University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Voting data, Vermont Yankee film, lake levels and more...

With Tuesday's election looming, a new WCAX poll has Phil Scott slightly ahead of Sue Minter in the race for governor of Vermont. After the initial reporting of a dead heat by the VPR Poll, Scott was reported to hold a seven-point lead at the time of the this most recent poll (October 25).

HUMANITIES

Based on data retrieved from the 2010 and 2012 voter turnouts, 2012 voter registration, and 2012 presidential donations, Vermont was ranked 7th among the top ten most politically active states by SmartAsset. New England as a whole was found to be politically engaged, with five of the six states included in the top ten.

Filmmaker Robbie Leppzer released the documentary - “Power Struggle,” – which examines the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant’s closure. The film chronicles the 126-mile anti-nuclear walk by activists from Brattleboro to the Vermont Legislature in Montpelier, as well as the plant’s announcement radioactive tritium had leaked into groundwater from underground pipes they had previously said did not exist. A public screening is set for November 3rd at Brattleboro’s Latchis Theatre.

A report conducted by the Vermont Farm-to-School organization examines the economic impact of local food on the state’s school systems. From 2013-2014, schools spent $16 million on food, with 5.6% of it coming from local farms. This community investment in turn contributed $1.4 million to Vermont’s economy by providing local farmers with the support they need to grow their businesses.

SCIENCE

Johnson State College researchers found in a recent study that purposeful elevations in operating lung volume by forced exhalations did not prevent bronchoconstriction in adults when work rate is reduced. These results, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, suggest that neural elements are more influential in airway constriction than the capacity of lung stretch.

A study led by UVM researchers found that the synthesis of de novo fatty acids in commercial milk production is affected by factors like overcrowded free stalls, reduced feeding frequency, and greater content of ether in the cows’ diets. This means that farms that conduct these practices are likely to see a reduction in milk fat and true protein yields, and free-range, grass-fed farms are more likely to have higher levels of de novo fatty acid synthesis.

A team of UVM researchers conducted a report studying the link between ecosystem services and biodiversity. The study found that the three different ways to connect them are through spatial correlations, management comparisons, and functional experiments, with each separate category producing different correlations between biodiversity and ecosystem services.

ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

Lake Champlain’s water levels are continuing to drop as fall progresses; since mid-April, the water level has dropped from 98 feet to 94 feet. The drop has led to the formation of small islands throughout the lake, producing issues for boaters. The lowest lake level ever recorded was 92 feet.

While national climate assessments are essential for addressing climate change on a large-scale, they often aren’t ideal for state and local application. Using their research from the Vermont Climate Assessment, researchers from the Gund Institute wrote a report presenting a framework for engaging knowledge brokers and decisions makers in state climate assessments (SCA). This article will help other states create their own effectively structured SCAs.

A recent report by the Office of the Vermont State Auditor found that seven ski resorts, including Jay Peak and Killington, have reduced their lease payments to the state during the past ten years. This practice ultimately results in an increased financial burden on Vermont taxpayers, as they fund the land and facilities used by the resorts through the Payment in Lieu of Taxes programs.

VERMONT BOOKS

Sustainable Communities: Creating a Durable Local Economy--by Rhonda Phillips, Ed Antczak, and former leader of the City of Burlington’s Economic Development efforts, Bruce Seifer--uses Burlington’s award-winning model to explore what a durable economy is, how it’s created, and what it takes to be sustainable. Phillips and Seifer will be giving a presentation and book signing at the Food Venture Center in Hardwick, Vermont on November 4th at 5pm.

The children’s novel The Messenger Boy of Grafton, Vermont by Tom Fontaine is based on the true story of Henry C. Spring, a 14-year-old who joined the Union Army to become a messenger boy in the Civil War. For more information see the article in The Vermont Journal.

Vermont author Joe Sherman chronicles the social and environmental changes in the state from throughout the decades in his book Fast Lane on a Dirt Road: Vermont Transformed, 1945-1990. This classic book, that documents some of the sweeping changes transforming Vermont in this time period has been recently updated.

STUDENT RESEARCH

Five Vermont students recently presented papers at the October Vermont Renewable Energy Conference, the largest gathering of renewable energy stakeholders in Vermont. The papers will soon be posted on-line at the Conference’s web site. The papers and students included;  Envisioning Energy Resilience: Community Microgrid Proposal, Ben Webb, Green Mountain College; Barriers facing Burlington's Low-Income Residents in Adopting Solar, Maddison Dell, University of Vermont, Complicating the Word ‘Renewable’: In the Context of Neoliberal Development in Response to Climate Change, Melody Salerno, University of Vermont, Establishing Protected Bike Lanes: The Case of the New North End Bike Path, Cashel Stewart, University of Vermont; An Analysis of Emerging Story-lines in the Renewable Energy Debate and the Conference “Power from the North, ” Dan Kopin, University of Vermont.

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The Vermont Research News is a bi-monthly curated collection of Vermont research -- focused on research in the Vermont "laboratory" -- research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that adds to understanding of the state's social, economic, cultural and physical environment.

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Funding provided by the Lintilhac Foundation, the Humanities Center and the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Vermont.

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