Academic Staff: Early Career Award

Recipients of the L&S Academic Staff Early Career Award must have 0-7 years’ (including the current year) experience and demonstrate outstanding performance, promise of future contributions and a high degree of professionalism.

2016-17 Recipients

Hilary Shager
Associate Director, La Follette School of Public Affairs

It would be nearly impossible to find a person better prepared to oversee a professional degree program in public affairs than Hilary Shager. She earned her Ph.D. in public policy at UW-Madison, and then went on to work in state government, where she witnessed the connection between policy analysis and practice.

Hilary has put that experience to good use in running the Family Impact Seminar. The event — which is perhaps the university’s most tangible form of outreach to the state — puts academic research into the hands of policymakers.

Hilary is also one of the department’s most popular professors. As director David Moynihan points out, she cares deeply about her students and “this careful attention has directly led to adjustments to the program” to better serve them.

Elizabeth (Libby) Dowdall
University Relations Specialist, Department of Chemistry

Some communicators build bridges. Libby Dowdall is helping erect a new building.

Libby joined the chemistry department in 2012, in a new position created to establish a communications and alumni relations strategy. She quickly defined the role, translating the impact of the department’s research and teaching to broad audiences.

In the spring of 2015, when a $110 million chemistry building project was scrapped from the governor’s biennial state budget proposal, Libby took even bolder action.

“She coordinated news stories, video production, outreach to alumni, outreach to Wisconsin companies and myriad other tasks,” says department chair Robert McMahon. “These efforts helped persuade members of the Joint Finance Committee to include the Chemistry Building Project in the biennial budget,” making it the only state-funded building project to be approved.

Michael Kruse
International Directions Advisor, Language Institute

What impact does studying a language have on life after college? Plenty! And Michal Kruse is showcasing many compelling ways through the Language Institute and on the Languages at UW-Madison website.

Kruse offers advising for students with language interests and is a master at connecting language study to the greater context of a liberal arts education. He’s also developed a network of alumni who studied languages at UW-Madison and are using those languages in their careers. He shares their stories — as well as faculty research, student achievements and more on the value of language study — on the website, and has been an outstanding partner in helping students transfer their skills and knowledge into successful careers through the College of Letters & Science Career Initiative.

Says assistant director Wendy Johnson, “His vision is one in which every student is able to articulate the value of a liberal arts education in ways that make sense to employers.”

Brian Esselman
Assistant director of Organic Chemistry Laboratories, Chemistry

When Brian Esselman studied computational molecular modeling as a Ph.D. student, this technique used to predict chemical reactivity was the domain of highly trained experts, not undergraduates. That all changed when he helped develop a new curriculum for organic chemistry lab students.

Now, the technique known as CMM is part of all organic chemistry lab courses.

“I am confident that his expertise, commitment and sheer zest for the project has helped to provide UW-Madison undergraduates with one of the (if not the) most rigorous and authentic introductions to CMM in the nation,” says lab director Nicholas Hill.

Brian also brings innovation to the organic chemistry courses he teaches, pioneering new technologies to enhance and improve student learning. 

All Recipients


  • Hilary Shager, La Follette School of Public Affairs
  • Libby Dowdall, Department of Chemistry
  • Michael Kruse, Language Institute
  • Brian Esselman, Department of Chemistry


  • Stephen Block,  Assistant Director of the General Chemistry Laboratories, Department of Chemistry
  • Linnea Burk, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychology
  • Elizabeth Foste, Careers and Outreach Coordinator, Department of Economics
  • Jesse Steinberg, Faculty Associate & Assistant to the Chair Department of Philosophy


  • Desiree Bates, Computational Chemistry Leader, Department of Chemistry
  • Adam Hinterthuer, University Relations Specialist, Department of Limnology
  • Oh Hoon Kwon, Course Supervisor for the Mathematics 13x series, Department of Mathematics
  • Russell Portier, Assistant to the Directors, School of Social Work


  • Carol Warden, Associate Outreach Specialist, Center for Limnology
  • Tiziana Serafini, Associate Faculty Associate, Department of French & Italian
  • Cheri Barta Rossi, Associate Faculty Associate, Department of Chemistry 


  • Melanie Jones, Faculty Associate, Department of Psychology
  • Laura Halverson Monahan, Senior Academic Curator, Department of Zoology
  • Dorothea Salo, Faculty Associate, School of Library & Information Studies
  • Chad Wilkinson, Associate Faculty Associate, Department of Chemistry


  • Danielle Benden, Senior Academic Curator, Department of Anthropology
  • Allison Kaplan, Faculty Associate, School of Library & Information Studies


  • Nancy Linh Karls, Faculty Associate, The Writing Center in the Department of English
  • Shirin Malekpour, Faculty Associate, Department of Mathematics


  • Marilyn Larsen, Assistant Director, Center for Limnology
  • Byung-jin Lim, Associate Faculty Associate, East Asian Languages & Literature
  • Jaime Stoltenberg, Map and GIS Librarian, Department of Geography


  • Erlin Barnard, Faculty Associate, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia
  • Ilia Guzei, Senior Scientist, Department of Chemistry


  • Ron Harris, Academic Staff, Department of English. 
  • Dianna Murphy, Academic Staff, The Language Institute


  • Shea Ramey, Academic Staff, Chemistry Learning Center
  • Richard Slaughter, Academic Staff, Geology and Geophysics


  • Melissa Tedrowe, Academic Staff, Department of English


  • Patrick Barrett, Academic Staff, the Havens Center in the Department of Sociology
  • Emily B. Hall, the Writing Center in the Department of English


  • Jeff Henriques, Department of Psychology


  • Ron Cramer, Learning Support Services


  • Grace Krewson, Department of English

Nominate an excellent early career staff member.

Please contact the PDRC for more information about the Academic Staff Awards.