CEMS SUMMIT Magazine 2020

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RESEARCH IN CEMS Our faculty and students are transforming the world with their groundbreaking work.

FALL 2020

GREETINGS FROM THE DEAN Dear Alumni and Friends of CEMS,

I hope this magazine finds you well and safe. What a year…. As UVM and CEMS navigate the world with COVID-19, we find ourselves grateful for UVM’s clear, thoughtful reopening plan and set of priorities to guide our decisions. We are committed to the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students, and to education! I am so proud of the students, faculty, and staff. They have stepped up to do what is right and have been working tirelessly to ensure that we deliver the same high quality education we always have, but with new tools, enhanced technology and new pedagogical approaches. At the same time, we continue to move forward with our strategic plan and continue to celebrate the successes of CEMS! The Strategic Plan has six priorities: Transforming Curriculum, An Open and Inclusive College, Increased Research Impact, Faculty and Staff Excellence, and Embracing our Role as Part of the Land Grant Public Trust. We have made progress in all of these areas—and the transformation of the curriculum is underway. Phase 1 started this fall with a new course for all first year students focused on teamwork and design. Phase 1 also focuses on increasing the number of active learning and project based courses. We have hired two directors of curricular enrichment to support all the faculty as they improve their teaching skills and use new technology! In addition, the new biomedical engineering program was accredited by ABET this summer and currently has 150 students enrolled. Phase 2 will ensure all students meet learning outcomes around: leadership, data dexterity, ethics, and communication as well as excellence in their chosen technical field. We continue to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion through hiring (pg 18), training of faculty and students, and outreach. We have increased our outreach to the community through FIRST robotics, dual enrollment courses, and industry engagement, including a new relationship with Global Foundries. And our research


impact is growing with a 40% increase in research funding, and strong engagement of undergraduates in our laboratories, as well as three new Fellows in Professional Societies (pg 2). I am thrilled with our progress, but this is a 5 year plan—so there will be more to come. This SUMMIT magazine shares some of CEMS' successes over the year. There are heartwarming stories of happenings in CEMS that are helping with the pandemic (pgs 3-5) and alumni who have stepped up to help CEMS students and programs (pgs 28-29) as well as exciting new research on Xenobots (pgs 10-12), the world’s strongest silver (pgs 8-10), and a new project with Google Open Source (pg 7). We also celebrate faculty and student awards (pg 2), and many stories of the exciting things our students have done in Africa, at NASA, and more (pgs 12-15). I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the life of CEMS. I always enjoy hearing about memories of your time at UVM, or ways in which you would like to engage with us, so please contact me with your favorite UVM stories or any feedback on these articles. Thank you for reading, for sharing with your friends and staying connected to us here in CEMS. Stay well. All the best,





Enjoy 3D tours of Votey Hall and our newest buildings, Innovation and Discovery.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Awards and Accolades

3, 4, 5

Open Resilience

Teams across all industries have moved to a remote work setting.

Inventing the World's Strongest Silver Team Builds the First Living Robots Tiny 'xenobots' assembled from cells

Student Achievements

6 8, 9, 10 10, 11, 12 12, 13, 14, 15

Girls Who Code


Bridge to the Future


Graduate students in engineering management build vital connections

New CEMS Faculty


Bionic Growth

Biomedical Engineering program granted ABET accreditation

Internship Opportunities

19, 20 21, 22, 23 24

Forward Motion


Tiny Price Gap Costs Investors Millions


Meet the Class of 2020


Going the Extra Mile


Paying Their Success Forward


UVM student’s research on wearable sensors

ED ITO R Geeda Searfoorce A S SISTANT TO THE ED ITO R Audrey Wilbur GR APHIC DE SIGN Ion Design

Policy Solutions in Vermont Prisons

W W W. U V M . E D U / C E M S

Above Left: Study space in Innovation Hall Above: A still image from the online 3D tours of CEMS spaces Left: Madeleine McGill during her work trip to Africa Below: UVM CEMS' research on "Xenobots" recently took center stage in global media


Covid Champions



PH OTO GR APHY/IMAGE S Jane Adams, Madison Anderson, Joshua E. Brown, Andy Duback, Katie Figura, Natasha Geffen, LeAnn Gove, Brian Jenkins, Jenn Karson, Dmitry Lakoba, Sarah McLaughlin, Katherine Merrill, Sally McCay, Lauren Petrie, Dustin Rand, David Seaver, UVM Department of Computer Science, VT State Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets CO NTRIBUTIN G WRITER S Joshua E. Brown, Kaitlin Shea Catania, Sarah Tuff Dunn, Brian Owens, University Communications, UVM CEMS, UVM Foundation, Basil D.N. Waugh. Jenny Weatherholtz PRO O FRE ADER Audrey Wilbur

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UVM Wins Big at ENGCOMM—UVM’s team placed in the Top 5 and earned the award for best international team at the annual Engineering and Commerce (ENGCOMM) case competition at Concordia University in Montreal.

Matt Scarborough worked with four students on their capstone project, which won second place at the InternationalWater Environment Federation Student Design Competition.

Gregory Rowangould has been named the new Director of the Transportation Research Center.

Mandar Dewoolkar has been named an ASCE Fellow.

Jeff Marshall has been named the new Associate Dean of Research. Bernard "Chip" Cole is the new NASA EPSCOR and Space Grant Director. CEMS Faculty Win Local IEEE Chapter Awards! Mads Almassalkhi: Outstanding Young Professional Engineer, Faculty of the Year and Hamid Ossareh: Innovator of the Year.

Jianke Yang has been named an Optical Society of America Fellow. Luis Duffaut Espinosa was elected IEEE Senior Member.


Frederic Sansoz has been named an ASME Fellow. Matthew Scarborough is the Early Career winner for the Environmental Engineering Division of ASEE for the 2020 conference. Rachael Oldinski won the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Advisor Award. John Lens is one of two winners of UVM’s Outstanding New Service-Learning Faculty Awards. Niccolo Fiorentino won the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative Young Investigator Award. CEE graduate student Bijay KC and mathematics graduate student Patrick Mullins have been selected as Graduate Teaching Assistants of the Year by the Graduate College. Kristin Underwood won the RW Carbin Community Award for Conservation. Lisa Dion – Athena Award Winner, VT Chamber of Commerce for her work inspiring women in STEM.

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Cold REgion Research Laboratory awarded a $3.7 million grant to UVM over the next 3 years. The CS department received a $1 million pilot grant with Google to study open source software team optimization. Senator Leahy announced a $3 million grant to establish a National Center on Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School. Members of UVM CEMS, including Abigail Crocker, formed the Justice Research Initiative to engage in this important work. BRAID FUNDING UVM has received $30,000 in BRAID funding for 2020. The BRAID initiative (Building, Recruiting, And Inclusion for Diversity), co-led by AnitaB.org and Harvey Mudd College, launched in September 2014 in partnership with 15 universities across the nation. BRAID Schools implement efforts to increase the participation of students from underrepresented groups in their undergraduate CS programs.

UVM's "Vermontilator" uses an alternative mode of helping critically ill patients breathe. Photo: Joshua E. Brown


Paige Hamilton helping to repair equipment at UVMCC. Photo: Courtesy of Paige Hamilton




A team of scientists, engineers and doctors at the University of Vermont have developed a new design—and built a working model—for a simple, inexpensive ventilator. Affectionately called the

“Vermontilator," preliminary calculations suggest the UVM Ventilator “can be produced quickly and in large numbers for a few hundred dollars per unit in parts and materials,” says University of Vermont lung expert Jason Bates who is leading the new effort. Unlike other improvised emergency ventilator designs, the UVM team’s approach uses an alternative mode of helping critically ill patients breathe. It’s called “airway pressure release ventilation” or APRV. This APRV approach may be particularly useful for patients suffering with the new virus. “One of the main complications from COVID-19 is called acute respiratory distress syndrome, a disease where the lungs fill up with an inflammatory fluid,” explains Dr. Anne Dixon, director of pulmonary disease and critical care medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center and Larner College of Medicine. “Many of these patients end up being dependent on a ventilator for fairly prolonged periods.” The new ventilator could help these patients by inflating their lungs using long inspirations of air, which are held inflated at a constant and relatively high pressure, Bates explains. Then “at regular intervals, short expirations are allowed during which the lungs expel carbon dioxide,” he says. Using this simpler breathing pattern allowed the team at UVM’s IMF Labs to build the prototype Vermontilator with a simple mechanism. Unlike a traditional ventilator—a very complex piece of equipment that can cost more that $25,000—the Vermont-built machine was quickly assembled out of a commercially available motor that drives a rotating disk, conventional medical hoses, and other relatively simple parts. Bates credits the extraordinary skill of UVM engineers Jake Kittell, Mike Lane, Carl Silver and Guy Kennedy as being critical to the project’s rapid progress.


