Keeping in Touch
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
University of Vermont
108 Morrill Hall, Burlington, VT 05405-0106
Phone: (802) 656-2980 FAX: (802) 656-0290
Volume 16, Number 1 Spring 2001

In this issue:

Nominations sought for alumni awards
Due by Friday, March 30, 2001
CALS Alumni & Friends Dinner
Saturday, May 12, 2001
Radisson Hotel Burlington
5:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Reservations by Friday, May 4, 2001

Promoting a sustainable future for CALS

At the Waterbury Area Senior Citizens Center, UVM Extension Associate Professor Sara Burczy (left) and Nicole Baker (upper left), a Nutrition and Food Sciences senior, meet with Merrill Green (upper right), Grace King (lower right), and Isabelle Boyce, Director of the Center (lower center). As part of Nicole Baker's field practicum experience, she will work with UVM Extension and CALS professors on the development of a new way to deliver nutrition, food safety, and health information to seniors via interactive computer applications.
For the past 18 months, we have been looking at all aspects of the College--identifying strengths and weaknesses, and working to set out our program for the next few years. I feel very confident that we are well-positioned to respond, not only to the immediate challenges that face us, but also to future demands.

Crucial issues of the next few decades will revolve around providing safe, nutritious food to a growing population, coping with global climate change, addressing impending crises in the supplies of water, and balancing the needs of society while protecting nature and the environment. At the same time, a revolution in biology and information technology is occurring and the genomes of all the major domestic animal and food plant species will be sequenced in the next few years. There may never have been a more exciting or important time to be in our fields.

Certainly, the College is making exciting progress--wonderful new faculty appointed, and national awards for others, strong student enrollments, some substantial achievements in our research and a 84% increase in research grant funding last year, and some notable successes in fundraising for programs and facilities. Examples of many of these achievements are highlighted in the following pages or can be seen on the College Web site

However, despite pride in our progress and success, we must not be complacent. Vermont is only able to provide limited public funding for its public university (around 10% of the total UVM budget). Consequently, our tuition exceeds our competitors in the public sector and our out-of-state tuition is comparable with private universities. To effectively compete for the best students, we must provide excellent value and distinctive academic programs. We must also increase scholarship funds and financial support for students. To have strong programs and state-of-the-art research, we need outstanding faculty and staff. Attracting and retaining them requires good facilities, strong support mechanisms, and a stimulating and collaborative intellectual environment.

To be successful, we will need major investments in scholarships, facilities, and programs. We have been working hard, and with success, to increase support from University, state, and federal sources. However, we also need the support of friends, alumni, and charitable foundations who are excited about our direction and goals. Our plans for those investments are outlined in a document, Promoting a Sustainable Future, which you can access at the College Web site. We welcome your thoughts and ideas. I will be speaking more about the future directions of the College at the 8th Annual CALS Alumni and Friends Dinner on Saturday, May 12, 2001, and I hope to see you there!

Making progress

The facilities and buildings of the College, both on and off campus, are critical to our mission but present significant challenges for us. With the great support from our alums and friends, we have made some great progress in the last two years. Two recent examples are the construction of the Ellen A. Hardacre Equine Center and Outdoor Arena, and reaching our goal of a $500,000 endowment for the Proctor Maple Research Center.

On the horizon

Some of our toughest challenges are still ahead, but I am confident that we can continue good progress on enhancing our facilities. This is the 50th anniversary year of the University's ownership of the UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge, and we have launched a capital and endowment campaign to raise private and public support for substantial improvements and renovations. Planning is also underway for enhancements to our horticultural and animal science farm facilities. However, our biggest facility challenge is the Hills Building.

Fifty years old, and unsuitable for the research and teaching needs of modern plant biology, the renovation or replacement of Hills is the highest priority for the College. We are moving ahead with detailed planning and development of funding strategies. Our goal is to bring all the plant scientists together in one building with the Environmental Program. It should also be a building that is not only a wonderful teaching and research facility but will incorporate principles of ecological design in its construction and operation so that it will be a centerpiece of UVM's environmental theme.

