University of Connecticut

Meet graduate student Indu Upadhyaya

Indu Upadhyaya

Indu Upadhyaya

Indu Upadhyaya is a PhD student in the Department of Animal Science who is investigating the mechanisms through which Salmonella reaches the egg yolks. After spending time as a practicing veterinarian in India, she is now at UConn, focusing on poultry microbiology and safety research. Here’s what she said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergrad? What was your major?

I studied at RIVER (Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research), which is a veterinary school affiliated with Pondicherry University in India. After I obtained my Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from RIVER, I pursued a Masters in Veterinary Biochemistry from the same institution.

Why did you decide to go to grad school?

After finishing my DVM program, I worked for eight months or so as a practicing veterinarian in India. Apart from providing veterinary services and counseling to pet owners and farmers, I volunteered in large animal and poultry vaccination campaigns. They were a great way to interact with farmers and understand the various challenges and problems they encounter. In addition, during my internship in college, I worked at various large- and small-scale chicken farms, which is when I started studying chickens. As my interest in chicken health and food safety grew, I gravitated towards pursuing my PhD in food microbiology and safety. (more…)

Landscape ecologist Chad Rittenhouse works to conserve New England cottontail habitat

Chad Rittenhouse

Chad Rittenhouse

Chadwick Rittenhouse, assistant research professor of landscape ecology and wildlife in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, grew up hunting and fishing in Wisconsin. His love of the outdoors and interest in helping preserve the delicate balance between humans and animals has set him on an personal, academic and real-world mission to help save a species, the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis).

While it seems there is no shortage of rabbits, the problem is a declining population of New England cottontails, nearly identical to the more common Eastern cottontail. According to Rittenhouse, the two species are so similar that, “ There are probably only six people in the state who can tell them apart by looking at them.” Positive identification is made at the genetic level and by observing their different choices of habitat, a preference that has made all the difference for the beleaguered New England cottontail.

New England cottontails live in overgrown fields, tangles and thickets, and young forests and woodlands between 3 and 20 years of age. Historically their habitat was created by hurricanes, forest fires, beaver dams, active tree cutting from logging or farm abandonment. Once the forest grows up, the New England cottontails must move on. Their more adaptable relatives, the Eastern cottontails, take up residence in a broader range of habitats.

The New England cottontail is currently under consideration for listing as a federally endangered species, and Rittenhouse is part of a team of wildlife professionals, including Howard Kilpatrick (PhD 2010, UConn), Paul Rothbart (BS 1975, UConn) and Lisa Wahle (MS 1990, UConn) working with funding from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to quantify the amount of New England cottontail habitat in Connecticut. Rittenhouse estimates there are 13,536 acres of potential habitat for New England cottontails.

A New England cottontail

A New England cottontail. Photo courtesy of

Rittenhouse used a combination of state-of-the-art technology and computer algorithms to determine the potential habitat.  Using images from Landsat 5 and Landsat 7, which recorded light values in the visible and infrared range, Rittenhouse translated the information into an assessment of whether an area is forested or not forested for every year since 1985. Through this approach, he was able to generate a “disturbance list” of where changes have occurred.

He then used aerial photographs to spot-check the data. By engaging in “ground truthing,” Rittenhouse used aerial photographs and actual visits to 1,200 locations to verify his findings. (more…)

Image of the week: Turfgrass Field Day 2014

The Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture held its biennial Turfgrass Field Day on Tuesday, July 15, at the Plant Science Research and Teaching Facility. The event offers guided and self-guided tours of current research on turfgrass pathology, entomology, weed science, cultivar selection and improvement, sport turf management and related disciplines. Tours are followed in the afternoon by breakout sessions on topics such as turf water and nutrient management and turfgrass diseases.


How about some blue potatoes and orange tomatoes?

bluePotatoesOrangeTomatoesThe recent hot weather and rain have kicked your gardens into high gear. So how do you get your kids interested in joining you out there? Give them Blue Potatoes, Orange Tomatoes by Rosalind Creasy for summer reading.

Children 9 and older will learn about the basics of general gardening, from planning, planting, watering and weeding. The picture book format provides an introduction to organic gardening and explains how to grow a cornucopia of unusually colored fruits and vegetables. Also included are some special recipes to follow using your garden harvest.

Available for only $5.00 plus shipping at or in our Communications Resource Store, located in room 4 of the Ratcliffe Hicks Building, 1380 Storrs Rd., on the Storrs campus, next to the UConn Dairy Bar.

Store hours are M-F, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

We accept cash, check, MasterCard and Visa. Handicapped parking and handicapped access are available.



Historical image of the week

Man Picking Apples

A man picking apples. If you can provide any information related to this photo or program, please let us know in the comments.