When the University of Vermont closed its doors to the student body amid the spread of COVID-19, things did not slow down for the UVM interns working in close proximity to the medical world. In April, Paige

Hamilton (‘20) shed some light on the work she did at UVM Technical Services Partnership to contribute to the UVM Medical Center’s equipment supply. “I have been doing prep work in conjunction with the hospital staff to prepare spaces and equipment for COVID-19 patients. This has included testing equipment from storage to meet patient needs in new COVID-19 care areas along with my regular work of repairing medical equipment that comes into our workshop. Lately, I S U M M I T FA L L 2020

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have been working with my coworkers in prepping ventilators for use and doing preventative maintenance as well as calibrating thermometers so patients can be accurately screened. Above all else, I want to remember the outpouring of love an compassion that people have shown for one another during this time. I have seen people offering to help their elderly community members with grocery shopping and an outpouring of kindness towards those that have less. It is my genuine hope that once we see this crisis through, that we as a community continue to come together in kindness and change the way that we treat one another.”


Jason Bates, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering and in the Department of Medicine, facilitated a project involving a student coder and a team working to model the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Vermont. The CatCoders program allows students to lend their skills to real ventures and issues. Christian Skalka, the Chair of the Department of Computer Science and one of the faculty leads on CatCoders, touts the benefits of the program. “CatCoders connects UVM Computer Science students with stakeholders in the broader research and business community—at UVM, in Burlington, and beyond,” Skalka explained. “It provides students with paid opportunities to gain experience with real-world projects. It provides stakeholders with opportunities to

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engage talented students with unique and valuable skills in CS methods and applications.” In this case, the surveying of research databases to gage current COVID-19 statistics to aid in the creation of a computational model that will help predict how many tests and ventilators will be needed, particularly in Vermont. Jason Bates, who established this particular CatCoders project, found a fit for the job with Jayce Slesar (‘22), a data science major. Slesar shed some light on his work, as well as his enthusiasm for lending his skills to help others. “What I work on is automating the retrieval of stats based on the spread of the virus by filtering and mining scholarly articles produced daily and around the world. The data I pull from those then gets used in models to predict how the virus will behave in Vermont… It is an amazing opportunity to be a part of and I feel a lot better knowing the code I write goes into helping people and solving a problem rather than expand a business.” Jayce Slesar, as well as Jason Bates and his colleagues, have joined the ranks of those turning their passions towards helping their communities during the coronavirus outbreak.


UVM-led study presents ‘meme’ model for multiple diseases Interacting contagious diseases like influenza and pneumonia follow the same complex spreading patterns as social trends. This new finding, published in the journal Nature Physics, could lead to better tracking and intervention when multiple diseases spread through a population

at the same time. According to Hébert-Dufresne, professor of computer science at the University of Vermont, and his co-authors, Samuel Scarpino at Northeastern University, and Jean-Gabriel Young at the University of Michigan, the presence of even one more contagion in the population can dramatically shift the dynamics from simple to complex. Once this shift occurs, microscopic changes in the transmission rate trigger macroscopic jumps in the expected epidemic size—a spreading pattern that social scientists have observed in the adoption of innovative technologies, slang, and other contagious social behaviors. The classic example of social reinforcement, according to HébertDufresne, is “the phenomenon through which ten friends telling you to go see the new Star Wars movie is different from one friend telling you the same thing ten times.” Like multiple friends reinforcing a social behavior, the presence of multiple diseases makes an infection more contagious than it would be on its own. Biological diseases can reinforce each other through symptoms, as in the case of a sneezing virus that helps to spread a second infection like pneumonia. When diseases reinforce each other, they rapidly accelerate through the population, then fizzle out as they run out of new hosts. According to the researchers’ model, the same pattern characterizes the spread of social trends, like viral videos, which are widely shared and then cease to be relevant after a critical mass of people have viewed them. A second important finding is that the same complex patterns that arise for interacting diseases also arise when a biological contagion interacts with a social contagion. The paper details Dengue outbreaks in Puerto Rico where failure to accurately

(Far left) Jacob Leopold; (Left) Christian Skalka, Lisa Dion, Jackie Horton, and Radhakrishna Dasari at the annual CS Fair; (Right) Laurent HébertDufresne.

account for the interplay of several strains reduced the effectiveness of a vaccine. This in turn sparked an anti-vaccination movement—a social epidemic—that ultimately led to the resurgence of measles—a second biological epidemic. Hébert-Dufresne notes, “Our work shows that it is time for the disease modeling community to move beyond looking at contagions individually.” The new study may shed light on the spread of coronavirus. “When making predictions, such as for the current coronavirus outbreak occurring in a flu season, it becomes important to know which cases have multiple infections and which patients are in the hospital with flu—but scared because of coronavirus,” says Hébert-Dufresne. “The interactions can be biological or social in nature, but they all matter.”


“I took over as Chief in June 2018. Shelburne is a third service (separate from Fire) municipal department comprised of forty volunteers and about ten employees. We have an average of eleven hundred 911 calls each year (we do only 911 responses). In my capacity as Chief, I report to the Selectboard and the Town Manager, and have been advising on town operations and COVID planning and continuity of operations. I also serve as the administrative head of the ambulance service and work with the officers to ensure safe and efficient 911 EMS responses for the Town of Shelburne. I also serve as an Advanced EMT leading 911 responses a few times each week. I am surrounded by the goodness of humankind every day. I’m not worried about forgetting it. That goodness is always there, it’s just getting the recognition it rightly deserves.”



The College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences is proud to support our staff members who are serving their community as well as the University of Vermont during this time of need. Jacob Leopold, Administrative


Professional in CEMS Human Resources, is doing his part to give back to the town of Shelburne as the Chief of Shelburne Rescue. He shared his perspective about the work he’s doing.

Sadly, it’s “a very busy time” to be a mathematical epidemiologist, says Laurent Hébert-Dufresne—professor of computer science at UVM and an expert on the mathematical modeling of epidemics. He wants people to understand why it was so important, during the Covid-19 epidemic, to close schools,

shut restaurants, cancel concerts and empty cruise ships. “A lot of people wonder if it’s necessary, if it’s reasonable,” he says, “and the answer is yes.” Not all diseases are like this, but the novel coronavirus appears to “live at the mesoscale,” Hébert-Dufresne says—the scale of universities, hospitals, churches and other medium-sized gatherings of people. Therefore, attacking it at this scale is a more powerful and efficient way to stop the spread than simply relying on individuals to wash their hands and keep their distance. Standard models assume that diseases simply move by diffusion through a pattern of random mixing. One-person-to-the-next-interactions are, of course, at a basic level, how the virus is spread. But our real lives are not a web of random contacts but are organized around social institutions. When an epidemic localizes around one of these kinds of structures, it could be that the odds of catching the virus “on the street,” Hébert-Dufresne says, would be 1 in 10,000, but in that school it might jump to 1 in 10. “So it makes sense to focus our interventions on these larger structures,” he says, at least as much as on individual behaviors, like hygiene. If an individual reduces their social contacts by 10% “we’re going to do roughly 10% better,” HD says. And with a vigorous effort to close enough schools and cancel large gatherings, the “math makes it clear,” he says, that, at certain moments, an epidemic “can suddenly collapse.”

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In the “new normal” of 2020, many teams across all industries have moved to a remote work setting.

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But how do teams stay productive, communicate openly, and share information effectively? This is one of the critical questions that a group of researchers at UVM’s Complex Systems Center are investigating – how people, teams, and organizations thrive in a technology-rich environment and how information or miscommunications spreads in these environments. This research is informed by the work of a multidisciplinary group of researchers using tools and theory from infectious disease modeling, network theory, computer science, data ethics, management theory, and the science of stories. UVM faculty members Jim Bagrow, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, Peter Dodds, and Chris Danforth, lead research in these (and many other) related focus areas and are working to establish CEMS as a hub for complex systems and data science, resiliency and open-source research.

