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Milwaukee, WI - Wisconsin Science Fest

  • Dandy - Midventurous Modern 5020 West Vliet Street Milwaukee, WI, 53208 United States (map)

Every October, Wisconsin Science Fest is resurrected in the name of all things academic, scientific and exciting. This year, the Milwaukee Story Collider storytelling event is a part of the festival. Join us for five new personal stories about science.

Hosted by Nakeysha Roberts Washington and Genesis Renji.

Doors at 6:30, show at 7:00.

Stories by:


Afiya Quryshi is a senior at the University School of Milwaukee who is passionate about science research, community outreach and unleashing her creativity through published writing and photography. She has presented and won awards at national science competitions, as well as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, for her work with developmental proteins, human stem cells, CRISPR methodology and gastric cancer. Afiya was most recently selected to attend the Research Science Institute at MIT to investigate neurobiology and the genetics of autism. Aside from her scientific accomplishments, Afiya has had her photography recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation for the portrayal of her Islamic faith. She is editor of her school’s literary magazine and leader of open mics, performing her own spoken word pieces and encouraging all students to share their voice. Afiya is a dedicated STEM advocate, founding community programs to spark a love for science in young girls and providing mentorship on beginning, executing and presenting science research. Afiya hopes to lead by example, eager to share her love for science, service and the arts with the next generation.


Lena Vincent is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery pursuing an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Astrobiology and Prebiotic Chemistry. There, she is attempting to unravel the mystery of life’s origins as part of a NASA-funded project to understand how chemistry becomes biology. Lena obtained a B.S. in Molecular Cell Biology and Physiology from California State University-Long Beach and studied the role of epigenetics in cancer drug resistance as a trainee at the Beckman Research Institute/City of Hope National Medical Center. She then obtained a M.S. in Biology from California State University-Northridge, where she worked on “hacking” normally harmful bacteria into novel therapeutic agents. Now, at UW-Madison, Lena is working at the intersection between chemistry, biology, and geology to study the origins and early evolution of life on Earth, and the potential for it to exist on other worlds.


Savannah Gentry Currently, I’m pursuing my Ph.D. in Botany working with fungal pathogens that infect reptiles, some of which are emerging infectious diseases like Snake Fungal Disease. I look at the ecology and interactions of the pathogen, asking questions such as where do we find them, what are their roles in the environment, can they infect multiple animals? How I wound up in a Botany Department even though fungi aren’t plants and I work with animals is just indicative of how ridiculously wide the range of research can be within one department. 

I never thought I’d be in a Botany department primarily because I avoided plant classes like the plague, but I quickly learned that various aspects of life are related in their interactions and effects across one environment that you can’t just look at one part of nature while ignoring the rest. 

My background and the bulk of my experience is in wildlife. I got a B.S in Zoology at Oregon State University upon which I got interested in fungi responsible for various emerging infectious diseases, which eventually led me to Madison, Wisconsin. I spend a lot of my time working with various communities as well, wanting to get researchers more involved with their communities and vice versa, work with fellow graduate students to develop strategies for improved work-place environments, and spread awareness of fungal infections we might see in our domestic pets.


Russell L. Cuhel, Senior Scientist, was born in Hollywood and raised in the City of the Stars during the Golden Age. In college as a first-generation student, he had already gathered over 150 days at sea, mostly in Antarctica, and 6 publications before he finished his Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Chemistry at the UC San Diego (1975). As a graduate student in Marine Microbiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (1975-1981), he studied extreme environments, which continues as a passion to this day. He gained more shipboard experience, including 5 dives to over 2 miles in the Deep Submergence Research Vessel ALVIN off the coast of New Jersey. In addition his cooking and party management skills extended his friend base to international oceanography and art communities. Research work at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (U. Miami 1981-1989) added hundreds more days at sea covering most of the world’s oceans and a year-long time series on Lake Ontario. Adept at bench research, he began to include research education (high school to graduate student levels) as a major, well-integrated component of his service to UWM beginning in 1990. Building on a program initiated by Nealson and others, he brought the only freshwater Oceanography site of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates to national recognition. Innovative integration of the REU education program and NSF-funded research on Yellowstone Lake underwater geysers allowed students to work side by side with active scientists in cross-cutting and environmentally relevant disciplines (geochemistry, geology, chemistry, microbiology, policy, engineering) – not to mention exciting using a Remotely Operated Vehicle to actually discover new thermal features in the depths of the lake.

Such Interdisciplinary Approaches are also the core of his diverse funded research programs, which include year-round sampling in Lake Michigan, Wisconsin Inland Lakes, Yellowstone Lake, and several marine sites including the Guaymas Basin hydrothermal system. Community outreach is also a critical component of UWM’s mission, and Cuhel and Aguilar are reliably present as knowledgeable educators at a variety of community functions. Peer review of proposals and manuscripts, panel participation at funding agencies, and chairing of annual undergraduate research poster sessions at national meetings provides a taste of widely-recognized national service, all undertaken in the name of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee WATER Institute and now School of Freshwater Sciences.


Dasha Kelly-Hamilton is a nationally-respected writer, artist and creative change agent, leveraging the processes of writing and creating to curate discussion experiences for programs and organizations around the world. Dasha has written features and essays for national, regional and local magazines; published two collections of poems, essays and short stories; four full-length spoken word recordings; a poetry chapbook; and two novels.

Dasha founded Still Waters Collective in 2000 as an open mic, and grew the event to an organization and an award-winning community-building initiative. She was nominated as a USA Arts Fellow, twice been a finalist as Poet Laureate for the State of Wisconsin and was named Artist of the Year by the City of Milwaukee. A former “Army brat,” Dasha lives in Milwaukee with her husband, their blended brood of five children, and one imperious cat.

Earlier Event: October 7
New York , NY - No Man's Land
Later Event: October 18
New York, NY - Speak Up, Rise Up