May 18, 2020

School News

The SoP Wraps-up Its First Virtual Diversity Week

On May 4, the School of Pharmacy launched a diversity and inclusion initiatives Facebook page and began its first virtual Diversity Week. During the week Lisa Imhoff, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, shared activities and resources for faculty, staff, students, and community members to engage and learn more about topics related to diversity, inclusion, and equity in healthcare, the classroom, and more.

In case you missed it, below are the resources that were shared:


  • Article on Racism Against Physicians of Color: We kicked off the week by celebrating the work of Professor Christine Sorkness, who collaborated with School of Medicine and Public Health leaders and the Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) to create the Building Equitable Access to Mentorship (BEAM) program. BEAM connects trained faculty mentors with medical students from under-represented racial/ethnic groups in medicine.
  • TED Talk on Bias: We all have biases. But what do we do with them? This TED Talk with diversity advocate Verna Myers encourages us to acknowledge our biases and walk boldly towards them.


  • Implicit Association Test (IAT): If you watched the TED Talk posted on 5/4, you heard the presenter refer to the IAT. The IAT can help people uncover their implicit biases in several categories including, but not limited to race, gender, ability, weight, and religion. Interested in learning more about your own implicit biases? Take the IAT tests here.


  • Article on the “Our Shared Future” Heritage Marker: With a grant from the university’s Educational Innovation Initiative, the School of Pharmacy was to host the “Our Shared Future” heritage marker from 4/21 to 5/7. While hosting the marker was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the School was able to continue with three of the five learning events to help educate our faculty, staff, and students on the Ho-Chunk Nation and their history with the university. To honor the heritage marker and its purpose, in early March PharmD student Jenny Van Order gave a presentation on, ‘Diabetes and Chronic Disease in Native Americans’ where she shared factors that lead to chronic disease in American Indians and Alaska Natives and discussed topics such as historical trauma, boarding schools, and adverse childhood experiences.



  • Submit What Diversity Means to You: Our Student Senate had the great idea of creating a wordle to represent what diversity, equity, and inclusion means to members of our School. Submit your thoughts on what it means to you! We will share the wordle image in the next issue of the Rennebohm Buzz.

Imhoff will continue to share content on the DEI initiatives Facebook page. Her goal is to create community and conversation around DEI concepts and share DEI events, news, and updates related to the SoP, greater campus, and the city of Madison.

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Congratulations to the Teachers of the Year

Each spring, students select a teacher of the year from each PharmD cohort year and the Pharmacology & Toxicology program, and the student senate selects a recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award. The recipients for 2019-2020 are:

  • DPH-1: Chuck Lauhon, Vice Chair, PSD Associate Professor, and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies
  • DPH-2: Karen Kopacek, PPD Associate Professor, Associate Dean for Student Affairs
  • DPH-3: Marina Maes, PPD Assistant Professor
  • PharmTox: Arash Bashirullah, PSD Associate Professor
  • Student Senate: Karen Kopacek, PPD Associate Professor, Associate Dean for Student Affairs

Below are words shared by students and class representatives about the selected Teacher of the Year recipients:

“Lauhon made me genuinely excited for his lectures. He made the material interesting to learn and easy to pay attention to with humor and deep knowledge of what he was teaching. He’s been not only my favorite professor in pharmacy school, but in all of my education.”





“Karen Kopacek is a very energetic professor that engages students, making them excited about course material and practicing in the field of pharmacy. She gracefully maneuvered the transition from in-person to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, making students’ overall well-being a high priority with weekly wellness emails and general support for students during this time.”





“Dr. Maes has been an absolutely incredible asset to the School of Pharmacy teaching team. She is approachable, warm, and welcoming. She has made a tremendous effort to get to know students and interact with them on a personal basis. Students who get to interact with her more in the future are very, very fortunate.”





“Professor Bashirullah, both as a coordinator for 558 and a lecturer in Pharmacology II and III, makes students look forward to his class. In pharmacology II, he broke down a very difficult unit (lipid metabolism drugs) into humor-filled analogies (equating the lipoprotein to a hook thrown on the show Deadliest Catch). As a person, he’s incredibly approachable and does a great job as the course coordinator in Pharm II.”



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Dylan Tabang and Jericha Mill Recognized by the NSF Graduate Research Program

Congratulations to Jericha Mill (left in photo) and Dylan Tabang (right in photo), Li Research Group graduate students, on receiving honorable mentions from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Honorable mention is considered a significant national achievement and provides access to cyberinfrastructure resources through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), a single virtual system that scientists can use to interactively share computing resources.

“I am very pleased for Jericha and Dylan to receive this recognition and am really proud of them for what they have already accomplished at this early stage of their graduate career. They each have contributed to a research manuscript on their individual projects and understand the centrality of collaborations for scientific advances. They are superb early career graduate students and are poised to accomplish many exciting things during their graduate research”, said Professor Lingjun Li, their research advisor.

