February 2015 (Vol. 14, No. 7)
- Green Light to STEM Project, Largest in UVM History
- Pizzagalli Foundation Pledges $1 Million to STEM
- A New Record for Applications
- Alan Alda at UVM
- UVM Alumna on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List of Social Entrepreneurs
- Forbes: Burlington a Top 10 Tech Hub
- UVM Again a Top Peace Corps College
- UVM Student a White House 'Champion of Change'
- A Conversation with Gail Sheehy '58
- Has Massachusetts' 'Real' Economy Peaked? Gund Study Says Yes
- Machines That Think?
- Youth Hockey Study Suggests Early Marker for Concussion Damage
- UVM Lab at Spaceflight’s Leading Edge
- Research Shows Languages Skew Toward Happiness
- UVM in the National News
- Athletics Update
- In Memoriam
Green Light to STEM Project, Largest in UVM History
After three years of planning and design, UVM’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) complex, first proposed by UVM president Tom Sullivan in his 2012 Strategic Action Plan, got off the drawing board at February’s Board of Trustees meeting. Trustees gave the go-ahead to the $104 million project, the largest in the university’s history. The board approved a $78 million bond resolution for the project, with the rest of the funds to be raised privately over time. Read more here.
Pizzagalli Foundation Pledges $1 Million to STEM
Vermont’s Pizzagalli Foundation has made a $1 million gift commitment to support the University of Vermont’s $104 million STEM project, the largest capital project in the school’s history. UVM’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) facility will be a state-of-the-art complex of labs, classrooms and research spaces that will transform the university’s central campus and fulfill a promising new interdisciplinary academic vision for UVM. Work on the 266,000 square-foot project begins in the spring of 2015 and will be completed by 2018. In recognition of the generous gift, the large lecture hall in the STEM facility will be named in honor of the Pizzagalli family. Read more here.
A New Record for Applications
The University of Vermont has received 25,146 applications for fall 2015, an all-time high. Applications came from all 50 states and from 85 countries, setting records in traditional markets of New England, New York and New Jersey and in states like Florida and North Carolina, beyond UVM’s historic recruiting area. The record numbers speak to the appeal of UVM’s model of emphasizing undergraduate education within the setting of a research university. Read more here.
Alan Alda at UVM
Actor Alan Alda spoke at the University of Vermont February 2 about how to get the public to fall in love with science — and why they often don’t. Then, he and a team of communications experts worked with UVM scientists on campus the next day to help them do the same: practice skills to make their research exciting to people outside the academy. Read more here.
UVM Alumna on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List of Social Entrepreneurs
Sasha Fisher graduated from UVM in 2010 with a double major in studio art and a self-designed course of study: human security. Today, her organization Spark Microgrants helps community members across East Africa increase their security via better access to food, education and other vital goods and services. Forbes magazine has named her one of the 30 people under the age of 30 who are “leveraging business tools to solve the world's most pressing problems.” Read more here.
Forbes: Burlington a Top 10 Tech Hub
The University of Vermont’s hometown is a one of the top 10 tech hubs in the U.S., according to a list published by Forbes.com. Burlington ranks ninth, behind Austin and ahead of Boston, in the rankings, compiled by the website Nerdwallet. To create its top ten, Nerdwallet considered three factors: the number of patents per 1,000 residents, financial support for innovation, and the “economies of agglomeration,” which it defines as the benefits that accrue “when companies, like startups, cluster together.” “Burlington, Vermont, number nine, is often associated more closely with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream than it is with tech talent,” Forbes writes, “but received the third highest number of tech-related patents per 1,000 people on this list.” Read more here.
UVM Again a Top Peace Corps College
The University of Vermont is ranked No. 7 among medium-sized schools in the Peace Corps’ 2015 rankings of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities across the country. The ranking recognizes the highest volunteer-producing colleges and universities in the U.S. for small, medium, large and graduate institutions. UVM has ranked among the top 10 in the medium school category in each of the last four years. Read more here.
UVM Student a White House 'Champion of Change'
On February 9, the White House honored eight Americans for their extraordinary work to enhance climate education and literacy across the country. UVM student Gina Fiorile was one of them. The eight “Champions of Change for Climate Education and Literacy” were chosen, the White House says, for “inspiring students, educators, and citizens to learn about climate change and to develop and implement solutions.” Awardees include high school and middle school teachers, university professors, non-profit and national park workers. Fiorile is the only student. Read more here.
A Conversation with Gail Sheehy ’58
Among the pioneers of “new journalism,” Gail Sheehy has written profiles and biographies of figures such as Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev and Hillary Clinton. Her 1976 book, Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life, was named one of the 10 most influential books of our time by the Library of Congress. Going strong at age 77, Sheehy published her 17th book this past fall, Daring: My Passages, a memoir. Vermont Quarterly talked with Sheehy about her career, UVM days, and the focus of her recent work. Read more here.
