University of Vermont

The Graduate College

University Scholars for 2011 - 2012

Each year, four distinguished faculty members – two from the basic and applied sciences, and two from the social sciences and humanities – are named University Scholars in recognition of their sustained excellence in research and scholarly activities. University Scholars are selected by a panel of faculty scholars, based upon nominations submitted by UVM faculty.

For a listing of all our prior scholars, please click here.

For 2011-2012, the University Scholars are:

  • Richard M. Foote, Professor, Department of Matematics & Statistics, College of Engineering & Mathematics
  • Berta M. Geller, Research Professor, Departments of Family Medicine and Radiology, College of Medicine
  • Jean R. Harvey-Berino, Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Nutrition & Food Sciences, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
  • Gary E. Ward, Professor, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, College of Medicine, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

It is nearly impossible to briefly summarize the many accomplishments of these distinguished colleagues, but below you'll find at least a little introduction to them. During the next academic year, each of these University Scholars will present a public seminar about their work. The Graduate College will announce these, and we hope you'll join us for those notable events.


Richard M. Foote

Professor, Department of Matematics & Statistics, College of Engineering & Mathematics

Richard Foote received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Toronto, and PhD from the University of Cambridge (England)for his work on group theory, done under the supervision of Field Medal winner John Thompson. He held a named instructorship at the California Institute of Technology, and faculty positions at Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota, before joining the faculty of the University of Vermont in 1981. Foote was appointed Professor of Mathematics in 1991.

Professor Foote is internationally recognized for his research and expertise on the “classification of the finite simple groups”. The “classification” is one of the premier achievements of 20 th century mathematics. It is estimated that its completion by mathematicians involved nearly 10,000 journal pages, overall, and Foote’s contribution to the effort is regarded as fundamental to its success. He is also known for the breadth of his research, and, in a field where research is often conducted on an individual basis, for his collaborative work with other faculty, finding ways to utilize his group theory understanding in areas including applied mathematics and, more recently, signal processing in electrical engineering. Foote’s research has been well-published in top journals, and his publications extend beyond his research, including a review article in Science on “Math and Complex Systems” and a co-authored textbook, “Abstract Algebra”, the most widely used graduate level abstract algebra book in the country. His professional service in research includes reviewing manuscripts for a number of journals, as well as grant and research proposals for the National Science Foundation.

At UVM, Professor Foote is recognized for his outstanding teaching at all levels. He has received the Kroepsch-Maurice Award for Excellence in Teaching, and served as one of the original faculty for UVM’s race and culture courses. Foote has served as research mentor to master’s and doctoral students, including doctoral students at other institutions. His administrative service to UVM is extensive, a few examples being Graduate Program Director in Mathematics, Associate Dean of CEMS, Co-Director of the School of Engineering, Interim Chair of Mechanical Engineering. Foote is respected as a teacher, mentor, colleague, and citizen of UVM.

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Berta M. Geller

Research Professor, Departments of Family Medicine and Radiology, College of Medicine

 Berta Geller received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz, following which she worked as a women’s health care specialist athte Vermont Women’s health Center, and as a regional practitioner manager for Planned Parenthood of New England. She received the M.Ed. degree from the University of Vermont, following which she joined the UVM faculty as Lecturer in Human Development Studies. Later, she joined the research staff of the UVM Office of Health Promotion Research. Geller was awarded the Ed.D. degree from UVM, and appointed Research Assistant Professor in 1992. She was appointed Research Professor in 2004.

As Research Professor, Geller serves as principal and co-investigator for public health research projects in areas including breast cancer detection, colorectal cancer screening, smoking prevention and cessation, with responsibility for program design, implementation and data analyses. The major focus of Professor Geller’s research career has been breast cancer surveillance, particularly improving early detection rates, and the development of the Vermont Mammography Registry, the first and only state-wide registry in the nation. Her work has received continuous support from agencies including the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society for many years, her most recent grant being a project that brings researchers and cancers survivors together to identify and understand the physical, emotional, social and spiritual support needs of people living with, through, and beyond cancer. Also underway is a study aimed at improving skills for radiologists who read mammograms, and a benchmarking study involving partnering with colleagues at the Cancer Registry of Norway.

Professor Geller’s research has been published extensively in papers that have had a significant impact in the field. Geller has been honored nationally for her work with the NIH Plain Language Award, and C. Everett Koop National Health Award for Community Programs. In Vermont, she has received the J. Walter Juckett Scholar Award from the Lake Champlain Cancer Research Organization and the Outstanding and Dedicated leadership Award from the Vermont Department of Health. In addition to her research recognition, Professor Geller was one of the founders of the Vermont Women’s Health Center and currently chairs the board of directors for Healing Legacies.

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Jean R. Harvey-Berino

Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Nutrition & Food Sciences, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

Jean Harvey-Berino received her bachleor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition from the Pennsylvania State University, and PhD in epidemiology from the University of Pittsbugh, following which she joined the faculty of the University of Vermont as Assistant Professor and Extension State Nutrition Specialist. She currently serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences.

Professor Harvey-Berino’s research has focused on the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity, one of if not the most significant public health problems; specifically, her scholarship has explored efficacious and innovative treatments for overweight and obesity. Her recent work, funded by the National Institutes of health with the two largest research grants in the history of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has had significant impact in demonstrating that on-line participants in a behavioral weight loss program could lose as much weight as those participating in in-person programs. Her research results have been chronicled in numerous professional publications, but she has also expanded her work to the Vermont community with the VTrim weight loss program, and beyond with a well-received book in the popular press, “The EatingWell Diet – 7 Steps to a Healthy, Trimmer You”.

At UVM, Jean has promoted research, her service including the scientific advisory committee of the UVM General Clinical Research Center, and the UVM Committee on Research and Scholarship. Educationally, she was one of the founders of the joint PhD program in Animal, Nutrition and Food Sciences, and Master of Dietetics, and she regularly serves as a graduate student mentor within her programs and on graduate student committees in other departments.

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Gary E. Ward

Professor, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, College of Medicine, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

Gary Ward earned his bachelor of science degree in Biophysics from the University of New Brunswick, Canada, and a PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Californis, San Diego. Subsequently, he held a post-doctoral appointment at the University of California, San Francisco, and he served as Senior Staff Fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Ward joined UVM in 1996 as Assistant Professor, his current appointment is Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

Professor Ward’s research is at the forefront of infectious disease molecular microbiology, focusing on Toxoplasma, a protozoan parasite that causes congenital defects in newborn infants, and life threatening diseases in immunocompromised individuals, such as those with AIDS. In addition to his contributions to the understanding of his research topic, Ward is using state of the art experimental approaches that may be of broader assistance in the development of new drugs and vaccines. His research has received considerable support from the National Institutes of Health and other sources, including a prestigious Burroughs Wellcome Fund New Investigator in Molecular Parasitology Award. The results of Professor Ward’s research have been published in the leading journals in the field.

In addition to his research program, Professor Ward has provided extensive service to the scientific community. He is the elected Treasurer and Executive Committee member of the American Society for Cell Biology. Long an advocate of open access to scientific information, Ward was a major force in convincing the Society to provide open access to their journal. Recently, he was selected to chair the board of the Public Library of Science. He has also served on journal editorial boards and NIH Review Panels.

At UVM, Professor Ward is Co-Principal Investigator on the COBRE grant establishing the Vermont Immunology and Infectious Disease Center. He is also widely praised as a teacher, having taught at all levels but concentrating in graduate and medical education. As a mentor, he has advised twelve doctoral students and served on the dissertation committees of more than 50 students.

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