Tom Luljak

UWM Today Host

Tom Luljak is the vice chancellor of University Relations and Communications at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. In addition to directing the university's communication programs, Luljak serves as an associate lecturer in UWM's Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaching courses in corporate communications and sports marketing.

Luljak, who joined UW-Milwaukee in the Spring of 2000, earned his master's degree from UWM in mass communication. His bachelor's degree is from the department of Radio/TV/Film and Speech Education at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh.

Prior to his work at UWM, Luljak served as director of corporate communications at Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, where he also served as executive director of the company's foundation. Luljak began his career as a broadcast journalist, and served as news director for WTMJ-TV, WTMJ-AM and WKTI-FM. His numerous broadcast journalism honors include the George Foster Peabody Award for Investigative Journalism.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and schools around the world started moving classes online, it was an incredibly disruptive experience for many. Students at every age level found themselves having to adapt to a new way of learning, and the same was true for teachers, some of whom had never taught online before. 

Now, nearly a year later, online instruction remains the norm for many. So how are we doing?  Are students succeeding in the new learning environment? Will online classes be as taught as frequently when the pandemic ends?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that climate change will accelerate the intensity of hurricanes in the coming century. Already the maximum sustained winds of hurricanes are getting stronger, and 2020 was the most active hurricane season on record. 

If you open up your cell phone or iPad you will find lithium-ion batteries powering the units. The same goes for electric vehicles you see on the road. The lithium-ion batteries work far better than the standard nickel-cadmium batteries and the inventors of the lithium-Ion units won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their discovery. But there are still limitations on how well the lithium-ion batteries perform. Now two UWM scientists have created a material that may dramatically increase the energy storage capacity of the batteries.  And they have raised more than a million dollars and star

As a top tier research university faculty at UWM are engaged in groundbreaking discoveries every day. We feature many of their stories on this program each week. But the impact of that research goes far beyond the confines of the campus.

This week the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time. The historic event followed the tragedy in the U.S. Capitol last week when groups of Trump supporters staged an insurrection — storming the symbol of American democracy in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden as president. Today thousands of national guardsmen are stationed in and around the U.S. Capitol, bracing themselves for potentially more violent demonstrations when Biden is inaugurated on Wednesday. 

Giant kelp is usually found thousands of miles from Milwaukee. It’s known for being an incredibly fast-growing seaweed in the Pacific Ocean. But recently, scientists have learned that the kelp could be a huge source for biofuel. That’s where a UWM scientist, Filipe Alberto, comes into the picture. He is a biologist in UWM’s College of Letters and Science and has received millions of dollars in federal funding to help unlock the secret of how this amazing plant can be engineered to become an important source of energy. 

All of us know the power of the internet to connect people across the world. But there is another type of internet that is designed to optimize the way millions of machines operate. It’s called the Industrial Internet of Things. At UWM there is a new unit on campus working with dozens of companies to learn how the Internet of Things can make manufacturing more efficient and productive. The Connected Systems Institute recently opened its doors and its executive director, Mary Bunzel is our guest today.

Since its opening, UWM’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center has attracted UWM students from across the campus who want to know more about innovation, problem-solving and creativity – the foundation of how entrepreneurs think. When the coronavirus pandemic began, all of the various programs had to move to an online environment.

  

Climate change, pollution and over demand are just a few of the challenges that are forcing us to rethink how we use and conserve water. Both globally and in the water-rich Great Lakes region, there's also a need to train the next generation of scientists and technicians to work in the water industry.

Each year, more than 150,000 Americans learn their cancer has spread — or metastasized — to their brain. The UWM App Brewery has partnered with Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Network to develop a smartphone app that streamlines communication among doctors treating these patients. The app not only allows a team of doctors and specialists to reach a consensus on the patient’s care within hours but also recommends best treatment options.

For decades, low-income and minority communities across the United States were intentionally cut off from lending and investment through a system known as redlining. The practice started in the 1930s and lasted decades before being declared illegal. But the impact of redlining remains today as many neighborhoods suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty but from lower life expectancy and a higher incidence of chronic diseases.

Over the past 40 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of inmates in America’s prisons and jails. Today more than 2 million people are imprisoned in this country — a 500% increase since 1978. There are many consequences of the mass incarceration in the United States, which has affected families and communities nationwide.

As we move into the homestretch of the presidential election, the political rhetoric is heating up, especially in a battleground state like Wisconsin. While we can all switch the channel or turn off the TV when we have our fill of political advertising, it is not easy knowing how to handle those uncomfortable moments when we are face-to-face with someone we disagree with.

For the past four years, UWM scientists have been involved in one of the largest studies ever conducted into the brain development of adolescents. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study is tracking nearly 12,000 kids across the United States — about 400 of them here in southeastern Wisconsin — to see how their brains mature. It’s a fascinating story we have been following here on UWM Today for some time.

