CAHNR in the news

Indrajeet Chaubey, dean of the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources, speaks at an event to announce a $10 million USDA grant to support integrated and sustainable antibiotic-restricted broiler poultry production research on Aug. 3, 2020.
Indrajeet Chaubey, CAHNR dean and director, speaks at a press event. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

NBC Connecticut visited the Kellogg Dairy Center in a video news segment about how Connecticut dairy is part of the climate change solution. They spoke with Animal Science Department Head and Professor and Steve Zinn and UConn Extension Department Head and Assistant Director Bonnie Burr about the college’s dairy facilities and related educational programs. Zinn and Burr spoke to how UConn is training the next generation of farmers as well as reflecting on the university’s history of agricultural education.

Caitlin Caspi, associate professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences and director of food security initiatives in the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, was featured on UConn Today as part of their ongoing Meet the Researcher series. She has dedicated her career to studying policies and evaluating interventions to address food insecurity, obesity, and other diet-related health disparities and she champions collaboration as key to her success in research. Caspi is also a researcher in UConn’s Institute for Collaboration, Health, Intervention and Policy (InCHIP).

Kaiser Health News (KHN) quoted Tatiana Andreyeva, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, on the soda industry and the taxing of sugary drinks. Andreyeva is also the director of economic initiatives at the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Continue reading

Awards and achievements in CAHNR

Awards and achievementsThe UConn Board of Trustees approved tenure and/or promotion for the following faculty in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources on April 28:

Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure

Yangchao Luo, Nutritional Sciences

Promotion to Associate Extension Educator

Anoushka Concepcion, Extension

Jennifer Cushman, Extension

Promotion to Extension Educator

Laura Brown, Extension

Cary Chadwick, Extension

Promotion to Professor

Lindsay DiStefano, Kinesiology

Tricia Leahey, Allied Health Sciences

Promotion to Research Professor

Laijun Lai, Allied Health Sciences

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Carl Lejuez announced there were a total of seventy-two individuals across the Storrs campus and regional campuses who received promotions at UConn.

By Jason M. Sheldon

UConn Researcher Decreasing HIV Risk for People Who Use Drugs

Michael Copenhaver is working on two grants to improve outcomes for people who use drugs and are at a greater risk for HIV

various medical capsules spilled from a glass cup
A UConn researcher is working to improve outcomes for people who use drugs and are at a greater risk for HIV (Pixabay).

HIV has been a significant health challenge around the world since it first emerged in humans in the late 20th century. HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, severely weakens a person’s immune system by depleting white blood cells responsible for fighting off infection. While with proper medical care, people with HIV can lead healthy lives, there is no cure or vaccine.

People who use drugs, including opioids, are at a higher risk of contracting HIV.

Michael Copenhaver, professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources, has received two grants, totaling $4.7 million, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to improve PrEP adherence and other HIV-risk-reduction behaviors among people who use drugs and mentor a group of early-career researchers. Copenhaver has been a principal investigator at UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP) for 20 years. He integrates his research into core graduate courses he teaches in allied health sciences.

The opioid epidemic is a pressing threat in the United States. Roughly 2.1 million Americans have an opioid use disorder (OUD), according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Overdose deaths have steadily increased since the late 90s with opioid-related deaths being five times higher in 2019 than 1999.

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One Step Closer to Efficient Cannabis Production

Bringing a technique that has been a boon to other plants to the budding cannabis industry

Cannabis shoots in culture. UConn researchers are pioneering micropropagation techniques for cannabis.
Cannabis shoots in culture. UConn researchers are pioneering micropropagation techniques for cannabis (Contributed photo).

As nurseries and garden centers fill up with spring landscaping plants, home gardeners owe a lot to a technique called micropropagation, which has proven beneficial to many plants – perhaps soon to include cannabis, thanks to work by UConn researchers in the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources.

Micropropagation is a technique used for growing large quantities of new plants from fewer “parent” plants, yielding clones with the same, predictable qualities. The cannabis (Cannabis sativa) industry, however, has been largely left out of this beneficial technique, because this species of plant is extremely difficult to micropropagate.

Researchers from UConn – including Associate Professor Jessica Lubell-Brand, Ph.D. student Lauren Kurtz, and Professor Mark Brand, in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture – have worked through some of the challenges of cannabis micropropagation of hemp. Their method was recently published in HortTechnology.

Currently, the commercial cannabis industry relies on other propagation techniques, such as collecting seeds or taking carefully timed cuttings from stock “mother” plants. These methods require a lot of space and maintenance, since multiple specimens of each line of stock plants must be kept in the event of disease outbreak or plant death.

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Research Outreach Program Supports Underrepresented Students

Experiential learning allows underrepresented students to gain knowledge and skills for promising careers in food, nutrition, and health fields.

Loneke Blackman Carr and Yangchao Luo from the Department of Nutritional Sciences.
Loneke Blackman Carr and Yangchao Luo from the Department of Nutritional Sciences. (UConn Photo)

Faculty from the Department of Nutritional Sciences Yangchao Luo and Loneke Blackman Carr have received a $500,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to support the continuation of a program designed to give community college and UConn students practical research experience.

Bridging the Gap II: Summer Experiential Learning in Food and Nutrition will consist of a 10-week intensive summer course for underrepresented students from UConn and Gateway, Housatonic, Manchester, and Three Rivers Community Colleges. These students will participate in laboratory or community health nutrition research projects, enhancing student learning about food, nutrition, and health while contributing to larger research efforts.

“The experiential learning opportunities provided through this program allow students to gain knowledge and skills they will need to continue their education at a four-year institution or enter the field as capable 21st-century workers,” says Ji-Young Lee, professor and head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

The previous iteration of this program, which ran from 2016-2019, was remarkably successful. Students cultivated a sense of community as they familiarized themselves with the Storrs campus. These students developed research skills and formed strong relationships with faculty mentors and graduate students that have lasted after the program ended.

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