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he latest from Burlington

Rachael Van Wagner at the wheel:
“It is so rewarding to create a machine literally from nothing and be able to compete in a vehicle that we built. I learned about deadlines, commitment, how far a little support goes, and that talk is cheap until you actually physically get something done.”
Van Wagner and fellow engineering students on the “Catamount Racing Team” drove their mini-baja buggy to a top 20 placing out of 129 teams in a summer competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Looking at a Woman’s World
Feminist perspective guides geographer’s work
Joni Seager is not in the habit of breaking-and-entering. But she is willing to wager that she could step inside an empty home in just about any middle-class American neighborhood and quickly discern copious information about the inhabitants — from their economic situation and ideas of good taste to ethnicity and gender relationships.

Seager, UVM professor of geography, is one of the world’s foremost scholars of feminist geography – a rapidly expanding field of research that explores the shape and shift of women’s lives across continents and cultures. Her research sends her searching for clues in homes, offices, and institutions that reveal how men and women identify their own gender roles and view the opposite sex.

It has been sixteen years since Seager and her colleague Ann Olson published their groundbreaking book, The State of Women in the World Atlas. The volume reported on the worldwide status of women and showed specifically how women’s welfare can be an index of the world’s present and future wellbeing. Through maps, text and other graphics, the first edition of the Atlas captured the shape of women’s lives through issues including property rights, beauty culture, and domestic violence and explored women’s roles in government, at work, and in the global economy.

Praised by the Washington Post as “the innovative atlas no thoughtful person, male or female, should be without,” the book merited critical kudos and prestigious awards. With a second edition published in 1997 and third due next spring, the Atlas is a standard reference book used internationally by students in grade school through college and published in nearly a dozen languages.

Is the Atlas a book targeted solely to women? Absolutely not, says Seager. “Human rights abuses permeate all layers of a society,” she explains. “Wherever you find women who are deprived of basic human rights, you are not going to have great social structures.”

For instance, it is not only fundamentalist groups such as Afghanistan’s former Taliban that “treat women demonically,” Seager say. In countries including Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Sudan, restrictions on women’s personal freedom range from mandatory dress codes to limited or no access to education and jobs. Female genital mutilation — intended to prevent women from infidelity and anchor them to home and hearth — is practiced extensively in both the Middle East and Africa.

In nearly every world culture, Seager says, “if women are not assertive, their interests are put on the back burner. That lesson was learned in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Bosnia.” A recent United Nations resolution that mandates women must be involved in post-crisis reconstruction has raised women’s voices in war-torn countries above a whisper, but those voices often must be loud and repetitive to be heard. Because they generally handle mundane family details, women often are the first to notice when the water from the tap smells funny or when children seem chronically sick. But Seager says that scientists and technology experts are slow to understand the importance of women’s observations and concerns about the natural world.

Seager’s own professional interests have taken her down many research paths, and have elicited interest from mainstream media such as CNN, USA Today, and BBC World Radio. She wrote about polar bear migration in Manitoba in the New York Times and reported for Ms. magazine on how “military-think” contributed to Midwestern floods in 1993. She challenged the concept of George Bush, Sr., as a pseudo-environmental president in the Village Voice, and discussed global overpopulation — an issue she believes is rooted in men’s need to control women’s bodies — on National Public Radio’s “Living on Earth.” In the 2001 book, Putting Women in Place, Seager and co-author Mona Domosh, a Dartmouth geography professor, took a global look at the “gendering” of place and space, from the arrangement of furniture in Victorian homes to the movements of refugees across contemporary borders.

While Seager’s activities and interests might appear to be all over the map, she says the synergy among them fuels her research and teaching. They all relate, she says, to her personal manifesto: “The better the state of women, the better the state of the world.” — Lynda Majarian

What’s New
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine ranked the University of Vermont number 64 in its recent Best Public Colleges list, up from 95 in the 2000 ranking, the last year the magazine compiled the list. The magazine narrowed the 100-best list down from a field of more than 500 U.S. public colleges and universities. “We’ve heard anecdotal evidence that UVM is a hot school,” said UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel. “This is objective corroboration that we’re indeed on a strong upward surge.”

Ann Porter G’76 retired this summer from the directorship of the Fleming Museum, a position she held for thirteen years. Recognizing Porter’s long career with the museum, twenty-three years in all, Sen. Patrick Leahy said, “All Vermonters, especially those in the University of Vermont community, owe Ann a debt of gratitude for making the museum an important center of learning and enjoyment for all of its visitors.” Janie Cohen, Fleming curator and assistant director for the past eleven years, has been appointed director.

Robert Nash’s article on “How Sept. 11, 2001, Transformed my Course on Religious Pluralism, Spirituality and Education,” was summarized in the June 26 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Nash, a professor of integrated professional studies, originally published the article in the journal Religion and Education. An interview with Nash in the Fall 2001 issue of Vermont Quarterly focused on the professor’s views on teaching religion in public schools. To read it on-line: http://www.uvm.edu/%7Euvmpr/ vq/VQFALL01/religion.html

A researcher’s rewards
Prof shares national inventor’s honor
In science, complexity starts with simple curiosity, and big breakthroughs can arise from basic questions. George Long, professor of biochemistry, knows this well. A new drug, which has the potential to save thousands of lives, began when he applied his lifelong joy in unfolding the mysteries of creation to a particular crucial protein.

“The process of investigation was exhilarating, it was so exciting to finally satisfy my curiosity of what that molecule actually was,” says George Long of his early 1980’s work analyzing human protein C at the pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly.

His goal wasn’t necessarily to create a blockbuster drug — after all, only one in 10,000 lab molecules become marketable products — but the protein nonetheless has become a star. It’s the active ingredient in Xigris, the only drug to treat severe sepsis, a massive all-body infection that kills as many as 300,000 people each year. In recognition of his efforts in launching the project, Long was part of a group that won one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for breakthrough inventions.

Long’s path to the Intellectual Property Owners Association Inventor of the Year award—an honor he shares with the inventors of the artificial heart, liquid crystal display and Bose loudspeakers — began in his childhood backyard. One evening in 1957, his father took him outside and together they watched the Russian Sputnik satellite make a ghostly trace across the sky.

“I got excited about science that night,” Long says.

His enthusiasm accompanied him to graduate school at the University of Washington, through academic and private sector jobs, and finally to UVM, where he is still investigating the intriguing protein underlying the sepsis drug. Long spent last summer on a grueling traipse through rural Vermont and Quebec. He was part of a team interviewing and examining members of a large family that share a blood-clotting disorder caused by a rare genetic mutation that influences the production of human protein C. Painstakingly tracing the diffusion of the gene through the 700-member family may yield new insights into the genetics and mechanics of blood-clotting disorders.

Already the team believes they have traced the faulty gene back to a couple who emigrated to Canada from France in the mid 1600’s — a result Long finds… curious. — Kevin Foley

Testifying About Great Teachers
The annual Kroepsch-Maurice Teaching Awards honor UVM faculty who excel in their ability to communicate and inspire. Who better than a former student to share insight into what makes a great teacher great? The words that follow, from those who supported the nominations of the 2002 winners, offer a glimpse into the lasting impact of outstanding teaching.

James Kraushaar, Associate Professor, Business
“I honestly believe, especially looking back on it now, that as much learning came from the process we were engaged in, as from the actual content, which we studied and were taught. Working in teams of four or five people taught me volumes on how to deal with people, all types, the loud and quiet ones, the over-achievers and under-achievers. These are valuable lessons I use every day of my business career.” — Mark Connolly 86

Stephanie Kaza, Associate Professor, Natural Resources & environmental program
“Her own practice of engaged Buddhism added emphasis to her teaching about the variety of radical environmental philosophies and their common thread of turning beliefs into concrete action. Our assignments were specifically designed to make us examine our own values, and no matter what we found them to be, put them into practice outside the classroom. This was a lesson that has remained with me ever since.” — Rachel Jolly ’94

Ned Lecky, Assistant Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
“I first met Dr. Ned while stumbling over my own books, binders and papers, my mind skeptically preoccupied with my college career when it should have been focused on junior exams. That day, fortunately, his door was open. I’d heard from peers that Dr. Ned was the man to know. Walking into his office was the smartest thing I did that year.” — Elizabeth Reilly

Joseph Schall, Professor, Biology
“When I sat down to prepare for another ‘Schall Lecture,’ I got myself ready to work. And when the period ended, although I was always tired, feeling as though I had definitely gotten my money’s worth, I invariably wanted more. Often I would try to linger just a little longer in the settling intellectual wake, just for one more anecdote or spry remark, before ducking into the caverns of Given for the rest of my day.” — Josh Krembs

