University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Organic food prices, autism, declining red spruce trees and more....

What are the barriers to Vermonters’ participation in alternative food systems? – AFS systems emphasize animal welfare, farmer and community well-being and environmental stewardship. A study by researchers at UVM explores this question, finding that stacked beliefs about price and convenience of AFS may create a barrier to participation, and focuses on strategies to improve these views.

HUMANITIES

A recent report examined pricing at farmer’s markets – challenging the notion that local food is more expensive.  Released by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the report examined the prices of 55 common items finding that: “Farmers’ Markets are a good option for consumers whose purchasing decisions are driven by price as well as local and/or organic attributes.” See also the article in VT Digger.

A new poll by Energy Independent Vermont finds that Vermonter's believe in global warming (81%), support state greenhouse gas reduction goals (78%) and a carbon pollution tax when it is combined with tax cuts and investments in energy efficiency. The poll also examined the political races, finding Hilary Clinton with a 15 point edge over Donald Trump in Vermont (VT Digger).

An innovative study using eye-tracker technology has found that children with autism fixate on a speaker’s mouth during emotional conversations. Led by UVM researcher Tiffany Hutchins, results from the study--which includes subjects from Vermont-- could significantly influence the way therapists treat autistic children who struggle with social, communication and behavioral challenges. 

Although childhood immunizations are invaluable in preventing contagious diseases, Vermont has one of the lowest percentages of fully vaccinated children in the nation. A study by researchers at UVM examines the factors contributing to the state’s suboptimal rates of childhood vaccinations to identify ways to improve these rates in the population.

In a recent social media study, Vermont was ranked 4th in the country for states where people love their jobs. The study, done by Monster and Brandwatch, swept Twitter for sentiments towards users’ jobs, taking in the location and other pertinent details in order to rank job happiness by state. Read the full article on the Vermont Biz website.

SCIENCE

In order to form better hunting regulations that sustain viable waterfowl populations along the Vermont-Quebec border region, scientists with the US. Geological Survey are tracking the survival of female mallards and the effects of location and timing of harvest seasons on their mortality. A research report details findings, which include a recommendation to suspend split hunting seasons in Vermont that increase harvest.

Is air pollution contributing to the decline of red spruce trees in the northeastern United States? A study by USDA and UVM researchers used red spruces at 37 sites in Vermont and New Hampshire to assess the relationship between radial tree growth and pollution critical load exceedance. Findings suggest that over time, exceedance is linked to reduced red spruce growth and resilience to foliar winter injury events.

In response to changes in apple cultivars in New England and improved pest management tools, a USDA-funded evaluation of organic apple production systems was initiated in 2006 at the University of Vermont. An evaluation of the 7-year study by Dr. Terence Bradshaw of UVM was published in 2015, detailing the preferential success of a medium-density orchard top grafted to new cultivars as compared to a newly planted high density orchard.

STUDENT RESEARCH

University of Vermont PhD student Keri Bryan Watson heads research which found that floodplains and wetlands surrounding Middlebury, Vermont saved the town approximately $1.8 million in flood damage. Watson’s research was recently published in Ecological Economics.

An investigation into the net economic, environmental, and public policy benefits of converting land from agriculture to solar energy generation is the subject of an operational research project by UVM student Sam Carlson. The 2016 masters project--undertaken on a 15-acre farm in Proctor, Vermont--established and studied the fiscal benefits of two solar arrays.

VERMONT BOOKS

Over 12,000 Vermonters are affected by Alzheimer’s, as well as about 44 million people worldwide. In her new graphic memoir called Aliceheimers: Alzheimer's Through the Looking Glass, Dana Walrath explores her mother’s experiences with the disease. Walrath is a former associate professor of medical anthropology at the UVM Medical Center, turned Vermont author and artist. See VPR interview on the book here.

The town of Halifax, Vermont has published two volumes dedicated to the history of the town. The first volume, published in 2008 and titled Born in Controversy, focuses on the earliest history of Halifax- from its chartering in 1750 through Vermont’s advance into statehood, exploring the town’s community. The second volume, Hills and Hollows, was published in 2015 and chronicles the history of the people of Halifax, tracing some families back over 200 years. Both books come with a wealth of photographs and forewords written by Vermont Civil War historian Howard Coffin. To purchase copies, go to the Halifax Historical Society’s web page.

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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, the Humanities Center and the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Vermont.

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