The University of Connecticut signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with four Academic institutions from Cuba, namely the Instituto of Ciencia Animal (ICA), Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agrícolas (INCA), Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA) and Universidad Agraria de La Habana (UNAH). These are the leading institutions in Cuba tasked by the Cuban Government with performing research, teaching, outreach and service in the field of agriculture. The signing of an MOU between these four institutions opens the possibility for the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resource (CAHNR) to advance educational and collaborative research agendas with leading educational institutions in Cuba. Given the economic situation in Cuba and the need for Cuban institutions to increase their academic and entrepreneurial activities, the Cuban institutions included in the MOU would like to develop collaborations with UConn to help meet their own academic missions. The Cuban institutions under this MOU are actively engaged in research and development activities and they have successfully taken a variety of products to the commercial market. In some cases Cuban production facilities have been established overseas (e.g., Nicaragua) to meet the needs for biological products in Latin-American markets. Considering the above and with the purpose of understanding and learning about the activities performed by these Cuban institutions, CAHNR faculty visited Cuba (January 9th-13th 2017) and interacted with personnel from ICA, INCA, and CENSA. The objectives of CAHNR team were:

  1. to present an overview of the academic activities performed at the College and in the Departments represented in the team;
  2. to be informed about the activities performed at the above-mentioned Cuban institutions; and
  3. to identify common interests for potential academic interactions.

As a result, several areas of potential interest were identified by the participating parties including research and development projects, educational and exchange programs and specific short-term training activities. Those collaborations can be initiated by executing diverse actions in the short-term including teaching, training and research activities. For example, one activity identified and under development is a study abroad course in Cuba allowing UConn students to visit Cuban partner institutions. The course will cover how Cuban society has met agricultural production and food security challenges.

Faculty Lead

Guillermo Risatti
Phone: +1 (860) 486-6150


Current Projects

Classical Swine Fever Virus

Dates: Ongoing


UConn - Dr. Guillermo Risatti (Pathobiology and Veterinary Science)
National Center for Animal & Plant Health (CENSA) - Dr. Maria Teresa Frias-Lepoureau, Senior Researcher

Dr. Guillermo Risatti has a multi-year working relationship with Dr. Maria Teresa Frias-Lepoureau from the Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA), in San Jose de las Lajas, Mayabeque. Dr. Frias-Lepoureau is a researcher from Cuba working in the area of animal health, focused on the Classical Swine Fever Virus (CSFV), a devastating swine virus that has been eradicated from the US since 1978, but still impacts Cuban herds. In collaboration with Dr. Fernando Osorio and Dr. James Keen at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Dr. Frias-Lepoureau and Dr. Risatti are developing a research proposal about the risks from CSFV in Cuba.

Future Projects

Animal and Nutritional Sciences

Areas of common academic interest identified by ICA, INCA and CENSA from Cuba and UConn's Animal Sciences and Nutritional Sciences Departments. 

  1. Research Topics of Common Interest
    1. Use of functional foods (prebiotics, probiotics, phytobiotics and symbiotics) in humans and animals.
      1. Application of nanotechnology for delivery.
    2. Effects of Moringa oleifera and other plants in ruminant and monogastric animals, with an emphasis on action mechanisms.
    3. Poultry management and nutrition.
    4. Effects of nutrition on ruminant animal reproduction.
    5. Testing extracts of A. cominia in models for Type 2 Diabetes.
    6. Use of plant by-products for treating mastitis.
    7. Pathogens within milk and its products, e.g. cheese.
  2. Academic Exchanges
    1. Exchange of publications in subjects of mutual interest.
    2. Joint publications in journals from the Scientific Complex (CENSA, ICA, INCA and UNAH) and from the working areas of UConn.
    3. Participation of lecturers from the Scientific Complex and UConn in international meetings:
      1. Meetings of Editors (October 2017)
      2. Universidad 2018
      3. Workshop of Food Safety and Sovereignty 2018 (January 2018)
      4. International Congress of Tropical Animal Production 2018 (November 2018)
      5. SISA 2019
      6. ASAS International Meeting – Vancouver, Canada (July 2018)
    4. Exchange of students and researchers from the Scientific Complex and UConn for receiving training in common subjects.

Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture

Areas of common academic interest identified by ICA, INCA and CENSA from Cuba and the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture from UConn.

  1. Editorial Exchange
    1. With the journals of the relevant scientific community (Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, Cultivos Tropicales, Revista de Protección Vegetal and Revista Salud
      1. Peer- reviewers for submitted articles.
      2. Submission of articles (technical notes, literature reviews, scientific articles).
  2. Course Delivery
    1. Soils course: Absorption-retention mechanisms with equilibrium models by Dr. Cristian Schulthess.
    2. Plant Protection course by Dr. Ana Legrand.
  3. Academic Exchange
    1. Student exchange: undergraduate and graduate students
    2. Academic stays and training for investigators
    3. Organization of scientific visits
    4. Cooperation in organizing of and attendance to scientific conferences
  4. Research Topics of Common Interest
    1. Conservation biological control
    2. Plant improvement and molecular characterization
    3. Biostimulants and resistance inducers against biological stresses
    4. Water management
    5. Climate change effects on pest management
    6. Adaptation and mitigation to climate change impacts
    7. Nutrient management
    8. Invasive species management
    9. Carbon absorption by different agricultural management systems
    10. Identification and evaluation of essential oils against pests
    11. Impact measurements in agricultural systems

Pathobiology and Veterinary Science

Areas of common academic interest identified by CENSA from Cuba and the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science from UConn.

  1. Research Topics of Common Interest
    1. Research in infectious diseases that affect livestock:
      • Research on Bluetongue virus (BTV): genetic characterization of isolates from Cuba. Identification of midges responsible for transmission of BTV in Cuba.
      • Research on Classical Swine Fever Virus (CSFV). Characterization of CSFV circulating among pig herds in Cuba.
      • Studies on antibiotic resistance.
  2. Training
    1. CENSA personnel would like to receive training in genomics (next generation sequencing) and bioinformatics at the University of Connecticut.
  3. Academic Exchanges
    1. Participation of PVS faculty in an international meeting: SISA 2019 (Cuba).


Academic Year 2018-2019

May 13-24, 2019 - Summer Food and Revolution: The Cuban Experience

This Experiential Global Learning program is dedicated to discussing Cuba's history surrounding agricultural production and food security. Students traveled with Professors Steven Zinn and Ana Legrand. The program allows students to immerse themselves in Cuban culture while learning more about its history, the impact of the revolution on agriculture, environmental issues related to food production, and Cuban solutions to related challenges.

You can learn more about the experience in an article from the CAHNR Newsroom.

Academic Year 2016-2017

January 10-12, 2017 - Agriculture & Animal Science Networking Conference

This conference focused on a variety of agricultural topics. Cuban researchers from CENSA, ICA, INCA, and UNAH attended along with faculty from UConn's College of Agriculture, Health & Natural Resources.