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CARING FOR THE CLIMATE IN CEMS Faculty and students address a changing climate and work towards a sustainable future through research and innovation.


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A NOTE FROM THE DEAN We made it…. and we made progress! Dear Alumni and Friends of CEMS, I am thrilled to share with you the successes of CEMS in the year of COVID. Not only did we remain open all year, but we also held a graduation ceremony, and our students thrived. The student evaluations of teaching were higher than in 2020! In other good news, we welcomed the largest class ever in the fall of 2021. New research grants are up significantly, highlighting the breadth and depth of our faculty research. We approved phase two of our undergraduate curriculum transformation, including a commitment to consistent inclusion of ethics, leadership, data dexterity, and computational skills throughout the curriculum. We have much to be grateful for, and I am so proud of everyone in CEMS for remaining student-focused all year while continuing to make progress towards the goals outlined in our strategic plan. If you want to see how CEMS looks these days, watch one of the virtual live tour videos (visit the link through the QR Code below). We created these because students couldn’t come to campus to see our fantastic new facilities. With Go-Pro cameras on our heads, we guided students from afar through the STEM complex and took their questions in realtime. It was not a Hollywood production, but it was a hit! In other exciting news, our faculty are getting recognized! Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, Jianke Yang, was named a University Distinguished Scholar. This is a lifetime appointment recognizing his outstanding scholarly work. Professor Yang is also the new Chair of Mathematics and Statistics.


Donna Rizzo was named a University Scholar for 20212022. Dr. Peter Dodds was named a Fellow of the Network Science Society – the premier society for data science and complex systems. Josh Bongard won the Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Ryan McGinnis, a faculty member in our new Biomedical Engineering program, and Mads Almassalkhi, a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering program both won National Science Foundation CAREER Awards, Matt Scarborough received the Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award, and Caitlin Grasso, won an NSF Graduate Fellowship. These highly coveted awards help launch careers. Professor Lisa Dion won the Athena Young Professional Leadership Award from the Vermont Chamber of Commerce for her work mentoring young women in computer science. We are thrilled at this external recognition of our faculty and students. There is a lot more to share, and you will find it in the pages of SUMMIT. Thank you for reading, for sharing with your friends, and for staying connected to us here in CEMS. Stay well. Cheers,


WE’RE SO PROUD OF OUR GRADUATES! Visit our Facebook page to view the commencement image album at:


Scan the QR Code to Dean Schadler speaking at CEMS’ 2021 Commencement ceremony

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Above: Dr. Appala Raju Badireddy

Right: Students are back (safely) in our active classrooms and labs

Photo: Sally McCay

Photo: Andy Duback


Left and below: Images of projects built through the Center for Biomedical Innovation Photos: Mike Rosen

Honors and Awards

2, 3, 4, 5

Center for Biomedical Innovation

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Student Research


Invention: The Story Wrangler


Excellence in Teaching Award


Secure Surgical Solutions


Engineering Students Give New Life to Old Structures

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NOAA Funds Extreme Heat Project

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Sea Grant Scholars


Danish Consular Visit


Lake Champlain Phosphorus Cleanup Helps Economy Student Successes

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K - 12 Outreach

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Featured Alums: Jonathan Griffin, Vasu Sojitra, and Troy Norman

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Featured Supporters: Nick Donofrio and Vicki Hildebrand

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ED ITO R Geeda Searfoorce A S SISTANT TO THE ED ITO R Molly Swiencki GR APHIC DE SIGN Ion Design PH OTO GR APHY/IMAGE S Joshua E. Brown, Elizabeth Doran, Andy Duback, Ross Elkort, Debb Fraser, Katie Figura, Natasha Geffen, LeAnn Gove, Brian Jenkins, Jenn Karson, Dmitry Lakoba, Sarah McLaughlin, Katherine Merrill, Sally McCay, Lauren Petrie, Dustin Rand, Mike Rosen, 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, Kevin Coburn, Shari Halik, Sarah Tuff Dunn, Anika Miner, Rachel Mullis, Brian Owens, University Communications, UVM CEMS, UVM Foundation, Jeff Wakefield, Basil D.N. Waugh, Jenny Weatherholtz PRO O FRE ADER Molly Swiencki

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HONORS AND AWARDS Two CEMS Faculty Win NSF CAREER Awards College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences professors Mads Almassalkhi and Ryan McGinnis, both from the Electrical and Biomedical Engineering Department join nearly 20 other CAREER grant winners in CEMS over the past 20 years. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; [and] to secure the national defense..." The agency’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their organization. The awards, presented once each year, include a federal grant for research and education activities for five consecutive years.

MADS ALMASSALKHI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, ELECTRICAL AND BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT AND CO-FOUNDER, PACKETIZED ENERGY How long have you been with UVM? Six-and-a-half years or so. My wife, Brittany, and I moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to South Burlington, Vermont, in Aug 2014 with our two small children. We welcomed our third child (and first Vermonter) in 2016. What is the focus of your research? The goal of my lab, the CORE (Control and Optimization of Renewable Energy) Systems Lab, is to fundamentally advance our understanding of how power and energy systems can enable a clean energy future by becoming more efficient, reliable, and resilient. Towards this objective, our group has been working for the past number of years on:

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1. Distributed control algorithms that can coordinate a large fleet of smart loads to deliver valuable grid services in the aggregate and 2. Advanced optimization algorithms for coordinating networked energy resources.

Left: Mads Almassalkhi Right: Ryan McGinnis Photos: Sally McCay

the family investment paid off. I am also proud of the award, because the recommendation of funding comes from senior academics in my field, which is nice recognition of my efforts to date. What are three ways you hope that your work will impact the world?

What does winning the NSF CAREER Grant mean to you?

1. I hope my work will help support grid operators and smart grid technology providers in making the grid cleaner. As we march towards mitigating the effects of climate change with renewable generation (wind, solar PV) and electrification efforts, power and energy systems will undergo a revolution from digitalization, decentralization, and democratization of energy.

Partly relief and partly pride. Relief, because I had never submitted a CAREER proposal until this year, so it was my first and last opportunity. In addition, Brittany and I set aside a time where I would focus on writing. This made the CAREER a huge, intense family undertaking (as many proposals are) and I am relieved that

2. I hope my work will also help educate the public and create an inclusive environment for STEM education by designing public workshops and a new course on gamification around climate change and energy system challenges that help people discover answers to the question of: “What is a kWh?” If we

To support vast electrification and digitalization trends, we need the best of both worlds: real-time, grid-aware control of distributed resources. The CAREER award allows me to close this gap by advancing the state-of-thescience in optimization and control of networked distributed energy resources.

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"Working with Mads has always been an absolute delight. He is thoughtful, creative and enthusiastic. He has the creativity for developing new theories, the analytical abilities for rigorously testing them, and the practical insights required for implementation. His NSF CAREER award is one more step in what promises to be a long and impactful career." – Ian Hiskens, Almassalkhi’s Ph.D. advisor, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

“Ryan’s sense for practical solutions to the most pressing problems in human health is most keen. He has a unique ability to develop practically deployable methods without compromising comprehensive assessment. As a mentor, he is just as devoted in facilitating the development of those working in his lab to contribute to these important healthcare issues.” – Reed Gurchiek, former UVM Ph.D. student and current Postdoc

want to democratize and decentralize energy, we need people to understand the basic building blocks, challenges, and opportunities ahead. 3. I hope my work will enable my students to become leaders and doers and have a positive impact on the world. Being a professor is all about the long game. The timescales of our research projects (federal or industry), publications, and our mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students in on the order of years. It is easy to get lost in the now and become frustrated in academia, but when I look at my short career so far and see former and current students doing well, it is so inspiring and motivating. I am excited for what the next six years holds!

RYAN MCGINNIS, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, ELECTRICAL AND BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT AND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING PROGRAM How long have you been with UVM? I was the first faculty member in biomedical engineering at UVM. I started as an assistant professor in 2017.

What is the focus of your research? My group (the M-Sense Research Group) develops digital health technologies. Digital health research leverages data from wearables or mobile phones, devices that we carry around with us every day, to capture objective measures of human health and deliver interventions for improving health. Our current research efforts are focused on developing digital biomarkers, phenotypes, and therapeutics for improving the mobility and functional independence of persons with multiple sclerosis, optimizing orthopedic rehabilitation outcomes, and most relevant here, addressing mental health problems in children and young adults.

NSF has seen merit in this work. This award will allow us to advance an important project that has a real chance to improve our understanding of the pathophysiology that underlies childhood mental health problems and could improve our ability to identify children with anxiety and depression. What are some ways you hope that your work will impact the world? 1. Improve the detection of childhood mental health problems so that children with psychopathology can be directed to care when it can make the most difference.

What does winning the NSF CAREER Grant mean to you?

