Summer Art Exhibits

Imagine, Click, Create
3-D Printing at UConn

Plaza Gallery

Three-dimensional or 3-D printing has become a buzz word, if not ubiquitous in today’s world. It is a time and cost effective tool in engineering and manufacturing to create customized and highly complex objects. Need a part for something, remarkably – whether a thing or a person – and you’re likely to hear how 3-D printing has been called into service.

New applications for 3-D printed ceramics, polymers, and metals are topics of current research. Some applications include printing living cells or implants for various parts of the body.

Earlier this year, Homer Babbidge Library established a 3-D Printing Studio, staffed by members of UConn’s 3-D Printing Club, which already has plans for expansion.

This exhibition of student projects that use 3-D printing provides a glimpse into the capabilities of this technology.

Student Stephen Hawes with his prosthetic hands

Student Stephen Hawes with his prosthetic hands

Intimate Landscapes and Urban Portraits
Photographs by Al Malpa

Norman D. Stevens Gallery

Al Malpa describes himself not as a photographic artist, but as a student of photography who is inspired by such masters of the craft as Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Walker Evans. His photographs capture small moments in life, revealing the beauty and character of familiar subjects and events.

A staff photographer with the Chronicle of Willimantic since 2008, he is the winner of the Society of Professional Journalists 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism in the Breaking News Photograph category for newspapers with a circulation under 50,000. He has also won national and regional first place awards from National Press Photographers Association, New England Newspaper and Press Association and The Society of Professional Journalists. To see more of his work, visit:

Newfound gap, Blue Ridges

Newfound gap, Blue Ridges

A tourist passes by homeless guitarist in New Orleans

A tourist passes by homeless guitarist in New Orleans

Papers and Media Archive of Filmmaker and Human Rights Advocate U. Roberto Romano Given to UConn’s Archives & Special Collections

The late U. Roberto (Robin) Romano was an accomplished photographer, award-winning filmmaker and human rights advocate who unflinchingly focused his eye and lens on children around the world capturing the violation of their rights.

Since 2009, Romano had made a limited number of his images available to researchers through the UConn Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections. Now, two years after his death, his total body of work, including video tape masters and digital video files, hundreds of interviews, thousands of digital photos and prints, plus his research files have been given to UConn and will now be available to those who examine human rights issues.

More than 100 of Romano’s images of child labor originally exhibited at the UConn’s William Benton Museum of Fine Art in 2006 are available online from the University Archives and Special Collections ( These are the first of the more than 130,000 still images that will be available online for research and educational use once the collection is processed. The Archives & Special Collections plans to digitize the entire collection of analog still images, negatives, and research files creating an unprecedented online resource relating to documentary journalism, child labor and human rights, and other social issues that Romano documented in his lifetime.

The gift was made by the independent producer/director Len Morris, Romano’s friend of more than 30 years, with whom he collaborated on a trilogy of films focusing on children’s human rights, Stolen Childhoods (2005), Rescuing Emmanuel (2009) and the just completed, The Same Heart, in which Romano was the Director of Photography.

Len Morris, left, and Robin Romano filming at a school in Brazil.

Len Morris, left, and Robin Romano filming at a school in Brazil.

“This gift makes us stewards of Robin’s legacy and dream,” said Martha Bedard, vice provost of the UConn Libraries. “We are honored to make his work available to faculty and students studying human rights in Storrs, and to draw attention to the issues he championed to those around the world.”

In physical terms, Romano’s body of work showcases his mastery of his medium, his ability to capture children in poignant, often heart wrenching conditions, and the methodology behind his award-winning work, Morris asserts.

“More importantly, as the result of his life’s work 80 million fewer children are working in child labor, 40 million children who were forced to work like animals are now in schools and international laws have been passed to protect children,” Morris says. “In short, Robin’s images changed minds, hearts, and the fueled the debate.”

The son of the artist and Works Progress Administration (WPA) muralist Umberto Romano, Robin began his career in documentaries as a producer and cameraman for Les Productions de Sagittaire in Montreal, where he worked on several series including 5 Defis and L’Oeil de L’Aigle.

