Delta Beer Lab Collaboration

CaSP x DBL Collab

Catalysts for Science Policy is excited to continue our collaboration with local Madison brewery, Delta Beer Lab, to feature art inspired by STEM research by either undergraduates, graduate students, or post-docs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. CaSP is now accepting submissions of research-inspired designs, with the winner featured on the Delta Beer Lab 2024 spring special edition beer label.

Submissions will include:

  • Artist(s) contact information
  • Label design, as either a PDF or image file (for more details see the submission requirements)
  • Short explanation of your research (70 words max.)

Submissions will be accepted now through Midnight on February 16th. Previous designs can be viewed below. Before you submit, please read these submission requirements. An example of a Delta Beer Labs label can be found here, and the design template can be found as a PDF or Adobe Illustrator file.


All participants will have the opportunity to present their science at a launch event at Delta Beer Lab on Friday April 5th, where the submissions will be showcased. This event will include the chance to try the beer at “the Lab” and to discuss the science that has inspired the artwork. Check back to this page for more information as the date approaches.

PREVIOUS Winning Designs:
2024: Catherine Freed, PostDoctoral Fellow Biochemistry

“In the right context, phosphorus enhances food production and human health. In the wrong context, phosphorus runoff pollutes our beautiful lakes and causes algal blooms. Here, we illustrate the plants we have engineered to clean excess phosphorus from polluted environments, made possible by modifying small molecules (inositol pyrophosphates). It’s our goal to bring phosphorus back into the right context while providing a stable food supply and clean water for all.”

2023: CLAIR HENTHORN, Comparative Biomedical Sciences

“Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). These are chronic infectious diseases caused by overlooked parasites, bacteria, and viruses that infect at least 1 in 8 individuals worldwide. These diseases have devastating consequences and disproportionally affect people experiencing poverty. So why haven’t we tackled these diseases yet?! While some NTDs have treatment options, many parasitic NTDs don’t and are difficult to study. This limits the development and distribution of preventative and curative treatments to combat disease. With the right resources and creativity, we strive to take the neglect out of Neglected Tropical Diseases and alleviate the suffering of millions around the globe.”

2022: Amy Neusaenger, Pharmaceutical Sciences

“What do LCD TVs, Benadryl, and perfectly tempered chocolate have in common? They all rely on the formation of desirable crystal structures! While you can find crystals anywhere you look, our lab focuses on pharmaceutical applications. What you see in this design is a compilation of several pictures of D-arabitol (a sugar alcohol) crystals captured using polarized light microscopy. Studying the crystallization behavior of D-arabitol and other similar model systems helps us understand how the tablets in your medicine cabinet physically behave at the molecular level—the ultimate goal being treatments that are as safe, reliable, and effective as possible.”

2021: John Cobb and Abra Schlub, Department of Mathematics

Born out of collaboration between artist and mathematician, this gallery showcases mathematical concepts you might see if you pursue research in algebraic geometry. Algebraic geometry is a highly active and central field in mathematics which relates questions about polynomials with questions about shapes. Besides conceptually unifying seemingly disparate areas of math, algebraic geometry has direct applications in robotics, genetics, and string theory. It is our hope that our design communicates a shared sense of creativity and passion between art and mathematics.”

PREVIOUS Runners Up: 


