A Wildflower Meadow Blooms at IFNH and Cook Campus Gains a New Outdoor Classroom

IFNH Wildflower Meadow. Photo: Jennifer Simon.

IFNH Wildflower Meadow. Photo: Jennifer Simon.

You’re going to have to burn some calories regardless of which direction you approach the main floor of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health. But whether hoofing it up a long flight of stairs or a shorter jaunt from the courtyard, you’ll likely be distracted by the view and not even mind the workout. Students, alumni and faculty in the Department of Landscape Architecture (LA) have had a hand in creating the eyecatching views that grace the ascent to the building. First came the alumni-designed EcoWall flanking a long interior staircase. Then came the student-designed landscaped garden along the gentle slope of the courtyard, planted in the spring. And finally, the glorious meadow in summer bloom along the steep slope at the front entrance of the building, designed by an alum and used as an outdoor classroom.

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The Road to Financial Wellness Starts at Rutgers

Jason Vitug ('07 RBS) founder of Phroogal with Barbara O'Neill, Rutgers Cooperative Extension specialist in financial resource management.

Jason Vitug (RBS’07) founder of Phroogal with Barbara O’Neill, Rutgers Cooperative Extension specialist in financial resource management.

The Road to Financial Wellness 2.0 kicked off with a campus pit stop held at IFNH on Thursday June 2nd. Jason Vitug, a 2007 graduate of Rutgers Business School and founder of Phroogal—a social media company providing financial information targeted to millennials—is embarking on his 2nd annual financial education journey across the United States with 50 events in 50 states over 107 days, covering 15,000 miles, to raise awareness of personal finance and to encourage people to make better financial decisions. Vitug will kick off this road trip in his hometown of Elizabeth, NJ, on Tuesday June 7. Barbara O’Neill, Rutgers Cooperative Extension specialist in financial resource management, invited Vitug and two guest panelists—Pamela Callender, business development and marketing manager at Rutgers Federal Credit Union (RFCU), and Kim Cole, Navicore Solutions and New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education—to speak to the campus audience and provide specific tips to improve a person’s financial wellness.

In addition to the presentations, during his journey Vitug and his Phroogal team will be posting and sharing stories at #TheRoad2016 and encourages everyone to ‘come along for the ride.’

Jason Vitug speaking about his journey to financial wellness.

Jason Vitug speaking about his journey to financial wellness.

The Rutgers seminar began with Vitug talking about his own financial history including the $5,000 credit card debt he graduated with and ‘living paycheck to paycheck, despite a six-figure salary.’  In recounting this, he emphasized the importance of life planning and smart spending. Vitug told the audience to dig deep and ‘envision your dream life style’ so that you have a life plan which your financial plan then supports. Contrary to popular wisdom, he explained that money can make you happy if it fulfills what you need and love, rather than just like and want.  Is that big house part of your real dream or just ‘keeping up with the Joneses?’

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George H. Cook Scholars Present their Theses

George H. Cook Scholars.

2016 George H. Cook Scholars.

By Samuel Ludescher (SAS ’17)

On April 15, the second floor of the Cook Campus Center was abuzz with students and faculty taking part in theses defenses for the George H. Cook Scholars Program. Sixty four students presented and defended their theses, the last stop in a year-long process of independent planning and research that begins in the spring semester of each student’s junior year.

Janice Geiger, Administrative Assistant General Honors Program with Dr. Malcolm Watford, director George H. Cook Scholars Program, Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Janice Geiger, Administrative Assistant General Honors Program with Malcolm Watford, director George H. Cook Scholars Program, Department of Nutritional Sciences.

The program is presided over by Malcolm Watford, director of the George H. Cook Scholars Program and professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, and Janice Geiger, Administrative Assistant of the General Honors Program. Applicants of the George H. Cook Scholars Program must be in the top 15% of their class with a 3.45+ GPA. Students who achieve a 3.00 GPA are also eligible for the program if they are nominated by a SEBS faculty member. Honors projects must exhibit independence and originality. These presentations are opportunities for undergraduates to showcase their passion and ability to conduct independent research. The thesis defense is also a test of each student’s public speaking skills, a skill they must have sharpened in order to properly communicate their research to the audience. A member of the George H. Cook Honors Committee serves as session chair for each scientific category.  The session chair is accompanied by a reviewer handpicked by the presenting student. [Read more…]

The 10th Annual Run for the Woods Raised Over $1,000

Run for the Woods - On the Course - Photo Credit-Amanda Sorensen 2

Through the woods. Photo Credit: Amanda Sorensen.

