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Category: Business/Technology

Former WPM Director Gene Purcell inducted into WBA Hall Of Fame

Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin Public Media and the Educational Communications Board joined broadcasters from around the state to celebrate the life and career of former WPM Director Gene Purcell who was one of four people inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame on June 23, 2022. Purcell was a longtime WPR reporter, regional manager, and former director of the ECB before becoming director of WPM at UW-Madison in 2018. He was killed in a traffic collision in August 2021.

Drivers’ Lawsuit Claims Uber and Lyft Violate Antitrust Laws

New York Times

Quoted: Peter Carstensen, an emeritus law professor at the University of Wisconsin, said he was skeptical that the drivers would get traction with their claims that Uber and Lyft were illegally setting the price drivers could charge.

But Mr. Carstensen said a state judge might rule in the plaintiffs’ favor on other so-called vertical restraints, such as the incentives that help tie drivers to one of the platforms by, for example, guaranteeing them at least $1,000 if they complete 70 rides between Monday and Friday. A judge may conclude that these incentives largely exist to reduce competition between Uber and Lyft, he said, because they make drivers less likely to switch platforms and make it harder for a new gig platform to hire away drivers.

“You’re making it extremely difficult for a third party to come in,” Mr. Carstensen said.

Federal dairy innovation program gets a boost from pandemic relief funds

Wisconsin Examiner

A federal program will give Wisconsin and 10 other states a $20 million boost to help farmers, cheese makers and other dairy processors develop new products and new markets to help stabilize the embattled dairy industry.

The funds, announced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) Monday at a Jefferson County cheese producer, will expand the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA is giving the money to the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, a joint project of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The groups will provide grants and support programs so that farms, dairy processors and related businesses can “modernize, reach new markets and create economic growth,” said Baldwin.

Drones Being Used to Bring Defibrillators to Patients in Emergencies

NBC Washington D.C.

Quoted: “Time is really of the essence here,” said Justin Boutilier, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Survival from cardiac arrest decreases by between 7 to 15% for every minute that you go without treatment.”

Boutilier describes obstacles to emergency response —such as traffic or difficult-to-reach rural locations — as “the perfect storm.” He has been designing a prototype drone that takes off as soon as someone calls 911.

“This is sort of like a perfect storm for a drone-based delivery system,” he said. “They’re able to, you know, remove the issues caused by traffic and things like that. So they’re able to get these devices there much quicker than an ambulance could.”

Wisconsin farmers are experiencing record high milk prices, but for how long?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Bob Cropp, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said high demand for milk is what drove prices up in 2014. But he said this year’s record prices are due to farmers cutting back on production.

“Milk production for several months, starting actually the last quarter of last year, has been running below a year ago,” Cropp said. “Cow numbers have declined and production per cow has been below normal, so we have resulted in a tightness of the supply-demand situation.”

Kohl’s Corp. negotiating company sale to owner of The Vitamin Shoppe

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Hart Posen is an expert on business strategy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Business. He said he was surprised to see Kohl’s move forward with Franchise Group, Inc. because the holding company runs such a different set of retail businesses.

“There are two reasons one firm acquires another firm. One reason is they believe that the firm’s assets are undervalued, they think they’re getting a good deal on it,” Posen said. “More often than not what we would like to see in these situations is what we would call a strategic buyer —  a buyer that brings specific assets or knowledge or expertise to bear — that we believe may add value within Kohl’s. And it’s not at all clear to me that this buyer is a strategic buyer in that sense.”

Most teens have a healthy relationship with digital technology, so long as their parents do too

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Dr. Megan Moreno, a professor of pediatrics at UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health and study lead, said their findings show just how important parents are when it comes to teens and technology.

“Parents serve as such role models, and I think that when kids are young, the role-modeling includes a lot of instruction and talking; and I think when teens are older, parents teach more through their own behavior than through their own words,” she said.

New tool shows Wisconsin farmers financial benefits of letting cows graze

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: John Hendrickson, farm viability specialist for UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, helped develop the tool for the Grassland 2.0 project. Started in 2020 using a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the collaboration between researchers from UW-Madison and other universities, farmers and agriculture industry leaders is working to encourage farmers to adopt the use of grasslands.

“We want farms to be financially viable and sustainable for the long term,” he said. “But of course the Grasslands 2.0 project also has this larger look at the entire landscape and climate change and soil erosion and what can we do to have a more sustainable agricultural system on the landscape.”

A growing Wisconsin brewery faces high demand, tight supply

PBS Wisconsin

Quoted: “We’ve built a supply chain system that includes factories, that includes distribution centers, that includes transportation methods and all that stuff. We’ve built that to handle a certain capacity that we thought was coming at us,” said Jake Dean, director of the Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management at the University of Wisconsin School of Business.

New estimates say 1.3 million Wisconsin households don’t have access or can’t afford broadband internet service

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Our reliance on the internet quadrupled during the pandemic, said Barry Orton, professor emeritus of telecommunications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The bar keeps getting raised higher,” Orton said, with increased demands for faster speeds, especially in uploads.

Women return to the workforce after COVID-19

Spectrum News

According to a UW-Madison professor, there’s a big return to work in Wisconsin right now. Laura Dresser is an assistant clinical professor with the university’s Institute for Research on Poverty.

“There are more workers in the labor force today than there were in February of 2020 before the shutdowns,” she said.

She added the labor force participation rate is about 66% in the state.

“That doesn’t mean women’s lives aren’t really stressed by the pandemic, but I think we haven’t seen a kind of permanent shift in work as a result at least here in Wisconsin,” Dresser said.

A Wisconsin utility is considering using a new type of nuclear power plant to generate electricity of hundreds of thousands of homes

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: On May 24, the Wisconsin Technology Council is hosting a luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel, on John Nolen Drive in Madison, to learn more about the Dairyland project and the larger debate over nuclear power. Panelists will include Ridge, who’s also the CEO of the cooperative; Jeffrey Keebler, chairman, president and CEO of Madison Gas & Electric; and Paul Wilson, Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering, and chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s department of engineering physics.

New college graduates with degrees in supercomputing, artificial intelligence are in hot demand. ‘War for talent’ gives grads many options.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: University of Wisconsin-Madison research has shown that the majority of bachelor’s degree holders in the state tend to remain here, and that Wisconsin has a relatively low rate of out-migration, also known as “brain drain.” But the number of college-educated workers coming into Wisconsin isn’t that high, according to the research, so the state suffers from a lack of “brain gain.”

The solutions won’t come easily. And there’s probably no “silver bullet” for the entire state, as every region is different, said Matt Kures, a community development specialist with UW-Madison Extension.

Critical forecast tool upgraded just in time for 2022 Atlantic hurricane season

New York Post

A crucial tool that meteorologists use to forecast hurricanes is being upgraded just in time for the start of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.

The University of Wisconsin announced the significant upgrade to the Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) and says it will use full-resolution images from weather satellites, better identification of the storm eye location and the ability to analyze hurricanes occurring outside tropical regions.

ADT was developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS).

“The ADT itself is not a prediction tool, but it does help describe the current state of tropical cyclone intensity, which provides the critical starting point for both forecaster and model-based predictions of future track and intensity,” says senior scientist Christopher Velden, who leads the CIMSS Tropical Cyclone Group.

As pandemic changes become permanent, some rural communities are booming

ABC Action News

Quoted: Steven Deller, who studies rural economies at the University of Wisconsin, says many smaller cities and towns have moved away from the traditional methods of marketing to outsiders.

“Rather than focus on promoting businesses they’re looking at making their communities a better place to live, to attract people,” he said.

American families need to earn $35.80 an hour just to make ends meet. Few earn that.

CBS News

Noted: An hourly wage of $35.80 equates to about $74,400 in annual income. The average hourly wage stood at $31.73 in March, or about $66,000 annually, according to the latest government data. That means many families are falling behind in their ability to afford the basics, said Marjory Givens, co-director at the County Health Rankings, which is a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

UW ag experts say spring planting dates still on track

Wisconsin State Farmer

Although April has been cold and wet, University of Wisconsin-Madison agronomists say farmers shouldn’t start stressing out just yet.

“Despite the fact that we are about two weeks behind where we were a year ago, we are still on track for maximum yields for corn and soybeans,” says Shawn Conley, UW Soybean and Small Grains Extension Specialist.

According to Joe Lauer, UW-Madison Agronomy Professor, “last year we were earlier than normal – in fact, it was one of the earliest planting seasons on record.”

How Wisconsin’s colleges and businesses can partner to transform the state’s workforce

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In the last few years, northeastern Wisconsin workers and companies have told us they want education targeted for today’s students, employees, and parents. They want education that leads directly to good jobs. We agree. On April 11, our two campuses, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, announced a plan to meet their needs.

What if the government filled out your tax form for you?

Wisconsin Examiner

Quoted: “I do believe the U.S. has one of the more convoluted structures and also requires a lot more effort to understand,” says Cliff Robb, who teaches about personal finance and human behavior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.. “It forces individuals to engage much more directly with the tax system than other industrialized countries.”

Even for people who don’t pay fees to a tax preparer or for tax prep software, there’s a significant “opportunity cost” to filing, he says.

“Most people are going to take a weekend or a couple of days,” says Robb. And it’s not just time. “It creates more stress than is necessary, I believe.”

Team at UW–Madison creates material six times tougher than Kevlar

Spectrum News

A team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has created a material that is tougher than Kevlar, which is found in bulletproof vests.

It’s a project they hope can help save lives.

The material in small scale is almost comparable to the look of electrical tape. However, it’s much different and much stronger. So what’s inside that makes it so strong? Engineering and physics assistant professor Ramathasan Thevamaran has the answer.

“It’s a nano fiber mat made out of carbon nanotubes and Kevlar nano fibers,” Thevamaran said.

UW-Madison working to bring bird flu vaccine to market amid outbreaks

CBS 58

If you’ve been paying more for eggs recently, you have the bird flu to thank, according to egg producers.

UW-Madison scientists say they are fighting back.

Across the nation, tens of thousands of birds have had to be put down in recent weeks as the bird flu ravages flocks, and farmers say while it’s already making eggs expensive, it won’t stop there.

UW-Madison scientists say this is an issue that comes and goes, which is why they’re looking to bring a vaccine for the birds to market.

“Knock on wood, we’ve been doing okay in Wisconsin. We’ve had two outbreaks here in Wisconsin,” said UW-Madison Poultry Specialist Ron Kean.

After Foxconn’s pledges have failed to materialize, a former executive is hired by UW-Madison College of Engineering

Wisconsin Public Radio

Former Foxconn executive Alan Yeung has been hired by the University of Wisconsin-Madison to “jump-start technology entrepreneurship efforts” within its College of Engineering.

Yeung was heavily involved in Foxconn’s failed pledges to invest $10 billion into a high-tech manufacturing hub in Racine County and donate $100 million to UW-Madison.

An announcement posted Thursday by UW-Madison’s College of Engineering announcing Yeung’s hire lists him as an author, college alum and technology executive — it has no mention of Foxconn.

Tom Still: Road to widespread electric vehicle use is long, but bumps can be smoothed

Wisconsin State Journal

“So, how are we going to decide where to put these charging stations? The way I think about it and the way we’re looking at it, at least from a research perspective, is related to something (we call) an origins destination study,” said David Noyce, a professor in the UW-Madison College of Engineering who specializes in transportation planning and the future of on-the-road vehicles.

