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Historical image of the week

Summer Session Picnic

Summer Session Picnic. Photo by Jerauld A. Manter, 1942. From the UConn Libraries Archives and Special Collections.

Meet graduate student Jonathan Mahoney

Jonathan Mahoney

Jonathan Mahoney.

Jonathan Mahoney is a PhD student studying plant breeding in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. While completing an undergraduate internship at the USDA in Ames, Iowa, he became part of a collaboration that connected him to UConn. Here is what he said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

I studied at Iowa State University in the Department of Horticulture and graduated in 2014.

What was your major?

My major was horticulture with an emphasis in fruit and vegetable production.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

It was partly due to the people that I worked with at Iowa State, especially the faculty, and the research that I did as an undergraduate at the USDA-ARS, National Plant Germplasm System.

It was also probably my own curiosity. Learning what something is, that’s interesting, but I want to know why and how. I think graduate school allows me to do that with experiments and scientific discoveries.

Who is your advisor? (more…)

Physical therapy students’ challenge aims to prevent distracted driving

UConn DPT student Elle Stark.

UConn DPT student Elle Stark.

Laurie Devaney, clinical instructor in the Department of Kinesiology, was listening to NPR when she heard about a new app called JoyRyde, designed to give incentives for safe driving in an attempt to reduce injuries and deaths from distracted driving.

“I teach the spine component of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program, and one of our modules is injury resulting from car accidents,” Devaney says. “Instead of just treating injuries, we are trying to get our physical therapists more involved in health, wellness and prevention of injury.”

“When I learned about this app, I challenged our students to take an active role in preventing injuries from car crashes. There’s a big movement toward using the term car crash instead of motor vehicle accident,  because people are doing things intentionally that put them at risk.”

The JoyRyde idea was the brainchild of Terry Goguen, CEO and founder of JoyRyde. The free app encourages people to take responsibility for their driving and for the safety of others. The app keeps track of miles driven without using a cell phone, drivers earning points redeemable at various fast food chains and e-commerce sites. The app promotes behavior change through rewards, with the goal of changing bad habits permanently.

By involving her students, Devaney hoped they might change their own behaviors and consequently encourage their patients to change as well. “As physical therapists we need to model healthy behaviors,” she says. “Distracted driving is a big public health problem.”

(more…)

Image of the week

Invasion of the Gypsy Moths. Despite the havoc that thousands of gypsy moths are wreaking on the New England landscape this year, many of the affected trees will grow new leaves, says extension expert Thomas Worthley. (UConn Today) (Getty Images)

Website relays native plant info

Native plants website

Homepage of New England Native Plants Initiatives website

New England native plants have a new ally with the creation of a website dedicated to disseminating information about them.

The New England Native Plants Initiatives site highlights “the important role native plants play in our ecology,” said Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture graduate student John Campanelli. He and his advisor, Associate Professor Julia Kuzovkina, co-initiated the website while working on a related DOT native grasses project.

Campanelli adds that the site acts as a clearinghouse to “direct people to organizations and businesses related to native plants in our region,” with the goal of increasing use of the plants. The new CAHNR website has several potential audiences from amateur gardeners to government and industry professionals to conservationists.

Native plants benefit ecosystems and the environment. For example, forbs, or wildflowers, provide ideal forage (pollen and nectar) for native pollinators like bees and butterflies. With the increased use of native forbs, there is the potential to reverse the decline of pollinator populations in the region, says Campanelli. The website has a page devoted to pollinators, and it includes links to fact sheets and research articles.

Campanelli points out an additional bonus, “Native plants are better adapted to a region’s ecological parameters. They require fewer inputs, such as water and fertilizers, to thrive.” This fact and the ability of natives to provide habitats for many species of wildlife, such as birds, reptiles and amphibians, contribute to a cleaner environment and conservation efforts, according to Campanelli. (more…)