CAS Students and Faculty are deeply engaged in research, public service and their teaching. In a new project of the College, students write and report and tell stories about this work. Here we present those stories, and the students behind them. Prepare to be enlightened, entertained and experience some of what the college has to offer.



Stories from 2021

Meet our student writers

Rowan Hawthorne: From Internships to a Career in the Legislature


When senior Rowan Hawthorne got to UVM, she never thought she’d take to studying politics.

But now she’s graduating with a degree in political science, and because of her experiences with the department here, she’s ready for a job within the Vermont Legislature.

Read the full article here. (Link)

Professors Pioneer Research into Anxiety-Related Brain Molecule


Professors Sayamwong Hammack and Victor May began as busmates. And soon their conversations on the commute sprouted into a research partnership.

Hammack and May have been studying an increasingly popular molecule in the realm of neuroscience and psychology called pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide — PACAP for short. The molecule has been found to impact the stress and anxiety circuits that run in our brains.

Read the full article here.(Link)

Long Commuters Have the Largest Environmental Impacts, Student Researcher Finds


Senior Katie Enns always liked how geography and data could connect and how people could use maps to show trends, especially with environmental issues.

This summer, she did it herself.

Enns, an environmental studies major with minors in geographic information systems and computer science, spent the summer interning with the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association. She worked with data from the group to map commuter emissions around campus.

Read the full article here.(Link)

Professor Helps Local Cartoonists Chronicle VT Migrants’ ‘Most Costly Journey’

Professor Mares flipping through comics in her office on campus


Beneath Vermont’s idyllic dairy farms lies a hidden population that helps to sustain the industry — and people can read about these workers in a nonfiction comics anthology created with the help of a UVM professor.

“The Most Costly Journey,” published earlier this year, binds together almost 20 comic books illustrated by New England artists that tell the true stories of Latin American migrants who work Vermont’s farms.

Between 1,000 and 1,200 of those workers live and work here, and an estimated 90% of them are undocumented, Department of Anthropology professor Teresa Mares writes in the afterword of the book, which she co-edited.

Read the full article here.(Link)

Geography Faculty Member Making News with Groundbreaking Community News Service Work

Richard Watts in a yellow jacket and bicycle helmet posing for the camera on his bike

In 2019, The University of Vermont launched a program called the Community News Service: connecting student reporters to local publications across the state with support from mentors that the university provides. So far, the program has produced a thousand stories for local outlets and participated in launching two hyper-local publications in news deserts.

Program coordinator Richard Watts (Link) spoke to CJR about the program’s growth, building a civic infrastructure, and connecting needs to resources. Read the entire article (Link) at The Journalism Crisis Project.

Read the full article here. (Link)


UVM Students and Faculty Develop New Organic Photonic Technology


A physics professor and his team of students describe a never-before-done technology in an article published this fall that could have implications for screens and other devices that create, change or detect light.

“You come up with these results that are just pleasing to the eye when you do it, and they are scientifically novel — nobody's done it before,” said Matthew White, an associate professor in the Department of Physics, who led the study.

Read the full article here. (Link)

Vermont Town Officials are Mostly Male and Older, Student Researchers Find

Charlotte Crum and Lucy Heisey, part of a three person team, spent months last summer surveying town officials all over the state.


Town governments in Vermont are predominantly run by older, white men, and women typically serve in secretarial roles, according to research by a group of interns for the Center for Research on Vermont.

A trio of students — Patrick Conway, Charlotte Crum and Lucy Heisey — made up the team, and spent the summer months collecting data and surveying officials – collecting data from more than 500 officials. (See VT Digger story here (Link)). 

“It was just really interesting to learn more about Vermont town government, how it works, a lot of the issues that these small towns are facing and then also the successes that they're having,” said Crum, a junior majoring in statistics and psychological science. “It was really cool to be involved with that this summer.”

Read the full article here. (Link)

College Internship Programs Grow

Sophia Trigg, experiential learning coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences at UVM


The College of Arts and Sciences’ internship program has taken off over the past few years — a trend you can trace to the people behind it.

Seven-hundred students had for-credit internships last academic year, an almost 40% increase over the previous period.

“We've seen a lot of students just start understanding that internships are a great way to apply their skills that they're learning in courses,” said Sophia Trigg, experiential learning coordinator for the college. “And so now we have students who just contact us out of the blue and ask for internships.”

Read the full article here.(Link)

Trust in the Supreme Court is Waning. What Does That mean?

Associate Professor of Political Science, Alec Ewald, also specializes in constitutional law. Seen here with fellow Honors College Professors and members


Approval ratings for the U.S. Supreme Court have sunk to 40%, their lowest since 2000, according to a recent Gallup poll. But as the court considers cases on gun control, abortion and religion, does that number mean anything?

