Professional Development & Education


The Professional Development and Education (PDE) Core promotes a culture of research at the Baccalaureate Partner Institutions (BPIs) by: a) working with network faculty at our Baccalaureate Partner Institutions (BPIs) to help them become competitive for extramural funding and b) integrating into the college curricula undergraduate research in order to inspire a diverse group of students to gain experience and enter biomedical careers. Given the heavy teaching loads of VGN’s funded BPI faculty and their isolation from colleagues working on related research projects, the Core’s programmatic activities are critical to bridging this gap and encouraging publications, grant proposal submissions, and undergraduate student involvement in research.

The PDE Core helps to facilitate the state’s culture of research by supporting network faculty research through trainings in grant writing, mentoring including the creation of Individual Development Plans, assistance with the development of technical skills, the formation of thematic research groups and integration of research into the classroom. In addition, the PDE Core provides a robust program of mentored research opportunities to undergraduate students at the BPIs through internships. Students present their VBRN-funded research at an annual Career Day event where STEM professionals share their experiences with the student attendees. The PDE Core also collaborates with our three Outreach Partners to extend summer research opportunities for their diverse undergraduates.

How VBRN Funds Undergraduate Students

Students Funded by VBRN

In addition to funding students through faculty Project, Pilot, and Exploratory awards, VBRN supports three students per BPI for summer and/or academic year research with our funded faculty. There is a competitive process specific to the BPI for selecting these students.

Undergraduate Student Summer Research Support

VBRN offers a specific opportunity for students from our BPIs to apply to conduct summer research in a laboratory outside of their home institution, including but not limited to the University of Vermont (UVM), Bia Diagnostics, and the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

All students receiving VBRN funding are required to present a poster at the annual Career Day event and to provide contact information in order to participate in annual and long-term career tracking.

VBRN staff have developed educational modules for undergraduate students in the areas of bioinformatics and proteomics. These resources are freely available and can be used in full or modified to fit the needs of a specific audience.

Bioinformatics module:

The goal of this module is to expose undergraduates in the state of Vermont to online databases and data mining techniques. It is intended to serve as an introduction to the concepts and principle databases of bioinformatics and structural biology. This series of exercises enables students to access and analyze sequence and structure data, create and edit images of molecules, and present their results in several formats.

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Additional bioinformatics teaching resources can be found in the following publication:

Murray, J., Driscoll, H. E., and Pivarski, K. (2018). Connecting human disease phenotype to genetic mutation and protein function: A modular data mining short course with an independent project sequence for lecture or lab. Genetics Society of America Peer- Reviewed Education Portal (GSA PREP); 2018. 005; doi: 10.1534/gsaprep.2018.005.

Proteomics module:
The goal of this module is to expose undergraduates in Vermont to proteomics technology using hands-on laboratory experiences. In this series of experiments, students will learn how protein expression in yeast is changed after exposure to oxidative stress or an environmental toxin. Proteins with differential expression
will be isolated from a 2D gel and prepared for Mass Spectrometry at the VBRN Proteomics Core. Once the data are processed, students examine their results and use bioinformatics to understand the biological implications of their results.

Faculty Resources


Tabitha Finch
Professional Development and Education Coordinator
(802) 656-0028