Our Community

GERS students in 2001 after a celebratory banquet.

As a member of a community that helps pave a path to a PhD, GERS students bolster their graduate school career with a range of volunteer, academic, social, and professional development activities. In order to maintain a strong connection, participation in the GERS program requires attendance at monthly meetings throughout the academic year, as well as engagement in a committee: one of social, recruiting, meeting planning, or outreach education. The GERS community is one among several Graduate Research Scholar communities organized by the various schools and colleges within UW-Madison to support underrepresented students.


From right to left: Mercedes Ruiz (PhD 2015, Environmental Chemistry and Technology), Jonathon Welburn (PhD 2016, Industrial and Systems Engineering), and Karina Luco-Cintron (Biomedical Engineering) teaching children about recycled materials on Science Night at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School.

GERS gives back through outreach education and mentoring/recruiting underrepresented students to the College of Engineering. The outreach committee plans 7+ events per year at local schools. The OPPS (Opportunities in Engineering Conference) and SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) programs are the main recruiting events, but GERS students also recruit through their alma mater by meeting with groups that serve diversity in STEM disciplines.


GERS students after the 2011 annual poster session in collaboration with the SciMed GRS community.

Each year, GERS has a poster session either during the OPPS Conference or in the spring with SciMed GRS, as pictured below. Additionally, there is unofficial peer-to-peer mentoring throughout the year. GERS students help each other out, from borrowing lab equipment to editing fellowship essays for each other.


Making lifelong friends in the GERS program, several students spanning PhDs 2022-2028 join the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation in a toast to the Wisconsin Football team in a tailgate before Purdue. Go badgers!

The GERS Social Committee plans events throughout the year for students. Additionally, there are many unofficial gatherings, celebrations, and events that end up happening as students become friends. Most recently, GERS has partnered with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to get more informal exposure to technology transfer, patents, and intellectual property via networking in seminars and tailgates. 


Professional Development

Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Paul P. H. Wilson, speaks to GERS students interested in the faculty track about how to secure funding and progress as a faculty member at the mid-career level.

GERS encourages networking with alumni as well as professional development within and outside of the program. This participation in a network of successful alumni enhances the success of our graduates. Additionally, both group meetings and smaller focus meetings regularly have alum or other academics/professionals talk with the students about a broad range of topics: career paths, diversity in the workplace, stress management, etc.

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Graduate Engineering Research Scholars
© 2024. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.

GERS Program Manager
Kelly Burton
Phone: 608-263-4583

GERS Faculty Director
Victor Zavala
Phone: 608-262-4151

Support the Graduate Engineering Research Scholars Program by making a gift to the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

You can help support the Graduate Engineering Research Scholars Program by making a gift to the University of Wisconsin Foundation