Aaron Rosman ’16 (CAHNR) is a member of the second cohort of UConn IDEA Grant recipients. Aaron’s research focuses on clarifying the species boundaries between different kinds of waterwort, or Elatine, considered invasive species in many countries. Through DNA sequencing, Aaron and his advisors determined that Elatine ambigua Wight (Asian waterwort) and Elatine triandra Schkuhr (threestamen waterwort) are indeed distinct species. Further, they documented the first confirmed case of E. ambigua in the United States outside of California.
Lauren O’Malley wrote the following profile of Aaron, which was originally published on the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources’ Naturally@UConn blog:
Aaron Rosman’s green thumb and familiarity with UConn made applying to CAHNR an easy decision. While studying natural resources with a concentration in forestry, Aaron spends his free time conducting research and volunteering on a student farm. Here is what he said in an interview.
What attracted you to UConn? Storrs is my hometown and both of my parents have worked at UConn, so UConn has always been a big part of my life. When I was applying to colleges, I considered some other schools, but nothing appealed to me like UConn. In addition, I knew that UConn began as an agricultural school and was strong in that field. Since I wanted to study natural resources, this definitely helped solidify my decision.
Why did you choose your particular major? I have always loved plants, especially trees. Since I was six years old, I have been playing in the woods. I cannot think of anything better than being able to continue to do this for the rest of my life. That is why I decided to major in natural resources with a concentration in forestry.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? My most memorable experience at UConn has been my research. It is an amazing opportunity to be able to conduct research as an undergraduate student, and it is not something that I would have imagined myself doing before coming to UConn. I have always been a “big picture” kind of person, and so it has been awesome to experience the other side of things, studying something as small as plant DNA. I am currently researching two species of aquatic plants called elatine. For part of my research, I conduct DNA-analyses to determine whether to consider these plants the same species or two separate ones. So far, I have found my research very interesting, and I really enjoy it.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. This semester, I am volunteering at Spring Valley Farm, a student-run organic farm. I always considered working on a farm but was unsure of how to get involved. Spring Valley Farm gave me the chance to do so. It is an incredible opportunity for students to get hands-on experience and meet people with similar interests.
Another memorable UConn experience was Associate Extension Professor Tom Worthley’s dendrology class. For three hours every Friday, we went to the forest around UConn to study and identify different types of trees. There were only twenty students in the class, so we were able to form a community. It was an incredible course, and I learned an immense amount.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? High school was difficult for me, and I struggled through it. UConn, however, was a completely new opportunity. Starting from scratch and tackling this unfamiliar school was certainly a challenge, but one that I accepted. Based on my experience in high school, I never would have imagined thriving in biology, physics and chemistry classes, as I do now. UConn has shown me that I am capable of doing much more than I thought.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I expect to graduate in May 2016. After that, I want to get a Master of Business Administration or other management degree. As a career, I want to either become a researcher or physically work in the forest as a park ranger or manager. I still have time to decide, so right now I am just exploring what I love to do.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I have a green thumb and I love to garden. I own more than 80 different plants! They are spilling out of my room and all throughout my house.