--John Bramley

Transitions: Changes in the CALS Dean's Office

After 30-plus years of a most distinguished career as a teacher, researcher, adviser, and administrator, Don Foss officially retired this past December. For many years he was a member of a team involved in the then-emerging field of photobiology. He taught numerous courses in physiology and avian biology, and was renowned as a caring and knowledgeable adviser. Don has now been awarded Professor Emeritus status, and his wonderful contributions will be officially recognized, along with other retiring faculty, at the end of the academic year during Commencement on May 20. Thank you, Don, for all your dedication and hard work on behalf of all of us! As a consequence of Don's retirement, we have made some organizational changes in the Dean's Office. Dr. Doug Johnson, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG), has joined the Dean's Office team as Associate Dean for Academic Programs. Doug is a biochemist with a distinguished research program on signal transduction pathways in yeast. He has been highly involved in undergraduate and graduate teaching in MMG and in the CALS Biological Sciences Program. Doug will have a full plate of challenges but is already making great progress with colleagues on critical topics such as undergraduate biochemistry, the honors program, and the first-year experience. We are delighted to have him on the team.

--John Bramley

In Memoriam

Over the last few months, we have lost three close friends from the CALS community. They added much to the world, yet all had so much more to give. We are missing them but take delight in remembering what they brought to us, albeit too briefly.

Triona W. Marno Ferree was an undergraduate student majoring in Animal Sciences. Triona--or "Tree," as she was universally called--was tragically killed in an automobile accident in the late summer. An avid horsewoman she was full of life, courage, and adventure and was a very active participant in the horse and dairy barn activities. A memorial fund for Tree has been established to support equine science programs at UVM.

Dr. Woody Pankey, Research Professor in Animal Sciences, died this past fall after a long and courageous battle with an illness. Woody had been a dear colleague for some 15 years and worked extensively with veterinarians and dairy farmers in Vermont. Many undergraduate and graduate students worked with him in the lab. He was a thoughtful and caring adviser and mentor. He was world-famous for his research work on mastitis and had a unique passion and ability to communicate his work to the farmers and industry he cared for so much.

Alex Kende graduated in Biological Sciences last May and was planning to attend Medical School at UVM. An excellent student and winner of the Lawrence K. Forcier Outstanding Senior Award, Alex unfortunately lost his courageous battle with leukemia and died in December. An Alex Kende Memorial Scholarship Fund is being established by CALS to remember Alex and recognize other exceptional CALS students interested in careers in medicine.

--John Bramley

CALS alumni asked to help launch
Fund for Undergraduate Student Excellence (FUSE)

With the help of CALS alumni, the new Fund for Undergraduate Student Excellence (FUSE) is being launched this spring. The fund will be used to broadly enrich the academic experience of the College's undergraduate student body and will give Dean John Bramley the flexibility to use it for a variety of purposes. For example, it will be used to expand the first-year student experience, enhance the College Honors Program, and enrich experiential learning opportunities through internships as well as laboratory and field-based research activities.

Dean John Bramley has set a fundraising target of $100,000 per year for FUSE and has already received a major commitment of $25,000 toward the effort for this year from Robert L. Bickford, Jr. '43, CALS Advisory Board Chair. "The Fund for Undergraduate Student Excellence will help CALS recruit and retain outstanding students, and it will assist them in developing the knowledge, skills, and values they will need to succeed at UVM and beyond," stated Dean Bramley. "I am confident that alumni supporters of FUSE will be pleased with and proud of the results it will ignite across our undergraduate programs."

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences attracts undergraduate students with stronger academic credentials, on average, than the typical UVM student. Moreover, CALS plays a major role in the retention of students at UVM through internal transfers of students. That is, while most units have a net loss of students from one year to the next, CALS has a net gain. Surveys reveal that students are attracted by CALS programs, experiential learning opportunities, and supportive faculty advisors. Consequently, investments made in CALS undergraduate programs--such as those listed below--will yield major dividends for the College as well as indirect benefits for UVM.

Farm manager Nate Sands G'02, Julia Moore '01, and Dartmouth student volunteer Maggie Pollock pick vegetables and flowers for shareholders and for local food shelves at Common Grounda student-run educational farm.

FUSE helps first-year student experience program to expand

The first-year student program in CALS, known as "Beginnings," is in the process of being expanded from a one-semester course to a full-year orientation program. It will provide first-year students with an integrated sequence of courses that will address basic competencies in oral and written communication, information technology, and interpersonal and critical thinking skills. Doug Johnson, Associate Dean for Academic Programs, sees this new program as a more solid foundational experience for undergraduates. "Not only does the program help acclimate students to college life and this University community," said Dean Johnson, "but it also puts students on the right path for academic success."

Justin Morrill Honors Program launched by FUSE

Approximately 700 applicants are seeking admission to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences this year and many possess outstanding academic portfolios. In order for the College to effectively compete for the "best and brightest" students from Vermont and beyond, it is necessary to have scholarship funds and special programs as incentives. The Fund for Undergraduate Student Excellence will provide critical start-up money for the new Justin Morrill Honors Program by helping with current CALS recruitment and by establishing a dynamic co-curricular package for a select group of academic achievers beginning next fall.

FUSE benefits experiential learning programs

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students may avail themselves of numerous experiential learning options during their undergraduate years. Whether helping manage the student-run dairy herd through the CREAM Program, being a part of the cooperative horse barn EQUUS group, participating in campus planting projects through the Horticulture Club, assisting faculty with research projects, engaging in community-service activities, or doing internships at any number of area businesses, students gain valuable insights and experiences that richly complement their classroom studies.

Nate Sands, a December 2000 graduate majoring in Urban Forestry and Landscape Horticulture, found great rewards from his internship experience as director of the Common Ground Educational Farm, a student-run vegetable production and flower garden located at the University's Horticultural Research Center. "The things I learned while taking part in the activities of the Common Ground Farm have changed my life," he said. "From working with the faculty, staff, and students to linking the activities of the Farm with the community, this internship has taught me things about myself and has made my degree program a more well-rounded xperience."

Biology students Manali Talathi '01 and Taylor Barton '01 assist Animal Sciences Professor David Kerr (center) in the ongoing research efforts to alleviate mastitis in the dairy industry.

Professors David Kerr and Joanne Knapp in the Department of Animal Sciences are both working in their laboratories with undergraduates on research projects. Professor Knapp is pleased to have the College expand its support of undergraduate research opportunities as she has seen how these experiences lead to considerable personal and intellectual growth for the students. Professor Kerr agrees and strongly recommends undergraduate research experiences for those students thinking about graduate school. "The undergraduates working with me on the development of antibacterial proteins to fight mastitis are gaining some great experience that will help them be successful in whatever they choose to do beyond UVM," he said.

The drive to establish the College's Fund for Undergraduate Student Excellence begins this spring with a round of direct mail appeals and telephone solicitations to many CALS alumni in conjunction with the UVM Fund Office. CALS alumni who have already made a donation this year to the President's Unrestricted Fund in support of the general needs of the University will be asked to consider an additional gift earmarked for FUSE. This newsletter contains a response form whereby gifts to FUSE may be made in advance of this spring's solicitation effort. Thank you.

Support FUSE

Please support the Fund for Undergraduate Student Excellence and help Dean Bramley sustain the array of high-quality educational programs and services across the College's academic departments. For more information about FUSE or other opportunities to invest in the health and vitality of CALS, contact Howard Lincoln.

--Howard Lincoln

Faculty Profile:
CALS faculty member wins prestigious national award

Dr. Sylvie Doublié, Assistant Professor in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, is the first-ever UVM recipient of a Pew Scholar Award. Winning this very prestigious award recognizes Dr. Doublié as one of world's leading X-ray crystallographers. X-ray crystallography is a technique whereby the diffraction patterns produced when a crystal of a biological molecule such as a protein is subjected to X-rays, allow its structure to be determined. Dr. Doublié is using this technique to study protein/nucleic acid complexes.

