Volume 15, Number 2 Winter 2000

In this issue:

New dean eager to address challenges

Dean John Bramley and David Barrington, Chair of Botany and Agricultural Biochemistry, at the Pringle Herbarium

John Bramley is a man who likes challenge. "I'm a passionate person--I care about things and I like to make a difference. That's why I came into administration in the first place." Otherwise, he says, he wouldn't be where he is now: the new dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Then maybe it's just as well that CALS is not short of challenges in the very near future. "We must respond to the call for more interdisciplinary cooperation and new directions in the University, and for a blueprint of what an agricultural college should be and how it should respond to the issues shaping our times," Bramley says.

Bramley will continue the excellent leadership of former dean Larry Forcier, says Robert Bickford, CALS alumnus and chair of the CALS advisory board. "I think John recognizes the importance of quality students, the needs of the ag community, and the education required for CALS students to be valuable citizens of our country. He understands Vermont agriculture and the role it can play in the future of the state. And he's keenly aware of the cost of higher education today and will seek private and public funding for scholarships and for the research so critical to Vermont agriculture, such as maple and dairy."

Former chair of UVM's Department of Animal Sciences, Bramley came to UVM in 1990 from the Institute of Animal Health in the United Kingdom where he was head of the Division of Environmental Science. A UK native, he graduated from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and earned his Ph.D. in veterinary microbiology from the University of Reading.

Bramley is a well-known researcher in mastitis, a widespread dairy disease. His studies focus on genetically modifying the mammary gland to resist mastitis. As dean, that may have to take a back seat for now, he says. But teaching will not: he'll continue to teach and advise students.

CALS embraces a wide range of disciplines, and Bramley enjoys being at the fulcrum where they meet. They range from the very technical, such as Bramley's field of microbiology, to the social science approach of the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics.

What does he see as CALS' particular challenges?

--Susan Harlow

Can you lose weight through using long-distance technology?

Jean Harvey-Berino

For many people, losing weight is a cinch compared to keeping those pounds off. A $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will help Jean Harvey-Berino continue her research into how to maintain once you succeed in losing weight.

Harvey-Berino, an associate professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences, will use the NIH funding to investigate the role of interactive television and the Internet in weight maintenance. She has already completed a pilot study to find out basic information on how such new technology works. Now her three-year NIH study, one of the largest grants in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will go further.

Harvey-Berino and her colleague, Stephen Pintauro, associate professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences, will gather data from hundreds of obese people. To reduce their weight, the subjects will receive 6 months of behavior-modification treatment at 12 interactive TV sites around Vermont. Then Harvey-Berino will follow up with them for a year, some by Internet and others through group meetings via interactive TV. There will also be a control group.

She wants to determine the effectiveness of such long-distance weight maintenance sessions although, as she has found in studying weight loss, they are not likely to be as valuable as in-person programs. "It's not clear that the Internet will be better than in-person, but it may be better than nothing and less expensive," she says. She will also compare the costs of the three methods.

The idea is that people who cannot afford or cannot get to in-person counseling could benefit from follow-up by their computer or a local interactive TV site, she says. "If you have a computer in your home and it's easier to sit down and log on, that might work better."

And if people can succeed in maintaining weight loss using such new technology, it could open up a way to help those with diabetes or other medical conditions to change health behaviors, too.

--Susan Harlow

Alumni Profile: Graduate excels in nutrition business world

Lynn Bibeau Ritchel '76 G '78

When Lynn Bibeau Ritchel ('76, G '78) left her nutrition education job with the Dairy Council of Vermont to take a similar job in Indiana, she did so knowing that she was moving into the backyard of Mead Johnson Nutritionals of Evansville, Indiana. As a growing nutrition company with worldwide reach, Mead Johnson appeared to Ritchel to be the kind of place where her educational accomplishments (B.S. in Dietetics and M.S. in Human Nutrition and Foods), work experience, and career goals could flourish. She soon had an opportunity to prove her hunch correct as a regional sales representative for Mead Johnson.

Now the Director of Global Sales Training and Development for Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Ritchel's career has provided her with tremendous professional and personal satisfaction being at the heart of an industry leader serving the nutritional needs of infants, children, active adults, the elderly, and hospital patients.

Ritchel's advice to current nutrition and food sciences students is to get a solid foundation in the life sciences, obtain work/internship experience in a setting with consumers who connect with your area of interest, and keep an eye on the profiles of the leading companies in your field of interest. "Joining a great company as I did soon after graduate school at UVM was no accident," she recalls. "I remember noticing that Mead Johnson produced many of the high-quality nutrition education materials I used in some of my graduate courses, and that made an impression on me." She also advises students intent on forging a successful career in the global marketplace to gain good communication skills, some business background, and proficiency in a second language.

Ritchel's success is no surprise to her thesis advisor and current chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Dr. Robert Tyzbir. "Lynn always was and still is a hard worker and a go-getter. She's a wonderful role model and we are very proud of her."

--Howard Lincoln

UVM's Horticulture Club blooming

Hort Club, left to right: Charlie Catamount (ex officio), Dr. Mark Starrett (advisor), Pam Adam (seated), Leann Labor (community member), Stephanie Mahaffey, Danielle Miller, Nathaniel (Nate) Sands (President), Jennifer (Jenny) Warnock, Nancine (Nanci) McDonald, Joshua (Josh) May (seated), and Kitty Catamount (also ex officio)

Walking by the Hills Building this fall, you couldn't miss the bright flowers outside. That's because something else is blooming as well--UVM's Horticulture Club. During Homecoming/Parents Weekend, the club sponsored a pumpkin contest and a parade float, pictured above.