Sheila Weaver, Lecturer, Statistics
“The idea of college-level statistics sent a ripple of fright and anxiety to the furthest reaches of my stomach and the very tips of my fingers… Sheila Weaver, the professor who guided me through that semester-long numerical jungle, not only made the classroom environment fun and conducive to learning, but, through service learning projects, she also sought out ways to expand the educational experience beyond the all-too-common boundaries of four walls and a blackboard.” — Scott Lindenbaum

Chocolate’s Fine, Just Finish Your Milk
If kids don’t end up with that tell-tale “milk mustache” when they devour their lunches at day camp, school or home, they may not be getting their daily requirement of calcium. But, popular ads to the contrary, the mustache needn’t be white — pink or brown will do. Rachel Johnson, acting dean of CALS, says her recent study indicates that flavored milks give children the calcium they need in a form they'll actually drink, without adding extra fat and sugar to their diets.

Her research, published in May in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found that children who consume flavored milk have higher calcium intakes than those who don't.

Researchers on the study evaluated data from the USDA’s Continuing Survey of Food Intakes of Individuals to determine the typical beverage intake of 3,888 children (2,763 ages 5-11 and 1,125 ages 12-17). The results showed that children who drink flavored milk consume fewer nutrient-poor soft drinks and fruit drinks than their counterparts who don't drink flavored milk.

And “while many moms may be concerned that flavored milk will add to their child’s added sugar intake, this study shows that flavored milk actually helps boost their overall calcium intake, without impacting total added sugar intake,” Johnson, the study’s lead author, said. “By encouraging flavored milk consumption, parents can help reverse the trend toward soft drink and fruit drink consumption, which are crowding out more nutritious beverages like milk and negatively impacting children’s diet quality.”

IBM Grant Will Boost Vermont Education
The UVM College of Education and Social Services will partner with the Vermont Department of Education and the Vermont State Colleges on a $1.5 million grant from IBM designed to deliver higher-quality training and resources for Vermont’s preparing and practicing teachers.

“This project provides an opportunity to work with our partners in Vermont to further develop the ways that UVM is preparing educators to integrate technology in their practice, their research, and their own planning for lifelong learning and professional growth,” says Jill Tarule, dean of the College of Education and Social Services.

The IBM grant will unite a number of state initiatives through IBM Learning Village — new Web-based educational tools designed to drive higher student achievement. The grant will ultimately impact both student and veteran teachers across the state.

The Vermont grant is part of a $15 million Reinventing Education grant program announced August 22, the third round of such grants from IBM since 1994. Vermont was awarded $2 million from the first IBM school reform grants to create Standards Into Action, a set of online tools to help teachers connect Vermont’s education standards to classroom practice.

On the Civil Rights Trail
Martin Luther King died years before Debi Budnick, a senior in environmental science, was born. But after spending a week in Alabama and Georgia — walking the bridge from Montgomery to Selma, standing on the courthouse steps on the day Bobby Cherry began his trial for the 1963 murder of four black church girls — the past became tangibly present for the 21-year-old.

Budnick, along with seven other students and two staff, participated in UVM’s first Alternative Summer Break. (Volunteer “alternative breaks” during other recesses are a well-established tradition; last year, students had 19 other opportunities to volunteer a weekend or a week.) The idea behind the summer trip, says Andrew Feldman, UVM’s community service coordinator, was to offer students another opportunity to combine exploration, service, reflection — and teaching.

“They all have to bring what they learned back to Burlington,” Feldman explains. Break participants, who wrote application essays to win a coveted spot in the trip van, will give slide and classroom presentation this fall to their peers.

But some things, Budnick says, are impossible to bring back. The feeling of spending a week with eight others, sharing late nights, work on soup lines and emotional conversations about race and privilege. The emotion of the group’s visit to the Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Alabama.

“We spoke to a woman named Joanne there who was in the Selma march,” Budnick recalls. “She was moved to tears telling a story that she has told millions of times to visitors. That’s when it finally hit me that all this had taken place so recently. Joanne is my mother’s age, it could have happened to my mother. Or me.”

