Author: Zidack, Heather

Guest Speaker February 26th

If you are interested in working for USDA agencies, such as ARS and NRCS as a soil scientist, and would like to learn their requirements and job application processes and tips, please join the on-line Q&A event. We have invited USDA-ARS soil scientist Dr. Curtis Ransom and USDA-ARS hiring manger Melinda Nunnally to discuss tips and processes to prepare yourself to become a USDA soil scientist or certified soil scientist and answer questions you may have. The event is at 3:00-4:00PM next Monday, Feb. 26th.

Please RSVP by Friday, Feb. 23 at

The WebEx link will be sent to you after your RSVP.

EPA Worker Protection Standard Training

Travis Clark will be offering a training for the EPA Worker Protection Standard training for Plant Science employees that couldn’t attend the first session at YOUNG RM 122 on Thursday, February 22nd from 10:30am-11:30am.  This one-hour training session is federally mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency concerning working with and around pesticides.

What is the EPA Worker Protection Standard?

As of January 1, 1995, the EPA Worker Protection Standard requires workers and pesticide handlers to be trained in the hazards, precautions (posted signs, protective equipment, etc.), personal cleanup, and other safety items associated with applying pesticides or working with pesticide contaminated plants, soils, etc.

Who falls into this category? 

Any full or part time faculty, staff, or student employee who comes into contact with pesticides in the “production” of agricultural plants on a farm, forest, orchard, nursery, or greenhouse.  (Anyone who works in one of our greenhouses or farms at any level).

Beginning January 2017, this EPA mandated training must be updated annually.

Check the UConn EH&S website to verify when you were last trained for the WPS.

Research uses of pesticides are not exempt.

***If you need this training and cannot make it this Thursday, please email and we can set up a time to meet.**

PSLA Administrative Office Closed 12/25/23 – 1/1/24

The PSLA Administrative Office will be closed from Monday December 25th, 2023 through January 1st, 2024 for the holiday break. Limited staff will be working remotely on Dec 27-29 and the PSLA mailbox will be monitored, during that time. We will return to the office on January 2nd, 2024. Please plan accordingly.

We hope you have a peaceful and safe holiday season!




PSLA Winter Celebration 2023

The Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture came together on December 14th for an Ugly Sweater, Chilli Cook off and Yankee Swap to celebrate the end of the semester and the winter holidays. Students, faculty and staff came together for some fantastic food and friendly competition! Roy Davis and Nick Goltz led the organization of this event and Chris Strand & Chloe Bilodeau assisted the committee with setup in the LA Studio Room.

Congratulations to our Contest Winners:

Chili Categories:
  • Best Vegetarian Chili – Nick Goltz
  • Spiciest Chili – Sydney Everhart
  • Most Unique Chili – Chase Crowell
  • People’s Choice 3rd Place – Nora Doonan
  • People’s Choice 2nd Place – Nick Goltz
  • People’s Choice 1st Place – Chris Strand
Ugly Sweater Categories:
  • Ugliest Sweater – Chris Strand
  • Fan Favorite Ugly Sweater – Sohyun Park & Roy Davis


Thank you to all who came out and brought food, gifts, and their festive spirit to this event!


End of Semester Newsletter, Fall 2023


FALL 2023


PSLA Cover Image

Reflections on Fall 2023

This is an exciting time to belong to the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture.  We are a diverse group of individuals that all do, as one undergraduate called it, "plant stuff."  Whether that includes tending to plants in a greenhouse, creating an in-depth design of a coastal community, standing at the front of a room to teach about integrated pest management, pulling soil cores for analysis, or processing orders for lab equipment and supplies, we all do "plant stuff".  Though individually, you may not feel that your plant stuff has impact, I want to remind you that the green industry is the economic engine of Connecticut, and all plant products combined represent 72% of the state’s ag economy.  What you do is significant and I argue that our department is the number one most important within the entire university.