Electric vehicle experts encourage Wisconsin lawmakers, officials to prepare for expanding charging infrastructure

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Panelist David Noyce, who is the executive associate dean at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Engineering, said consumer worries about not being able to recharge an electric vehicle — what the industry calls range anxiety — is still one of the biggest barriers to electric vehicle adoption.

Noyce said vehicle makers are working to improve batteries as a remedy to this problem. But he said making charging stations more available is the other half of the solution.

“That’s where the emphasis is going on as we speak,” he said during the panel. “The federal government has jumped into the fray here … because of the market demand, but as well as climate goals, decarbonization, reduction in the use of fossil fuels and so forth.”

Barron’s 100 most influential women in finance: Katy Huberty

Barron's/Marketwatch

Katy Huberty has spent two decades at Morgan Stanley analyzing technology hardware stocks. Her coverage has included Apple, Dell Technologies, and Seagate Technology Holdings, among many others. Now director of equity research for the Americas, Huberty is thinking about how to scale her IT hardware team’s data-heavy approach to stock analysis to all of Morgan Stanley’s 49 research teams.

A Morgan Stanley lifer, Huberty, 44, joined the firm after college at the University of Wisconsin. Today, she sees technology diffusing into every corner of the market.

Former Foxconn exec Alan Yeung hired by UW-Madison’s College of Engineering

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has hired one of Foxconn’s most prominent former Wisconsin executives.

Part of the deal former Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn executives struck with Wisconsin included a promise to give UW-Madison $100 million. But that money never showed up. And the Foxconn project has only faltered since it was announced.

Now Alan Yeung has joined UW-Madison’s College of Engineering as an entrepreneurship consultant. He’ll be helping the college “commercialize research, and connect with industry and entrepreneurs,” said Renee Meiller, a spokeswoman for the College of Engineering.

JetBlue starts Milwaukee flights as Wisconsin airports recover from COVID-19

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Laura Albert is a professor of industrial and systems engineering with University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said business travel in particular is slower to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“We found ways to do things remotely that are quite effective,” Albert said. “There’s not a substitute for everything, but some of that, I think, will stick around, and that might affect where routes are selected, because a lot of routes follow where business travel is needed.”

Market volatility caused by war in Ukraine has Wisconsin farmers, agriculture companies on edge

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Wisconsin producers primarily grow winter wheat, which is planted in the fall and harvested in the summer, making it unlikely farmers will plant more this spring in response to potential shortages or to capitalize on higher prices, Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said.

But farmers in the state will likely spend more time managing the wheat fields they do have planted this spring, he said.

“More fertilizer, maybe more concerned about fungicide applications if you’re looking at a problem with disease. That’s what we might see, is farmers more willing to spend money on managing the planted crop for winter wheat,” he said.

Coming together: Dairy farmers debate plans for overseeing US milk supply

Wisconsin Public Radio

Noted: Instead of limiting milk production, the plan focuses on reducing the negative impacts of uncontrolled expansion and sending stronger market signals to farms about whether they should produce more milk. The group worked with researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to create models for what a mandatory management program could look like and how it would affect farmers’ and consumers’ prices.

Black households never recovered from the Great Recession, a UW-Madison report on racial wealth gaps suggests

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A new report is highlighting how much the Great Recession widened racial wealth gaps, particularly on the basis of income and homeownership.

“Racial Disparities in Household Wealth Following the Great Recession,” authored by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Fenaba R. Addo and Duke University Professor William A. Darity Jr., found that Black and Latino households continue to lag behind white households in wealth and income statistics.

The report was published this month through the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty and used Survey on Consumer Finances data to come to its conclusions.

Mental Health First Aid training for WI Ag Community set for April 12

Wisconsin State Farmer

There is no doubt that farming can be extremely rewarding, yet also stressful and demanding. Various risk factors including weather, economic uncertainty, as well as, ever-evolving supply and demand changes, can take a toll on farmer’s mental health.

In order to address some of these issues, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension will be offering virtual and in-person educational programs to help the Wisconsin agricultural community identify and respond to a variety of behavioral health challenges.