Media Turn to Gause for Saudi Expertise
When national news media need expert commentary on United States-Saudi relations, they frequently seek out Gregory Gause, director of UVM’s Middle East Studies Program. The associate professor of political science provided analysis of the breakdown in U.S.-Saudi Arabian relations in prominent articles posted by the Reuters and Yahoo! news wires in mid-August.

Gause was also interviewed August 13 on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” program, where he said there appears to be a consensus among the neo-conservative right that “Saudi Arabia isn’t a good bet for the United States anymore.” Read the transcript of the NPR interview at http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/transcripts/2002/aug/020813.ohara.html.

Gause, whose teaching and research interests focus on the politics of the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf area, travels regularly to the Middle East and has visited the region three times since Sept. 11, 2001.

Acid Rain’s Trickle-Down Effect
Amid the recent hoopla over the EPA’s and Bush administration’s plans to make it easier for power plants, oil refineries and chemical factories (major sources of acid rain nationwide) to expand without installing new pollution controls and the U.S. Senate’s passing the Clean Power Act, there’s an important new wrinkle to the story.

A study by UVM researchers finds that acid rain’s damage to America’s forests may be much more widespread than previously believed. It may actually create conditions in trees similar to compromised immune systems in humans, creating a potentially grave scenario.

“As with immune-compromised humans, plants may appear and function as if they were healthy, until exposed to even a routine stress or disease, then experience declines far more exaggerated than expected,” says Donald DeHayes, dean and professor in the School of Natural Resources. DeHayes co-authored the study published in June by the journal Ecosystem Health.

Up to now, acid rain has been associated with the decline of forests in certain specific locations. DeHayes and colleagues, UVM senior researcher Gary Hawley and USDA Forest Service scientist and UVM adjunct faculty Paul Schaberg previously documented the mechanism through which acid rain depletes calcium and weakens high elevation red spruce trees, making them more vulnerable to winter freezing injury.

Their new work shows that this mechanism is also applicable to other tree species, including balsam fir, white pine, and eastern hemlock. Because calcium is a critical ingredient in the plant's stress response system, acid rain’s depletion of cellular calcium may suppress the capacity of trees to survive environmental stresses.

This connection between calcium deficiency and environmental stress exposure is already a known common component in the declines of red spruce, sugar maple and flowering dogwood. The “immune response” hypothesis provides an overarching explanation of how acid rain ultimately threatens forests.

DeHayes points out those calcium deficiencies in plants are passed on to herbivores, altering their nutrition. For instance, birds eating calcium- deficient plant material might have less calcium for egg production. Insects could experience weaker exoskeletons. Mammals could have weaker bones or change in the quantity or quality of milk production.

The research was funded through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with long-term support of Vermont Sen. James Jeffords.

“This important new research shows the insidious harm that acid rain is causing to our trees and wildlife,” said Jeffords. “We know how to stop acid rain, but have not had the will to do so.”

Put Your Furniture Where Your Mouth is
When eight scientists planned their move from the University of Maryland to the University of Vermont this fall to set up The Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, they realized that they could communicate the essence of a complicated concept such as “ecological economics” with something as simple as their own office furniture.

So instead of pointing his finger at some metal office units in a thick catalog promising delivery in 7-14 business days, Gund Institute Director Robert Costanza chose a longer process from tree to table that not only produced sturdy Vermont-made furniture but also built sturdy all-Vermont relationships and helped Vermont’s economy.

Early on, Costanza connected with three key Vermont organizations: The Vermont Family Forests, The Cornerstone Project and Beeken Parsons. Working together, they set in motion a furniture-building process that’s a picture of Green Mountain sustainability.

Vermont Family Forests connected land owners in Charlotte with a logger from West Bolton. A Hinesburg trucker delivered the logs to the sawmill in Pittsford. The lumber is now drying at a kiln in St. Johnsbury. Under the direction of Beeken Parsons, it will be sized and rough cut by woodworkers in Fairfax and further worked in Vergennes, before returning to Beeken Parsons for joinery, sanding and finishing. Further assembly and finishing will be done in Island Pond. The furniture is expected to arrive in October at the Gund Institute offices at 590 Main St. in Burlington.

“The forest products industry in Vermont faces tremendous pressures from global competition,” said Edward Delhagen of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. “By focusing the demand for wood products locally, we can build support for forest products businesses. We want to harness the demand from places like UVM to help Vermont businesses and re-circulate dollars in the state’s economy.”

