Little did Ryan Joy know seven years ago that, with one decision made as an undergraduate student at Johnson State College (JSC), he had just altered his entire career. Joy had applied to attend a bioinformatics workshop through the Vermont Genetics Network (VGN).
That workshop led him to Dr. Elizabeth Dolci, who encouraged him to apply through VGN to attend a Genome Annotation Workshop co-hosted by the University of Delaware. It was there that he had his first exposure to cutting-edge science technology, which ignited a deeper interest in research.
With the continued help of JSC faculty, Joy won a coveted VGN summer internship to work in Dr. Bryan Ballif’s lab at the University of Vermont in 2011. There he studied differential protein expression in the development of mice, which later turned into his senior thesis project. A native Vermonter, Joy recounts, “It was a fantastic way to get research training.”
While it pushed him out of his comfort zone, he was happy for the experience to utilize research equipment not available on his home campus. At the end of the summer, Joy mentioned an interest in graduate school, an idea that was wholly supported by Dr. Ballif.
Upon graduating, Joy joined the Ballif lab as a Master’s student to study how proteins regulate neuron development in the eye. He credits the Vermont Genetics Network for developing his interest in developmental biology and for creating the network that helped him enter a graduate degree program. During that time, while working as a teaching assistant, Joy discovered that he “loves sharing science with people.” It was no surprise then when the Community College of Vermont (CCV) hired him in 2016 as an instructor.
It all came full circle for Joy when he accepted the position of Coordinator of Academic Services at CCV and became the VGN’s key collaborator. As the person now responsible for overseeing all science lab classes at the main Winooski campus and for online courses, Joy is excited to replicate his own experience by “increasing CCV student engagement with VGN so that we can have more students involved in research.”