Cathy Middlecamp


Professor in the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies


 Professor | The Nelson Institute for Environmental StudiesChemistry Department

Middlecamp works hard, plays hard, and enjoys doing both. With a blend of work and play in mind, she teaches ILS 126, Principles of Environmental Science. This course, which meets the Physical Science (P) breadth requirement, focuses on energy, food, and waste on our campus. Laboratory activities are held in the WID (Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery) and include field trips both on and off campus. For example, one trip is to Union South where all eat a meal at Ginger Root and then determine the carbon footprint of the meal.

In the fall semester, Middlecamp teaches the senior capstone course, ILS 400, that focuses on the life of Alexander Meiklejohn, the founder of the Experimental College in which the ILS Program had its origin. Students in the capstone explore themes of education, leadership, and character. All have the opportunity to lead the seminar, asking each other that pivotal philosophical question, “For what, how, and why shall we live?”

In years past, she has taught ILS 251, The Radium Girls and the Firecracker Boys. The course is a merry romp across our planet, seeking the places where people and radioactive substances have come in close contact. But it also is work, in that the consequences of our 100+ year history with radioactive substances have left us with challenges that will last not only our lifetime, but the lifetimes of our children's children.

In her teaching and scholarship, Middlecamp works with the challenges of our planet that cross geographical boundaries and intellectual disciplines. She writes and speaks on air quality, global climate change, and our love-hate affair with uranium. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Chemistry in Context, a project of the American Chemical Society. She is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the Association for Women in Science. When not in the Meiklejohn House, you'll find her up in the Baraboo Hills watching her garden grow (or skiing the countryside). She also plays on the mat whenever she gets a chance, having trained in the art of aikido for over 25 years.