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April 16, 2021

The University of Vermont Graduate College is pleased to announce the 2021-2022 University Scholars. The University Scholars program recognizes distinguished UVM faculty members for sustained excellence in research, scholarship and creative arts.

Basic and Applied Sciences

Beth D. Kirkpatrick, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Dr. Kirkpatrick is Professor and Chair in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Vermont (UVM) Larner College of Medicine. She holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and is an attending physician at the UVM Medical Center. She received her M.D. at Albany Medical College and performed an Internal Medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Rochester. She completed subspecialty and research training in Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins and received additional training in clinical tropical medicine in Lima, Peru. She is currently a fellow of the American College of Physicians, The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Dr. Kirkpatrick began her career with research interests in enteric infections, mucosal immunology, and vaccines. In 2001, she began the UVM Vaccine Testing Center, which is now a multi-disciplinary team researching candidate vaccines and vaccine immunology. With the goal of understanding and preventing infectious diseases around the globe (especially in low-income countries), this committed and growing team of investigators performs both investigator-initiated and industry-supported phase I-III human vaccine clinical trials and controlled human infection models. In the laboratory, the VTC interrogates human immunology to understand vaccine responsiveness, correlates of protection, and vaccine failure. Currently the team focuses on flaviviruses (e.g. Dengue, Zika) and enteric infections (e.g. rotavirus, campylobacter, polio), and now, SARS-CoV2. Dr. Kirkpatrick is also the Principal Investigator of one of the National Institutes of Health-funded Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grants at UVM; the Translational Global Infectious Diseases Research (TGIR) Center, which is focused on the development of the next generation of faculty investigators from both the biomedical and quantitative/modeling fields.

Donna M. Rizzo, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Rizzo is a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and in 2013 was appointed as the Dorothean Chair in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. Her research focuses on the development and application of new machine-learning tools to improve the understanding of human-induced changes on natural systems and the way we experimentally design, monitor, and make decisions about these systems. She has over 25 years of experience with artificial intelligence, geostatistics, and optimization technologies and 30 years of experience in water resources and the visualization of really large data sets. Since the completion of her doctoral degree at the University of Vermont, her post-Ph.D. path has not been traditional for a tenure-track faculty. In 1994, she co-founded a small Vermont business to help speed the diffusion of research and new technologies into environmental practice. She has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during the 1998 and 2011 Vermont floods. Dr. Rizzo sets an exemplary standard for successfully working across disciplines. Since arriving at UVM in 2002, she and her students have worked collaboratively with colleagues across five different UVM colleges, using a variety of machine-learning tools to tackle multi-scale environmental problems, including: the evaluation of human impacts to surface waters and groundwater; lake cyanobacteria bloom research; disease risk transmission; and most recently, serious illness conversations to help understand and incentivize high-quality communication. She loves working with students on applied research; research grants to date include the recruitment and retention of culturally diverse students. Dr. Rizzo has supported scholarships and research opportunities for more than 200+ UVM undergraduates over the past 15 years and is an active and sought-after teacher, advisor, and mentor. To date, she has advised over 47 graduate students and postdocs and received the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award in 2014.

Social Sciences, Humanities, and Creative Arts

Kimberly J. Vannest, Ph.D.
Professor and Chairperson, Department of Education

Dr. Vannest is Professor and Chair in the Department of Education, College of Education and Social Services. Her areas of scholarship include academic and behavioral interventions in school settings for children and youth with emotional and behavioral health issues and the measurement of treatment effects through single-case experimental design and meta-analysis. Dr. Vannest has authored and co-authored 12 books and encyclopedias, 9 book chapters and nearly 100 manuscripts. She has created a number of free online resources, which have had a profound and ever-growing impact on special education and beyond, including an effect size calculator, behavioral/academic progress monitoring systems, and pioneering new single case analysis techniques such as the Improvement Rate Difference, Non-Overlap of Pairs, and TauU. Dr. Vannest has been contiguously funded for 2 decades and is currently a Co-Principal Investigator on an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grant and has successfully collaborated or led more than 20 grants through the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Education, and National Science Foundation. Currently, Dr. Vannest serves as the President for The Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, works as a reviewer for federal funding agencies and is an editorial board member for leading journals in Education, Special Education, Counseling, School Psychology, Assessment, and Methodology. She is a frequent guest lecturer at tier one research universities around the country and a requested keynote at national and international conferences. Her former doctoral students are professors and leaders around the country in higher education. Current book projects include a comprehensive guide for social, emotional, and behavioral learning in schools.

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