Allondra Woods:
“From the fermentation process required to brew beer to the digestion of food in our guts, microbes have the power to do unbelievable things. The goal of my research is to use microorganisms like bacteria and fungi to make the Earth a healthier and cleaner place for everyone. This includes studying the use of microorganisms to do remediation and clean up environmental pollutants and toxins.”
Haleigh Ortmeier-Clarke:
“Wisconsin’s vibrant agricultural legacy is rooted in it’s family farms. A love of local breweries and bakeries runs just as deep. The research depicted germinated as an effort to cultivate a connection between local farmers wanting to diversify their farms and local businesses looking for locally produced ingredients. Grain grown here in WI can be used in so many of a Wisconsinite’s favorite things!”
Lauren Ehehalt:
“Our group’s research focuses on cross-electrophile coupling, which is the coupling of two chemical reagents to form new carbon-carbon bonds. These chemical reagents are lacking electrons (which have a negative charge), which is why they have a positive sign. One focus is on selectively coupling the right two reagents. For example, preventing the blue chemicals from coupling to another blue chemical, instead choosing a red chemical to couple with.”
Peter Ducos:
“Cryogenic Electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM) can image objects thousands of times smaller than conventional light microscopy. Hundreds of individual proteins are captured in a single colorless image but, the low signal provides little information about any individual protein. Using data processing, millions of proteins are cut from the images. Their information is summed together into exquisite near atomic resolution density maps that allow modeling of the protein at atomic scale.”


Ben Davidson:

“Grain, hops, yeast, and water – these are the ingredients that make a great beer. Still, we often give little consideration to water. The microplastics shown here were collected from Lake Superior beach sands as we work to understand how microplastics interact with the beach environment. Plastics have fundamentally changed the way we interact with the world. As they break down into microplastics, they pose unique risks in the aquatic environment. Microplastics have been found around the world, in the products we consume, and in our bodies. The best solution to microplastic pollution is to reduce plastic waste.”

Lauren Ehehalt, Nathan Manalo:

“Developing drugs, among many other aspects of our everyday lives, involves linking together two chemical fragments by bonding two carbon atoms. These fragment choices are limited by what can be bought, as well as whether the two fragments are compatible in the reaction. Like trying to shove two magnet south poles together, our group’s work focuses on “Cross-Electrophile Coupling”, meaning we take two fragments that “want” electrons and with a nickel catalyst, which facilitates the reaction without being destroyed, to bond these two fragments together. This allows for a wider range of drug candidates that can be developed.”

Ashley Scott:

The extracellular matrix is a dynamic structure of proteins and molecules that surrounds the cells in our body and gives tissues their unique characteristics. In our heart, the aortic valve has the important job of allowing oxygen rich blood to flow out of the heart to the rest of the body. Despite the aortic valve only being the thickness of four sheets of paper, it has a highly organized extracellular matrix. The aortic valve extracellular matrix is three layers and is composed of collagen, glycosaminoglycans, proteoglycans, and elastin. All of which help the aortic valve open and close a whopping 42 million times a year!

Laura Elmendorf:

Methylcobalamin, an active form of vitamin B12, was once described as “nature’s most beautiful cofactor,” referring to the complex molecular structure that allows it to catalyze chemical reactions essential to life. In order to understand its properties, I study how it interacts with different forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as visible light, a branch of science known as spectroscopy. Shown here is a form of laser-enhanced spectroscopy that provides insight into geometric characteristics like the distance between atoms and the strength of chemical bonds, which in turn sheds light on how the molecule achieves its impressive reactivity.


Anna Christenson:

“Each of us has over 10 billion miles of DNA in length in our body, dwarfing the roughly 92 million miles between the Earth and Sun. Nearly half of this DNA is composed of transposable elements. Transposable elements are repetitive regions of our genome, and certain elements have the ability to move around to different locations in our DNA. This movement can be harmful to our cells, so a variety of molecular mechanisms are used to keep them silenced, including modifications to the histone proteins around which DNA is wrapped and modifications to the DNA itself.”

Sean Fenstemaker:

“The wild tomato relative Solanum galapagense accession LA1141 demonstrates the ability to tolerate deficit irrigation making it a potential resource for crop improvement. Plant canopy temperature is a proxy for physiological traits which can be challenging to measure. Canopy temperature was estimated using a FLIRONE GEN3 iOS thermal camera (FLIR Systems Wilsonville, OR USA) and calibrated relative to water baths at a known temperature. Assessment of canopy temperature provides a rapid and efficient measure of plant response to water deficit stress. Additionally, water deficit stress evaluations of plants with thermal images improved the objectivity of evaluations.”

