Bryan Ballif, Biology
Antonio DiCarlo, Surgery
"Identifying Antigens Responsible for Antibody-Based Graft Rejection in Human Transplant Recipients"
Successful tissue transplants are a wonder of modern medicine and can increase patient lifespans by several decades. Still, roughly one quarter of transplant recipients exhibit signs of graft rejection, due in part to antibody-mediated rejection (AMR). At the heart of AMR is the variability in the molecular makeup between the donor and recipient; the recipient rejects the transplant due to molecules (typically protein variants or their modifications) on the graft that the recipient doesn’t have. Thus, the recipient recognizes the graft as “non-self” and generates antibodies to these “foreign” antigens—ultimately the graft fails. Several proteins are known to cause rejection and are the basis of pre-screening protocols to match donors and recipients. However, AMR is also caused by unknown antigens that if identified could produce more powerful screening methods and anti-AMR therapies given AMR-dependent graft failure can take years, while antigen identification may, in some cases, take only months. It is proposed to use pre-transplant and post-transplant sera from ten graft recipients showing signs of AMR to enrich for and identify by mass spectrometry the proteins harboring the antigens responsible for the rejection. This is a novel collaboration between UVM PIs Ballif (Biology) and Di Carlo (Surgery).
Michelle Commercio, Political Science
"Retraditionalization from Below: Women's Attitudes in Post-Soviet Kyrgystan"
My project analyzes the rise of traditional values among young, educated, urban women in Kyrgyzstan, a modern secular state. What accounts for the popularity of such views among women in a state governed by elites who encourage gender equality? I will explore attitudes of young women regarding Soviet gender equality policies, traditional gender and familial roles, Islam’s understanding of the role of women in the family and society, and formal and informal religious education. I will also investigate secular and religious elite understandings of the “proper” place of women in post-Soviet society. The qualitative research I propose, focus groups with Kyrgyz students from secular and religious universities and interview with secular and religious elites, will generate hypotheses that will serve as the basis for the quantitative piece of my project, which is a large N survey I will conduct in the future after analyzing data collected this fall. I will seek external funding for this survey from the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council.
Deb Ellis, English
"End of Love — A Feature Documentary Film"
END OF LOVE is a feature-length documentary film about the growing phenomena of adolescent boys and men who become addicted to adult on-line pornography, and how this addiction can lead them down a path to seeking sexual arousal through child pornography. Caught in this web, these men and boys lose their ability to create and maintain intimate and healthy relationships with others. Law enforcement officials say that the possession and trading of online child pornography is the fastest growing crime in the US. The film asks: What is going on?
Barry Guitar, Communication Sciences and Disorders
"Emotional Reactivity and Treatment Outcomes in Pre-school Age Children Who Stutter"
The purpose of this study is to determine if emotional reactivity (ER), or sympathetic autonomic arousal, predicts treatment time in preschool age children who stutter (CWS). Pre-treatment ER will be quantified in 16 CWS (ages 3:0-5:11) by (a) skin conductance levels in two non-speech and speech stressor tasks (b) a validated parent report questionnaire with an ER subscale (Behavioral Style Questionnaire). The Lidcombe Program (LP) will be used as the behavioral intervention to determine treatment time in number of weeks. Speech-language variables will also be included as covariates to prevent the misattribution of variance to group differences in ER. It is hypothesized that CWS with higher pre-treatment ER will take longer to achieve fluency in therapy and will be at higher risk of relapse long term. We propose that ER, which is not directly addressed in LP treatment, is associated with childhood stuttering. The results of this study can be expected to shed critical light on maintaining factors in childhood stuttering and motivate experimental changes in treatment protocol for those children who take longer or do not do as well in treatment.
