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Author Archives: Jason M. Sheldon

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…)

Meet alumnus Lars Demander

Lars Demander

Lars Demander

For over 250 years, Clover Nook Farm in Bethany, Connecticut has been family run. Established in 1765, the farm has continuously passed through the care of many family members and now CAHNR alumnus Lars Demander is carrying on that legacy. Here is what he said in an interview.

What was your major in the College? When did you graduate? With what degree?

I completed my bachelor’s in agricultural science with a minor in agribusiness management at Cornell University in 2014. I earned my master’s at UConn in agricultural and resource economics in 2015.

What CAHNR class was most useful to you?

I found the process of completing my research project at UConn to be the most helpful. I learned about consumer psychology in regards to local horticulture. (more…)

College faculty plan international collaborations at networking event in Cuba

While the future of US foreign policy remains unclear, the warming of relations with Cuba under the Obama administration produced an opportunity for US scientists and researchers to connect with their Cuban neighbors. Associate Professor Tania Huedo-Medina of the Department of Allied Health Sciences recognized the benefit of shared knowledge and the advancements that could be achieved through the formation of partnerships with Cuba. She created the Cuba Research Initiative to pair the University of Connecticut with several Cuban institutions to facilitate an exchange of ideas and establish joint research ventures. Multiple trips by UConn representatives have forged memoranda of understanding and these formalized relationships are now shaping into potential projects.

The UConn faculty at ICA

Ana Legrand, Guillermo Risatti, Steven Zinn and Hedley Freake (left to right) at the Institute of Animal Science.

College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) faculty members spent a week in Cuba in January 2017 for a networking event to outline possible partnerships. Guillermo Risatti, an associate professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, led the group. He was accompanied by Professor Ana Legrand of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture and UConn Extension, Professor Hedley Freake of the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Professor Steven Zinn, head of the Department of Animal Science. Aviana Rosen, former project coordinator for the Cuba Research Initiative, also traveled with the group. With a focus on agriculture and animal science, they met with representatives from the Institute of Animal Science (ICA) National Center for Agricultural Health (CENSA), National Institute for Agricultural Sciences (INCA) and the Agrarian University of Havana (UNAH). The group discussed specific areas in their respective disciplines that would benefit from collaboration as well as broad initiatives, including forming study abroad opportunities and assisting with the publication of journals to share US and Cuban research. The individual CAHNR departments and UConn Global Affairs provided funding for the trip. (more…)

Virologist developing vaccines and therapeutics to combat Zika virus, Lyme disease and cancer

The Northeast experienced an unusually warm and dry winter this year. This irregularly tepid season, quickly becoming the new norm due to climate change, is now giving way to spring rains. While the reprieve from bundling up and shoveling snow may have felt like a welcome relief, and the recent precipitation seems fortunate given the drought conditions had been plaguing the region, the past months have been especially good for insects and arachnids. Mosquitoes and ticks in particular are likely to thrive this coming summer due to these mild and wet conditions and their increased presence raises the prospect of health risks from the diseases they carry.

Paulo Verardi and Brittany Jasperse

Paulo Verardi (right) with PhD student Brittany Jasperse (left).

Zika virus and Lyme disease, transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks respectively, are two contagions that continue to cause great concern across the country. Zika virus is expected to appear once again in the southern United States this summer and continued anxiety remains about its ability to spread further north. In Connecticut, tick populations have already soared this year and testing has shown increased levels of Lyme disease bacteria. Developing vaccines to combat the rise and persistence of these diseases is the focus of Paulo Verardi’s current research. Verardi, an associate professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, recently designed a quicker and safer method of producing vaccines, which has been speeding up the fight against Zika virus and Lyme disease. He is also lending his expertise to battle cancer by exploring the use of vaccines to create innovative therapies in partnership with UConn Health. While Verardi’s lab is busy with many projects, Zika virus continues to be the primary focus.

(more…)

Meet undergraduate Audrey Folta

Audrey Folta

Audrey Folta

After moving to Connecticut from Indiana, Audrey Folta has been actively involved in exploring and promoting the major that made her feel at home. Folta, a junior studying applied and resource economics in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) with a business minor, was an environmental studies major her freshman year. Her switch to ARE opened up a number of opportunities for study and travel. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.

What attracted you to UConn?

I grew up in Indiana and my father, Timothy Folta, taught at Purdue University. When I was a junior in high school, he got a job at UConn. I stayed in Indiana and graduated. When I was applying for colleges, I sent an application here. It was the only one I sent outside the state of Indiana.

What is your major, and why did you choose it?

My major is resource economics. I started in environmental studies as a freshman and changed to resource economics at the start of my sophomore year. I enjoyed environmental studies, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I found it to be more about environmental rights and I wanted to learn more about the business side of things. I met with Associate Professor Morty Ortega and he advised me in this direction so I switched my major. (more…)