2. Expand the use of digital health technologies in vulnerable and underserved populations to improve access to healthcare.

I am honored to receive this award and am very happy that NSF has identified this area of childhood mental health as a topic that is important for research investment.

3. Increase awareness of mental health problems, continue to destigmatize mental health, and advance recognition that mental health is health.

What does this grant mean for your research?

4. Advance the inclusion of a diverse group of innovators in the development of digital health technologies.

I am incredibly thankful that the

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HONORS AND AWARDS the way light beams can be shaped and redirected through interactions with nonlinear materials. His work as an applied mathematician has been described by his peers as “crucial to the development of all-optical computing systems for image processing and parallel processing problems.”

Dr. Jianke Yang, the new Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has been named University Distinguished Professor (UDP)—the highest academic honor that UVM can bestow upon a member of the faculty. Holders of this title are recognized as not only having achieved international eminence within their respective fields of study but for the truly transformative nature of their contributions to the advancement of knowledge. These faculty members are considered top scholars who have excelled in their disciplines. Professor Yang received his Ph.D. from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994 and has been a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics since 1994. He was selected as University Scholar in 2017, appointed as the Williams Professor of Mathematics in 2019, and elected as Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2020. Dr. Yang is a pioneer in the study of nonlinear optics in complex media waves, nonlinear photonics and parity-time optics. He has contributed to our understanding of

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stem cells, Dr. Bongard and his coauthors designed and evolved in silico structures capable of locomotion, object manipulation, object transport, and collective behavior. Civil and Environmental Professor Eric Hernandez was named Presidentelect for the New England chapter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). Join us in congratulating Eric and read more about the organization’s work at eeri.org Peter Dodds was elected to the 2021 Fellows of the Network Science Society at the Netsci Conference for “foundational contributions to both the theoretical and experimental study of networks, and especially the growth, structure, and spread of information in social networks, both on- and offline.”

Dr. Josh Bongard was awarded the Cozzarelli Prize in Engineering and Applied Sciences. This international distinction is awarded annually to six research teams whose PNAS articles have made outstanding contributions to their fields. Using AI, a cell-based construction kit, and frog

Lisa Dion has been awarded the Athena Young Professional Award from the Vermont Central Chamber of Commerce. Juniper Lovato and Laurent Hebert-Dufresne are recipients of 2021 International Society for Artificial Life Exceptional Service awards.

KC Williams , pictured here with Maria Del Sol Nava and Max Cordes Galbraith at the inaugural Leadership Retreat for CEMS 50 mentors and student club leaders, has taken on the role of Assistant Dean for Equity, Belonging, and Student Engagement and as a Lecturer, College of Education and Social Services.

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business to help speed the diffusion of research and new technologies into environmental practice. She worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during the 1998 and 2011 Vermont floods.


NAMED 2021 – 2022 UNIVERSITY SCHOLAR The University of Vermont Graduate College announced the 2021-2022 University Scholars—a program which recognizes distinguished UVM faculty members for sustained excellence in research, scholarship, and creative arts. Dr. Rizzo is a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and in 2013 was appointed as the Dorothean Chair in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. Her research focuses on the development and application of new machine-learning tools to improve the understanding of human-induced changes on natural systems and the way we design, monitor, and make decisions about these systems. Rizzo has over 25 years of experience with artificial intelligence, geostatistics, and optimization technologies and 30 years of experience in water resources and the visualization of really large data sets. Since the completion of her doctoral degree at the University of Vermont, her post-Ph.D. path has not been traditional for a tenure-track faculty. In 1994, she co-founded a small Vermont

Dr. Rizzo sets an exemplary standard for successfully working across disciplines. Since arriving at UVM in 2002, she and her students have worked collaboratively with colleagues across five different UVM colleges, using a variety of machine-learning tools to tackle multi-scale problems, including: • the evaluation of human impacts to surface waters and groundwater • lake cyanobacteria bloom research • disease risk transmission • serious illness conversations to help understand and incentivize high-quality communication.

She loves working with students on applied research. Dr. Rizzo has supported scholarships and research opportunities for more than 200+ UVM undergraduates over the past 15 years and is an active and sought-after teacher, advisor, and mentor. To date, she has advised over 47 graduate students and postdocs and received the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award in 2014.

CAITLIN GRASSO WINS A NSF GRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP Caitlin Grasso has won one of the 2021 National Science Foundation's (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships. The UVM Ph.D candidate works with CEMS professor Josh Bongard on artificial intelligence (AI). Grasso also works with The Proteus Institute, which is dedicated to facilitating the creation of bio-inspired AI. The Proteus Institute studies embodied plasticity: how multi-level change supports intelligence in protean systems (cells, organs, organisms, and ecologies), and how best to channel those discoveries into protean machines (robots and artificial biological constructs) and algorithms (machine learning methods). Caitlin Grasso with images from her research

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Above: The Instrumented Knee Brace for Remote Tracking of ACL Surgery Recovery. Photo: Mike Rosen


UVM’s Center for Biomedical Innovation (CBI) is designing and building the future of healthcare. In a world that is growing ever more complex, the most effective solutions require a holistic understanding of the issues at hand — and for experts in different specialties to work in tandem. It’s this understanding that serves as the foundation for UVM’s Center for Biomedical Innovation and the creative environment it fosters. At the CBI, faculty and students from the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, the Larner College of Medicine, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the Grossman School of Business collaborate on designing, building and marketing innovative devices, systems and software that promote human health.

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In 2021, the CBI hosted its fourth innovation workshop. Members of the community came together with UVM faculty and students to share innovative ideas for improving health care around the state — particularly in rural areas. The CBI has already given birth to a number of unique medical products. For example, a device developed by the group can quickly measure and deploy a syringe with the right dose of epinephrine — based on weight — for children experiencing cardiac arrest, a life-saving tool for understaffed rural health care facilities. In addition to serving as an incubator for important new technologies, the CBI is also an essential part of students’ educational experience.

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Design Populism UVM arrived at what Mike Rosen, interim director of the center, calls a “populist” approach. Every few months, the CBI holds events that are part workshop-part pitch, where participants nominate their ideas, a few of which are refined during the event and subsequently reviewed in detail by a CBI committee for selection to move forward with CBI support. In the workshop held last semester, held pandemic-style via Microsoft Teams, about 40 participants and spectators hovered in front of their computer screens. Nine teams presented their ideas, while a mix of faculty, staff, students and community members observed. For Rosen and the event’s other two adjudicators — Erik Monsen, the Steven Grossman Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship in the Grossman School of Business, and Raj Aurora, a third-year medical student at the Larner College of Medicine — two stood out and will become official CBI projects. Nicole Donahue, an accelerated master’s degree student in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, and Tori Weissman, a senior Biomedical Engineering major, presented a device called an Instrumented Knee Brace for Remote Tracking of ACL Surgery Recovery, initially developed by CEMS faculty member and biomedical engineer Ryan McGinnis and postdoctoral associate Reed Gurchiek. The brace is packed with sensors and an on-board micro-computer that detect post ACL-surgery gait irregularities, which can cause knee arthritis if not corrected, as patients traverse the real world. It promises to deliver much more accurate

From initial design to schematics and prototypes, projects like the Recovery Robe, right, come to fruition in the Center for Biomedical Innovation. Photos: Ross Elkort

information than current sampling methods, where gait data is collected while patients walk in a lab. Also wowing the crowd was the Recovery Robe, a vast improvement over the scant, impossible-to-tie garment patients struggle with in doctors’ waiting rooms and hospitals. First developed by a team of medical and engineering students in UVM’s Design for America chapter and presented by senior Mechanical Engineering major Ross Elkort, the garment is a tour de force of design, allowing patients to cover themselves easily and securely, while providing health professionals full access to the patient’s body without unnecessary exposure. The robe also keeps IV lines in place as it is put on and taken off. Both ideas will evolve from rough prototypes to more finished products in the CBI. Two-in-one The CBI is meant to serve two distinct purposes, said CEMS Dean Dr. Linda Schadler in remarks at the opening of the workshop: to educate students about biomedical engineering design and the importance of working in teams to find technical solutions to health care needs, and to bring together experts in complementary disciplines to solve important problems. “Our students benefit from working in interdisciplinary teams that allow them to apply what they are learning in the classroom,” she said. “And the community benefits from engineers and business faculty supporting the technical needs and innovation of the faculty in medicine and nursing.”

Four years Education is also on the minds of McGinnis, who co-developed a new curriculum for the Biomedical Engineering major that was implemented this year, and Rosen, who is developing a plan for how CBI experiences will be infused into that curriculum. The big idea: Design won’t just occur at the tail end of the program, McGinnis says, but will be part of a continuum, covering all four years of the new project-based curriculum and culminating in a capstone design project in the CBI. “This truly sets our program apart,” he says, “and will set our graduates apart for prospective employers and graduate schools.” The CBI’s educational benefits, while particularly relevant for BME majors, extend to reach medical, nursing, health sciences and business students, as well as those in other engineering disciplines. “It’s hands-on, project-based learning in design," says Rosen. "With a CBI project, students know they’re not just doing another homework assignment; people in Vermont and elsewhere may benefit directly from their work and inventiveness.” Working on a CBI project is a compelling way to learn, one that confers a highly marketable skill, and a pathway that could lead to an array of innovative new ways ti improve human health.

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Ben Page analyzes samples from two different wastewater treatment plants in the greater Burlington area for indications of COVID-19. Photo: Joshhua E. Brown

STUDENT RESEARCH TAKES AIM AT BRIGHTER, GREENER FUTURE Turning Wastewater into a Warning Whistle Ben Page ’21 holds two glass jars containing water samples. “This is from the east Burlington wastewater treatment plant and this one is from the main treatment plant,” he says. Floating in the water are “some solids,” says Page, and traveling with the solids may be a few bits of RNA from COVID-19. Under the bright lights of UVM’s Water Treatment and Environmental Nanotechnology Laboratory, Page will spin out samples from these jars in a nearby centrifuge to see if he can find any traces of the world-stopping virus. When Page, a biomedical engineering student and Barrett Scholar, talks about his “love of transport phenomena,” he’s not daydreaming of race cars. Instead, he’s part of an

ambitious research program, led by professor of civil and environmental engineering Raju Badireddy, to understand how flows of water, waste and life move through pipes, treatment plants and other parts of the built and natural environment. In this experiment, Page is helping Badireddy explore how wastewater might serve as an early-warning system for a spike in diseases. “Some viruses and other pathogens can take days or weeks to show symptoms,” Badireddy says, but antibodies and other traces of diseases may show up much sooner in the waste stream. Using magnetic nanoparticles to bind virus fragments, Badireddy and his students are developing a system that they expect will be able to detect diseases in less than an hour after the water has been sampled — giving a rapid snapshot of how a community’s health may be changing.


The first ever UVM RockSat-C payload launched in June of this year (2021) on a Terrier-Orion launch vehicle. The team consisted of four students, Vanessa Myhaver, Shawn Cimonetti, Thomas Sheeleigh, and William Harvey. Each student brought a different area of expertise to the team, ranging from mechanical design to building electrical systems and software engineering. They teamed up with a local aerospace company, Benchmark Space Systems (BSS) to assist in defining their science objectives and building the payload. BSS specializes in designing micropropulsion systems for aerospace applications, and this led to Team UVM exploring the effects of how a micro gravitational environment effects off-axis laminar mixing in micropropulsion systems. Aboard the payload, dyed fluid was injected from custom diaphragm tanks into a 3D printed mixing chamber representing a micropropulsion mixing chamber. The

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The Rocksat-C team. Photo: Debb Fraser

data collection within the payload consisted of photo and video cameras, with the entire system controlled by a microcontroller. When the rocket hit apogee about 72 miles high, precision solenoids were actuated, pushing the fluid through the mixing chamber in the microgravity environment and imaging the entire sequence. Team UVM’s flight and data collection was a success, allowing for insightful analysis and comparisons to experiments done by BSS. BSS had done “on earth” experiments and this experiment was now done in space. UVM RockSat-C was funded by Vermont Space Grant Consortium. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT VERMONT SPACE GR ANT PLE A SE VISIT:


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but also the daily “expressions of the many,” the team notes.


Scientists have invented an instrument to peer deeply into the billions and billions of posts made on Twitter since 2008 — and have begun to uncover the vast galaxy of stories that they contain. “We call it the Storywrangler,” says Thayer Alshaabi, a doctoral student at the University of Vermont who co-led the new research. “It’s like a telescope to look — in real time — at all this data that people share on social media. We hope people will use it themselves, in the same way you might look up at the stars and ask your own questions.” The new tool can give an unprecedented, minute-by-minute view of popularity, from rising political movements to box office flops; from the staggering success of K-pop to signals of emerging new diseases. The story of the Storywrangler — a curation and analysis of over 150 billion tweets—and some of its key findings were published on July 16 in the journal Science Advances. Expressions of the many The team of eight scientists who invented Storywrangler — from the University of Vermont, Charles River Analytics, and MassMutual Data Science — gather about ten percent of all the

tweets made every day, around the globe. For each day, they break these tweets into single bits, as well as pairs and triplets, generating frequencies from more than a trillion words, hashtags, handles, symbols and emoji, like “Super Bowl,” “Black Lives Matter,” “gravitational waves,” “#metoo,” “coronavirus,” and “keto diet." “This is the first visualization tool that allows you to look at one-, two, and three-word phrases, across 150 different languages, from the inception of Twitter to the present,” says Jane Adams, a co-author on the new study who recently finished a three-year position as a datavisualization artist-in-residence at UVM’s Complex Systems Center. The online tool, powered by UVM’s supercomputer at the Vermont Advanced Computing Core, provides a powerful lens for viewing and analyzing the rise and fall of words, ideas, and stories each day among people around the world. “It’s important because it shows major discourses as they’re happening,” Adams says. “It’s quantifying collective attention.” Though Twitter does not represent the whole of humanity, it is used by a very large and diverse group of people, which means that it “encodes popularity and spreading,” the scientists write, giving a novel view of discourse not just of famous people, like political figures and celebrities,

In one striking test of the vast dataset on the Storywrangler, the team showed that it could be used to potentially predict political and financial turmoil. They examined the percent change in the use of the words “rebellion” and “crackdown” in various regions of the world. They found that the rise and fall of these terms was significantly associated with change in a well-established index of geopolitical risk for those same places. What’s happening? The global story now being written on social media brings billions of voices — commenting and sharing, complaining and attacking — and, in all cases, recording — about world wars, weird cats, political movements, new music, what’s for dinner, deadly diseases, favorite soccer stars, religious hopes and dirty jokes. “The Storywrangler gives us a datadriven way to index what regular people are talking about in everyday conversations, not just what reporters or authors have chosen; it’s not just the educated or the wealthy or cultural elites,” says applied mathematician Chris Danforth, a professor at the University of Vermont who co-led the creation of the Storywrangler with his colleague Peter Dodds. Together, they run UVM’s Computational Story Lab. “This is part of the evolution of science,” says Dodds, an expert on complex systems and professor in UVM’s Department of Computer Science. “This tool can enable new approaches in journalism, powerful ways to look at natural language processing, and the development of computational history.”

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Photo capton here. Photo: Name Here



Each year, the KroepschMaurice Excellence in Teaching Award honors four faculty members. This year, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Dr. Matthew Scarborough received this honor. The award follows a student nomination as well as observation by a member of the selection committee.. Scarborough’s nomination highlights his wide capacity for compassion with students, involvement in community, and innovation in the classroom. His teachings, according to the award committee, “challenge his students while allowing flexibility in the delivery of his material as well as encouraging teamwork and collaboration and


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promoting academic literacy.” The author of several publications, Scarborough's experience and value of research is reflected in his classroom environment. As noted by students, he ventures beyond textbook readings to prepare students for real-world experiences, including teaching “industry terms and standards”. His commitment to students is also clearly demonstrated by his involvement with UVM’s Engineers Without Borders, as well as his responsibilities as a student advisor. Learner-centric Scarborough’s teaching style and philosophy closely reflects the considerations for the KroepschMaurice Excellence in Teaching

Asim Zia, Laurent HébertDufresne, and Nick Cheney have been awarded $2.47M from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) program to develop an agent-based model of livestock production to predict pathogen transmission dynamics.

Award. As a licensed professional engineer, his previous work for an environmental consulting company allows Scarborough to incorporate a flexible research-framed teaching style that is always adapting to what best suits his students. He often incorporates group work to facilitate collaborative skills, is clear in his objectives for students, and ensures availability to anyone who needs it. The considerations for this award stress the importance of one’s commitment to Our Common Ground for lifelong learning, which Scarborough demonstrates both in and out of the classroom. His learner-centric philosophy engages, supports, and inspires while establishing open and respectful relationships with students.

Their project, titled “Predicting Livestock Disease Transmission Dynamics under Alternate Biosecurity Risk Management Interventions and Behavioral Responses of Livestock Producers,” addresses a fundamental challenge posed by the lack of integrated models of pathogen introduction, diffusion dynamics, and behavior of livestock producers.

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Dr. Badireddy in the lab. Photo: Sally McCay



A new venture, led by UVM and LCOM faculty, is advancing saline security and improving global healthcare.