Susan Lakoski, Medicine
"An Exercise Training and Behavioral Weight Loss Program after an Acute Blood Clot: TRAIN ABC"
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein of leg and can travel to the lung. It is the third most common cardiovascular illness after heart attack and stroke. Obesity is a major modifiable risk factor driving occurrence of VTE, and it’s recurrence after an initial event. While exercise training through Cardiac Rehabilitation is proven effective in heart patients to induce weight loss and improve clinical outcomes, no similar exercise program exists for VTE patients, though this is urgently needed given the strong link between obesity and blood clot formation. In our proposed pilot trial, we will randomize patients after acute VTE to 3 months of a high-caloric energy expenditure exercise program or to usual care. We advocate that high-caloric energy expenditure is a bold approach after acute VTE to reduce obesity-related VTE recurrence. Furthermore, we will challenge the prevailing notion that obesity-related VTE is due to mechanical factors affecting venous return, and hypothesize it is secondary to dysregulated adipose tissue function. The current proposal is innovative in developing an exercise and behavioral weight loss program (VTE Rehabilitation) in a high-risk patient population to reduce comorbidities and obesity-related vascular risk by leveraging existing infrastructure and strengths of the University of Vermont.
William McDowell, Art and Art History
"Ground: Killed Negatives from the Farms Security Administration"
I plan to produce an exhibition portfolio of photographs and an inkjet-printed book maquette (or book dummy). The portfolio and book maquette would be used to secure exhibition venues and publications for my project, “Ground: Killed Negatives from the Farm Security Administration”. The killed negatives were created between 1935-1939 when Roy E. Stryker, the director of the photographic division of the FSA, routinely used a hole punch to destroy photographic negatives he considered unsuitable for publication. My primary interest in the killed negatives resides in their potential for abstraction. When enlarged, the hole in a killed negative prints a deep black circle. Depending on the placement of the hole within the picture frame and the tonal value of its surroundings, the black circle dominates the photograph and thus alters its reading and comprehension. The photographs in Ground have a dual temporality, with the black hole suggesting a recent intervention and the background harkening the past. In concert with the subject matter found in the photographs, the black hole poetically draws parallels between our current environmental, economic, and agricultural challenges and those of post-Depression America.
Anthony Morielli, Pharmacology
John Green, Psychology
"Novel Approaches Towards and Understanding of the Physical Basis of Memories"
More than 4.5 million children and adults in the US currently have learning disabilities, and many others have learning and memory related disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease. Pathologies related to diseases such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep disorders, are also intimately intertwined with learning and memory. Finding treatments or even cures for these devastating diseases requires understanding how learning occurs in the normal brain. The healthy human brain performs the almost unimaginably complex task of storing a vast array of information in the form of long-term memories. This involves creating long-term changes in how the brain processes information, and a major way this happens is by regulating the function of specialized proteins in the brain called ion channels. Thus, disordered ion channel regulation is a prime candidate for the physical cause of learning and memory disorders. In this grant, Drs Green and Morielli propose to join forces to use cutting edge conceptual and technical advances arising from their ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration to create an innovative systems-approach for advancing a fundamental but poorly understood area in neuroscience, namely the complex interplay of molecular, cellular and behavioral processes governing ion channel regulation and learning and memory in the normal brain.
David Novak, Business Administration
James Sullivan, Transportation Research Center
"Evaluating how Disruptions in the Roadway System Affect Accessibility to Essential Services in Vermont"
This proposal extends previous research related to rural accessibility and the development and implementation of a link-based accessibility measure called critical closeness accessibility (CCA). CCA is derived from concepts in network science, location science, and transportation accessibility and is used to identify the roadway links in a transportation network that are the most important in facilitating system-wide access to essential services such as hospitals and fire/rescue services. The CCA accounts for the spatial distribution of essential facilities, the topology of the road network (relative locations and connections between roadway links and essential locations), geographical topography (the shape and features of the service area), and the engineering characteristics of the road network such as road types, capacities, volumes, and travel speeds. The CCA can be applied at different geographical scales and to disconnect networks. The approach is implemented using geographic information system (GIS) mapping and travel-demand modeling software and the state of Vermont’s road network. The specific areas of the state that are highly vulnerable to disruptions in the network due to events such as heavy rain, flooding, snow/ice, traffic accidents, and roadway maintenance projects are identified. Vulnerable areas include regions of the state and the surrounding populations that are at risk of becoming isolated from essential services as the result of a disruptive event.
