Faculty News

Rowe Researcher: Neural Mechanisms for Behavioral Differences on Visual Integration in Schizophrenia

rowe researcher and professor
Dr. Chi-Ming Chen and Fariya Naz

Neural Mechanisms for Behavioral Differences on Visual Integration in Schizophrenia

Fall 2014

By: Chi-Ming Chen, Psychology (chair), James Chrobak, Psychology, Emily Myers, Speech, Language and Hearing, and Fariya Naz

Cognitive functions like planning, reasoning, inhibiting as well as working memory are disrupted in schizophrenia. Cognitive impairments precede psychotic symptoms, and findings have consistently shown deficits in visual integration. Specifically, the visual integration disturbance in schizophrenia pertains to both an impaired basic visual processing system as well as reduced feedback from visual attention regions that should actually be amplifying relevant visual representations in contrast to irrelevant information. The goal of this project is to identify differences and establish a baseline in the neuronal oscillations for a visual integration task in individuals with schizophrenia and healthy participants using electroencephalograms (EEGs).

Rowe Researcher: The Fabrication of Drug Encapsulated Microparticles for the Purpose of Drug Delivery for Pain Management


Ojha Anurag
Anurag Ojha

The Fabrication of Drug Encapsulated Microparticles for the Purpose of Drug Delivery for Pain Management

August 2014 – August 2015

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Institute of Regenerative Engineering, UConn Health

Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by the breakdown of cartilage. The deterioration of cartilage directly exposes joints to bone surfaces causing excruciating pain, decreased range of motion, and other forms of disability to patients. To combat the pain, oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and intra-articular injections are used to manage pain from 24 hours to 7 days. However, both NSAIDS and intra-articular injections clear out of the system rapidly and require repeated dosages (leading to infection and excessive drug concentration at target site).

The purpose of this project is to develop a biodegradable microparticle (MP) implants for long lasting delivery of the NSAID celecoxib (CLX) for effective pain management of OA. Five different co-polymers of PLLA and PCL such as PLLA, Poly (LA-co-CL)(95:05), Poly (LA-co-CL)(85:15), Poly (LA-co-CL)(80:20), and Poly (LA-co-CL)(70:30) were used to fabricate MPs and release profiles were evaluated in vitro. The microparticles were fabricated by an oil-in-water emulsification technique followed by a solvent evaporation process. The drug loading efficiencies were determined using an extraction technique. The microparticles were characterized using FT-IR and light microscope.

2014-15 Faculty Member of the Year Award: Mark Boyer

Mark A. Boyer is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Director of UConn’s Environmental Studies program, and a Scholar-in-Residence for the Center for Environmental Science and Engineering. This is his twenty-seventh year at UConn. His research areas include global politics, climate change as it links the global to the local, and innovative pedagogy.

Starting July 1, he becomes Executive Director of the International Studies Association, with ISA’s headquarters relocating to UConn from the University of Arizona. He is past editor of International Studies Review (2008-2012) and International Studies Perspectives (2000-2004). He was also a 1992-1993 Pew Faculty Fellow in International Affairs and a 1986-88 SSRC-MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security.

As an educator, Mark works closely with students at all levels, including undergraduates and graduate scholars. He appreciates the unique experience of working with Honors students, specifically during their early years. “It’s simply more fun, and more intellectually challenging, to help provide the foundation for future scholarship, intensive learning, and even career development than it is to refine what is already a decided path into the future.”

Mark holds a B.A. in political science from Wittenberg University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Maryland. He is well published in his field.

2013-14 Faculty Member of the Year Award: Annamaria Csizmadia

Dr. Annamaria Csizmadia’s educational journey has spanned thousands of miles and multiple disciplines. Born and raised in Hungary, she completed her secondary education at a boarding school that allowed her to delve into foreign languages. She studied Russian, German, English, and Latin in high school. Her growing proficiency in English and German ignited her intellectual curiosity about cultural diversity and her desire to pursue higher education outside her native country. Through a number of formal experiences and fortuitous encounters, she was afforded invaluable opportunities to live, work, and study in Germany and the United States.

She earned the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in English and German language and literature at the University of Trier in Germany. After studying in Germany for four years, she moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in German literature at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Although Dr. Csizmadia learned to appreciate the depth and breadth of German literature, by the end of her master’s studies, her academic interest changed from literary inquiries to analyses of cultural variation in human development. Thus, she shifted her academic training from humanities to social sciences and enrolled in the doctoral program in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) at the University of Missouri. Inspired by personal experiences, close friendships, and cross-cultural studies, she began to research cultural diversity and ethnic-racial minority families, with particular focus on Black American youth, immigrant families, and multiracial children. She completed her doctoral degree in Human Development and Family Studies along with graduate certificates in Black Studies and International Development in 2008. Her dissertation research examined the role of racial identification in young Black-White biracial children’s social development from kindergarten through fifth grade.

In August 2008, Dr. Csizmadia joined the Human Development and Family Studies department at the University of Connecticut. She regularly teaches courses on individual and family development, diversity issues, adolescent development, and research methods at the Stamford regional campus, and occasionally a graduate course on early and middle childhood at Storrs. Through the years, she has mentored dozens of undergraduate students who completed research practica, internships, independent studies, as well as Honors thesis research. Several of her undergraduate students have won undergraduate research awards such as the SHARE Award, the SURF Award, and Travel Awards to attend national conferences.