Saline is the lifeblood of healthcare delivery in the world, but manufacturing shortages and monopolies threaten communities, healthcare facilities and hospitals that do not have saline security. By 2026, the medical grade saline market is expected to reach $3.7 billion, making for ideal timing to license the patent rights from UVM to create a new spinoff company. Secure Surgical Solutions (SSS, LLC) banks on the technology of three UVM faculty members—assistant professors Raju Badireddy and Richard Grunett, plus researcher Logan Werner—along with Professor David Sobel of Brown University to deliver a groundbreaking medical product that not only helps patients, but also protects the environment. Now, it’s earned the attention of the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Technology Transfer (SSTR) program, too. The team is committed to the development of onsite, point of care production of a surgical saline from local and marginal

water resources, as they explain in a March 2021 report. “This team developed a novel, patented process of fouling mitigation for forward osmotic membranes,” they write. “This technology is a new platform that can be applied in numerous environments and industries to extract water from multiple applications including chemical processing, mining operations, agricultural field runoff, food processing, and aeronautical applications.” Recently, the National Science Foundation invited Secure Surgical Solutions to submit a SSTR Phase 1 proposal—a chance to be part of a program that focuses on funneling scientific inventions into potential products and services for the commercial world and communities in need. “Unlike fundamental or basic research activities that focus on scientific and engineering discovery itself,” explains the National Science Foundation, “the NSF STTR program supports the creation of opportunities to move fundamental science and engineering out of the lab and into the market or other use at scale, or startups and

small businesses representing ‘deep technology ventures.’” Necessity Begets Invention Seeing a need for something lightweight, portable, and able to draw on local resources, the UVM professors invented a product unlike any other on the market today. Currently, only a few large companies produce medical grade saline, which is heavy (more than 8 pounds per gallon) with expensive shipping costs. The SSS device, meanwhile, is small, solar or battery-powered, and can use just salty and marginal water to produce medical grade saline onsite—no shipping needed. “SSS, LLC will be turning ‘Saline Reliance into Saline Resilience,’” says Dr. Badireddy. “Specifically, our device will enhance saline security—reliable availability of acceptable quality and quantity of saline—for hospitals, communities, NGOs, and countries from transportation barriers of critically needed surgical solutions. We will be turning wastewater into medical grade saline, which is a huge advancement.”

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


Many of the 2021 graduates in the UVM Civil and Environmental Engineering program faced an added degree of difficulty in their senior capstone course: designing renovation projects without actually seeing the existing structures. The COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for students to make site visits. But engineers, after all, are trained to be problem solvers. Working with photos, historical records and self-constructed computer models students developed design solutions that may one day save a historic covered bridge from the next tropical storm, or preserve and repurpose a long-abandoned structure with an iconic presence in a northern Vermont village. Professor of Practice John Lens, instructor for the course, says the senior capstone not only gives students a chance to tackle a real-world challenge, but results in projects that actually get built.

Protecting the Warren Covered Bridge from future flooding and finding a useful second life for a long-neglected granite shed in Hardwick are two of the projects students in the UVM Civil and Environmental Engineering Senior Capstone developed this spring. Left Photo: Courtesy of the Valley Reporter; Right Photo: by Bethany Dunbar

professional engineering firm to draft a fully developed set of construction plans. This year Lens drew on his extensive connections in the state and from the UVM Office of CommunityEngaged Learning (CELO) to identify community partners. Seven of the 13 student projects in this year’s course involved preserving historic structures. “Naturally the students were disappointed not being able to visit the sites,” Lens said. “But we were fortunate this year, especially with these historic projects, that there was strong community interest. As a student, you can see how you can make an immediate contribution that’s very appreciated and very tangible.” Bridge over troubled water

“There’s a strong service-learning component to the course,” Lens explains. “Our students work with clients—town managers or non-profit leaders or citizen groups—that are looking for design solutions.”

One of oldest, still intact covered bridges in Vermont straddles the Mad River in the town of Warren. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but it nearly met its demise in the flooding that followed Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Students provide clients with an engineering study, plans and cost estimates of alternatives, which the clients can then use for hiring a

“It’s a queen post bridge built in 1880,” explained Sam Langeleh, a civil engineering graduate. “The goal of the project was to mitigate the

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flood risk and prevent the overtopping that was seen in Tropical Storm Irene from happening again.” She teamed up with fellow seniors Ashlie Mercado (civil engineering), Linh Nguyen (civil engineering), Colin Palmer (civil engineering) and Reed Winter (environmental engineering). The group’s design solution had to thread the needle between structural viability and maintaining the historic character of the bridge. J.B. McCarthy ’79, bridge preservation engineer for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, served as one of the consultants on the project. McCarthy sits on the UVM civil and environmental engineering department’s board of advisors and has helped provide many students with internships at VTrans. “The issues with the Warren bridge have had to do not so much with the structure itself—the bridge is still in pretty good shape—but with the Mad River,” McCarthy said. “Bridges with a short span like this tend to narrow the river’s flow.” The original bridge abutments on both banks were built far out into the water, narrowing the channel which

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factored into high flood waters during Irene. The increased water velocity over the years has also eroded the stability of the abutments. The students settled on a design that calls for building new abutments closer to each bank, effectively widening the river at the bridge. New cantilever beam supports reaching to the existing bridge from each abutment will hold the structure further away from each side. “Hydraulicly the bridge is 14 feet narrower than the river’s natural channel width,” Winter reported in the group’s final presentation. “Changes to the width of the waterway opening at the abutments would drop the water surface elevation by six feet and assure that the river would not overtop the bridge deck.” The group’s final cost estimate for the project was $1,204,000, well north of the town’s current budget of $375,000 for the bridge’s replacement. But grants from the Preservation Trust of Vermont or FEMA's Environmental & Historic Preservation program could potentially fill that gap. “I think the plan does a great job balancing the need to keep the bridge structure itself unchanged, while accounting for flooding that will likely increase in the future,” McCarthy said. Second life for Hardwick granite shed Vermonters are well versed in the history of the granite industry centered around quarries in the Barre, Vt., area. Granite was also a major industry in the town of Hardwick, about 30 miles to the north. Hardwick granite was used to build dozens of prominent buildings including the Pennsylvania capitol building in Harrisburg and Chicago City Hall. The granite industry eventually dried

up, leaving behind granite shed number 4, a 100-year-old wooden structure 40 feet wide and 350 feet long. The shed was a sheltered construction space and trains ran through the length of the building to transport the granite along the old Lamoille Valley railroad. Though long abandoned, the building’s long, low profile has become a familiar part of Hardwick’s built landscape. Local residents like Bethany Dunbar, community programs manager for the non-profit Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) in Hardwick, sought input from other local stakeholders holders to figure out potential uses for the building. “Hardwick used to be known for granite. Now it is known as a hub for local food, food access and farm viability,” she explains. CAE acquired the shed in 2008 and Dunbar foresees an exciting future for the structure as a farmer’s market and a venue for recreational activities. But the building needs help. Matt Smrtic, a graduate of UVM’s civil engineering program, summed up the restoration challenges this way: “The shed is deteriorating and unstable as it sits now. The framing is rotted, the foundation is not suitable, and current design does not withstand the loads expected in the ever-changing environment in the northeast.” “There isn’t a straight line in the place,” noted Lens. Another complication is that the building lies in a flood plain, a cause of much of the wood rot. Like their counterparts working on the Warren project, students couldn’t get a first-hand look at the structure

due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Collaborating online, Smrtic and his fellow civil engineering majors Oliver Anderson, Brennan O’Neil and Paula Statskey developed a restoration plan that retains the shed’s integrity while providing repairs and upgrades that the students say will give the building a long second life. Foundation repairs include installation of concrete piers under each wall post to provide support and prevent shifting. Flood vents will regulate the flow of water under the building during high water events. Granite blocks making up the original foundation have sunk or shifted over the years. These will be leveraged back into place between concrete piers to recreate the original appearance. The students recommended adding more natural light by adding four more barn doors, two on each side, and filling empty window casings with double-hung windows. Interior lighting will be powered by a solar panel array installed on the roof, making the building energy selfsufficient. The students ballparked a total price tag of materials at about $300,000. Dunbar and her CAE colleagues can’t wait to get started on the fundraising phase to make the vision a reality. “This project has helped so much in putting us on a faster track,” she said. “The students showed us how to rehabilitate the structure in such a way that makes it functional for years to come without sacrificing its character.”

Professor John Lens. Photo: Sally McCay

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EXTREME HEAT PROJECT BY GEEDA SEARFO ORCE AND SARAH TUFF DUNN Graduate student Parker King prepares to collect temperature observation data on a custom e-bike sensor platform during the summer of 2021 UVM extreme heat observation campaign. Photo: Elizabeth Doran.

Recently, $300,000 was awarded by NOAA’s Climate Program Office to "Exposure-based Extreme Heat Vulnerability Mapping to Inform Adaptation and Mitigation of Extreme Heat Exposure Risk in Small Cities and Rural Settlements.”

