January 18, 2022


As we turned the page on 2021 with the weight of the pandemic remaining heavy, we still look forward to a new year, a new semester and more daylight. With vaccine mandates for students and staff, UVM is gearing up to welcome back our students to campus. Nothing can thwart the Catamount spirit!

This month’s Office of Engagement Newsletter provides you with a great overview of the ways that UVM students and faculty are engaged in some of most exciting opportunities facing our state. There is an article on the new ARC program that is connecting student entrepreneurs with inventors to support the growth of new start-ups. Interestingly, Vermont is quickly becoming a hotbed for technology start-ups. In 2010, Vermont was home to 2,367 such firms. As of 2020, that number is 3,772. UVM has and will continue to be a key partner in growing Vermont’s tech sector.

Speaking of technology, we have an article about the growth of electric vehicles (EV) on campus, and UVM’s commitment to helping the city of Burlington achieve its net zero energy goal by 2030. This effort will be one of the key features of the new Comprehensive Energy Plan being developed by the UVM Office of Sustainability.

One of the major impacts of climate change on our region are the Increases in extreme precipitation events leading to more floods. We feature a new study completed by UVM researchers that puts a dollar amount on the potential damages done by riverine flooding over the course of the next 100. years. In addition to raising alarms, UVM researchers are working with stakeholders to ensure that these damages are lessoned through implementing hazard mitigation measures.

The role of journalism in a free society has never been more important than it is today. We are happy to share a story that ran in the Columbia Journalism Review that highlights the UVM Community News Service and supporting curriculum being offered by the UVM College of Arts and Sciences. The Office of Engagement is pleased to have offered seed money for growing their internship program last year.

Lastly, we highlight the role that new Vermonters are playing in our state—what brings them to our state, and what might keep them here. Vermont is facing a very large shortage of workers. As one of the key attractors of talent to the state, UVM hopes to build on the insights from Dr. Cheryl Morse and her colleagues to develop programs to support a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all Vermonters. And speaking of new Vermonters, we are very pleased to welcome Dr. Randell Holcombe as the new Director of the UVM Cancer Research Center. He is the “community first” kind of leader that we like around here. Welcome Dr. Holcombe!

Warm regards,

Chris Koliba, Ph.D.

UVM Entrepreneurship Students Partner with Innovators to Bring Their Ideas to Life

Newly formed Academic Research Commercialization program helps early stage start-ups get off the ground.

What do you do when you have a great idea, but don’t know how to implement it?

A team of UVM students has created a new program to help bring those ideas to life. The Academic Research Commercialization program, known as ARC, connects UVM innovators with entrepreneurial students who help with everything from finding funding to producing and marketing their product.

Fueled by the UVM Entrepreneurship Club (E-Club) and managed by UVM Innovations, the University’s technology licensing and commercialization arm, the program taps into the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of students to help commercialize new discoveries on campus.

Read the whole story

Ride and Drive Event Plugs into Enthusiasm for Electric Vehicles

UVM community members and curious passersby, including a group of prospective students guided by a UVM AdvoCat tour guide, got a close look at a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) in the traffic circle outside the Dudley H. Davis Center Friday afternoon.

Some took advantage of an opportunity to climb into the driver’s seat of an EV and take a few spins around the traffic circle during the “Ride and Drive” event. Others gathered to hear more about the benefits—personal and environmental—of going electric.

Jim Barr, director of UVM transportation and parking services was one of the people on hand to answer questions. He’s charged with converting the UVM fleet to electric and low emission vehicles, wherever possible.

Read the whole story

Who are the new Vermonters?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, UVM associate professor of geography Cheryl Morse began reading media accounts of people moving to her home state. A New York Times story by writer Ellen Berry in September of 2020 reported on the population boom in a tiny southern Vermont community. The article bore the subhead: “The population boomed in Winhall, Vt., as people tried to get away from Covid-19 hot spots. Bear complaints are up. Plumbers are booked until Christmas. And the dump is ‘sheer pandemonium.’”

About a year into the pandemic, Morse had conversations with fellow rural geographers in the U.S. and other countries including the U.K., Canada and Australia. Everyone was seeing the same thing. “People were moving into rural areas at a rapid pace,” she said.

Read the whole story

Vermont Flood Costs Could Exceed $5.2 Billion

Homeowners and low-income households to be disproportionately impacted by increased flooding, UVM study says

Property damages from flooding in Vermont are calculated to exceed $5.2 billion over the next 100 years, new University of Vermont research finds.

The most flood damages are projected along the Winooski River floodplains, which houses many of the state’s most populous towns, including Burlington, Essex, Colchester, Williston and Montpelier.

The findings result from a new tool developed by UVM scientists that provides the first ever comprehensive map of flood risks across Vermont’s Lake Champlain basin.

“This new flood mapping tool is critical for risk management, particularly given rising flood risks due to climate change,” says Beverley Wemple of UVM’s Geography Department and the Gund Institute for Environment.

Read the whole story

Randall Holcombe, MD

Treating Cancer by Community

Two students tinkering with computer hardware.

What do 9/11 first responders, Native Hawai'ians, and Vermont’s rural populations have in common? When they get cancer, they suffer worse outcomes than the average American. Serving these kinds of communities by eliminating cancer disparities and building equity is what drives Dr. Randall Holcombe, the new Director of the University of Vermont Cancer Center.

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Dr. Holcombe—the then-newly appointed Deputy Director of New York City’s Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai—understood a troubling consequence: first responders and rescue workers would be at a higher risk of cancer, and it would be critical to think long-term about their care.

Now, having arrived at the helm of the University of Vermont Cancer Center in August, Holcombe once again sees this as a moment to anticipate and respond to the needs of a unique population.

“There are great opportunities at UVM to address those cancer issues that are most important for our population,” he says. “For instance, we already know that cancer patients from rural areas have worse outcomes, and I want to address that. I’m very concerned about the potential long-term effects of COVID-19 and, similar to the 9/11 responders, we need to track this and understand the underlying causes.”

Read the whole story

How the University of Vermont is Investing in Local Journalism

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 spoke to CJR about the program’s growth, building a civic infrastructure, and connecting needs to resources.

Richard Watts: We started this programming a few years ago. We decided to do it—from the beginning—in partnership and collaboration with media partners. There are so many great journalism programs already; it wasn’t about reinventing another one. It was about starting from the beginning, as an applied experiential learning place for students and to add value to our struggling community newspapers [in Vermont.]

Read the whole story

Share your engagement stories

The Office of Engagement will happily help to amplify the impact and reach of your work. Send your engagement-related stories to us and we will post it to social media or feature it in a future newsletter.

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