University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Prisoner release programs, lake pollution, Burlington's history, the Mormon chuch and Bill Mckibben

Prisoner release programs, lake pollution, new Vermont books and more...


Prisoner release programs: Ordinary citizens can play a critical role in integrating former prisoners back into civil society and reducing the chance they will commit more crimes. Sociologist Kathy Fox studies a program in Vermont -- Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) -- that connects released offenders and community members. Community Supported Circles of Accountability have been shown to reduce recidivism rates by 70 percent in Canada. Citizen volunteers reduce the social distance between "them" and "us" showing that prisoners share the same moral space as ordinary citizens, Fox writes in a recent article in Criminal Justice and Behavior. See video interview on this research with Dr. Fox who is currently analyzing the Vermont program for its outcomes in reducing reoffending.

UVMs First African-American Graduate: "Andrew Harris, Vermont's Forgotten Abolitionist" is the title of a recent article by Kevin Thornton in the Journal of Vermont History (Vol. 83, No. 2, Summer/Fall 2015). A political abolitionist who led a congregation in Philadelphia and was a leading intellectual arguing for racial equality, Harris was a man of "constant activity and tremendous energies" who died at the age of 27. He graduated from UVM in 1838 because he was "determined and persistent" Kevin Thornton writes, "not because he was welcome." For more information and for an interview with Kevin on Vermont Public Radio.

Links to the origins of the Mormon Church in a few towns in the western portion of Rutland County are the subject of a new article in Bennington’s Museum Walloomsack Review (Volume 16, Autumn 2015). The author, Jon Mathewson, suggests connections between “the zeitgeist of Poultney” and the creation of the new religion. Mathewson tells the story in rich detail with original sources. Mathewson is the curator of Dorset Historical Society’s Bley House Museum.


Geologists at Middlebury study the unique characteristics of Lake Champlain: Pat Manley examines sediment on the lake bottom and has tracked changes in its characteristics from the pro-glacial period 13,000 years ago to the present day. She and students are using new tools with extreme precision that allow them to map the entire lake bottom and analyze underwater landslides. Tom Manley looks at the physics of water movement and has created a model of a Lake Champlain tsunami to better understand surface waves and their potential damage to the shoreline. For nearly 20 years, he also has measured surface temperatures in Shelburne Bay, where he has noticed a mild warming trend but not as dramatic as expected. The Manleys recently presented several papers on their work at the International Association for Great Lakes Research conference.

Along Lake Champlain, algae bloom toxins possibly linked to ALS: Neurologists studying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease, have determined that some incidents of the illness cluster in certain geographic areas, many close to large bodies of water such as Lake Champlain. New research by an ecological mapping specialist in New Hampshire has discovered that the prevalence of toxic algae blooms in the lakes bays is one factor that could contribute to the development of ALS. "It turns out that theres a pretty strong association," says Nathan Torbick, senior research scientist for Applied GeoSolutions, a company based in Newmarket, N.H., that does geospatial work for public, private and academic clients related to climate change, land use and public health. "Where we're seeing hotspots of ALS, we're also seeing hotspots of algae blooms."

Environment & Energy

Vermont climate scientist mining Canadian weather data: Alan Betts is a Vermont-based climate change researcher, applying real-world information to better understand atmospheric behavior. For about 35 years, he has worked from his home in Pittsford, Vt., under an ongoing series of grants from the National Science Foundation, where he writes a recurring column in The Barre Montpelier Times Argus and Rutland Herald newspapers. Since late 2012, Betts has delved into an extensive dataset he received from the Canadian agriculture department to help them understand changes in weather patterns snow fall, temperature, humidity, cloud cover, the suns radiation and how they influence farming across the Canadian prairies. This year, Betts completed his fifth paper related to that data; Observational study of land-surface-cloud-atmosphere coupling on daily timescales, connecting changes in weather pattern with climate change.

Bill McKibben arrested - draws attention to research connecting Exxon to climate change deniers
: The day before he was the keynote speaker at the Vermont Academy of Arts & Sciences annual meeting in Bennington, Vermont writer Bill McKibben was arrested at a Burlington gas station. McKibben told academy members that the arrest was to draw attention to a series of investigate research reports in InsideClimateNews detailing Exxon's 35-year knowledge about, and efforts to discredit climate change science.

New Books by Center Members

Reading Rural Landscapes:  A Field Guide to New England's Past (2015), Tilbury Press, Thomaston, ME. The book focuses on the traces of the past present today in the landscapes of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Grown-over cellar holes, a patch of day lilies, a piece of a stone dam all tell stories of the past. Center member Robert Sanford is Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Science & Policy at the University of Southern Maine.

Burlington: A History of Vermont's Queen City, (2015), Images from the Past, Bennington, VT. The book is the first history of the states largest city by Vermont scholar VInce Feeney. Feeney, a former adjunct history professor at the University of Vermont is also the author of "Early Vermont History: Finnigans, Slaters and Stonepeggers." For more on Feeney's Burlington history see interview with the author here.

Student Research

Farmer’s Market Motivations: Incentivizing buying local: Vermonters’ perceptions and motivations for going to farmers markets is the subject of UVM student Shannon Esrich's thesis. Through investigation of the market communities at the Burlington Farmers Market, the Old North End Farmers Market, and the Slow Food Vermont Agricultural Market, Esrich examined trends in values and perceptions of market-goers, vendors, and staff to find out what constitutes the ideal farmers market experience. Esrich’s research also discusses how theories on value, economy, and community play to these motivations.

The Vermont Research News is a bi-weekly curated collection of Vermont research -- focused on research in the Vermont "laboratory" -- research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that examines and adds to understanding of the state's social, economic, cultural and physical environment.

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