Undergraduates in CAHNR are active in research projects

Image courtesy of OUR

Undergraduate students in CAHNR have many opportunities to engage in research. Faculty advisors/mentors are involved in undergraduate research projects, as well.

In the spring semester, the UConn Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) announces the names of students receiving an IDEA grant, presenting a Frontiers research poster or obtaining a SURF award. OUR also hosts the award events. The names of CAHNR undergraduate students involved in these three opportunities and CAHNR advisors/mentors for the projects are bolded below.

IDEA Grant

The IDEA Grant program awards provide funding to support student-designed and student-led projects, including creative endeavors, community service initiatives, entrepreneurial ventures, research projects and other original and innovative projects. Five CAHNR students received awards. IDEA stands for imagine, develop, engage and apply.

Effect of Feeding Probiotics on Muscle Growth in Chicken. For this study, Daria Larson (Animal Science, Environmental Studies) will investigate the effect of probiotics in the feed on the muscle growth in broiler chickens with the goal of finding a suitable replacement to antibiotics in animal feed.

Cholesterol-Lowering and Anti-inflammatory Potential of Select Probiotic Strains. Lindsey Vandermeir (Animal Science) will study the protective effects that probiotics have on liver health by determining which probiotic strains have cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory properties.

Yosemite Lights -A Travel Documentary Film. Margaret Chafouleas (Environmental Sciences) will be joined by three other students in traveling to Yosemite National Park to film a travel documentary centered on the journey, the creative process and the awe that traveling and photography evoke. They will combine captivating scenes of nature, reflective narration and candid footage of their travels to create an energetic and expressive film.

The Correlation Between Endurance Exercise and Music Conditions on Neurotransmitter Release in 18-24 Year Olds. Allyson Cosman (Exercise Science) and Sejal Khant (Allied Health Sciences) will investigate the correlation between varying music conditions -liked and disliked musical playlists -and neurotransmitter release, specifically dopamine and serotonin, in people partaking in endurance cycling exercise.


Image courtesy of OUR

Frontiers in Undergraduate Research held its 22nd annual poster exhibition of student research, scholarship and creative projects in April. Frontiers is a chance for students to share their work with the UConn community and with visitors to campus.

Nancy Kuhn (Allied Health Sciences) studied CreateAT -Making Assistive Technology. The advisor was Alyssa Marinaccio (Assistive Technology).

Comparing the Efficacy of Sexual Health Intervention Techniques among Sexually Active and Abstinent Hispanic and Latino Youth in the United States: Results from a Meta-Analysis was the project of Geycel Muniz (Allied Health Sciences) and Melanie Moreno (Allied Health Sciences). Their advisor was Associate Professor Tania Huedo-Medina (Allied Health Sciences).

Meeshali Patel (Allied Health Sciences) worked on Urinary Analysis on the Effects of Dietary Intake on Sulfur-Containing Metabolites in Newborns at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with other students. The advisors were Assistant Professor Ruth Lucas (Nursing) and Assistant Professor in Residence Geoffrey Tanner (Physiology and Neurobiology).

Advocacy and Action: Improving Food Security for UConn Students was investigated by Wanjiku Gatheru (Environmental Studies) and another student with Assistant Professor in Residence Phoebe Godfrey (Sociology).

Resistance Training for Health Related Outcomes in the Elderly Population was the subject of the poster by Charles Abrams (Individualized Major: Exercise Physiology and Health). His advisor was Professor Craig Denegar (Kinesiology).

Elaine Lee (Kinesiology), assistant professor, advised Zoha Sarwat (Physiology and Neurobiology). The title was Extracellular HSP Responses to Endurance Running in a High-Risk Race for Exertional Heatstroke.

Associate Professor Huanzhong Wang (Plant Science and Landscape Architecture) advised Liam Iorio (Molecular and Cell Biology) in the MYB Transcription Factors influence on Flavonoid Production in Aronia project.

A Canonical Metacommunity Structure in a Hurricane-Prone Tropical Forest was the focus of Eve Cullerton’s research (Natural Resources and the Environment). The advisor was Distinguished Professor Michael Willig (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology).

Melinda Gosselin (Natural Resources) studied Macro-and Microevolution of Salinity-specific Ionocyte Morphologies in Euryhaline Fishes The advisor was Professor Eric Schultz (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology).

