QuEST is a training program that integrates closely with existing Ph.D. programs across the UVM campus in biology, plant biology, plant and soil sciences, mathematics, computer science, natural resources, and cellular, molecular and biomedical sciences.

The traineeship provides two core courses, two quantitative electives, an applied internship with a non-academic organization, and extensive professional development training in computation, communication, and cultural awareness and inclusion. There's also shared physical space for cohort-building and an annual retreat. 


QUEST is a five-year Ph.D. degree program that capitalizes and builds upon the existing strengths across seven academic units on the University of Vermont campus. Students will matriculate through the UVM Graduate College and will, by design, readily meet all programmatic, departmental, and Graduate College requirements without the undue burden that can plague interdisciplinary programs.


Experiential learning is a critical part of knowledge acquisition and intellectual development, so QuEST trainees will complete a semester-long, applied internship during their third year, selected from a growing and diverse list of over 170 government, non-profit, industry, start-up and international partners. The internships are designed in ways that trainees can make a lasting contribution to the partnership organization, develop an applied perspective on global challenges and solutions, gain valuable insight into the culture and expectations in a non-academic setting, generate or analyze data that could contribute to a chapter of their Ph.D. dissertation, and for the trainee to build a network of interpersonal relationships and experiences that can lead to employment using their diverse skills.

Professional Development Training

The QuEST program is designed to accelerate, expand and enhance traditional mentoring methods. Interest group networks, composed of the trainee’s primary mentor and an additional faculty mentor from a different discipline, help balance interdisciplinary projects and provide early professional training related to research practices, expectations, and career opportunities. Groups can expand to include additional trainees and mentors as interests overlap. The interest group networks will be formed at the onset of starting in the program, accelerating mentorship and expanding the trainee’s intellectual network and community early in the traineeship. The combination of traditional and interest group meetings will allow greater mentoring, identify if trainees or mentors need additional support, and ensure success in finishing the program in five years.