at the rows of small seedlings. “Over here, I’d done some cabbage inside. I brought them out and planted them and those are what’s gone.”

Gone because birds came and gobbled them up.

“The big ones, the magpies are the ones that went out,” she says, laughing. “They’re the hoggy ones.”

University of Wyoming

  

Earlier this month, the University of Wyoming’s new president Laurie Nichols visited the Wind River Indian Reservation and sat down with business councils from both the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho to talk about how to get the Native American student body to better reflect Wyoming’s population of Native Americans overall.

She told Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards, it’s an issue she’s tackled before in her time as South Dakota State University’s provost.

University of Wyoming

  

The University of Wyoming’s new president, Laurie Nichols, recently met with tribal leaders to talk about recruiting more Native American students to the school. In her previous position as provost at South Dakota State University, Nichols says welcoming Native students was a big priority, and she’d like to do the same at UW.

She says both the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone business councils explained that their tribal populations are growing, and that means a lot more young people will be reaching college age in the coming years.

Liam Niemeyer

Teachers from across Wyoming took part in programming and robotics workshops on the University of Wyoming’s campus this month to learn about new ways to teach students.

During the two-week long event called “UW RAMPED,” 30 teachers learned about miniature computers that can be used in the classroom and how to program robots of different sizes. Teachers also got to interact with a human-sized robot named Baxter.

University of Wyoming

 

Wyoming President Laurie Nichols started her job on a Monday, the Monday after the Friday when Governor Matt Mead told the UW trustees that they must whack an additional $35 million from the University budget. The state’s fiscal downturn has led to a $41 million cut from the UW budget.

Bob Beck

 

Most moose herds in Wyoming are in decline, but the Snowy Range Moose herd appears to be an exception. After a moose re-introduction in northern Colorado, they started showing up in the Snowy Range Mountains west of Laramie in the 1980s.

They’re commonly spotted throughout southeast Wyoming, but there is little data concerning their exact numbers. Now a joint research project by the University of Wyoming and Wyoming Game and Fish is trying to change that.   

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols said that planned budget reductions for this fiscal year may fall short of goals. So, she told the UW trustees Wednesday to plan for $15 million dollars in budget cuts in the next fiscal year.

They had hoped to only cut $10 million, but UW has not yet realized forecast savings in early retirements or by increased teaching loads. The University is currently looking at cutting a variety of academic and non-academic programs after being told it would receive $40 million less in revenue over the next two years. 

    

A retreat for amateur and professional musicians from around the world is coming to the University of Wyoming next week. The Whole Musician retreat helps musicians reconnect with the sense of wonder and creativity that they felt when they first began playing. Whole Musician team member Megan Lanz said to accomplish this, workshops focus on self-awareness.

Lauren Connell

  

A University of Wyoming study is looking for non-lethal approaches to relocating prairie dogs colonies off ranchlands where they can cause problems for livestock grazing and onto public lands. The prairie dog study is the brainchild of UW Rangeland Ecology student Lauren Connell.  

Wikimedia Commons

University of Wyoming researchers found 70 acres of land near Sheridan infested with Ventenata, an invasive grass species that’s been hurting hay production in nearby states.

A single plant of Ventenata was first found near the Sheridan area in 1997. Since then, the grass has spread unchecked. Ventenata is known to be a low-quality biomass grass–it doesn’t add a lot of nutritional content for hay production or livestock foraging. Ventenata can reduce hay production yields by up to 50 percent according to the United States Forest Service.

Wikimedia Commons

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols brought together faculty and staff Wednesday to discuss the financial crisis she declared last week at the university.

At the meeting, President Nichols detailed how the university plans to cut about $30 million over the next two years. In her plan, Nichols said the university will raise tuition by 4 percent—and eliminate 70 vacancies throughout campus. Around 50 faculty and staff will also have to voluntarily retire for the university to save enough money.

University of Wyoming Facebook

Wyoming is facing difficult economic times. Last year, the state lost 6,500 jobs, mostly in oil and gas, and things haven’t much better this year. The state government is making major reductions and even Wyoming Medical Center in Casper cut 58 positions. For that reason, right now is a tough time for University of Wyoming’s graduates to enter the job force, particularly if they want to stay in the state.

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming Trustees passed a resolution supporting President Laurie Nichols’ efforts to cut $41 million dollars from the UW budget due to falling energy revenues.