We are all getting older with every birthday we celebrate. But we don’t all age the same way. And how we approach aging affects not only us but the people around us.

On this edition of UWM Today, we talk to a UWM English professor who has just published a book about getting older and finding lessons in films, literature and works of art. Ellyn Lem’s new book is titled Gray Matters: Finding Meaning in the Stories of Later Life.

The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous pain and suffering – both in terms of the number of people infected and killed by the virus and those who have lost their jobs. It’s estimated that more than 30 million people continue to be unemployed in our country because of the effects the pandemic has had on society.

The racial equity protests around the country sparked by the death of George Floyd have shed new light on longstanding issues of race and inequality in the United States. In Milwaukee, the protests have once again highlighted the impact of the segregationist practices that were once common in the area and that have contributed to socioeconomic inequality for people of color in the region, especially for the Black population.

As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, important environmental research continues to take place at top tier research universities across America like UW-Milwaukee.

Lauren Sigfusson

Health care practitioners spend a lot of time gathering data. Good information about patients is one of the key elements to providing good care. But unfortunately, hospitals are not always able to implement a data-monitoring system. With different levels of data access from hospital to hospital, errors can happen that can impact the health outcomes of patients.

Lauren Sigfusson

As the Democratic National Convention is about to get underway here in Milwaukee, the deep disappointment of what might have been is inescapable. The prospect of hosting more than 50,000 visitors during the convention and showcasing the city and state to audiences around the world evaporated with the decision to have a nearly all virtual event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, small as it may be, the convention will still go on with Democrats formally nominating Joe Biden to be the party’s candidate in the November election.

Lauren Sigfusson

Learning a second language for people who grow up speaking English can be challenging. Think back to your high school French, German or even Japanese lessons. So how difficult is it for a child who comes to this country speaking no English? Should they be encouraged to stop speaking their native language and focus entirely on becoming proficient in English? Or is there a better way to help students learn?

All too often we take our ability to move for granted. Going for a walk, riding a bike, getting in and out of a chair comfortably. If we can do those activities without pain or discomfort, it becomes second nature. But injuries or illness can have a profound impact on our ability to get around. At UW-Milwaukee’s research park in Wauwatosa, a team working in the Innovation Accelerator building is finding ways to improve health and function of people with disabilities.

Lauren Sigfusson

Although he has suspended his campaign for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders will be remembered as a disruptor in this year’s race for the White House. Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist, a title that has not escaped President Trump’s attention who describes socialism as a “destroyer of societies.” The focus on socialism is timely because when the Democratic National Party holds its convention in Milwaukee, the eyes of the world will be on a city that once was considered the most socialist city in the United States.

Lauren Sigfusson

When considering a career in the medical profession many people, especially high school students, think of being a doctor or nurse. But there are many other types of health care professionals who are essential to keeping us well. At UW-Milwaukee, the College of Health Sciences has become one of the largest programs in Wisconsin where students train to work in a broad range of fields, including biomedical sciences, occupational and physical therapy, and speech pathology to name just a few.

JEFFREY KARRON

On these summer days, one of the great escapes for many of us is a garden. Here in Wisconsin, it seems like our reward for enduring months of cold, snow and slush. But while we may be drawn to the colorful flowers, some people are more interested in the small, winged visitors to the flowers: the bees.

Lauren Sigfusson

While the health care crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to occupy our attention, its impact on our economy dominates much of our daily lives.

On this edition of UWM Today, we take a closer look at how businesses, large and small, are responding to one of the biggest disruptions in our economy in decades. Our guest is uniquely suited to the topic, the dean of UWM’s Lubar School of Business, Kaushal Chari, who joined UWM about a year ago from the University of Florida.

Courtesy of Roddy Medical

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, health care providers and first responders have had to deal with a severe shortage of personal protection equipment, including face masks that filter out the deadly virus.

Research shows that the main antibacterial ingredients in soaps and personal care products carry health risks when used daily. So when the FDA banned them in 2017, manufacturers chose different agents. Hongbo Ma in the UWM Zilber School of Public Health has tested some of those replacement antibacterial agents and found that they are no safer than the banned ones — and, in some cases, they're worse. 

People over the age of 60 are some of the most at risk for COVID-19. Health experts are advising seniors to be extra careful about exposing themselves to infection by taking steps to social distance and even isolate themselves from people who are carriers of the disease. But the very measures meant to keep people from getting infected may be causing other health issues, like loneliness.

Emily Files

If you asked someone how to get to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus a couple of years ago, they'd steer you to the East side of Milwaukee, where the university has grown into one of the top research universities in the country. But today, directions to UWM also lead you to Waukesha and Washington counties. That’s where UWM’s two-year campuses are located, offering another dimension in learning to people in southeastern Wisconsin.

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