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Author Archives: Sara Putnam

About Sara Putnam

Sara is director of the College’s Office of Communications. She has a BA and an MA, both in English, from UConn. She is also assistant to the dean for human resources.

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.”


Sustainable landscape program works with practitioners to decrease inputs while meeting the needs of users

Victoria Wallace talks with participants at a school IPM workshop in Hamden.

Victoria Wallace talks with participants at a school IPM workshop in Hamden.

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, sustainable landscapes are responsive to the environment, are re-generative and can actively contribute to the development of healthy communities. In practice, this means developing a program that incorporates the use of cultural practices that maintain and protect the environment while meeting the needs of users and adding to the value of the community.

Sustainable landscapes require the least amount of inputs (water, fertilizer, pesticides) necessary to support the managed area. Over-fertilizing is costly and contributes to excess nutrient runoff that affects water systems; changes in weather have illuminated the need for more drought-resistant turfgrass cultivars and landscape plants; and pesticides need to be used thoughtfully to protect the environment.

Victoria Wallace, extension educator in sustainable turf and landscapes, works with the College’s faculty in turf and plant science, particularly members of the integrated pest management (IPM) team, to provide educational programs in sustainable landscape management for grounds managers for municipalities and schools and professionals in the landscape industry.


Meet undergraduate Jonah Singer

Jonah Singer (left).

Jonah Singer (left).

Jonah Singer is a junior in the Department of Kinesiology, majoring in athletic training. His dream job is to become an athletic trainer for a professional baseball team. Singer feels a responsibility to participate in positive activities on campus. In addition to having volunteered for Unified Sports and the HuskyTHON, he is a member of the Order of Omega Honor Society and the UConn Athletic Training Students Club and a Brother of the Alpha Delta Phi. Here is what he had to say about his experiences as a CAHNR student.

What attracted you to UConn? UConn is a large school that offers a wealth of opportunity for involvement in many different fields. As an undecided freshman, this variety of opportunity was very exciting to me, as it allowed me to explore many different interests.

Why did you choose your particular major? Athletic training attracted me because it allows me to pursue my dream of working in medicine and helping people, while also fulfilling my interest of working with an active, motivated patient population. The fulfillment of helping athletes accomplish their goals makes athletic training most attractive to me.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? Volunteering as the coach of a unified soccer team throughout the Husky Classic Soccer Tournament. And, as a student athletic trainer for UConn Field Hockey, I worked with the team throughout a very successful season and traveled with them to Syracuse for the first and second round of their NCAA tournament run. That was a wonderful and exciting experience for me as an athletic training student. (more…)

UConn Science Salon examines food waste epidemic


Left to right: Panelists John Mandyck, Chelsea Connery, Cameron Faustman

According to the USDA, 40 percent of America’s food goes to waste. That’s 133 billion pounds of food annually, overloading landfills and increasing our carbon footprint. Food waste occurs in every phase of the food supply chain from agricultural production and post-harvest handling and storage, to processing, distribution and the consumer.

In an effort to increase awareness of food waste, the College offered several student seminars, including “Close to Home: Connecticut-Based Efforts to Reduce Food Waste”; “Sustainable Urbanization: The Future of Food”; “Getting Real About Food Waste: the British Perspective”, and the “Tasty Waste Lunch,” where UConn’s Dining Services served a meal produced from safe and nutritious food that would have otherwise been discarded. The Tasty Waste Lunch was well attended by more than 1200 students.

As a culminating event, the UConn Science Salon presented “Throwing It All Away: America’s Food Waste Epidemic,” on April 6 at the Spotlight Theatres in Hartford. The event was open to the public and featured several panelists including Interim Dean Cameron Faustman; Chelsea Connery, doctoral student in educational policy in the Neag School of Education; and John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer for United Technologies Corporation.


Meet undergraduate Sarah Acerbo

Sarah Acerbo

Sarah Acerbo

Sarah Acerbo always pictured herself in some field of medicine and selected athletic training as a way to combine her interests. She played soccer as a youth and again in high school, where she also served as a coach and referee to a girls’ youth team. As a high school student, Acerbo tore her ACL and worked with an enthusiastic athletic trainer, sparking her interest in the field. She enjoys the diversity of athletic training, whether it’s working during an athletic event, assisting with rehabilitation, or helping an athlete through the emotional effect of an injury. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.

What attracted you to UConn? When I was applying to colleges, UConn was one of the colleges I was most familiar with since I lived so close to the main campus. When I was looking at the athletic training program at UConn, I discovered that it has one of the best kinesiology programs in the country. My high school athletic trainer, Anna, also graduated from the same athletic training program I am in now, and she spoke very highly of it. She also turned out to be a fantastic athletic trainer, and I thought, “Why not apply to a school that graduated such a highly respected health care professional? Maybe I can be as good an athletic trainer as she is.”

Why did you choose your particular major? I always knew I wanted to have some type of career in the medical field, and when I was in high school, I became very passionate and involved in the world of athletics. Athletic training is a career in the world of sports medicine that provided me with the perfect mix between healthcare and sports. (more…)