University of Vermont

University Communications

Jeffords Secures $1.6 Million to Support Environmental and Agricultural Research at UVM

Release Date: 05-03-2004

Author: Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Phone: 802-656-2005 Fax: (802) 656-3203

U.S. Senator James M. Jeffords has secured fiscal year 2004 federal appropriations totaling $1.6 million in support of six diverse environmental and agricultural research initiatives at the University of Vermont, the senator and UVM president Daniel Mark Fogel announced at a press conference today.

"UVM research efforts find solutions to problems that allow all of us to lead more healthy and productive lives. This is such an important role for a university to play," Jeffords said. "Financial support of research is critical to the health of our forests, our lakes, our agricultural crops, and our food supply."

“Research is the lifeblood of the university,” said Fogel. “We are very grateful to Senator Jeffords for his support of this vital function and for his tireless work on our behalf. Advancing knowledge in environmental and agriculture sciences – and applying that knowledge in the real world – are critical to Vermont’s well being and to that of the nation and the world. These two disciplines are areas of strength at UVM; I’m certain the UVM faculty who are leading these projects will provide an excellent return on the public investment Senator Jeffords has secured.”

The appropriation will support two ongoing research projects in UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resource and four in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

UVM Research Projects Supported by Jeffords Appropriations

  • An acid rain research initiative, conducted by Donald DeHayes, Paul Schaberg, Gary Hawley, and Tim Perkins, will continue work that has been done in the Rubenstein School over the last five years – supported by Senator Jeffords – that has yielded key insights into the mechanisms by which acid rain damages trees. Researchers have shown that acid rain attacks trees’ immune systems – curbing their ability to survive even normal stress like droughts, extreme cold, and common forms of disease – and is far more damaging to red spruce and, potentially, to other tree species like white pine and sugar maple, than is apparent on the surface. This research has far reaching implications for national policy.

  • Redesigning America’s Neighborhoods for Storm Water Management is a storm water research initiative in the Rubenstein School that focuses on storm water management issues that are the consequence of rapid development in South Burlington – a community that is representative of New England “sprawl” development. In collaboration with the city, the project will identify opportunities to manage storm water runoff using a mix of traditional and innovative approaches, complete a cost/benefit analysis of these alternatives for Potash Brook, and involve community stakeholders in the project through a working demonstration in a South Burlington neighborhood. As one of the first comprehensive research projects to compare treatments over time in the same stream – rather than in different rivers and streams, where other variables can cloud the results – the study’s conclusions should generate great interest among policy makers in and out of the state.

  • Researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences led by Mingruo Guo will continue their work finding new applications for whey, a by-product of cheese-making. New work will concentrate on an organic whey-based insecticide that incorporates naturally-occurring insect-killing fungi. The work, to be done in partnership with entomologist Bruce Parker of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, has great potential in pest management in greenhouses and forests.

  • Timothy Perkins of the Department of Botany will lead a group seeking to identify the types and causes of off-flavors in maple syrup as the first step towards developing a mechanism to reduce or eliminate their formation. Off-flavors, which usually develop during the boiling process, affected 25 percent of Vermont’s maple syrup crop in 2003.

  • A research team led by Catherine Donnelly in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences is inquiring into the natural barriers to pathogen development that occur in the production of raw milk cheese. The results will help inform the national debate over aged cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, like cheddar, swiss, gruyere, and camembert. Proponents of raw milk cheeses cite their superior taste, health benefits, and long track record of safety. Opponents are led by the Food and Drug Administration, which is considering banning them, an action that would affect both domestic and foreign cheese makers and significantly impact global trade. The research effort will be an integral part of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, a newly launched initiative that will provide education, training, and outreach for Vermont’s artisan cheesemakers. The institute is also being supported by a grant from the Merck Fund.

  • A constructed wetlands project managed by Aleksandra Driza in the Plant and Soil Sciences Department, which Senator Jeffords has funded for four years, provides an innovative alternative system for treating agricultural runoff. A prototype of the wetlands system, located at UVM’s Paul Miller Research Center on Spear Street in Burlington, is well on its way to becoming a model that dairy farmers in a northern climate can use to handle run-off. The system consists of four cells filled with locally available gravel material, with water flowing through it below the surface. Above ground plants flourish and function much as they would in a natural wetlands.