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Middlebury senior Bobby Levine, who has been researching microalgae as a potential source of biodiesel, will present his findings at the student research symposium April 18.

Spring Student Symposium April 18 will showcase more than 90 undergraduate researchers

April 7, 2008

  • Is algae the next big biofuel?
  • Why sugarmakers should care about chemistry.
  • Has Act 60 helped student performance?

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? On Friday, April 18, from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m., more than 90 Middlebury College students will showcase the results of their recent research efforts as part of the second annual Middlebury College Spring Student Symposium. The symposium will highlight student work through a mix of lectures, performances, posters, artwork and readings. The presentations will take place in the Great Hall and various classrooms of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125). All events are free and open to the public.

Student presentations are 15 minutes each and will be held in McCardell Bicentennial Hall. Click here for a full schedule.
The event, organized by the Middlebury College Undergraduate Research Office, is designed to celebrate the participation of undergraduates in hands-on research activities both on and off campus. Professor of Geology and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research Patricia Manley and Associate Dean of the College Karen Guttentag oversee the office and work closely with students and colleagues to help identify, fund and carry out research opportunities. Several of the student presenters have already made presentations of their work at professional conferences around the country.

At 12:30 p.m. in the Great Hall, Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz will offer introductory remarks, followed by speaker Elana Wilson Rowe, a 2001 Middlebury College graduate, who will discuss her career path in research.

Rowe is a senior research fellow at the Department for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo, Norway. Her current research interests include Russian foreign policy, particularly in the areas of energy and climate change, and circumpolar environmental and political cooperation. She graduated from Middlebury summa cum laude with a joint degree in geography and Russian. She earned her master's degree and doctorate at the University of Cambridge. Rowe's research has resulted in more than 20 published articles and professional presentations in the last three years.

Highlights of this year's symposium include the following student presentations:

The Future of Biofuels: Using Microalgae to Produce Biodiesel and Treat Wastewater - Bobby Levine has been researching the need for a new generation of biofuels that neither contribute to greenhouse gases nor compete with common food crops. He has been exploring the feasibility of using microalgae to produce biodiesel and treat wastewater from dairy operations. The green alga Neochloris oleoabundans demonstrated high oil productivities and grew well on waste effluents on local dairy farms, suggesting it to be a promising new clean fuel source.
2 p.m., Room 104, McCardell Bicentennial Hall

. Investigation of Small-Scale Variability in Maple Sap Chemistry - Emily Picciotto is looking at the chemistry of maple sap to determine what environmental factors may affect its flavor. Previous studies have looked at how factors such as geographic region or underlying bedrock may affect the flavor of syrup. This study compares sap from more than 45 sugarmakers across Vermont.
1:45 p.m., Room 104, McCardell Bicentennial Hall

Closing the Gap:  Act 60's Impact on Education Expenditure and Student Achievement in Vermont - Jennifer Henderson has been researching how Act 60 affected the gaps in both education spending and student achievement between property rich and property poor towns. The mixed spending results suggest that overall state inequality declined slightly, but the expenditure gap did not narrow, most likely due to heightened private donations in property rich towns. In terms of educational outcomes, the study found that Act 60 had a significant impact on the achievement gap in math but not in reading, most likely explained by subject specific learning differences and a higher concentration of resources in math than reading.
1:30 p.m., Room 104, McCardell Bicentennial Hall

For more information, contact Professor of Geology and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research Patricia Manley at or 802-443-5430, or Associate Dean of the College Karen Guttentag at or 802-443-2024.

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