Has Massachusetts' 'Real' Economy Peaked? Gund Study Says Yes
Massachusetts' economy has quadrupled in size, but its performance on a key measure of overall economic progress is the worst in 14 years, a new study finds. The study by UVM’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics analyzed data from 1960 to 2012 and suggests the state’s economy has been in a “progress recession” since peaking in 2006. Read more here.
Machines That Think?
John Brockman's Edge Question is a major event in the intellectual calendar each year — its roots go back to talks he had with Isaac Asimov and others in 1980. This year's question, "What do you think about machines that think?" drew essays from Daniel C. Dennett, Nicholas Carr, Steven Pinker, Freeman Dyson, George Church and nearly two hundred other luminaries and Nobel Prize winners. UVM computer scientist and robotics expert Joshua Bongard was asked to weigh in, too.
Youth Hockey Study Suggests Early Marker for Concussion Damage
James Hudziak, M.D., has two children who love ice hockey. His son skates for his college team, and one of his daughters plays in high school. As a pediatric neuropsychiatrist and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families at the UVM College of Medicine, Hudziak believes in the benefits of ice hockey and other sports for kids. Now, though, he and his UVM colleagues are looking into the potential dangers of ice hockey for young athletes. Their groundbreaking study in the February issue of The Journal of Pediatrics shows a relationship between concussions sustained by young ice hockey players and subtle changes in the outer layer of the brain that controls higher-level reasoning and behavior. Read more here.
UVM Lab at Spaceflight’s Leading Edge
Inside UVM’s Plasma Test and Diagnostics Laboratory, a bolt-shaped piece of graphite enters a new atmosphere. As the cylindrical chamber housing the graphite heats up to a whopping 6,000 degrees Celsius at its center, a graduate student adds nitrogen gas, a core component of Earth’s atmosphere. At such high temperatures, gases change dramatically into a form of matter called plasma and alter surrounding materials in unexpected ways. The demonstration is meant to simulate what could happen to that piece of graphite if it coated the heat shield of a rocket careening back to Earth from, say, Mars. Predicting how various materials will perform in such a hostile environment is crucial to developing the next generation of efficient and effective insulating heat shield systems that will enable a spacecraft to travel safely to and from distant locations in the universe. Read more here.
Research Shows Languages Skew Toward Happiness
In 1969, two psychologists at the University of Illinois proposed what they called the Pollyanna Hypothesis—the idea that there is a universal human tendency to use positive words more frequently than negative ones. It was a speculation that has provoked debate ever since. Now a team of scientists at the University of Vermont and The MITRE Corporation have applied a Big Data approach — using a massive data set of many billions of words, based on actual usage, rather than "expert" opinion — to confirm the 1960s guess. Read more here.
UVM in the National News
The New York Times covered UVM efforts to support students' gender identity . . . Wall Street Journal reporter Lauren Weber interviewed David Jones, associate professor in business, and wrote about his research on employee recruitment advertising for the WSJ's "At Work" Blog . . . Research by mathematicians Peter Dodds and Chris Danforth and their team in UVM’s Computational Story Lab has been reported in many hundreds of media outlets around the world, including the Los Angeles Times,Bloomberg, Science, Smithsonian, Vice, The Atlantic, Discovery, Christian Science Monitor, Medical Daily, UPI, UK Mirror, and Good magazine. See the full summaries of national media coverage of UVM news and people here.
The men's hockey team is currently ranked 18th in the country in the USA Today Division I Poll and owns a record of 18-11-3 overall and 10-8-2 in Hockey East. The Catamounts close out the regular season with a two-game set at UMass Lowell on February 27 and 28. The results from the series against the River Hawks will determine UVM's playoff picture. The Catamounts can finish no lower than seventh in Hockey East and are guaranteed of hosting a first round game. Depending on the results in the final regular-season series, Vermont could get home ice for a quarterfinal series. The Hockey East playoffs begin on March 6-8 with the first round, and the quarterfinals are set for March 13-15.
Be sure to visit UVMathletics.com for the latest on the men's hockey team. All games can be heard on the radio at WVMT-620 AM and online at SportsJuice.com.
The men's basketball team stands in second place in America East with a 12-3 record and is 17-11 overall. The Catamounts clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming America East Playoffs with a 64-49 victory over New Hampshire on Senior Night Wednesday. Vermont is the No. 2 seed or better for the 12th time in 14 years in the America East Playoffs. UVM will host a quarterfinal round game at Patrick Gymnasium on March 4. The game will start at 7 p.m., with the opponent determined following the end of the regular season on Saturday. UVM will play either UMBC or Maine, but that will not be determined until all the results are in on Saturday.
Women’s Swimming & Diving
The women's swimming & diving team set a program record with 662 points at the America East Championships and tied for the best-ever finish in program history, third. Junior diver Maggie Preston was named the Most Outstanding Diver and became the first-ever Catamount to take home the award. Preston won the America East title in the 3-meter diving event and was fourth in the 1-meter. Junior Andie Blaser and senior Ilsa Feierabend earned America East All-Conference honors. Blaser was the America East Champion in the 100 fly and registered a third-place showing in the 100 free. Feierabend placed second in the 200 backstroke.
