Rudd Center Awarded $1 Million for Research Project

farmer in field with cows

The Rudd Center received $1 million in funding from the Connecticut Department of Public Health for a new research project focused on COVID-19's impact on children’s health. The study, led by Agricultural and Resource Economics Associate Professor Tatiana Andreyeva, will look at how infant feeding practices such as breastfeeding changed throughout the pandemic and how these changes affected children’s health and weight outcomes.

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ARE welcomes UConn Extension’s Marketing Intern

abigail wilbur

Abigail Wilber ‘23 (CAHNR) is learning and implementing marketing strategies, practices, and tools to help advance UConn Extension’s digital presence to ensure their content resonates and reaches as many of Connecticut’s residents as possible. Using Salesforce, Wilber helps Extension complete vital activities like email marketing, transcripts for accessibility, and records management.

Wilber recently completed her associate of applied science degree in animal science, a program offered through the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture. She is transferring into the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in the fall with a concentration in business management and marketing, thanks in part to her experience with UConn Extension this summer.

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Professor T. Andreyeva, Director of Economic Initiatives

Tatiana Andreyeva

Agricultural and Resource Economics Professor Tatiana Andreyeva named Director of Economic Initiatives at UConn's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health. Her research on food policy and child nutrition focuses on the role of economic incentives in food choices and diet, with a particular focus on fiscal policy (taxes and subsidies) and federal food assistance programs. Recently completed projects include an evaluation of Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) on academic and health outcomes and school meal costs and a systematic literature review and meta-analysis of fiscal policies on foods and non-alcoholic beverages.

The Rudd Center also welcomes two ARE graduate students as Summer Research Assistants: Mengji Li and Luis Seoane Estruel Sr.

ARE Students win grant to study UConn local food procurement

Matt Chen and Hannah Colonies-Kelley

ARE seniors Matt Chen and Hannah Colonies-Kelley were awarded an Environmental and Social Sustainability Grant from the Office of Sustainability to study the procurement practices of UConn dining. Through initial interviews with Dining Services personnel, Chen and Kelley learned about UConn’s high levels of local food procurement (approximately 36% pre-pandemic compared to 20% or less at most other institutions) and innovative initiatives to reduce food waste. They are designing a survey to understand students’ food insecurity challenges and awareness of UConn Dining’s sustainability practices, and will be interviewing local agricultural producers. These results will help them develop marketing recommendations for Dining Services, and a report detailing their final results should be forthcoming in July.

You can read more about the grant and Matt and Hannah in UConn Today:

Hannah Colonies-Kelley Senior Spotlight

Matt Chen Senior Spotlight 

Towe Awarded Grant to Study Water Quality and Economies

Charles Towe was awarded a grant for $499,930 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to study water quality and economics. The grant title is Valuing Rural Stewardship of Riverine Ecosystems: Transfer-Ready Water Quality and Land Cover Co-Benefits, Linked Rural and Urban Economies.

Water quality is the basis for many critical ecosystem services. Runoff of nutrients from the agricultural sector is now the main contributor to the current degradation ofUS waters. Policymakers have found it a challenge to encourage reductions by agriculture for at least two reasons. First, by statute, many agricultural operations are explicitly excluded from regulation. Second, when decision-makers move to set pollution targets it is a challenge to conduct benefit-cost analyses at both the regional and federal levels, exacerbating stasis over the setting of an ambient pollution target that promotes the general welfare.The policy community realizes that estimates of the public value for water quality are critical inputs for robust welfare analyses.Programs for water quality improvement span rural, suburban, and urban communities, and the benefits extend across these same dimensions. To date, much of the focus for water quality changes and benefit calculation has been placed either in urban areas. Given the dominance of non-point sources in our current water pollution portfolio and the fact that the acceptance of, and voluntary participation in, government programs to reduce this pollution is required for further success, a statistically valid and transferable estimate of rural water quality benefits is needed. These estimates are an important input to near-term spending priorities and in the longer term to aid in evaluating the potential for new, perhaps state-level, regulations, or market-based trading mechanisms (environmental markets) to meet water quality targets.Therefore, with the resulting absence of benefits information, it is hard to evaluate an investment in water quality in rural communities and current investment in such areas is likely inadequate. The value of water quality improvement is conditional on the target area of quality-improving management practices and the downstream areas that accrue benefits. Thus, a national or even region-wide assessment of the value of water quality changes with specificity to a local decision-scale is costly. The ecological, land-cover, and social context are critical to value measurement, and comprehensive information requires many valuation studies across a spectrum of locations.Overcoming these challenges requires valuation models that account for social, economic, and environmental context and tradeoffs and are constructed in a fashion that allows estimation of benefits even outside of the studied areas. In this study, we conduct targeted valuation surveys across these dimensions that allow for a benefit estimate of quality improvements along the entirety of the riverine system. These benefit calculations will fill a gap in knowledge and assist policymakers in targeting practice changes that produce the greatest social welfare improvement.

