Vermont Research Newsletter: Turtles, new art, traffic stops and more…

Racial Disparities in Traffic Stops
A recent study of the Bennington Vermont Police department’s traffic stop data has uncovered statistically significant discrepancies in the treatment of minorities.  Hispanic drivers are three times more likely than white drivers to be arrested as the result of a traffic stop.  Black drivers are three times as likely to be searched.  These searches led to the discovery of contraband significantly less than searches of other races.

Reckoning With 2020 Through Art
Covid-19, systemic racism and the challenges of the past year are all vividly on display in a show at the just opened Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont.  The new exhibition: Reckonings, is a reflection on this difficult year that we have all had to face.  Museum staff and interns have selected various pieces from the collection, which they feel capture the current world we live in.

Forest Fridays
It turns out spending time in the forest is good for kids’ mental health AND improves their test-taking skills.   Jennifer Kramer, a sixth-grade teacher in Guilford Vermont, recently conducted a trial run of a new idea in teaching, known as Forest Fridays.  Every Friday students spend the day on a small piece of conservation land — called the Weeks Forest.  Engaged in practical learning this way, students actually performed significantly better on the standardized tests at the end of the year than students who did not have this opportunity, the study found. 

Working Vermonters Survey — Tell us your story!
The Center for Research on Vermont has teamed up with the Public Assets Institute to gather stories of the lived experiences of Vermonters during the pandemic. Please take a minute and tell us your story, by clicking on this link. The information is completely confidential.  Please contact Richard Watts or Steph Yu with any questions. 

Inequity in Affordable Clean Energy
Despite Vermont’s position as one of the national leaders in clean energy, there is still much progress to be made.  A recent study conducted by the Energy Action Network (EAN) has found significant inequities in available forms of energy between low-income households and higher-income households. Renters in particular suffer as the result of underinvestment by landlords, forces them not only to use sources of energy which are bad for the environment but also to make dangerous decisions  in order to conserve the limited fuel they can afford.

A New Approach to Therapy in Vermont
A recent study of mental health organizations in Vermont has shown the effectiveness of a new form of psychotherapy known as the Collaborative Network Approach (CNA).  This approach, taking heavy inspiration from the Open Dialogue (OD) approach from Finland in the 1980s, is a method of therapy involving group meetings between the therapist, the client, and a small support network of the client’s closest friends and family.  The idea is to bring into open discussion the things which a client may have repressed. 

Opiate Crisis in Rural New England
 A recent study looked at the specific reasons for drug abuse within rural counties throughout New England, including the counties of Windham, Windsor, Orange, Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans in Vermont. These include normalization of drug use in communities, traumatic events, and medical opioid prescriptions being suddenly terminated.  The current lack of rehab options available in rural areas exacerbates these issues. Policies and programs available and More information can be found on the Vermont Department of Health’s website.

Climate Change is Harming Turtle Population in New England
The population of the wood turtle (Glyptemis insculpta) is currently endangered on a global scale.  Conservation experts say that the best habitat for it is currently in New York and northern New England.  Unfortunately, a new study indicates that rising temperatures in these regions may disrupt the life cycles of these turtles in years to come. The impact is unlikely to directly affect mortality rates, however it will increase the time spent burrowing underground, which means the wood turtles will have less time to spend gathering food and finding mates.  This is likely to lead to dangerously low populations by 2070. 

Socioeconomic Impacts on Health Care
How do socioeconomic factors impact healthcare for those residing in rural Vermont and northern New York State? A recent study looked at follow-up for vision care among people with diabetes mellitus residing in this region and found that 20.5% of patients had poor follow-up, defined as no ophthalmology visit within double the prescribed interval, with a majority of these patients enrolled in Medicare. With identified socioeconomic factors associated with poor attendance at follow-up, interventions are needed to target those at highest risk for poor follow-up.

Framing the GMO Labeling Debate in Vermont
Back in 2014, Vermont passed the first mandatory GMO labeling law in the country — requiring food distributors to specify whether their products might contain any form of genetic modification. This later led Congress to pass standard national laws regarding GMO labeling. A recent study has looked at the ways GMO labeling proponents framed the narrative, explaining why Vermont advocates succeeded where others had failed. Successful frames drew off Vermonters’ history of supporting local agriculture and environmental advocacy. 

Interview with New Research Boss
Kirk Dombrowski started in March as the new research director at the University of Vermont. Kirk’s office coordinates almost $200 million dollars of research funding across UVM and the College of Medicine. Kirk started at UVM from a hotel room in the middle of the pandemic but has had an interesting career in other rural places and as a first generation college kid with a commitment to UVM’s land-grant mission. Watch our interview with him here. 


Copyright © 2019 Center for Research on Vermont, All rights reserved.
The Vermont Research News is a bi-monthly curated collection of Vermont research — focused on research in the Vermont “laboratory” — research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that adds to an understanding of the state’s social, economic, cultural and physical environment.

Send your news items to Newsletter Editors Eliza Giles or Richard Watts. In a collaboration with VT Digger, the newsletter is now published online. CRVT is responsible for the content. The newsletter is published on the 1st and 15th of each month.