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Lyme disease is increasingly prevalent in Vermont and GMC biology prof. Bill Landesman is trying to find out why. He received a $25,000 grant from the Vermont Genetics Network to continue his research on the density of black legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, which can cause the disease in humans. Several GMC undergrads are helping him with the research this summer. “What’s really important is to be able to let folks know, 'what are the risks?' Are there places within the county that they should be extra careful? ... Are there times of year where tick density is really high or infection rate is really high?" Read more in this Rutland Herald article.

Prof. Bill Landesman (biology) received a $25,000 Pilot Renewal Grant from the Vermont Genetics Network to continue his research into the ecology and microbiology of Lyme disease in Vermont ("Ecological drivers of Borrelia burgdorferi infection in the black- legged tick (Ixodes scapularis)." This summer he will collect ticks from forest ecosystems in Rutland county and quantify several Lyme disease risk factors including densities of black-legged ticks, the percentage of ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi (the spirochaete bacteria that causes Lyme disease) and the B. burgdorferi loading among infected ticks (e.g. how many individual pathogen cells are present in each infected tick). “On a per capita basis, Vermont reported the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the United States in 2013. This project will provide needed information about the types of forests and time of year during which people are most susceptible to acquiring Lyme disease,” Bill said. A laboratory activity is being planned around this project for Microbiology (BIO 4008) to be offered in the Fall 2015 semester. In addition, the grant will fund up to three undergraduate researchers this summer. Interested students may contact Bill at for more information.

Prof. Jim Graves (biology) presented at the 2015 Native Plants Symposium: “Cultivating the Future of Native Plants: Conservation and Design." The first national symposium organized by the Native Plants Section of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) met in Austin, Texas, March 18-20, at one of the leading institutions in conservation gardening, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Jim, who chairs the Native Plants Section of the APGA, helped plan the event and served as a speaker and panelist on the “Defining Native” panel. The symposium brought together biologists, landscape architects, horticulturists, and educators for sessions on plant conservation, garden design, and establishing markets for native plants. Highlights included a field trip to visit ecologist and landscape designer David Mahler’s restoration approach to landscape design at a two-acre home site with plants of the surrounding Texas hill country, a field trip to the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, one of the inspirations for Mahler’s restoration work, a keynote address by plant ecologist Peter White, and a closing plenary by internationally celebrated landscape architect Darrel Morrison whose work is inspired and influenced by local ecological systems. Many design concepts in cutting edge conservation gardens discussed at the conference can be applied in sustainable landscaping on the Green Mountain College campus. See the symposium brochure for program details.

Prof. William Landesman (biology) was invited to make a presentation on Nov. 21 for the Department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont. His talk was titled "Spatial and temporal dynamics of soil bacterial communities in forests of the eastern United States.”

Prof. Natalie Coe
was quoted in a Vermont Women magazine story on the Vermont Genetic Network (VGN) mission to spread a “culture of research” across the state of Vermont. In addition to providing grants to researchers for their projects, the VGN provides services shared among funded projects, and with other scientists throughout the state. Natalie says access to these services has been instrumental in helping faculty and students at GMC advance their work. “People are surprised that a small liberal arts college would be able to offer this,” she said. “The breadth, depth and quality of the courses that we can offer, that were developed with help of VGN, it’s wonderful.” Read the full article here.

Twelve Green Mountain students explored the natural history of southern California during the field portion of the Biology Field Trip (BIO 3072) over spring break. Each student conducted research on patterns in the environment, species, and adaptations observable during 1- or 2-day visits to diverse ecosystems. In coming weeks, students will complete data analysis, literature review, and a research paper, and will present posters to the GMC community on May 7.

Prof. Natalie Coe
(biology) is a featured speaker at Castleton State College’s Women’s History Month, which this year carries the theme “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment.” Natalie is part of a panel which will speak on “Women at Work: Stories of Courage and Inspiration” tomorrow in Castleton’s Jeffords Auditorium at 12:30 p.m.

Meriel Brooks
Class Researches the Poultney River

Prof. Jen Sellers
(psychology) will give her sabbatical report on the psychological influence of testosterone on empathy and leadership. Lunch will be served. The talk is in Terrace 124 at noon. The next colloquium will be on October 30, with prof. Meriel Brooks (biology) speaking.