After detecting bird flu in Wisconsin, poultry expert discusses transmission, safety steps

Wisconsin Public Radio

After state agriculture officials confirmed the presence of bird flu in Wisconsin, one poultry management expert shared safety tips for poultry farmers and what risk exists to humans.

Ron Kean, a faculty associate and extension specialist in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, also explained what costs farmers can and cannot get covered if the flu hits their farm.

Pressure for changes in Kohl’s corporate operation intensifies

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Hart Posen, a professor of management and human resources at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said while concerns of negative effects from a buyout aren’t unfounded, he sees it as a positive story in an industry that has had few positive stories in the past decade.

“This is all happening because Kohl’s is, of department store retailers, one of the best positioned department store retailers,” Posen said. “This is (a) department store that has real potential. Some folks think they can pull more out of it, which may or may not be true.”

Twin 22-year-old UW-Madison grads lead a growing startup that sells data tracking corporate jets, politicians’ stock trades

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A small Madison startup launched only two years ago to provide free alternative data for investors says it now has 340,000 registered users.

Twin brothers James and Chris Kardatzke debuted Quiver Quantitative in February 2020 while they were students at University of Wisconsin-Madison studying finance, economics, and statistics. They graduated that year and gave their full attention to running the business which now has six full-time employees, with plans to hire a few more soon.

UW-Madison engineers create method for improving 3D metal printing

WisBusiness

Engineers at UW-Madison have created a new method for improving the quality of 3D-printed metal products.

Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, can create complex metal structures with greater ease than traditional manufacturing processes, a release from the university shows. But the process often introduces defects such as tiny cracks and pits in the materia

Wisconsin has fewer dairy farms. So how are they producing more milk?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: The consolidation of farms seen across agriculture is a big part of why the state has fewer licensed dairy producers, according to Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“In many cases when farms sell out, most of their cows may go to other dairy farms. And so the remaining farms have gotten a little bit larger,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said in 2005, the average herd size in Wisconsin was 82 cows per farm, and in 2020, that average climbed to 177 cows per farm. In other words, the average more than doubled over 15 years.

Wisconsin companies, city of Madison join challenge to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Tom Eggert, a retired sustainability professor who taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said customers, employees and investors are pushing businesses to make commitments to reduce their emissions.

“You start with maybe a lot of greenwashing, but we’ve seen over time that the infrastructure gets created underneath those goals, underneath those targets, to be very credible, when people then question them on what they’re doing,” said Eggert. “I would say companies in Wisconsin, companies in the United States, companies around the world are on a continuum from complete greenwashing at one end to complete transparency and viable targets on the other.”

Madison media company puts lens on equity in STEM fields through exhibit

Wisconsin State Journal

Now, thanks in part to a $5 million UW-Madison grant meant to facilitate anti-racism in higher education, Represented Collective has launched a project called “Legendary” — a portion of the money is funding an interactive exhibit at nine Dane County libraries that spotlights the women who made STEM history, but weren’t celebrated for their accomplishments as much as their male counterparts.

For global brands, pulling out of Russia is a complicated decision

Marketplace

According to Enno Siemsen, a professor of operations management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, if the conflict is short and companies want to reopen their operations, “all the investments you’ve made over years are basically gone. If you want to reenter the Russian market, you’re starting more or less from scratch.”

Wisconsin farms are feeling the squeeze of a tight labor market

Wisconsin Public Radio

As Wisconsin farms prepare for the upcoming growing season, some producers are having a hard time finding enough workers.

Claire Strader is an organic vegetable educator for FairShare CSA Coalition and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension in Dane County. Last fall, she started hearing from farmers who were worried about a potential labor shortage.

“They knew that they were going to be losing workers from their farms because those workers were telling them that as they were moving on to other opportunities,” Strader said. “Those farmers, in particular vegetable farmers, were telling us that they were in a crisis looking for workers.”