Among the organizations that have used his work are GoodWeave, the Global March Against Child Labour, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Free the Slaves, the International Labor Organization, Stop the Traffik, the Hunger Project, International Labor Rights Forum, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and Antislavery International. Organizations who sponsored or funded Romano’s work will have the ability to use the images he created for them to continue their work and advocacy.

Romano’s documentaries have been widely recognized. The film The Harvest/La Cosecha received a Special Achievement Award, from American Latino Media Arts/ National Council of La Raza) in 2011, an honor he treasured, coming from the entire Latino community.

1433FN09 ©ROMANO 10-Year-Old Child Laborer at a Gravel Quarry Orissa, India A young girl carries a basket filled with 40 pounds of rock on her head. During the course of a day she will carry over a ton of rock in 100 degree plus weather. Exposure to the rock dust from the grinder causes silicosis of the lungs and inevitably leads to respitory illness and sometimes death.

10-Year-Old Child Laborer at a Gravel Quarry
Orissa, India
A young girl carries a basket filled with 40 pounds of rock on her head. During the course of a day she will carry over a ton of rock in 100 degree plus weather. Exposure to the rock dust from the grinder causes silicosis of the lungs and inevitably leads to respitory illness and sometimes death.

Robin Romano in Ghana.

Robin Romano in Ghana.

Summer Exhibits at Babbidge

Those planning “staycations” this summer, but wishing they had more adventurous plans on tap can easily be transported to other worlds by visiting this summer’s art exhibits at Homer Babbidge Library.

On view are photos of such environs as Dingle Harbor in Ireland, Kerala in India, and Times Square courtesy of members of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) in their “Photography: a Passion” exhibit. Started in 2002, the CVCC is an active group that boasts 45 members with backgrounds as diverse as the photographs they create. From architect, to molecular biologist, to flight attendant, to landscape architect, they are united in their passion for capturing sights that speak to them. This show represents the work of 11 members.

Diane Lindsay's First Light.

Diane Lindsay’s First Light.

Dingle Harbor by Dean Rupp.

Dingle Harbor by Dean Rupp.

Scientific illustrator Virge Kask treats those visiting her “Art in Science” exhibit to a visual feast found in the natural world. From Alaska to the Chesapeake Bay to the Central American rainforest, she has drawn inspiration for interactive critical habitat posters. UConn’s resident science illustrator, Kask shows the wide range of work she’s done over past 30 years for journals, children’s books, educational posters, and museum exhibits.

Virge Kask Arctic Wildlife

Virge Kask Arctic Wildlife

Virge Kask's Grass Cicada Courtship.

Virge Kask’s Grass Cicada Courtship.

A public reception will take place on Thursday, September 10 from 4-6 p.m.

The exhibits run through October 19.

Putting Food on the Map in the State’s High School Geography Challenge

What country produces the most canola in the world? Where was wheat first grown? What state furthest south in the U.S. produces maple syrup? If you answered: 1) Canada 2) Mesopotamia or Iraq and 3) North Carolina you might have been able to match wits against the 80 or so Connecticut high school students who tested their knowledge about food, its history, and consumption during the Connecticut Geographic Alliance’s 24th Annual Connecticut High School Geographic Challenge in the UConn Libraries on Tuesday, May 19. Sixteen teams competed in geographic activities including orienteering, geographic problem solving, map interpretation, and a geography quiz, all centered around the theme of food. Andy Jolly-Ballantine, assistant professor in residence from UConn’s Geography department and coordinator of the Alliance, was master of ceremonies for the daylong event.

The winning team was from Bacon Academy in Colchester. Members include: Erica Boucher, Lauren Collins, Jared Kranc, Jillian Reynolds, and Nicholas Wright. Their advisor is Kristie Blanchard.

Members include:  Erica Boucher, Lauren Collins, Jared Kranc, Jillian Reynolds, and Nicholas Wright. Advisor is Kristie Blanchard.

The winning team included: Erica Boucher, Lauren Collins, Jared Kranc, Jillian Reynolds, and Nicholas Wright. Their advisor is Kristie Blanchard.

