Dr. Mark Levenstein, an Academic Director for the University of Wisconsin Master’s in Applied Biotechnology program and Assistant Professor of Biology at UW-Platteville, was recently awarded the prestigious Regent Scholar Award for his innovative research proposal, “Aryl Fluorinated Ethers to Develop the Next Generation of Agrochemicals.”
Levenstein’s research focuses on creating new types of agrochemicals by incorporating fluorine atoms to increase the effectiveness of chemicals used in agricultural practices. Levenstein was one of three recipients of the 2022 Regent Scholar Awards. The award will support his research program with undergraduates at UW-Platteville in the form of a $50,000 grant.
“The Regent Scholar Grant is a collaborative project between the UW-Platteville Biology and Chemistry departments to characterize the biological activity of newly modified chemicals,” Levenstein said. “We begin by comparing the properties of an antifungal medication both before and after modification. Our goal is to apply the same technique to agrochemicals and create options for farmers that reduce our environmental footprint.”
The awards recognize UW System faculty for their extraordinary efforts in support of undergraduate research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The program, which was introduced in 2014, is designed to stimulate faculty-student collaborative research.
“The UW System Regent Scholar winners receive prestigious, one-time grants recognizing the highest honor for faculty achievement in the areas of undergraduate research, entrepreneurship, and business engagement,” said Regent Robert Atwell, chair of the Board’s Research, Economic Development, and Innovation (REDI) Committee, which administers the Regent Scholar grants. “These innovative projects and research collaborations hold tremendous potential for helping people and communities.”
Levenstein’s cutting-edge research is also integrated into the courses he teaches as a faculty member in the Applied Biotechnology program, which includes a Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology and a Graduate Certificate in Applied Bioinformatics.
“The generosity of the UW Board of Regents has created six paid, full-time, summer research opportunities for our students,” he said. “I can envision these students going on to careers in the biotechnology industry and perhaps pursuing advanced degrees like our own MS in Applied Biotechnology.”
The Applied Biotechnology program is a partnership of UW Extended Campus and seven University of Wisconsin campuses: UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Whitewater. Taught by expert faculty from all seven campuses, the degree and certificate offer working adults an ideal way to expand their skills and knowledge of biotechnology in a flexible, online format.
“Many current students in the program work in ‘green biotechnology," he said. “Courses I have taught, like ABT 765: Assessing Innovation in Biotechnology, feature rich discussions in which students share thoughts on important topics like genetically modified organisms. In these forums, they engage as professionals with one another and their instructor, considering not just the technical feasibility of biotechnologies, but a host of impacts like commercial viability and ethical implications.”
Prospective students seeking more information about the online Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology or Graduate Certificate in Applied Bioinformatics are encouraged to visit appliedbiotechnology.wisconsin.edu. For information about all UW Extended Campus certificates, courses, or degrees visit uwex.wisconsin.edu.
About UW Extended Campus
The University of Wisconsin System is one of the largest and most widely respected public higher education systems in the country. UW Extended Campus partners with all UW System campuses to offer online degrees and certificates, as well as continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities. Through UW Extended Campus, people of Wisconsin and beyond can access university resources and engage in online learning, wherever they live and work—fulfilling the promise of the “Wisconsin Idea.”
The University of Wisconsin System serves approximately 165,000 students. Awarding nearly 37,000 degrees annually, the UW System is Wisconsin’s talent pipeline, putting graduates in position to increase their earning power, contribute to their communities, and make Wisconsin a better place to live. Nearly 90 percent of in-state UW System graduates stay in Wisconsin five years after earning a degree. The UW System provides a 23:1 return on state investment. UW System institutions also contribute to the richness of Wisconsin’s culture and economy with groundbreaking research, new companies and patents, and boundless creative intellectual energy.