Honors student Ellie Thoma shares her research at Research in the Rotunda

UW System President Jay Rothman listens to UW–Madison student Ellie Thoma (right) talk about Thoma’s research project “The Effects of Social Connectedness: From Public Housing and Vouchers to the Classroom” on display during Research in the Rotunda in the Wisconsin State Capitol on March 6, 2024. The outreach event provides students and faculty advisors from across the UW System with the opportunity to share their research findings with Wisconsin legislators, state leaders, UW alumni and members of the public. (Photo Jeff Miller / UW–Madison)

On March 6, 2024, some of the most outstanding undergraduate students conducting research at the Universities of Wisconsin gathered at the 20th anniversary of Research in the Rotunda. This event, held in Wisconsin’s Capitol Rotunda, provides these amazing students the opportunity to share and discuss their research findings with legislators, state leaders, UW alumni, and other supporters. 

We are thrilled to share that Ellie Thoma, a fourth-year UW undergraduate student researcher pursuing Comprehensive Honors, was selected to present her research at the event. Ellie is currently completing a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in Spanish and Neurobiology (Honors in the Major) and Honors in the Liberal Arts. 

Under the mentorship of Prof. Seth Pollak of the Psychology department and Abbie Klein of the Child Emotion Lab, Ellie has crafted a thesis titled, The Effects of Social Connectedness: From Public Housing & Vouchers to the Classroom. Her research focuses on the correlation between poverty and academic success, and more specifically, whether social interventions targeting students’ sense of connectedness can help reduce the negative effects of living in poverty. 

When asked what she would like state legislators, administrators, and faculty to know about her research, Ellie emphasized that her research was focused on finding ways to foster academic resilience in the most vulnerable of student populations. She stated that through opportunities like Research in the Rotunda, she hopes sharing her research with people in these authoritative positions can help develop a bridge between research and meaningful policy. 

The L&S Honors Program would like to thank Ellie Thoma for her dedicated work and the team that put together such a wonderful event. 

To learn more about this year’s event, we invite you to read this UW News article.

To hear more from our conversation with Ellie Thoma, please consider listening to the recording included below: