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UWFox's Kluessendorf Named 'Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters Fellow'

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Director of the Weis Earth Science Museum at UWFox Honored

Dr. Joanne KluessendorfDr. Joanne Kluessendorf, Director of the Weis Earth Science Museum (WESM), was recently inducted as a “Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters,” one of the most prestigious academic, artistic and scientific organizations in the state. The ceremony, which took place on Sun., Jul. 24 at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, also included several other distinguished leaders who represented diverse professional backgrounds and personal interests.

Kluessendorf is the Founding Director of the WESM at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in Menasha, appointed to that position in January 2001. As Governor, Tommy Thompson declared the WESM “Wisconsin’s Official Mineralogical Museum,” and the facility officially opened in November 2002. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois, in Champaign-Urbana.

“This is a truly prestigious honor and a very important event in my life,” Kluessendorf said. She explained that, “The Wisconsin Academy for the Arts, Sciences and Letters (WASAL) has a mission that ‘connects people and ideas from all areas of knowledge and all walks of life to celebrate thought, culture, and nature in our state and explore how we can best address our problems.’ ”

Only 63 Fellows have been named since the Wisconsin Academy Fellows program was established in 1981. The award is bestowed upon men and women from a wide range of disciplines whose work has contributed significantly to the intellectual and cultural life in the state.

Kluessendorf, who is a noted Wisconsin geologist, and five other individuals were cited this year. Other inductees include Basaam Shakhashiri (UW-Madison chemistry department), Warren Nelson (folk historian and musician affiliated with Ashland's "Big Top Chautauqua"), Alta Charo (a UW-Madison bioethicist working in the legal and medical fields), John Harmon (acclaimed jazz musician from Winnecone), and Truman Lowe (sculptor and professor of art at UW-Madison).

Past inductees have included State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson, former UW System President Katherine Lyall, and UW stem cell researcher James Thomson, among others. &#quot;The fellows include some pretty illustrious individuals," Kluessendorf remarked, adding that "it's quite a humbling experience for me. As a Milwaukee native and someone whose research focuses on Wisconsin geology, I am especially thrilled to be following in the footsteps of my geological heroes.

"When this Academy was founded in 1870, it had numerous geologists among its charter members. These include Increase Lapham, Wisconsin's first scientist, and Thomas Chamberlin, who wrote the four-volume 'Geology of Wisconsin.' Chamberlin went on to become a UW president and later established the geology department at the University of Chicago. Other geologists who founded the Academy were Roland Irving, an innovative UW geology professor, and Philo Romayne Hoy, an amateur naturalist whose enthusiasm for geology was legendary," Kluessendorf explained. "Lapham was the Academy's first secretary and the others served as its president."

"I had a personal connection with past inductee Katherine Graecen Nelson, who was the Academy's first woman president. She was my first geology professor (at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and a personal friend. I take great pride in being associated with these individuals through the Academy," Kluessendorf said.

Kluessendorf serves on numerous community and state-wide boards, including Quarry Quest and Girl Scouts of the Fox River Area, Inc., the Wisconsin Geological Mapping Advisory Commission, the Wisconsin Federation of Museums, and the Collections Committee of the Paleontological Society. She served on the executive board of the Association of Women Geoscientists, the largest professional organization of women geoscientists in the world, for six years as editor of its bi-monthly magazine.

Jim Perry, Campus Executive Officer and Dean at UWFox, said, "While Joanne is currently serving as the Founding Director of Weis Earth Science Museum, she has dedicated herself to informal science education, serving as the creative force for the museum, where she has created exhibits and school tours for thousands of children. She is in much demand as a speaker because of her ability to bring the geology of Wisconsin to life for people of all ages."

Perry pointed out that Kluessendorf's skills as a scientist are highly regarded by colleagues in her field of geology. "She has a most impressive array of professional activities, with numerous substantive peer reviewed articles that have contributed to our knowledge of geology and paleontology of Wisconsin. It is equally impressive that her publications cross many lines and appeal to many audiences, from field guides to Science, a journal in which publication can easily be interpreted by scientists as "having arrived."

Posted 8/8/2005