University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Biology

2017 Honors Students

Julie Richer, Sam Barritt, Dr. Sara Helms Cahan, Benjamin Grebber, Jessica Girardin and George Chrisafis

Honors and Awards

2017 Undergraduate Awards

Each year the Department of Biology recognizes and awards undergraduates who have made outstanding contributions to research in Biology. Congratulations!

Julie Richer

George Perkins Marsh Award in Ecology/Evolution

As a Biology major and Psychological Sciences minor, Julie's interests lie in both of these subjects and their intersections. She has enjoyed all the courses she has taken for both subjects, but those that covered genetics, development, and behavior were some of her favorites. Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree has also allowed her to take a wide variety of classes in many of the disciplines that UVM has to offer and she has never been disappointed by any of these classes. They have deepened her love of learning, and have given her a diverse education. Outside of the classroom Julie is involved in sports and her faith as she is a member of the varsity Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor track teams, and she is very involved in the Catholic Student Association. She believes that her education and experiences from UVM have prepared her for veterinary school where she hopes to attend in the future.

Samuel Barritt

Joan M. Herbers Award in Biology

My research is a continuation of my Beckman Scholars Award project, conducted in Paula Deming's lab. I have characterized a novel binding interaction between two enzymes that hold important functions in cellular processes and which are dysregulated in disease states, such as cancer. This interaction appears to affect the catalytic activity of PKA, as well as its subcellular anchoring via specific scaffolding proteins. I will be attending the Biological and Biomedical Sciences PhD program at Harvard University in the Fall of 2017, where I hope to continue studying the cellular signaling mechanisms underlying cancer biology.

Benjamin Grebber

Paul A. Moody Award in Biology

I am currently working in Dr. Alicia Ebert's lab conducting research on zebrafish eye development. I am co mentored by Dr. Paula Deming. My work on protein kinase A expression will eventually be used in an upcoming publication. Next year I will be attending medical school at UVM.

George Chrisafis

Kurt Milton Pickett Award
During my time at UVM, I participated in two distinct fields of research: epidemiology and molecular biology. My senior thesis research was conducted under the mentorship of Professor Samuel Scarpino and involved a statistical analysis of factors (i.e. age, country, climate) which may correlate with a higher incidence of arboviruses, specifically Zika virus, Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus, and Yellow Fever virus. The analysis was based on historical incidence data from countries in Africa and Asia and revealed substantial variation in disease incidence between age groups and countries. In addition, I interned in the Biggins Lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the summer after my junior year, where I studied the kinetochore protein complex in yeast. Moving forward, I was accepted into the Postbaccalaureate IRTA program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I will be working in the lab of Dr. Voula Mili for the next two years, studying the cellular localization of RNAs using microscopy-based and biochemical approaches, in 2- and 3-dimensional cell culture systems. I hope to attend medical school after my time at the NIH.

Jessica Girardin

Bernd Heinrich Award in Physiology or Evolution

My research interests are guided by my passion for scientific inquiry. The research I am currently undertaking hopes to shed insight into designing effective dosages of cyclophosphamide (a chemotherapeutic agent) when administered in combination with amifsotine (a cytoprotective agent) in order to minimize taste cell disruption and loss. From this research, I will gain more of an understanding of how taste cells respond to toxic chemotherapy treatments in a time-course study. I am currently compiling results into a written thesis, with hopes to co-auther and publish with members of Dr. Eugene Delay's lab. The information gleaned from this experiment has the potential to be valuable in a clinical setting, which is another side of research that I would like to explore.

The time I have spent in the lab has further developed my understanding and appreciation for developing testable questions and formulating an effective experimental design, with appropriate troubleshooting along the way. I hope to become more involved in research in the clinical setting going forward, as I plan to apply to Physician Assistant programs in the next couple of years and further pursue my passions of working with others and providing excellent medical service. These passions of mine have been realized through collaborating with others in my lab, volunteering at UVM Medical Center, and tutoring in the Learning Co-Op.

Last modified May 22 2017 11:07 AM