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Author Archives: Jason M. Sheldon

Scientists investigate effects of sea level rise on coastal wetlands

Coastal Wetlands - Hammonasset

Coastal wetlands in Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT.

If you are heading to the beach this summer, you are likely to pass by coastal wetlands on your way to the shore. These wetlands vary from bottomland hardwoods to marshes to seagrass beds but all occur at the intersection of land and sea, where fresh water from land meets saline tidal waters.

Coastal wetlands provide an array of ecosystem services. They protect shores from flooding, erosion and storm surge; provide habitat for wildlife; filter pollutants from water and sequester carbon. A group of researchers led by Assistant Professor Beth Lawrence of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE) and UConn’s Center for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE) is studying and quantifying the ecosystem services of carbon and nitrogen cycling to determine how these areas are responding to rising oceans.

The coast of the eastern United States is expected to experience elevated levels of sea level rise compared to the global average. Several factors, including water temperature, salinity, currents, the melting of glaciers and ice sheets and various geological and geographical elements, affect the rate of sea level rise. Scientists forecast global sea level rise in the range of 8 inches to 6.6 feet by 2100. The pace at which and amount the oceans rise will depend largely upon carbon and methane emissions that accelerate the melting of the planet’s ice and increase ocean temperatures. Heat causes water to expand, further escalating sea level rise. (more…)

Meet graduate student Danielle Kloster

Danielle Kloster2

Danielle Kloster.

Danielle Kloster is a PhD candidate in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. She received an education in environmental science and renewable energy systems in upstate New York. At UConn, she’s studying human dimensions in roadside forest management. Here’s what she said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

I studied at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse, New York.

What was your major?

My major was in environmental science, with a concentration in renewable energy systems.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I also completed my master’s degree at SUNY-ESF in environmental science. I had been working with a professor there as an undergraduate so I continued on to do research on short rotation woody cropping systems for bioenergy purposes. I worked on shrub willow, which can be used for wood chips and pellets and also to mitigate soil erosion. Through all of this I realized that I wanted to get into human dimensions research. My research is important to biophysical sciences but I wanted to find better ways for it to benefit people directly and help them make informed decisions. (more…)

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…)