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Meet undergraduate student Peter Apicella

Peter Apicella

Combining a passion for science and horticulture has helped Peter Apicella to distinguish himself as a UConn student. Peter took advantage of numerous opportunities from research to athletics to leadership. He provides a prime example of a well-rounded and motivated student. Read more about Peter’s experiences as a UConn student.

What attracted you to UConn? I initially came to UConn because of the financial aid it gave me. I am from New Jersey and the schools there would not have been as good of a value for me as UConn.

What is your major, and why did you choose it? I am a horticulture major. I chose this path because there are a lot of troublesome, but exciting, problems related to food production. I want to be a part of finding the solutions for these problems.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I recently received an IDEA grant for funding from UConn. I am currently working on research with the Aronia berry. The berry is very high in antioxidants, but it does not taste very good. So, we are breeding it to be more palatable. It has been exciting for me to have such a serious research project in my undergraduate career. I think research is stimulating because you are trying to find something that has never been unveiled before. (more…)

NASA funds blood clot risk studies

blood draw

Giving blood to measure clot formation and breakdown factors (Beth Taylor photo)

Life’s circumstances can inspire research project ideas. For example, after running the Boston Marathon, a female athlete flew back home to Seattle and developed a blood clot or venous thrombosis. The runner’s sister, who is an exercise scientist in kinesiology, started searching for answers.

Initial literature reviews in 2010 showed that Associate Professor Beth Taylor, the exercise scientist, might be on to something. Studies seemed to suggest that a combination of risk factors, which includes flying long distances after endurance exercise and using estrogen-based oral contraceptives, had the potential to make women more susceptible to blood clots. As a result, several UConn research projects ensued with Taylor as one of the investigators.

Blood clot risk factors in women

NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium supplied some of the funding. Kinesiology 4th year doctoral candidate Amanda Zaleski received a $20,000 fellowship from them to test the hypothesis that active women in flight are at risk for blood clots.

NASA is especially interested in what flying, with its cabin pressure, confined spaces, compression of veins and reduced movement, does to the body. In addition, the agency has a goal to examine any evidence of barriers or workplace challenges negatively impacting women, who are at or want to work for NASA. (more…)

CAHNR in the news

Students with mobile devicesUConn Today reported on research into a drug delivery system, which could target diseases at the genetic level. One of the projects in the study has Assistant Professor Steven Szczepanek as a collaborator.  Szczepanek, who is part of pathobiology and veterinary science, will be involved in testing the system.

FreshFruitPortal.com included comments by John Bovay on the the economic effects of the FSMA (U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act). Bovay is an assistant professor in agricultural and resource economics.

By Patsy Evans

 

 

Meet undergraduate student Alyssa Condon

AlyssaCondon

Alyssa Condon

Alyssa Condon is a senior and expects to graduate in May 2018.

When I came to UConn as an animal science major, I never imagined that working on Capitol Hill was even a possibility for me. It took me a long time during my career as an undergraduate to understand the importance of the ties between agriculture and policymakers, but once I learned about that connection, I knew it was something that I was interested in being a part of.

Before college, I had never worked with livestock at all. I first started working with the dairy cows on campus in the annual Dairy Show hosted by UConn Dairy Club. I fell in love with the animals and quickly became as involved as possible with the cows on campus. I now am vice president of Dairy Club and work and live at the Kellogg Dairy Center. I’ve been able to tour farms all over the northeast and even in Canada, and it was through these experiences that I found a passion for agriculture policy. I was amazed at how each farm ran differently but each was so affected by agriculture policy. It also astounded me that most of those policies were created by people in power who had never even stepped foot on a farm. I quickly became fascinated by the idea of bridging the gap between farmers and policymakers.

In the fall of 2016, I received an email from the Department of Animal Science about a potential internship opportunity in Washington D.C. The American Society of Animal Science provides scholarships each year to agriculture students interested in working in a policy-related field. In addition to financial assistance, they provide support for the students in finding a potential office to work in. With the help of my advisor, Professor Zinn, I applied for this scholarship and was selected to receive it. The ASAS helped me get hired as an intern in Congressman Joe Courtney’s office in D.C. for the summer of 2017.

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Agricultural economist measures impact of forthcoming federal GMO labeling law

John Bovay

John Bovay

A new label on food packaging could soon alter the purchasing habits of American shoppers and significantly affect producer operations. A federal law will take effect in July 2018 that informs consumers about the genetic science that may be at work behind their favorite foods. This designation may lead to price increases and other far-reaching consequences in the grocery industry and beyond, says Assistant Professor John Bovay of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UConn Extension, and the College’s GMO Working Group. Bovay has started investigating how the execution of the legislation might take shape and the ways it could reverberate through the national economy.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) law introduces labeling standards that require companies to disclose if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are present in their products. Although many consumers and non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the Non-GMO Project, champion greater transparency and increased awareness about the foods we eat and drink, Bovay cautions that it could further perpetuate misconceptions about the safety of genetic engineering (GE) technology in food production. These factors could drive customers and producers to respond in ways legislators may not have intended or foreseen. These reactions also largely depend on how the government decides to implement and regulate the law, but they have thus far offered few details on their plans. Despite these challenges, Bovay is drawing from prior examples of labeling initiatives and consulting other relevant studies to project the outcomes and costs of the new law. Bovay is completing his research with Julian Alston, a distinguished professor in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. (more…)