In second place was Daniel Hand High School from Madison. Members include: Connor Bondachuk, Courtney Burns, Patrick Fahey, and James O’Connor. Thomas Quirk is the advisor for the team.

Andy Jolly-Ballantine is coordinator of the Alliance.

Andy Jolly-Ballantine is coordinator of the Alliance.

Winning third place was Housatonic Valley Regional High School from Falls Village. Members are: Sam Bradway, Eric Chin, Jonathan Miller, Emily Sullivan, and Sara Van Deusen. Their advisor is Peter Vermilyea.

EO Smith's team hard at work answering questions.

EO Smith’s team hard at work answering questions.

The CT High School Geography Challenge is the only interscholastic geography competition in the state for high school students. The Connecticut High School Geography Challenge is sponsored by the Connecticut Geographic Alliance, an alliance among educational institutions and individuals in the state of Connecticut dedicated to promoting geography education in the state of Connecticut and supported with funding from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. The Connecticut High School Geography Challenge requires a high level of geographic knowledge and well-developed geography skills as well as good team work.

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The winning plaques and medals were provided by Billie and David Kapp. Prior to retiring, Billie taught in Coventry and regularly participated in the popular event. David is a former staff member from the UConn Libraries.

Congratulations to all who participated!

Shakespeare at UConn and Art in Nanochemistry Featured in Spring Exhibits

This spring the art exhibits at Homer Babbidge Library feature William Shakespeare and his influence in performance, language, scholarship and pop culture at UConn and the artistry that results when microscopic objects are magnified a billion times and photographed. The exhibits run through June 15. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, April 2, from 4-6 p.m.

In “The Play’s the Thing: Shakespeare at UConn,” Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s (CRT) Managing Director Matthew Pugliese and Assistant Professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts Lindsay Cummings show the creative work of the students and artists of the Department of Dramatic Arts and Connecticut Repertory Theatre. The scholarship of professors from English to Digital Media, highlights the many academic, social, and cultural ways we interact with Shakespeare on campus and in our lives. The University’s roots as an agricultural institution are also featured, focusing on herbs and their symbology in Shakespeare’s work.

Ten foot tall bear puppet used in a campus production of  "The Winter's Tale," on display in "The Play's the Thing: Shakespeare at UConn.

Ten foot tall polar bear puppet used in a campus production of “The Winter’s Tale,” on display in “The Play’s the Thing: Shakespeare at UConn.

Last year, UConn was invited to join the Folger Institute’s Consortium. The Folger Institute is a center for advanced study and collections-focused research in the humanities at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

The CRT will present Shakespeare’s most popular comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” from April 23 through May 3 in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre.

small titania shakespeare3

Art in Nanochemistry
Using high power electron or optical microscopes, Professor Challa Vijaya Kumar, head of UConn’s Divisions of Physical and Biological Chemistry, and his Ph.D. students capture the natural world on the nano-level, creating awe inspiring images of natural materials that are as majestic as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.

This “Art in Nanochemistry” exhibit is a collection of electron micrographs of nanomaterials from Dr. Kumar’s research group, created with support from the National Science Foundation, works of his colleagues at UConn, and also from the Materials Research Society Art-in-Chemistry annual competitions. Dr. Kumar and his group are investigating how these protein-DNA nanomaterials they create in the lab can be applied in enzyme fuel cells, DNA-solar cells, and neuroprosthesis for spinal cord repair.

Two of Professor Kumar's images, left, 'Enzyme' Stained Glass, and DNA Floor Boards.

Two of Professor Kumar’s images, left, ‘Enzyme’ Stained Glass, and DNA Floor Boards.


Spotlight on Researchers – Noted Historic Landscape Architect Professor Emeritus Rudy J. Favretti Has Sights on Mansfield’s Past

One might think that after teaching at UConn for 33 years, writing some 20 books and scores of journal articles on the historic restoration and preservation of landscapes, and creating master plans for such national landmarks as Jefferson’s Monticello and Washington’s Mount Vernon – not to mention having those plans placed in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens and Landscapes – Professor Emeritus Rudy J. Favretti, might be ready to sit back and rest on his proverbial laurels. That would be a reasonable assumption, if one didn’t know him.