Jill Preston, Plant Biology
"Determining the Genetic Basis of Flowering Time Variation in the North American Mimulus guttatus Species Complex"
Most plant species use seasonal cues to synchronize their reproductive output with favorable environment conditions. In the temperature zone, and extended period of winter cold (vernalization) can ready certain species to flower, resulting in rapid blooming in response to warm conditions of the spring. Conversely, if winter is too warm/short, species that respond to vernalization experience delayed flowering, often coinciding with conditions not conducive to seed set. Thus, depending on the climates in which they live, plants vary greatly in their flowering time responses. Despite the importance of flowering time evolution in explaining plant distributions and responses to climate change, little is known about the genetic basis and evolutionary lability of this complex trait. As part of my long-term goal to understand genetic constraints on flowering time evolution across angiosperms, the proposed project aims to identify/characterize adaptive flowering time genes in the Mimulus guttatus species complex. By uniquely integrating quantitative genetics, comparative transcriptions, and candidate gene expression analyses, results from this innovative project will strengthen our knowledge of how/to what extent gene networks can evolve in response to locally changing climates. Furthermore, funding for this project will allow generation of data that can be used to secure collaborative extramural funding.
Joe Roman, RSENR
John Barlow, Animal Science
Juan Alvez, Extension - Sustainable Agriculture Center
"Agricultural Biodiversity and Cattle Well-being: Forage Diversity, Microbial Diversity, Herd Health, and Milk Composition"
Humans are in the midst of an epidemiologic transition, in which globalization and ecological disruption are associated with newly emerging infectious diseases as well as reemerging infections previously thought to be under control. As an important livestock species in frequent close contact with humans, cattle may be similarly affected by ecological changes; they also represent a potential source of zoonotic disease. Our proposed research examines the impact of switching from conventional confinement dairy production (low-diversity) to pasture-based management (higher diversity) on microbial diversity and composition, cattle rumen and udder health, and milk quality and composition. This cutting edge work represents the first step in a long-term collaborative research project that will allow the four principle investigators to embark on a new and little studied field: the relationship between biodiversity and cattle health, the role of competitors and predators in disease regulation, and the relationship between habitat structure and cattle well-being. The work, which includes an international workshop held at UVM, has the potential to alter farmer and rancher perceptions of wildlife and native habitat, reducing the ecological impact of livestock rearing in Vermont and globally.
Michael Rosen, Engineering
Susan Edelman, Education
Michael Coleman, Engineering
"A Pilot Study: Teaching and Assessing the Requisite Skills for Recognition and Production of Tactile Drawings"
The proposed project is one facet of a larger longer-term engineering and research effort in the area of tactile graphics for the blind. The eventual outcome is meant to be a system of products and methods, integrated into school and workplace, to provide visually impaired people with access to the full range of free-hand drawing, editing, copying, communication and remote reproduction available on visual media for sighted people. This REACH project will generate novel fundamental data on how to assess school children for their skills in recognizing tactile images and drawing tactile images; and how most effectively to teach these skills. Our “reach” on this campus will be extended by developing a new axis of collaboration between CEMS and CESS, both linked to a UVM-spawned commercial venture. Our research “innovation” resides in the development of an empirical basis for teaching blind children use and appreciation of tactile graphics to support vital curriculum content and self-expression. Our eventual “impact” should be felt in the gradual population of the STEM and the arts by the blind and visually impaired (BVI), and perhaps a perceptible reduction in the 70% unemployment rate of blind working-age adults.
Richard Single, Statistics
"Analysis of Supertypes to Assess the Units of Selection in a Global Immunogenetic Database"
This project involves population-level research to gain a better understanding of the evolutionary mechanism shaping the human immunogenome. This proposal is for a multiple disciplinary collaboration with researchers at NCI, UC Berkeley, Yale, and University of San Paulo. As part of the project, we would be adding immunogenetic data for the largest set of global populations to the Human Genome Diversity Project (a long-term goal of the proposal). The addition of HLA typing on a global set of populations to this publicly available database will be a tremendous resource for the study of any of the hundreds of immune-related diseases. The potential for impact in translationary medicine is large. In addition to the expansion and integration of the database, the proposal involves conducting novel analyses of the immunogenetic data, using alternative groupings of immune gene variants (alleles) and an innovative resampling procedure that will be adapted to these alternative groupings. To date several of these methods have not been applied to population-level studies of selection in this complex genetic system. Those that have been applied previously have suffered from low statistical power due to small population sizes in multi-ethnic studies.
