University of Vermont

New Faculty Sampler

A nicknack on a desk or a picture on an office wall may tell a story. Hear Professor Ingrid Nelson talk about her favorite items in her office -- capulanas, collected while conducting research in Mozambique.

One week into the fall semester, the newest members of the UVM faculty have been busy teaching -- but also learning about their new campus community. Now it's time to learn something about them. Here's a quick introduction of just a handful of this year's few dozen new professors. Hear about everything from their choice in research to their choice in recreation.

Ingrid Nelson, assistant professor of geography

Training: B.A. in geography/environmental studies, Dartmouth College; M.Phil. in geographical research as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, University of Cambridge; Ph.D. in geography with a graduate certificate in women's and gender studies, University of Oregon

Recent experience: Postdoctoral fellowship at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague

Research interests: Political ecologies and gender and sexuality issues associated with changing land and other natural resource use, as well as environmental activism in rural areas with a particular emphasis on Mozambique; social media and conservation efforts; emerging regional geographies of food production in New England.  

Outside interests: “Beyond academia?,” she laughs. Rowing, cross-country ski racing. “I'm still very much involved in conversations with the environmental movement in Mozambique. I’m (there) as often as possible to reconnect with the communities that I worked with. It's a personal interest as well as academic. We are like family.”

Quirky personal fact: “I drive a really sweet Yamaha XT250 motorcycle. That's my main mode of transport. I’ve never owned a car.”  

Favorite item in her office: A collection of capulanas -- multipurpose, decorative pieces of cloth used by Mozambican women that can be wrapped into a skirt, used as a towel, a handbag, to carry a baby... “They’re very beautiful and some of them are really political.” 

Why UVM: “I like UVM because (the university is) really thinking ahead on a lot of issues like sustainability and environmental studies and the job opening was for a political ecologist which is my specialty. It’s perfect because I have an intellectual home in my department and I get to collaborate with so many people on campus and be part of the environmental studies program and the food systems initiative. I'm really excited about working with my colleagues and the students are awesome -- when I came to give my lecture I had students emailing afterwards asking more questions or saying thanks. They were genuinely interested in what we were looking at.”

Shawn Datchuk, assistant professor of education

Training: Ph.D in special education from Pennsylvania State University

Recent experience: Director of academic performance for New Orleans College Preparatory Academies; adjunct faculty, University of Pittsburgh

Research interests: Datchuk studies academic interventions designed to improve sentence-level writing skills of students with disabilities.

Outside interests: "I'm a newlywed to a beautiful wife," he says. "We're new to Vermont, so we're spending time exploring. Also, cooking and playing with our three pets, one dog and two cats."

Quirky personal fact: "I swing dance and juggle. Not at the same time. Not very good at either."

Favorite item in his office: "I sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. It helps my back and forces me to have better posture."

Why UVM: "I love UVM's mission of preparing pre-service teachers for their best first year teaching and expanding the research base for students with special needs," he says.

James Bagrow, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics

Training: B.S. and Ph.D. in physics, Clarkson University

Recent experience: “I was a research assistant professor at Northwestern University and before that at Northeastern, as a postdoctoral researcher in complex networks,” Bagrow says. “I’m traveling the compass.”

Bagrow serves on the editorial board of Nature Scientific Reports. “It’s one of the newer open-access journals where authors pay a publication fee and once their paper is accepted, anyone in the world can view it, which is great.”

Research interests: Using large-scale datasets and statistical models to understand complex systems and human dynamics.

Outside interests: “I go hiking a lot.”

Quirky personal fact: “I’ve hiked about half of the ‘ADK 46ers’ -- the forty-six mountains in the Adirondacks over 4,000 feet -- and I’m hoping to finish them. What I’d really like to do is the ‘White 46ers’ -- where you hike all the peaks in wintertime. I might have to get into snowshoeing to do that.”

Favorite item in his office: “A desk with a motor in it,” he says. “I can program in different heights, so I can sit or stand at it.”

Social media accounts: “I’m not doing as much with social media as other folks around the Complex Systems Center; I should look more into Twitter and probably start,” he says. “I am keeping my eye on ‘crowdfunding,’ like Kickstarter. There are scientists who are using this approach to get equipment and fund other projects.”

Why UVM: “UVM’s complex systems spire is very attractive because my research is highly interdisciplinary; I don’t cleanly fit into a pure math, computer science or physics department,” he says. “Amazing collaborators and interdisciplinary opportunities, and beautiful scenery. What more is there?”

Matthew Price, assistant professor of psychology

Training: B.A., State University of New York at Binghamton; M.A., Georgia State University; Ph.D., Georgia State University

Recent experience: Two-year post-doctoral fellowship, Medical University of South Carolina

Research interests: Devising high-tech methods to help victims of a traumatic event, with a focus on early intervention in acute care settings in order to identify, address and minimize mental health effects of the trauma.

Outside interests: “I'm sort of a tech nerd so I'm interested in gadgetry and doing some minor programming and building computers,” Price says. He’s also a fan of the arts, particularly theater, and is looking forward to Vermont’s fall festivals. An outdoor enthusiast who likes to hike, he’s “hoping it won't get too much colder than this.” Apparently he has a good sense of humor as well.

Quirky personal fact: “I'm an avid player of video games of all types. I started as soon as I could move my thumbs.”

Favorite item in his office: A model of a monster from the video game BioShock. “I also have a Lego version of the Harry Potter night bus that will make its way onto the desk. They were put there to show undergrads I have a quirky side.”

Social media accounts: Follow him on Twitter: @Dr_Matt_p

Why UVM: “The work I do requires access to people who do high-tech work, as well as access to medical centers with infrastructure in place. UVM’s close partnership with Fletcher Allen and also the computer scientists in the engineering college and other folks in complex systems are all really attractive. Also there are amazing psychologists here who do anxiety and stress work but on the basic science side. It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to collaborate with them to see how their basic findings can be translated into applied clinical settings.”