Learn more about the 14 new full-time faculty members joining the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) and UConn Extension in the Fall 2021 semester.
Ngozi Adaralegbe, Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Allied Health Sciences
Ngozi Adaralegbe holds a Ph.D. in health services research from the University of North Texas. She also holds an MBBS from Igbinedion University, Okada Nigeria. Her research focuses on children with disabilities, especially those living with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her dissertation examined the impact of adverse childhood experiences on resilience, school engagement and success in adolescents with co-occurring autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit and hyperactive disorder. She has published two peer-reviewed articles and co-authored a community-based mental health counseling textbook. She will be based at the Waterbury Campus.
Catherine Andersen, Associate Professor in Clinical Nutrition, Nutritional Sciences
Catherine Andersen earned her B.S. and Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences at UConn and is a registered dietician-nutritionist. Before joining the faculty at UConn, Andersen worked as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Fairfield University. Her research investigates the relationship between diet and lifestyle factors, metabolic health, and immune function, which has been supported by the United States Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. She will serve as the Director of the new online MS Program in Personalized Nutrition in the Department of Nutritional Sciences.
Lauren Corso, Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Allied Health Sciences
Lauren Corso holds a Ph.D. in health promotion science from UConn. She also earned her BS in medical laboratory sciences and MS in Kinesiology at UConn. Corso is currently working on multiple research studies. She has authored 11 articles and one book chapter. Corso’s research focuses on physiological predictors of weight gain and change in cardiometabolic risk.
Michael DiStefano, Assistant Professor in Residence, Kinesiology
Michael Distefano has a master’s degree in exercise and sports science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His thesis focused on gender differences in trunk, hip, and knee kinematics during a cutting task among soccer players. Before taking the position as assistant professor in residence, DiStefano worked at UConn as the assistant clinical coordinator for the athletic training education program. He also served as an adjunct faculty member in the UConn Department of Kinesiology. DiStefano has worked in many administrative roles for athletic programs in Connecticut and North Carolina. DiStefano has published six articles as well as numerous abstracts and presentations.
Sydney Everhart, Department Head and Associate Professor, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture
Sydney Everhart holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Georgia. Before coming to UConn, she worked as an associate professor of plant pathology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she helped established graduate programs in plant pathology. Everhart’s current research focuses on the application of molecular tools for elucidating the biology, epidemiology, and origins of fungal plant pathogens that cause disease in cultivated crops and addressing the growing concern of fungicide resistance. Everhart has four active grants and has published 38 peer-reviewed articles. Everhart has served as the mentor for 26 students and scholars.
Nicholas Goltz, Assistant Cooperative Extension Educator, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture
Nick Goltz received his Doctor of Plant Medicine degree from the University of Florida. He has authored a publication in the Biodiversity Data Journal and has three more in press. Goltz worked for two years as a plant disease diagnostician under the direction of Carrie Harmon at the University of Florida Plant Diagnostic Center and during a summer internship under the direction of Alicyn Smart at the University of Maine Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. Prior to this, Goltz worked as a laboratory manager for the U.S. Department of Agriculture fire ant research entomologist David Oi. He also worked on various projects as a research and development technician at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry. Goltz is a member of the American Phytopathological Society and the American Society for Plant Biologists, and he is currently serving on the Connecticut Horticultural Society Board of Directors.
Ethan Grumstrup, Assistant Research Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics
Ethan Grumstrup received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Nevada, Reno. He was named the 2018 Outstanding Ph.D. Student in Economics by the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business. Grumstrup has published an article and several technical reports and working papers. He worked for the University of Nevada Center for Economic Development as a graduate research assistant and interned at the governor's finance office. His research interests include regional economics, economic development, and applied econometrics.