The 10th annual Run for the Woods was held on May 14. The weather was beautiful, the runners were fast, and the volunteers and organizers did a great job. This 5k trail race was organized by the graduate students of the Ecology and Evolution Graduate Student Association (EcoGSA) to raise funds for restoration and care of local woods at the Rutgers University Ecological Preserve (EcoPreserve) and for their association. Professor Richard Lathrop, faculty director of the EcoPreserve, has also used donations to fund undergraduate projects such as an ecology course focused on natural resource management. The Run was originally held in Helyar Woods, part of Rutgers Gardens. The location was changed in 2014 and now takes place at the EcoPreserve.

Run for the Woods - Starting Line - Photo Credit-Amanda Sorensen

Starting Line. Photo Credit: Amanda Sorensen.

This year 44 runners and walkers crossed the finish line. The competitors were mostly local runners, and many come out every year.  The fastest male finisher, William Hulbert, crossed the finish line in 18:49 minutes. The fastest female finisher, Amanda Cirillo, finished the run in 25:44 minutes.

Joni Baumgarten, who has headed the organization for four years, described the course as a single loop through the EcoPerserve, featuring many spring flowers including spring beauty (claytonia virginica) and Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum).  Obstacles included narrow sections, roots, rocks, and—because of the recent rains—mud!  Despite this last messy challenge, Natalie Howe, one of the runners who also helped [Read more…]

Congratulations SEBS Class of 2016

The processional for SEBS Class of 2016 was led by gonfalonier Francis M. McQuarrie. Photo by Jennifer C. Simon

Gonfalonier Francis M. McQuarrie (Marine Sciences ’16) led the processional at the 2016 SEBS Convocation. Photo by Jennifer C. Simon.

On May 16, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences’ Class of 2016 was awarded degrees and basked in the collective pride of faculty and staff of the Cook Campus at the Convocation held at the iconic Passion Puddle. On a sunny, but windy day, the students were joined by an enormous crowd of family and friends to celebrate this special annual occasion, made all the more special this year as Rutgers celebrates a historic 250th anniversary.

Dean of Academic Programs Rick Ludescher served as the Master of Ceremonies while Executive Dean Bob Goodman addressed the Class of 2016, which numbered over 730 graduates.

Summa cum laude graduates were recognized, while outstanding senior awards were presented by the Cook Community Alumni Association and the campus deans. The Dr. Barbara Munson Goff “Teacher of the Year” Award, presented by Alpha Zeta, the honors and service fraternity, was won by Dean Ludescher, who is also a professor in the Department of Food Science. A rousing address was given by Class of 2016 Representative Jessie Davis, a public health major, who received a standing ovation from her her classmates. View images of 2016 Convocation on the SEBS Facebook album.

2016 SEBS Convocation Remarks by Executive Dean Bob Goodman

Executive Dean Robert M. Goodman at School of Environmental and Biological Sciences 2016 Convocation. Photo by John O'Boyle

Executive Dean Robert M. Goodman delivers his address at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences 2016 Convocation. Photo by John O’Boyle.

Convocation remarks by Executive Dean Bob Goodman on May 16 to the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences’ Class of 2016.

I am delighted to be able to greet you this morning on this wonderful occasion. The faculty and the members of the Cook community have watched you grow and blossom during your years at Rutgers. On their behalf, I offer our collective congratulations to you—the young men and women of the Class of 2016.

You’re part of something grand, graduating at perhaps one of the most highly anticipated moments in Rutgers history. There’s been an air of anticipation and feeling of ‘specialness’ attached to this class that graduates during our ‘Rutgers 250’ anniversary. You’re also special in a way that no other class can claim—whatever your politics—for having your commencement address be delivered by a sitting president of the United States.