A GENEROUS UNRESTRICTED GIFT OF $1M FROM GOOGLE OPEN SOURCE PROGRAMS OFFICE IN 2019 IS HELPING ESTABLISH CEMS’S COMPLEX SYSTEMS CENTER AS A LEADER IN THIS FIELD. The gift comes from Google’s Open Source Programs Office, a division of Google that manages Google’s use and release of open-source software and promotes open-source programming. UVM alumna Amanda Casari (M.S. Electrical Engineering and Certificate of Complex Systems, 2011) serves as an Engineering Manager on this team and leads Google’s research collaboration with UVM. Amanda explains, “Our goals for this project focus on an accelerated timeframe – in just two years, I hope that we can uncover new methods for describing and observing open source communities and teams. There are low-level metrics that we use now to see productivity in teams and the growth of open source projects. Any improvement we can make on these metrics to identify what contributes to resilience in open source would be beneficial.” Teams Thriving Through Tech So what is open source, and why is it so important to study it? Open source is, at its core, a type of software that enables users to study, change, and distribute this software. But open

source is more than just the software - it’s a framework that defines how the software is created, released, shared, and distributed, as well as the community that is formed around it, often a small team that works remotely. An example is Python, an open-sourced programming language that is now used by an estimated 8.2 million people worldwide (surpassing the 7.6 million who use Java), yet it has very few full-time employees. What makes these teams thrive in a technology-rich environment? And on a larger scale – what makes a healthy team? The goal of this project is to have a deeper understanding of the opensource ecosystem and distributed teams. Some of the questions they will be analyzing: • What tools does a team need for success? • How does information (or misinformation) spread? • How do you establish a governing structure and clear team roles?

Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, one of the Open-Source Complex Ecosystems and Networks’ (OCEAN) Principal Investigators, notes, “Open source communities give us a unique window into how groups solve complex problems and how ideas and culture emerge in decentralized communities. Better understanding that interplay will allow us to foster better communities and more creative solutions to important problems.” This support from Google helps further a key goal of the OCEAN project, as noted by Principal Investigator James Bagrow, “Improving our understanding of team collaboration and communication enabling better and more efficient software development, including open source development.” A generous gift from MassMutual in 2018 to establish the Center of Excellence for Complex Systems and Data Science supports work at the Complex Systems Center with a focus on a better understanding of human wellness through data analytics.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many teams and client meetings to remote operation, the value in this research becomes more apparent to all of us. S U M M I T FA L L 2020

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UVM scientist Frederic Sansoz holds a sliver of the world’s strongest silver. The new form of metal is part of a discovery that could launch technological advances from lighter airplanes to better solar panels. Photo: Joshua E. Brown

Team creates metal that breaks decades-old theoretical limit, promising new class of super-strong and conducting materials A team of scientists has made the strongest silver ever—42 percent stronger than the previous world record. But that’s not the important point. “We’ve discovered a new mechanism at work at the nanoscale that allows us to make metals that are much stronger than anything ever made before—while not losing any electrical conductivity,” says Frederic Sansoz, a materials scientist and mechanical engineering professor at the University of Vermont who co-led the new discovery. This fundamental breakthrough promises a new category of materials that can overcome a traditional trade-off in industrial and commercial materials between strength and ability to carry electrical current. The team’s results were published on September 23 in the journal Nature Materials. / 8


Inside a grain of silver, copper atom impurities (in green) have been segregated to a grain boundary (on the left) and into internal defects (long strings, streaming downward.) Photo: courtesy of Frederic Sansoz

Rethinking the Defect All metals have defects. Often these defects lead to undesirable qualities, like brittleness or softening. This has led scientists to create various alloys or heavy mixtures of material to make them stronger. But as they get stronger, they lose electrical conductivity. “We asked ourselves, how can we make a material with defects but overcome the softening while retaining the electroconductivity,” said Morris Wang, a lead scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and co-author of the new study. By mixing a trace amount of copper into the silver, the team showed it can transform two types of inherent nanoscale defects into a powerful internal structure. “That’s because impurities are directly attracted to these defects,” explains Sansoz. In other words, the team used a copper impurity—a form of doping or “microalloy” as the scientists style it— to control the behavior of defects in silver. Like a kind of atomic-scale jiujitsu, the scientists flipped the defects to their advantage, using them to both strengthen the metal and maintain its electrical conductivity. To make their discovery, the team— including experts from UVM, Lawrence Livermore National Lab,

the Ames Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and UCLA— started with a foundational idea of materials engineering: as the size of a crystal—or grain—of material gets smaller, it gets stronger. Scientists call this the Hall-Petch relation. This general design principle has allowed scientists and engineers to build stronger alloys and advanced ceramics for over 70 years. It works very well. Until it doesn’t. Eventually, when grains of metal reach an infinitesimally tiny size—under tens of nanometers wide—the boundaries between the grains become unstable and begin to move. Therefore, another known approach to strengthening metals like silver uses nanoscale “coherent twin boundaries,” which are a special type of grain boundary. These structures of paired atoms—forming a symmetrical mirror-like crystalline interface—are exceedingly strong to deformation. Except that these twin boundaries, too, become soft when their interspacing falls under a critical size of a few nanometers, due to imperfections. Unprecedented Properties Very roughly speaking, nanocrystals are like patches of cloth and nanotwins are like strong but tiny threads in the cloth. Except they’re at the atomic scale. The new

research combines both approaches to make what the scientists call a “nanocrystalline-nanotwinned metal,” that has “unprecedented mechanical and physical properties,” the team writes. That’s because the copper atoms, slightly smaller than the atoms of silver, move into defects in both the grain boundaries and the twin boundaries. This allowed the team—using computer simulations of atoms as a starting point and then moving into real metals with advanced instruments at the National Laboratories—to create the new super-strong form of silver. The tiny copper impurities within the silver inhibit the defects from moving, but are such a small amount of metal— less than one percent of the total— that the rich electrical conductivity of silver is retained. “The copper atom impurities go along each interface and not in between,” Sansoz explains. “So they don’t disrupt the electrons that are propagating through.” Not only does this metal overcome the softening previously observed as grains and twin boundaries get too small—the so-called “Hall-Petch breakdown”—it even exceeds the long-standing theoretical Hall-Petch limit. The team reports an “ideal maximum strength” can be found in metals with twin boundaries that are under seven nanometers apart, just a few atoms. And a heat-treated S U M M I T FA L L 2020

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version of the team’s copper-laced silver has a hardness measure above what had been thought to be the theoretical maximum. “We’ve broken the world record, and the Hall-Petch limit too, not just once but several times in the course of this study, with very controlled

experiments,” says Sansoz. Sansoz is confident that the team’s approach to making super-strong and still-conductive silver can be applied to many other metals. “This is a new class of materials and we’re just beginning to understand how they work,” he says. And he anticipates

that the basic science revealed in the new study can lead to advances in technologies—from more efficient solar cells to lighter airplanes to safer nuclear power plants. “When you can make material stronger, you can use less of it, and it lasts longer,” he says, “and being electrically conductive is crucial to many applications.”


LIVING ROBOTS Tiny 'xenobots' assembled from cells promise advances from drug delivery to toxic waste clean-up

On the left, the anatomical blueprint for a computer-designed organism, discovered on a UVM supercomputer. On the right, the living organism, built entirely from frog skin (green) and heart muscle (red) cells. The background displays traces carved by a swarm of these new-tonature organisms as they move through a field of particulate matter. (Credit: Sam Kriegman, UVM) A book is made of wood. But it is not a tree. The dead cells have been repurposed to serve another need.

The "xenobots" made worldwide headlines, with features on CNN, the BBC World Service, and in Scientific American, The Economist, Forbes, and more. Visit uvm.edu/cems for more!

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Now a team of scientists has repurposed living cells—scraped from frog embryos—and assembled them into entirely new life-forms. These millimeterwide "xenobots" can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a

patient)—and heal themselves after being cut. "These are novel living machines," says Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont who co-led the new research. "They're neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It's a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism." The new creatures were designed on a supercomputer at UVM—and then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University. "We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can't do," says co-leader Michael Levin who directs the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts, "like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque."

tiny forceps and an even tinier electrode, the cells were cut and joined under a microscope into a close approximation of the designs specified by the computer. Assembled into body forms never seen in nature, the cells began to work together. The skin cells formed a more passive architecture, while the once-random contractions of heart muscle cells were put to work creating ordered forward motion as guided by the computer's design, and aided by spontaneous self-organizing patterns—allowing the robots to move on their own. These reconfigurable organisms were shown to be able move in a coherent fashion—and explore their watery environment for days or weeks, powered by embryonic energy stores. Turned over, however, they failed, like beetles flipped on their backs.

People have been manipulating organisms for human benefit since at least the dawn of agriculture, genetic editing is becoming widespread, and a few artificial organisms have been manually assembled in the past few years—copying the body forms of known animals.