Kayleigh Granville (Environmental Sciences) researched Seasonal Patterns of Denitrification in Salt Marshes with Assistant Professor Ashley Helton (Natural Resources and the Environment) and Assistant Professor Beth Lawrence (Natural Resources and the Environment) and Associate Professor Chris Elphick (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology).

Deicing Salt-Induced Cation Exchange in Roadside Soils was the project of Katherine Bell (Environmental Sciences & Molecular and Cell Biology) with advisors Assistant Professor Ashley Helton (Natural Resources and the Environment) and John Volin (Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor, Natural Resources and the Environment).

Poor Maternal Nutrition During Gestation Alters Placental IGF-I, IGF-II, and IGFBP-3 mRNA Expression in Sheep was studied by Caitlyn Splaine (Animal Science). The advisor was Associate Professor Sarah Reed (Animal Science).

Kelli Knapp (Animal Science) investigated Force Applied to the Horse’s Head by Bitted and Bitless Bridles. The advisor was Associate Professor Jenifer Nadeau (Animal Science).

Nikolas Rodriguez (Nutritional Sciences) worked on Preparation and Caracterization of Gastrointestinal Stable Nanoparticles as an Oral Delivery Vehicle for Lipophilic Nutrients with advisor Assistant Professor Yangchao Luo (Nutritional Sciences).

Ming-Yeah Hu (Molecular and Cell Biology & Allied Health Sciences) studied Stem Cell Spheroids for Cartilage Regeneration. The advisor was Syam Nukavarapu (Biomedical Engineering).

The Effect of Lactic Acid Bacteria on Terpene Biosynthesis in Cannabis Flowers was the topic of Evert McKee (Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems). Professor Gerald Berkowitz (Plant Science and Landscape Architecture) was the advisor.

Alexander Calvi (Animal Science) looked into Detection of Dairy Cattle Mastitis Using Ultrasound with Professor Sheila Andrew (Animal Science), the advisor.

Lauren Engels (Animal Science) had the project The Effects of Poor Maternal Nutrition on Fetal Brain Development. The advisor was Associate Professor Kristen Govoni (Animal Science).

Effects of Restricted Maternal Nutrition and Realimentation during Gestation on the Fetal Progenitor Cell Population in Semitendinosus Muscle of Sheep was the subject of Michaela Mitchell’s research (Animal Science). The advisor was Associate Professor Sarah Reed (Animal Science).

Strategies to Improve Annotation and Assembly for Complex and Large Plant Genomes was the project of Alyssa Ferreira (Pathobiology). Assistant Professor Jill Wegrzyn (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) advised.

Males vs. Females: Who Uses it Most? A Meta-analysis of the Disparities in Condom Use Outcomes from Sexual Health Interventions among Hispanic and Latino Youth in the United States was studied by Melanie Moreno (Allied Health Sciences), Geycel Muniz (Allied Health Sciences) and one other student. Their advisor was Associate Professor Tania Huedo-Medina (Allied Health Sciences).

Celeste Kurz (Nutritional Sciences) had a project called “I Grew It, I Made It, I Ate It!” Evaluating a Bilingual Curricular Intervention for Middle School Students Her three advisors were Assistant Extension Professor Michael Puglisi (Nutritional Sciences), Professor Hedley Freake (Nutritional Sciences) and Associate Professor in Residence Phoebe Godfrey (Sociology).

Maria Antony (Allied Health Sciences and Molecular and Cell Biology) investigated Family Perspectives on Accessing Community Resources to Mitigate Toxic Stress. The advisors were Assistant Professor Aoife Heaslip (Molecular and Cell Biology) and Adjunct Professor Sharon Smith (Molecular and Cell Biology).

The Role of ApoC-III on Circulating Immune Cells in Response to a Western Diet was researched by Nicholas Tambini (Allied Health Sciences), who was advised by Assistant Professor Alison Kohan (Nutritional Sciences).

Identification of Early Gene Differentiation Markers in Progenitor Cells Involved in the Onset of Fibrodysplasia Ossifican Progressiva (FOP) was the subject of Annie Jin’s research (Nutritional Sciences and Molecular and Cell Biology) The advisor was Professor David Goldhamer (Molecular and Cell Biology).

