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University of Wisconsin-Madison

Alumni Support Fuels Graduate Student Success

Chuck Lauhon and graduate students
Associate Professor Chuck Lauhon with a group of the 2018 graduate student award winners.

Fellowships, scholarships, and awards advance student education in the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Social and Administrative Pharmacy programs

By Katie Gerhards
Photos by Todd Brown

The strength of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy’s alumni network is one of the main pillars upholding the School’s progress and professional growth of our students. Alumni and friends of the School are responsible for dozens of opportunities for our Pharmaceutical Sciences (PharmSci) and Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy (SAS) graduate students each year, through research fellowships, travel grants to attend professional conferences, and other awards and scholarships that support their studies.

“Creating a scholarship is a way to pay back in a small fashion for the education received at the School of Pharmacy,” says Thora Vervoren (BS ’53), whose fellowship this year went to Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate student Annika Lee. “Because of my educational foundation and exposure to UW–Madison School of Pharmacy faculty mentors, I was able to pursue a career in the pharmacy world which was not only rewarding, but life-satisfying.”

In the past, Vervoren has heard from her fellowship recipients that the financial assistance has given them another gift: time. “It has often given them the time to give back to the Madison community through volunteer work in various capacities, giving them opportunities to become responsible and involved citizens,” she says. “This is important to me.”

Yen-Ming Huang, a SAS graduate student who won the 2018 Joseph B. Wiederholt Fellowship, is studying patient perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors toward medication adherence, particularly for patients with diabetes, with the goal of tailoring clinical interventions to better serve patients. “The generosity and support of this scholarship allows me to concentrate on my academics without having to worry about the financial aspects,” he says. “As an emerging scholar and educator in the pharmaceutical field, I will devote myself to cultivating future talents and professionals for the pharmaceutical community throughout my life, as Dr. Wiederholt did.”

“It’s very satisfying knowing that in a small way, you’re contributing to the bright future of a young scientist,” says Robert Wills (MS ’79), former vice president of the pharmaceutical group’s alliance management at Johnson & Johnson, who also created a scholarship. “This is a way to give back for the education and financial help I received as a graduate student at the School of Pharmacy, and hopefully it means that the student will be able to spend more time focused on education.”

Ultimately, the donors behind these research opportunities for students are aiming to advance not only the students’ careers, but science and society.

“I hope that their success will contribute to advances for the health and welfare of the world,” says Vervoren.

Chuck Lauhon with graduate student award winnerChuck Lauhon standing with graduate student award recipientStudents getting food from buffet tableBetty Chewning standing with studentsStudents smiling at tablesJay Ford speaking with an associateStudents eating and speaking togetherStudents sitting around tablesDean Steve Swanson speaking with staffChuck Lauhon speaking with an associate

Here is the full list of the 2018 graduate student award-winners:


  • Kenneth Connors Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship, supported by Jordan (BS ’65, MS ’67, PhD ’69) and Jana Cohen
    Xiangmei Hua (PharmSci)
  • Leon Lachman Fellowship, supported by Leon (PhD ’56) and Joan Lachman
    Adam Drelich, Elizabeth Vittori, Adam Worob, Junguang Yu (PharmSci)
  • Daniel H. Rich Distinguished Graduate Scholarship, supported by Roger Tung (PhD ’87) and other donors
    Audrey Fetsko (PharmSci)
  • Dohmen Company Foundation Fellowship
    Zack Rosenkrans (PharmSci)
  • Higuchi Family Fellowship
    Xueqing Nie (PharmSci)
  • Thora Vervoren Fellowship, supported by Thora Vervoren (BS ’53)
    Annika Lee (PharmSci)
  • Joseph B. Wiederholt Fellowship, supported by Peggy Wiederholt and donors
    Yen-Ming Huang (SAS)
  • Robert Wills Distinguished Graduate Student Scholarship
    Elizabeth Vittori (PharmSci)
  • Mern Keir Fellowship, supported by the late Mern Keir
    Yuge Bryner, Ao Wang (PharmSci)
  • John and Jane Roudebush Fellowship, supported by the late John and Jane Roudebush
    Hye Jin Lee (PharmSci)
  • Clarence W. Sondern Fellowship
    Joohyun Park (SAS)
  • Perlman Fellowship, supported by Kato and the late David Perlman
    Ting-Jia Gu (PharmSci)

Travel Awards

  • Witiak Graduate Travel Grant in Drug Discovery, supported by Deanne Witiak and other donors
    Hao Li (PharmSci)
  • Joseph Robinson Graduate Travel Award in Drug Delivery, supported by Bonna and the late Joe Robinson and other donors
    Geetika Nehra, Brynn Wilken-Resman (PharmSci)
  • Pharmacology Graduate Student Travel Award in Drug Action, supported by Allan Collins (BS ’65, MS ’67, PhD ’70), Kenneth Miller (BS ’64, PhD ’69), and other donors
    Christopher Unterberger, Qinying Yu (PharmSci)

Other Awards

  • Dr. Razia Zaman-Dr. Shahanara Zaman Saroya Award
    Hao Li (PharmSci)
  • William J. Tillman Teaching Assistant Award
    Yen-Ming Huang (SAS)
  • George Zografi Educational Advancement Fund, supported by George and Dorothy Zografi and other donors
    Pawel Zbyszynski (PharmSci)