Later tests showed that groups of xenobots would move around in circles, pushing pellets into a central location— spontaneously and collectively. Others were built with a hole through the center to reduce drag. In simulated versions of these, the scientists were able to repurpose this hole as a pouch to successfully carry an object. "It's a step toward using computer-designed organisms for intelligent drug delivery," says Bongard, a professor in UVM's Department of Computer Science and Complex Systems Center.

But this research, for the first time ever, "designs completely biological machines from the ground up," the team writes in their new study.

A manufactured quadruped organism, 650-750 microns in diameter—a bit smaller than a pinhead. (Credit: Douglas Blackiston, Tufts University.)

With months of processing time on the Deep Green supercomputer cluster at UVM's Vermont Advanced Computing Core, the team—including lead author and doctoral student Sam Kriegman—used an evolutionary algorithm to create thousands of candidate designs for the new life-forms. Attempting to achieve a task assigned by the scientists—like locomotion in one direction—the computer would, over and over, reassemble a few hundred simulated cells into myriad forms and body shapes. As the programs ran—driven by basic rules about the biophysics of what single frog skin and cardiac cells can do—the more successful simulated organisms were kept and refined, while failed designs were tossed out. After a hundred independent runs of the algorithm, the most promising designs were selected for testing.

Living Technologies

The results of the new research were published January 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Bespoke Living Systems

Then the team at Tufts, led by Levin and with key work by microsurgeon Douglas Blackiston—transferred the in silico designs into life. First they gathered stem cells, harvested from the embryos of African frogs, the species Xenopus laevis. (Hence the name "xenobots.") These were separated into single cells and left to incubate. Then, using

Many technologies are made of steel, concrete or plastic. That can make them strong or flexible. But they also can create ecological and human health problems, like the growing scourge of plastic pollution in the oceans and the toxicity of many synthetic materials and electronics. "The downside of living tissue is that it's weak and it degrades," say Bongard. "That's why we use steel. But organisms have 4.5 billion years of practice at regenerating themselves and going on for decades." And when they stop working— death—they usually fall apart harmlessly. "These xenobots are fully biodegradable," say Bongard, "when they're done with their job after seven days, they're just dead skin cells." Your laptop is a powerful technology. But try cutting it in half. Doesn't work so well. In the new experiments, the scientists cut the xenobots and watched what happened.

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"We sliced the robot almost in half and it stitches itself back up and keeps going," says Bongard. "And this is something you can't do with typical machines." Cracking the Code Both Levin and Bongard say the potential of what they've been learning about how cells communicate and connect extends deep into both computational science and our understanding of life. "The big question in biology is to understand the algorithms that determine form and function," says Levin. "The genome encodes proteins, but transformative applications await our discovery of how that hardware enables cells to cooperate toward making functional anatomies under very different conditions." To make an organism develop and function, there is a lot of information sharing and cooperation—organic computation—going on in and between cells all the time, not just within neurons. These emergent and geometric properties are shaped by bioelectric, biochemical, and biomechanical processes, "that run on DNA-specified hardware," Levin says, "and these processes are reconfigurable, enabling novel living forms." The scientists see the work presented in their new PNAS study—"A scalable pipeline for designing reconfigurable organisms,"—as one step in applying insights about this bioelectric code to both biology and computer science. "What actually determines the anatomy towards which cells cooperate?" Levin asks. "You look at the cells we've been building our xenobots with, and, genomically, they're frogs. It's 100% frog DNA—but these are not frogs. Then you ask, well, what else are these cells capable of building?" "As we've shown, these frog cells can be coaxed to make interesting living forms that are completely different from what their default anatomy would be," says Levin. He and the other scientists in the UVM and Tufts team— with support from DARPA's Lifelong Learning Machines program and the National Science Foundation—believe that building the xenobots is a small step toward cracking what he calls the "morphogenetic code," providing a deeper view of the overall way organisms are organized— and how they compute and store information based on their histories and environment. Many people worry about the implications of rapid technological change and complex biological manipulations. "That fear is not unreasonable," Levin says. "When we start to mess around with complex systems that we don't understand, we're going to get unintended consequences." A lot of complex systems, like an ant / 12


colony, begin with a simple unit—an ant—from which it would be impossible to predict the shape of their colony or how they can build bridges over water with their interlinked bodies. "If humanity is going to survive into the future, we need to better understand how complex properties, somehow, emerge from simple rules," says Levin. Much of science is focused on "controlling the low-level rules. We also need to understand the high-level rules," he says. "If you wanted an anthill with two chimneys instead of one, how do you modify the ants? We'd have no idea." "I think it's an absolute necessity for society going forward to get a better handle on systems where the outcome is very complex," Levin says. "A first step towards doing that is to explore: how do living systems decide what an overall behavior should be and how do we manipulate the pieces to get the behaviors we want?" In other words, "this study is a direct contribution to getting a handle on what people are afraid of, which is unintended consequences," Levin says—whether in the rapid arrival of self-driving cars, changing gene drives to wipe out whole lineages of viruses, or the many other complex and autonomous systems that will increasingly shape the human experience. "There's all of this innate creativity in life," says UVM's Josh Bongard. "We want to understand that more deeply—and how we can direct and push it toward new forms."

Haley Warren ’20 Receives Distinguished Honor


Phi Beta Kappa is considered the nation’s most prestigious honor society—only 10 percent of colleges shelter a chapter, and only 10 percent of students at


Can a backpack change lives—or, even better, save lives? It can, if it’s an EDGE Backpack designed and recently patented by Casey Husband, ’20, in response to the mass shootings that began filling the mainstream news more frequently when he was in high school. “I wondered if there was anything that could be done to assist first responders in their efforts to minimize casualties and save lives in these scenarios,” recalls Husband, who proceeded to call as many police departments in the top 100 most populous U.S. cities to research what equipment might help in an active-shooter scenario. The result was the transformative EDGE Backpack, which quickly detaches for first-responder access to medical supplies during such emergencies. Husband tested “countless” iterations with police departments and eventually filed for, and successfully earned, a patent to protect the unique and innovative design. “The tactical gear industry is filled with companies copying each other's designs,” says Husband, who persisted through several

those colleges receive the key representing the Greek phrase “Love of wisdom is the guide of life.” At UVM, the membership (now totaling less than 4500 students since 1846) becomes even more rare for CEMS students, as the majority of invitations typically go to traditional liberal arts majors. This helps explain how Haley Warren ’20 reacted when she opened an email from the UVM Phi Beta Kappa chapter with some news. “At first I thought it was a mistake—I wasn’t sure how I would have gotten in as an engineering major,” she says. “It doesn’t feel entirely real.” Warren’s studies focus on biomechanics and wearable robotics, inspired in part by her personal experience with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which weakens her joints and connective tissue. She’s been improving her own braces since she was 7 years old, learning how to dance fluidly

The EDGE Backpack quickly detaches for first-responder access to medical supplies during emergencies.

denials and three years of paperwork for the approval. He’s also founded a company called Lazarus, which is now focusing on commercial manufacturing and international sales to address global security threats. “Innovation at UVM is growing in leaps and bounds,” says Dan Harvey, UVM’s Director of Operations to the Vice President for Research. “There’s a resounding yes echoing across campus to entrepreneurship and working toward not only answering the important basic science questions, but also applying that knowledge to applying solutions.” “I wondered if there was anything that could be done to assist first responders in their efforts to minimize casualties and save lives in these scenarios,” Husband says about how he decided to direct his research and efforts.

with the right devices, and has brought her research skills not only to UVM but also to Rutgers and MIT. Love of wisdom—and not just knowledge—has guided her academic journey. “It’s not just about learning, but also learning through experience,” says Warren, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering after graduation. “And it’s not just about questions, but understanding which questions to ask.” RECENT H O N O RED CEM S PHI B ETA K APPA MEMB ER S 1948-2019 Rebecca Caroline Osborn Colby J. Nadeau Flora Kathleen Su Katherine Selby King Stephen Alaster Thompson

2019 BSME Mechanical Enginering 2015 BSM Statistics and Mathematics 2015 BSEV Engineering Environmental 2014 BSM Statistics and Mathematics 2014 BSM Mathematics

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Jonathan Ferri ’20 and Madeleine McGill ’21 share their work in Tanzania and Rwanda BY SAR AH TUFF DUNN

More than ever before, individuals and institutions are empowered to improve healthcare around the world— but often face systematic logistical obstacles. Up to 70 percent of donated medical devices, for example, end up unused in Africa, according to the World Health Organization. That’s how CEMS students Jonathan Ferri ‘20 and Madeleine McGill ’21, landed summer experiences in Tanzania and Rwanda, respectively. As they recently presented to the CEMS Board of Advisors, the Engineering World Health Institute has matched the need for repaired medical devices in resource-poor communities with learning opportunities for students—resulting in lifechanging experiences for both sides. A Transformative SEED Capstone Ferri spent three months troubleshooting ultrasound machines, among other tasks, while learning Swahili and enjoying such Tanzanian customs as “taking chai,” a mid-morning break of mbege (banana and beef stew), which often inspired solutions. He returned with not only new skills but also a SEED capstone project of designing a prosthetic foot prototype.

