You are on page 1of 2

F O R U N I V E R S I T Y O F W I S C O N S I N - M A D I S O N A L U M N I A N D F R I E N D S S P R I N G 2 0 1 6

Sweet Spot
Tales of the UW’s
treasured land
Page 22
Recognition Regina Davan ’03
’98 received a very grim diagno-

sis of twin-to-twin transfusion
syndrome for the sons she was
carrying, she and her husband
found the Fetal Health Founda-
tion, a national nonprofit that
guided them to specialized med-
ical help. At twenty-eight weeks,
she gave birth to the tiny twins,
who struggled with many health
challenges as babies but are now
doing well in school. Young, of
Littleton, Colorado, participat-
ed in her first half-Ironman in
September to raise money for
the Fetal Health Foundation.
The Wisconsin District
Attorneys Association (WDAA) QUEEN OF KILTS
has lauded two fine Badgers. Regina “Jeanie” Davan ’03 (center) first enrolled at UW-Madison as a
Michelle Biese Viste JD’99, pre-optometry student, but she found herself stitching a new career path
WDAA’s Wisconsin Deputy years later. She had left school to become a web designer, and then she
District Attorney of the Year, worked in an optometry office before deciding to finish her degree. The
had been deputy district attor- semester after she returned to campus as an adult student, one of her
ney for Dane County and is now two sons was diagnosed with leukemia.
an assistant attorney general for While looking for classes with flexible attendance requirements,
the Wisconsin Department of Davan discovered the theatre and drama department’s costume design
Justice. Peter Tempelis ’01, program, and it seemed like the ideal fit. She credits Gail Brassard,
JD’06, MPA’06, Milwaukee an associate professor of costume design, and Jim Greco, the costume
County assistant district attor- studio supervisor, for guiding her journey to graduation. “My son was sick
ney and head of its domestic for three and a half years as I was going through school,” she says. “They
violence unit, is WDAA’s gave me so much help and leeway. I knew from the start that they
Wisconsin Assistant District believed in me.”
Attorney of the Year. Davan earned her degree the same month that her son finished
treatment. She was already taking on sewing projects on the side when
00s a friend asked her to create a kilt, and the idea for a new business was
Two ’00s grads are success- born. “I just became obsessed with it,” she says.
fully climbing their academic Since 2006, Alt.Kilt has established a thriving — if surprising —
ladders. Alicia Johnson ’01 business as the only custom, contemporary kilt maker in the world. The
has received tenure at Maca- company, now one of only four commercial kilt makers in the country,
lester College in Saint Paul, has grown to a team of five that makes some 350 kilts each year. Davan
Minnesota. She teaches in the puts the finishing touches on all of them, and she personally handles the
Mathematics, Statistics, and more challenging ones, such as those made from leather or Kevlar.
Computer Science Department “One gentleman sent me his karate [uniform],” she says, recalling one
and researches Markov Chain of her favorite projects. “I turned that into a kilt with a custom pocket for
Monte Carlo methods and their his nunchakus.”
application in Bayesian statis- Who’s buying these one-of-a-kind kilts? A wide range of (mostly) men,
tics. Travis Mountain ’04, she says, including pipes-and-drums teams, steampunk aficionados,
MS’08 has been named an gamers, nightclub owners, and more. Most are based on the U.S. coasts,
assistant professor of agricul- though Davan also ships regularly to New Zealand and Australia. Many
tural and applied economics in are repeat buyers. “I have guys who have bought ten, twelve kilts,” she
Virginia Tech’s College of Ag- says. “I have some customers who no longer wear pants.” The kilts start
riculture and Life Sciences and at around $200 and can go as high as $700, depending on customization.
concentrates on the economic Davan proudly spots her creations at various events such as trade
well-being of households and shows, comic cons, and steampunk gatherings — and on the street.
communities in Virginia as an “I like coming up with new designs and seeing what works,” she says.
Extension specialist. “And I can stop conversation anywhere by saying what I do for a living.”
Fans of the Oshkosh, S A N D R A K N I S E LY ’ 0 9 , M A’ 1 3
Wisconsin–based Experimental
Aircraft Association (EAA) and

On Wisconsin 55