Carmen Smith, Education
"Motion-Controlled Games and Mathematics Learning"
In an information-based, technology-driven society, proficiency in mathematics is increasingly important, yet too many students are not receiving the instruction they need to succeed. Instead, mathematics instruction is frequently dominated by lecture and decontextualized problems that fail to connect with students. There is a critical need to reconceptualize mathematics as an engaging, interactive, relevant activity. Recognizing the body as a resource for mathematical thinking is one way to significantly change how students learn and teachers teach. New research demonstrates increased achievement when students physically act out mathematics concepts. Further, motion-controlled game systems like the Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect offer innovative opportunities for body-based learning. Yet, we know very little about how to effectively design and implement these kinds of activities in the classroom. The objectives of this project are to develop two applications for the Xbox Kinect for use with elementary and middle school students and to identify key design principles that support learners assigning mathematical meaning to their actions. The resulting applications will support more students developing strong mathematical reasoning skills and will propel research on body-based learning into new territory by enabling new methods of collecting and analyzing data about students’ actions.
Jonah Steinberg, Anthropology
"The Disappearing Gypsy: Spatialized Modernities, Pollutive Bodies, and Urban Cleansing in the European Union"
A contradiction emerges between EU discourses of pluralism, on the one hand, and the legal and lived experiences of the marginal and minority subjects that test these principles, on the other. A tension resides in the meeting place between European official languages of multiculturalism and diversity, and sensibilities about what constitutes a properly “modern” or “traditional” urban space (and on how that space should be policed and regulated) which push the former’s limits or render it meaningless. I explore the boundaries of liberal European narratives of tolerance through a consideration of new restrictions and regulations keeping Romani people (“Gypsies”), one of the minorities in Europe most subject to persecution and segregation, out of sight in spaces in which their movement was once more widely accepted. I seek to understand the growing regulation on Romani movement in iconic and monumental public space in urban France in the context of ideologies and moralities about “clean” space (and “clean” identities), modernity, nation, and consumption. It is not “Gypsies” that are to be kept out of high-profile space, but “visible Gypsies.” Thus it is embodied, and ultimately racialized, elements of appearance, comportment, adornment, body, and movement that emerge as the object to be policed.
Sean Stilwell, History
"Pestilence and Planning: The Plague, Public Health and Colonial Urbanism in Lagos, 1903-1960"
My research project stands at the intersection of urban and medical history to examine how colonial conceptions about disease, Africans and urban space led to attempts to remake and reshape life in and the landscape of Lagos. I will argue colonial urban planning in the 1920's, 30's, 40's, and 50’s might be best described as coercive urbanism. Colonial planners attempted to remake Lagos in a way that kept the colonial state secure. Initially, these British officials often used coercion and violence to impose their policies, which were predicated on the social construction of Africans and their cities as unhygienic, primitive and diseased. Although British officials later adopted more technical, developmentalist and less directly coercive methods, their ideas throughout the period were always informed by their own perceptions about the deficiencies of Africans and African urban life. These deficiencies were directly contrasted in the minds of the British by the modern and universalistic planning and public health policies of the colonial state. Thus, colonial planning marginalized Africans and ignored their roles in both imagining and shaping Lagos in the twentieth century. This project will contribute to our knowledge about cities in the Global South, comparative urban planning and the history of health and disease in Africa and beyond.
Luis Vivanco, Anthropology
"Culture, Politics and Sustainability of Bicycle Transportation in Bogota, Colombia"
This project examines the intersections of culture, politics of sustainability, and bicycle transportation in Bogota, Colombia, a city recognized globally for its investments in accessible and environmentally-sustainable urban transportation initiatives, urban bicycle advocates, and everyday cyclists, the goal of this project is to track in qualitative terms how deeply, in what ways, and for whom bicycles have been woven into the fabric of everyday life; to detail how everyday bicycle use and car-free events shape individuals’ perceptions of their city and urban mobility; and to understand the role that a new political actor- the civil society bicycle advocacy group- is playing in city politics. This research advances understanding of the conditions under which cities can redevelop transportation systems around principles of equity and sustainability. REACH funding is sought to leverage a Fulbright Teaching/Research Award which will take place January-April 2014, to support a period of initial fieldwork during summer 2013 and the ability to stay an extra month beyond the Fulbright to continue fieldwork. The outcomes of this research project will include at least one peer-reviewed publication and an NSF application for further research.