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UWSP at Marshfield professor shares her love of biology

July 27, 2023
Laura Lee, an associate professor of biology at UWSP at Marshfield, helps students with dissection in one of her laboratory classes.
Laura Lee, an associate professor of biology at UWSP at Marshfield, helps students with dissection in one of her laboratory classes.

Love for students and teaching has inspired Laura Lee, an associate professor of biology at UWSP at Marshfield, for more than two decades. From volunteering to creating on-site learning opportunities in biology and ecology, Lee is dedicated to seeing students of all ages learn about nature.

“I’ve always been proud of and invested in our campus,” said Lee, who teaches General Biology, Environmental Science and introductory animal and plant biology courses. She travels between the Marshfield, Wausau and Stevens Point campuses for labs and lectures and also uses recorded lectures and screen sharing.

“Dr. Laura Lee is truly the embodiment of commitment to the students of UWSP at Marshfield, and her passion for science resonates with the entire campus community,” said Anthony Andrews, campus executive at UWSP at Marshfield. “Her desire to assist in the creation of new initiatives to improve the academic environment and increase enrollment has assisted in creating a true culture of innovation on the Marshfield campus.”

For the last two summers, Lee helped with the Full STEAM Ahead summer program, a free day camp on the Marshfield campus. She helped create lesson plans for student teachers to share with 7th and 8th grade girls that focus on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, with team activities and projects.

Lee has also taken part in biology programs for Continuing Education, Learning is Forever, College Days for Kids on the Marshfield campus and Treehaven field station and serves on the UWSP at Marshfield Recruitment Liaison Committee, Steering Committee and Earth Day Planning Committee. She also works with local high schools to connect STEM students with opportunities at the Marshfield campus.

Her focus on teaching ecology has benefited from the use of the Marshfield campus greenhouse and its 20-acre, centrally located arboretum.

Laura Lee, an associate professor of biology, is dedicated to helping students of all ages learn about nature.
Lee dedicates much of her time to helping students of all ages learn about nature.

Biology students use the greenhouse for their own projects. For example, her botany students are assigned to validate a garden “hack,” a tip that may or may not work for local growers. They test it using scientific methods, then create a poster and display it for the College of Letters and Science Research Symposium at the Stevens Point campus.

“The arboretum is like a mini Schmeeckle Reserve,” she said, where students can study a variety of plant species along wooded trails. Lee has been part of a local Advisory Group that monitored use of the arboretum. She has also taken part in trail improvement projects and removal of invasive buckthorn plants. Recently, she assisted volunteers from a local Boy Scout Troop 385 who helped refresh the gravel on the trails and added signage, benches and a botanical guide.

Lee sees opportunities for continued growth and collaboration between the Marshfield campus and the UWSP College of Natural Resources and School of Education, such as bringing together students from all three campuses for joint projects and continuing to offer natural resources courses at the Marshfield and Wausau campuses. She is also interested in connecting with Admissions to recruit students who need more academic help to start at the branch campuses.

Lee is a member of the High Impact Practices Working Group as part of UW-Stevens Point’s strategic plan, researching active learning, internships and learning outcomes.

Lee’s love of biology stems from her childhood. She said she has always enjoyed plants and animals, growing up with science books, microscopes, pets and a garden. She studied biology and psychology for her bachelor’s degree at Augustana College and earned a doctorate in biology and ecology from the University of Illinois.

She looks forward to having her daughter Samantha as a first-year student on campus this fall. Samantha will join her mom as well as her dad, Martin, a lecturer in mathematics at UWSP at Marshfield.

“She grew up on this campus and has always wanted to go to school here,” she said. “It will be an easy transition for her.”

While the family is originally from the Chicago area, they are happy to have put down roots in the Marshfield area.

“The students here are great, I love them and would love to see more of them here,” Lee said.