Portrait of Eric Wilcots
Photo: Paulius Musteikis

The College of Letters & Science’s alumni list is jam-packed with entrepreneurial success stories and inventive industry influencers. Choosing just five to feature in our “Bright Startups” cover story was no easy task — and you can expect to see a lot more entrepreneurial profiles in this magazine’s future, as well as online at ls.wisc.edu/news.

When I read the profiles of these remarkable entrepreneurs, I was proud to see how often they pointed to their education in L&S as pivotal in helping them gain the skills, resources, connections and confidence they needed to succeed in the business world. The liberal arts education we provide is the best preparation for a career, and our investment in core values — curiosity, critical and creative thinking and working together toward a common good — is developing tomorrow’s leaders.

Putting Down Roots” shares a different kind of investment. With thousands of individual plants, the Department of Botany is home to one of the largest living teaching collections around. It was inspiring to hear how the Botany Garden and Greenhouse plants are used to support students in classrooms, create a space for community members to appreciate our planet’s biodiversity and lead to out-of-this-world research discoveries. And that’s not an exaggeration — some of the tomatoes grown in the greenhouse were launched into space earlier this year. 

In this issue, we also hear from a new crop of researchers in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture. “Toward a Just City” reminds us that our cities are not designed by accident. These faculty members are parsing the ways that urban designs can be seen as a form of social justice and better support the people who live there. This work in DPLA is just one example of how L&S is tackling challenging issues that have significant societal impact.

Plus, you’ll read about a new innovative approach to learning less commonly taught languages, how a student’s internship with Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation taught her leadership skills, and a geoscience professor with a passion for Wisconsin’s unique landscape. The stories curated for this issue of the magazine are a celebration of all things L&S. 

As we reflect on these stories about alumni who are now leaders in the community, professors who are making waves with groundbreaking research and students who are catalysts toward a brighter future, we are reminded that all of this is made possible by you. Your continued support of our mission allows us to provide each new generation of Badgers with a world-class liberal arts education. Thank you for championing the College of Letters & Science. 

On, Wisconsin!

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

More From Spring 2024

Toward a Just City

Researchers in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture see well-planned city infrastructure as a form of social justice.

What AI Doesn’t Know

As the world becomes increasingly dependent on AI, Sharon Li researches how these systems respond in the face of blind spots. Her findings could be a matter of life or death.