Overseen by UVM's Elizabeth Doran, PhD, a CEMS research assistant professor, the two-year College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences project has involved both graduate and undergraduate students in the data collection and research and was one of only five selected through a competitive review process. The projects will build on outcomes from NOAA's community-led field campaigns, which have helped engage the Burlington community and have produced critical hyperlocal temperature information. But cities, and Vermont's smaller cities and communities in particular, need more tools and resources to help them determine the most effective and efficient solutions tailored to their needs. Gregory Rowangould, Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UVM and Director

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of the Transportation Research Center, explained “The smaller, more fine grained, approach we are taking with this new research project will allow us to identify where people all across Vermont are exposed to excessive heat produced by transportation infrastructure, map areas of vulnerability (where there is higher heat and populations at greater risk of adverse health impacts from heat exposure), and help state and municipal agencies target solutions to the places and people that most need them.” “Even within the same community, some neighborhoods are experiencing much higher temperatures than others,” said Hunter Jones, lead of CPO’s Extreme Heat Risk Team. “These projects will address research gaps to help communities understand what factors are contributing to urban heat disparities and evaluate sciencebased interventions to design safer cities and protect communities.”

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Photos: Courtesy of NOAA

Elizabeth Doran took some time to answer a few questions about extreme heat:

Q. What has past research shown about extreme heat and Vermont?

Q. Why is the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences — in a rural state like Vermont — well suited to undertake a project on extreme heat?

A. Past research has shown that extreme heat, combined with cold winters, means New Englanders are susceptible to heat related illness at lower temperatures, around 87 degrees Fahrenheit, than in other parts of the country where the threshold is 90 degrees. The state has additional factors that contribute to extreme heat vulnerability including an aging population and some of the oldest building stock in the country. So, we are also working with Vermont's unique high resolution data sets to better understand who is potentially exposed to areas of elevated temperature based on where they live.

A. It may seem counterintuitive to conduct research on urban heat in a small, rural state, but it's important to remember that the highest temperatures associated with this summer's recent extreme heat wave out west occurred in the small community of Lytton, Canada, which has a population of 250. In fact, every community with a village, town or city center likely has the built infrastructure that contributes to what is generally called the urban heat island, where developed areas are warmer than their rural surroundings, particularly at night. Big cities usually get most of the attention, but recent NOAA mapping efforts in cities around the country suggest that the heat distribution in a given community can vary significantly over fairly small distances. That's what makes this NOAA funded extreme heat project so interesting. We are collecting data to characterize the heat signature in small and rural communities across the state that are often left out of this type of research.

Q. What is the goal of this project? A. In addition to raising awareness about this issue in local communities, the findings of this project should help our state and local partners better target programs and interventions to help communities and individuals adapt to future heat waves. We can't control the weather, but we can do our best to prepare. To that end, we are excited to be working with a robust network of partners across the state including the Vermont Health Department, Vermont Emergency Management, Efficiency Vermont, and the National Weather Service, among others.

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Lake Champlain Sea Grant at the University of Vermont has announced the recipients of its inaugural undergraduate scholarship for 2021-2022. Eight UVM undergraduates in three academic units on campus have each been granted a 15-month Sea Grant Scholarship that includes a financial award, an internship experience, and professional development opportunities. James Se Yoon Cairn ’23 and Olivia Szumski ’24 are the Sea Grant Scholars from the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. The Sea Grant Scholars program supports a cohort of diverse scholars, selected based on academic ability, commitment to a career in science or related field, financial need, and first-generation college student status.

James Se Yoon Cairn ‘23, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences - James was born in Seoul, South Korea and was adopted at six months old and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and then to Amherst, Massachusetts at age five. Growing up in New England, he instantly fell in love with the outdoors. James chose Environmental Engineering as a major because as a child he was always building and problem solving. He wants to make an impact to do good in the world and use his education to protect the environment. He has travelled many places to experience the outdoors and loves to explore. He also loves any team sports and competing at any level!

The 2021-22 undergraduate Sea Grant Scholars kicked off their 15-month scholarship at UVM with professional development activities on campus and in the Burlington area, led by Dr. Paliza Shrestha (front far right), a postdoctoral associate. The Students pictured are Maxine Asmussen ’24, Paige Carpenter ’23, Mariah Choiniere ’23, and Jolie Scott ’23 of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources; Ishan Maratha ’24 and Margaret Polifrone ’23 of the College of Arts and Sciences; and James Se Yoon Cairn ’23 and Olivia Szumski ’24 of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

The Scholars program strives to grow representation of and help to prepare Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), or first-generation college students for successful careers in science, science communications, technology, policy, natural resources management, engineering, or related fields. Sea Grant Scholars will each be matched with a STEMfocused business or organization involved in developing and sharing science-based information to benefit the environment or local economies in the Lake Champlain basin or in their hometown watershed.

Olivia Szumski ’24, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences - Olivia is from Ludlow, Massachusetts and is pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering. Her hobbies include skiing with friends at Sugarbush Resort on the weekends, hiking and camping, enjoying the water whether for recreational use with friends or teaching swimming lessons, hammocking with good music and a sketch book, and trying new restaurants in Burlington. “I look forward to learning how to actively engage other students in learning about the inequalities in STEM fields, including first-generation students, BIPOC, and women, and how to work to change these inequalities and make a more diverse learning and working environment.” -Olivia Szumski, Environmental Engineering major and Sea Grant Scholar

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Left top and bottom: Torben Orla Nielsen visited UVM this past summer. Right: Mads Almassalkhi presenting to the Danish Consular. Photos: Andy Dubak


Torben Orla Nielsen, consular officer and science/techology attaché in Denmark’s Boston Consulate, met in July with University of Vermont researchers and key leaders in Vermont’s energy sector at the university’s Davis Center.

energy innovation, things that we can all collaborate on,” Nielsen said.

The meeting follows closely on the heels of a memorandum of understanding signed June 7 by U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Denmark Minister of Climate, Energy and Nielsen said he came away impressed Utilities Dan Jørgensen. The agreement by the resourcefulness of business, outlines areas of collaboration between government and non-profit leaders he met. the two countries in clean energy research, science and technology. “I think the small size of Vermont helps the collaborative process,” The meeting was arranged by UVM Nielsen said. “One of the people I Associate Professor of Electrical and met said today ‘we know how to get Biomedical Engineering Mads Almasthings done.’” Nielsen is an economist salkhi. A Danish native, he invited and a scientist as well as a diplomat. Nielsen to come north to get a close look at Vermont, which Almassalkhi “I see diplomacy moving from classidescribes as a “rock star” when it cal international politics to focusing comes to energy innovation. on specific areas like science and

“This is an opportunity to describe how Vermont’s energy vision, implementation, and execution is unique, world-class and impactful,” he said. Almassalkhi sees the conference as a first step in positioning UVM and the state as key partners in joint Danish-American projects to commercialize and scale emerging technologies as fast as possible. The meeting was followed by a series of visits to innovative energy and tech companies including Beta Technologies, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), Benchmark Space Systems, Hula and Packetized Energy.


University of Vermont researchers, including Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, will play a leadership role in a project designed to predict where populations of plants and animals in New England will move as their current locations become less hospitable in a warming world. Data generated by the project will help New England farmers and rural communities plan and adapt to the range shifts.

The National Science Foundation awarded $4 million over four years to the EPSCoR Research Infrastructure project to develop novel approaches and software for modeling, visualizing and forecasting spatial and temporal data. The research team — which includes faculty from the University of Maine and Champlain College, in addition to UVM — will build some of the

first mechanistic models of shifts in species ranges in response to climate change. The interdisciplinary research initiative is being led by the University of Maine.

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Taking action on phosphorus in Lake Champlain would bring tens of millions of dollars in benefits to Vermonters, researchers say. The University of Vermont research—which evaluates the benefits of phosphorus reduction on tourism, real estate, and human health around key parts of Lake Champlain—is the first study to calculate the return on investment of Lake Champlain phosphorus cleanup efforts. The University of Vermont study was conducted by PhD student Jesse Gourevitch with Professors Chris Koliba, CEMS’ Donna Rizzo, Asim Zia, and Taylor Ricketts from the Gund Institute for Environment and Vermont EPSCoR. The team comprises researchers from UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

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Focusing on Missisquoi Bay—a phosphorus hotspot at Lake Champlain’s northeastern end—the study estimates that if phosphorus inputs to the bay are eliminated, it would benefit local tourism by $28.5 million and property sales by $11.2 million between now and 2050. While the cost of phosphorous cleanup is significant, researchers estimate that the cumulative benefits will begin to outweigh these costs as early as 2057. After that, the net financial and social benefits of clean water and beaches will steadily increase for residents, businesses, and the State. The findings, published in the Journal of Environmental Management, help to justify greater phosphorus reduction expenditures, researchers say.