You’re part of something revolutionary, connected to the beginnings of an institution established in 1766 when America was still a colony. You’re part of that vast continuum of students who, in those early days, soon became embroiled in the greatest civil strife in our land, to be followed almost a century later by the second major upheaval —Civil War in the 1860s, out of which emerged the public university system and the transformative land-grant program that underpins the great state universities in our country. [Read more…]

7 shout-outs to Jersey in Obama’s Rutgers speech

President Barack Obama has never lived in New Jersey, but his speech to Rutgers University’s graduating class Sunday showed someone clued him in on some of the state’s quirks and cultural touchstones… Obama gave shout-outs to several Rutgers graduates, including Yasmin Ramadan, a School of Arts and Sciences graduate, who is an anti-bullying advocate and heads the Muslim Public Relations Council, and Madison Little, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences graduate who has done work to confront the AIDS epidemic.

Read the entire article at NJ.com »

A Celebration of Excellence 2016

2016 Excellence Award winners. Back row, l-r: Rick Ludescher, Weilin Huang, Christopher Obropta, Marci Meixler, Jennifer Francis. Front row: Dalynn Knigge, Jennifer Todd, Meredith Melendez, Wesley Kline, and Jenice Sabb.

2016 Excellence Award winners. Back row, l-r: Rick Ludescher, Weilin Huang, Christopher Obropta, Marci Meixler, Jennifer Francis. Front row: Dalynn Knigge, Jennifer Todd, Meredith Melendez, Wesley Kline, and Jenice Sabb. Photo by Jeff Heckman.

On April 21, faculty, staff, and students attended the 23rd annual Celebration of Excellence for the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station held at Neilson Dining Hall.

According to executive dean Bob Goodman, this signature event acknowledges contributions that meet carefully-considered criteria, including creativity, original work and ideas, innovation, effectiveness, integrity, leadership, impact, community engagement, and excellence.

The awards were presented by dean of academic programs, Rick Ludescher. SEBS students Sarah Waxman and Nicole Tallman also presented the Alpha Zeta Honor Society Awards at the event. [Read more…]

Breahnna Saunders (SEBS’16): Passionate About Helping People

Breahnna SaundersMeet Breahnna Saunders (SEBS’16), a Nutritional Sciences major whose attraction to the field stems from the respect she feels we owe our bodies. She was identified by Rutgers Division of Student Affairs as one of the university’s 250 most involved and accomplished students, and is featured in the commemorative series, 250 for 250,” on the division’s I Am Rutgers website.

“I would say that I’m passionate about respecting and admiring our bodies. I want people to take care of their bodies because they can do these amazing things. People can climb mountains, they can dance, they can bend all sorts of ways. The body is just so amazing, so my passion in life is to inspire people to want to respect their own and admire what it can do.”

Rutgers WeatherWatcher Program: Sunny Skies in the Forecast

Tyler Case (SEBS'15) delivering a weather report from the Rutgers campus. Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Case.

Tyler Case (SEBS’15) delivering a weather report from the Rutgers campus. Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Case.

Since 2002, budding meteorologists who enroll at Rutgers get a head start on their careers thanks to a one-of-a-kind WeatherWatcher program where meteorology majors rub shoulders with non-meteorology undergrads who “live and learn” as peers tied together by their interest in weather broadcasting. One of several living-learning communities at Rutgers, the WeatherWatcher program is a partnership between the meteorology undergraduate program and the Rutgers University Television Network (RU-tv).

These “weather watchers” learn how to deliver daily pre-recorded weather broadcasts using the green screen in a professional television studio located on the first floor of Perry Hall, one of the residential dorms on the G. H. Cook Campus. Broadcasts are shared across the New Brunswick campus on RU-tv and streamed online.

Although open to non-meteorology students, the WeatherWatcher program has created a definite benefit for meteorology major Tyler Case (SEBS ’15). Case knew coming into Rutgers that he wanted to major in meteorology and work in the field, so he enrolled in the WeatherWathcher program in his first year. He valued the close-knit feeling of both the living-learning community and the meteorology program. “It’s not every day that you walk down the hall and your professors all know you by name.” [Read more…]