Marie Nitschke

My day job is being a programmer for the University of Wisconsin Survey Center. I handle the technical aspects of developing survey tools for web-based, phone and in-person surveys, plus monitor data collection, scrub the data and provide it to the client in usable form.

A lot of our work is done for the University of Wisconsin and we are starting to collaborate more with researchers at the UW Hospital, but we also handle research assignments for groups around the world and are known for excellence in survey data, especially longitudinal studies. We have a reputation for taking a holistic approach to data analysis and delivering insights that go beyond the numbers. This is an especially important differentiator at a time when so much data is Internet-based: we look at the sociology behind the figures.

A “fun fact” about our office is that we did the data collection for the book Evicted.

My most memorable caffeine is the egg coffee I consumed on a recent trip to Vietnam—I highly recommend both the country and the egg coffee!

My husband and I were on a kayaking excursion and two of the women on the trip were talking about how they hoped we’d get back in time for them to get another egg coffee. We’d seen this item on various menus but had no idea of what it was and the name wasn’t very encouraging! Based on the enthusiasm of these women, we decided to give it a try and I’m so glad we did. Egg coffee is basically liquid tiramisu—frothy, creamy beautifulness topped by the best whipped cream you’ve ever had. It appears to be a specialty that’s only found in North Vietnam—as we traveled south no one knew what it was.

I thought about trying to duplicate it at home, but decided I’d rather just savor it as a beautiful, shiny memory.

My current caffeine of choice is simply a light roast coffee, served black. I went through the standard college pathway to drinking coffee: Folgers (before I knew better), with milk and sugar to deal with the taste, and a gradual move to plain “good coffee.”

My favorite place for caffeine is Colectivo Coffee on Monroe. It’s an easy walk from my house and my husband and I like to go there to plan future adventures. Next up: a garden!

 The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Judy Faulkner, the founder and CEO of Epic Systems. As a woman working in tech, I’m amazed at all she accomplished at a time when it was very difficult for women to establish themselves in this field. And I’m in awe of the many skills she brought to the success of Epic—her programming and software development abilities plus her savvy in building the business.

I love all the ways she works to make Epic a good corporate citizen—her commitment to renewable energy, the efforts to get food from the Epic cafeteria out to food pantries, the fact that each employee gets a certain amount of money to earmark for the charity of their choice and that they can choose to use their sabbatical to do service work. I think she’s just a fantastic person.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  Reducing waste. I recently read a book, Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, that’s really gotten me thinking about the impact our lifestyle choices have on the world. More education would allow each of us to understand our role and the difference we can make by cutting the amount of waste we generate.