University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Clean Power Plan, maple syrup, native malaria parasites and Addison County health

As the ranking member of the Judiciary and the most senior member of the US Senate, US Senator Patrick Leahy will play an outsize role in the nomination battle to replace Justice Scalia. Leahy and Scalia took opposing stances on a multitude of issues, including the U.S. Clean Power Plan, which Senator Leahy strongly supported. See Patrick Parenteau’s (Vermont Law School, professor of law) recent research assessment of the Clean Power Plan here.


Vermont is the second healthiest state in the country according to America’s Health RankingsAddison County boasts high rankings in health outcomes and positive factors that contribute to health. So what factors contribute to the chances of living a healthy life? Middlebury researchers Pamela Berenbaum and Alessandria Schumacher examine this work in Local Determinants of Health in Addison County. Using the social determinants of health framework, Berenbaum and Schumacher explore the interconnections of factors such as poverty, access to child care, drug abuse, and transportation barriers, which impact health directly and indirectly. View their interview with MCTV here. 

Scholars generally agree that local environmental groups create social capital that significantly affects environmental policy, and yet skeptics would state that there isn’t substantial data to verify this. A recent study by Middlebury College researchers, Christopher KlyzaJonathan Isham, and Andrew Savage uses data collected from Vermont environmental groups to examine and demonstrate the effect that their methodologies and influence can have on the development of social capital.

Vermont schools could spend 10 percent less ($164 million) and still provide students with good educational opportunities, a new study says. National education finance analysts, Picus Odden & Associates were hired by the state of Vermont to do the advocacy study, which calculates the cost of everything needed to meet Vermont’s Education Quality Standards. While the analysts have conducted similar studies in seven other states, Vermont is the first where findings indicated the state could spend less. See also the Burlington Free Press.


UVM and Smithsonian researchers have recently discovered the first-ever native malaria parasite in the Americas. After finding a parasite in mosquitoes with an unknown DNA profile, UVM graduate Ellen Martinsen, led a team of scientists in studying this new malaria parasite, Plasmodium odocoilei, which infects white-tailed deer. This is the first-ever parasite known to live in deer and the only native malaria parasite discovered in any mammal in North or South America. In their recently published research, the team estimates that the parasite infects up to twenty-five percent of white-tailed deer along the East Coast of the U.S. including samples from Vermont.

Researchers have discovered that maple syrup production declines following masting. Joshua Rapp, who studies Environmental Conservation at Harvard, and Elizabeth Crone, a biologist at Tufts, analyzed weather variables and past seed production as possible causes of fluctuating maple syrup yields in Vermont. According to their study, seed production, which happens a few months before syrup production, can be used as an indicator for the maple syrup harvest that year.

Environment and Energy

Tropical Storm Irene's relationship to climate change was a frequent trope in the discussion of the devastating storm. New research by a team at UVM studied the discourse around hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The researchers (Emily Cody, Jennie Stephens, Chris Danforth, Peter Dodds, James Bagrow) compared the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina (2005), which left out the topic of climate change as a contributing factor and limited the discussion of energy to prices, markets, and the economy, to the coverage of Hurricane Sandy (2012), which contained a prominent dialogue around climate and energy. Through the events, researchers examined the shift in public discourse on these subjects over time. See related interview with Jennie Stephens on Vermont energy transitions here.

Vermont Books

The history of Vermont’s involvement in the Civil War is the subject of the book Something Abides: Discovering the Civil War in Today’s Vermont by Howard Coffin, a seventh generation Vermonter with six ancestors who served in the Civil War. According to Coffin, Vermont furnished 34,238 men to the war effort and of those, 5,224 died.

Student Research

The growing web tech industry in Burlington Vermont is the subject of a 2015 thesis, by UVM grad Luke Dorfman. In his ethnographic study comprised of interviews and participant observation from employees at and CPA Site Solutions, Dorfman explores the occupational implications of Vermont’s value of both individual freedom and community. The research was funded in part through the Center of Research on Vermont’s Green Mountain Award.

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

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Funding provided by the Lintilhac Foundation and the Humanities Center at the University of Vermont.