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New associate dean sees a bigger picture


Kumar Venkitanarayanan Credit: Peter Morenus

For CAHNR’s newest associate dean, this position is about increasing the scale of his life’s work. Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Kumar Venkitanarayanan has demonstrated success in obtaining research grants, supervising graduate students through to completion and supporting CAHNR as a team leader and player. “Now, I can use all my skills and experience and do it on a bigger canvas for the College,” he said about the new role he started in May.

Faculty is part of the picture

The portrait that he wants to paint as associate dean will include two main subjects, reflecting the “research” and “graduate studies” in his title. For example, Venkitanarayanan hopes to provide CAHNR’s research faculty members with increased funding opportunities to help them reach their goals in spite of the current economy. “I want to make it easy for them,“ he said.

One of his solutions for budgetary constraints is to “spread our wings wider.” This means he wants to identify previously overlooked programs, to apply for grants offered by different federal agencies and to cooperate with other universities in seeking funds. He thinks that the College has enjoyed much success with USDA grants, but it needs to diversify to improve the probability of receiving funding. (more…)

Professor Sandra Bushmich appointed as associate dean for academic programs

Sandra Bushmich with one of the College's foals born in the spring of 2017.

Sandra Bushmich with one of the College’s foals born in the spring of 2017.

Sandra Bushmich has been appointed associate dean for academic programs and director of the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture. Bushmich started her new position March 17, replacing Cameron Faustman, currently interim dean of the College.

“Sandy is known to students and her colleagues as a committed teacher and advisor,” Faustman says. “Our College’s Office of Academic Programs will benefit tremendously from her commitment to the student experience, both curricular and co-curricular, and her energy and enthusiasm.”

“My vision as associate dean for academic programs directly relates to how this office can best serve the College and the University to achieve the optimal potential of our diverse students by providing them with the knowledge and skills to improve their world, from their daily personal interactions to global impacts,” Bushmich says.


Image of the week

Jen Nadeau, Austria

I went on a vacation to Austria with my boyfriend David Mihalek. We visited the Spanish Riding School and Dave’s cousin in Vienna and toured Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck on our own. Then we met our Appalachian Mountain Club group for Adventure Travel in Innsbruck Austria and participated in a trip with them based out of Neustift Austria. One day the goal was to hike to the Nuremberger Hut. After passing a small alm (we would call it a farm here), there were farm goats on the trail. Our hike leader Ginette Beaudoin, a small animal veterinarian from Biddeford, Maine, let the billy goat sniff her and walked by. The next hiker, Hank, let the goat sniff him but the goat then took a swipe at him with his horn! That made Hank and the rest of the hikers more concerned about the goat and we were frozen on the trail, at an impasse. Being an animal scientist and UConn professor, it was impossible for me to just do nothing. So I told them I would hold the goat by the horns so that they could all pass by. Dave was concerned about how I would get away after but I just got up there and grabbed the goat by both horns and the hikers walked by. The leader called out to the co-leader who is always last not to let the goat push me off the mountain. Seeing that she was concerned, I made him back up a few steps. Then, when I went to release him I guess after pushing him backwards, he felt that I was dominant so he meekly walked away. And that is how I became known as “Goat Wrestler”, increased my trail cred and received a thank you flavored water! As my best friend put It, true animal scientist or crazy person, not sure which! But I did tell them I would not do that with any cows or wild mountain goats. – Jen

Image of the week

IMG_1631 (004)

Jim Palmieri, instructor in floral design and manager of UConn Blooms, is pictured here with former students who joined him and members of the Department Plant Science and Landscape Architecture on June 19 to celebrate his impending retirement. Left to right: Kamil Jablonowski, Dustyn Nelson, Jacob Gardner, Daniel Katz, Justine Leeper, Lorenzo Katin-Grazzini, Jim Palmieri, Antonia Brunetti, Matthew DeBacco, Cora McGehee, Jacob Ricker.

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.”