Who We Are



The VBSA activities are overseen by a board of directors whom are listed below along with brief biographical information:

Board of Directors

Board Chair

Russell Beste, Board Chair
Russell is Senior Director Global Process Development at MTI. He has degrees in both Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering and over 30 years experience developing BioPharmaceuticals. He holds 3 patents in continuous manufacturing technologies, and has successfully launched 8 commercial biopharmaceutical products. Visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/russellbeste to learn more.

Board members

Kerry Swift, Vice President of Academic Affairs
Kerry Swift has been UVM's Technology Licensing Officer since arriving from MIT in 2004. She also served as OTC's Interim Director from 2011 to 2012. At MIT's Technology Licensing Office, Kerry licensed MIT technologies in the biomedical and device sectors for six-and-a-half years. She holds a Master of Science in Molecular and Microbiology from Tufts University and is a magna cum laude biochemistry graduate of the University of New Hampshire.

At UVM, Kerry facilitates the disclosure of new technologies and their transfer to both established and new start-up companies for commercialization. Kerry also supports UVM's industry-related research activities with her experience in negotiating a wide variety of funding and research support agreements with both large and small companies.
Joe Negri, Vice President of Industry Affairs
BioTek Instruments
Margaret LaggisMargaret Laggis, Treasurer
Margaret is a Principal in Laggistics, a full service public relations and grass roots marketing firm specializing in controversial public issues and environmental policy. She has over 20 years of lobbying and public relations experience in Vermont. This followed stints as a minority staff member of the House Agriculture committee and a professional staff member of the Senate Agriculture committee in Washington, DC.Current clients include the Biotechnology Industry Organization, American Association of Preferred Provider Organizations, Syngenta, Beaver Wood Energy, the Indoor Tanning Association, the Vermont Groundwater Association, CropLife America and others.
Janet Murray
Associate Professor and Director, CALS Honors College
Dr. Murray received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from the University of Vermont in 2000 with Douglas Johnson and a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire in 1988. Her graduate research on the Cdc42 GTPase in S. pombe lead to isolation of a novel protein involved in vacuolar fusion and added to the evidence of the role for Cdc42p in vesicle trafficking. For postdoctoral research, she studied the molecular mechanisms of aberrant V(D)J recombination associated with clinically important oncogenic rearrangements in pediatric cancers with Dr. Barry Finette in the Pediatrics Department in the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.
Dr. Murray joined the faculty in the Department of Biology and the Vermont Genetics Network in 2006. Her roles in the Vermont Genetic Network included Director of Outreach from 2010-2015 and Director of Professional Development and Education from 2015-2017. She developed curricula and was an invited instructor at 9 different liberal art colleges in Vermont.
She inspired a diverse group of students to enter biomedical careers and assisted college faculty in their research and professional development. Dr. Murray joined the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in 2017.
Luke Emerson-Mason
Luke Emerson-Mason is the laboratory director at Bia Diagnostics, an ISO 17025 accredited analytical lab specializing in food and nutraceutical analysis. In this role he is responsible for ensuring the quality of results across three laboratories, testing for food allergens, genetically modified organisms, and cannabis, as well as researching and validating new methods and managing customer projects.
Luke received a BS in Environmental Science and MS in Food Science, both from the University of Vermont. Aside from brief stints teaching snowboarding in Colorado and working at a horticulture research lab in New Zealand, he has lived in VT his entire life.
Xavier AmbroggioXavier Ambroggio
General Manager of the Rosetta Design Group
Dr. Ambroggio founded the Rosetta Design Group (RDG) in 2007 and serves as the General Manager. RDG is an elite CRO providing macromolecular modeling, bioinformatics, and consulting services for clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech, academic, military, government, and non-profit sectors. In conjunction with the Rosetta Commons, RDG hosts RosettaCON, a premier macromolecular modeling conference. In addition to his work with RDG, Dr. Ambroggio developed computational research infrastructure and performed research for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) with the Bioinformatics and Computational Biosciences Branch, Lockheed Martin, and MSC. Prior to RDG, Dr. Ambroggio was an NRSA postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Brian Kuhlman at UNC Chapel Hill. He received his doctorate as an NSF Fellow at Caltech with Drs. Doug Rees and Ray Deshaies, and his BS from George Mason University.
Michael Stanley
Senior Scientist, Chroma Technologies Inc.
Michael Stanley came from a teaching background: first high school, then college and university His Ph.D. in cellular biology was imaging-based and that influence led him to the industrial world, first via confocal microscopes and then to Chroma thirteen years ago.

Michael now splits his time at Chroma between experimental design for end-users and equipment manufacturers; teaching at microscopy courses with an emphasis on laser-based systems; coordination with engineering/design/sales; and trouble-shooting. In his spare time he rides custom built choppers and scooters and does his best to keep up with his eight year old son.
Tina Thornton
Assistant Professor, College of Medicine, University of Vermont
Dr. Tina Thornton is an assistant professor in the College of Medicine at UVM. Her research examines the ways in which DNA damage affects the immune system and the central nervous system. Also, she is the coordinator of I-Trep, a UVM initiative that fosters biomedical entrepreneurship in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico and Alaska by providing resources and training to biomedical researchers who seek to commercialize their discoveries and by promoting collaboration between those researchers and the biomedical small business community at large.

Dr. Thornton earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and her B.S. from the University of South Carolina. She was the Joyce Fox Jordan Postdoctoral Fellow at the Purdue University Cancer Center before moving to Vermont in 2005.

We always welcome people to become actively involved and help us to make sure that the VBSA continues to offer innovative, valued programs and services to the bioscience community, and we manage to have fun along the way too. For more information please contact Rachel Sargent Mirus at vermontbiotech@gmail.com