The following VASE members were elected by the Board of Directors in August 2020, and they will be formally inducted into the Academy on October 26, 2020.
Founding Board Member, Generator Makerspace, Burlington, VT
Michael Metz is a retired materials scientist who spent his professional career working with precious metals used in technical applications. His work focused on the development, production, and sales of highly engineered precious metal materials for the electronics, chemical, and medical industries. He is an entrepreneur, business owner, consultant, and social entrepreneur.
Michael has a long history of board leadership in for-profit and nonprofit organizations, locally and internationally. Current Vermont board commitments include the maker pace Generator (founding board member), The Burlington City Arts Foundation (founding board member), ECHO/Leahy Center, The Curtis Fund, and The Vermont Community Foundation.
Michael has had a longstanding interest in education, creativity, innovation, economic development, art, and technology. He is a strong believer in the importance of community and has devoted the bulk of his retirement to supporting nonprofits in VT focused on the creative economy, experiential learning, education, certificates of value as an educational path, and positive social impact.
Michael is an honor graduate of Middlebury College (’75) and Columba University’s Graduate School of Business (“80). He lives with his wife Denise Shekerjian (an attorney, author, and business owner) in South Burlington. They have two grown sons, one of whom is a lawyer with the Department of Justice, and the other, a research scientist in artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google.
Bryan A. Ballif, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biology, University of Vermont
Dr. Ballif is a cellular biochemist, a protein mass spectrometrist, a molecular biologist, and a developmental neurobiologist. His primary research focus is the study of signaling mechanisms regulating neuronal positioning and differentiation during vertebrate brain development. A two-pronged approach is employed: The first makes use of Ballif’s expertise in cellular biochemistry and protein mass spectrometry to identify and quantify proteins, their modifications and their interactions with other proteins following acute stimuli or at discrete developmental stages. The second draws on the expertise of his sister lab, headed by Dr. Alicia Ebert, where genetic and histological approaches are used to study the developing zebrafish retina, an excellent and tractable model system of neurodevelopment. Their combined expertise facilitates developmental studies at multiple levels of organization, from molecules, to cells, to tissues, to organism.
Ballif’s second area of focus uses protein mass spectrometry to advance diverse lines of biological inquiry. Examples of contributions made by Dr. Ballif, his student colleagues, and his collaborators in this regard include: (i) the identification of the molecular basis of four novel human blood group systems (blood types), impacting transfusion medicine; (ii) the identification of cellular proteins that interact with Zika virus and Arenavirus proteins, to understand viral infections and to identify anti-viral drug targets; (iii) the characterization of pitcher plant mini-ecosystems, to better understand the dynamics of larger-scale ecosystem change; and (iv) the identification of “kissing bug” blood meals, to better manage Chagas Disease.
Dr. Frances Carr
Department of Biology, Molecular Biology, University of Vermont
Endocrine cancers continue to be a public health concern. Thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer world-wide with obesity, lifestyle, environmental toxins as likely contributing factors. As with other endocrine cancers, treatments for patients are complicated when resistance to therapies and recurrent disease emerge and in aggressive disease interventions are limited. Using advanced molecular, sequencing, and bioinformatic approaches, the current research in the Carr laboratory focuses on the molecular mechanisms by which a hormone receptor normally associated with development (thyroid hormone receptor-TRβ) can block thyroid and breast tumor growth. The research group is currently defining how activation of TRβ with drugs, currently used for treatment of metabolic diseases, improves the response of the tumors to known treatments of thyroid and breast cancers and limits the development of resistance. These studies aim to mitigate the development of treatment-resistant and/or recurrent disease and provide novel therapeutic interventions. Dr. Carr continues her commitment to science in the public interest through engagement in numerous organizations nationally and internationally.
Richard L. Page M.D.
Dean, Robert Larner College of Medicine, University of Vermont
Richard L. Page, M.D., has served as dean of the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont (UVM) since October 2018. He is a professor of medicine and cares for patients with cardiac arrhythmias. Dr. Page graduated from Duke University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology. He received his medical degree from Duke in 1984, and during medical school served as a Stanley J. Sarnoff Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed a residency in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, followed by research and clinical fellowships in Cardiology and Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. From 1990 to 1992, he served as Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Duke University Medical Center. He then joined the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas as Director of Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, rising there to tenured Professor of Internal Medicine and Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiac Arrhythmia Research. From 2002 to 2009, he served as the Robert A. Bruce Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Research and Head of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, where he also earned a Certificate in Medical Management in 2007. In 2009, Dr. Page was named of George R. and Elaine Love Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
With more than 200 publications, articles, and book chapters, Dr. Page has served on numerous national committees, including the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guidelines Task Force; he was Chair of the Circulatory Devices Panel of the US Food and Drug Administration from 2014-2018. He is a Fellow of the American Heart Association, having chaired their Council on Clinical Cardiology, and is a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society, where he served on the board from 2001 to 2012 and was President from 2009-2010. He is past-President of the Association of Professors of Cardiology and was a Councilor of the Association of Professors of Medicine. Dr. Page is an elected member of the Association of University Cardiologists, the American Clinical and Climatological Association, and the Association of American Physicians.
Mr. George is a mechanical engineer whose principal focus is on developing precision electro/opto-mechanical systems. His work is primarily centered on developing machines for the semiconductor process equipment market. Elements include thermal, structural, optics, fluid dynamics, concept development, and design for manufacturability.
Christopher Francklyn, Ph.D.
Professor, Biochemistry Department, University of Vermont
The focus of Dr. Francklyn's research over the last 30 years has been the machinery of protein synthesis, and how mutations in the genes that encode these components leads to inherited neurological diseases. He focused originally on the rules for tRNA recognition by aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AARS), and then moved on to a detailed characterization of the enzymology of the AARSs. From there, he moved on to studies of alternative functions of these enzymes, including an unexpected role in angiogenesis, and characterization of inhibitors of AARSs. In the last decade, he has worked with a wide range of national and international collaborators to study mutant alleles of AARSs that give rise both peripheral neuropathies and complex neurodevelopmental disorders. Through these studies he hopes to develop innovative treatments that rescue the function of these enzymes, and thereby improve the quality of life for affected patients.
Dr. Francklyn received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and carried out postdoctoral studies at MIT. He joined the Biochemistry Department at the University of Vermont in 1991. In addition to maintaining a long running NIH supported research program, he helped organize the direct the University's cross college undergraduate program in Biochemistry, helped build the structural biology program at UVM, and served in leadership positions for the Institutional Biosafety Committee.
Founder, BETA Technologies
Kyle Clark is an Engineer, Test Pilot, and founder of BETA Technologies. He is a native Vermonter and craftsman who has always had a passion for hands-on work. He founded three companies and designed and built products ranging from innovative furniture to massive power systems. After founding iTherm where he developed novel high-frequency power electronics, Kyle worked as an R&D engineer at Dynapower. His passion for aviation continued to call, and so he launched BETA to begin development on an electric vertical take-off aircraft.
Under Kyle’s creative direction, a relentlessly focused team of engineers at BETA developed motors, inverters, batteries, and went on to fly the largest electric aircraft in the world, twice. Kyle holds a degree from the Harvard University School of Applied Math and Engineering where he studied flight dynamics and control algorithms. He is also a Certified Flight Instructor and licenced commercial airplane pilot and helicopter driver.