Department of Political Science Professor Alec Ewald, an expert on constitutional law, believes the machinations of the Supreme Court can’t be distilled to a yes or no question.

Read the full article here. (Link)

Student Advocates for Sustainable Transportation Through Twitter

Alexa Drucker, Social Media Intern for Sustainable Transportation Vermont


Alexa Drucker listened closely as the visitor spoke. Richard Watts, head of the Center for Research on Vermont, had come to the senior’s alternative energy class to talk about a traffic study, and Drucker was hooked.

“I'm going to call, I'm going to email him and try to make an appointment to set something up,” the environmental studies major recalled thinking. “And I did, and he was like, ‘Why don't you just take over Twitter?’”

Read the full article here.(Link)

Student Instagram Project Helps STEM Majors Find Their Way

Meet Dorcas Lohese, a Senior Biochemistry major and Instagram star helping STEM-related college students with studying ideas, events, career search tools and much, much more.


Students in the sciences can find study tips, network and learn more about their academic fields thanks to a new, student-run Instagram account centered on STEM.

“Just because people seem like they know what they're doing, doesn't necessarily mean that,” said Dorcas Lohese, a senior biochemistry major who runs the account. “For students in the first few years of college, the struggle is real.”

Read the full article here.(Link)

White Supremacy in the Media: New book by UVM faculty

White Supremacy and the American Media book cover image


UVM educators Sarah Nilsen and Sarah Turner are awaiting publication of their third book together — and in it, they and other scholars argue that white supremacy pervades films, shows, video games and social media.

“This is one of the first books that actually addresses the topic,” said Nilsen, an associate professor in the Department of English. “In media studies in general, there's this huge hole. You have hundreds of books on directors like Hitchcock, but there’s minimal focus on more topical subjects like white supremacy.”

Read the full article here. (Link)

Immigration Reform Hampered by Business Power, POLS Professor Says

Bradley Bauerly outdoors surrounded by green trees


Photos of border officials mistreating Haitian refugees have spawned recent calls for government action, but Professor Bradley Bauerly believes lawmakers may be constrained by business interests in shifting immigration policy.

Bauerly, an expert in international political economy with the Department of Political Science, said government officials can focus attention on problems, but the business community is the real power player in swaying immigration policy.

Read the full article here. (Link)

Art Professor Film to Premiere at Berlin International Film Festival

A. Madsen Minax outdoor portrait


UVM professor’s acclaimed documentary detailing his grappling with grief, gender and rural family ties has been chosen as a “Critic’s Pick” by the New York Times.

“North by Current,” released by Department of Art and Art History professor Madsen Minax earlier this year, is a “drama of self-realization,” wrote Times critic Nicolas Rapold this month.

Read the full article here. (Link)

Senior Lecturer Uses Expertise, Sunflowers to Fight Lead Contamination

Laura Hill and her team preparing the soil for sunflowers.


Laura Hill had been excited about moving into her Old North End home a few years ago. But the plant biology scholar found an unwelcome surprise.

Lead had seeped into the soil surrounding her new Burlington home. Tests showed levels as high as 1,400 parts-per-million, far above a desirable level.

“I knew I had to do something,” said Hill, a senior lecturer in the Department of Plant Biology.

Read the full article here. (Link)

Geography Professor Leads Program, Conducts Research and Spends her Free Time Cycling Around Vermont

Professor Wemple and a group of students, overlooking the alpine ski resort located in the West Branch watershed, one of the two watersheds monitored for their study.


Geography professor Beverley Wemple is coming off one of the busiest years of her 20-year UVM career — helping to publish a sweeping study on Mt. Mansfield.

Wemple, who studies the dynamics of hydrologic and geomorphic processes in upland forested watersheds, leads research projects ranging from how water run-off affects streams to the impacts of human-ecology interactions. Wemple and a multi-disciplinary team of researchers have just completed an intensive 20-year study of water-related impacts on Vermont’s highest mountain.

Read the full article here.(Link)

New Professor Brings Unusual Course and “Compassionate Communities” to Vermont

Allan Kellehear is a Medical Sociologist joining UVM's Sociology department


People give Allan Kellehear’s students a quizzical look when they hear about his new course about death and dying. But there’s one thing he’d like to get straight.

“We’re not studying death or dying,” said Kellehear, who joined UVM as a professor this fall. “We’re studying living people.”

Read the full article here. (Link)

Middle East Expert Pessimistic on Taliban

Peter Henne, Associate Professor of Political Science outdoors in a lovely spring and floral setting


The Taliban promised to govern differently after seizing power in Afghanistan for the first time since the 1990s. Already, it seems, its leaders are breaking their promises.

“They have already started repressing women and anyone who speaks out against them,” said Peter Henne, a professor in the Department of Political Science.

Read the full article here.(Link)

Music Professor Creates Pandemic Trio

Cello Professor Emily Taubl seated at an outdoor cafe setting


Cello Professor Emily Taubl felt pained knowing the Covid-19 pandemic had squashed live performances, without a return to stage in sight.

