Van Andel Institute Graduate School adds to leadership team

New team members to support school’s growth, student success

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Feb. 20, 2020) – Van Andel Institute Graduate School welcomes two new team members to the organization: John Vasquez, Ph.D., as director of assessment and professional development, and Allison Roman as director of student support services. The additions signal the growing strength of the organization, which offers a five-year Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology.

John Vasquez, Ph.D.

“The Graduate School continues to grow and to evolve to meet our students’ needs,” said Steve Triezenberg, president and dean of Van Andel Institute Graduate School. “Allison and John will help us assess and improve our classes, curriculum and learning environment to ensure students benefit from a strong support network during their education.”

Vasquez is a recent graduate of the Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE) program at Michigan State University, where his research focused on career and professional development in graduate education. Vasquez has more than 20 years of professional experience in higher education at University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

At the Graduate School, Vasquez will lead the school’s accreditation initiatives and implement systems to measure the impact of the Graduate School’s curriculum on students.

“VAI has designed a unique and innovative program that uses evidence-based best practices to train the future biomedical leaders in all areas of the scientific workforce,” Vasquez said. “I am excited to be a part of a pioneering program as it expands the curriculum to meet the growing number of students admitted to each cohort.”

Alli Roman

Roman comes to the Graduate School from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she was director of diversity and inclusion. Roman holds a bachelor’s degree from University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s of social work from University of Michigan. She worked at Grand Valley State University for five years, first as assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and then as assistant director of the Women’s Center.

Roman will support Graduate School students in academic and non-academic settings, including overseeing new student orientation, spearheading diversity and inclusion initiatives, and fostering effective and professional mentoring relationships between students and faculty.

“I seek to provide our Ph.D. students with connections to resources and support that enhance their holistic growth, both personally and professionally,” Roman said. “My philosophy is to provide individualized support that meets the unique needs of each student.”


Van Andel Institute (VAI) is committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations through cutting edge biomedical research and innovative educational offerings. Established in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1996 by the Van Andel family, VAI is now home to more than 400 scientists, educators and support staff, who work with a growing number of national and international collaborators to foster discovery. The Institute’s scientists study the origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translate their findings into breakthrough prevention and treatment strategies. Our educators develop inquiry-based approaches for K-12 education to help students and teachers become the next generation of problem-solvers, while our Graduate School offers a rigorous, research-intensive Ph.D. program in molecular and cellular biology. Learn more at vai.org.