Mill’s research is focused on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and her proposal specifically focused on biomarker discovery for early diagnosis. AD is currently diagnosed only by observations on cognitive decline, but by the time AD is formally diagnosed a cellular decline could already have been occurring for decades. Her goal is to build an analytical method that can detect biomarkers early on in AD progression using human red blood cells which are not frequently used in biomarker discovery. Red blood cells are plentiful and metabolically active, meaning they could provide wholistic details about patient metabolism. With this project, she plans to make detection and quantitation of lipid biomarkers easier and faster, so this method could someday be implemented in a clinical setting.

“Receiving honorable mention is a tremendous honor given there were nearly 12,000 fellowship applicants, only 2,000 fellowships were offered, and from the remaining 10,000 applicants only 2,000 were selected to receive an honorable mention. It is a highly competitive grant and being singled out as a high-level applicant is a great achievement. It is exciting to receive recognition like this, especially early in my graduate career,” said Mill.

Tabang’s research broadly focuses on using an instrumental technique called mass spectrometry to analyze different biomolecules. In particular, he examines proteins and small molecule metabolites in pancreatic cancer. He wants to determine the relationship between tumor proteins and their post-translationally modified forms with other cells in the tumor microenvironment. This research aims to improve understanding of cancer biology and identify biomarkers for earlier detection of pancreatic cancer and possible avenues for treatment.

“I am thankful to the NSF, my advisor Dr. Li, my research group, my mentoring committee, and the rest of my support network for cheering me on. The GRFP is very competitive and it is an honor to be considered. I hope this accolade is a steppingstone for future successes, and that soon my research will benefit others,” said Tabang.

Learn more about Mill and Tabang on the Li Research Group website.

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Deepika Rao and Arveen Kaur Selected for Poster Presentations

Deepika Rao (left in photo) and Arveen Kaur (right in photo), graduate students in our Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) program, both had their research selected for poster presentations at the Academy Health 2020 Annual Research Meeting this summer.

“The research led by Deepika and Arveen will advance our understanding of the impact of coaching on improving access to medications for individuals with co-occurring disorders. Being selected to present their work at the Academy Health Research meeting is a great achievement for them. We are very proud of their accomplishments,” said Assistant Professor Jay Ford.

Rao’s research examines access and wait times to psychotropic medications among individuals with a dual diagnosis, and Kaur’s projects similarly focuses on access and wait times to substance abuse disorder medications with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders.

Timely access to treatment and medications for patients with co-occurring disorders is a significant problem, despite strong evidence for its benefits. Although the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx) implementation strategies have been broadly utilized by community addiction treatment agencies, their effectiveness for increasing access and reducing wait-times to psychotropic medications is unknown.

Rao’s poster is titled, “Evaluation of Access and Wait-times to Psychotropic medications among individuals with a Dual Diagnosis: Effectiveness of NIATx implementation strategies.” Her generalized linear models found that NIATx implementation strategies were useful in increasing access to psychotropic medications and reducing wait-times in the intervention group.

“I was very happy to hear about our work being recognized at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting. Although the in-person meeting is canceled, I am hopeful that I will still get to present our research at the virtual conference,” said Rao.

Kaur’s poster was titled, “Effectiveness of NIATx Implementation Strategies on Access and Wait Times to Substance Use Disorder Medications for Individuals with Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders.” She used general linear models and found that NIATx implementation strategies effectively increased the access to substance use disorder (SUD) medications and reduced wait-times for SUD medication encounters despite an observed lagged effect for wait-time.

“When I heard about my research work being accepted for the 2020 Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, I was thrilled with a sense of accomplishment because this would have been my first-time attending Academy Health. I am happy that we are still getting the opportunity to present the work virtually this summer,” said Kaur.

Congratulations to both Rao and Kaur on this notable achievement!

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Get to Know SoP

Buzzing Around

New Hires:

Lindy Stoll – Professional Master’s Degree Program Manager, starting May 18.







Sam Ryan – Web Operations Manager, last day is May 19.

“It was a pleasure meeting and working with everyone at the School of Pharmacy. You are truly a talented group and I wish you all the best!”





Kate Collins – DPPD Conference Coordinator, last day is May 31.

“I have appreciated the opportunity to work with many colleagues especially in the areas of Pharmacy CE, PharmSci, and Leadership. Looking forward to hearing great things from SoP in the future.”




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Pet Lovers Corner

Ed Elder, Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station Director

“Omar is an 11-month-old Standard Poodle who was being trained to become a guide dog for OccuPaws Guide Dog Association through PawsForward at the Oxford Federal Penitentiary.  On April 1, as a precaution due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prison went on lock-down and OccuPaws had two hours notice to retrieve five guide dogs in training and find them temporary homes. My wife, Susan, and I became certified dog sitters for OccuPaws last summer and were called on to assist with raising Omar until it is safe to send him back to detention. We have had to adjust our practice from reinforcing ongoing skill development for guide dogs in training over three-10 days to a more regimented daily training routine with a new skill to emphasize every week while raising an OccuPaws dog full-time. On-line learning does not work for guide dog training! We have also had to develop some grooming skills required to care for a Poodle, after working primarily with OccuPaws Labrador Retrievers including Felix, Ocean, and Java, who have all been to work in Rennebohm Hall.”


