Museum Activities: 2018 Winter Escapes & Spring Adventures

The Connecticut State Museum of Natural History presents


Recent Discoveries from the Office of State Archaeology, Boston Museum of Science, Day Trip, Mission to Mars: Creating the Ideal Team for Human Space Exploration, Pollination Syndromes – Traits That Make Plants Irresistible to Pollinators, Morning Tea with Mr. Darwin: Faith, Religion, and Science, the Pilgrim’s First Settlement in Plymouth, Spring Seedlings Workshop, Exploring Connecticut’s Towns – Norwich and Ancient Technologies Workshop: Flint Knapping are some of the activities and talks being offered this season by the Museum. Don’t miss out on exciting special events, workshops, field learning programs, and notable presentations.

For a full listing of programs and registration information visit www.cac.uconn.edu/mnhcurrentcalendar or call 860.486.4460

Find us on Facebook

UConn Constitution Day discussion led by Dr. Susan Schmeiser (UCSPAN Video)

The Office of Public Engagement hosted Constitution Day on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at Wilbur Cross- South Reading Room from 12:30 pm -2pm. A poster presentation and discussion led by Susan Schmeiser, Ph.D, J.D on the 1967 landmark civil rights supreme court decision of Loving v. the State of Virginia is planned. This year is the 50th anniversary of the decision which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Video by UCTV.

Museum & Archaeology Center: Fall of Fun & Discovery

Mysterious Mushrooms, the Hammonassett Festival, Archaeology Field Workshop, Mr. Darwin: Big Man on Campus, Historic Cedar Hill Cemetery Walk, August First: A West Indian Jubilee in America, Exploring Connecticut’s Towns–South Windsor, Black Bears in Connecticut, and Recent Discoveries from the Office of State Archaeology are some of the activities and talks being offered this season by the Museum and Archaeology Center. Don’t miss out on exciting special events, workshops, field learning programs, and notable presentations.

For a full listing of programs and registration information visit www.cac.uconn.edu/mnhcurrentcalendar or call 860.486.4460


Mystic Seaport, UConn to receive grants for maritime history projects

From The Day Newspaper: 7/7/2017

“Mystic Seaport and the University of Connecticut are among recipients of grants announced Friday by the National Park Service.

Mystic Seaport will receive $46,659 for its “Clippers to Containers” project, while UConn will receive $22,780 to create a “Blue Heritage Trail” for southeastern Connecticut, the park service said in a news release.

A total of $1.7 million was awarded by the park service for 27 maritime heritage projects in 13 states and Washington, D.C. In addition to the grants for UConn and the Seaport, a third grant was awarded in Connecticut. The SoundWaters educational program in Stamford will receive $43,500 to sponsor maritime history sails on Long Island Sound.

The park service grants were awarded in partnership with the federal Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration for projects that teach about and preserve the nation’s maritime history.”

For the full article visit: http://www.theday.com/local/20170707/mystic-seaport-uconn-to-receive-grants-for-maritime-history-projects

Dr. Michael Menard, Associate Director Public Engagement Retires

michael-menardDr. Michael Menard has retired as of July 1, 2017 after a long career at UConn. Dr. Menard served in extensive leadership roles since he joined UConn in 1994. Most recently as Associate Director for Public Engagement, Dr. Menard worked to strengthen the University’s partnerships with local communities.

Beginning in 1999, serving as the Director of what is now called the Early College Experience Dr. Menard led a significant rejuvenation of that program. His role was expanded when he was named the University’s Executive Program Director for educational outreach in 2002. Then, in 2004, he was asked to direct the Torrington Regional Campus. For over twelve years, Dr. Menard served as Director at Torrington and then the Hartford Regional Campus. Most notably, as Hartford Campus Director, he built the foundation for the transition of the campus to its new downtown location. Most recently in the Office of Public Engagement, he worked with the Museum of Natural History to create a new vision to bring the museum to Connecticut through the regional campuses and led the development of a civic action planning process.

The Office of Public Engagement thanks Dr. Menard for his service to the University and his leadership, and wish him well as he retires.

CT Innovation nights comes to Storrs

CT Innovation night comes to Storrs, by Julia Mancini, The Daily Campus.