Dr. Doublié received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics in 1993 under the direction of Charles W. Carter at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She did postdoctoral work with Stephen Cusack at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory outstation in Grenoble, France, and with Tom Ellenberger at Harvard Medical School. She joined the faculty at the University of Vermont in October 1998.

--John Bramley

Future directions for CDAE

The Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) Department is pleased to announce its new curriculum directions, which it hopes to begin offering in Fall 2001. CDAE faculty and staff, with input from students, have been working for the past several months on the creation of two new majors: (1) Agricultural and Resource Entrepreneurship and (2) Community and International Development. These directions represent a focusing of our current Small Business curriculum on issues directly tied to the mission of CALS, and an expansion of our International Development offerings to include domestic community development.

We are also formalizing a commitment to increased engagement with the community through the addition of a service-learning competency requirement. Partnerships with the community are not new to CDAE. Some examples of current service learning include working with the town of Alburg, Vermont to develop a farmer's market; engaging student partnerships with local high schools in entrepreneurship activities; and working with public agencies in Belize to inform and improve social and economic programs, and with farmers in Honduras to add value to their production while preserving the environment.

--Jane Kolodinsky

The UVM Morgan Horse Farm 50th Anniversary Campaign

Brood Mare UVM Lori-Belle and her 1999 foal, UVM Hamilton, pose perfectly for UVM Morgan Horse Farm photographer and staff member Olivia Chicoine.
The University of Vermont announces a $2 million campaign to fortify the future of the UVM Morgan Horse Farm. The fund drive seeks $500,000 for immediate improvements to the historic facilities and $1.5 million for an endowment that will be used to preserve the Morgan Horse breed; support equine education, research, and outreach programs; and assist with maintenance and equipment needs of the UVM Morgan Horse Farm. The endowment fund is named in honor of founding director, Dr. Donald J. Balch.

The 50th anniversary in 2001 of the University of Vermont's ownership of the UVM Morgan Horse Farm provides a golden opportunity for Morgan Horse enthusiasts and horse lovers around the world to invest in the heritage and the future of the breed. For information on making a gift to support the UVM Morgan Horse Farm's 50th anniversary campaign, please contact Howard Lincoln. Visit the UVM Development Office Web site to gather information about ways to give or to make a gift online.

Visit the UVM Morgan Horse Farm during this special anniversary year and bring a friend with you. Help spread the word about this special place where the commitment to develop and promote the Morgan Horse remains strong and where the story of America's first breed of horse continues to be told with pride and honor.

--Howard Lincoln

Traci Patnode '01 (left) conducts research in mammary gland biology with the help of Karen Plaut, Animal Sciences Professor and Chair.

CALS scientists announce mastitis breakthrough

In January, a team of animal science researchers, including David Kerr, Karen Plaut, and John Bramley, announced that they have identified a gene that confers substantial resistance to staphylococcal mastitis--a $2 billion disease of U.S.dairy cattle. Working with colleagues at USDA in Beltsville, Md., the team has cloned a Jersey calf containing this gene. This work, published in Nature Biotechnology excited strong interest and coverage in local, national, and foreign press and media.

--John Bramley

Contact these individuals if you have questions or need information:

A. John Bramley

Associate Deans:
Rachel Johnson
Doug Johnson

Department Chairs:
Animal Sciences: Karen Plaut
Botany and Agricultural Biochemistry: David Barrington
Community Development and Applied Economics: Jane Kolodinsky
Microbiology and Molecular Genetics: Susan Wallace
Nutrition and Food Sciences: Robert Tyzbir
Plant and Soil Science: Alan Gotlieb

Program Heads:
Biological Sciences Program: Robert Ullrich
Family and Consumer Sciences Education: Valerie Chamberlain
Environmental Sciences: Alan McIntosh
Environmental Studies Program: Ian Worley, Interim

Coordinator: Robin Smith
Writers: A. John Bramley, Jane Kolodinsky, Howard Lincoln, Robin Smith
Editor: Meg Ashman
Designer: Bob Fardelmann
Photos: Libby Campbell; Olivia Chicoine; Bill Dilillo; Sally McMahon; Jane O'Neil; Dr. Buddy Tignor; Agricultural Research Service, USDA

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