Katy Tomlinson, Student Service Coordinator

“Daisy, a Teddy Bear (Shih Tzu & Bichon Friśe mix), just celebrated her 10th birthday. She enjoys laying around all day, preferably in the sun, and anyone who will give her attention. Her favorite foods include popcorn, preferably with butter, cheerios, and peanut butter. She will come running when she hears the lid of the jar of peanut butter being opened! She prefers being in the lead when going for walks and sleeping in a queen size bed at night instead of her own. She likes to cuddle and fancies herself an excellent guard dog by keeping her owner safe from birds, small woodland creatures, vacuum cleaners, and the doorbell (even when it rings on TV and not in real life)!”

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Faculty/Staff Spotlight: Jasmyn Booker

Name: Jasmyn Booker

Job title: Internal Communications Specialist

Hometown: Pflugerville, Texas

How long have you worked at the School of Pharmacy? One-and-a-half years

Tell us what you do… I write the Rennebohm Buzz, send School announcements, manage print projects for School events, and help with event promotion.

What are you currently working on? I am working on the SoP Brand Toolkit and creating the Rennebohm Buzz. I’ve also been doing some work for the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee and CASI!

What about your work makes you the most proud? Creating a quality newsletter for our SoP community to stay connected and helping advance the School’s DEI efforts.

Who inspires you and why? So many! Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Beyonce, and Reese Witherspoon all come to mind. All women who have found ways to innovate, create, and advocate for women and girls.

Latest read or TV show binge? I am reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle and American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. I am watching The Last Dance, the new Michael Jordan docu-series. To be honest, I might watch it twice. I love basketball and am so enjoying re-watching glimpses of the best performances in basketball history!

If I had more time, I’d love to… Travel more. I really want my next big trip to be to Greece!

My favorite place is… The beach with a mojito in hand. I love being in the sun!

Proudest moment or accomplishment? In my last role as a social media manager I had a team of student workers that I worked with for several years. I really invested in their personal growth and development in hopes they would find something they loved or were inspired by. Several of them now work in social media and I would like to think I helped them along the way. 😊

What’s something about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?

I’m a major animal lover and would like to own a dog rescue one day (maybe in retirement). I want to name it after my late grandmother who trained show dogs and also loved animals.



Left – Eating BBQ with my parents and cousins during my last visit home to Austin, Texas.

Middle – In November I got to visit Chicago for the first time. If you look closely you can see the bean in the background.

Right – Since moving to Wisconsin, I’ve learned to love hockey! We went to as many games as we could.

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Photo Gallery:Quarantine Hobbies

How are you staying busy during quarantine? Are you homeschooling a child? Have you picked up a new hobby? Are you baking banana bread and cakes? Maybe taking daily walks? Check out what your colleagues are doing to stay happy, healthy, and sane.

Jasmyn Booker, Internal Communications Specialist

“I’ve been taking a ton of long walks around the neighborhood with my dog, Charley. We’re both loving the sunshine and fresh air. When we aren’t walking in the evening, I like to sit on my patio and watch the sunset (photo 3). I’m also spending a ton of time cooking. The outdoors and cooking are things I enjoy and help keep me sane. I’ve made plenty of banana bread during this quarantine (photo 6)!”

Amanda Watter, Housing Network Coordinator

“We are enjoying the outdoors on trails, fishing, and riding bikes. Homeschooling has been interesting. We have also been doing a lot of baking and crafts. We also did an indoor camping night.”

Jenni Regan, UW Human Resources Manager

“Here is what I have been doing to try to stay sane during the quarantine! After a busy, crazy work day I have been going on lots of walks with my son, Everett (who will be three in early June), throughout our neighborhood because the parks are “broken” (that’s how I explain to him why we can’t go). We have discovered a friendly dinosaur named Gilbert and a construction site, both have brought him much excitement and entertainment! I love seeing the world through his eyes!”

Mitasree Maity, PSD Research Specialist

“Most of the photos were taken during an afternoon walk near Lakeshore Nature Preserve. The last photo is taken from my apartment window on a sunny morning.”

Stephanie Love, Executive Assistant to the Dean

“I have always loved to sew, but during quarantine, I have been making headbands for nurses – they have buttons behind the ears to attach their masks. I have also made fabric masks for our extended family. But most importantly – I am making some cute “joggers” for these comfy days at home.”

Josh Cutler, Director of Facilities

“Here is a picture of the 6,000th bottle of hand sanitizer the Zeeh Pharmaceutical Station has made.”

Lisa Szela, SAS Associate Research Specialist

“Here’s a photo of a painting I made during quarantine (it’s a painting of a photo I took at Devil’s Lake) and a photo of some flowers I found out walking near Picnic Point— two of the ways I’m staying busy.”

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