University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Course demystifies chemical processes in the study of soil science

Cristian Schulthess

Cristian Schulthess

Every other fall, Cristian Schulthess, associate professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, offers a class called Soil Chemistry Processes. The course description may sound intimidating, but Schulthess says that studying chemistry with an environmental twist fits with many majors from plant science to environmental engineering.

“Most students are quite afraid of chemistry,” Schulthess says. “I’m taking them through the components of soil chemistry and teaching them chemistry principles through the environment. Studying the environment involves three components—physics, biology and chemistry—and they are all intertwined.”

There are three major sections to the course. The first covers oxidation-reduction reactions through environmental examples such as the degradation of organic material. Climate, moisture, soil composition, and soil contaminants all affect oxidation. Students observe the differences in soil color and how they relate to reactions at a cellular level. For instance, if an environment is highly oxidizing, the soil becomes redder; if the opposite occurs, the soil turns gray. Students learn the biology of photosynthesis and the environmental consequences to these reactions.

The second section of the course focuses on measuring pH (hydrogen concentration) in the environment. “There is a lot of nuance to pH and salt concentrations and how particles interact with each other,” Schulthess points out. This section covers measuring techniques, pH properties and particle interaction.

During the third part of the course, students study soil fertility and soil contamination control, including reactions between contaminants in liquid and solid forms, contaminant movement within the environment and retention reactions. Students learn the process of extracting materials from soil.

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Image of the week: The Arethusa Farm Sample Sale is back!

Arethusa shoe sale

Photo by Blaise Pope/Arethusa Farm

Once again this summer, the popular Arethusa Farm Sample Sale will take place in Bantam, Connecticut, to benefit scholarships for UConn students.

Shoe lovers can expect deep discounts at the sale on Saturday, August 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bantam Fire Company, 92 Doyle Road in Bantam. Proceeds go directly to the Arethusa Farm Scholarship Fund, which aids students in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). Arethusa executives George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis established the fund after they bought Arethusa Farm in Litchfield. With help from CAHNR faculty and staff, they have built an internationally renowned dairy herd and business that includes a line of premium dairy products as well as Arethusa al Tavolo Restaurant and Arethusa a Mano coffee shop and bakery in Bantam.

At the sale, bargain hunters will find a mix of past seasons’ items and samples from fashion shows, movie sets and ad shoots. A wide range of sizes will be available. At the 2015 sale, excited shoppers took home flats, stilettos, pumps and boots, in the process raising nearly $200,000 for the scholarship fund.

“The value of this fund-raising opportunity cannot be overstated,” said Cameron Faustman, interim dean  of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. “For students pursuing dairy-related interests at the University of Connecticut, this scholarship program provides a means for accomplishing their academic and career goals while minimizing their need to work long hours outside of their studies or to take on debt. It also will facilitate our ability to attract and retain students committed to the field and ensure a continued supply of fresh and local dairy products for the state.”

Steven Zinn, professor and head of UConn’s Department of Animal Science, agrees: “This scholarship opens doors to a UConn education for the next generation of dairy producers in Connecticut, helping maintain this critical industry in the state.”

UConn students will be on hand to help direct traffic, and entry into the sale is first come, first served. Credit cards and cash will be accepted. The samples are not to be purchased for resale, and all sales are final.

CAHNR in the news

Students with mobile devicesUConn Today announced the release of a survey done by Korey Stringer Institute researchers focused on a nationwide health and safety policy ranking for high school athletics. The study is slated to appear in The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. See also Sports Illustrated, New York Times, Hartford Courant, Providence Business News, Associated Press, The Charlotte Observer, Portland (ME) Press-Herald, Hearst Newspapers and Denver Post.

UConn Daily Digest announced that Judy Benson is Connecticut Sea Grant’s new communications coordinator. She earned a MS in natural resources and the environment in 2015 and a BA in journalism in 1983. Both degrees were from UConn. Benson won first place for environmental reporting in the New England Better Newspaper Competition in 2015, 2010, 2009 and 2008.

UConn Today listed student-athletes who made the Big East All-Academic Team for the 2016-17 season. The list included lacrosse teammates Dani Dunn from animal science and Julia Simmons from allied health as well as field hockey player and animal science student Darby Smith. (more…)

Historical image of the week

4-H Cooking Class

4-H Cooking Class, Connecticut Agricultural College. By Jerauld A. Manter, 1929. From the University of Connecticut Photograph Collection. (CC BY-NC)

 

Meet graduate student Roman Shrestha

Roman Shresthra

Roman Shresthra

As a volunteer intern and then research assistant in his native Nepal, Roman Shrestha worked with nonprofit groups on HIV prevention and intervention. After earning his undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in public health at UConn, where he is currently completing his Ph.D. in public health in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. Here’s what he said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergraduate? Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.

What was your major? I majored in biology and chemistry.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school? As an undergraduate student, I spent two summers as an intern at UConn. I spoke with professors in public health, and they were doing similar types of work that I was doing in Nepal related to HIV prevention. It came to me that I wanted to pursue public health rather than biology.

Who is your advisor and what is your field of research? My advisor is Dr. Michael Copenhaver in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. My primary field of research is HIV prevention. It is interdisciplinary, in that my work involves HIV risk reduction, substance abuse, neurocognitive impairment and mHealth (mobile technology on health management). My dissertation work is mostly related to developing a brief integrative bio-behavioral approach for HIV prevention among drug users.

Name one aspect of your work that you like. It’s research and clinical work at the same time. I mostly work with drug users. I talk to them, do group, and help them in any way possible. At the same time, I mentor students. (more…)