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Champlain,” says UVM lead author Jesse Gourevitch. “This study gives decision-makers the first formal costbenefit analysis of cleaning up the lake, which will bring a suite of benefits to Vermonters.” Building on UVM findings on the economic impacts of poor water quality in Lake Champlain, the study uses Vermont EPSCoR’s Integrated Assessment model, which currently only includes Missisquoi Bay data. The team evaluated water quality changes between 2016 and 2050 under a range of phosphorus reduction and climate change scenarios.

Above: Donna Rizzo Photo: Sally McCay

Left: Donna's Research Far Left: Aerial photo of Lake Champlain cyanobacteria/ algae bloom. Photo: University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Laboratory

The Missisquoi Bay watershed, a rural area with roughly 20,000 Vermonters, accounts for some of Lake Champlain’s highest phosphorus levels. Water quality in the bay is particularly at risk of algal blooms because of its shallow lake bed and phosphorus built up over time in the sediment. Towards the Future A critical next step is a cost-benefit assessment of cleaning up more parts of the lake. These projections could reveal a shorter return on investment if researchers can show the total benefits of clean water to Vermont— including real estate, tourism and health benefits from other parts of the lake—plus several other factors not in this study: recreational fishing, non-ALS-related health benefits, and many other cultural values that are difficult to quantify.

Benefits to health and economy In addition to tourism and real estate benefits, the study also projects a decrease in cases of ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with long-term exposure to phosphorus-driven cyanobacteria blooms. The projected benefits of cleaning up Missisquoi Bay— which the researchers call “undoubtedly conservative”— hint at the long-term value of phosphorus reduction across the lake. The benefits may be even greater when higher-population lake areas, such as Chittenden County— with higher property values and tourism revenues—are factored in. “These findings help make the case for greater investment in tackling our phosphorus problem to protect one of Vermont’s most valued environmental amenities—Lake

Noting that cash-strapped farmers often carry the financial burden of phosphorus reduction costs, the researchers suggest: “policies that support farmers’ financial viability” and “examining the cost effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce phosphorus.” One potential solution is the new Vermont Pay-For-Phosphorus pilot program, a partnership between the State of Vermont and UVM, that will pay farmers for phosphorus reductions. Putting a price tag on nature is challenging, but the researchers say it’s crucial for decision-makers who need to justify these investments. “How do you put a price on clean water—or the mental health benefits that being out on the lake provides us?” says Gourevitch. “The benefits we calculate are clearly underestimated, and do not capture the diverse values that people have around Lake Champlain,” he says.

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WHEELS OF ENCOURAGEMENT Mechanical Engineering Student Will Jeffries spreads joy through his love of cycling. Watch the WCAX News Team profile him and his work!


LINH NGUYEN EARNS ENGINEER OF THE YEAR AWARD WITH WATERSHED WORK Growing up in Vietnam, Linh Nguyen was initially intimidated by the idea of research, and misled by the country’s promotion of jobs and industry opportunities. “It led to my misconception that research work tended to be more ‘theoretical’ and less ‘practical,’ which I later discovered to be false claims,” recalls Nguyen, who discovered at UVM how research might lead to cleaner water for New York City through the Upper Esopus watershed—and to a Barrett Scholarship. “I was excited because it would not only

give me my first taste of doing research, but it would also be the first time for me to apply what I had learned from my electrical engineering minor to the type of work in my major, which is civil engineering, and specifically in the area of water resources.” Flash forward a few years, and Linh is a Barrett Scholar, an Engineer of the Year, and newly invigorated to consider environmental issues caused by climate change and urban and industrial

development. “The motivation and resilience I cultivated during my studies at UVM really helped me find the meaning of my work and the endurance that it required,” she says.


aircraft. Now, Shauna Kimura ‘22, has taken off in her role as a software intern at Beta, which began in December 2020 after three consecutive interviews and a coding challenge. “Every day at Beta is exciting,” says Shauna, who’s been able to flight-test with the scale models team and even learned to fly an eVTOL aircraft in the flight simulator. The most challenging part, she says, has been learning about aviation and electric-powered vehicles from the ground up, so to speak.

small contribution to their success and a more sustainable future. Being able to apply the skills I have learned at UVM to the technology industry has given me a completely new perspective.”

The Burlington area teems with innovative companies, and right now, one of the most innovative is Beta Technologies, which is designing revolutionary new

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Working with fellow interns, engineers and pilots, Shauna has developed such software tools as an interactive dashboard to view statistics on runtime for flight-test hardware parts. “It’s rewarding to witness Beta’s accomplishments on a daily basis,” she says, “and realize that I am making a

“Shauna joined the team with a strong ability to communicate, learn and execute,” says Beta Technologies team member Chris Woodall. “I was able to give her a task that was completely new to her. She not only completed the project, but took ownership of the project and was able to provide some additional analysis that was previously tedious to do in a way that was user friendly and extensible. She even took it on herself to figure out what was incorrect about the data we were collecting so that we could improve the quality of our results and analysis going forward.”

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(L to R) Jeff Frolik, Chair of the Electrical and Biomedical Engineering department, EE student Arianne Conde, EE Professor Eva Cosoroaba

Three-time IEEE Power and Energy Society scholarship recipient Arianne Conde grew up in Bethel, Vermont, where the surrounding rivers, woods, and mountains inspired her to study electrical engineering as a way to help slow climate change. This interest, coupled with a desire to push herself in a small school, has landed Conde the power to do almost anything with her career. “I want to work in the energy industry, preferably with renewable energy technologies,” says Conde, the vicepresident of UVM’s IEEE student club. The courses I've taken here at UVM have provided me with a really solid foundation

for going into the energy industry and have given me the opportunity to do lots of hands-on projects which are fun, great for learning, and look great on a resume.” What does it mean to be a three-time IEEE scholar? “I have the support of the IEEE community with me,” says Conde. “They recognized that I'm the type of student who's hard-working and passionate about issues that are relevant to IEEE, specifically when it comes to the energy industry. Being an IEEE scholar helped with financial security as well as providing networking opportunities with people in the energy industry. It's been an honor to be an IEEE scholar.”

THOMAS VOTTA SCHOLAR ELIZABETH DUFFY PUTS ENVIRONMENTAL INTEREST TO WORK Since she was 8 years old, Elizabeth Duffy’s been riding a bicycle built for two—herself and the environment. Having traveled all over Europe on bike trips from second grade through high school in Jackson, New Hampshire, she has seen firsthand the power of low-impact transportation. Now, Elizbeth is merging her two-wheeling ways with UVM undergraduate environmental coursework to become a Graduate Research Assistant for the Transportation Research Center at UVM. Her work on greenhouse gas emissions from long-distance travel,

conducted with Dr. Lisa Aultman Hall, has earned her a Thomas Votta Scholarship, among other rewards and insights.


While at UVM, recent PhD graduate Nawaf Nazir tapped into the university’s resources not only for his studies, but also for long-term energy solutions, thanks to an internship at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). While at NREL, he worked on optimization of energy resources in the grid under large amounts of solar generation. “The major challenge here is the uncertainty in solar power due to cloud cover, etc.” he explains. “My work entailed using optimization techniques that account for uncertainty in renewable generation.”

“The most surprising thing I have learned about transportation and the environment is how little we know of our impact,” she says. “There are high-levels of uncertainty in findings due to the many factors involved with estimating transportation emissions. I look forward to the changes we will make in our transportation system that will allow our use of travel modes too differ and our

Because of his work on renewable energy integration at UVM, Nazir was able to

estimation of emissions to have more certainty.” Elizabeth hopes to become a professional engineer focusing on sustainability and addressing climate change.

collaborate with researchers at NREL and eventually work there on “real-world problems,” he says. The experience also inspired him to apply for a position at Pacific Northwest National Lab, where he was previously an intern and where he will soon be starting a new job. “The most rewarding part of working at NREL was being able to collaborate with research scientists and to communicate my ideas,” says Nazir. This allowed me to get feedback from researchers working on practical problems and be able to propose my ideas to help solve some very complex challenges.”

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2020-2021 Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year Lecture Instruction category

2020-2021 Outstanding Master's Thesis Award

Calum Buchanan is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UVM, pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics. Calum received his bachelor’s degree in 2017 at the same institution, with majors in Mathematics and English with a minor in French. As an undergraduate, Calum tutored and was a Teaching Assistant during the summers for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. It was there that he found a passion for teaching – in particular, for finding intuitive ways to teach mathematics. After graduation, Calum taught English language courses in two middle schools near Nantes, France.

UVM’s Graduate College bestowed the 2020-2021 Outstanding Master's Thesis Award to Jo Martin, M.S., G’20. The Outstanding Master's Thesis Award recognizes exceptional work on behalf of a Master’s student, as demonstrated by their thesis, including significant contributions to their field of study.

