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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Researchers examine road salt contamination in groundwater and wells

Road Salt Contamination

Deicing salt on the permeable pavement in front of Augustus Storrs Hall, a potential source of groundwater contamination causing mobilization of radium and radon.

Road salt is inescapable during a Northeast winter. Applied as a deicer, it helps prevent accidents, slips and falls. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, accelerating melting and keeping ice from forming when temperatures drop. Despite the benefits to transportation and safety, road salt has serious environmental impacts and presents hazards to human health. Researchers at UConn have recently completed two studies on the Storrs campus, examining how deicers interact with areas surrounding permeable surfaces and discovering a potential radioactive danger.

Mostly a combination of sodium and chloride, road salt chemicals can flow into surface and ground water impacting aquifers, wells, wildlife, flora and drinking water. While these effects have long been publicized, road salt continues to be heavily used due to its low cost and a lack of viable alternatives. The increased use of storm water management systems, particularly in urban settings, has renewed questions about how these contaminants travel and affect the neighboring environment.

A team of UConn researchers, including Professor Gary Robbins of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE), Assistant Extension Educator Dr. Mike Dietz of the Department of Extension and Connecticut Sea Grant and NRE graduate students Derek Angel and Lukas McNaboe, investigated how the installation of one popular storm water management system, permeable asphalt, affects road salt contamination of groundwater. Connecticut Sea Grant funded the initial phase of the research. (more…)

CAHNR in the news

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

USA Today. 2-23-17. Published an article about research that indicated public secondary schools have more athletic trainer services than private schools. Alicia Pike, the associate director of research in the Korey Stringer Institute and the main author of the research paper, performed and published the research with other KSI staff.

UConn Today. 3-6-17. Referred to a recently published study about  a community campaign for better beverage choices. Co-authors of the study include Department of Allied Health Sciences Associate Professor Jennifer Harris and Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics Associate Professor Tatiana Andreyeva, who are also part of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Related articles: CNN. 3-6-17. Gave details of how Howard County, Maryland  reduced sugary drink consumption after reaching out to the Rudd Center for help with their campaign. Medical Research. 3-8-17. Interviewed the director of the Rudd Center, Marlene Schwartz. (more…)

CAHNR in the news

newsprintSome 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.

HealthNewsDigest.com. 2-23-17. Provided comments by Alicia Pike about a published research study that showed public secondary schools provided more athletic trainer (AT) services than private schools. Pike is the associate director of research in the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI), and she published the paper with other KSI staff. See also Fox News. 2-28-17.

By Patsy Evans

Scientist studies canopy structure for carbon sequestration and roadside management

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.

Fahey and colleagues from Purdue and Virginia Commonwealth Universities collecting lidar data

Fahey and colleagues from Purdue and Virginia Commonwealth Universities collecting LiDAR data.

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…)

Allied Health Sciences welcomes new department head

Justin Nash

Justin Nash.

Interim Dean Cameron Faustman is pleased to announce that Justin Nash has been appointed professor and head of the Department of Allied Health Sciences (AHS). He fills the vacancy left by Lawrence Silbart, who led the department for the past ten years. Silbart is currently vice provost for strategic initiatives.

Nash received his BA in psychology from the University of Rhode Island, where he graduated with distinction. He earned his MA and PhD from Ohio University in clinical psychology. While earning his doctorate, he interned at the VA Medical Center in West Haven, CT. He completed postdoctoral research at the Pain Evaluation and Treatment Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (more…)