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“This program allowed me to do everything I wanted,” he says, “and it all happened to be in Tanzania.” Gratitude and Perspective McGill, meanwhile, devoted her time to repairing infant incubators, oxygen concentrators and other medical equipment at two Rwandan hospitals, where she adjusted to what first appeared to be a slow pace but really represented the people’s appreciation for life and the work the team was doing. “I gained a real gratitude for taking a step back,” she says. “I always thought that biomedical engineering innovation is a really cool, important, and growing field, but I worry about our innovation increasing so much that it really only helps a small fraction of the world’s population.” Now, thanks to these unique summer programs, CEMS students are learning how to overcome old obstacles and make a much broader impact worldwide. View a video slideshow of Ferri and McGill's work in Tanzania and Rwanda at go.uvm.edu/7lua5."

Photos Courtesy of UVM Athletics

ENGINEERING FOR SPEED OGDEN WINS NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP Sophomore triumphs in 10-kilometer ski race


Ben Ogden loves engines. “Jet engines, diesel engines, gas engines,” he says. “They’re fascinating.” Last fall, in a two-semester thermodynamics class, he studied “all the math, calculating power outputs, and a lot of theory,” the engineering major says. “But this semester it’s applied thermodynamics and we’re learning how all the math applies in the real world, to real engines—which I love.” Last spring, Ogden was taking some tough exams—in Germany. He was there training and racing with the U.S. Ski Team. “I’m on the U.S. D Team— which stands for development—it’s an under-23 team,” he explains, that allows him to both compete for UVM most of the season and the national team as well. One of the academic exams was in thermodynamics— issued by his UVM professor, William Louisos, and proctored by one of Ogden’s U.S. coaches. “It was really

challenging, but I did well,” he says. “I appreciate the challenge of engineering. That’s, honestly, a major draw for me,” Ogden says. “It's not easy and it forces me to push myself every day in school. A lot of times it’s incredibly frustrating and I have to kick myself to get through it—but then I look back at what I was doing at the beginning of the semester that was really hard and now it’s no problem—which I find immensely satisfying.” The other test was a series of races against many of the best young skiers in the world. Ogden fared well in several individual races and was part of the men’s 4x5 kilometer relay that won gold, defending their title in the Junior Cross Country World Championships by finishing 35 seconds ahead of Canada. Like a well-trained engineer, Ogden approaches the problem of racing fast with a clear goal and a flexible

set of tools. “We’ve got a great UVM team and what I want to do is just ski as hard as I can and leave it all on the course—whether I feel good, bad or horrible,” he says. Skiing shapes his plans for the future as well. “I do want to take a crack at a professional skiing,” says Ogden, who credits UVM Nordic coach Patrick Weaver—two-time national champion and former Olympian—with helping him to build a strong training plan and to dream big. “The Olympics are coming up in two years. That’s the dream,” Ogden says. And then he seems to correct himself. “That’s the reach goal,” he says. And beyond that? Ogden is not sure. His skis are made by Madshus and he knows another young skier, who studied engineering, that the company hired to work on new skate ski designs. “That's the type of thing that I would love to do,” Odgen says, “to really get my hands dirty and design things.” S U M M I T FA L L 2020

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The dedicated educator won the Athena Award for her service and hard work. Computer Science Lecturer Lisa Dion has been inspiring the entire CEMS community through her work for years, and has been recognized by the Central Vermont Chamber as the winnner of the Senior Leadership ATHENA Award. Lisa earned a master’s degree in computer science and served as a graduate student lecturer at the University of Michigan before joining the University of Vermont. Her areas of expertise include C++, Python, Java and Git. She participated in research at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs and at General Dynamics Electric Boat. She also serves as an instructor for Girls Who Code.

Girls Who Code

Participants in Girls Who Code deepen their computer science skills and connect with peers and role models like Lisa Dion. Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Dion

Girls Who Code is an organization on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks likes and does. It engages with femaleidenitfying students and: • Offers learning opportunities for students and aliumni to deepen their computer science skills as well as their confidence • Creates clear pathways for Girls Who Code alumni from middle and high school into the computing workforce

• Builds a supportive sisterhood of peers and role models who help students and alumni persist and succeed

Girls Who Code received funding from the Vermont Space Grant Consortium that allowed the club to purchase Arduino kits for participants. The club hosted the Girl Scouts during Engineering Week as part of the Aiken Scout Day of February 15 and helped the Girl Scouts earn Technology Badges.

KRISTEN UNDERWOOD RECEIVES RICHARD W. CARBIN COMMUNITY CONSERVATION AWARD Kristen Underwood is the recipient of the Richard W. Carbin Community Conservation Award. Named after the land trust’s founder, this award recognizes those who demonstrate a commitment to conservation in their communities. Kristen Underwood


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Underwood has worked for years to further conservation in the Bristol, Vermont area. She was instrumental in the local fundraising campaign that led to the conservation of 600 acres of farm and forest land in Bristol. She

has also been a member of the Bristol Conservation Commission. A Fellow at the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Environment, Underwood is a highly respected expert on water movement. “She has also devoted her career to improving water quality throughout the state,” said Vermoint Land Trust’s Al Karntaz. She has worked with many agencies and organizations to increase flood resiliency across Vermont.

The bridge Joshua Wasilewski analyzed for his capstone project: Bridge 58N in Richmond, Vermont.


BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE GRADUATE STUDENTS IN ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT BUILD VITAL CONNECTIONS Amid so much turmoil and uncertainty, there remains much to celebrate. One notable example is college graduation. At the University of Vermont, conditions did not allow for traditional, in-person convocations, but students have every reason to be thrilled and proud of their achievement. They have demonstrated excellence in every field from accounting to zoology and, for the first time in UVM’s 229year history, in graduate studies in Engineering Management. Although the name suggests managing engineers, Engineering Management is an umbrella term that comprises many disciplines, all of which require technical problem solving and business decision making. Sometimes called an MBA for engineers, Engineering Management helps engineers understand how their work fits in a business context. This understanding is particularly important in Vermont, where small company sizes often require engineers to perform business functions like supply chain management and cost estimation.

UVM’s first two graduates in the Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) are perfect examples of engineers working in a traditional business context. Both participated in UVM’s Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) to earn their master’s degree during an intensive fifth year and chose the project option for their master’s program. Sydney Whipple, Mechanical Engineering ’19, modeled production at Ben & Jerry’s using Discrete Event Simulation. Her model helped the manufacturer understand bottlenecks and explore What If scenarios to increase efficiency with ingredients. “This experience was invaluable. I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to participate and am excited to see how this degree will play into my career moving forward,” Sydney said. She is now looking forward to entering the workforce in the field of engineering management. Joshua Wasilewski, Civil Engineering ’19, used structural health monitoring data and current design standards to evaluate

bridge fatigue. Using estimated maintenance and replacement costs, his work will help the Vermont Department of Transportation prioritize budget requirements for our critical infrastructure. Josh noted, “The Engineering Management program has offered me a variety of applicable courses that I will be using in my professional career. It has allowed me to further my technical knowledge while learning about structural reliability and fatigue design, as well appreciate the importance of asset management through business and project management courses.” No one can predict how the current crisis will play out, but some things are certain. Students will continue to graduate and embark on meaningful careers. Graduates, through much hard work, will continue to apply their knowledge to help businesses and government agencies. Taken together, there is every reason to feel confident we will see better days ahead and our CEMS grads will be ready!

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Join us in welcoming some of the new members of the CEMS family!





Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Research Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lecturer, Electrical and Biomedical Engineering





Research Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Assistant Professor Electrical and Biomedical Engineering

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering





Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Lecturer, Computer Science

Assistant Professor, Computer Science




Major Gifts Officer, UVM Alumni Foundation (CEMS)

Assistant Dean and Director, Office of Student Services

Research Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Assistant Professor, Mathematics and Statistics

Lecturer, Mathematics and Statistics

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A student in the Biomedical Engineering program works in a lab. Photo: Sally McCay


UVM’s BME program is now one of a handful of accredited BME programs co-located on the same campus as a medical school. UVM’s program and the Larner College of Medicine (LCOM) are a quarter mile apart and some of the faculty in Biomedical Engineering have labs in LCOM. ABET recognized this valuable asset in its evaluation, in particular noting the unique opportunities that UVM students have had for coursework, design projects, internships, and research experiences in collaboration with the medical school faculty. According to Dean Linda Schadler, the ABET accreditation affirms the BME program’s excellence and vitality. “Not only did we receive accreditation, we have created a unique curriculum with an outstanding design sequence, access to the Center for Biomedical Innovation, and opportunities for entrepreneurship, as well as medical school experiences. I am thrilled to see the program reach this mature status,” Schadler says.

