University of Vermont

Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR)

2016-17 REACH Recipients

Congratulations to our 2016-17 REACH recipients! Please see their names and project descriptions below.


Elizabeth Adair, Rubinstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
Developing Accurate Regional Estimates of Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Faced with an expanding global population and changing climate, society must ensure food security while minimizing agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). Agricultural activities account for 12% of global GHG emissions and 56% of non-CO2 emissions and are projected to increase. Fortunately, changes in agricultural management practices have great potential to reduce GHG emissions while ensuring food security. However, progress in mitigating agricultural emissions is hampered by the limitations of current emissions monitoring methods.

We address these limitations through advances in: (1) cost-effective monitoring of GHG emissions across complex agricultural landscapes and (2) scaling up field measurements to large regions using new remote sensing methods to monitor agricultural management. Specifically, we will design, build and validate an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)-mounted sensing system to measure GHG emissions in a manner that is scalable to the region. UASs have great promise for monitoring and measuring GHG emissions due to frequent flight capabilities and high resolution multispectral imagery. We will test UAS monitoring side-by-side with conventional in-field GHG measurements on Vermont farms that employ multiple, representative, management practices. Once validated, the PIs will seek additional funding to use these techniques to quantify GHG emissions at regional scales with national and international partners.


Pablo Bose, Geography
Sanctuary or Security? Refugee Resettlement Policies and Outcomes in an Unsettled World

The proposed project examines the global refugee resettlement regime through a comparative lens at multiple scales. It begins by exploring the similarities and differences in the resettlement policies and practices among five industrialized nations of the Global North — the US, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Norway through an analysis of their legislative frameworks, governance structures, and through interviews with key officials in their respective resettlement agencies. In its second phase the project uses a spatial model to examine the results of these policies within specific resettlement locations — eight smaller cities in Canada and Scandinavia. Such sites are increasingly the destinations for refugees all across the world, including in the US and yet remain significantly understudied compared to larger gateway cities. This project will build on an ongoing study of refugee resettlement in non-traditional sites in the US and utilize tools developed within that research to conduct fieldwork including interviews with key informants, surveys with refugees, and mapping of refugee neighborhoods to explore processes and outcomes. This pilot study will form the basis for long-term comparative and international research on and interventions into refugee resettlement patterns in both the Global North and South.


Beth Bouchard, Biochemistry
Development of a Novel Therapy for Hemophilia A

Hemophilia A is caused by a deficiency in the blood clotting protein factor VIII that affects ~1 in 5000 males. The associated bleeding can range from serious bleeding following surgery or trauma to spontaneous oftentimes fatal bleeding. Treatment for hemophilia A has historically consisted of replacement of factor VIII with either natural or laboratory-derived proteins. While this therapy is effective, it requires frequent transfusion with large amounts of protein making it very expensive and therefore inaccessible to many individuals. In addition, because of the body's natural immune response, some individuals develop inhibitors that neutralize factor VIII and make therapy ineffective. More recent treatments have focused on gene replacement therapy to correct factor VIII deficiency. While some success has been seen in animal models, this treatment has not translated well to humans. In addition, gene-modified cells are also a potential target for destruction by the immune system and can transform into cancer cells. Thus, there is a need to seek out better therapies. In the current application, discoveries made using basic laboratory techniques will lead to advances in patient care by the development a novel therapy for hemophilia A that is less expensive and safer than current therapies.


Thomas Brennan, Art and Art History
Abstraction: Symbolic Representation in the Natural Philosophies

Funding is requested to support research at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland and the British Museum of Science, London. My purpose is to use the collections at St. Andrews and the collections at the Museum of Science to investigate aspects of symbolic representation within the history of science. In particular, I am interested in the questions of position and viewpoint in charts, maps, models and other types of visual representations as these questions pertain to an increased emphasis upon the human observer in visual representations of scientific knowledge during the 15th-18th centuries.

The outcome of my on-site research will be a series of photo-based art works that will bridge the disciplines of science, art and philosophy. While these works of art will be exhibited in museum and gallery settings, the primary objective for this project will be the production of a maquette (mock-up of a book) that will lead to the publication of an artist's monograph.


Mark Cannella, Extension
Maple Business Benchmarking: Methods and Information Management Systems

Significant advances in sap collection technology, labor efficiency innovations and sustained high market prices have facilitated expansion of the Vermont maple industry. Industry highlights are checked with the concern that many businesses, large and small, are subject to intensifying risks of market price volatility and weather events. There was a demonstrated absence of sustained economic and financial research for the maple industry to address these concerns until the University of Vermont Extension launched a pilot maple benchmark project in 2013.

This nascent applied research project has identified key opportunities to inform issues for private and public stakeholders with interests in maple. Benchmarking embodies the dual mission of Extension outreach programs by generating relevant research findings and delivering relevant educational programming that impact practitioners. The pilot project has revealed critical limitations in data standardization techniques and database systems suitable for larger sample sizes that constrain the viability of the research. This REACH proposal addresses the critical need to research methodologies and information technology platforms that can elevate the scholarly rigor and application of project findings. This proposal will directly support faculty development and develop a multi-year external funding plan to sustain a robust and long-term research program.


Antonio Cepeda-Benito, Psychological Science
Efficacy of a New Biofeedback Motivational Intervention for Smoking Cessation

We propose to test the efficacy of a novel smoking cessation intervention designed to motivate quitting and promote sustained abstinence. RATIONALE: Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening for lung cancer is now recommended for current and former heavy smokers; while cancer-positive test results promote quitting, cancer-negative screens appear to create a false sense of immunity in smokers and suppress their motivation and likelihood of quitting. However, past trials didn't provide cancer-negative smokers with feedback about the observable presence of noncancerous smoking pathologies in the LDCT scans. APPROACH: To fill this gap, we will test the impact of illustrating the health-related consequences of quitting vs. continuing to smoke to both, cancer-positive and cancer-negative smokers. We will develop an innovative and personalized pictorial protocol to present smokers with their LDCT scan results, and we will test the incremental efficacy of adding the customized feedback in conjunction with a brief smoking cessation intervention. HYPOTHESES. Smokers who receive the brief intervention + customized feed back will report greater perceived severity and susceptibility to smoking risks (and report greater likelihood of quitting) than smokers in the intervention only group. These treatment effects will be present also in cancer-negative smokers.


Christine Vatovec, College of Medicine & Rubinstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
Investigating the Clinical Sources and Social Governance of Pharmaceutical Pollution

This project investigates the role of clinical prescribing and dispensing practices on pharmaceutical contamination of the aquatic environment. In my previous research investigating the environmental outcomes of medical care, I noticed that in certain settings large volumes of medications go unused and are eventually flushed down the drain where they enter the wastewater system, and eventually lakes and streams. Classified as chemicals of emerging concern, pharmaceuticals pose a range of risks to ecosystems because many of these compounds persist in the environment where their active ingredients can effect aquatic organisms. This research will employ ethnographic methods as a novel approach to identifying the sources of pharmaceutical pollutants. I will use REACH funding to support preliminary fieldwork and writing, and will use these results to apply for additional funding to support further fieldwork in key medical settings where pharmaceutical pollution arises. At the completion of the full project, it is my expectation that this research will have identified key sources of pharmaceutical pollutants and the social factors that govern their movement. The outcome of this research will be information in support of policy interventions to increase best practices in pharmaceutical prescribing, dispensing, and waste disposal.


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