The long-term health of Lake Champlain’s ecosystem—currently under threat from a number of man-made factors—is crucial to economic vitality and quality-of-life in the entire region. For this reason, F. Peter Rose (Class of 1954) has made a new $1 million gift to support the use of research vessels by the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory. The gift will create a permanently endowed fund that will yield vital annual support for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the Rubenstein Lab’s fleet of watercraft and their instrumentation. The “Melosira Forever Fund,” as it will be known, was named by Mr. Rose in honor of UVM’s current flagship research vessel, which has been the backbone of the Rubenstein Lab’s work for over thirty years.
Using the Lake Champlain region as their primary research site, faculty, staff, and students affiliated with the Rubenstein Lab (part of the Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources) study the complex ecology of lakes and their watersheds—and how they are being impacted by human activity and climate change. Understanding these issues is vital to developing effective public policies and personal behaviors that will protect and improve water quality, animal habitat, and economic productivity for future generations.
“As a Vermonter and graduate of UVM, I can honestly say that we are blessed to have such a resource as the Rubenstein Ecosystem Lab to initiate and oversee this necessary research,” said Mr. Rose. “The Lab and Rubenstein School are at the cutting edge of ongoing research that is crucial to enabling change. I hope the Melosira Forever Fund will alleviate the stress of funding the ongoing costs of maintaining the Melosira, and will help the Rubenstein Lab extend the knowledge learned in the Lake Champlain Basin to lakes and watersheds around the world.”
“I am so very grateful for Mr. Rose’s vision and passion to support Lake Champlain research and the Rubenstein School,” said Professor Nancy Matthews, Dean of the Rubenstein School. “His generosity will empower the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory to remain at the forefront of freshwater research, one of the most critical needs in understanding the impacts of global change. His gift opens a new opportunity for the Lab to excel, and to prepare leaders of the future.”
Staffed by a full-time captain and deckhand experienced in a range of sampling methods, the Melosira allows the Rubenstein Lab to carry out a vibrant and productive research program. Aboard ship, students and researchers use a wide range of tools and methods to collect physical, chemical, and biological data from Lake Champlain that they can take back to shore for analysis. In addition to this significant research output, the Melosira supports groundbreaking experiential learning and instructional programs for students across the UVM campus. Undergraduate and graduate students in more than a dozen courses use the vessel as a floating classroom to explore lake ecology, biology, and fisheries monitoring techniques.
The Melosira is also a powerful community outreach tool for the Rubenstein Lab and the University of Vermont. A special point of pride is that more than 2,600 elementary, middle, and high school students from the Lake Champlain Basin have participated in nearly 130 trips on the vessel since 2011. Exposing children to the questions and challenges surrounding Lake Champlain both helps instill in young people an appreciation and understanding of the Lake’s importance, and introduces them to the hands-on scientific work that is crucial to the future health of freshwater lakes and other bodies of water.
“Mr. Rose’s gift is extremely forward-thinking and will support research and learning activities on Lake Champlain indefinitely,” said Professor Jason Stockwell, Director of the Rubenstein Lab. “The opportunities this gift provides will benefit many people, including K-12 school groups, undergraduate and graduate students, visiting scientists and educators, and faculty. Our proposals for grants—which support much of the on-lake activities of our research vessels—will now be more competitive thanks to Mr. Rose’s gift.”
A commitment to environmental affairs has been a lifelong passion for Mr. Rose, a retired art and antiquities appraiser who earned a Master’s degree in environmental studies from Bard College. He has been closely engaged with the work of the Rubenstein School since the 1990s, when an article about the School in the New York Times inspired him to visit campus and meet with then dean Don DeHayes. He served on the Rubenstein School Board of Advisors from 1996 to 2016 and has been a generous supporter of the School and its students. Mr. Rose’s previous philanthropic investments include a major gift towards construction of the original microscope facility in the Rubenstein Lab on the Lake Champlain waterfront, establishing the DeHayes Multicultural Scholarship Fund, endowing the Chrysalis Graduate Fellowship Fund, and providing seed money to expand the development of the Masters in Leadership for Sustainability Program. He has also provided support for Economics for the Anthropocene, a graduate training and research partnership designed to improve how the social sciences and humanities connect to ecological and economic realities and challenges of the present era.
“Peter Rose’s gifts are an inspiring example for other alumni and friends of the University,” noted UVM Foundation President Shane Jacobson. “Guided by his own passions, he has given generously of his time, expertise, and personal resources to help ensure that UVM is forever able to address the complex environmental challenges that face the state of Vermont and our region. Moreover, by supporting both students and research resources, he has taken a holistic approach that is already yielding valuable results.”
Fundraising for the Rubenstein Lab and its fleet of research vessels has been one component of Move Mountains: The Campaign for The University of Vermont, a comprehensive fundraising campaign for the University of Vermont and the University of Vermont Medical Center. Thanks to gifts from more than 75,000 alumni, parents, community members, and friends, the campaign has raised over $574 million to date. At UVM, these funds benefit a wide range of programs and initiatives to enhance teaching, research, and a broad range of student experiences.
To learn more about how you can support UVM and the Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources, please contact the UVM Foundation at (802) 656-8600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.