The Catamounts, the 2014 national runners-up, are unbeaten on the EISA Circuit this season and have won 20 straight EISA Carnivals dating back to last year. The Catamounts are seeking their fifth straight EISA title this weekend. The EISA Championships are being held in Lake Placid at Whiteface Mountain February 27-March 1.
Indoor Track & Field
The Vermont men's indoor track and field team took fourth place overall at the America East Championships at the Armory in Manhattan last weekend. It was the highest finish for the program in its America East Championship history. Ed Simon won the men's heptathlon, Martin Kallur captured the America East title in the long jump, and Grace Weisbecker won the pole vault. Kallur was recognized with the Elite 18 Award at the championships. The honor is given to the athlete who medals with the highest GPA. He also garnered the meet's Coaches Award, given to the male athlete with the most points. Dan DeLuna, Thomas O'Leary, Nick DeLuna and Patrick Coppinger made up the Vermont 4x800-meter relay team that captured the America East title. Overall seven Catamounts picked up all-conference honors.
The Vermont men's lacrosse team dropped its first three games of the year. The Catamounts host Boston University on February 28 and will travel to the Washington, D.C. area to face Air Force on March 7 at the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, and plays at Georgetown on March 10.
Be sure to visit UVMathletics.com for the latest on the men's lacrosse team. All home games can be seen online for free in HD via CatamounTV.com. All America East road games are available online at AmericaEast.tv for free.
The Vermont women's lacrosse team opened the 2015 season with a 12-11 overtime victory at Colgate and fell to No. 6 Boston College 13-10. The Catamounts host Marist on Saturday as part of a lacrosse doubleheader at Virtue Field. UVM will be in the Carolinas during spring break, facing High Point on March 3 and Winthrop on March 7 in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Be sure to visit UVMathletics.com for the latest on the women's lacrosse team. All home games can be seen online for free in HD via CatamounTV.com. All America East road games are available online at AmericaEast.tv for free.
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Dan Archdeacon, an intellectually engaging teacher, world-renowned scholar and highly respected colleague who joined the University of Vermont's Department of Mathematics in 1982, passed away February 18, 2015. Archdeacdon held a secondary appointment in the Department of Computer Science. Previously, he held an appointment at the University of Kansas. He received his doctorate from Ohio State University. Archdeacon served the university in many leadership roles, including as director of the Mathematics Graduate Program and as a long time member and chair of the Professional Standards Committee of the Faculty Senate. He was named a University Scholar for the academic year 2003-2004, was a Fulbright Teaching Fellow at the Riga’s Commerce School and held numerous visiting professorships at other universities, including the University of Auckland, Yokohama National University, Technical University of Denmark and the Open University. A campus memorial service will be held March 10 at 4 p.m. at Ira Allen Chapel.
Longtime College of Medicine faculty member Paula Fives-Taylor, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and molecular genetics emerita, passed away on January 28, 2015. She was a prolific scientist with a national reputation as a preeminent researcher in the field of microbiology. She began her UVM career as a graduate student, earning her Ph.D. in 1974. Her research excellence led to 23 years of continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health, including a prestigious 10-year NIH MERIT Award and service on the NIH Oral Biology and Medicine Study Sections and National Institutes of Dental Research National Advisory Council. She received UVM’s prestigious Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 1999 and was named the first recipient of the UVM Vogelmann Award for Sustained Excellence in Research and Scholarship in 2002. In addition to being named a UVM University Scholar in 1989, she was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology in 2004 and received a 2002 International Research in Oral Biology Award. In addition, she served nationally as a member of the National Institutes of Dental Research (IADR) National Advisory Council and the National Institutes of Health Oral Biology and Medicine Study Section. In addition, she served as president of the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering and as a National Science Foundation Outstanding Woman Scientist Lecturer, speaking to high school students to encourage women in scientific endeavors. Link to an obituary in the Burlington Free Press here.
Longtime University of Vermont Economics professor Ross Thomson passed away on Thursday, February 12, 2015. Thomson joined the university in 1991 as chair of the Department of Economics. Previously, he held appointments at Oberlin College, Yale University and the New School for Social Research. He received his doctorate from Yale University. Thomson served the university in numerous leadership roles including chair of the Economics Department, director of the Integrated Social Science Program, which he founded, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and secretary and vice-president of United Academics. Recently, he served on the Strategic Planning Committee in the College of Arts and Sciences and on the Cost Pool Methodology Committee for Incentive-Based Budgeting. A scholarship for Integrated Social Science Program students is being created in Thomson's name. Donations can be made to the fund via the University of Vermont Foundation website. To donate, choose "other" and add "Economics Fund - Ross Thomson" as the description.
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