Blessed with an abundance of energy and a “planning gene,” Favretti, 81, says much of his intellectual spadework has been done at the UConn Libraries.

Rudy Favretti in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room.

Rudy Favretti in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room.

“I use the library a lot – the art and history sections and interlibrary loan,” he notes. I have found the staff in all of these sections extremely helpful, in general, and especially as I search for odd and obscure material that is not readily available. It’s a great place!”

After earning his undergraduate degree from UConn in plant science, the Mystic, Connecticut native went on to earn advanced degrees in horticulture, landscape architecture, and regional planning from Cornell and the University of Massachusetts. At UConn, he served as an extension garden specialist and extension landscape architect from 1955-1975, and taught landscape architecture here from the late 1960s to 1988, developing the accredited landscape architect program, retiring when he was 55. During his career, he completed about 700 individual and collaborative design, master planning, and preservation projects.

In 2011, no longer actively engaged in design work, he agreed to share his personal papers with the Smithsonian. There, one can find the lion’s share of his research and work – 4,000 slides, drawings, and notes totaling some 27 linear feet. Having it housed there is a “huge honor,” he says. Some of his work can also be found in UConn’s Archives & Special Collections

Favretti made the restoration and preservation of gardens and landscapes his life’s work, appreciating not only their aesthetic value, but their value as a lens through which to view a person’s life and times. Several years ago, he shifted his focus from gardens directly to people, specifically those who lived in Mansfield, his home for close to six decades. To date, he’s written about Wormwood Hill (in concert with his friend and longtime resident of the area, veteran UConn administrator, the late Isabelle Atwood), Mansfield Four Corners, Mansfield Center (as co-author) and the Gurleyville/Hanks Hill area, which is a tribute to his friends, fellow UConn faculty members, the late Annarie and Fred Cazel, Gurleyville residents themselves, who had done some research on the area, but who died before writing a book. The couple’s bequest to the Mansfield Historical Society will allow more regional histories to be published.

Research for these histories, as well as for other undertakings including his keynote address in 2012 on the University’s iconic “Great Lawn,” has made Favretti a familiar sight in Archives & Special Collections and Homer Babbidge Library.

“Even though I’ve been on this campus for over 60 years, I didn’t realize that in 1908 President Charles L. Beach had hired prominent landscape architect Charles Lowrie, a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, to help plan the placement of the buildings surrounding the Great Lawn. The plans are here at the Dodd Center. I didn’t know they existed until I began researching the Great Lawn. Just because you retire, your academic life doesn’t end,” he contends.

He is also currently at work on a book commemorating the 50th anniversary of Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust, the largest such trust in Northeastern Connecticut, which he helped to found and whose papers are housed in UConn’s Archives & Special Collections. After completing that volume, he intends to finish his research into Mansfield Depot and produce yet another local history.

“Over the years, I’ve done all this research into local history. What would happen to it? That’s what I’m doing now – transposing it into books, which I’m enjoying very, very much.”

His enjoyment today extends well beyond Mansfield. While he continues to tend his own gardens and remain active in the greater Mansfield community, he and his wife, Joy, regularly savor performances at the Metropolitan Opera. While in New York, they stay with their son, Giovanni, keeping tabs on the garden he designed for Giovanni’s townhouse. Other pleasures come from following the activities of his two daughters, Margaret, a high school history teacher in Scarsdale, NY, and Emily, an artist in Chicago.

What hasn’t the energetic octogenarian done? “I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I’ve written so many straight-forward subject matter things like extension bulletins; when you write a novel, it’s about people.”
His training as a landscape architect, which required him to notice detail, should serve him well. “I can go to a cocktail party, come home, and describe what everyone was wearing. That kind of detail would be good for writing a novel,” he observes with a smile.