So the cellist got together with violinist Letitia Quante and pianist Hiromi Fukuda to set an ambitious goal.

Taubl, Quante and Fukuda formed an ensemble called the Champlain Trio this January and began visiting venues throughout Vermont to film a six-part documentary series called "Empty Stages: Performances and Stories of Resilience."

Read the full article here.(Link)

Political Science Hits Record Numbers

Political Science students host a press conference, applying their policy skills. Photo courtesy Glenn Russell


New students came to campus in record numbers this fall — and a lot of them are interested in political science.

The number of incoming intended majors for the program doubled this year, said Professor Jack Gierzynski, chair of the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We had the biggest increase of any major,” Gierzynski said.

Read the full article here.(Link)

From Geography to the White House and back to UVM

Meg Little Reilly, UVM Alumnus, returns to Vermont to create a civic engagement initiative, Project 14.


Meg Little Reilly ’01 buzzed around Washington, D.C., before she returned to Vermont a few years ago, moving from work in the nonprofit sphere to the Obama administration.

What she saw along the way — “the people who are making things run well” — inspired her latest effort: Project14, a new civic engagement initiative coordinated by the University’s Center for Research on Vermont with support from the Office of Engagement. The Geography graduate is back on campus helming the project and wrote about it recently for Times Higher Education here (Link).

Read the full article here.(Link)

Coping with Covid in Bangladesh: Professor’s Research Spans the Globe

Emily Beam, Assistant Professor of Economics, smiling in an outdoor setting with lots of greenery


At-risk students in Bangladesh are still hustling in school, despite the mounting challenges on their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s one conclusion of a research project this year by Emily Beam, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics.

“Their children are still doing schoolwork; they're doing it regularly,” Beam said. “They're not doing as many hours per day, but they're doing something.”

Read the full article here. (Link)

Exploring Vermont’s Future

Sarah Blow, UVM Senior, and Communities of Practice Intern standing in front of a theater in Burlington, VT


Sarah Blow grew up on stage, spending her youth singing and dancing in plays.

This summer, the senior, Public Communication major, and Dance minor found a new way to stand in the spotlight.

Read the full article here. (Link)

Disaster Expert Professor Studies the impact of COVID

Alice Fothergill, UVM Professor of Sociology in an outdoor setting surrounded by green trees and shrubs

Alice Fothergill is a sociologist who focuses on disaster research, including research on the 1997 flood at Grand Forks, North Dakota, the Katrina Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont.

Most recently she has turned her attention to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on children and elderly populations.

Read the full article here.  (Link)

New Sociology Faculty Member Focuses on Social Justice

Jennifer Lai joins UVM Department of Sociology


Why are there inequalities when it comes to resources, material and otherwise?”

Jennifer Lai posed this question as an engineering major looking at water distribution in Jericho City, Palestine. Lai, who starts at UVM this fall, found that these questions led her to her current discipline, Sociology.

Read the full article here. (Link)

UVM Student Becomes Youngest-Ever Public Works Commissioner

Zoe Kennedy, Environmental Studies Major and Community of Practice Intern, gets around campus on her bike.


Zoë Kennedy has been advocating for a more sustainable transportation system in Burlington for the past year as an intern with Sustainable Transportation Vermont – a College of Arts & Sciences internship program.(Link)

Now, the Environmental Studies major will be at the table crafting policy decisions for Burlington.

Read the full article here. (Link)

CAS Student Hones Podcasting Skills in Summer Internship

Connor Adams in his recording studio


Podcasting is the new wave, this is where things are happening,” said English student Connor Adams. “You can just be really creative with all the different stuff that you do with audio.”

Adams, a rising Junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is spending his summer with the  Community News Service – which pairs student reporters with professional editors to provide content to Vermont’s struggling community papers.

Read the full article here. (Link)

Snapchat & The Supreme Court; New Book Tells the Story of Free Speech


Earlier this year a high school student ripped her school on Snapchat because she did not make the varsity cheerleading squad. In response the school cut her from the team. Is what the student said protected under the First Amendment? Read the full article here.(Link)

Philosophy and Farming: Plato’s Pigs draws from the past to build the modern case for sustainability

Mark Usher surrounded by plants and greenery of his farm


Mark Usher lives a double life. When he’s not pouring his passion into the study of Classics, he is surrounded by 100 sheep at his farm, Works and Days Farm, in Shoreham, Vermont. Over the past three years, Usher has been combining his love of farming and drive for sustainability with the cheeky writings of Plato and others in his latest book, Plato's Pigs and Other Ruminations: Ancient Guides to Living with Nature, published by Cambridge University Press.

 “The book is exactly that kind of marriage of vocation and avocation,” Usher said.

Read the full article here.(Link)