The work of the Gund Institute was profiled in the Spring 2002 issue of Vermont Quarterly. On-line: http://www.uvm. edu/ %7Euvmpr/vq/VQSPRING02/NewShores.html

Willard Scott Under Glass
Artist Corin Hewitt is fascinated by the American fascination with the weather and the weather forecasters we look to when deciding whether to pack an umbrella. Hewitt’s vehicle for exploring this connection is “Today Show” icon Willard Scott, and Vermonters have a chance to get a firsthand look as the artist’s larger-than-life sculpture of Scott is on display for the next year in an unused grain silo in Richmond. Sketches and models related to the piece are on display at the Fleming Museum through December 15. For more information: www.flemingmuseum.org

Web Cams
Live from Burlington, it’s Saturday night! Or Monday morning or Thursday afternoon or…. The unblinking eye of the Web cam is your quick ticket back to Burlington. Roger Ebert didn’t return our calls, so we took it upon ourselves to review some options.
Mount Mansfield Cam HHHH
Broods like a Bergman film. The Web buff with a few months to devote to viewing will be richly rewarded by the face of the mountain’s seasonal changes of expression. www.uvm.edu/~avan/ fall color.html
UVM Green Cam HHH1/2
Old Mill and The Green star. The building and trees are a bit slow, relying on Prospect Street traffic and campus pedestrians to drive the narrative. www.uvm.edu/tours/?Page=greencam.html

Wilderness Run
Debut novel rooted in Vermont
Describing the seeds of her first novel, alumna Maria Hummel calls forth images that reveal her poet’s eye and spirit — “stone walls, cellar holes, railroad tracks, old trolley tracks, strands of barbed wire sunk deep into oak trees…” A childhood fascination with the history embedded in Vermont’s landscape was among the inspirations for Wilderness Run, a story revolving around the lives of two young Vermont cousins during the Civil War.

Though Hummel proves adept with a driving narrative and vivid characterization in Wilderness Run, her writing roots are in her award-winning poems. Hummel says she “fell hard” for poetry in high school, and she continued that focus while earning her bachelor’s in English at UVM, and a master’s of fine arts at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro.

Recalling her first college creative writing class, with Professor David Huddle, Hummel says, “To sit in the same room with a published author was thrilling.” That course was the first of many as Huddle would become a major influence through his critique and by guiding her to contemporary poets. He would also guide her to fellow English Department faculty member Margaret Edwards, whom Hummel counts as another key

Currently at work on her next novel, Glass of Fire, (also under contract with St. Martin’s) Hummel anticipates a time when poetry will be a higher priority again. “Poetry was and still is one of the most deeply moving, frustrating, and fascinating things in my life,” she says.

Also in Print
Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide
Kevin Trainor, General Editor
Oxford University Press
It’s a rare book that is equally at home in a scholar’s library or on the coffee table. UVM Associate Professor of Religion Kevin Trainor edited the publication and wrote several sections in this highly accessible, photo-rich work exploring one of the fastest growing religions in Europe and North America.

The Other Side of the World: Essays and Stories on Mind and Nature
William H. Eddy
Stinehour Press, printer;
Enfield Publishing, distributor
Alumni of UVM’s Environmental Program will recognize a familiar voice in this collection by Professor Emeritus Bill Eddy. Always thought-provoking, Eddy’s writing draws on his extensive teaching, research, and work throughout the world.

The Biker Code: Wisdom for the Ride
Geoffrey Moss ’60 and Stuart Miller
Simon & Schuster
Painter/illustrator Geoffrey Moss, a UVM alumnus who received a Pulitzer Prize nomination this year for his 9/11 work, displays his versatility in The Biker Code. Teaming with fellow artist/Harley guy Miller, Moss sheds light on the largely misunderstood American biker subculture with this collection of interviews and striking black-and-white photo portraits. Mantra-like bits of wisdom — “Consider every driver blind as a bat” — are the bonus.

Quote Unquote
I would not consider Emily Brontë a misanthrope, though there is hardly a character in Wuthering Heights that I would not cross a street to avoid, with the notable exception of Heathcliff and Catherine, to avoid whom I would not only cross a street, I would throw myself in front of a bus. — Garret Keizer G’78 in his essay “How the Devil Falls in Love: Misanthropy, prejudice, and other follies,” Harper’s Magazine, August 2002

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