Students are also proud to be part of this program. Recent graduate Lara Weed noted, “As a direct result of UVM BME and my experiences in the program, I was selected for a highly competitive year-long co-op at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a summer internship at Merck, and a Bioengineering PhD program at Stanford University.” Weed says, “The ability to walk from the engineering building to the medical school and hospital made getting involved with real research and engineering as an undergrad incredibly accessible. This in an invaluable opportunity that distinguishes UVM from other programs.” Started in 2016, the BME program has already grown to be UVM’s second largest engineering program. Its students have graduated to join companies like Medtronic and GE Health Care or have gone on to pursue graduate degrees at schools such as Duke, UCLA, and Stanford. While at UVM, students have conducted research with the BME faculty in engineering and medical researchers

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in the Larner College of Medicine. Several have held internships at UVM’s Instrumentation and Modeling Facility where they have designed and fabricated custom instrumentation for researchers. With accreditation, UVM is doubling down on its investment in BME. The program has recently hired an expert in neuroengineering and brain-computer interfaces to join its faculty and is introducing a new project- and design-intensive curriculum. This new curriculum takes advantage of the Center for Biomedical Innovation (CBI), a partnership between CEMS, LCOM, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS), and the Grossman School of Business (GSB), to develop new technologies and devices that improve the delivery of high-quality health and wellness care.

CBI is a design studio that opens its doors to design projects for students starting in their first year. When innovations in CEMS, LCOM, and CNHS have been prototyped, commercialization efforts are supported by entrepreneurship faculty from GSB. Example CBI projects include the “Vermontilator”—a low cost emergency use ventilator—and PanicMechanic—an app to manage panic attacks, and a new virtual reality interface for children undergoing surgery. These projects have been covered by The New Yorker and CBS News and are already helping to improve human health across the world. Through the curriculum, BME students have opportunities to solve real biomedical engineering problems starting in their first year. These projects help students develop the skills and experience needed to apply engineering principles to improving human health and making a positive impact on humankind.

An Electronic Engineering student works in the lab to put the finishing touches on a project. Since 2006, AERO has brought together Catamounts in a student-run club that designs and builds race cars not only for going fast, but also for slowing down climate change. Photo: Sally McKay.


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Formula Hybrid judges awarded UVM's Alternative Energy Racing Organization (AERO) the first-ever Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Excellence in Project Management Award.

“With the combination of the graduating students and the upand-coming members, I think we did a really good job with project management,” says Cullen Jemison, whose experience with AERO helped him land a job at Packetized Energy, founded by a fellow UVM alumni.




Vanessa Myhaver, pictured here at the CS Fair, has found that her work with professors at UVM has offered her enriching research and a way forward toward a bright career.

Chaos typically tends to overwhelm people, not excite them. But this is a different type of chaos, and Vanessa Myhaver ‘20 is a different type of person. A CEMS student who’s already dedicated most of her life to the magic of mathematics, Myhaver is now applying her passion toward the study of black holes, and the chaos within them. She recently earned an internship at NASA Goddard, where she’ll bring a unique perspective on problems.

Growing up in New Hampshire, Myhaver once stood in the space-enamored shadow of her older brother, who adored Star Wars and space documentaries. But when Myhaver arrived at UVM, she discovered complex systems, eventually earning a coveted spot in NASA’s L’SPACE program. Myhaver gives a massive amount of credit to Professor Jim Eddy for the trajectory of her studies and career. As she writes in a letter to Computer Science Professor and Chair Christian Skalka, Eddy and the course CS121, Computer Organization, “have changed my future career and the technical skills I have added to my skillset. I absolutely believe this has been the most beneficial course I have taken at UVM. I learned more in this course than I have in any course I have taken thus far.”

“Complex systems are a huge field of study that’s very, very new for the world,” says Myhaver. “And our school is one of the only ones to offer the right setting for it.” S U M M I T FA L L 2020

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CAPITOL LETTERS VTSGC travels to Washington, D.C.

Students from the Vermont Space Grant program in Washington, D.C. BY SAR AH TUFF DUNN

On February 25, the Rayburn House Foyer in Washington, D.C., transformed into an out-ofthis world space as the 1990-founded Vermont Space Grant Consortium (VTSGC) celebrated 30 years of achievements beyond the stratosphere with interactive exhibits starring Green Mountain research contributions. “The Vermont Space Grant Consortium 30th Anniversary Exhibition was an amazing opportunity to showcase what VTSGC is doing,” says Debra Fraser, Program Coordinator for the Vermont Space Grant Consortium. “It really put Vermont on the map.” The daylong festivities included virtual reality, robotics, sounding rockets, and lunar and Mars models, among other hands-on opportunities. A highlight was a NASA Space Grant alumni delivering a message from the International Space Station. Then it was time for the hand-off to a reception with refreshments and a special moment with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. As Fraser explains, Space Grant had been planning a 30th Anniversary event since fall 2019, when nationwide Space Grants were asked to submit proposals. Out of the 52 consortiums, VTSGC was one of the 22 states chosen to set up an exhibit. Part of the Green Mountain goods was a video called “I am NASA Space Grant,” featuring the RockSat-C 2020 team sponsored by VTSGC. As mechanical engineering major and Rock-Sat C 2020 team leader Shawn Cimonetti ‘21 explains, they reached out to VT Space grant with an idea to partake in this a sounding rocket program that would allow them to conceptualize, design, build, and launch an experiment as / 22


Photo: Courtesy Debra Fraser

payload on a NASA sounding rocket. They also connected with Benchmark Space Systems, whose co-founder Ryan McDevitt earned his Ph.D. at UVM in 2014 after graduating in 2011. This allowed them to study flu id micronozzle mixing, and the diffe rence between a Benchmark intern’s masters thesis results on Earth and in microgravity on the rocket. “We've been extremely lucky to be helped and supported by Benchmark, with the ability to reach out to their propulsion engineers and ask some questions about making custom diaphragm propellant tanks or stop by on lunch break and check out the latest iteration of a flu id mixing experiment in their lab,” says Cimonetti. “VT Space Grant has made all these connections and learning happen, diving into this complicated and industry-relevant hands-on project has been one of the most robust learning experiences of my undergrad. Two years ago I liked aerospace engineering but didn't see a path into the sector, but space grant has grown my interest further and started to open up connections and experience.” One of the only high school students showcasing her work was Nisha Shah, a South Burlington High School senior who’s a member of the local UVM chapter of Girls Who Code (GWC), to which the Space Grant donated funds in 2019. Shah showed off such projects as an Arduino-based robot and a personality quiz programmed in Python. (The very serious test included a short series of questions to determine, “Which Hogwarts house are you?) Says Fraser, “Nisha made Vermont proud.” Fraser called the experience for Vermont Space Grant on Capitol Hill a “once in a lifetime exposure.”


UVM STUDENTS LAND OUTTA-SIGHT NASA INTERNSHIPS Avrey Carifa ’20 was 8 years old, in the midst of a family move from Chicago to Connecticut, when she read the Magic Tree House book Midnight on the Moon. She was soon transfixed by the work of NASA and the magic of space, staring at the planets and stars that her mother painted on the walls of her new bedroom. Time travel more than a decade, and Carifa is now one step closer to those sparkling constellations, thanks to a NASA internship facilitated by the Vermont Space Grant Consortium (VTSGC). Founded in 1992 as a statewide program to promote STEM education and to train and encourage students to pursue careers in aerospace-related areas, among other missions, VTSGC funded seven NASA internships across the country for summer 2019, three of them from UVM. “Avrey was over the moon about the internship,” says Debra Fraser, the VTSGC program coordinator who’s especially enthusiastic about connecting students and space this year, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Calling herself the “chief cook and bottle washer” of VTSGC, Fraser helps oversee the program that brings undergraduates from myriad Vermont college to opportunities that give them a major boost in aerospace careers. Lasting Legacy One recent student, for example, landed a job at Space X. “He stated to me, unequivocally, that he would not have gotten the position without the NASA internship on his resume,” reports Fraser, who now works in the absence of former VTSGC director Darren Hitt. He was instrumental in selecting candidates for the prestigious summer research, but died unexpectedly in May. Still, Hitt’s legacy of connecting the best and brightest

