• A-Z
  • Directory
  • myUVM
  • Loading search...

Center for Research on Vermont

Marshall Distel: A UVM Reflection

Posted: May 14th, 2015 by crvt

10653381_10206629827891024_7440183871786067122_nAs a student within the Geography Department at the University of Vermont, I have been provided with a unique set of opportunities and experiences that have significantly supported my growth as a student and as a person. As I look back on the four years that I have studied at UVM, I’ve realized that my most valuable experiences have come as a result of exploring opportunities related to internships, studying abroad, and service-learning. When I started looking at colleges while still in high school, I remember that one of my main objectives was to find a school in a faraway place where I could experience something completely different from Vermont, but financially it seemed to make more sense to stay in-state. Therefore, during the fall of 2011, I was fairly hesitant about starting my tenure at UVM. However, I soon began to find comfort here after becoming involved with the Integrated Study of Earth and the Environment (ISEE) Program. With this program, I was able to live and attend classes with a small group of students from around the country who all shared a similar interest in studying the environment.

Unlike many other first-year students, I came to UVM knowing exactly what I wanted to study. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to pursue a profession that would allow me to alleviate problems relating to transportation tfair2and sustainability. I first truly became interested in transportation after noticing the traffic impacts of the annual Tunbridge Fair (which I’ve attended nearly every year of my life). Thus, during the course of my undergraduate career, I’ve been most interested in studying methods to reduce car dependency, encourage sustainable patterns of development, and promote alternative forms of transportation. I’ve enrolled in nearly every transportation-related class that the UVM has to offer, and I’m passionate about researching innovative methods to develop sustainable transportation. Thus, when I first discovered geography at UVM, I knew that I would be able to focus my studies on subjects that related to my specific interests.

Fortunately, many of the service-learning and geography courses that I have taken have provided me with a valuable set of skills that enabled me to participate in a variety of internships. For the past two summers I have worked as a IMG_2607transportation planning intern with the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. At these planning organizations, I worked alongside state officials to develop transportation plans, implement climate change mitigation strategies, research the cost of maintaining Vermont’s roads, and conduct municipal infrastructure inventories using ArcGIS. My time as a geography student made me well-equipped to undertake those internships.

IMG_4651Throughout my time at the UVM, I’ve taken advantage of a variety of opportunities related to community planning and sustainability. While studying abroad in Spain in 2013, I was awarded a research travel grant from the Oaklawn Foundation to travel to Madrid, Barcelona, Geneva, and Zurich to study how sustainable transportation and dense development can benefit communities environmentally, economically, and socially. Additionally, during the fall of 2014, I directed a campaign for the Vermont Public Research Interest Group in order to promote bold action against climate change within the State Legislature and to support Vermont’s renewable energy plan.1236080_10202226706015729_17846302_n

During my last semester at UVM, I interned in the Vermont Legislature on the House Transportation Committee. I worked alongside Rep. Curt McCormack on issues related to passenger rail service, sustainable transportation policy, and reducing the use of single occupancy vehicles in Vermont. Additionally, I have spent 10 hours a week interning at the Center for Research on Vermont, for which I am responsible for email communications, event planning, tracking Vermont-related eNews, and public outreach to promote Vermont research.

As my four-year journey at UVM now nears the final phase, I am fortunate to have taken advantage of all the opportunities that I have been offered. I take pride in the fact that I have been involved with internships, studying abroad, and extracurricular associations such as the Geography Club and Gamma Theta Upsilon. As a result of these experiences and my overall academic achievements at UVM, I accepted a full-time position as a transportation planner with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. I feel incredibly fortunate to not only have a job directly related to the coursework that I have studied while at UVM, but to also be working for an organization that is also passionate about sustainability.


Marshall Distel is a senior Geography major at UVM from Tunbridge, Vermont.





Cross-currents Abound at UVM Hydro Forum

Posted: March 30th, 2015 by crvt

Universities and colleges provide a unique opportunity to bring diverse perspectives into the public conversation.

As the organizers of the Power from the North conference at University of Vermont this past week we were proud to do just that.

PFTN1More than 250 participants convened for a genuine discussion illustrating distinct perspectives, some fundamental tensions, as well as some opportunities for agreement as we look to our energy future.

The conference was set against the backdrop of a very current conversation in Vermont and New England. Québec has hydro-electric resources that could help alleviate the region’s overwhelming dependence on natural (methane) gas while moving towards meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals. But at what price would that power come? How would it get there? And if new transmission lines are required, as seems likely, where would they go, who would benefit?

What are the social, environmental and economic consequences?

Regional policy-makers, business leaders and academics gathered to debate these questions, looking at the past, present and future.

‘The Past’ segment grappled with the complex history that created the conditions of the present:

A former Vermont regulator explained how the administration of former Gov. Richard Snelling looked north in an effort to secure cheap, reliable power.

A Québec historian described the rise of Hydro-Québec, not merely as a public power company, but as a “social project” by and for French Canadians seeking political and economic mastery in their own house during the 1960s’ Quiet Revolution.

Innu Chief Ghislain Picard forcefully described Hydro-Québec’s failures to consult with or compensate First Nation peoples until the 1970s, the improvements since that time, and the tribes’ continuing frustrations to win a seat at the decision-making table.

Opening a discussion of ‘The Present,’ the operator of the New England grid described new transmission projects that could bring additional power from the North, and the current dominant role played by natural gas in the region’s energy mix.

PFTN2A regional environmental leader reminded the audience of the enormity of impending change with climate instability, and the urgent imperative to reduce fossil-fuel reliance.

The final session moderated by Vermont Law School’s Michael Dworkin looked to the future with Green Mountain Power President and CEO, Mary Powell, showcasing innovations of electric utilities that have begun to envision a very different relationship with their customers and how they might provide energy services in the future.

The massive scale of impending change in energy systems and the imperative to counter the pervasive fossil-fuel culture was articulated by a former energy regulator in Massachusetts.

These speakers’ visions of future change, which emphasized the positive potential of distributed (decentralized) renewable generation, were juxtaposed with the perspective of the Québec Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, who described a future in which large-scale hydropower can play an increasingly critical role in meeting energy demand and “de-carbonizing” regional electric systems.

PFTN3Given the complexities of the many issues associated with large-scale hydropower and the diversity of perspectives among key actors, this conference provided a valuable place for rich discussion and open and genuine discourse.

The conference did not promote a specific agenda or favor one perspective over another.

In that spirit, proceedings, video interviews and a summary report will all be made publicly available within 30 days. To be added to the mailing list for this report, email crvt@uvm.edu.

Hello world!

Posted: August 30th, 2011 by crvt

Welcome to UVM Blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Contact Us ©2010 The University of Vermont – Burlington, VT 05405 – (802) 656-3131
Skip to toolbar