Portrait of Eric Wilcots
Photo: Paulius Musteikis

The College of Letters & Science is bursting with creativity and curiosity. I see the amazing impact of our world-class faculty and staff and talented students — including our newest, the Class of 2027 — in every course, research project and community initiative. This magazine celebrates our mission to tackle the tough questions, make new discoveries and embrace the pursuit of knowledge for a lifetime.

In these pages, you’ll meet a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, uncover the history of federal boarding schools for Native American children and learn how Wisconsin’s farmland could be put to use mitigating climate change while still supporting crops and animals. You’ll hear from me again later in the magazine for our Sift & Winnow essay. I was tasked with pondering the value of a liberal arts education today. Here’s a preview: I fiercely believe it’s not only important for students, but essential to our society.

Our cover story, “A Pediatric Prognosis,” showcases how the remarkable research happening in the College of Letters & Science challenges the status quo. Professor James Li proposes a new method for how mental health disorders should be identified. It’s one of the many innovative projects researchers in the Department of Psychology are leading. Li’s part of an international consortium working to create change and help patients. That’s the power of the Wisconsin Idea at work.

In “Just One Byte,” you’ll hear from a brilliant group of L&S researchers who are teaming up to debate the ethics of recent advancements in artificial intelligence and computing. They look at how these innovations change power dynamics for businesses and governments, evaluate the state of the attention economy and imagine a future with these tools. Their main message? Proceed with caution.

Plus, UW–Madison is celebrating 175 years! Our feature “175 Candles” travels back in time to share milestone moments of the College of Letters & Science. Since its formal establishment in 1889, our college has amassed nearly 250,000 L&S alumni — that’s almost half of the University’s alumni population.

As we blow out the candles and reflect on this significant anniversary, we are reminded of how grateful we are to you. Your continued support allows us to keep up the groundbreaking research that will lead to untold discoveries. Thank you for championing the liberal arts and supporting the College of Letters & Science.

Eric M. Wilcots
Dean and Mary C. Jacoby Professor of Astronomy,
College of Letters & Science

More From Fall 2023

175 Candles

As UW–Madison celebrates 175 years, we look back at some of the College of Letters & Science’s milestone moments.

It’s Electric

Kyoung-Shin Choi harnesses the power of electrochemistry to transform water treatment processes — and potentially much more.