 Kendall Kamp:

“One of the fundamental goals of materials chemistry is to find the link between a material’s structure and its physical properties. To make this link, research is needed to evaluate why a structure forms and what contributes to its stability. One factor to consider in this evaluation is the size of the atoms and how they pack in the structure and how their relative sizes effect the internal strains of the structure. The images shown here are two pressure maps depicting different strains between (left) and within the cores (right) the atoms (overlayed) in an ordered model of YZn5+x.”

 Irene Stoutland:

“Individual bacterial cells can communicate using a complex language of chemical signals. When cell density reaches a critical threshold, the high concentration of signaling compound (the haze around each cell) causes the bacteria to shift from a nomadic lifestyle to a multicellular community. This is known as “quorum sensing” and is associated with changes in virulence, metabolite production, biofilm formation, and more. By interfering with chemical communication between bacteria, chemists can combat antibiotic resistance among pathogenic bacteria.”

 Sarah Ferguson and Ben Webber:

“Blood! Lasers! Metamorphosis cocktails! Sounds like great sci fi, right? Except I use all these things in real research in the Gumperz Lab. I study how immune cells differentiate, or grow up, in hopes of creating the best cells for cancer therapy. By using blood samples, “cocktails” of chemicals called cytokines, and flow cytometry (the lasers), I can isolate stem cells and track what functions they might have as I push them down different differentiation paths. I collaborated with talented designer and friend, Ben Webber, to merge actual flow data with my love of science communication in this awesome label!”

 Hannah Fricke: 

“My research focuses on the long-term effects of antidepressant usage during pregnancy and lactation on the skeletal health of both mother and offspring. The antidepressant I specifically study is fluoxetine (Prozac), which is a member of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants. The research in my lab is centered around serotonin, which plays a role in both lactation and in bone; therefore, SSRI usage during the reproductive cycle and bone health is of particular interest to us. This label design showcases the skeleton and the chemical structures of serotonin and fluoxetine.” 

Brenna Bierman:

“Chemistry often conjures images of colorful solutions in Erlenmeyer flasks, but solids have interesting and beautiful chemistry too! This label showcases one such solid—models of a crystal composed of gold and silicon (Au atoms in turquoise and Si atoms in magenta), at varying levels of distortion in their inner-gold cage. Beneath the three structures are a band plot and density of state curve. Band plots, also referred to as spaghetti diagrams, are 2D visualizations of allowed electronic energy levels. The density of states curve shows the number of these electron states as a function of energy.”

 Tessa Haldes:

“Microwave hyperthermia is a noninvasive cancer therapy that has been explored as an treatment option for breast cancer. These images show simulations of waves propagating through fibroglandular breast tissue. The different colors represent the wave amplitudes. Here we can see results from various numbers of antennas, types of waves, and multiple snapshots in time.”


Scott Lucchini, Donghia Lab in the Department of Physics

 “This is a simulation of two interacting galaxies: the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. They are the closest dwarf galaxies to our own Milky Way and they have been dancing around each other for billions of years as they’ve been getting closer and closer to us. Today we see the results of these interactions as a massive tail of gas pulled out behind them called the Magellanic Stream. This simulation models their past interactions and explains how this massive stream was formed.” 

Gina Roesch, Garand Lab in the Department of Chemistry

I know what you’re thinking – why aren’t there beakers on this can?  The truth is that while wet chemistry is the one we hear about in the news, it’s not the only type of chemistry.  In fact, there is chemical research associated with all the phases of matter – liquid, gas, solid and plasma.  As an analytical chemist, I develop new instrumentation and circuitry to facilitate the study of gas phase reactions.  I take traditional approaches of identifying species in the gas phase and implement faster and more cost-effective approaches to product identification. “

Christina Mark, Miyamoto Laboratory in the Department of Oncology, Cancer Biology Graduate Program

