This has been one of those weeks when I've absolutely loved being a Professor at the University of Vermont and a member of our Environmental Program.
My class is humming along at full speed, and students are contacting me outside of class to talk about research opportunities in ecology and environmental studies. Yesterday, I talked with a couple of colleagues about an exciting study abroad program in Central America that will appeal to many of our students. This morning, I had a coffee with my friend and colleague Nick Gotelli (Biology, College of Arts and Sciences) to talk about a whole host of things. I also got to meet prospective students and their parents and tell them about our interdisciplinary, independently designed program, opportunities for internships, our team of advisors, and more. One of the parents I met today is an alum (class of '80), so I got to hear wonderful stories about life in the early days of the Program with Carl Riedel, Ian Worley, Tom Hudspeth and others.
Just now, I've come from a meeting with Rachelle Gould, Aimee Classen, Brendan Fisher from Rubenstein and Beverly Wemple and Cheri Morse (Geography Department, College of Arts and Sciences) where we shared our own research and explored the intersections of human well-being, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and ecosystem functions in mountain landscapes around Vermont. It's going to evolve into an exciting cross-campus research program, supported initially by a Gund Catalyst grant.
So it's been a good week of teaching, thinking about new courses, meeting prospective students (and their parents), and collaborating across campus on an exciting project - some of the many reasons I love being a part of the Environmental Program at UVM.
Happy Friday -
You might remember that last fall, I sent around an email about Alexander Pyron's views on biodiversity. His essay in the Washington Post was entitled "We don’t need to save endangered species. Extinction is part of evolution." As you can imagine, that essay by Pyron elicited some response, some of which I discussed a couple of months ago. But here's my favorite response so far. It's by the amazing Carl Safina (author of books such as A Sea in Flames, Voyage of the Turtle, Eye of the Albatross, and Song for the Blue Ocean). I really encourage all of you to go read it (it's also pasted below).
And if you'd like to study biodiversity (or other current and future environmental challenges), don't forget about the Ian Worley Awards! You can get up to $7500 for your research and scholarship, as long as you are an imaginative undergraduate Environmental Studies major or minor, an undergraduate enrolled in any 200‐level ENVS course, or a UVM faculty member who regularly teaches Environmental Studies courses.
I'm a firm believer in the value of getting undergraduate students engaged in research and scholarship early in their time at the university. It's important for a whole host of reasons. It increases retention and enhances complex problem-solving skills in students. And, well, undergraduates often make amazing discoveries that lead to academic articles. In fact, one of the things I'm most proud of in my career is that I've published 22 peer-reviewed papers with undergraduates as co-authors.
I also think getting students doing research and scholarship is important because it was important for me when I was an undergrad. I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't started doing research in the lab and field with David Dussourd and Deane Bowers when I was an undergraduate.
The Environmental Program has supported undergraduate research for many years. But I'd like to announce today that we're increasing our support. This year, we will make available nearly $50,000 to support environmentally related research and scholarship by undergraduate students at the University of Vermont. There are several awards this year, but today I'm just going to tell you about my favorite one, the Ian Worley Award. (Note that the forms and deadlines on our website are outdated). Please share this with your colleagues, students, classes, and others.
The Ian Worley Award
These awards foster and celebrate creative, integrative, imaginative, and innovative approaches in addressing current and future environmental challenges.
Who can apply? – Any imaginative undergraduate Environmental Studies major or minor, undergraduates enrolled in any 200‐level ENVS course, and UVM faculty members who regularly teach Environmental Studies courses.
What projects can I propose? – You may propose any creative or innovative project, whether in art, education, journalism, activism, community partnership, or academic research, etc., that addresses an environmental issue. We invite you to propose projects with new and even untested paths of mind and thought that address critical responses to persisting environmental ills or the sudden appearance of unforeseen threats, and/or the enhancement of flourishing environments and Earth’s well-being. Check out the projects of previous winners, and use these themes as guiding principles:
– New paths of mind and thought
– A broadly interdisciplinary approach
– Creative, integrative, imaginative, and innovative approaches – The potential to be a catalyst for change
How much can I ask for? - Anywhere between $500 and $7500. Multiple awards may be given.
When's the deadline? - Apply by March 23 to receive full consideration, though some applications may be considered throughout the spring semester.
How do I apply? - Send a single .pdf or .docx file to Nathan.Sanders@uvm.edu with Ian Worley Award in the subject line.
The proposal should have the following format:
1) A Cover sheet that indicates: a) name of project, b) name of proposer, c) contact information, d) faculty sponsor, if you are a student, e) proposed budget total, f) any additional funding support, g) project timeline.
2) A project description with details on the proposed project or idea, not more than 2 single-spaced pages in 11 pt font. The description should explain how the idea meets the award criteria, why the applicant is prepared and qualified to carry out the project, expected timeline and outcomes. You should include enough detail so the project is clear and understandable to the ENVS award review committee.
3) A budget description that includes an overview paragraph with budget rationale, and a detailed budget, line by line, of all equipment, items, travel, etc. necessary to complete the project. Proposed award budgets must be between $500-7,500 total. If additional funds are necessary to complete the work, explain how you will obtain them.
4) An equipment and necessary facilities description, if appropriate. State how these items will be obtained, and if costs are involved how those costs will be paid.
4) Letter of support from faculty sponsor (if a student proposal) indicating strengths of the idea and willingness to serve as sponsor, not more than 2 paragraphs long. This can be emailed separately to the Program Director if the letter writer prefers.
5) A resume of the proposer not more than 2 pages long.
6) Additional supporting and explanatory documentation is welcome, if concise. Check with the Program Director for appropriateness.
Note: If your project or creative activity involves human or animal subjects, we will need documentation for IRB clearance.
For questions on the application process, allowable expenses, or review process, please contact Nate Sanders, Director of the Environmental Program, Nathan.Sanders@uvm.edu (ie, me).
We hear a lot about the collapse of pollinators in the news (and probably in our courses too).
And we should. About 75% of all crops globally rely on pollinators. But most of the attention of late, at least in the US, has focused on the honeybee, Apis mellifera. We should be concerned about their potential decline, for sure. But, here's an important perspective published in Science magazine last week by a friend of mine from Denmark that I think many of you will enjoy reading. I've pasted the text below, and the citation for those of you who are interested.
(And I hope you all don't mind if I occasionally use this forum to share research and policy that are likely relevant to this community).
Happy Friday -
Conserving honey bees does not help wildlife
Juan P. González-Varo
Science 26 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6374, pp. 392-393
If you would like to work with Nate
Please email him a summary of your research experience and research goals, along with a CV.