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Author Archives: Jason M. Sheldon

Renovation expands department with new program and research faculty

Koons Hall Renovation

Koons Hall during the renovation.

Students were not the only ones packing their bags and moving out at the end of the spring semester. The Department of Allied Health Sciences (AHS) temporarily relocated from their home in Benjamin Franklin Koons Hall to facilitate a renovation to the building over the summer. The project redesigned classroom spaces, expanded teaching and research labs, refurbished offices, centralized the advising center, remodeled the student lounge and replaced the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the building. The renovation also added space for new faculty hires, one of whom will lead a new graduate program in the department. AHS is now settling back into a space better equipped to support their commitment to health education and research.

“There were many improvements done during the renovation that will help us better serve our mission of undergraduate and graduate education, advising and research,” says Department Head and Professor Justin Nash. “The improved space allows us to be more productive and effective in everything that we do. It also expands our research enterprise. The renovation helped make it possible to welcome additional faculty and introduce a new degree program. It is a very exciting time as we continue to grow as a department.”

AHS plans to launch the Genetic and Genomic Counseling Master’s Degree Program in fall 2019. Maria Gyure was appointed as a lecturer and director of the program. An AHS alumna, Gyure received her bachelor’s degree in diagnostic genetic sciences in 2001 and received her master’s degree in genetic counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007. She has worked in a variety of instructional, research and counseling roles in cytogenetics and molecular genetics. Gyure and Associate Professor in Residence Judy Brown are currently working on the program’s accreditation. (more…)

Meet graduate student Abby Colburn

Abby Colburn

Abby Colburn

Abby Colburn decided to continue her studies at UConn after earning her bachelor’s degree in allied health sciences in May 2016. She plans to graduate with her master’s degree in exercise science from the Department of Kinesiology next year. Since the last time we spoke with her, Colburn has remained actively involved in organizations on campus and taking advantage of opportunities to travel and study abroad. She’s explored her passion for research and is looking at options to start medical school.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

I studied at UConn.

What was your major?

My major was allied health sciences.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I was planning to go to med school but I started doing exercise science research as an undergraduate and I really liked it. The faculty, especially Dr. Douglas Casa of kinesiology and my mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Anderson at Student Health Services, convinced me that research is also a good path for med school. I was always on this set path for med school and so I welcomed the opportunity to explore something different. (more…)

Meet graduate student Amanda Jones

Amanda Jones

Amanda Jones

Amanda Jones came to the Department of Animal Science to earn her master’s degree, intending to study equine science. After becoming involved in a collaborative research group interested in the study of maternal nutrition in sheep, she enrolled in the PhD program to continue her research training. She successfully defended her dissertation earlier this month and has plans to complete a postdoc in the Department of Pediatrics, Neonatology, at the University of Colorado Denver. Here is what she said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

I went to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

What was your major?

I majored in animal science. I also completed an honors research thesis in the vet school. We studied diseases of the upper respiratory system and were investigating diagnostic techniques that could evaluate larynx function. We used horses and dogs as biomedical models for humans because similar upper respiratory diseases affect all three species.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I really enjoyed research as an undergraduate, and always thought I would end up in vet school. During my junior year, I enrolled in a coursed titled Tools for a Lifelong Career in Research. It really opened my eyes to careers in animal science and agriculture aside from just vet medicine. I also realized that I liked working with healthy animals and figuring why things were happening rather than curing sickness or disease. This realization is what that pushed me into grad school and research. (more…)

Meet graduate student Yayu Li

Yayu Li

Yayu Li

Yayu Li grew up in a small village in rural China. The school in her village closed in 2002 due to a declining population and lack of funding. With limited employment opportunities, many young people had left for jobs in cities. Having to travel to neighboring villages for school and living in a dorm by age 12 to attend middle school, Li realized the value of education.

In 2008, Li started college. Through scholarships and part-time jobs, she supported her studies and went on to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Arriving at UConn in 2015, Li is now a PhD student in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. She describes coming to UConn as the moment the “impossible became possible.” Here is what she said in an interview:

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

I earned my bachelor’s degree from Huazhong Agriculture University, Wuhan, China.

What was your major?

My major was environmental science with an emphasis in soil science. I also completed a master’s degree program at Huazhong in environmental science.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I chose environmental science as my major because I love nature. As an undergraduate, I applied to a graduate research group and worked as a research assistant during my junior and senior years in order to learn more about the field. I had opportunities to do lab work with graduate students, attend academic seminars and discuss scientific problems with advisors. I was impressed by how dedicated the advisors and graduate students were to get precise measurements and accurate results from experiments. They wanted to find truth and reality. I wanted to be one of them and explore the unknown. Therefore, I decided to apply for graduate school. (more…)

NRE faculty member and students researching effects of salinization on wetlands

Connecticut now has a fraction of the forested wetlands that used to cover the state. Until the middle of the twentieth century, clearing land, constructing roads, building infrastructure and introducing irrigation and drainage systems did not require an assessment or mitigation of potential environmental impacts. Amidst growing concern for wetlands, the US Fish and Wildlife Service conducted a nationwide wetlands inventory in 1954. In the decades that followed, further scientific studies helped raise awareness of the benefits of wetlands for habitat, improving water quality and providing flood protection. The change of public opinion from approving of wetlands use for residential and industrial improvements and landfills towards conservation led to the adoption of legislation throughout the 1960s and ‘70s to safeguard wetlands. The volume of forested wetlands in Connecticut has since remained relatively consistent, with small losses due to natural conversion, typically becoming ponds, and from development projects. The embrace of wetlands research helped ensure the passage of federal and state laws and regulatory controls that stabilized the loss of these important ecosystems.

BLawrence

Beth Lawrence

Forested wetlands are now facing new threats. The application of road salt is salinizing freshwater areas, affecting the ecosystem services these swamps provide. Beth Lawrence, an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE) with a joint appointment in UConn’s Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering, is taking a closer look at the impact of salinization on forested wetlands. Forested wetlands represent over two-thirds of all wetlands in the state.

“The application of road salt and its effects on these swamps are an emerging issue of concern,” says Lawrence.

“The aim of my research is to better understand and quantify the numerous ecosystem services forested wetlands provide. My focus is on how plant community composition, carbon storage and carbon dynamics are affected by salinization. I’m also looking at the effects of experimental road salt applications. We know that wetlands benefit people in a variety of ways, but we do not have a good understanding of the capacity of these ecosystem services and how their functioning may be impacted across environmental gradients,” says Lawrence. (more…)