MON AM News: UW-Madison launches new School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences; “Talking Trade” with attorney Ngosong Fonkem of law firm Page Fura

— UW-Madison’s newly launched School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences aims to build on the momentum of these growing fields. 

“We’re investing in CDIS because at this moment in time, a first-rate computer and data science program is a necessity in any first-class university and for a state that wants to build its reputation as a regional and national beacon for high-tech industry,” said Chancellor Rebecca Blank during an announcement event Friday in Madison. 

The university’s computer sciences major has grown by 800 percent over the past 10 years to become the largest on campus, and Blank noted UW-Madison currently has more than 2,000 students majoring in computer sciences. The new school will also incorporate the university’s existing Department of Statistics and Information School. 

“We have a suite of new degrees and certificates in the works and will be rolling them out as quickly as we can to meet the extraordinary level of demand,” she said. 

The founding director of CDIS, entrepreneur Tom Erickson, said in recorded remarks played at Friday’s announcement that the new school will be “a lighthouse for tech in the state and in the region, driving innovation and economic development.” 

UW-Madison alumni John and Tashia Morgridge, who have previously given millions of dollars to the university, are donating $75 million to help establish the school in a new campus facility. They’re also providing a $50 million matching “challenge grant” aimed at raising another $50 million from outside donors. 

“UW prepared us for the working world, but equally for a bountiful, long life journey,” John Morgridge said. “This investment in the CDIS building and the departments it will inspire is part of our repayment to the people of this state for our education.” 

The $225 million project is also receiving a $50 million donation from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the university’s patenting and licensing organization. Construction on the CDIS building is planned for early 2023 with a projected move-in for early 2024. To achieve that timeline, Blank said the university will need to complete the fundraising process by the end of the academic year. 

A number of research groups will be organized under the new school, focusing on studying database systems, machine learning, robotics and more. The 300,000-square-foot facility will also house the American Family Data Science Institute, the Center for High Throughput Computing and the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics. It’s planned for the corner of Orchard and University Avenue on the UW-Madison campus. 

WARF CEO Erik Iverson touched on some of the data and computer science applications envisioned for the new school, including “human-centered computing, precision medicine, smart farms, cybersecurity” and more. 

Also during the event, Computer Sciences Department Chair Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau highlighted the increasing role of technology and computing in modern businesses. 

“Right now, we kind of have this bifurcation. We think of there being companies and tech companies, and the reality is, that distinction is disappearing,” he said. “All companies can of course be tech companies and that’s what we’re trying to build towards today.” 

See details for the new school and facility here: 

— In the latest episode of “Talking Trade,” hosts Ian Coxhead and Sandi Siegel interview Ngosong Fonkem, an Appleton native with the law firm Page Fura.

Fonkem discusses the Biden administration’s human rights-trade policies and his book, “Trade Crash.” Fonkem also chairs the international practice association of the Wisconsin State Bar.

Watch the show here: 

— Two upcoming research studies at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health will explore the causes of childhood asthma and allergies. 

Researchers at the school are looking to recruit expectant mothers and families for the birth cohort studies, which are both funded by the National Institutes of Health. They’re being conducted by researchers in the UW Department of Pediatrics’ division of allergy, immunology, and rheumatology. 

The asthma study is titled “childhood asthma and the neonatal environment,” or CANOE. The study will follow participating mothers and their children from the prenatal period through the following three years. Follow-up will be conducted by phone and email, and around scheduled prenatal and pediatrician visits at UW health and UWSMPH facilities. 

Previous studies have found childhood asthma is influenced by “family history of allergies and early-life environmental factors such as pollutants, viruses, and bacteria,” a release shows. Researchers in the CANOE study aim to better understand the role of these factors. The study will seek to enroll 125 families. 

Meanwhile, the “systems biology of early allergy,” or SUNBEAM study, aims to enroll 240 families in Wisconsin to investigate the causes of food allergies in children. According to the release, it’s the first birth cohort study with this specific focus. The UW Health effort is part of a broader national study that will enroll up to 2,500 children around the country. 

The food allergy study will recruit pregnant mothers, infants and their fathers in hopes of identifying causes of food allergies as well as eczema. Researchers aim to improve prevention and treatments for food allergies, which affect between 5 and 10 percent of children starting in their first year of life. 

See more on the CANOE study: 

See details on the SUNBEAM study: 

— More than 106,800 households in the state are enrolled in the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, according to the state Public Service Commission. 

The program provides enrollees with a temporary discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband internet service, and up to $75 per month for homes located on tribal lands. 

“Affordability plays a big part in broadband access, which is why we continue to urge those who may be struggling to pay their monthly internet bill to apply for financial support while the funds remain available,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq in a statement. 

The PSC says about 20 percent of eligible Wisconsin households are currently enrolled in the program. 

Eligible households include those with income below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household that size; those with a household member in the free and reduced-price lunch program or the school breakfast program; households with anyone receiving benefits from certain federal assistance programs like Medicaid; and others. 

See the release: 

— A virtual webinar from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s World Trade Association this week will cover strategies on mitigating financial risk for businesses. 

The event will feature remarks from Bridget Bredemann, director of the Rates and Currencies Solutions Group – Capital Markets at Bank of America, and Sebastian Sintes, director and manager of Bank of America’s International Treasury Solutions team. 

It’s being held Wednesday, Sept. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

See more details and register here: 


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# ‘Bizarre Foods’ host and chef Andrew Zimmern coming to Madison



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– Finalists named for Leopold Conservation Award Program

– Another 700 acres of Wisconsin grasslands enrolled in CRP


– In the 608: Fall Restaurant Week kicks off Sunday


– Epic Systems: US saw huge increase in gun violence last year

– Covid-19 has not crested in Wisconsin, Dr. Raymond says in reversing stance after delayed data release

– State COVID death rate over 10 times higher for the unvaccinated


– Wisconsin Center District requiring employees be vaccinated by November


– Judge blocks health, environmental groups from defending state in WMC pollution case


– Materion Corp. would bring up to 90 employees to new Carmen Avenue facility on Milwaukee’s far northwest side


– $175 million in private funds helps launch UW-Madison’s School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences


– City of Madison cancels Freakfest for second year


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

PSC: More than 106,800 Wisconsin households are enrolled in the emergency broadband benefit program

UW-Madison: $175 million commitment helps launch UW-Madison School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences, support transformative mission