University of Vermont

  • environmental leaders

    "I learned that science can provide you with the outdoor adventure of a lifetime." — Ryan Sleeper

    Ryan SleeperEnvironmental sciences major, graduate student in natural resources, field research in Alaska, job with environmental consulting company. More about Ryan

  • environmental leaders

    "Here is a cool new technology for me to jump into that combines geography, natural resources, and information technology!" — Maya Thomas

    Maya ThomasEnvironmental sciences major, GIS minor, research internships, GIS specialist with consulting firm. More about Maya

  • environmental leaders

    "The hands-on learning approach allowed me to integrate classroom learning with real life experience." — Alex Marcucci

    Alex MarcucciEnvironmental sciences major, watershed steward & restoration intern, valued service-learning courses, environmental scientist with consulting firm. More about Alex

  • environmental leaders

    "I wanted to learn about how forest ecosystems work and find a job where I could be outside and do something meaningful."— Eric Donnelly

    Eric DonnellyForestry major, research project at UVM forest, forestry technician protecting society's forest-based natural resources long-term. More about Eric

  • environmental leaders

    "I knew I would be surrounded by individuals who shared many of the same passions."— Carson Casey

    Carson Casey Natural resources major, student government, research on clean energy for Vermont legislature, study abroad in Tanzania, job in renewable energy education. More about Carson

  • environmental leaders

    "I wanted to become more fluent in the natural history of the region and gain the skills needed to get my students learning outside." — Ryan Morra

    Ryan MorraMaster's degree in natural resources, project in Puerto Rico, professional development programs in sustainability for educators. More about Ryan

The Rubenstein School offers exciting, hands-on environmental programs that integrate natural sciences and social perspectives. Our small, close-knit community challenges students to discover knowledge, skills, and values to become innovative, environmentally-responsible leaders. More about our School | More about studying the environment at UVM

Academic Programs

 Undergraduate Majors
 Undergraduate Minors
  • Environmental Studies
  • Forestry
  • Geospatial Technologies
  • Parks, Recreation and Tourism
  • Wildlife Biology
 Graduate Degrees, Concentrations & Certificates

RSENR NEWS

RSENR EVENTS

Wednesday August 5, 2015
Research poster presentations by the 2015 cohort of UVM Lake Champlain REU students.
Memorial Lounge, 338 Waterman.
Reception to follow.
Wednesday August 19, 2015
Becoming Transdisciplinary: Exploring Process in a Research Initiative on Climate Change

By Emil J. Tsao

Seminar: 3:30pm, Aiken 311
Defense: 4:30pm, Aiken 311

Committee
Adrian J. Ivakhiv, Professor, RSENR, Advisor
V. Ernesto Mendez, Associate Professor, Plant & Soil Sciences, Chair
Kelly Clark/Keefe, Associate Professor, Leadership and Developmental Sciences

ABSTRACT
The subject of this case study is the Vermont Agricultural Resilience in a Changing Climate initiative, a transdisciplinary research team at UVM that has maintained success in meeting research and outreach objectives despite collaborating in a way that does not follow any particular ideal-type transdisciplinary process. In following recent science and technology (STS) studies’ accounts of cross-disciplinary collaboration, the hypothesis pursued is that the transdisciplinary study of messy or "wicked" problems like climate change brings forth an array of responses from researchers whose disciplinary backgrounds already position them to pursue their research differently, particularly when they involve outside stakeholders in a participatory action research agenda. When not addressed explicitly through the transdisciplinary research framework, these differences are likely to result in more subterranean or affective responses, such as ambivalence and equivocation, which may permeate the collaborative group process. Through a qualitative ethnographic approach, I show that transdisciplinary work is complex and situational, due to the topic itself in agricultural resilience and climate change, the affective nature of the collaborative process, the differences in disciplinary perspectives, the researchers’ subjectivities, and the influence of outside actors in the initiative. I argue that transdisciplinary work must necessarily be challenging given the variety of heterogeneous forces at play, and that deeper attention to the situation elucidates underlying dynamics that are not addressed in the normal research process. This research contributes insights into the literature on transdisciplinary research on messy problems.
Thursday August 20, 2015
Phosphate Removal and Recovery from Wastewater by Natural Materials for Ecologically Engineered Wastewater Treatment Systems

By Daniel T. Curran

Seminar: 12:00 pm, Aiken 311
Defense: 1:00 pm, Aiken 311

Committee
Kimberly F. Wallin, Ph.D., RSENR, Advisor
Stephanie E. Hurley, DDes, Plant and Soil Science, Chair
Donna M. Rizzo, Ph.D., Engineering

ABSTRACT
Eutrophication due to excess loading of phosphorus (P) is a leading cause of water quality degradation. This study investigated P removal and recovery with 4 calcite varieties, wollastonite, dolomite, hydroxylapatite, eggshells, coral sands, biochar, and activated carbon. This was accomplished through a series of batch experiments with synthetic wastewater solutions ranging from 10-100 mg PO4-P/ L. These results informed a large-scale, calcite-based column filter experiments located in the Aiken Center's Eco-Machine. Influent and effluent wastewater were sampled for 64 days. Changes in pH, P concentration and the mass of P adsorbed were utilized as measures of filter performance. Filter media was analyzed for the mineralogical content by X-ray diffraction (XRD).

In the batch experiments, P removal and recovery varied by media and treatment. The best performing materials were calcite, wollastonite, and hydroxylapatite, eggshells, activated carbon, and coral sands. The columns reduced P by 12.53% (se = 1.69) and P adsorption was 0.6490 mg PO4-P/ kg media (se = 0.0546) over a 4 h hydraulic retention time. P reductions were statistically significant (p-value < 0.05) on the majority of sampling dates until saturation. Saturation was reached after 31-35 days. Filter media buffered the pH of the wastewater to approximately 6.0-7.0 with no indication of diminishing buffer capacity. XRD analysis was not able to detect any P species within the filter media.

This research contributes to the understanding of how the selected media perform during P removal and recovery programs, while providing information on the performance of large filters operating within Eco-Machines.

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