Rachel Koch, Assistant Research Professor, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture
Rachel Koch holds a Ph.D. in mycology and plant pathology from Purdue University. Before coming to UConn, Koch was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nebraska. Koch has published 15 articles. She was the 2019 Postdoc Science Slam Winner and received an early career grant from the National Geographic Society. She also received the Fungal Ecology Award from the Mycological Society of America in 2018. Koch served as the mentor for eight master’s degree and undergraduate students at Purdue
Stephen Lanno, Lecturer of Diagnostic Genetic Sciences, Allied Health Sciences
Stephen Lanno holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Wesleyan University. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Diagnostic Genetic Sciences at UConn in 2009 and has been nationally certified as a Technologist in Cytogenetics since that time. During his Ph.D., Lanno conducted research investigating the genetic and genomic basis of adaptive phenotypic traits, generating seven publications with several more in press and review. He was awarded the Barry Kiefer Prize in 2020. Lanno also brings nearly a decade of experience working in clinical cytogenetics laboratories to the Diagnostic Genetic Sciences program.
Abraham Pellissery, Assistant Research Professor, Animal Science
Abraham Pellissery holds a Ph.D. in food microbiology and safety from UConn. Before joining the UConn faculty, Pellissery was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Animal Science. Pellissery worked as a veterinary surgeon in the Animal Husbandry Department for the government of Kerala, India. He also worked as an Assistant Professor at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. His research focuses on the identification of non-antibiotic alternatives to target against pathogen virulence and antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobial peptides, novel diagnostic platforms, and mucosal vaccines. He has published 11 articles and book chapters. Pellissery has also submitted several sequences to the open-access nucleotide sequence database GenBank.
Emily Reinhardt, Assistant Clinical Professor of Veterinary Pathology, Pathobiology and Veterinary Science
Emily Reinhardt is a veterinary anatomic pathologist and graduate of the combined residency and masters program in anatomic pathology from UConn. She has a BVM&S from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh, Scotland, and a BS in zoology from North Carolina State University. She worked as an academic assistant in veterinary pathology at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and as an associate veterinarian while she completed a small animal rotating internship at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Louisville, KY. She has an interest in aquatic and exotic animal diagnostic pathology and enjoys teaching undergraduate anatomy and training residents in anatomic pathology.
Roman Shrestha, Assistant Professor, Allied Health Sciences
Roman Shrestha earned his Ph.D. in public health from UConn. His dissertation received the 2018 Outstanding Dissertation Award and the Optimization of Behavioral & Biobehavioral Interventions Research Award by the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Shrestha worked as a postdoctoral fellow and then as a faculty member at Yale School of Medicine before joining CAHNR as a full-time faculty member. His research has primarily centered on interventions and implementation science at the interface of HIV and substance use with a particular focus on HIV prevention and treatment issues. Specifically, his work emphasizes on using mHealth technology and other innovative methods to improve treatment outcomes in key populations (e.g., people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender women), both domestically and internationally. He currently serves as the Principal Investigator on four NIH-funded and two industry-funded grants. He has published over 55 peer-review articles and book chapters.
Julia Smachylo, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture
Smachylo received her Doctor of Design from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Smachylo’s research focuses on urban planning, environmental conservation and governance. She is interested in the rapid growth of privatized conservation approaches within current neoliberal governance in Canada and the United States. Smachylo has published eight articles and several book chapters. She has worked as an urban planner and designer in Toronto and London for both public and private organizations.
Haiying Tao, Assistant Professor of Soil Nutrient Management and Soil Health, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture
Haiying Tao holds a Ph.D. in soil science from UConn. Before returning to UConn as a faculty member, Tao worked as an assistant professor of soil fertility and residue management at Washington State University. Tao’s research program is guided by emerging needs of farmers and other stakeholders. Her research interests include soil fertility, soil health, and manure management. Tao has published 15 journal articles. Her research has received a total of $6.5 million in funding. Tao is co-PI on several active grants.
“We are thrilled to welcome these new members to the CAHNR community,” says Dean Indrajeet Chaubey. “Their diverse research interests and extension outreach activities will enrich our College and provide our students with greater opportunities for transformational education.”
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