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Noted graduates from the Class of 2006
Released: May 4, 2006

Release # 06041-06048
Richard Veilleux
(860) 486-3530 (office)

Undergraduate research entices MILFORD resident to enter graduate school

# 06041

STORRS, Conn. —Rivers can tell a lot about the world around us, which is why Krystal Kliger, a senior geography major at the University of Connecticut, decided to study them.

In fact, Kliger, a MILFORD resident, spent last summer doing just that, working on her senior research project. Using techniques such as slope measurement to study the Eight Mile River in Salem, her work could help calculate future habitat conditions—predicting how the river and the environment around it will affect each other.

By measuring the physical properties of streams and rivers, researchers can create models that can accurately project the impact of pollution and provide clues important for environmental restoration.

The research is pertinent in several Connecticut towns today, since many East Haddam, Lyme, and Salem residents are trying to secure a National Wild and Scenic River status for the entire watershed of the Eight Mile River, protecting it from future development.

Kliger, whose enthusiasm helped her earn a $500 undergraduate scholarship from the National Geography Honor Society last fall, also studied other rivers during her final semesters, including the Fenton, Farmington, and Salmon.

Kliger, who works under the supervision of Melinda Daniels, an assistant professor of geography, recently showcased her findings at the American Association of Geographers Conference in Chicago, meeting and speaking with some of the field’s most prominent figures -- an opportunity she describes as “amazing.”

She will soon return to the Eight Mile River for the final measurements needed to complete her study.

“It’s really validating to use things you’ve learned in the classroom and apply them to real-life situations,” she says. “It made me want to go to graduate school.”

Besides, she adds, “[The river] is really pretty. It’s great to hike up there.”

Editor’s note: This release was written by Douglas Bullard, a 2006 graduate from the College of Liberal Arts and sciences.


BARODA resident ready to bring college experiences to the field

# 06043

STORRS, Conn. - Growing up in Baroda, Mich., the rural fruit belt of southwestern Michigan, Amanda Blind, who will graduate from the University of Connecticut on May 7, had no idea where her college studies would take her. Little did she know that enrolling in Geography 130, “The City in the Western Tradition,” would persuade her to become a geography and economics double major.

“I became interested in city development and, more specifically, in how the growth and decline of a city has major impacts on surrounding areas.” said Blind.  

As an intern with her local chamber of commerce during the summer after her sophomore year, Blind’s main task was to organize a home ownership fair so local residents, many of them unemployed and with low incomes, could learn about the home-buying process. She also informed the citizens about government funding available to them.  

After graduation Blind plans to work in the field of planning and economic development through a one-year internship in Savannah, Ga.

 “My long-term goals are to work for a development and design consulting firm for a regional economic development organization,” she said.

Blind is an active member of UConn’s intramural community and played with the same intramural soccer team all four years she attended UConn, the Golgi Apparatus. She also played volleyball, basketball, flag football, and even inner tube water polo.

Blind is a member of the International Geographic Honor Society, the International Economics Society, and a part-time member of EcoHusky, a student environmental organization.

“I love the four years I’ve spent here at UConn,” said Blind. “As a Midwesterner, UConn has offered me an experience that I could never have found at home.”

Editor’s note: This release was written byLauren Belliveau, a 2006 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


WILLIMANTIC graduate dedicated to human rights

# 06044  

STORRS, Conn. — Shelley Buchbinder, a political science major and honors student who will graduate May 7 from the University of Connecticut, knows that caring about the world is a job that never ends.

Aside from her intimate involvement with various human rights projects on campus, her humanitarian vision has extended far beyond UConn and into Africa -- she is completing her honors thesis on the prevalence of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project is not unlike her other human rights work at UConn. She is active in gay and lesbian rights groups, community service programs, and AIDS awareness campaigns.

Recently, she curated a Dodd Center Corridor Gallery exhibit, “Darfur Drawn: The Conflict in Darfur Through Children’s Eyes,” helped run a large condom distribution program, and managed numerous film festivals that focused on diverse topics such as genocide and Jewish homosexual identity.

Buchbinder, a native of Willimantic, is applying to the Peace Corps. She also plans to continue her social work at the graduate level at the City University of New York’s Hunter campus. And, though she graduates from UConn this year, she hopes that her work on campus has made an impact.

“I would like to see more people look at UConn as a human rights school, not just one that focuses on sports. UConn has a fantastic human rights program,” she said.

 Editor’s note: This release was written by Douglas Bullard, a 2006 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


MEDFIELD resident graduates with degree in neuroscience

# 06045   May 5, 2006

STORRS, Conn. - Ross Cardarelli of MEDFIELD, Mass., will graduate from the University of Connecticut May 7 as a neuroscience major, taking advantage of the individualized major program in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to explore his interest in behavior and the brain.

Cardarelli works with R. Holly Fitch, an assistant professor of psychology, in a behavioral neuroscience lab, studying the effects of brain damage on auditory processing. The research could eventually lead to advances in language acquisition for individuals with brain damage.

“They treat their undergraduates as colleagues,” Cardarelli said about Fitch and the behavioral neuroscience researchers.

Cardarelli’s research with rats has led to a discovery that brain damaged animals also have trouble processing information gathered by sight. He hopes his research in Baltimore will center on schizophrenia.

