You may also be interested in a general overview of our research, currently-active research, the people that made this work possible, and our publications.

Download the 2022-2023 LEoPARD application form
Schedule your availability for Fall 2022 research

The Laboratory for Evaluation of Pharmacological Agents in Remediation of Disease (LEoPARD) — a biochemistry-focused undergraduate research group at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont (Burlington metro area) — is always seeking ambitious undergraduate students who have a strong interest in laboratory-based work. At present, students can apply to fill the following three (3) categories of increasing involvement and demand category:

  • Student-technicians (3¹ or more hours/week during the academic semester);
  • Student-researchers (6² or more hours/week during the academic semester);
  • Student-investigators (12³ or more hours/week during the academic semester).

Descriptions and requirements for these various positions can be found below.

Download the 2022-2023 LEoPARD application form
Schedule your availability for Fall 2022 research

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Student-technicians

The student-technician position is intended for students who have a preliminary interest in the workings of a laboratory environment, and who may eventually be keen to pursue more intensive research at a later time — but for whatever reason, are not yet willing and/or able to take on a substantial role in research at this time. Student-technicians may be assigned independent work directly by Dr. Dieni, and/or may be assigned supportive work — in assisting student-researchers and student-investigators by completing preparatory work, monitoring and replenishing the inventory of reagents, and maintaining the research lab in a state of cleanliness and readiness. While the student-technician role is inherently introductory in nature, interested students are nevertheless expected to join LEoPARD with a serious commitment to furthering its goals, and must be willing to devote significant time and effort to that end.

Note carefully that the number of student-technicians that will be allowed to work in LEoPARD at any given time is determined by the number of student-researchers and student-investigators in the group at that time. This is because real research progress takes substantial time and dedication — which, by definition may, not be cognate with the role of the student-technician. The number of student-technicians is therefore capped such that there will never be a ratio of less than 1.5:1 of student-researchers and/or student-investigators to student-technicians. For instance:

  • If there is only one (1) student-researcher or student-investigator in the group, there can be no student-technicians. Why? Even one student-technician would cause an undesirable ratio of 1:1
  • If there are a total of two (2) student-researchers and student-investigators, then there can be only one (1) student technician.
  • If there are a total of three (3) student-researchers and student-investigators, there can be up to a maximum of two (2) student-technicians.
  • If there are a total of four (4) student-researchers and student-investigators, again, there can be up to a maximum of two (2) student-technicians. Why? Having three (3) student-technicians would cause an undesirable ratio of 1.33:1.
  • If there are a total of five (5) student-researchers and student-investigators, there can be up to a maximum of three (3) student-technicians.

Prospective student-technicians must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be able and willing to dedicate a minimum of 3¹ hours per week towards on-site lab work (i.e. not remote work);
    • ¹Student-technicians whose work involves living cells — including (but not limited to) bacterial cells, fungal cells, or mammalian cells — must be cognizant that their schedules will be largely dictated by the life cycles of the cells, and may require more than 3 hours of work per week. 
    • During a non-summer break period (e.g. Thanksgiving week, Christmas/New Year’s break, etc.) — if the student has access to local housing in the Burlington metro area and can feasibly travel to and from campus — they are welcome and encouraged to work additional hours. 
  • Must be able and willing to schedule and attend additional meetings as required;
  • Must have a clear understanding that, aside from academics, their duties with LEoPARD will not be compromised by any other commitments to non-academic pursuits including (but not limited to) other employment, residence life, volunteering, athletics (including practice, games, travel time for away-games), etc.; 
  • Must have a preliminary yet earnest, genuine open-mindedness for lab work. Prospective student-technicians need not be already committed to a career in lab work — but should be willing to give this work their dedication for the time that they remain in LEoPARD.

Download the 2022-2023 LEoPARD application form
Schedule your availability for Fall 2022 research

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Student-researchers

The student-researcher position is intended for ambitious students who want to take on a more substantial role in research — and who are very open to the idea of making research part of their long-term career goals (e.g. graduate studies, cutting-edge work in a biotechnology company, prominent roles in drug discovery and clinical trials, etc.). Student-researchers will execute and analyze the results of the core experiments in LEoPARD’s various research projects, with the utmost care and meticulous attention to detail — in pursuit of the ultimate goal of publishing discoveries in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Students who are interested in the student-researcher role are expected to join LEoPARD with the highest commitment to furthering research — if not for the rest of their careers, then at least in their time with LEoPARD — and must be willing to devote considerable time and effort towards this goal.

