CEMS - The College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

UVM scientists headline new television program

Release Date: 01-21-2009

Author: Josh Brown

The second installment of Vermont Public Television's new "Emerging Science" series features a broad group of University of Vermont researchers, including engineer Paul Hines, mathematician Peter Dodds, and others.

Five weekly programs that begin Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 9 p.m. bring a Vermont perspective to new developments in science — including plug-in cars that put power into the electric grid, how the internet is changing social sciences, and new insights from the bizarre world of carnivorous plants.

In the first episode, Paul Hines, assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), joins with other Vermont scientists to explore the history and possible future of energy in human society, including urgent questions about wind energy and how the electric grid will be able accommodate alternative energy sources.

The next episode, set to air Feb. 3, will dive into aquatic food webs. VPT podcasts with Ellen Marsden, professor in the Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources, and Nick Gotelli, professor in the UVM biology department, give a preview of the program. Gotelli explains how the challenge of modeling complex food webs is simplified in a Vermont bog, by looking into the miniature world of bacteria and insects that live in the bottom of carnivorous pitcher plants.

The third episode asks: How is the internet changing social sciences? Peter Dodds, assistant professor of mathematics at UVM, has answers. He discusses how the vast aggregations of data that blogs and other online sources provide give sociologists a new window onto how large groups feel and function — and onto what he calls "the contagion of emotion."

The fourth episode looks at emerging transportation alternatives including electric vehicles and a renewable system called "vehicle-to-grid." The final episode explores the status and protection of fresh water in Vermont and across the U.S.

Funding for "Emerging Science" comes from Vermont EPSCoR, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Located at UVM, Vermont EPSCoR supports Vermont scientists and business leaders — including many of those who appear in the series — through funding, outreach and technology development.

Amy Seidl, who completed her doctorate at UVM in biology, is the program's host.

See air times for the programs on VPT's website. Video downloads will also be available.

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