News Spotlight

Greetings from the Chair

Beth Kirkpatrick, MDI welcome you to the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG). MMG is uniquely positioned in two colleges at the University of Vermont: the Robert Larner, M.D., College of Medicine (LCOM) and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). At CALS, MMG hosts two outstanding undergraduate majors, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Our highly-recognized faculty educators work closely with our undergraduate students throughout their years at UVM as they become excellent scientists and innovative, critical thinkers.  At LCOM, our faculty are closely engaged with teaching and training medical students, as well as graduate students, in our Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Sciences (CMB) Ph.D. program and Medical Master’s program.

MMG faculty are highly focused on research, which spans from basic-science inquiry in the fields of Microbiology; Cell, Molecular and Structural biology; to applied and translational research in human immunology, vaccine, and bioinformatics and genetics. The department hosts a nationally recognized team that is exploring the mechanisms of DNA Repair, research that is critically important to human diseases, including cancer. The recent addition of the Translational Global Infectious Disease Research (TGIR) COBRE and the UVM Vaccine Testing Center team to MMG complements our research portfolio by adding significant new depth in clinical and translational human immunology and vaccinology, as well as U.S. - based and international clinical trials, all with a focus on preventing and controlling infectious diseases of global importance.

Thank you for your interest in MMG. We look forward to hearing from you!

Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Director, Vaccine Testing Center


Salmonella in petri dish

Our research addresses fundamental questions in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell and molecular biology, using the methods of microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, bioinformatics, and structural biology. Unique opportunities in ground-breaking research await students majoring in Microbiology or Molecular Genetics at UVM.

MMG's faculty researchers share their deep subject-matter knowledge with the scientific community at UVM and abroad, while also teaching students about research and lab practices.

Learn more about our faculty research and laboratories.

Educational Opportunities

Smiling Student in Lab

Whether you're seeking a B.S. or a M.S. in Microbiology or Molecular Genetics, you'll find our department has broad teaching and research strengths ranging from molecular, structural, and computational biology to cellular and pathogenic microbiology and immunology. You will have access to a rich course curriculum and laboratories where experienced and supportive faculty will guide your research and help you sharpen your scientific communication skills.

Learn more about: Undergraduate programs

Master of Science

Accelerated Masters degree

Vaccines & Human Immunology

VTC researcher with mother and baby in Dhaka

The Vaccine Testing Center (VTC) studies human vaccines with the goal of understanding and preventing infectious diseases around the globe.  We are a diverse team of clinicians, scientists, laboratory personnel and study coordinators.

Our lab teams focus on understanding immune correlates of protection and how humans respond to vaccines and defend themselves from infection and disease. 

Learn more about the VTC.

Beloved MMG Faculty

Brenda Tessmann Retires


Brenda Tessmann joined the Department of Microbiology in 1987 and has been an Assistant Professor in MMG since 2011. For the last 34 years, she has been the stalwart foundation and leader of the MMG teaching mission. Her incredible passion, dedication, empathy, and integrity have positively impacted her colleagues and generations of MMG alumni.

Brenda has taught over 5000 students, mentored over 300 Teaching Assistants, and introduced thousands of medical students to medical microbiology. As Co-Director of the MMG Undergraduate Program and founding Director of the CALS Honors College Program, she has advised over 300 Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, and Biological Sciences majors. She has given generously of her time in departmental and institutional service, including the Provost Diversity Committee and three different terms on the CALS Curriculum Committee.

Brenda was twice awarded the Teaching Award of Merit from the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (2001, 2002).  In 2019, the MMG Department established the Brenda V. Tessmann Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to teaching and advising. Her students said it best: “Brenda is such a gem and goes out of her way to help students. She is approachable and a total genius!” and “Brenda is such an inspiration, especially for me as a female interested in the sciences." Her colleagues and thousands of alumni are immensely grateful for her passion and commitment to microbiology teaching at UVM.  She will be greatly missed.  

Infographic showing how UVM helped make COVID test for the state