UW will eliminate 70 vacant positions and require faculty to increase their teaching load to help meet the shortfall. Faculty have expressed concern that more teaching will take away from their ability to conduct research. Nichols said that comes with the territory.

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The University of Wyoming and nine other institutions have formed a coalition to study how fossil fuels can be used more efficiently and with less environmental impact.

The coalition led by Penn State is being funded by the United States Department of Energy, which recently gave a $20 million grant to the group. The funding will help the schools look further into issues such as carbon storage and natural gas infrastructure.

University of Wyoming

As Wyoming faces tough choices about how to balance its budget, a new survey from the University of Wyoming looks at what the public would choose. 

It's the first scientific look at citizen opinion on the budget.

“Effectively we have three choices to face a budget deficit: Raise revenue, that’s increase taxes, cut services or agency budgets, or thirdly take money out of our savings account, the rainy day fund," said Rob Godby, one of the organizers of the survey. "And we were trying to figure out what combination or single action was most popular with people.”

WPR/AARON SCHRANK

Just one week before Laurie Nichols took over as the University of Wyoming’s new president, Governor Matt Mead cut UW’s budget by 8 percent. On Wednesday, Nichols announced her plan to cut $19 million for the 2017 fiscal year, beginning July 1.

“It’s not ideal,” said Nichols. “But is it doable? Yes, it is. And I think we’ve actually put together a pretty solid plan."

Speaking to more than 600 members of the campus community at a town hall, Nichols led with the good news.

Caroline Ballard

  

At the Women in STEM conference, more than 500 middle and high school girls descended on the University of Wyoming campus to learn more about STEM careers. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.  

The girls get to attend three workshops out of a possible 25 options, and choices range from animal husbandry to chemistry and robotics.

Holly Ramseier is a senior in Chemical Engineering at UW, and is helping out today. She says the conference is all about getting your feet wet and seeing what you like. 

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming has identified the three finalists for the position of provost of academic affairs. All three finalists for the position will give public presentations on UW’s campus beginning Friday.

University of Wyoming professor, Tucker Readdy, is the chair-elect of the faculty senate. He says he is interested to hear their plans.

“I think the person needs to be a visionary, in terms of being able to see across campus and really providing some strategic initiatives for how we are going to continue to move the academic mission of the university forward.”

CC0 Public Domain, Pixabay

The University of Wyoming will host a two-day symposium on drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, this Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jeff Hamerlinck is the director of UW’s Geographic Information Science Center. He says the symposium will be the first of its kind and he is hoping it will be an opportunity to raise awareness in the state about drones. Hamerlinck says drones’ data-collecting abilities are unmatched. The data collection is timelier, the quality of the data is much higher, and the cost of drones is relatively affordable.

uwyo.edu

More than 500 middle and high school girls will explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at the upcoming Women in STEM conference at the University of Wyoming.

At least 26 workshops and activities will be led mostly by women from organizations like the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Tata Chemicals, and the University of Wyoming.

Michele Turner, one of the event’s coordinators, says one of the goals of the conference is to show girls that there are opportunities for them in STEM.

UW Raccoon Project

The University of Wyoming Raccoon Project is gearing up to trap raccoons for further study.

Over the last year, a team of undergraduate and graduate students has been studying where raccoons in Laramie live and congregate. This week, they will set live traps around the city in order to collar, chip, and collect biological samples from the raccoons. This allows the team to track the animals, and ultimately set up puzzles around town to observe and test the raccoons’ intelligence.

MDV via Flickr Creative Commons

The University of Wyoming Police Department reported 14 campus sexual assaults in 2015. That’s up from nine sexual assaults the year before.

Police Chief Mike Samp says this year’s number is just shy of a record 15 sexual assaults at the University in 2013.

“It’s consistent with some of our higher years that we’ve ever had reported,” says Samp. “We think the vast majority of those are possibly due to increased reporting options—making sure that students are aware it’s okay to come forward. We hope that we’re not seeing an increase in the actual number of sexual assaults.”

Bob Beck

For many years, the University of Wyoming choir programs have been recognized as among the best in the country.

Since 2008 Doctor Nicole Lamartine has been the Director of Choral activities and she’s so highly thought of that she conducts and give seminars around the world and she’s a highly regarded singer in her own right. But she also has a hidden talent as a weight lifter.

A power lifter to be exact and a pretty good one, for instance, she currently holds the world back squat record after squatting 265 pounds.

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