VBRN News & Highlights

Disease Ecology Working Group

One of the primary goals of VGN is to build a culture of research across institutions of higher education in the state. A strategy to accomplish this is to create thematic research groups. As VGN’s Director, Dr. Rex Forehand, describes, “The major reason for this is that in many of the small institutions that our faculty are from, people don’t really have the opportunity to talk with other faculty and other students who have similar research interests. And it may overlap more with somebody from (another Vermont) college than somebody else in their own institution.”

As a result, VGN has been sponsoring a Disease Ecology Working Group that four VGN-funded researchers have founded. Professors David Allen (Middlebury College), William Landesman (formerly of Green Mountain College, currently from University of Bridgeport), Dagan Loisel (Saint Michael’s College) and Allison Neal (Norwich University) met through VGN’s professional development events and saw connections in their research foci and methodologies.

The group has met several times to present their results on topics ranging from Lyme disease to parasites that cause swimmer’s itch, and alternates between summer gatherings that include undergraduate student researchers and winter meetings where the faculty discuss methodological challenges and techniques. During the most recent gathering in July 2019 at Middlebury College, researchers from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department also participated.

Future plans include expanding the network to include more state agency researchers, but overall, these meetings create a state-wide network of support and potential collaboration.