On Track with an Eminent Railroad Historian, Collector, and Donor J.W. “Jack” Swanberg


Jack Swanberg Metro-North Railroad, Old Greenwich, CT. May, 2001

Jack Swanberg Metro-North Railroad, Old Greenwich, CT. May, 2001

Whether contending in the 1990s with the many issues facing the safe and punctual operation of Connecticut’s heavily used Metro-North commuter rail service in New Haven, writing a definitive history of the New Haven Railroad – a volume coveted by historians and collectors alike – or traveling aboard classic steam trains in exotic locations, J. W. “Jack” Swanberg has done it all.

He recalls a 1994 British charter trip into Pakistan’s Khyber Pass, almost to the Afghan border, as being particularly memorable. “Using British-built steam locomotives, we had a carload of Pakistani Army soldiers with us for security, although even they would not let us stop the train in areas that they deemed unsafe. Not a luxury train at all, but the mountain scenery was fantastic. Our base of operations was Peshawar, a Bin Laden stronghold where you certainly wouldn’t go today.”

Clearly an adventurer, Swanberg’s love of trains took hold when he was a toddler. During his life, he has indulged that early fascination by taking rail trips throughout the world, while simultaneously enjoying a 38-year career in railroad management. He began as a locomotive fireman shortly after his graduation from Hartford’s Trinity College, and ended as Lead Trainmaster for Metro-North in 2000.

Since 2000, the Guilford, Connecticut resident has shared his time, energy, and expertise with Laura Smith, curator of UConn’s Railroad History Archive. He recently bequeathed his rich collection to the Archive, which is being digitally scanned to catalogue and preserve it.

“Jack’s collection is extraordinary and comprehensive, most particularly to the history of the New Haven Railroad and of railroads in New England, but more generally in showing the impact and importance of trains and train travel in the United States,” Smith says. “It is no exaggeration to say that Jack’s collection reminds us of the importance of the railroad in the making of America.”

Railroads aren’t the only thing firmly within Swanberg’s grasp. He is knowledgeable about the defense of our country following four years of active service in U.S. Naval Aviation as an aerial transport navigator. He flew scores of missions worldwide, including many into Vietnam, and served another 25 years in the Reserve, retiring as a Captain.

Author of not only the notable New Haven Power, 1838-1968: Steam, Diesel, Electric, MU’s, Trolleys, Motor Cars, Buses & Boats, a history of the locomotives and motive equipment of the New Haven Railroad, published in 1988, the research for which is included in the donation, Swanberg continues to share his knowledge and insights with readers of Railroad History (a publication of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society), Shoreliner

(a publication of the New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association), and other railroad history and enthusiast publications. Many photographs that he has taken and collected over his career with the railroad have been widely published, many by other railroad history authors.

Swanberg explains the rationale for his largesse this way: “Typically when a collector dies, his or her collection of photos, records, etc. goes to a dealer and is scattered by being sold off piecemeal, thus mostly becoming unavailable to future researchers,” he says.

“I’ve been collecting and accumulating photos going back into the 1800s for over 50 years myself, plus taking my own photos for just as long, plus collecting voluminous historical records. All of this is now consolidated, so why should it be scattered once again? I know that UConn will archivally preserve my collection and will make it available to researchers indefinitely.

Current authors, myself included, refer frequently to such collections, and I appreciate having my own collection being available for such research in the future.”

A regular visitor to the Railroad History Archive, Swanberg has applied his knowledge and helped Smith organize and describe materials in the collection, particularly photographs of New Haven Railroad steam and electric locomotive that were placed online in an early digital project.

“The UConn Libraries has benefited tremendously from our relationship with Jack, and we are honored to preserve his legacy as a historian, collector and creator of railroad history,” Smith added.

New Winter Art Exhibits at Babbidge

Illustrations of arguably the most famous French executioner alongside some of his almost 400 “subjects,” colorful collages of a crow, the focus of a children’s book inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven,” striking photographs of one of this country’s most beloved natural treasures, Yellowstone National Park, and surreal images inspired by mythology and nature are featured in the winter art exhibit series recently opened in Homer Babbidge Library and on view until February 20, 2015. Surreal acrylic paintings and highly polished sculpted wood figures round out the series.