Her research on racial identity, ethnic-racial socialization, and psychosocial development in multiracial and immigrant children has been disseminated at conferences nationally and internationally, and in well-recognized peer-reviewed journals such as Family, RelationsSocial DevelopmentParenting: Sciences and PracticeAdvances in Life Course ResearchSociological CompassJournal of Marriage and FamilyJournal of Black Psychology, and Maternal and Child Health Journal.

“It has been personally and professionally gratifying and inspiring for me to engage many of my undergraduate students at the Stamford campus in my research. It thrills me to see my students—many of whom remind me of myself (young, ambitious, first-generation college students, and of immigrant background)—jump at the opportunity to stretch themselves academically through involvement in research.”

2013-14 Faculty Member of the Year Award: Patrick Dragon

Patrick Dragon introduces himself to every class with the following: “Y’all can call me Pat. If you insist on an honorary, either Professor Pat or Doctor Dragon will do, so long as it alliterates!” Pat is proud to have been educated entirely through public school systems. A native of Hadley, Mass., Pat graduated from Hopkins Academy in 2001. Five years later, he completed his two bachelor’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, with majors in physics, mathematics, and astronomy.

Pat was admitted to the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of California-Davis and started there in the fall of 2006. While a graduate student, Pat attended several courses in mathematical pedagogy and Socratic teaching methods, eventually leading workshops for students who sought extra help in math courses. Pat was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, as well as the William Karl Schwarze Award, for excellence in teaching and service to undergraduates. Pat finished his Ph.D. in the spring of 2011, with a research focus in applications of combinatorics to quantum mechanics and quantum field theory.

Since finishing his Ph.D., Pat has been teaching at UConn in Storrs. In six short semesters, he has established a reputation as a challenging but energetic instructor. One student wrote, “I took Pat’s linear algebra class. He isn’t easy, but he is the best teacher I have had at UConn, by far. He is a very smart guy with a passion for math, and more importantly, a passion for teaching. If you’re looking for an interesting class, take Pat Dragon. If you’re looking for an easy class, get over yourself and take Pat Dragon anyway.”

Rowe Researcher: Premenstrual Syndrome in Minority Women

Fall 2012-Spring 2014: An Exploratory Pilot of Factors Associated with Premenstrual Syndrome in Minority Women

By Mallory Perry; Michelle Judge, PhD, RD; Deborah D. McDonald, PhD, RN

Research evidence is limited in relation to the difference between minority populations and White Americans in regards to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.  Though no research has been done directly on PMS variances, studies on amount and duration of menstrual cycles do show that there is a significant difference between ethnic groups.  The aims for this research are to explore factors associated with PMS in minority women and to compare PMS symptom response of minority and nonminority women to diet supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids. Continue reading

2014 Honors Core Course Grant Competition

The Honors Program invites proposals for new or revised interdisciplinary courses for the Honors Core.  Honors Core courses serve as an introduction to a community of scholars for first and second year honors students. They are interdisciplinary in nature, meaning they combine different perspectives and diverse problem-solving expertise to study important and challenging themes and issues. The Honors Core epitomizes Honors education with smaller class sizes, active learning, and increased academic rigor. Teaching a Core course is fun and challenging!

Proposals are due February 24, 2014. For more information, please see http://honors.uconn.edu/core-competition

Honors Engineer alum becomes expat technology leader

By Cheryl Cranick, Honors Program

The Ventimiglias during their expat experience in India. (Back: Laura ’94, Benjamin, Phil ’92; front: Aidan and Abigail)

Phil Ventimiglia ’92 (ENGR-Honors) has been at the forefront of technology innovation for nearly two decades, working for industry giants such as Lockheed Sanders, IBM, Dell, and currently NCR Corporation. “I have spent my entire career developing new technologies and products. It is who I am. It is like breathing,” said Ventimiglia. But his career really began much earlier; at his family home in fact, when his engineer father introduced him to “the dawn of the personal computer,” he said. First tinkering with equipment that his father brought home, Phil eventually enrolled at UConn, bringing with him not just his first Commodore 64 but also his budding fascination for technology. Continue reading

Recent Graduate to Present Senior Design Project to NASA Engineers

A close-up of the robotic arm.

A close-up of the robotic arm developed by Brian Coleman ’13 (ENG) and two other students as their senior design project. (Cathleen Torrisi/UConn Photo)

By Cathleen Torrisi

New UConn graduate Brian Coleman ’13 (ENG) recently completed a major accomplishment. And not just by graduating as an Honors Scholar with a strong GPA in the demanding biomedical engineering program. His senior design project – a robotic arm – so impressed director of undergraduate biomedical engineering Donald Peterson that he is arranging for Coleman to present it to a team of NASA engineers at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. Continue reading

A UConn Medical Student First

Shawnet Jones is excited to learn she will stay at the UConn Health Center for her residency.
Match Day, March 15: Shawnet Jones (right) learns she’s staying at the UConn Health Center for a family medicine residency. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Center Photo)

By Chris DeFrancesco

Commencement 2013 marks a milestone for UConn’s John and Valerie Rowe Health Professions Scholars Program for undergraduates.

Monday, Shawnet Jones becomes the first Rowe scholar to graduate from the UConn School of Medicine.

Jones was part of the first class of Rowe Scholars, which helped enable her to attend UConn’s Combined Program in Medicine, starting in 2005 as an undergraduate. She credits the Rowe scholarship and the UConn Health Center’s Health Career Opportunities Programs (HCOP) as being vital to her growth as a student-turned-physician. Continue reading