Undergraduate Education

Prior to starting at the University of Vermont, I spent over a decade as a bench scientist. I enjoyed the team approach to solving problems and loved the constant challenge that performing experiments brought. I learned how to ask appropriate questions, determine which techniques were applicable and how to interpret data. Eventually, I assumed the responsibility of familiarizing new people in the lab with our techniques and protocols, I learned how to gauge their understanding and adapted my explanations to meet their needs. This training was an integral part of my approach to teaching molecular genetics at UVM.

Many students find the laboratory an intimidating environment. They are surrounded by equipment, reagents and protocols that they are unfamiliar with and then are asked to complete experiments and analyze results. Student laboratories are an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from coursework to a tangible situation, but labs are often met with angst. My primary goals are to demystify the laboratory and its procedures, to empower the student with the confidence to become more self-reliant, and to make the process of learning bench science fun. Making science approachable means creating an atmosphere where it’s safe to ask any question and it’s okay to fail. I teach the techniques and protocols not simply as tasks to be completed, but it’s important to understand why each reagent is being used, what it does, and how it contributes in the experiment. Dissecting the methodology this way gifts the student with the knowledge to manipulate a protocol and in turn, nurtures tremendous confidence to pose novel experiments and approaches. Additionally, I help students learn how to read and understand primary literature, as well as use online databases and software. The combination of these approaches provides the student with a strong foundation in how to conduct research independently and imparts them with the confidence to continue this type of work, or any career that involves critical thinking, analysis and inquiry, in their future.

I teach all or part of the following courses:
MMG001: First Year Colloquium
MMG002: Unseen Worlds – Microbes and You
MMG104: Introduction to Recombinant DNA Technology Laboratory
MMG201: Molecular Cloning Laboratory
MMG203: Mammalian Cell Culture Lecture & Laboratory
MMG299: Senior Seminar

I am an academic advisor for Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, Biological Sciences and Undeclared students in CALS.



Stephanie Phelps received her B.Sc. in Biology from McGill University in 1988. She worked as a research associate in the Department of Cell Biology at Baylor College of Medicine and at the University of Michigan in the Department of Human Genetics over the next nine years. Stephanie came to UVM in 1997 to support the molecular genetics teaching mission and in 2004 she earned her master’s degree from MMG. She worked as a lecturer until 2011 when she became an Assistant Professor in the department.


Phelps SF, Illenye S, Heintz NH: Manipulating genes and gene copy number by BAC transfection. In Cancer Genomics and Proteomics: Methods and Protocols (The Humana Press, Inc.), September 2007.

Montigny WJ, Phelps SF, Illenye S and Heintz NH: Parameters influencing high-efficiency transfection of bacterial artificial chromosomes into cultured mammalian cells. Biotechniques 2003; 35(4):796-807.

Lumeng C, Phelps S, Crawford GE, Walden PD, Barald K, and Chamberlain JS: Interactions between beta 2-syntrophin and a family of microtubule-associated serine/threonine kinases. Neurosci 1999; 2(7):611-617.

Lumeng CN, Phelps SF, Rafael JA, Cox GA, Hutchinson TL, Begy CR, Adkin E, Wiltshire R and Chamberlain JS: Characterization of dystrophin and utrophin diversity in the mouse. Hum Mol Genet 1999; 8(4):593-599

Im WB*, Phelps SF*, Copen EH, Adams EG, Slightom JL and Chamberlain JS: Differential expression of dystrophin isoforms in multiple strains of mdx mice. Hum Mol Genet 1996; 5:1149-1153.
    *The two first authors contributed equally to this work

Phelps SF, Hauser MA, Cole NM, Rafael JA, Hinkle RT, Faulkner JA, and Chamberlain JS: Expression of full-length and truncated dystrophin mini-genes in transgenic mdx mice. Hum Mol Genet 1995; 4:1251-1258.