In contrast to the role of a student-technician — which is arguably more of a “temporary” or “undecided” role — a prospective student-researcher should come to LEoPARD with far greater sense of commitment, and a willingness to prioritize research over other activities in their life (aside from academics, of course!). A prospective student-researcher should carefully consider their ability to make an upfront two (2)-semester commitment (e.g. a commitment for both Fall 2022 and Spring 2023) — or, whenever possible, an upfront full calendar-year commitment (i.e. 12 months; pending the availability of summer research). 

Prospective student-researchers must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be able and willing to dedicate a minimum of no less than 6² hours per week (and often, considerably more than the minimum) towards on-site lab research (i.e. not remote work);
    • ²Student-researchers whose work involves living cells — including (but not limited to) bacterial cells, fungal cells, or mammalian cells — must be cognizant that their schedules will be largely dictated by the life cycles of the cells, and may require significantly more than 6 hours of work per week. 
    • During a non-summer break period (e.g. Thanksgiving week, Christmas/New Year’s break, etc.) — if the student has access to local housing in the Burlington metro area and can feasibly travel to and from campus — they are welcome and encouraged to work additional hours.
  • Must be able and willing to work “odd hours” (e.g. evenings, weekends) during the Fall and/or Spring semester — as necessitated by laboratory protocols and/or the scheduling of intensive research time-blocks around coursework;
  • Must be able and willing to occasionally dedicate time to out-of-lab research (i.e. work that takes place out of the lab, processing data, plotting graphs, searching out and reading references from the peer-reviewed literature, writing manuscripts and poster presentations, etc.);
  • Must be able and willing to schedule and attend additional meetings as required;
  • Must be willing to carefully consider an upfront two-semester commitment or equivalent (e.g. Fall 2022-Spring 2023, Spring 2023-summer 2023, summer 2023-Fall 2023, etc.) — or ideally, a calendar-year commitment (i.e. 12-months, pending the availability of summer research);
    • Student-researchers who make a 2-semester or 12-month commitment and who renege on their commitment without professional justification may receive a less-stellar reference/recommendation letter as compared to students who uphold their full-term commitment.
  • Must have a clear understanding that, aside from academics, their duties with LEoPARD will not be compromised by any other commitments to non-academic pursuits including (but not limited to) other employment, residence life, volunteering, athletics (including practice, games, travel time for away-games), etc.; 
  • Must have an earnest, genuine interest for research — an interest that is stronger than might be expected from a student-technician. Whereas student-technicians should only have a preliminary interest in lab work, prospective student-researchers should already have a more fleshed-out idea that this is something they want to do for the longer-term. They need not be a research expert, or already definitively committed to a career in research, but should be willing to give research nothing short of their uncompromising dedication for the time that they remain in LEoPARD.

Download the 2022-2023 LEoPARD application form
Schedule your availability for Fall 2022 research

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Student-investigators

The student-investigator position is reserved exclusively for ultra-committed researchers who have proven themselves over at least one semester with LEoPARD and who are wholeheartedly certain — for all intents and purposes — that they want to engage in research amidst their long-term career goals. Student-investigators will not only execute and analyze the results of the core experiments in LEoPARD’s various research projects — but will also assist in the planning and coordination of projects, training of newer personnel, and the mentoring and directing of both student-technicians and student-researchers. Students who have spent a minimum of one semester with LEoPARD as a student-researcher, and are interested promotion to student-investigator, must be willing to entirely dedicate their time and effort towards this singular goal with little or no competition from other pursuits; please be advised that this level of dedication is not for everyone, and not to be taken lightly! 