Prof. Tom Mauhs-Pugh
(education) and Meriel Brooks (biology) have a chapter in the recently published The College Curriculum: A Reader (Peter Lang Publishing). The goals of the book are to provide readers with an understanding of the undergraduate curriculum in U.S. higher education today, and to highlight distinctive, innovative, and noteworthy approaches. The collaborative essay, "Seeking 'Productive, Caring, and Fulfilling Lives' Through the Environmental Liberal Arts at Green Mountain College," presents the College's ELA curriculum in the broader context of U.S. higher education, historically and currently. GMC's emphasis on sustainability provides an answer to the question: "what knowledge is of most worth?" That answer emphasizes the development of people rather than the mere acquisition of technical skill. "A GMC education echoes the classical definition of curriculum implied by the curriculum vitae: the trajectory of one's life that results, in part, from pursuing a particular course of study and practice in a particular way and with particular results,” the authors write. “The details of what it means to be well-educated and to live a good life, the cognate questions to 'What knowledge is of most worth?,' are re-envisioned and renegotiated in a community of practice through the continual participation of its members.”

Prof. Natalie Coe
(biology) is the first recipient of the Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) Course Enhancement Award. The award was presented at the VGN Annual Retreat on August 7, and will sponsor Natalie's travel to a national scientific conference related to her research interests or scientific education. The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and is part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative called IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

Green Mountain College is hosting a joint eco-league course called Humans in Place: Sustainable Business & Community in Vermont. This the second of three joint eco-league courses developed by the eco-league colleges. The first one was a biology-based course co-taught by College of the Atlantic and GMC in the summer of 2010. The third is an Adventure Education course that will be hosted by Northland. The goal of the joint courses is to encourage collaboration and fellowship across the five eco-league schools. In the current course, Associate Professor Karen Fleming is co-teaching with Prof. Kathy Cronen from Alaska Pacific University. One student from APU has joined the seven GMC students in this course that is running from May 9-23. As a field based course, students have been visiting several local organizations as well as enjoyed several guest speakers. Click here to see the class' Facebook page.

A student research group from Green Mountain College joined Vermont Fish & Wildlife, Johnston State College, and University of Vermont in carcass processing sessions. This research may show how the trapping season went and what trappers are seeing as trends from season to season and in various regions of the state. Students help perform the necropsy work, which includes confirming the gender of the animal, determining general health and weight, and extracting some teeth to determine the age. So far, the necropsies suggest that freshly-killed animals may be preferable to the stored and frozen animals when it comes to obtaining the bacteria E-coli.

Students Duong Vo '12 and Minh Ho '12 participated in the 19th annual Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (HRUMC) at Western New England University this past weekend. Their presentation on "Options and Options Pricing" was an introduction to the mathematics of option pricing using a simple binomial model. The HRUMC is a professional mathematics conference designed primarily for undergraduates with students and faculty from more than 30 colleges and universities attending.

MSES alum Eric Miller '10 has co-authored an article with Prof. Mark Jordan (biology). It appeared in the most recent issue of the Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science and is titled "Relationship Between Exotic Invasive Shrubs and American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) Nest Success and Habitat Selection." The article, which was part of Eric's MSES thesis research, shows that woodcock preferred to nest in sites with a lower proportion of exotic, invasive shrubs such as multiflora rose and tararian honeysuckle. The article concludes with recommendations for controlling invasive species in order to assist conservation of the American woodcock.

Prof. Natalie Coe
(biochemistry, genetics) and Jennifer Sellers (psychology) accompanied four GMC Biology Majors, Olesea Cohojari, Minh (Frank) Ho, Elisa Morales , and Brenda Nsambu to the Annual Vermont Genetics Network's Career Day at the DoubleTree Hotel in 
South Burlington, VT, on April 13th. Olesea and Brenda jointly presented their current research on successful haplotype analysis (genotyping) in regional American Beech tree populations. Students attended the panel and were actively invovled in post-panel discussions. The panelists stressed the importance of following your true passion, keeping both eyes and minds open to and ready for all possibilities, and to always remember your civic duties.

Biology professors Michael Blust, Meriel Brooks
and Natalie Coe , along with Carol Shaw (GMC alumna and current science laboratory manager), attended The Northeast Natural History Conference in Albany, N.Y., April 7-8 with several students including Olesea Cohojari, Brenda Nsambu, Samuel Mooney, Lindsay Herlihy , and Gwendolyn Cramer in Albany, N.Y. April 7-8.

Olesea and Brenda presented a poster with Dr. Coe entitled "GIS meets Genetics: Spatial and Molecular Evaluation of Beech Trees Resistant to Beech Bark Disease." Gwendolyn, who has been studying with Dr, Brooks, presented her work on the "Ontogenetic Dietary Shifts of the White Sucker (Castostomus commersoni) in the Poultney River." more...


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