“Innovation Nights” is a series of events organized by a grassroots company with the goal of supporting local start up companies and innovators. The first of these events was held right here at UConn, at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.

Nine products and innovations were featured at the event. It was an open event with booths set up and product displays to walk through at your leisure.Each innovator competed for over 30 days for votes in order to get specific time at last night’s event. The winners of this contest were Obvia LLC with their wind turbine, the Mobility Assistance Sling, the Badger Medical Collar and RecordME.co.

The wind turbine by Obvia LLC, a Connecticut-based wind turbine design, engineering and manufacturing company, aims to make harnessing wind energy more cost effective and efficient. Their new design involves dual-winglet rotor blades and a semi-shroud wing to capture 44 percent more energy from wind with a smaller environmental footprint than any existing wind turbine. While the display they had was only a prototype, they are working to get a 600 watt design.

The Mobility Assistance Sling, by B2 Products, was the creation of an EMT.It’s a versatile sling designed to ergonomically aid in lifting or assisting individuals with limited mobility. It makes this aid more comfortable and dignified for the person in need as well as less strenuous on the EMT or any other person doing the lifting. It’s constructed from heavy-duty nylon and polypro webbing and boasts a versatile and flexible design. Target consumers are fire-rescue and EMS agencies, elderly/disabled patient care, nursing or medical facility personnel and rehab services.

The Badger Medical Collar, or immobilization/extrication collar, by Dba Bariatric Collar, LLC is a device designed for when traditional cervical collars won’t fit a patient. This fills the EMS need, especially in emergency situations.The adjustable design is quick, easy, comfortable and lightweight. It’s also floatable and waterproof. The BMC does not restrict air or blood flow and is easily removable, making it a useful tool for emergency responders.  

RecordME.co is a unique device that allows music-lovers to create record-studio quality music from any venue.All one has to do is connect to the internet with their simple box-like device and the company provides the engineer and distribution, providing a great way to reach new audiences and make the music industry more accessible and lucrative to people who may not be signed with record labels.

Innovation Women was also present at the event, advertising their website: an online speakers’ bureau that allows you to connect and invite female speakers for entrepreneurial and technical events. Women pay to be members of the site, so it’s not an open forum, but this means there is typically incentive for communication. The process of finding a speaker is simple, with event coordinators merely needing to go on the site and search topics or locations.

“It’s incredibly varied, it’s not all just professionals. We advertise speakers who are technical, entrepreneurs or innovative but many are just hands-on, experienced women,” founder Bobbie Carlton said.

Two Happy Homes is a website created by Traci Whitney after her divorce and it’s goal is to make co-parenting easier and to facilitate the care of children in homes of divorced parents. It gives users resources like shared calendars, expense tracking, medical information, contact storage, online messaging and expert advice. It launched in 2012 and has even been used in judge-mandated situations regarding divorced families.

“You’ll never see the word divorce on the site. I don’t want people to feel like it’s a negative environment, it’s very upbeat content. It provides a neutral environment for communication for families that need it. Divorce isn’t what it used to be and this makes it less complicated,” Whitney said.

One of the larger inventions featured at Innovation Night was the Ginzvelo Human Electric Cycle. District Director at Ginzvelo, Philip Huerter, recently won the Connecticut Innovations CTNext Award. The chargeable cycle, a method of sustainable transportation, can go up to 30 mph, operates on an aerodynamic design and was even featured on the Discovery Channel.

Other start-ups featured were Noteworthy Chocolates, the world’s only chocolate engraving company, as well as the CuStickers App, created by UConn professor Alex Tung and the EatOutWith.Me app, which automates the hospitality industry and lessens the disconnect between businesses and customers.

“We’re trying to facilitate opportunities between local innovators and UConn.We’re raising awareness of these innovation and business opportunities amongst faculty, staff and students. We aim to inspire and hope that being exposed to these innovations and what’s happening in Connecticut will get people to stay here. We’re engaging students to be part of the community,” UConn Office of Service Learning program director Julia Yakovich said.

“We are trying to bring out the localness in innovation. The participants in these events are looking for exposure for their products and start-ups. These are free events, all we ask is for people to say something while they’re here,” Angelina Capalbo, Director for CT Innovation Nights, said.

This series of events is inspired by a similar model in Boston. Capalbo and Innovation Nights aspire to run these evenings once a month in the future, ultimately promoting 144 CT products a year and creating a more effective outlet for innovation in our state.

This event was cosponsored by Innovation Nights, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and the UConn Office of Public Engagement.

Julia Mancini is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.mancini@uconn.edu.  


Marine biologists and UConn alumni discuss penguin rehabilitation

By Marlese Lessing - UConn Daily Campus

Marine biologists and UConn alumni, Josh Davis, Laurie Macha, and Eric Fox
Marine biologists and UConn alumni, Josh Davis, Laurie Macha, and Eric Fox discussed African penguin conservation in a lecture hosted by the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History on Saturday, Nov. 12. (Songqing Zhao/The Daily Campus)


Marine biologists and University of Connecticut alumni Josh Davis, Laurie Macha and Eric Fox spoke about African penguin conservation on Saturday in a lecture hosted by the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History.

‘From Poultry To Penguins: What Came After UConn’ highlighted the duties and research of Davis, Macha and Fox, who all are involved in the Mystic Aquarium’s African penguin colony as well as the current colonies down in South Africa.

The three animal science majors attributed their success to their experience at UConn. In particular, Macha said, a poultry science class she took gave her valuable experience in handling birds, understanding their physiology and formulating diets for the colony.

Davis emphasized how the skills he learned in university help him today.

“We don’t think we would be able to do today without the experiences we learned at UConn,” he said.

Macha, who graduated from UConn in 1987 with a bachelor's in animal science and received her master’s in 1991, is the Supervisor of Pinnipeds and Penguins at the Mystic Aquarium. Macha is in charge of the current penguin colony and helps train the birds so that they can be safely fed, handled and exercised.

One of the reasons that the penguin colony is so important, Macha said, is because of the rapid decline in African penguin populations. Currently, there are less than 50,000 African penguins alive in the wild, a 70 percent decline in their numbers since 2000.

“They could very well disappear in our lifetime,” Macha said. “It’s a very grave situation.”

Threats such as predators, pollution, a reduction in food due to climate change and oil spills all lead to penguin deaths. In South Africa, Macha said, the penguins are sometimes seen as pests, and nesting areas have been destroyed to make way for new housing developments. Currently, the African penguin is on the Endangered Species List.

Oil spills in particular are highly fatal to penguin colonies, Macha said. In 2000, an oil spill around Robben Island, which houses one of South Africa’s most prominent penguin colonies, left over 19,000 surviving birds in need of cleaning and rehabilitating, Macha said.

One of the most devastating effects of oil spills on the birds, Macha said, is the fact that crude oil destroys the red blood cells of penguins once ingested, leaving them anemic. The oil can be passed on to their chicks as well when the parents regurgitate food for their young.

Macha went to South Africa and assisted in rehabilitating the penguins, she said. The trip was the beginning of a partnership between Mystic and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, who helped organized the penguin rescue.

The organization collaborates with Mystic on the current penguin populations in the wild, tracking the breeding habits and growth cycles through a program called Earthwatch. Mystic aquarium also provides data from their own penguin colony as a baseline for penguin health in the wild, Macha said.

Those who attended the show said they enjoyed the variety of knowledge the lecturers had to present.

“I think it was a good lecture,” said Britt Barry, a New London resident who graduated from UConn herself in 1987. “I brought my daugher and her friend. I thought that it would be a good idea for her to see what UConn students did after [they graduate]. I liked the range of topics they talked about.”

Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.



Be a Part of The New Engagement

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) convened a group of member institutions last spring to help make plans for a new Task Force on The New Engagement. The goal of the eventual task force is to establish a bold new vision for university engagement that is institution-wide—connecting across university purposes of teaching and learning, research and discovery, public service and outreach, and knowledge transfer—and that is transformational for universities as well as for the communities they serve.

The APLU Office of Economic Development and Community Engagement is requesting your help in making final plans for this Task Force. Please read the working group report on The New Engagement and provide commentary via the online feedback form no later than Friday, November 11th. The work APLU does is shaped in many ways by member institutions’ experiences with partners, communities, and society at large, which makes your voice critical to creating an inclusive Task Force.

Read the working group report on The New Engagement.

Complete The New Engagement feedback form.