stars of UVM to the bright stars of space continues. “I’m so grateful that Vermont Space Grant allowed me to have this incredible opportunity, says Carifa, who “spontaneously” applied for the internship. Her project title at NASA Langley is “Nanostructured Membrane System for Molecular Transport and Control.” That means working on a system that could benefit human space exploration beyond low earth orbit; the technology might also apply to other day-to-day activities such as drug delivery, waste treatment, and energy transport that require fast transport of small molecules. Powerful Experiences Fraser adds that VTSGC interns get a $7,300 stipend along with the perks of participating in the next frontier of space research firsthand. Any student from any Vermont college can apply for an internship, as the selection process has already opened up for summer 2020. And students can be from majors beyond those that are space-related; VTSGC selected a history major for this summer, partly to coincide with the Apollo 11 anniversary. Long-Term Impacts While jumping from a college campus to NASA research centers might seem daunting, Carifa explains that the communication and time management skills she has learned at UVM—along with regular presentations in the Honors College—have helped her in her internship. “I would love to keep working for NASA,” she says. “This internship wasn't in a field that I was familiar with, and I have learned so much so far. Ultimately, I chose engineering because I wanted to help people, and NASA gives me a way to merge that with my interest in space. I know what I'm doing will eventually have a much larger benefit.” S U M M I T FA L L 2020

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Abigail Crocker, Research Assistant Professor of Statistics


The Urban Institute, with support from Arnold Ventures, announced on January 13 the establishment of the Prison Research and Innovation Network. The network is a core component of the Urban Institute’s Prison Research and Innovation Initiative, a comprehensive effort to build evidence and spur innovation to make prisons more humane, safe, and rehabilitative. The network will use research, data, and evidence to inspire improvements in prison environments. Five states have been chosen for Phase I of the project—Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Missouri, and Vermont. As one of the participants, Vermont’s State Department of Corrections will receive a grant of $100,000 to support the hiring of a full-time prison research innovation manager to work onsite in the pilot facility at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt. The University of Vermont will receive an additional $100,000 annually to partner with the Department of Corrections to engage in research activities and help build the state’s capacity for data and research for justice-related issues. Kathy Fox, UVM professor of sociology, and Abigail Crocker, research assistant professor of statistics, are the UVM faculty members who are teaming up to assist the Department of Corrections in developing the research methodology and analyzing the data. “Participation in the Prison Research and Innovation Network is a great opportunity for Vermont to work on prison reform efforts, benefiting from a learning community of experts across the country,” says Crocker. “Grounding the process in data and research will ensure that we understand the impact of our efforts and ensure the changes we make are moving us in a positive direction. We’re excited to partner with our colleagues at the Vermont Department of Corrections and learn with and from the other state’s participating in the Network.” The guidelines for acceptance into the Network required states to identify a specific correctional facility, with at least a 300-person capacity, to pilot their change efforts. / 24


The plan is to learn from these initial efforts and expand successful findings to other facilities across the state. The University of Vermont is already an active collaborator with the Vermont State Department of Corrections through the Liberal Arts in Prison Program (LAPP) established in 2017 and directed by Fox. UVM faculty members have since taught university-level courses in the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility for women in South Burlington and Northwest State Correctional Facility for men in Swanton, VT. “We’re able to bring our knowledge of the criminal justice system and research expertise to identify promising policies that maintain public safety while reducing costs and creating a more equitable and effective criminal justice system,” Fox said. “We look forward to supporting Vermont in its efforts to employ research and data to improve prison culture, and operations, and design and create more humane and rehabilitative correction environments,” said Dr. Nancy La Vigne, vice president of justice policy at the Urban Institute. “The state’s leadership and commitment to transparency and accountability will help spur lasting change for people who live and work in prisons.” The Urban Institute is a leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. For 50 years, Urban has been the trusted source for rigorous analysis of complex social and economic issues; strategic advice to policymakers, philanthropists, and practitioners; and new, promising ideas that expand opportunities for all. Urban’s work inspires effective decisions that advance fairness and enhance the well-being of people and places. Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. They invest in sustainable change, building it from the ground up based on research, deep thinking, and a strong foundation of evidence. They drive public conversation, craft policy, and inspire action through education and advocacy.


UVM STUDENT'S RESEARCH ON WEARABLE SENSORS IS POISED TO HELP MULTIPLE POPULATIONS Lara Weed is not one to sit still. Now that the UVM senior has completed two back-to-back co-op internships as a Technical Assistant in Bioengineering Systems and Technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (M.I.T.) Lincoln Laboratory, she’s diving in to her final year with an energy that is palpable. The year-long experience was “incredibly fruitful,” she says. “I learned a ton and became more independent and self-directing.” By working across three divisions at the Lexington, Massachusetts, facility—a federally funded research and development lab owned by M.I.T. and housed on the Hanscom Airforce Base—Weed put her classroom knowledge to use. Employing cutting-edge technologies like auditory, visual, and heart-rate sensors, the data Weed and her colleagues captured and analyzed could have a positive impact on a variety of populations, from those struggling with Parkinson’s Disease to members of the military deployed in extreme environments. Strive Weed’s work focused on testing and evaluating wearable sensors. “We combined different sensor modalities,” she says, “in an effort to produce a viable method for looking at eye movements.” In addition to developing wearable eyetracking devices, Weed’s team worked on algorithms that can look at a person’s gait and a tool kit for sleep analysis. Several of the projects were designed to reduce the chance of injuries during training for military personnel. Weed and her colleagues collected a “tremendous amount of data” captured by sensory motor technologies in immersive virtual environments (STRIVE). “Picture a giant dome 20-feet wide,” Weed says, “with virtual reality projected on the underside, a tilting floor platform, and a split-belt treadmill.” Different simulations create an

Wearable sensors help researchers track movement in a variety of circumstances

array of circumstances that can help researchers better understand environmental effects on biomechanics. Igniting Curiosity Right before she embarked on her back-to-back coops, Weed completed a UVM Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), which “ignited [her] curiosity.” In fact, Weed is delighted with her experience at UVM. “It has given me the freedom to choose what I’m interested in and pursue it further,” she says. Weed was able to take selected graduate math classes during her junior year and customize her education to create a path she’s thrilled to be on. “I really took advantage of all of the amazing resources at UVM,” she says. Weed’s output is impressive. She has written everything from conference abstracts to government reports. Towards the end of her Lincoln Laboratory co-ops, Weed submitted an abstract and gave an oral presentation at the International Society of Biomechanics’ and American Society of Biomechanics’ joint meeting in Calgary, Canada. “In the time I’ve been at UVM,” she says, “I’ve authored 10 publications.” Envisioning the Future Weed knows she’d like to continue her work in biomedical engineering and might like to start her own company one day, perhaps developing software and addressing the needs of high-performance athletes. “I’m getting interested in hydration and sleep,” she says. She is in the process of applying to PhD programs to deepen her research. This most recent experience gave her a taste of industry work and a better understanding of how she can build the future she envisions. “I know I want to be in charge of my life,” Weed says, “and my education at UVM and this co-op internship experience helped me know how I can do it.” S U M M I T FA L L 2020

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Imagine standing in the grocery store, looking at a pile of bananas. On your side of the pile, the manager has posted yesterday's newspaper flyer, showing bananas at 62¢ per pound—so that's what you pay at the register. But on the other side of the pile, there's an up-to-theminute screen showing that the price of bananas has now dropped to 48¢ per pound—so that's what the guy over there pays. Exact same bananas, but the price you see depends on which aisle you're standing in. New research from the University of Vermont and The MITRE Corporation shows that a similar situation—that the scientists call an "opportunity cost due to information asymmetry"—appears to be happening in the U.S. stock market. And, the research shows, it's costing investors at least two billion dollars each year. A increasingly complex trading arrangement—formally known as the "National Market System"—includes the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and many other nodes including ominous-sounding private trading venues called "dark pools." "Even in cartoon form, some refer to our simple map of the stock market as a gigantic bowl of spaghetti," says Brian Tivnan, a research scientist with both UVM and MITRE, who co-led the new study. Therefore, as price information, even at near the speed of light, winds about in this electronic spaghetti, it reaches some traders later than others if they don’t have access to very expensive, faster, proprietary information called a "direct feed." The result: not all traders see the best available price at any moment in time, as they should according to both leading academic theories and market regulation. "That's not supposed to happen," say UVM scientist Chris Danforth, who co-led the new study, "but our close look at the data shows that it does." The research team, housed in UVM's Computational Finance Lab—and with crucial work by UVM doctoral students David Dewhurst, Colin Van Oort, John Ring, and Tyler Gray, as well as MITRE scientists Matthew Koehler, Matthew McMahon, David Slater, and Jason Veneman and research intern, Brendan Tivnan—found billions of similar opportunities for latency arbitrage in the U.S. stock market over the course of the year they studied.

