University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Hard cider production, new poetry, Vermont forests and more....

Hard cider production increased by 50% between 2009 and 2014, yet it is rare to find orchards that are exclusively managed for cider apples. A study by UVM researchers sought to examine the requirements for cider makers and the current availability of cider apples in existing orchards to identify opportunities and barriers for industry growth.

HUMANITIES

Poet Major Jackson has won the 2016 Vermont Book Award for his book of poetry Roll Deep, that addresses a range of topics from human intimacy to war. Listen to VPR’s interview with Jackson here.

The America’s Health Rankings report ranked Vermont number two in overall health of women and children and number one for children with adequate health insurance. The northeast fared well overall, with Massachusetts and New Hampshire rounding out the top three.

Orchard School in South Burlington is one of many across the nation opting not to assign homework to their elementary school students, based on a study conducted from 1987 to 2003 by Harris Cooper that found homework to be ineffective for students below grade 7. Principal Mark Trifilio maintains that the lack of outside academic work leaves more time for students to pursue outside activities and fosters their interest in learning.

Original radio programming remains alive and well in Vermont. VPR’s radio commentary series produces provocative work on a regular basis; see Bill Schubart’s piece here on Vermont’s EB-5 scandals for example. A new VPR podcast called Brave Little State examined Vermont’s embezzlement “crisis” and Erica Heilman’s Rumble Strip Vermont podcast talked with Vermonter’s who don’t have enough to eat. WDEV’s morning talk show Open Mike and Vermont Edition are also staples of the state’s civic conversation.

ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

UVM postdoctoral researcher Leif Richardson has made a significant contribution to efforts to protect the rusty patched bumble bee under the Endangered Species Act. Richardson collects thousands of bee specimens each summer, and unearthed one of the last known rusty patched bumble bees in the state. See the Bennington Banner article for more information, including this bee’s agricultural influence on Vermont.

Vermont forests, like their New Hampshire counterparts, have shown signs of drought stress. Browning and early color has been noted by forest health specialist Josh Halman and protection forester Dan Dillner, likely due to higher temperatures brought on by climate change. Drought stress additionally makes trees and more susceptible to insect damage and other disease. See the Burlington Free Press article for more details.

Stowe’s Ranch Brook was found by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC) to support an extremely healthy ecosystem. High levels were reported of macroinvertebrate species which rely on clean water to survive, although in recent years the density has been slowly declining due to increased peak flow from the changing climate.

Evocative co-founder Eben Bayer is producing biodegradable furniture and packing materials with the living organism mycelium. Bayer, who grew up in Bethel, Vermont is focused on curbing the nation’s use of Styrofoam, which accounts for 25% of all landfills by volume. He will be speaking about his homegrown furniture and the power of biology to change the world at UVM on October 17th, 2016.

SCIENCE

A team of researchers from UVM and Dartmouth College have discovered that molecules can produce a new form of luminescence that is bright green in color. This new light could potentially be utilized for different kinds of LED bulbs and medical dyes. Most notably, this discovery involved breaking Kasha’s Rule, a long-established law of chemistry.

Although it is well known that several conditions are commonly misdiagnosed as muscular sclerosis, there had not been a large-scale study to understand the nature of these disorders until Dr. Andrew Solomon and his team identified a misdiagnosis in 110 MS patients. The study found that 72 percent of misdiagnosed patients were treated with medicine they did not need and 33 percent were misdiagnosed for a decade or more before being properly treated.

A recent study has revealed a previously underestimated diversity of olenelloid species in the Parker and Monkton formations in northwestern Vermont. Conducted by scientists at the University of Chicago and The New York State Museum, this revision of the late Early Cambrian period olenelloid trilobites give more insight into the formations age-equivalence and regressions.

STUDENT RESEARCH

Research conducted on the sediment core from Twin Ponds Lake in Brookfield, Vermont may give insight into the future of rising and falling water levels of Lake Champlain. A thesis conducted by Kent State University graduate, Kevin Engle, did an isotopic analysis of ostracodes from the core to assist in climatic reconstruction of the region from the Late Glacial to Early Holocene.

UVM graduate student Christopher Ziegler received the 2016 Norman R. Alpert Research Prize for his work on arenaviruses that create both contagious and defective particles. The study is also described in this Vermont Biz article.

VERMONT BOOKS

A Lifetime of Vermont People by Waterbury-based photographer and writer Peter Miller, was recently named the best New England photo and art book by The New England Society in the City of New York. The book contains 63-years of Miller’s black and white portraits of Vermonters with personal observations written by the author.  

Half Wild, a book of short stories by Vermont author Robin MacArthur was published this month. The eleven stories, told from the perspectives of Vermonters ranging from adolescent girls to farmers, chronicle their diverse lives in the rural landscape. Check out the book review by Seven Days.

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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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