He has also been involved in Alpha Phi Omega for two years, serving as vice president of the co-ed community service fraternity. He is in his third year of volunteering at American Red Cross blood drives.

Cardarelli has also performed other lab research as an undergraduate, studying language processing with humans. He will go on for a doctorate at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

Editor’s note: The release was written byJessica Duch, a member of the Class of 2009


BRANFORD graduate ready to write a novel

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STORRS, Conn. - Niamh Cunningham of BRANFORD, who will graduate May 7 from the University of Connecticut, will spend her first year out of college writing a novel.

Cunningham, an English and journalism major, will work with New Haven Atty. Walter Bansley III on a fictionalized account of his recent experiences in Iraq as the only civilian lawyer to defend a court-martialed Marine.

Bansley, a former Marine himself, was the subject of the 1992 hit movie, A Few Good Men, about the trial of three Marines charged with murdering a fellow private who had complained about Marine life. Bansley, portrayed by actor Tom Cruise in the film, was the Marine lawyer who successfully defended the three, arguing that the death was an accident and that higher-ups had sanctioned hazing against the private.

The story of Bansley’s successful defense in Iraq last summer of a Wallingford Marine accused of dereliction of duty and larceny, among other things, is an even better one, according Cunningham. She was commissioned by Bansley, a family friend, to write the book.

Niamh, whose name is Gaelic and is pronounced “Neev,” had planned to be an engineering major in college. As a senior in high school, however, she was asked to write a student-athlete journal for the New Haven Register.

Walking into the Register’s newsroom for the first time, her reaction was, “Wow, this place is great,” she said. She enrolled in UConn as a journalism major and, later, inspired by a class with English professor Regina Barreca, she added an English major, too.

Her favorite author is Fay Weldon. She was one of 10 students tutored by Weldon when the famous British author visited UConn as an Aetna Visiting Writer.

Bansley knew of Cunningham’s interest in writing. “He has great stories and is great about telling them,” she said. “He trusted me with the story.”

She already has the trial transcript to read, adding to the frenzy of finishing college. A member of the cross country indoor and outdoor teams, Cunningham has the Big East championships to look forward to, hosted at UConn on the weekend of graduation.

“It’s the best of both worlds – I’ve got my track and my graduation,” she said.

Editor’s note: Photo of Nianh is available.


Student gets head start on career by publishing news stories while studying

# 06047  

STORRS, Conn. —Diego Cupolo of WEST HARTFORD didn’t experience the typical college spring break this year. Instead, he traveled with the University of Connecticut’s Community Outreach Program to New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward to volunteer in hurricane damaged neighborhoods.

Cupolo, news editor of the University’s student newspaper, TheDaily Campus, wrote an article about his experience once he returned to Connecticut. Picked up and published by the Associated Press, it describes everything from the bus ride to the cleaning efforts and the unforgettable stories of survivors.

“The workload was heavy,” says Cupolo, who will graduate May 7. “Besides lugging around maggot-infested refrigerators spilling over with black, rotted food sludge, the volunteers filled wheelbarrows with everything from family portraits to Nintendo 64s.”

Cupolo, a journalism and communication sciences double major, has been a writer for TheDaily Campus for the past three years. His Feb. 22 story, Finding Beauty in Parasites, was also picked up by the AP.

Cupolo decided to write that story when, at a recent UConn Board of Trustees meeting, Janine Caira, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was recognized as a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor. Cupolo noticed her dedication and commitment to improving the University community. Caira is a global leader in parasitology.  

“It’s hard to find people so energetic and passionate about their job.” says Cupolo. “I knew immediately that I wanted to do a story on her accomplishments.”

Cupolo plans to move to New York City after graduation to find a job in the media.

“I chose journalism because I wanted to be able to do something different everyday.” says Cupolo. “I wouldn’t be happy sitting in an office for the rest of my life.”

Editor's Note: This article was written by Lauren Belliveau, Class of 2006.


SOUTHINGTON graduate already has job locked in

# 06048   

STORRS, Conn. — Not long after Camilo Echanique of SOUTHINGTON graduates from the University of Connecticut on May 7, he’ll be using mathematics, statistics, and financial theory skills to study uncertain future events at ING in Hartford.  

Echanique, an economics and math double major who took many electives in the actuarial science program, first came in contact with actuarial science during his internship in the summer of 2004 with Travelers Life & Annuity.  

 “The internship helped me greatly to decide that I wanted to pursue an actuarial career after college,” says Echanique.  

After interning in the actuarial program with ING last summer, Echanique was offered a full-time position after graduation.  

An actuary is a business professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk. To achieve professional status, actuaries in the United States must pass a set of examinations prescribed by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or Society of Actuaries (SOA). Echanique took and passed the first exam last May and the second last fall.

 One of the strengths of the actuarial science program in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is that it prepares students for the professional actuarial exams.

Upon entering UConn, Echanique didn’t know what he wanted to study. By his second semester he had chosen to concentrate in economics and was accepted into the Honors Program, where he has been active in managing and assisting in projects it sponsors.

“My experience working on the field combined with my experience working at ING made it very easy for me to accept their offer for a full-time position,” says Echanique.

Editor’s note: Photo of Echanique is available. This release was writtenbyLauren Belliveau, Class of 2006


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