Cora Lynn Deibler with some of French executioner Anatole Deibler's "subjects" in her exhibit.

Cora Lynn Deibler with some of French executioner Anatole Deibler’s “subjects” in her exhibit.

Illustration professor Cora Lynn Deibler showcases her graphic novel Anatole Deibler: The Tale of Monsieur de Paris about the most famous French executioner of all time. Deibler worked from 1885 until 1939 when executions were public spectacle and when the infant media of photography and film turned him into something of a celebrity. In her graphic novel, the artist showcases Deibler’s unusual career made more intriguing by the speculation that they may be distant relatives.

Alison Paul, who writes and illustrates children’s books for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, exhibits work from her first book, THE CROW (A Not So Scary Story). Paul often builds dioramas for exhibition from the set pieces used in her stop-motion animation work. Two are on display.

Professor Alison Paul installs her exhibit featuring art from her children's book "The Crow."

Professor Alison Paul installs her exhibit featuring art from her children’s book “The Crow.”

Photographer Janet Pritchard examines the relationship between nature and culture in her photographic project, Yellowstone Dream: An American Love Story. Drawing upon insights developed while a fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts where she examined maps, personal stories, and expedition records, Pritchard reflects upon her own time spent in Wyoming, and how generations have invested the park with their own values since its founding in 1872.

Lower Falls of the  Yellowstone River, Thomas Moran, 1872 & 1893, Smithsonian.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Thomas Moran, 1872 & 1893, Smithsonian. One of the images in photographer Janet Pritchard’s exhibit.

In the 1980s, Liviu Cupceancu worked in UConn’s neurobiology department doing research and creating scientific illustrations for professional journals. Now retired, the Tolland, Connecticut resident devotes his energies full time to his art. In this show, he exhibits his surreal acrylics, abstract oils, and wood sculpture.

Liviu Cupceancu, a native of Romania, next to an acrylic painting, Carpathian Sphinx, that draws up elements of his homeland.

Liviu Cupceancu, a native of Romania, next to his surreal acrylic painting, Carpathian Sphinx, which draws upon elements of his homeland.


Average Joe Photo Show, a Photo Exhibit/Benefit for


small Gleicher, Water Bottles Ethiopia

Children of the Daasanach people, like all the tribes in Ethiopia, want your empty water bottles as they serve as an easy method to carry small amounts of drinking water. Water is in short supply in this part of the world. The tribal people drink and bathe from rain puddles, and so do their livestock. I will think about this every time I let water run in a sink.

– Leighton Gleicher, Average Joe Photo Show 2013

Leighton Gleicher’s observation accompanies her image of two smiling Ethiopian children, plastic water bottle in hand, posted above a display showcasing dozens of empty water bottles in the Average Joe Photo Show now on view in the Homer Babbidge Library’s Norman Stevens Gallery.  The show, which includes 234 eclectic images taken with cell phone or mobile device by professional and amateur photographers from this country and well beyond, all feature water and the human figure and were the result of an online appeal issued by two friends, one an accomplished artist and gallery owner, Lori Warner, the other an art historian, Rebecca Steiner, both from Lyme, Connecticut.  In devising the project, the two sought to examine the increasingly important role technology plays in our daily lives and to consider our use of water, something we simply cannot live without.

The project also includes a philanthropic twist:  a portion of all proceeds from photo sales benefits, an organization providing access to safe water and sanitation to people in Africa, South Asia, and Central America.

“Working on this project I have been continually struck by how much we take for granted – and what is so easily accessible to us — in the developed world,” observed Rebecca Steiner. “Yet for so many people in other countries or walks of life, both ever-present technology and natural elements (like water) are true luxuries. Given how organically the “Average Joe Photo Show” evolved out of an intersection between seemingly contrasting components, perhaps this project will inspire people to see connections in our greater shared global community they might not otherwise have imagined.”

Lori Warner, left, and Rebecca Steiner, right, before their Average Joe Photo Show in Babbidge Library.