Elena Masiello (Exercise Science) with advisor Assistant Professor Adam Lepley (Kinesiology) looked into Muscle Activation in Patients with a History of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction (ACLR).

Kelsey Tyler (Animal Science) and her advisor Associate Professor Guillermo Risatti (Pathobiology and Veterinary Science) researched Mastitis Trends in Dairy Herds in Connecticut: A Retrospective Analysis.

Culicoides Vectors Involved in the Transmission of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus-6 in the State of Connecticut was the research project of Sarah Srivichitranond (Pathobiology and Molecular and Cell Biology). Associate Professor Guillermo Risatti (Pathobiology and Veterinary Science) was the advisor.

Road Salts Influence Ranavirus Outbreaks in Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) Tadpoles was investigated by Sarah Jacobson (Natural Resources) with advisor Associate Professor Tracy Rittenhouse (Natural Resources and the Environment.)

Assistant Professor Beth Lawrence (Natural Resources and the Environment) advised Fiona Liu (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) with How Does Sea Level Rise Alter Salt Marsh Plant Biomass Allocation and Nitrogen Content.

Impacts of Salt Marsh Vegetation and Sea-Level Rise on Soil Carbon Stability was investigated by Alaina Bisson (Environmental Sciences), who was advised by Beth Lawrence, Assistant Professor, Natural Resources and the Environment.

Painting with Plants was worked on by David Rascati (Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems). He had two advisors Professor Julia Kuzovkina (Plant Science and Landscape Architecture) and Assistant Professor in Residence Eleanor Ouimet (Anthropology).

#EATINGFORTWO: What are People Posting about When They Use This Hashtag in Instagram Posts about Diet, Physical Activity, and Weight Gain during Pregnancy? was Caitlyn Sward’s (Dietetics) project title, and her advisor was Assistant Professor Molly Waring (Allied Health Sciences).

Isabella Sanchez (Allied Health Sciences) chose the topic of Near Infrared Spectroscopy to Diagnose Statin-Associated Muscle Symptoms: Reflections on A Student Learning Experience. Her advisor was Associate Professor Beth Taylor (Kinesiology).

Kathleen Renna (Diagnostic Genetic Sciences) worked on FISHing in the Eye: An Investigation into the Mechanisms of Axon Regeneration Her two advisors were Associate Professor in Residence Judy Brown (Allied Health Sciences) and Assistant Professor Ephraim Trakhtenberg (Neuroscience).

The Effects of Maternal Nutrient Restriction Followed by Realimentation on Offspring Immunity and Metabolism was investigated by Veronica Pleasant, (Animal Science and Pathobiology) with Associate Professor Kristen Govoni (Animal Science) as her advisor.

Kumar Venkitanarayanan, Associate Dean (College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources) and Professor (Animal Science) advised Jamie Georgelos (Molecular and Cell Biology) with The Role of Probiotic Lactic Acid Bacteria in Treating Clostridium Difficile Infections.

SURF 2019

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Image courtesy of OUR

Four of the 45 undergraduate 2019 SURF award recipients are from CAHNR. SURF cited an exceptionally strong group of applicants representing diverse areas of academic inquiry. SURF stands for Summer Undergraduate Research Fund.

Alyssa Ferreira (Pathobiology) has a project title of Development of an Open-Source, Web-Based Database Module for the Tripal Framework to Improve Eukaryotic Genome Annotation. The faculty mentor is Assistant Professor Jill Wegrzyn (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology).

Analyse Giordano (Allied Health Sciences) will be researching Increasing the Longevity of Fully Implantable Continuous Glucose Monitors Using Biocompatible Ceramic Nanoparticles and Nanotexturing. Distinguished Professor Steven Suib (Chemistry) is the faculty mentor.

Michael Li (Exercise Science) will investigate The Effects of Late-Life Caloric Restriction on Aging with faculty mentor associate Professor Blanka Rogina (Genetics and Genome Sciences).

Daniel Yu’s (Exercise Science) project title is Role of Mevalonate Pathway Components on Statin-Induced Muscle and Neuronal Damage. The faculty mentor, also from CAHNR, is Assistant Professor Elaine Lee (Kinesiology).

By Patsy Evans