In 2019, Calum returned to UVM to study combinatorial graph theory under the advising of Dr. Puck Rombach. Both as a researcher and as a teacher, Calum has the goal of making mathematics accessible to a wider audience. He hopes to simplify both problems and their explanations for his students and to help them develop the intuition needed to tackle new problems on their own. Working with undergraduates has been a welcome change, and he looks forward to continuing to hone his teaching skills at UVM.

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Jo Martin grew up in the Midwest and graduated from Oberlin College in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in Geology. After college she worked with the IS-GEO research coordination network where she researched interdisciplinary education at the intersection of earth and data science. While passionate about earth science questions, Jo discovered a love of pure math, thanks to some excellent professors, and came to UVM in 2018 to pursue a master's degree in mathematics. At UVM Jo worked as a teaching assistant in the Geology Department and began research in graph theory with Professor Puck Rombach. In her master's research she looked at how global graph properties influence a new graph property, the guessing number, which is related to information flow through networks, and is a very fun guessing game. Jo is currently living and working in Burlington and is excited about the prospect of having continued fun with math for the rest of her life.

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Left: Sara Kalb. Above: Brooke Bednarke.


At the end of last semester, CEMS students Brooke Bednarke and Sara Kalb produced a t-shirt fundraiser to support students in Kenya. As members of the UVM chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, they are keenly aware of the profound impact of supportive efforts on the global community. Bednarke just graduated as a Biomedical Engineer studying cells, tissues, and organ biomechanics. She is also continuing at UVM for one more year to get her Masters as part of the Accelerated Masters Program. Kalb is entering her senior year as a Biomedical Engineering student. What inspired you to work on a fundraiser for students in Kenya?

Photos: Courtesy of the students

How did it go? SK: The fundraiser went really well. Fiona Doherty (an amazing SWE board member) designed the graphic that we used. And, with Fresh Prints graciously agreeing to match the money raised, we were able to raise enough that went straight to the scholarship fund to cover student schooling for 50 days. BB: I was so happy to hear that Sara was interested in helping do something for these kids too. I exchanged some emails between her and Mr. Weiss (who was so appreciative of this) and we then were able to do another fundraiser through SWE. Knowing that UVM engineering has played a role in someone else’s life in a way that will help empower them makes me feel so warm and thankful that I could be a part of that.

SK: Brooke introduced me to the Weiss Scholarship Fund, her high school teacher founded it and it's a great way to give back and take away the financial burden of sending kids to school. Aside from it being a great cause, it really What did you feel and learn after this experience? aligns with the Society of Women Engineers' values that we help provide education and empowerment to those in need. SK: I felt good giving back, next time maybe we can collaborate with other clubs so that the market isn't so BB: Mr. Weiss was my teacher in high school and when he niche and we can sell even more. Overall, I really learned introduced us to the education system in Kenya it was truly that if you don't ask you don't receive. I knew I wanted a heartbreaking. So many kids, girls particularly, were very portion of the proceeds to donate and was willing to ask excluded from an education. I am very fortunate that I am Fresh Prints to match. It was that easy and the donation in a position at UVM where I can encourage others to do doubled. some good. BB: We all have the ability to change someone’s life—we just have to decide if we are willing to. I really cannot thank Sara and everyone else who participated this part year to raise over $500 for this scholarship fund.

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Clockwise from top left: Olivia O'Brien shows students equipment in the FabLab. Lisa Dion works with Girls Who Code. Girl Scouts visiting CEMS during Aiken Engineering Week in 2019. Dia Brown in the FabLab with students. BY KEVIN COBURN

Photos: David Seaver

After completing graduate school at the University of Michigan in 2016, Lisa Dion cast about for a summer internship before taking up her duties as a lecturer at UVM. Then an ad for a program called Girls Who Code caught her eye. “Women are definitely underrepresented in computer science and working toward gender parity is something close to my heart,” Dion said. She had never heard of Girls Who Code but was intrigued enough to apply for a summer position. She was accepted and soon found herself in Atlanta receiving a week of intensive training. As a newly minted Girls Who Code instructor, she taught a seven-week course that summer to 20 girls. Dion was thrilled about the experience but disappointed to learn during her training that Vermont was one of only two states in the U.S. without a Girls Who Code chapter. Girls Who Code Girls Who Code is a non-profit organization founded by Reshma Saujani, a New York attorney and activist. During her primary campaign as a Congressional candidate for the 14th District of New York in 2010, she emerged as a strong advocate for closing the gender gap in computer science. She lost the race, but established Girls Who Code in 2012. The organization now claims over 8500 programs, clubs and summer immersion programs around the world. The Girls Who Code website points out that fewer women are entering computer science fields than men—and they are losing ground. “In 1995, 37% of computer scientists were women. Today, it’s only 24%. The percent will continue to decline if we do nothing.”

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Dion is aware of the problem on the local level. She collaborates with faculty members in computer science and the UVM College of Education and Social Services to address the dearth of teachers certified to teach CS to junior high and senior high schools in Vermont. The group found that 60% of Vermont high schools reported offering CS courses in 2020. But when data are disaggregated for socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender, only 50% of rural high schools in Vermont offer CS courses. Dion began meeting with middle- and high-school aged girls Saturday mornings for two hours in a UVM computer lab. She based her lessons loosely on the Girls Who Code online curriculum, providing long-term projects like building a website. The participants built on their knowledge week to week, starting with pictures and headings, adding styles, colors and sizes, and eventually learning basic programming languages. Over the years, Dion has recruited UVM students to help run the classes. Currently she has student volunteers who help out when they can and three students enrolled in CS 192, a one-credit service-learning class offered by CEMS. Girls Who Code classes are free—funding through the Vermont Consortium Space Grant helped pay for technology like Arduino kits, open-source hardware for young people starting out in coding and electronics. “The good part is that you only need to have a computer with internet access,” said Dion. “That’s also made it available to more kids. We have a student in Maine who is joining us now.” One of the students in the club, Nisha Shah, travelled with Dion to represent the club at the NASA Space Grant's 30th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, D.C. in February 2020. “She’s told me that because of the club she’s going to go into biomedical engineering. She might not have considered that before starting coding and being introduced to the STEM area, so that was really nice to hear."

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The program's exponential growth, despite the pandemic, gives youth fulfilling STEM opportunities. For 16 years, FIRST Tech Challenge has been bringing together students in grades 7 through 12 to a robotics competition where they compete to design and build and program a robot. Now, the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, the UVM Extension and its 4-H network is extending the event into the pre-college community, benefitting from a $40,000 STEM equity grant landed in partnership with Burlington's Generator Makerspace. Vermont has doubled the number of its teams from 15 to 30 in regional hubs throughout the state, and shows no signs of slowing down in this empowering and professional environment. “I've been at IBM for 40 years and know how open-ended real world engineering problems can be,” says John Cohn, Ph.D., an IBM Fellow at the MIT-IBM Watson Lab who has been coordinating the program in Vermont. "I see FIRST Robotics as a program that teaches a student to work in a real live environment: one where there are no easy answers, one that you do everything in teams and one where you have real constraints, like not enough time or not having the perfect equipment. FIRST is a really fun and practical way to learn about the very challenging multidisciplinary problems which the real world presents." To see the confidence of kids thinking something is impossible and then not only overcoming it but also mastering it “is pretty powerful,” says Cohn. The funds from the grant go toward FIRST Tech Challenge gear, which will now equip four Vermont FIRST Tech Challenge hubs with tools for not only this past year’s event, but also future innovation and competition. Overcoming Obstacles, Solving Problems Complicating the current FIRST Tech Challenge has been the pandemic, which has meant that students aren’t able

FIRST Tech Challenge participants show off their work. Photo: David Seaver

to come on campus to work on something that requires multiple hands. But Cohn has been impressed by the number of teams they were still able to form, and by how participants are overcoming pandemic obstacles. “The whole FIRST mindset is about innovating under constraints and figuring out how to solve a big problem,” he says. “It's very interesting to see how FIRST and the students who are doing it are addressing COVID in that same vein. I've been just blown away with how people have found out how to get around these constraints safely.” Developing Professional – and Life – Skills Kimberly Griffin is the 4-H educator for Rutland and Bennington counties and recently spoke about the FIRST Tech Challenge on “Across the Fence,” a UVM-produced, WCAX (CBS-affiliate) segment. “One aspect of FIRST robotics that I really admire is the foundational value of gracious professionalism,” she said. “Which is, essentially, a charge to learn as much as you can — develop a professional skill-set, and to do so graciously, from a place of humility, through the practice of helping others along the way. Also involved in 4-H, UVM Professor Chris Callahan is part of the UVM Extension services, a FIRST Tech Challenge coach and the person in charge of one of the four FIRST Tech Challenge hubs, at the Bennington Area Makerspace. “FIRST Tech Challenge is a great way to see, hear and feel science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics come to life,” says Callahan, who works with two teams of participants aged 12 to 18. “It’s energizing to share their excitement,” says Callahan, “and to help them work through their design and strategies. It gives me energy and hope for the future.”