Multiple myeloma, the second most common and largely incurable blood cancer in the United States, is characterized by malignant plasma cells that metastasize from the bone marrow to distant sites around the body. As the mortality rate is 47.8% and due largely to patients developing therapeutic resistance, a critical goal in multiple myeloma research has been to identify targetable factors to stop drug resistance. I use bone marrow aspirates from multiple myeloma patients to study how neighboring cells in the tumor microenvironment secrete proteins that help myeloma cells activate the NF-ĸB cell survival and inflammatory pathway and escape drug resistance.“

Kendall Kamp, Frederickson Lab in the Department of Chemistry

This label’s design is an X-ray diffraction pattern overlayed with the structure this data helped to solve! Intermetallics are materials made of 2 or more metallic elements that come together and arrange themselves in hundreds of different arrangements—or structure types. After a crystal is synthesized, researchers determine its composition and structure with X-ray diffraction experiments. These experiments use high energy X-rays to resolve the spacing and weight of the atoms within the crystal, which allows the researcher to determine which elements go where. After a crystal structure is solved, it can be tested for properties, such as superconductivity. “

The Wisconsin Shock Tube Lab, College of Engineering

“In the heart of dying stars, in the bowels of hypersonic machines and at the edges of limitless power lies a chaotic turbulent mechanism of nature.

We use the world’s largest vertically firing shock tube to explore shock driven turbulent mixing where the interface between materials is impulsively accelerated to breakneck speeds.

Here we see just one snapshot of mixing occurring, with a model of our experiment off to the side and above, a time evolution of a turbulent mixing layer in our shock tube.”

Peyton Higgins, Buller Lab in the Department of Chemistry 

“In my lab we study enzymes, which are specialized biological molecules that facilitate chemical reactions. Enzymes in yeast cells are responsible for fermenting sugar into the alcohol in the beer you’re enjoying right now! We can modify enzymes found in Nature through a process called “directed evolution,” where we mimic the natural process of evolution to make changes to an enzyme’s structure and observe how those changes affect the way the enzyme functions. By combining multiple beneficial changes, we can evolve enzymes to help us make useful chemicals, degrade plastic, and more!

I’d like to thank my research group – the Buller Lab – for their support and feedback. Fun fact – the chemical structures on the label show an amino acid chain, which is what enzymes are made of. Moving left to right across the label, I changed the amino acids in the sequence, just like we would in directed evolution. Each amino acid can be represented by a single letter when writing down sequence information; the final sequence spells out DELTA four times!”

Hayley Boigenzahn, Wisconsin Institute of Discovery 

“Scientists believe that life on Earth began with simple chemicals that reacted together to form more and more complicated ones. The famous Miller experiment first showed how the building blocks of life could be formed from simple gases. By studying how these ‘blocks’ interact, we can learn about what molecules were present on the early Earth and how they may have contributed to jump-starting the very first forms of life. Researching the origins of life can teach us about evolution and biochemistry, and even helps us search for life elsewhere in the Solar System.”

Dylan Schmitz and Stephanie Cone, Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab, Department of Mechanical Engineering

“Here at the NBML, kegs aren’t the only thing we like to tap. We’ve built a sensor that taps on your tendons to produce good vibrations. These vibrations change based on how tight the tendon is, just like the strings of a guitar. If you spin this can from right to left, you can see how the cyclic forces in the Achilles tendon change during walking and running. We use this information to study athletic performance, improve rehabilitation after sports injuries, inform surgical techniques for developmental disorders, and design exoskeletons (like Iron Man!).”

Check out more of what they do here:

Caroline Anastasia, Pederson Lab, Departments of Chemistry and Soil Science

In water-scare regions of the U.S. and the world, treated wastewater is used to irrigate crops. There is evidence, though, that crop plants can accumulate a wide variety of wastewater-derived organic contaminants, including halogenated organic disinfection byproducts (DBPs). Many of the DBPs present in treated wastewater are not well understood with respect to quantity and their effects on human health. My research focuses on identifying these halogenated DBPs in lettuce irrigated with chlorinated wastewater via mass spectrometric analysis.”