The week that felt like a year

Slide from Jason Scott's master's defense

I have many emotions flowing through me as I write this post. Here at the University of Vermont, we are on day 5 of COVID-19-driven isolation and telecommuting. At the moment, I am bursting with pride towards now successfully-defended master’s student, Jason Scott, and his fellow graduate students who have defended this week. Faced with this unprecedented world-wide situation, and thrown into using often new technologies to them, these students calmly, confidently, and competently have shared and defended their research findings.

Jason had a remote audience of almost 30 people this morning. As such, another of my current emotions is gratitude to all those who were able to carve out an hour to join in and learn from Jason, again, often using technologies that were new to them.

Back to Jason again, I am excited about the information he gathered, training he facilitated, and products he developed that will help improve the response and resilience to oil and other hazardous materials spills along Lake Champlain. His work lays a strong foundation for future efforts of Lake Champlain Sea Grant and numerous federal, regional, state and local partners to further improve our ability to prepare for and respond to oil and other hazardous materials spills. The last step of his efforts prior to departing to return full-time as an Active Duty Officer in the United States Coast Guard will be to work with our Lake Champlain Sea Grant communications lead to create a robust section of our website to share the training tools and resources he has developed and compiled to benefit marinas, first responders, and others during a spill response. For those with interest, the majority of his defense presentation is available to view here.

Another emotion I felt today was excitement. We found out late this afternoon, that Stever Bartlett has been accepted by the UVM Graduate College. This means he will begin his work as part of the WESP Lab this summer. Stever will be working with me and Kate Forrer, UVM Extension Community Forestry Specialist, and our newest Lake Champlain Sea Grant and UVM Extension hire, Alison Adams, on a riparian restoration research project funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

In a week that one meme suggested felt more like a year, and where feelings of fear and anxiety often dominated, I am grateful to have ended it with these positive results for these students. – Kris Stepenuck