To show you, we have assembled a collection of stories and highlights in this semester’s issue of our department newsletter.  This includes stories from our past that have recently re-emerged, like our 100-year old orange tree, the history and future of the PSLA orchards, and the previously abandoned observatory rejuvenated at the research farm.  You will also see that we are growing our department with several new hires, and have had many newsworthy events and awards among our students, faculty, and staff.  I think all of you will find something to relate to in this issue.  If you have a story to share, please let us know!  We would be happy to feature it in a future issue.

Sydney Everhart

Sydney Everhart Signature

UConn Plant Science & Landscape Architecture in the Media

Planting Wildflowers along I-91 in Holyoke

The PSLA Department participates in a pilot program to help plant natives and wildflowers along highways to benefit the environment.

Urban Planning Maps

 Doctoral researcher Pan Zhang and Assistant Professor Sohyun Park, have created a framework to help cities evaluate vacant lots and prioritize how they can have the biggest impact for the community.

Saturated lawn

Nick Goltz provided guidance for gardeners dealing with flooding on their property after this summer's record rainfall.

Students & Staff pose with the Orange Tree in its new location.

Students & Staff took on the monumental task of moving and repotting an Orange tree that dates back over 100 years to UConn's early history.

Reestablishing UConn's Fruit Orchards

UConn has had fruit production orchards in the past. Now, Evan Lentz is taking the opportunity to reestablish that that rich history.

UConn Observaotory comes back to life

The research farm staff helped to clear the overgrown areas around the forgotten observatory for it's reopening.

USDA Updated Plant Hardiness Zones

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map 2023

USDA Updates Hardiness Zone Map

In November, the USDA updated the Hardness Zone map for the first time since 2012. Here in Connecticut, this caused a shift in zones across the state.

Read the Official Press Release

Clubs & Activities

Fall Ice Cream Social – September 14th, 2023


PSLA Seminar Series


Thank you to all who participated in our fall seminar series!

Keep an eye out for seminar dates and topics for Spring 2024.



Sohyun Park, Haiying Tao, Huanzhong Wang & Julia Smachylo

Dr. Anuja Bharadwaj, Donald Parizek, Quan Zeng, Melissa Naranjo Barrientos, Sonia Sobrino Ralston, Dr. Karolina Heyduk, Dr. Mark Brand, Dr. Baikun Li, Dr. Mayra Rodriguez Gonzalez, Samantha Solano & Dr. Raquel Rocha





UConn Horticulture Club

Veronika Verbitsky, William Hawes, Connor Grace, Cullen McDermott, Olivia Delello, Will Carter, Garrett Brochard, Amanda Zheng, and Lauren Peronace helped to plant a Dawn Redwood tree.
Veronika Verbitsky, William Hawes, Connor Grace, Cullen McDermott, Olivia Delello, Will Carter, Garrett Brochard, Amanda Zheng, and Lauren Peronace helped to plant a Dawn Redwood tree this semester to start an annual tree-planting tradition for the club.

Fall Activities: 

  • The Hort Club held their annual Chrysanthemum sale this semester, selling the plants to customers in the Floriculture building as well as outside the Dairy Bar.
  • They organized a dorm plant sale in Wilbur Cross in October, where we had a table outside Crossroads Cafe. The plants sold were ones grown in the club's greenhouse in Floriculture.
  • To wrap up the semester, they sold poinsettias and rosemary plants in December.

Spring 2024:

  • The Horticulture Club will be attending the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show (2/22/24 - 2/25/24). At this event they will be selling plants grown on campus and building a landscape design using plants donated from local CT nurseries.


UConn Beekeeping Club

Fall Activities:

  • This semester the club has gone on weekly hive visits to provide care to 2 hives at Spring Valley Student Farm. They also spent time at the hives learning about pest management, hive care, and how to be a successful beekeeper throughout the seasons.
  • Meetings on campus were education-focused on hive structure and native bees, as well as club bonding activities - movie nights and screenprinting club t-shirts!

Spring 2024:

  • Hive openings will occur in the spring, dates TBD due to weather dependency but keep an eye on our instagram @uconnbeekeepingclub for updates! We will be opening our current 2 hives and integrating 4 new hives onto the farm!


