June 11, 2020
During this extraordinary time, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources continues to carry out its mission to promote human, animal, and environmental sustainability for today and the future by addressing key challenges in agriculture, food, health, and the environment through scientific discovery, education, and community engagement.
I am proud of how our students, faculty, and staff have supported their communities and each other in meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the closure of many of our physical facilities, students completed the spring 2020 semester, faculty launched new research programs to address the effects of the pandemic, and members of the college provided programs and resources to those experiencing hardships. Now, we are ramping up research, preparing to launch two new undergraduate programs and welcome new faculty and students, and implementing the college’s new strategic vision.
University administrators, faculty, and staff are working on plans for reopening the campuses for the fall 2020 semester. Announcements will be made throughout the summer as these plans develop.
Fall 2020 will see the launch of two new CAHNR undergraduate degree programs: the Associate of Applied Science in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry and the new Allied Health Sciences major at the Waterbury Campus. These exciting new programs were developed to meet industry workforce needs.
Halfway through the spring 2020 semester, a group of UConn faculty members worked together to provide a one-credit course on COVID-19 for undergraduate students, which even before it was opened to the whole university community, reached the highest enrollment of any course in the university’s history. CAHNR faculty included Professor Larry Silbart, Professor Sherry Pagoto and lecturer Cheryl Eckert, from Allied Health Sciences; and Professor Paulo Verardi and Assistant Professor Steven Szczepanek, in the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science.
Several of our faculty members have initiated new research programs addressing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Professor Paulo Verardi and his colleagues in the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science are working to develop vaccine candidates for SARS-CoV-2.
- Professor Sherry Pagoto in the Department of Allied Sciences has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of the pandemic on underrepresented students majoring in STEM fields.
- Assistant Professor Ran Xu, also in Allied Sciences, is collaborating with scientists at Harvard, MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, Virginia Tech, and the University of Copenhagen to study the effects of weather and air pollution in the transmission of Covid-19.
- Assistant Professor Steven Szczepanek in Pathobiology and Veterinary Science and Assistant Professor Thanh Nguyen in Mechanical Engineering are developing microneedle skin patches to administer a COVID-19 vaccine.
UConn Extension continues to provide programs and resources to Connecticut residents, including a web page with links to a curated range of sites that address issues related to COVID-19, and facilitating the delivery of milk to Connecticut food pantries.
We in CAHNR are deeply committed to our goals of creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive environment for us all. I am proud to tell you that of the fourteen new faculty hired in the last year, eleven are from minority or underrepresented backgrounds.
During the fall and early winter of this past year, the college developed a bold new strategic vision that will guide our teaching, research, and extension programs in the coming years. This fall, we will begin implementing that vision.
As part of our strategic plan, we are working to develop more effective ways of communicating with our audiences and stakeholders. I would like to hear from you, our valued alumni, about how we can best connect with you, or any other issues related to the college.
I thank you for your support of CAHNR as we work to carry out our mission, and I look forward to seeing you at college events in the near future. I wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and safe summer.
Indrajeet Chaubey, Ph.D.
Dean and Director
College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources
University of Connecticut
1376 Storrs Rd.
Storrs, CT 06269-4066