UVM's Hort Club includes about 70 members on its listserve and a dozen active members. And with Mark Starrett, assistant professor of horticulture, advising them, the students have taken on new projects.

Chief is planting and maintaining an ornamental garden outside Hills. "There was nothing really to indicate that we have plant people in here," Starrett says. Along with a 130-foot annual and perennial garden bordering adjacent Stafford Hall planned for next year, it will turn the entrance to Hills from anonymous space into a lovely and useful destination, Starrett believes.

He hopes that this garden will also stimulate the brain. The gardens will offer academic uses, from a resource for UVM plant science courses, to a place where the public can pick up ideas for their home landscapes. Students in landscape design are planning the new gardens as part of their classwork.

The club is thinking big: a collection of small trees and shrubs, cold frames for plant propagation, and a water garden. "Our ultimate goal is a gazebo so people can come and enjoy it here and have a meeting place," Starrett says.

The club is also working with Branch Out Burlington to raise and plant city-adapted trees, sponsoring speakers, growing mums for the cam-pus, and selling plants to students.

Brian Vaughan of Thetford, Vt., a Plant and Soil Science graduate and its first president, says he started the club because "I felt like the department needed more student involvement. It was fun getting to know people and fun to organize things--working together, you learn great organizational and leadership skills."

Now in just its second year, the new Hort Club is off to a successful start in giving students practical experience in horticulture. With it, UVM gains a more beautiful campus.

--Susan Harlow

Researchers document impact of Northeast Dairy Compact

Left to right: Catherine Halbrendt, Chuck Nicholson, and Qingbin Wang at the Paul Miller Research Center on Spear Street

Since the Northeast Dairy Compact began in July 1997, it has added $73 million to the incomes of New England's 4,000 dairy farmers. Processors pay a premium into a fund shared by New England farmers to help maintain the milk price they receive. Because it affects milk prices, the compact also affects farmers, processors, and consumers.

To look at those impacts, Catherine Halbrendt, Chuck Nicholson, and Qingbin Wang of UVM's Department of Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) led a study that found:

The primary use of this study is not to say that the compact is good or bad policy but to fine-tune the regulations," says Ken Becker, executive director of the compact. "It's really to take a look at the impact of the compact, the regulations and the market. It's the commission's responsibility to understand and take them into account."

CDAE researchers will next study pricing of milk used for cheese and other dairy products.

--Susan Harlow

CALS student scholarships provide access and opportunity

CALS student scholarship recipients meet with the Dean. Left to right: Alex Kende, Traci Patnode (seated), Anne Brodsky, Dean John Bramley, Sebastian Gordon, Emilie Beaupre, Sonya Zehle, Maike Camp (seated), and Julia Schulman

Land Grant Act author and U.S. Senator Justin Morrill would be proud to see what his 1862 vision for American higher education has become. As a native Vermonter, he also would be pleased that the University of Vermont is making a concerted effort to increase affordability for students by keeping annual tuition increases below national averages while substantially increasing institutional financial aid every year. Senator Morrill would be concerned, however, by the substantial financial debt shouldered by UVM students upon graduation.

Dean John Bramley is concerned about this trend and has pledged to make student scholarships one of the College's top fundraising priorities in the years ahead. "There is no question that the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences needs more scholarship support both at the undergraduate and graduate level," says Bramley. "I see the impact it has on our ability to attract and retain top-quality students, and I have witnessed the converse when scholarship funds are absent."

The College has been able to establish several new scholarship funds in recent years thanks to the support of many donors. Examples include the Doris and Julian Malkiel Scholarship Fund for Pre-Vet students, the James G. Welch Scholarship Fund for Vermont agriculture students, the David Curwen Scholarship for Plant and Soil Science students, and the Susan and Richard Hopp Fund for graduate students in Nutrition & Food Sciences Department and Plant & Soil Science Department.

"It is very rewarding for the donors, of course, to meet the students for whom they are providing assistance," observed Dean Bramley at a recent reception with CALS scholarship recipients. "These are motivated, hard-working students who make us proud of their accomplishments while they are here, and achieve wonderfully after graduation," he added. "Donors and scholarship recipients really get their money's worth!"

For more information about establishing a scholarship fund or adding to an existing one in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, contact CALS development officer Howard Lincoln at (802) 656-2509 or <howard.lincoln@uvm.edu>.

--Howard Lincoln

CALS Alumni and Friends Dinner
Mark your calendar! Saturday, May 13, 2000
Coach Barn, Shelburne Farms
Catered by the New England Culinary Institute

Nominations sought for alumni awards

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is seeking your nomination(s) of an alumna or alumnus for the following:

Nomination forms can be accessed via the CALS Website at http://ctr.uvm.edu/cals; or mailed to you by calling the Dean's Office at (802) 656-2980.

Nominations are due by Friday, April 7, 2000.

Please mail or Fax your nominations and accompanying materials to:
Robin Smith
Dean's Office, CALS
108 Morrill Hall
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405-0106

Fax: (802) 656-0290

Contact these individuals if you have questions or need information:

John Bramley

Associate Deans:
Rachel Johnson
Donald Foss

Department Chairs:
Animal Sciences: Karen Plaut
Botany and Agricultural Biochemistry: David Barrington
Community Development and Applied Economics: Catherine Halbrendt
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: Susan Harlow, Howard Lincoln
Editor: Meg Ashman
Designer: Bob Fardelmann
Photos: UVM Photography, Howard Lincoln

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. Lawrence K. Forcier, Director, University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont. University of Vermont Extension and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status.

This page is hosted by Communication and Technology Resources, University of Vermont, and maintained by Kim Parker, (Kim.Parker@uvm.edu); April 1, 2002. Return to:

Keeping in Touch homepage
CALS Alumni homepage
CALS homepage