The club would like to give a shoutout to Jessica Larkin-Wells for her continued support for Beekeeping Club at Spring Valley Student Farm!
Thank You Bee

Insulating hives for winter
Five beekeepers insulating our hives for this winter.

Club members learning to screen tshirts
Members of UConn Beekeeping Club learning how to screen print their very own club logo shirt to show their beekeeper pride!

Worker bees building beeswax
Hive 2's worker bees building fresh beeswax comb onto a hive frame.

Beekeeping Club with Christie Family on Family Weekend
The Christie family visiting hives for an educational outreach program during Family Weekend!


American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) UConn Student Chapter

Students participate in Park(ing) Day 2023  Students participate in Park(ing) Day 2023

Students participate in Park(ing) Day 2023  Students participate in Park(ing) Day 2023

Park(Ing) Day 2023

The UConn ASLA chapter participated in Park(ing) Day- this year's theme was pollinators! Park(ing) Day is a global, community-driven project to temporarily repurpose parking spaces into mini parks and public spaces, to advocate for safer, greener, more equitable streets.





ASLA Conference

Dr. Sohyun Park and Jill Desimini attended the 2023 ASLA Conference in Minneapolis in late October where Sohyun was recognized for her National Competitive Research Grant and participated on the jury panel for Professional Awards in the Research Category. Jill met with other program administrators and they both attended the LABash Block Party where they met program alumni and CTASLA friends Moises Andrani, Bill Kenny, Cynthia Reynolds, Ellen Fallon-Senechal, Rachel Meier and Tom Tavella. The group chatted and ate cake with Scott Bishop, Naomi Sachs, Melody Stein, Davi Parente Schoen and many other landscape architecture colleagues, friends, and students, including some fellow huskies from the University of Washington.

More PSLA Sponsored Clubs at UConn

Turf Club

Turf Club

EcoGarden Club

Ecogarden Club

Cannabis Club

Cannabis Club

PSLA Department Hosts FFA Nursery Landscape & Floriculture Career Development Events

On November 17th, over 300 Students from all over the state were on the UConn Campus participating in Career Development Events for the Connecticut FFA. Of those students, 96 high school students  came together to compete in various events in Nursery Landscape & Floriculture. Dr. Nick Goltz coordinated the needs of the CT FFA for these two sections. Students competed in general knowledge events, practical exercises, and team based activities against other chapters  for a chance to compete at the national level!

Special Thanks to:

  • Laurel Humphrey who helped to curate, print and organize test material for students
  • Nick Pettit, Shelley Durocher, Madison Sajkowicz, Travis Clark, Drew Hoagland, Hayden Amtower who assisted with setup and preparation of materials in the Ratcliffe Hicks Arena
  • Heather Zidack, who processed flowers for the event
  • Prides Corner who donated live plant material for students to identify as an element of their competition

CAHNR/RHSA Scholars Ceremony & Brunch

Saturday December 2, 2023, 11:00 AM
Hartford Mariott Downtown

Congratulations to all of our students recognized!

Graduate Students Undergraduates Undergraduates (Continued)
Zahra Ali
Maussi Arrunategui
Bivek Bhusal
John Campanelli
Samuel Haiden
Lauren Kurtz
Hengsong Li
Sergio Gabriel Peralta
Gaurav Thapa Chhetri

Matthew Antunes
Gregory Baker
Samuel Bushka
Sophia Carlson
Joseph Caron
William Carter
Darren Cole
Atlas Collazo
Ryenne Davis
Ana DiMauro
Izabella Dyer
Michael Fenton
Quinn Green
Shynaijah Hall
Elisabeth Helmin
Sean-Patrick Houssan
Taghreed Hussein
Sydnie Jacobsen
Eveleen Jiang
Nicole Molloy
Mark Nelson
Kathryn (Wren) Padua
Gisselle Pluas-Saenz
Brendan Pugmire
Ej Ramirez
Kyle Robin
Matt Schillberg
Helen Schott
Rebecca Syme
Joshua Teuber
Neil Tighe
Mia Tunucci
Laura Urban
Abigail Varga
Evan White
Diana Young


PSLA People

New Faces In The Department Welcome!