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Apples to Apple

David Dewhurst, Colin Van Oort, and John Ring

In one case highlighted in the new PLOS study, the team looked at the sale of shares of Apple, Inc. on the morning of January 7, 2016. The scientists picked out any price dislocation greater than a penny that lasted longer than 545 millionths of second—enough time for a highspeed trade. In one moment, "on the offer side from 9:48:55.396886 to 9:48:55.398749 (a duration of 1863 microseconds)," the researchers write, "the SIP best offer remained at $99.11 and the Direct best offer remained at $99.17. Thus, any bid orders submitted during this period stood to save $0.06 per share." And, in fact, one hundred shares of Apple—at approximately 9:48:55.396951 in the morning—sold for $99.11 when they might have fetched six cents per share more, costing that investor a few dollars, about the price of a few bananas. But, multiplied by 120 millions times in just the thirty stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average—as the scientists report in their new study—this kind of price gap cost investors more than $160 million. And over the larger Russell 3000 index, the result across the market was a cost of at least $2 billion. "In short, what we discovered is that from these momentary blips in the market, some people must have made a lot of money," say UVM's Chris Danforth, a professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics and Complex Systems Center. The scientists in UVM's Computational Finance Lab saw this coming. "Along with others in the scientific community, we identified these same concerns, probably five years ago or more," notes Brian Tivnan. "But our study is the first to quantify the implications of these concerns." How to fix these differences between players in the market will be difficult, the researchers think. "No technological upgrade will eliminate dislocations," Tivnan says, "even if the exchanges could upgrade the underlying technology to transmit information at the speed of light. Even when controlling for technology, such that all investors rely on the same tech, relativistic effects dictate that the location of the investor will determine what that investor may observe. That is, what you see depends on where you are in the market."

MEET THE CLASS OF 2020 UVM conferred degrees upon graduates of the Class of 2020 on May 17. It wasn't the spring college students across the country had planned on, but UVM's Class of 2020 gave us so much to celebrate. In the weeks of quarantine alone, they shattered the university record for most Fulbright U.S. Student Awards received in a single year and they rose to the challenges presented by the pandemic; in fact, 95 nursing seniors asked for a head-start into the battle before them. And on May 17, 3,000 baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees were conferred upon them in a way like never before. Though the Class of 2020 faces unprecedented challenges in this road ahead, if one thing is to be certain for this remarkable class, it’s that they will continue to dream, dare and do things differently. Read on to meet one of this year’s outstanding undergraduates in CEMS.

Like many UVM students, Zach Bernstein ’20 loves to ski and be outdoors in Vermont. But he also spent a semester in New Zealand taking data science classes, hiking, and studying the history of that country’s indigenous Maori people.

“It was super eye-opening to see how they were overtaken by Europeans—a similar path as the U.S., but a completely different place.” In high school, Zach Bernstein ‘20 came east to visit the UVM campus and “just fell in love,” says the Chicago native. “It’s gorgeous here; fall is just unreal—and on top of that, it’s a super-open, accepting campus,” he says. “As a young queer boy, who was coming out of the closet, that was a big priority for me.” This summer, Bernstein will head farther east, to Boston, to start a post at MassMutual as a data engineer in their Data Science Development Program. Through his new job, he’ll pursue a graduate certificate in data engineering—“and I’m hoping to end up working on transportation, perhaps for the FAA,” he says, digging into the data “about how people move, fly, drive.” Bernstein will be one of seven pioneering students graduating this year from UVM’s data science program that began four years ago. “It’s the intersection of computer science with statistics,” he explains. How has his time in Vermont moved him? “It's been life changing. I did a complete 180 and flourished into the person that I really feel like I'm meant to be over my four years at UVM.”

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shock absorbers, and in materials class, he made the connection to snowboard binding design. And he wanted to develop safer and lighter helmets for snowboarding. His passions in life transcended inside or outside of the classroom—he strived to constantly learn, consistently improve—one day, one lesson at a time. And that is a passion he inspired in those around him with a competitive spirit that pushed others to bring their best but also a strong sense of compassion to let classmates, teammates and friends know how much he cared.

Jamie Love was a junior studying Mechanical Engineering and member of the varsity cross-country and track teams at UVM when he tragically passed away in 2013. But his family wants his death to serve as a reminder of his life. A life he lived to the fullest every day—taking advantage of the College’s excellent engineering education and Vermont’s abundant hiking and biking trails, working at Ski Rack in downtown Burlington and supporting his classmates and teammates with his compassion and quiet strength.

What would his family want all students (and especially the scholarship recipients) to know about Jamie? To remember that life is fragile and to appreciate every moment for what it is—an opportunity. Work hard, don’t get discouraged, and go the extra mile in school, sports, and friendships. Find your passions, stay focused, volunteer to help others, appreciate nature and enjoy the outdoors, and always be determined to improve yourself and the world around you. Jamie truly loved learning and enjoyed team-based projects in the lab or with a study group. He appreciated the discipline of running, but truly loved the camaraderie of fellow athletes and was especially happy when he ran with a relay team. Time off from school and track was packed with running, mountain bike races, exploring new areas of Vermont and events with a cause like the Burlington Great Turkey Chase that benefited the Chittenden Food Shelf.

To honor Jamie, his family and friends have generously donated to establish a scholarship that will reward a junior or senior engineering student who exemplifies Jamie’s zest for life, compassion for others, love of the outdoors, and who is a positive team player. Jamie enjoyed studying engineering to learn about how things work, and to bring the practical application of that knowledge to help solve issues relevant to his and others’ active lifestyles. By way of example - while studying fluid dynamics he was excited to connect his studies with his interest in mountain bike

Jamie combined his passion for life and sports with a pursuit of academic excellence and found a community in the College. Joan Rosebush, Senior Lecturer and Director of Student Success in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics remembers him as a sincere and dedicated student-athlete. “Jamie knew what mattered and worked hard to keep balance in his life—juggling academics, athletics and college life with a smile. He valued his family and friendships highly and would move mountains to help a family member, friend, or classmate who needed him.”


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GERRY AND KERIANNE BEATTY When Gerry Beatty graduated from UVM in 1987 with a BS in Computer Science, the field was still emerging, and the massive remote computing we’re all adjusting to in our new “work from home” normal was a dream, not the reality. His projects were all hands-on in Votey Hall; this valuable collaboration with professors and classmates, team-based project work and the strong connections it encouraged is what inspired him to continue with field after graduation. Gerry began his career designing embedded controller systems for cardiac equipment but quickly discovered a passion for finance, and built a successful career at Goldman Sachs over the past 25 years, where he retired as a partner and continues to advise on strategic matters. His education at CEMS gave him the foundation to be an expert in the technology sector of his interest in finance, but also the business and communication skills to make him an effective leader. His training and technical background made his skillset especially versatile and he worked his way to leadership at Goldman Sachs with a new role, and its new challenges, every few years. He is thankful for his success and wants to pay it forward for current students; his generous gift will support experiential learning, student travel to conferences, and key strategic student support. These hands-on experiences in and out of the classroom, which make the CEMS experience unique, will shape a graduate’s success.

His advice to current students: don’t close the door on any opportunity or sector until you’ve tried it. The engineering skill set is applicable in so many fields—be open to discovering an area or industry that inspires your passion. “It is crucial to acquire the technical skills, but know that how you apply those will change drastically over the course of your career, so keep learning from your colleagues and continue to work on a variety of projects to keep your skills fresh.” Roles that engineers assume in the workplace—as project managers, entrepreneurs, chief operations officers, and more—meet at the intersection of business and engineering, and require the communications and cross-disciplinary skills that he is so thankful the UVM education instills. Gerry and Kerianne are thrilled to be able to support the institution and college that has been so foundational in realizing their goals as a family. “UVM is an incredible institution and the collaboration, team work, and connections that CEMS fosters are invaluable for career success and lifelong friendships. As a native Vermonter, I hope more high school students take advantage of this great resource in their home state.” Inspired by Dean Linda Schadler’s vision, they look forward to future opportunities to support and volunteer with students.

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FRONT COVER Josh Bongard, Frederic Sansoz, and members of the Computer Science and Complex Systems teams are making huge strides for research in CEMS. Photos: Sally McCay, Joshua E. Brown, and Juniper Lovato

The bridge from Votey to Innovation Hall. Photo: Sally McCay

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