I have been teaching for six years at Vermont Technical College and before teaching, I completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Geisel Medical School, Dartmouth College. I have lived in Vermont since January of 2008 and am happy to call Vermont my home state. I have a PhD in Pharmacology, but my primary field of study has been Neuroscience. I actively studied Alzheimer’s disease for 10 years, and find all areas of the brain fascinating! One of the aspects of being a research scientist that I most enjoyed was teaching students, and this led me to pursue a career in teaching.
At Vermont Tech I teach Principles of Microbiology (BIO-2120), Anatomy and Physiology (BIO-2011), General Biology (BIO-1040), Introductory Chemistry (CHE-1020) and General Chemistry (CHE-1031). I teach courses in both online and in-person format and hope to teach a few more options in the coming years. Teaching at a hands-on institution such as Vermont, allows me to use laboratory time to cover some of the hardest topics, and students at Vermont Tech seem to truly appreciate this format. As a trained scientist, my favorite type of teaching is in a laboratory setting.
Aside from teaching and chairing the science department, I also serve as the college liaison for the Vermont State Environmental and Agriculture Laboratory (VAEL), that is currently being built on the North side of campus, and will open in the Spring of 2019. While the construction has been taking place, I have worked with Engleberth Construction to offer students tours of the building site, giving Vermont Tech students an additional experience to add to their hands-on work done at the college. This lab is an exciting project and I am eager to get students involved in the work that is done at the VAEL lab. I will also continue to facilitate interactions between VAEL employees, and faculty, staff and students of the college.
My husband also teaches at Vermont Tech and we are both very committed to providing the best courses we can for our students. In our free time, we enjoy playing with our seven-year-old boy/girl twins and two-year-old daughter; making sure to be outdoors as much as possible. Please feel free to get in touch with me via email or phone. I am on multiple campuses so email is the best way to contact me.
Michelle Sama knows a thing or two about learning. More importantly, Dr. Sama knows what your brain knows about learning.
She’s not just a respected faculty member at Vermont Tech; she’s also a trained researcher who has her Ph.D. in Pharmacology. Her post-doctoral research fellowship at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine was focused on neuroscience and the physiology of learning and memory. She studied how environmental enrichment can enhance our learning and memory, and was able to demonstrate that increased exposure to new and novel activities can improve learning and memory as well as delay the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in an animal model of the disease. The mice with environmental enrichment that developed Alzheimer’s had fewer symptoms than similarly aged control subjects in the experiments. “By providing exposure to novel tasks and greater levels of social interaction, mice performed better in memory-related tasks and had higher levels of things like nerve growth factor that has been shown to be an important modulator of learning and memory,” says Dr. Sama.
This expertise, as well as her love for being an educator, makes Dr. Sama the major contributor she is today. Her students appreciate her teaching methods to teach some of the most complicated material in a lab setting. Graduate Andrew Van Buskirk was quick to add, ”Professor Sama combines her enthusiasm for chemistry with a concern for the learning experience of each individual student. I felt lucky to have her as she guided us through difficult but rewarding labs.”
As the college liaison for the Vermont State Laboratory building, Dr. Sama facilitated observations for students of the soil borings happening on the Randolph Center campus. Even though the building is not scheduled to be open until the spring of 2018, Vermont Tech students are already involved in the design, permitting, and in the future, building of the state lab. Dr. Sama is aware that introducing these new and novel activities for Vermont Tech students will enhance their understanding of their classroom content. As Dr. Sama sees it, “Students truly benefit from the opportunity to interact with contractors, engineers and architects on the State Laboratory. They will gain a real-world, hands-on experience right on campus.”