Jill Sible

Jill Sible

Associate Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education


The Office of Undergraduate Research is headed by Jill Sible, Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Her areas of responsibility include Undergraduate Research (Office of Undergraduate Research) and revision to the university's current general education program, Curriculum for Liberal Education. Sible received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire and her Ph.D. in cell, molecular, and developmental biology from Tufts University School of Medicine. She was a postdoctoral fellow for Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Her guidance brings a great perspective and leadership to the office.


  • B.S., Biochemistry, University of New Hampshire, 1990
  • Ph.D., Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, 1995
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 1995 - 1998
Keri Swaby

   Keri Swaby

    Coordinator for Undergraduate Research





The Office of Undergraduate Research is coordinated by Keri Swaby, who prefers to be called simply "Keri." She holds a BSc in Chemistry from McGill University (Canada), a MSc in Geochemistry from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University. She has taught chemistry to high school and college students and managed the quality control program at the world renowned Pickapeppa factory in Jamaica. More recently, Keri has worked as an environmental consultant with Geosyntec Consultants, in Florida. Keri has run her own business and continues to manage the busy schedules of her three young children. She brings a diverse skill set and genuine love of students to the position of University Undergraduate Coordinator.


  • BS, Chemistry, McGill University, 1994
  • MS, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (Geochemistry), Georgia Institute of Technology, 1998
  • MBA, Environmental Management, Florida Atlantic University, 2001

Melissa Ripepi

Program Support Specialist

Melissa's passion for experiential learning, and research in particular, is rooted in a transformative educational experience she had as a high school senior. Required to conduct a year-long research or creative scholarship project of her choosing, Melissa decided to explore the challenges of healthcare delivery in developing countries against the backdrop of the then-growing AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean. The proposal she wrote was for studying telemedicine as a potential solution to these challenges and focused specifically on the country of Guyana. Her research involved more reading than she was prepared for, myriad interviews, and a two-week long trip to do in-country fieldwork. There, she was able to interview Guyanese in marketplaces, schools, and hospitals, the Ministers of Health and Agriculture, and then-President of Guyana, Cheddi Jagan, who invited her to briefly present at a cabinet meeting. Upon returning, she spent five months writing and re-writing before presenting her work in a school-wide oral presentation.

From proposal to dissemination of knowledge, this was a complete reseach experience. Of course, this project taught Melissa a ton about health, healthcare, poverty, and politics. But, the source of her passion for undergraduate research and creative scholarship stems from the universal lessons absorbed from this experience, and the many that followed it. To name a few: 

  • Ask. Always ask. Don't rob anyone of the chance to help you
  • Persistence is everything
  • Failure is a necessary part of the process of creation
  • The richness and sustainability of your solution depends heavily on varied experiences and backgrounds that contribute to it
  • Communication is everything

Working here in the Office of Undergraduate Research allows her to work in service of a mission in which she believes deeply: that every student at Virginia Tech has the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research and/or creative scholarship. Should you need anything just ask, Melissa is grateful for the opportunity to help.


  • BA, Public + Urban Affairs - Public Policy + International Studies, Virginia Tech