University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Vermont Research: Driving while black, tobacco taxes, garnet chrystals and more...

Driving While Black and Brown in Vermont, a new study by Vermont researcher Stephanie Seguino, explores the racial disparity surrounding traffic stops. The study, pulling data from 29 of the state’s largest police departments, found that black and Hispanic drivers were stopped at a significantly higher rate than white drivers. Of those stopped, black and Hispanic drivers were also more likely to be searched and to receive a ticket.

PUBLIC POLICY

The gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening, with fewer families situated in the middle, according to the 2016 State of Working Vermont report. The report, published by Public Assets Institute, promotes public policy fixes, including a higher minimum wage, affordable high-quality child care, and an expanded public education system with two years of college.

Although Vermont is not the first state that comes to mind when considering high-tech innovation, a new study found that it plays a large role in the state economy. Led by The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the report found that Vermont’s high-tech manufacturing exports total $2.6 billion.

Vermont imposes some of the highest taxes on tobacco products in the U.S., charging between $3.08 and $3.55 per pack, depending on the number of cigarettes or cigars. The state also has some of the lowest smoking rates. In 2017, revenue from legal settlements with tobacco companies is expected to plummet from $34 million to $23 million – potentially hampering efforts to reduce tobacco-related disease and death in the state.  

An increase in solar financing in Vermont could cut electric bills by $14 million and boost the economy, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Northeast Solar Energy Market Coalition. The analysis lays out how the state could expand clean energy financing programs with $7 million in initial capital and drive $148 million in clean energy investments over the next 15 years.

NATURAL RESOURCES

A study by researchers at the University of Maine evaluating the market value of timberland in Vermont, New York, Maine and New Hampshire has developed an equation to calculate the relationship between the sale price, commercial timber value, and acreage to help estimate future land transactions and establish baselines.

A recent study of seasonal effects on milk yield and somatic cell score (SCS) in organic dairy farms in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and New York was conducted by researchers from Brazil and UNH. Results indicate that using annual forage crops can extend the grazing season and help farmers mitigate milk yield losses that typically occur in late fall.

SCIENCE

A metagenomic investigation of the microbial diversity in a chrysotile asbestos mine pit pond in Lowell, Vermont was conducted by researchers at Norwich University, Johnson State, and UVM. Results suggest the presence of novel proteins and/or organisms and that additional research may help further characterize the metagenomes in the mine pit.

The anomalies of garnet crystal from the Eden Mills, Belvidere Mountain, Vermont, USA have been investigated from the standpoint of crystal growth. The study conducted by researchers at the University of Sargodha found that the internal features of the garnet are formed during growth process.

STUDENT RESEARCH

Two recent policy initiatives -- Act 77 and Educational Quality Standards – call for Vermont high schools to shift to proficiency-based learning (PBL) by 2020. A recent thesis by UVM graduate Catherine Toland provides a qualitative study that examines the perspectives of three Vermont high school social studies teachers who have already adopted PBL in their classrooms.

An analysis of cul-de-sacs and dead end streets in Chittenden County, Vermont was conducted by UVM Geography major Marshall Distel. The study aimed to better understand the appeal of given street designs to residents and planning professionals in light of cul-de-sacs’ higher car dependence, lowered safety for pedestrians, and heightened crime rate. Marshall, a native of Tunbridge, now works for the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.

NEW BOOKS

Chris Bohjalian, the New York Times best-selling author from Lincoln, Vermont, explores the mystery of sleepwalking in his new novel, The Sleepwalker, set in Vermont. The tale follows the disappearance of Annalee Ahlberg, a chronic sleepwalker notorious for her peculiar actions, and her distraught family’s coping mechanisms. See the Burlington Free Press Q&A for more information.

“Vermont itself is a great character," Bohjalian tells the Free Press. "I love this place for a thousand reasons, but among them are the realities that whole books can be constructed around our weather or the beauty of our natural landscape. Also, sometimes we seem to be a strangely prescient microcosm of the conflicts affecting the rest of the nation.”

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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.

Send your news items to Editor Kirsti Blow.

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