Lori Warner, left, and Rebecca Steiner, right, before their Average Joe Photo Show in Babbidge Library.

The Average Joe Photo Show is now on view in the Norman Stevens Gallery in Homer Babbidge Library through October 24.   A public reception will take place on Thursday, Aug. 28, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

For more information about the project or to submit a photograph, please see the website www.averagejoe

In addition to the photography exhibit, the Libraries is featuring “Modeling the Art and Engineering of Roman Aqueducts with Legos™,” a series of aqueducts constructed of Legos by UConn Professor of Geology Gary Robbins.

To provide water to crowded cities throughout the ancient Roman world, the Romans built some 600 aqueducts. Not only were the aqueducts marvels of engineering and hydraulics but also wondrous works of architecture and art. Robbins’ original Lego™ models on display exemplify some of the diversity in design of these marvels and demonstrate both how the aqueducts worked and why their ruins still evoke a sense of awe.

For more information on both shows, please visit:

‘Science Boot Camp’ a Big Hit at UConn!

Scott Martin from the University of Michigan and Lauren Olewnik from Castleton State College listen to Clinton Morse's description of a plant in the greenhouse.

Scott Martin from the University of Michigan and Lauren Olewnik from Castleton State College listen to Clinton Morse’s description of a plant in the greenhouse.

The South African “Bug Plant, Fly Bush,” is a carnivore…of sorts.  Unlike the better-known carnivorous Venus Fly Trap that closes on its prey and digests the insects who are unlucky enough to land on them, this plant has sticky hairs that trap insects, but doesn’t eat  them because it lacks the enzymatic activity needed to digest them.  Enter the aptly named assassin bug, Pameridea marlothi, with whom it enjoys a symbiotic relationship.  The assassin bug moves freely about the plant – unhindered by the sticky hairs – and happily eats the trapped insects.

This was just one of the observations shared by Clinton Morse, the manager of growth operations for Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, who led a group of science librarians through UConn’s nationally known greenhouses as part of “New England Science Boot Camp.”   The camp, a two-and-a-half-day educational event was hosted by UConn from June 11-13, and drew 67 participants from New England and well beyond.  In addition to the tour of the greenhouses, faculty from UConn and other universities in the northeast, provided overviews and information on the latest research on the event’s featured topics: computer science, evolution, and pharmaceutical science.

One of the librarians in attendance, Scott Martin, the Bioscience Librarian at the University of Michigan has an undergraduate degree in biology and a Master’s degree in Genetics, thoroughly enjoyed the greenhouse tour and exposure to the diversity of living plants.  “Although Michigan has an arboretum and botanical garden, I support the research in the herbarium, which has preserved and dried specimens.  Seeing them here has been a real treat!”

Among the many plants Morse pointed out to the group included:  tea  (camellia sinensis “the world’s most important caffeine beverage” whose many varieties — white, green, oolong & black – derive from this species but are processed differently after harvest; stevia, Stevia rebaudiana, a plant whose leaves are used as a sweetener and said to be hundreds of times sweeter than sugar;  Egyptian cotton, Gossypium barbadense, which is actually native to Peru, and whose fruit contains seeds covered with cotton fibers.

In addition to this biodiversity tour of the public collections, Morse led some of the librarians on a tour of the research facility not open to the public.

Aside from learning about the latest developments in various scientific fields, participants discussed use of library resources, research information needs, data management practices, and suggested new ways in which librarians can support their research communities.

Hosted each summer on a different New England campus, the casual ambience of Science Boot Camp promotes learning and camaraderie among librarians from New England and beyond.

According to Carolyn Mills, the Libraries’ Biology, Agriculture & Natural Resources Librarian and prime organizer of the event: “Science Boot Camp is held each year to give science librarians access to science topics from the viewpoint of researchers, and also to meet and network with other science librarians while having as much fun as possible.  Boot camp at UConn was a big hit this year. The campers really enjoyed the friendly welcoming campus, the greenhouses, and the researchers they met!  It made me proud to work at UConn.”

Those interested in learning more may view the presentations online, which are expected to be available sometime in July, at the New England eScience Portal: