Archive for the ‘Faculty’ Category
A scoop of Salted Caramel Crunch and a scoop of Toasted Almond Amaretto nestle together in a cup. If you can, let it sit for five minutes so the ice cream just begins to melt, creating a little pool in the bottom of the cup. (In July, this step is not required.) Now, spoon a small amount from each sphere, saucing it with some of the liquid from the bottom of the cup.
Oh. My. Goodness.
This mini-miracle must be the result of some sort of wizardry: Milk from the cows on Horsebarn Hill goes into the shiny steel vats of the UConn Creamery. A spell is cast, and poof! The best ice cream in the world appears. But there’s no magic here; what makes this sublime treat is passion, hard work and scrupulous attention to detail—along with the best ingredients you can get.
UConn’s ice cream begins with the milking cows in the Kellogg Dairy Center (KDC) on Horsebarn Hill, just about 700 yards from the Dairy Bar. (The cows you see grazing on the hill are their not-yet-bred daughters, called heifers.) The UConn Department of Animal Science’s dairy herd is a mix of Holsteins and Jerseys, and a remarkable group of dams it is. The herd has just been ranked by the venerable Hoard’s Dairyman as one of the top twenty of approximately 47,000 dairy herds in the country, receiving a gold ”Best of the Best” National Dairy Quality Award. This accomplishment, extraordinary in itself, is made all the more so by the fact that many of those who tend to the cows are students studying dairy management and milk production in an experiential learning environment. Only one other university herd, from the University of Wisconsin, made the Hoard’s list. The list recognizes milk quality, the primary measure of which is the milk’s somatic cell count (SCC). The lower the number of somatic cells in the milk, the better the animals’ health and the longer the shelf life and finer the quality of the dairy products made from it. This starts to explain why the ice cream’s so good.
Michael Puglisi has come full circle. Having received his PhD in nutritional sciences from UConn in 2008, he worked in research labs in Nashville, Tennessee, and on public health initiatives in Brooklyn, New York, and North Carolina. Now he is returning to UConn as an assistant extension professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and coordinating the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) for the state of Connecticut.
Where did you get your degrees?
I received my BS degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware, my MS in nutrition in sports and chronic disease from Virginia Tech and my PhD at UConn in nutritional sciences. It’s good to be back at UConn!
What did you do before you came to UConn?
I went through the whole spectrum of the field of nutrition. After graduating from UConn, I went to Vanderbilt University and completed a post-doc in inflammation and the effects on insulin sensitivity and how different dietary fatty acids affect that. So, I went from human research to animal and cell research.
Connecticut’s forests have been transformed over the years to meet the needs of its inhabitants. Before the arrival of European settlers, Native Americans burned forests in order to clear underbrush and create habitat for the game species they hunted. In the early 1800s, when European settlers arrived in large numbers, forests were cut down to make room for agricultural production and wood was used to build structures, create products and burned for heat. By 1820, the state’s forest cover was reduced to 25 percent. With the decline of agriculture in the state and the passage of conservation acts, Connecticut’s forests have regrown and now cover an estimated 70 percent of the land.
Robert Fahey, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, notes that while it would appear that some of these returning forests are unused, they are serving as a carbon sink. This refers to the ecosystem’s ability to absorb, or sequester, carbon from the atmosphere and store it.
Connecticut trees are part of a vast regrowth of forest in the northern US and Canada. As these forests begin to mature, scientists know little about how the aging of these trees will change the ecosystem’s capacity to continue storing carbon or if they might begin to emit carbon into the atmosphere.
“Over the past hundred years or so the forests of the Northeastern US have been a carbon sink, meaning that they have been pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, offsetting some anthropogenic emissions. But these forests are aging and their potential to continue to be a carbon sink is questionable at best,” says Fahey.
In order to understand how the structure of forest ecosystems affects carbon storage, Fahey, who has a joint appointment in UConn’s Center for Environmental Science and Engineering, is studying forest canopy structure through examination of the specific arrangement of leaves. He believes canopy structural complexity is a prime indicator of efficiency in the ecosystem, which can shed light on how the environment functions. (more…)