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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Evaluation specialist aims to enhance our understanding of extension program impact

Miriah Russo Kelly

Miriah Russo Kelly

Miriah Russo Kelly is a Connecticut native. After living overseas and working and studying on the West Coast, she has returned to her home state as an assistant extension educator and evaluation specialist in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources to enhance the impact of extension programs through her background in communications and environmental science.

Kelly received her master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in organizational communication. It was during her time at CCSU, where she also earned her undergraduate degree, that she met Dr. C Benjamin Tyson, a professor who introduced her to the field of environmental communication and the International Environmental Communication Association. She spent the next few years fostering her passion for the environment and ecology.

Traveling to New Zealand, Kelly completed evaluation projects for the New Zealand Landcare Trust. When she returned to the US, she worked as an ecology tour guide in the Colorado mountains. These experiences led her back to graduate school at Oregon State University (OSU), where she earned her Ph.D. in environmental science. At OSU she bridged her interests, studying communications and teaching public speaking, organizational communication and other communications courses while exploring the human dimensions of natural resource management and decision-making. (more…)

College faculty facilitate collaborations with Cuban researchers

Cuba Trip (January 2017) 04

A street in Havana, Cuba. Photo taken by CAHNR students on summer 2016 trip.

Five College faculty members traveled to Cuba last week for a networking event at the Institute of Animal Science (ICA) in furtherance of the Cuba Research Initiative. The three-day event consisted of presentations and discussions of agricultural and animal science issues with a focus on developing new projects and collaborations between researchers in the US and Cuba. Representatives from the National Center for Agricultural Health (CENSA), National Institute for Agricultural Sciences (INCA), Agrarian University of Havana (UNAH) and the ICA greeted the visiting faculty. The meetings provided an opportunity to formulate research partnerships that will benefit both nations.

UConn faculty members and students from the College previously visited Cuba over the summer to participate in an international conference. Prior to the summer conference, Assistant Professor Tania Huedo-Medina of the Department of Allied Health Sciences, had initiated and strengthened relationships with ICA, CENSA and UNAH through a workshop she taught on meta-analysis for the biometrics doctorate program at ICA.

The trip was sponsored by the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR), the individual departments of visiting faculty members and Global Affairs and represents an ongoing effort to secure partnerships in the country.

Associate Professor Guillermo Risatti of the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science led the UConn team. Other faculty members include Professor Steven Zinn, head of the Department of Animal Science; Professor Hedley Freake of the Department of Nutritional Sciences; and Assistant Extension Professor Ana Legrand of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture and UConn Extension. Professor John Volin, head of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, was to have gone but had to cancel his trip shortly before departure.

Aviana Rosen of the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention and Policy and the project coordinator for the Cuba Research Initiative, conceived by Huedo-Medina, accompanied the group as well. (more…)

Grant awards fund new conservation science initiatives

John Volin and Tom Worthley

John Volin (right) and Tom Worthley (center), an assistant extension professor, with NRCA group in the UConn Forest.

Projects stemming from the Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) were recently awarded over $3 million in grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The funds will be used to initiate two research projects that will expand the scope and reach of the academy’s conservation science initiatives into communities and schools across Connecticut. The NRCA and the new projects are interdisciplinary collaborations and housed within the College’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE) and Department of Extension.

NSF’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program recently awarded a nearly $3 million grant entitled: “Promoting Lifelong STEM Learning Through a Focus on Conservation, Geospatial Technology, and Community Engagement” to John Volin, professor and Head of NRE, and colleagues in NRE, Center for Land Use and Research, extension and the Neag School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction (EDCI). The program seeks to educate adult learners and high school students across the state in the use of geospatial technology in conservation science with an emphasis on applications for land use. Participants will be familiarized with geospatial technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and remote sensing (images captured by satellites or aircraft) and taught how these tools can be used to support conservation practices and community planning. The AISL program advances the development and implementation of opportunities that bring STEM learning into informal environments to promote education, research and engagement with the public. (more…)

CAHNR in the news

newspaper readersSome of CAHNR’s people, places and programs made the news recently. The bolded topics are linked to media coverage. The roman text links go to additional information.

Brattleboro Reformer. 12-10, 11-16. Reported that Denise “Jane” Ashworth, a  College alumna with two degrees in horticulture, published her first children’s book at age 99.

WNPR. 12-13-16. Pointed out that buying local can include more than produce. In the article, Stacey Stearns, a program specialist in the department of extension,  mentioned other ways Connecticut citizens can be locavores.

UConn Today. 12-16-16. Cited research that showed that black youth were exposed to more junk food advertising than other kids who did not watch black-targeted networks.  Co-author of the study, published in Pediatric Obesity, is Associate Professor Jennifer Harris of allied health sciences. See also The Washington Post. 12-15-16,  CBS Philly. 12-16-16,  NewsOne. 12-19-16, Fox News. 12-20-16 and The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education . 1-3-17.


Registered dietitian treats eating disorders and promotes worksite health through preventive care

Jennifer Buden

Jennifer Buden.

The ability to combine learning and hands-on experience in nutritional counseling drew Jennifer Buden to the Coordinated Program in Dietetics in the Department of Allied Health Sciences as an undergraduate. The program, one of the few of its kind in New England, offers an opportunity for students to apply their practicum work and classroom training to meet accreditation criteria to prepare for the exam to become registered dietitians. After completing the program, Buden elected to continue on at UConn to earn her master’s degree in health promotion sciences.

“As a senior, I was offered the opportunity to work with Dr. [Pouran] Faghri on her research,” says Buden. “I was interested in worksite wellness programs to intervene, counsel and educate individuals with chronic conditions or those seeking preventive care to effect long-term lifestyle changes to their behaviors. I also hoped to strengthen the connections I had made at UConn. When I become a graduate student, I was involved in the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention and Policy, learning how to assist individuals and community groups with strategies to reduce their risk of chronic disease and minimize the associated health care costs.”

Buden also became a part of a team of researchers conducting a groundbreaking study on the health of correctional employees.

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70 percent of adults over the age of twenty are overweight or obese. This epidemic puts a majority of the population at increased risk for health complications from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In an effort to combat this mounting crisis, researchers have been studying the workplace to determine factors that might be responsible for poor health behaviors and as a site to promote positive health through policies, programs and resources. Corrections officers have been identified as a group that experiences these health threats at rates higher than the general adult population. (more…)