RCE Hosts Pit Stop on Cross County Personal Finance Education Road Trip on June 4

Barbara O'Neill.

Barbara O’Neill.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) will host a stop on a 10,000 mile road trip, The Road to Financial Wellness, a local grassroots and social media campaign designed to turn local discussions about money into a national conversation on financial wellbeing. The Rutgers stop will be Thurs., June 4, from 2 to 3 p.m., in the Cook Office Building on the George H. Cook Campus in New Brunswick.

According to Rutgers Cooperative Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management Barbara O’Neill, the Rutgers stop will feature the seminar “Money & Mindset: The Road to Financial Wellness” as well as the recorded financial stories “from the road.” RCE welcomes participants to this important conversation but are encouraging those interested in attending to send an email to O’Neill at oneill@aesop.rutgers.edu.

“We’re pleased to be able to welcome Phroogal and to be a part of this very relevant conversation about money on its cross county road trip to promote financial wellness during the entire month of June,” says O’Neill.

Initiated by the financial education startup Phroogal, this unprecedented journey across the U.S. is the brainchild of Jason Vitug, a New Jersey resident and former senior executive with a Silicon Valley credit union. Vitug is a 2007 graduate of the Rutgers Business School. [Read more…]

Eliana Geretz ’15: Moss, the Whimsical and Overlooked Flora

Eliana Geretz samples mosses from Pastorius Park, Philadelphia

Eliana Geretz samples mosses in Pastorius Park, Philadelphia.

“The mosses were just labelled Moss 1, Moss 2, that it just struck me how much mosses are overlooked,” says Eliana Geretz, ecology, evolution and natural resources major.

At the time, she was helping conduct research in Hutcheson Memorial Forest in nearby Somerset County. One of the last uncut forests in the Mid-Atlantic States, the tract is administered and protected by Rutgers Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources. It appears on the National Park Service Register of Natural Landmarks.

She describes how she felt seeing all the other plant samples were properly named and indexed, while the mosses seemed so unnamed and unclassified, due to the difficulty in identifying them.

Geretz’s attention was so taken by this that she chose to focus her George H. Cook honors thesis on studying tree moss. “Partly it’s how whimsical they seemed to me,” she explains.

She sampled tree moss species in 15 managed urban parks in Philadelphia, five in Center City, five in post-industrial areas, including Bartram’s Garden, and five in suburban NW Philadelphia. [Read more…]

Katie Fudacz (SEBS Dec. ’14): From Farm-to-Table to Bloomberg L.P.

Katie Fudacz at Monte Albán, a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in the Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán Municipality in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Katie Fudacz at Monte Albán, a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in the Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán Municipality in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

When Katie Fudacz (SEBS Dec. ‘14) embarked on her G. H. Cook Honors Program thesis, little did she know it would be her calling card for several job offers in her senior year, including the one she finally chose with Bloomberg L.P.

“I really didn’t see myself working in the private sector,” said Fudacz. “As as a first-year student, I always envisioned myself working for a radical environmental organization like Greenpeace.” Fudacz majored in International Environmental Policy, with concentrations in sustainable agriculture, women’s leadership and Spanish.

She felt so deeply rooted in environmental policy that for three of her four years at Rutgers, she was a staff writer for The EPIB Trail, a monthly online newsletter written by students in the Department of Human Ecology that features eco-friendly ideas and current environmental news, plus departmental highlights of students, teaching assistants and faculty.

Fudacz was indoctrinated in environmental justice and policy even before she got to Rutgers. [Read more…]

Barbara O’Neill Wins Two Personal Finance Awards and is Honored During Teacher Appreciation Week May 4–8

Barbara O'Neill

Barbara O’Neill

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4–8) and National Teacher Day (May 5), Barbara O’Neill, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management, was featured by Next Gen Personal Finance, an educational non-profit striving to improve financial literacy.

O’Neill recently won two awards in Next Gen Personal Finance’s First Annual Financial Literacy Month Contest. She was one of five winners in the “Best Personal Finance Resource” College category where she had her students analyze the popular TV series Shark Tank as a tool to teach them about entrepreneurship.

She also won in the “Best Personal Finance Activity” category, which featured original activities that were creative, taught key personal finance skills and provided supporting resources for educators to easily implement the activities in the classroom.

 

Ph.D. Student David Jespersen ’15: From Psychology to Plant Science

David Jespersen taking field samples at the University of Georgia–Griffin agricultural research station in Summer 2014 as part of a collaborative project to better understand the underlying genetics that control heat tolerance in grasses. Photo: Courtesy of David Jespersen.

David Jespersen taking field samples at the University of Georgia–Griffin agricultural research station in Summer 2014 as part of a collaborative project to better understand the underlying genetics that control heat tolerance in grasses. Photo: Courtesy of David Jespersen.

David Jespersen, doctoral student in plant biology, received the Graduate School–New Brunswick Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research for his exceptional research accomplishments at the Spring Awards ceremony on April 23. He was one of six awardees chosen among all graduate students campuswide.

A mere six years earlier, David graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the School of Arts and Sciences—far removed from the world of plant science. So, how did he get from studying psychology to being on the verge of completing his dissertation research on identifying heat-tolerance traits and genes in bentgrass and helping to develop heat-tolerant bentgrass and other species, all the while earning several significant accolades for his achievements along the way?

“I’d taken a few electives in plant science as an undergraduate and found that I had a growing interest in plants, and in my final undergraduate semester I went to talk to the graduate program director about pursuing a master’s degree in plant science,” explains Jespersen. “As it turned out, instead of pursuing a master’s degree, I turned my attention to a Ph.D. instead, with the encouragement of Prof. Huang.” [Read more…]