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Leadership and Staff

Graduate School Leadership

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., President and Dean, Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Dr. Triezenberg received his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Michigan and later completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Embryology (in Baltimore). He then joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University, where he taught molecular biology and genetics to medical students and directed research projects on gene regulation. Dr. Triezenberg also served at MSU as Associate Director of the interdepartmental graduate program in cell and molecular biology. Dr. Triezenberg came to Van Andel Institute in May 2006 as the founding Dean of Van Andel Institute Graduate School. He also served as the Director of the Van Andel Education Institute from 2009 to 2015.

His lab, which closed in 2018 after 31 years of productive research, explored the genetic and epigenetic control systems of viruses to understand how infections progress and to reveal new ways to stop them. His discoveries with herpes simplex viruses opened up new possibilities for antiviral drug development and revealed new insights into how human cells control gene expression.

Brian Haab, Ph.D., Assistant Dean, Van Andel Institute Graduate School
Professor, Metabolic and Nutritional Programming, Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, Van Andel Institute

Dr. Haab obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. He then served as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Patrick Brown in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University. Dr. Haab joined Van Andel Institute as a Special Program Investigator in May 2000, became a Scientific Investigator in 2004, and was promoted to Senior Scientific Investigator in 2007. He also serves as an assistant dean of Van Andel Institute Graduate School and as an adjunct professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Genetics Program at Michigan State University.

Visit Dr. Haab’s lab website here.

Linda Zarzecki, MBA
Vice President for Human Resources, Title IX Coordinator for Van Andel Institute Graduate School

The United States Department of Education Title IX regulations recognize that sexual harassment, including sexual assault, is unlawful sex discrimination. In support of and in compliance with these regulations, Linda Zarzecki serves as the Title IX Coordinator. Any person may report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment (whether or not the person reporting is the person alleged to be the victim of conduct that would constitute sex discrimination or sexual harassment) in person, by mail, by email, or by telephone, using the following contact information:  

Office address: Room 6232 East, Van Andel Institute, 333 Bostwick Ave. NE, Grand Rapids MI, 49503

Email: linda.zarzecki@vai.org | Telephone: 616.234.5310

Linda Zarzecki joined Van Andel Institute (VAI) in 1999 and serves as Vice President of Human Resources. In this role, Zarzecki is responsible for overseeing all human resources aspects for the Institute, including talent acquisition, training and development, employee relations and assistance, employee benefits, total compensation, immigration, HR information systems and record management, and performance management. She serves as an advisor to the Compensation Committee for the Board of Trustees and is a member of the Society of Human Resources Professionals and Association of Independent Research Institutes.

Prior to joining VAI, Zarzecki served in various management positions at Amway Corporation as well as within various global markets for Amway on new market development and human resource operations. Zarzecki graduated from Western Michigan University with a Master of Business Administration and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Aquinas College.

Graduate School Staff

John Vasquez, Ph.D., Director of Assessment and Professional Development

Dr. Vasquez is a recent graduate of the Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE) program at Michigan State University. At MSU, his research focused on career and professional development in graduate education; specifically, the effect of career orientation on the retention, completion and late state (post-candidacy) attrition of under-represented students (URM); and the psycho-social factors affecting career trajectories of URM scientists. Prior to coming to Van Andel Institute Graduate School, he worked for more than 20 years in higher education at both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, along with working with a number of higher education organizations focused on enhancing evidence-based best practices in graduate education.

At the Graduate School, Dr. Vasquez is responsible for the assessment and evaluation of programs and courses including developing and implementing indicators and tools to measure our impact on students; creating and applying procedures for data collection and analysis; and establishing mechanisms for internal and external reporting. Dr. Vasquez also oversee the Graduate School’s program review and accreditation initiatives and creates and directs professional development opportunities (e.g., teaching and mentoring) for faculty, graduate students and interns.

Alli Roman, MSW, Director of Student Support Services

Allison C. Roman, better known as Alli, attended the University of California, Berkeley as a first-generation college student and graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor’s in social welfare. In 2012, she graduated with her Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in community organization with children, youth and families from the University of Michigan. Alli has held multiple positions in higher education focused on student support, retention, multicultural affairs, gender equity and social justice work in higher education. She has most recently served as Director for Diversity and Inclusion at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

As Director of Student Support Services, Alli is responsible for providing non-academic advising and student support as well as the planning and implementation of orientation. Alli additionally provides career planning and preparation, oversees alumni relations and serves as the liaison with the Graduate Student Association and the Graduate School.

Christy Mayo, MAOM, M.Ed., Director of Enrollment and Records

Christy joined the Graduate School in 2015 with more than 15 years of experience in higher education. Prior to arriving at Van Andel Institute Graduate School, she served as associate registrar at Grand Valley State University for 12 years. Christy has extensive experience in admissions, registrar functions, academic advising and higher education technology solutions. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in marketing from Auburn University as well as Master’s degrees from University of Phoenix and Grand Valley State University.

Christy is responsible for developing, implementing and administering the entire admissions process including all marketing, advertising and recruitment efforts. She also oversees all academic student records including the management of computer systems related to registration, records and degree auditing.

Susanne Miller-Schachinger, B.B.A., Executive Assistant

Susanne received a B.B.A. degree in commerce and business administration in Austria and worked for 12 years in the banking and manufacturing industry in Europe. She held marketing positions for several Silicon Valley companies over six years before moving to Grand Rapids in 2002. Prior to joining Van Andel Institute Graduate School in 2017, she held the position of senior executive assistant at Stiles Machinery, Inc., North America’s largest importer of industrial woodworking manufacturing equipment.

Susanne supports the president and dean of the Graduate School and is the liaison between the dean and internal/external constituents. She is responsible for managing the dean’s daily schedule, coordinating events, faculty and committee meetings, supports the Graduate School Board of Directors as well as provides direct administrative support to the Director of Student Support Services, including student orientation.

Kathy Bentley, B.S.M., Senior Administrative Assistant II

Kathy received a B.S. in business management from Cornerstone University in 2002. Prior to joining the Graduate School in 2010, Kathy served in executive support roles in education, healthcare and manufacturing, and owned and operated a computer consulting business.

Kathy supports the Assistant Dean in courses and curriculum development and assists the Director of Assessment and Professional Development in surveys, data gathering, program review and accreditation initiatives, and faculty development.

Michelle Love, MAEd., Senior Administrative Assistant I

Michelle earned her Master’s degree in adult education and training in 2009. Prior to joining the Graduate School, she served as student services coordinator at the University of Phoenix.

She is responsible for coordinating the summer internship programs, guest students, Academy of Modern Engineering program, the West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference as well as providing support to the Director of Enrollment and Records.