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Vermont may be known for its bridges, but when two of them became far too deteriorated in Middlebury, it was time for an upgrade to a rail tunnel. It was an ambitious project, but no match for the ambitions of Jonathan Griffin, P.E., ‘10 a distinguished alumnus of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) at UVM. His years of work on the Middlebury Bridge and Rail Tunnel Project recently earned him the honor of being named Vermont’s 2021 Young Engineer of the Year. “Success for one group may be on time delivery, and another group would mean mitigating impacts to resources, and to another group mean maintaining mobility, and to another group reducing impact to community members and businesses,” says Griffin, who worked on the design phase of the project before assuming the role of resident engineer, overseeing the successful construction of this exceedingly complex $82 million project, including budget, staffing, contract amendments, public engagement, and the completely unexpected necessities associated with COVID -19 compliance. “I worked hard to try and keep all perspectives in mind and do the best that I could to remember who the client was— the taxpayers and community members—and ensure that project decisions kept those goals in mind,” adds Griffin. Griffin received the award at the annual Engineers Week celebration, which is sponsored by the state’s engineering societies. The Vermont Young Engineer of the Year award is presented to a licensed professional engineer or registered engineering intern in Vermont. Selection of the award winner is made by a committee of the five most recent winners of the Vermont Engineer of the Year award.

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“I was honored when the ASCE Vermont Chapter asked me if I would accept their nomination to compete for this award,” he says. “I know there are a lot of great engineers in the State of Vermont doing amazing things and wasn’t sure how I would stack up against the ‘competition.’ Once I was informed that I had actually been selected to receive the award, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, pride, appreciation and thankfulness.” Jim Gish, the community liaison for the Middlebury Rail and Tunnel Project, commended Griffin’s leadership and collaboration. Griffin inherited “a highly visible project with complex engineering and construction challenges in a community on edge about the project’s impact on its economic, social, and cultural vitality,” wrote Gish in a letter of reference included in the nomination package. He explained how Griffin “has proved himself a good communicator and a smart strategic thinker who is able to resolve issues and concerns that inevitably crop up in the complex relationships with community stakeholders and within the project team.” Griffin is now an expert consultant in the manufactured housing industry, assisting retailers, installers, lenders, realtors, and homeowners to comply with the federal code of regulations. He has become a licensed property inspector in Vermont and prides himself on being an affordable and knowledgeable resource for his customers. Griffin is also proud of his studies at CEMS. “I believe that the experiences and opportunities provided to me by my years enrolled at CEMS certainly helped to shape me both personally and professionally,” he says. “I was probably an average or even below average student academically when measured by my GPA; however, I learned more than my final examination scores might have reflected. Those lessons were valuable in becoming a contributing member of the engineering community.”

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FEATURED ALUMS Vasu Sojitra Vasu Sojitra summited and skied Denali with a team of six adaptive skiers.

On June 20, Vasu Sojitra was part of a team of 6 adaptive skiers who summited and skied Denali, the 20,310-foot Alaskan peak. The 29-year-old based in Bozeman, Montana, told Outside magazine, “These First Disabled Descents aren’t about me or…any one individual

Photo: Courtsey of Outside Magazine

person,” says Sojitra. “FDDs showcase and represent the power we as Disabled people have when provided access to opportunities and resources.”

occurred between them. Support from friends and family has helped him in similar ways to the boy in the story, who learns it’s okay to receive help from those around him when he needs it. Norman affirmed that the comprehensive theme in his book is that it should be encouraged to ask for help when needed.


In times of despair, something that keeps us going is the support of those around us. Troy Norman, who graduated from UVM in Fall 2012 with a degree in Mathematics from the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, recently self-published a children’s book with this hopeful message. Titled “Pull Yourself Up by your Booty Boot Straps?”, the book declares to its young readers the importance of having people they can lean on in order to “pull yourself up.” Norman was born in New Zealand, which is where the story takes place, and moved to Vermont at the age of 10. He has an older brother who is also a UVM graduate, Dane Norman ‘08. Troy explained that the importance of his own family was instilled in him after a particular struggle

Although he received his degree from UVM in mathematics, Norman has been quite successful in maintaining a balance between the logical and artistic sides of his brain thanks to immense skill in math and science and a wealth of experience with editing and teaching. Other experience includes data and educational organization administrative functions. Knowing this, it is no surprise Norman chose to write a story that would inspire and teach young children. He even attributed his logical brain to the idea behind the book, saying he found the phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” confusing because it’s physically impossible. The phrase is also misleading; we need love and support from those around us to achieve our goals—big and small. Norman hopes his book makes an impact on the children who read it, which is fitting because he made quite an impact during his time at UVM. Joan Marie Rosebush, professor of mathematics, remembers her experience with Norman fondly: “Troy Norman and I hit it off at Orientation! I am proud of Troy as a student. He excelled! More importantly, he is a wonderful human being. Troy lives life to the fullest, always with a keen sense of humor! Relationships mean the world to him. He has always modeled balance in his life and concern for others.”

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Members of the Summer Enrichment Scholars Program (SESP) from 2019. This past year, events were held virtually, but BIPOC students were engaged and launched into the fall with enthusiasm! Images from the inaugural Leadership Retreat for CEMS 50 mentors and student club leaders this fall.


The College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences has received a generous gift from the Donofrio Family STEM Enrichment Fund to support BIPOC STEM excellence. Initiated by Nick Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus and EVP Innovation and Technology, Retired, this support already has helped first generation and students of color start to build their community here at UVM, gain invaluable early resources, tutoring and faculty connections and gain college credit in a summer math course, satisfying a university requirement. This year, the support program continues with events for the STEM BIPOC student population at UVM featuring guest speakers, networking, career services/resume review, access to faculty, and a speed-mentoring event with faculty to connect students with undergraduate research experiences—inspiring academic curiosity and greatly increasing retention rates. There are over 600 BIPOC STEM students in the Colleges of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences; Agriculture and Life Sciences; Environment and Natural Resources; Nursing and Health Sciences; and Arts and Sciences at

the University of Vermont. With the help of the Donofrio Family STEM Enrichment Fund’s support, CEMS and UVM can help bridge the gap between their fields of study and future career endeavors and to: • Assist them in making meaningful connections with researchers on campus, their college deans, and STEM experts in the field • Help them prepare their résumé and portfolio materials for interviewing and networking • Hear from corporate partners and allow those partners to connect with students • Inspire confidence in BIPOC STEM students • Introduce students to research opportunities, internships, and co-ops in with they may participate • Build community among BIPOC STEM students with the ultimate goal of increasing retention among these students • Reduce BIPOC STEM students’ feelings of isolation on campus and in the field


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Left: Vicki Hildebrand. Above: Hildebrand being sworn into her US CIO role by Secretary Elaine Chao, accompanied by her son, David Hildebrand.

Current Roles: Member, Center for Biomedical Innovation Advisory Board CIO and VP of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) At BCBSVT, Vicki implements future technology and data management capabilities to better serve consumers, clients, and employees.

Passion: Vicki has been active in STEM-related learning for her entire career and continues to support women with an interest in technology.

Previous Roles: Member, CEMS Board of Advisors Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the United States Department of Transportation During her time in Washington, Vicki spearheaded a digital transformation program that resulted in tens of millions of savings, a more resilient cyber security infrastructure, and the implementation of modern data management techniques across all the Department’s agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration.

As a Vermonter, I've always been very proud of, and grateful for, my UVM engineering education. The smaller class sizes and personal attention provided me with a lot of confidence as I started my career. I also appreciated the opportunity to be active on campus and pursue my hobbies and interests. Being well rounded was encouraged. I left UVM with skills that allowed my career to grow. It's important to me to help provide that same experience for the next generations. What do you see as the importance of CEMS education?

Multiple leadership roles at Hewlett-Packard Inc.. Vicki worked for more than 30 years leading hardware and software development, systems engineering, architecture, operations, global services. Education: B.S. in Electrical Engineering, University of Vermont M.S. in Technology Management, Columbia University

What does giving back to and getting involved with CEMS mean to you?

More than ever the world is relying on engineers and technologists to advance business and to solve the challenges of our day. We're lucky to have such a highly regarded school at UVM.

Above and Beyond: As a US Figure Skating Gold Medalist and former coach, Vicki is a figure skating judge in her free time. S U M M I T 2021-202 2

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FRONT COVER Lake Champlain algae blooms, Mads Almassalkhi presenting to the Danish Consular, Donna Rizzo's research, and NOAA image of person during a heatwave. Photos: Sally McCay, Joshua E. Brown, Andy Dubak, and NOAA

Aerial view of University Row.

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