Prospective student-investigators must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be willing and able — upon promotion to student-investigator — to make make a non-negotiable, full-calendar year commitment to research with LEoPARD (not including the one semester they have already spent with LEoPARD), with a minimum of a complete 365 days remaining before anticipated graduation date and a genuine ability to remain with LEoPARD for the entirety of that period. As one example — a student-researcher who has completed prior research with LEoPARD over the Fall 2022 semester and who wishes to upgrade to a student-investigator as of the Spring 2023 semester (i.e. as of January 2023) must also commit to being a student-investigator during the entirety of summer 2023 and the Fall 2023 semester as well (i.e. until December, 2023). As another example — a student-researcher who has completed prior research with LEoPARD over the Spring 2023 semester and who wishes to upgrade to a student-investigator as of summer 2023 must also commit to being a student-investigator during the Fall 2023 semester and the Spring 2024 semester as well (i.e. until May 2024);
  • Must have spent at least one prior successful semester with LEoPARD as a student-researcher;
    • In the one (or more) prior successful semester(s), the prospective student-investigator must have shown a talent for research and a strong desire to put research interests above other priorities.
  • Must be able and willing to dedicate a minimum of no less than 12¹ hours/week (and often, considerably more than the minimum) to on-site lab research (i.e. not remote work);
    • ³Student-investigators whose work involves living cells — including (but not limited to) bacterial cells, fungal cells, or mammalian cells — must be cognizant that their schedules will be largely dictated by the life cycles of the cells, and may require significantly more than 12 hours of work per week. 
    • During a non-summer break period (e.g. Thanksgiving week, Christmas/New Year’s break, etc.) — if the student has access to local housing in the Burlington metro area and can feasibly travel to and from campus — they are welcome and encouraged to work additional hours.
  • Must be able and willing to work “odd hours” (e.g. evenings, weekends) during the Fall and/or Spring semester — as necessitated by laboratory protocols and/or the scheduling of intensive research time-blocks around coursework;
    • Additionally, the student-investigator must realize and embrace that in addition to evenings and weekends, it is necessary to have days upon days — or, more accurately, weeks upon weeks — of uninterrupted research to make any substantial progress. Thus, if student-investigator has access to local housing in the Burlington metro area and can feasibly travel to and from campus, they are highly-encouraged to make every reasonable effort towards in-lab work for a significant portion of “break” periods such as the October two-day break, Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Year’s period, Spring Vacation, and others as applicable. Without posing a risk to their academic performance or their health, a student-investigator should make every effort to treat their role as a “real-world” job;
    • Barring exceptional circumstances, during their calendar-year commitment, the student-investigator may not be absent from the lab for a contiguous period of any longer than 28 calendar days — or they will be reassigned from their student-investigator role to a student-researcher role instead.  
  • Must be able and willing to dedicate significant time to out-of-lab research (i.e. work that takes place out of the lab, processing data, plotting graphs, searching out and reading references from the peer-reviewed literature, writing manuscripts and poster presentations, etc.);
  • Must be able and willing to schedule and attend a weekly 1-hour research progress meeting, and other meetings as required;
  • Must not be involved in other non-academic pursuits to any significant extent, including (but not limited to) other employment, residence life, volunteering, athletics, etc. — without prior discussion and express permission from Dr. Dieni;
    • Given that the student-investigator will likely not be involved in employment outside of LEoPARD due to the high level of dedication required to this role, it is strongly recommended that prospective student-investigators are eligible to pursue intensive research through one or both of the following pathways:
      • 1) Prospective student-investigators should be competitive or otherwise eligible for funding sources such as work-study, internal and external research scholarships, stipendiary allocations to external grants, and others as appropriate. Prospective student-investigators who are under financial duress and who would otherwise anticipate a strong need to pursue employment in order to fund their basic necessities (e.g. tuition, housing, food, etc.) might want to first discuss their interest in being a student-investigator with Dr. Dieni before taking any steps;
      • 2) Prospective student-investigators should try to dedicate as many elective credits in their degree program as possible to research. This will allow a shift in focus from credit-based coursework to credit-based research, with a possibly more favourable reorganization of their weekly schedules to accommodate the long hours required for research.  
  • Must have above-average writing skills — or a willingness to develop their writing skills — and an interest in writing anything and everything from laboratory standard operating procedures (SOPs) to manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication;
  • Must have above-average presenting skills — or a willingness to develop their presentation skills — and an interest in speaking about their research at a variety of internal and external venues;
  • Must have above-average leadership skills — or a willingness to develop their leadership skills — and an interest in training, mentoring, and directing student-researchers and student-technicians who are junior to themselves.

Download the 2022-2023 LEoPARD application form
Schedule your availability for Fall 2022 research

Students interested in any of these roles should contact Dr. Dieni.