Faculty & Staff

Anuja Bharadwaj Gratis Faculty
Anuja Bharadwaj  Gratis Faculty

Mia Maltz Assistant Professor
Mia Maltz          Assistant Professor

Melissa Naranjo Barrientos Adjunct Professor
Melissa Naranjo Barrientos        Adjunct Professor

Chloe Bilodeau Educational Assistant II
Chloe Bilodeau Educational Assistant II

Heather Zidack Educational Assistant I Heather Zidack
Educational Assistant I


Bashir Tiamiyu
Bashir Tiamiyu  Mentor: Sydney Everhart

Graduate Students

Student Name Program Advisor
Julie-Ann Adorno MS Haiying Tao
Cleopatra Babor MS Yi Li
Victoria Burton MS Mark Brand
Brian Garzon MS Mariana Alfonso
Amelia Martin MS Sydney Everhart
Michelle Mcdonald MS Jessica Lubell
Monique Michaud MS Huijie Gan
Abdalla Mohammed PhD Sydney Everhart
Flavia Pereria de Souza Visiting PhD Haiying Tao
Abigail Ward MS Haiying Tao


The following grad students presented their defense of research at the end of the Fall 2023 semester. Congratulations on all of their hard work!

PhD Defenses Masters Defenses
Pan Zhang 
Urban Morphology and Social-Ecological Connectivity in South New England Metropolitan Areas
Jackie Edgett
Moving towards sustainable horticulture: Evaluating native ornamental plants and non-native ornamental plants with a reduced invasive potential 
Tracey Miller
A resources-sensitive approach to a complex problem: Riparian sustainability for Connecticut’s towns and watersheds

Lauren Kurtz
Production enhancement through polyploid breeding and micropropagation of Cannabis sativa


What's In A Name?

The Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture has been doing research to understand the perceptions and feelings of our students, staff, and faculty in regards to the naming of our Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems Major. 

Survey gif

Haven't Taken the Survey Yet? 

Please do not participate in this survey if you are not currently an SPSS major.

Coming Soon...

Winter Celebration Flyer

The PSLA Winter Celebration

Come in your ugliest sweater and bring a chilli to compete in the Chilli Cockoff and a wrapped gift for the Yankee Swap gift exchange!

Other potluck dishes, drinks, dessertsare also welcome!

Date: December 14th, 2023Time: 12:30 - 2:30 PM
Location: LA Studio Room - Young 101

Registration Form

Food Sign Up

Looking Ahead

calendar gif

 December 26th – January   12th   Winter Term 
 January 9th   CT Vegetable and Small Fruit Conference
 January 16th   Spring Semester begins 
 January 24th & 25th  CNLA Winter Symposium
 February 22nd - 25th   Connecticut Flower and Garden Show
March 3rd - March 6th  LA Program Review
 March 10th – March 16th  Spring Recess 
 March 18th     Registration for Fall 2024 Begins 
 April 26th   Last day of Spring Semester Courses 
 April 29th – May 4th   Final Exams 
 May 4th 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM   CAHNR/RHSA Commencement Ceremony
May 8th 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM  Faculty Retreat

Spring 2024 Course Information

We've updated our resources for students and advisors for Spring 2024 course offerings. Find descriptions, scheduling, enrollment data, and other details in real time.

Keep an eye out for our flyers across campus!

Wishing All a Very Happy Holidays
& Good Luck on Exams! 



Keep in Touch!

Students, Faculty & Staff: 
If you have anything that you would like to see shared in our next newsletter, feedback is welcome! Please email photos, news articles, recognitions and other relevant information to

Be on the lookout for a spring semester survey! Or, send photos and event descriptions as they come to

Do you have some exciting labs or hands on activities coming up in your courses over the next semester? We'd love to get some pictures of them for you! Please contact or to let us know about upcoming photo opportunities!

Thank you for your continued support of our programs in the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture. We want to know what you're up to, too! Send us information about career milestones, awards and recognitions and updates as well! Contact us at

The Young Building, UConn Storrs Campus