Swallow Awarded Grant to Study Ecosystem Services

Stephen Swallow was awarded a $50,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to study ecosystem services. The grant title is Ecosystem Services Foundations for Resilient Communities: Agriculture, Land Use, Coasts and Energy for Human Well-Being.

The proposed workshop facilitates discussion amongst experts about the impacts of environmental regulations on the local environmental quality and economic well-being of rural communities. We examine the relationship between agriculture, natural resource conservation, policies, and actions that enhance rural community resilience. The workshop addresses best management practices to improve or mitigate changes in ecosystem services. We focus on rural and rural-fringe community’s efforts that adapt to changing frequencies and magnitudes of natural storms, by creating resilience for built infrastructure in consort with resilient provisions of the ecosystem. The research workshop builds upon a long history of successful annual workshops addressing related themes in natural resource, environmental and agricultural economics and policy. The targeted focus of the workshop is designed to promote in-depth dialogue, debate and policy discussions among a small group of invited speakers, selected presenters and other attendees, with session coordinators chosen for their expertise and relevance of ongoing work. The workshop also follows a plan for dissemination and publishing of research and policy discussion. It enables attendees to learn about and evaluate recent advances in theoretical and empirical research in the area of ecosystem services foundations for resilient communities. The meeting also provides participants a venue to present the policy significance of their work and convey their data needs to relevant agencies. This approach benefits the scientific community as research findings are published in a special issue. Moreover, the workshop informs a wide range of groups, including rural community advocates, environmental advocacy groups, local businesses and technology companies, national and local policymakers, and others.

Connecticut Sea Grant Coastal and Marine Economics Graduate Fellowship Program 2021-22

Lindsey kayaking in Long Island SoundThe Connecticut Sea Grant Coastal and Marine Economics Graduate Fellowship Program will enable one selected graduate student per year to conduct independent fundamental or applied economic research for one year under the guidance of their academic advisor. The purpose of the fellowship is three-fold: (1) advance progress towards the coastal and marine goals of the CTSG 2018-23 Strategic Plan through their individual project, (2) learn about CTSG and engage staff on economic aspects of existing and emerging program needs, and (3) promote a real-world professional development opportunity aimed at enhancing the career goals of the fellow.

The program will do so by awarding one CTSG Graduate Economics Fellowship for the 2021-22 academic year. The award will consist of a service-free fellowship providing a $20,000 annual stipend (paid monthly). Preference will be given to applications for which the host department will couple the fellowship with a partial or full assistantship that covers the fellow’s graduate tuition and benefits.

The 2021-22 fellowship is open to graduate students who will be enrolled in an economics-related MS or PhD graduate program in a Connecticut academic institution during the duration of the fellowship (i.e. the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters). The fellowship is open to applicants irrespective of their citizenship or nationality, as long as they are enrolled in an eligible graduate program. The successful fellow’s academic advisor must be affiliated with a Connecticut academic institution, with expertise relevant to the proposed research. CTSG is strongly committed to enhancing diversity, equity and inclusivity in higher education and encourages submissions that help achieve those objectives. 

CTSG areas of particular interest 

  • Valuation of ongoing efforts/sectors relevant to Sea Grant activities, such as valuing recreational fisheries in Connecticut, marsh restoration efforts, etc.
  • Valuation of environmental services
  • Economic analyses of climate change impacts on coastal and marine sectors and ecosystem services in Connecticut
  • Economic and societal impacts derived from Sea Grant activities (market and non-market; jobs and businesses created or sustained) 
  • Economic value of coastal and marine habitats and ecosystems.

Submission deadline is Friday, May 14, 2021.

The complete Call and Guidance on how to apply can be found here:  https://seagrant.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1985/2021/01/Sea-Grant-economics-fellowship-2021-v2.pdf

For more information: see https://seagrant.uconn.edu/funding/fellowships/, or contact:

Dr. Syma A. Ebbin, research coordinator

Connecticut Sea Grant College Program

The University of Connecticut

1080 Shennecossett Road

Groton, CT 06340-6048

Tel: (860) 405-9278; Fax: (860) 405-9109

E-mail: syma.ebbin@uconn.edu

‘Learn by Doing’: Journalism, ARE Departments Team Up for New Dual Degree

students working at Spring Valley Student Farm at UConnUConn’s Department of Journalism and Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) have worked together to develop a dual-degree program that allows students to simultaneously complete with a bachelor of arts in journalism and a bachelor of science in ARE. The  dual degree was created in response to requests from journalism students interested in pursuing ARE as an additional area of study. The new program allows students to gain experience in applying journalistic perspective to economics, the environment, and related policy.

Emma Bojinova, a lecturer in ARE, and Maureen Croteau, professor and head of the Department of Journalism, worked together to formalize a plan of study for the program that allows completion of  both degrees in four years while leaving room for electives and the fulfillment of all general education requirements. The dual degree requires eighteen additional credits beyond a single bachelor’s degree, which can be completed during the summer or winter intercessions, or by taking additional courses during fall and spring semesters. To ensure that they’re on track for graduation, students will receive specialized advising from members both departments. With careful planning, courses in both disciplines can be used to satisfy multiple requirements. Read more.