Dean's Celebration of Excellence in Research

The Dean's Celebration of Excellence in Research is a two-day event to highlight the research being conducted by junior faculty, senior faculty, postdoctoral trainees, and graduate students at the University of Vermont and the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine.

The most recent Dean's Celebration of Research in Excellence occurred on Monday, October 29, 2018 and Tuesday, October 30, 2018.

The two-day celebration includes a series of events:

  • The Graduate Student & PostDoc Research Showcase provides a venue for developing scientists to share their amazing work and research stories with the Larner College of Medicine community and an opportunity to earn prizes. Each presenter speaks for 12 minutes or less about their research, followed by 3 minutes of Q&A. Presentations are considered for two prizes in each of three categories - junior graduate student, senior graduate student, and postdoctoral trainee. 
  • The Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award Ceremony and Lecture
  • The Dean's Excellence in Research Awards & Keynote Address: is a two-hour event including a presentation by Senior Associate Dean for Research Gordon Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., on "The State of Research at the UVM Larner College of Medicine," an awards ceremony, and a keynote presentation by a renowned and prestigious researcher. The awards ceremony includes a presentation of awards for Outstanding Research Publication by a Graduate Student, Outstanding Research Publication by a Medical Student, Outstanding Research Publication by a Postdoctoral Fellow, Outstanding Research Publication by a Resident, Senior Research of the Year at the UVM Health Network Medical Group (UVMHNMG), Junior Research of the Year at the UVMHNMG, and faculty awards for Research Mentorship, Rising Star New Investigator,  Mid-Career Investigator, and Research Laureate.

2018 Dean's Excellence in Research Award Winners

The Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Trainee Showcase

Junior Graduate Category

Winner: Alex Thompson for "Mutations in the Kinesin Motor Protein KIF22 Cause Defects in Skeletal Development." Thompson's mentor is UVM Assistant Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics Jason Stumpff, Ph.D.

Runner Up: Alisa Cario for "Understanding the link between Structure and Function of the Microtubule Associated Protein Tau using single molecule FRET." Cario's mentor is UVM Professor of Molecular PHysiology & Biophysics and Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Training Chris Berger, Ph.D.

Senior Graduate Category

Winner: Christopher Dustin for "DUOX1-dependent IL-33 secretion from the airway epithelium involves positive feedback signaling through activation of IL-33R/ST2." Dustin's mentor is UVM Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Albert Van der Vliet, Ph.D.

Runner Up: Leslie Sepaniac for "Different Mechanisms of Micronucleus Formation and Impact to Genomic Stability." Sepaniac's mentor is Jason Stumpff, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Winner: Kirsten Tracy, Ph.D. for "Mitotically associated long non-coding RNA MANCR affects genomic stability in breast cancer." Tracy's mentor is UVM Professor of Biochemistry Jane Lian, Ph.D.

Runner Up: Friederike Uhlig, Ph.D. for "Quorum sensing-regulated molecules alter gut-brain axis and intestinal function." Uhlig's mentor is UVM Professor of Neurological Sciences Gary Mawe, Ph.D.

Trainee Awards for Outstanding Research Publication

Graduate Student

Jamie Abbott for "Substrate interaction defects in histidyl-tRNA synthetase linked to dominant axonal peripheral neuropathy." Abbott's mentor is UVM Professor of Biochemistry Christopher Francklyn, Ph.D.

Medical Student

Lindsay Howe for "Effect of Pregnancy Interval on Second Pregnancy Blood Pressure Following Prior Preeclampsia." Howe's mentor is UVM Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Ira Bernstein, M.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Osama Harraz, Ph.D. for "Endothelial GqPCR activity controls capillary electrical signaling and brain blood flow through PIP2 depletion." Harraz's mentor is UVM Professor and Chair of Pharmacology Mark Nelson, Ph.D.


Borzoo Farhang, D.O. for "The effect of zinc lozenge on postoperative sore throat: A prospective randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study." Farhang's mentor is UVM Associate Professor of Anesthesiology Lydia Grondin, M.D.

UVM Health Network Medical Group Awards

Junior Researcher of the Year

Christopher Anker, M.D.

Senior Researcher of the Year

Christopher Huston, M.D.

Research Grants    

Emmet Whitaker, M.D., and Gregory L. Holmes, M.D.

Innovation Grants

Nina Narasimhadevara, M.D., and Macaulay Onuigbo, M.D.

Daniel Wolfson, M.D., and Sanchit Maruti, M.D.

Larner College of Medicine Faculty Awards

Research Mentorship

Renee Stapleton, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine

Rising Star New Investigator

Thomas Ahern, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery

Mid-Career Investigator

Brian Sprague, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Surgery

Research Laureate

Jason Bates, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine