Mark Lubkowitz Professor of Biology

Mark Lubkowitz


Post-Doctoral fellow in plant developmental genetics, The University of California: Berkeley
Ph.D., Microbiology, The University of Tennessee
B.S., Biology, Washington and Lee University

Area of Expertise:

I study how molecules are transported across membranes in plants and how these processes affect seed germination and overall distribution of sugars in plants.

Courses I Teach:

  • BI153: Introductory Cell Biology and Genetics
  • BI205: Biological Communications

Workshop Materials:


Recent Publications

  • Bang-Jensen, V. & Lubkowitz, M. (2017). Sharing books, talking science: Exploring scientific concepts with Children’s Literature.
  • Bang-Jensen, V. & Lubkowitz, M. (2014) Books in bloom: Discovering the plant biology in children’s literature.  National Gardening Association.
  • Lubkowitz, M., Koch, K., Weil, C., and Braun, DM. (2017). A question-based approach to teaching photosynthesis, carbohydrate partitioning, and energy flow. American Biology Teacher 79 (8): 655-660.
  • Lubkowitz, M (2011).  The Oligopeptide Transporters: A small gene family with a diverse group of substrates and functions? Molecular Plant 4(3):407-15.
  • Bang-Jensen, V., and Lubkowitz, M.  (2010) Student-led garden tours: Fertile ground for interdisciplinary collaboration.  Teaching Professor 24(3):7.
  • Vasconcelos, M., Li, G., Lubkowitz, M., and Grusak, M. (2008) Characterization of the PT Clade of Oligopeptide Transporters in Rice.  Plant Genome 1:77-88.
  • Lubkowitz, M.A. (2006).  The OPT family functions in long distance peptide and metal transport in plants. In Genetic Engineering: principles and methods, volume 27, 35-55. ed J. Setlow (Springer).
  • Current grant through the National Science Foundation (2011-2016). Title: Genetic and genomic approaches to understanding long-distant transport and carbon partitioning in plants. This is a collaborative project between the University of Missouri, University of Florida, Vermont EPScOR, University of Nebraska, Purdue University, and Saint Michael’s College.
  • I am also co-authoring a monthly column with Professor Valerie Bang-Jensen in the Education Department titled “Books in Bloom” that is published by the National Garden Association

Awards & Recognition

Joanne Rathgeb Teaching Award, 2015
Class Appreciation Award, 2011


Life Off Campus:

I am an avid cyclist (roadie :)), whitewater kayaker, and skate skier. Some days, I think I am a gourmet and others a gourmand but either way I am a big fan of using meals to build community and family.  At home, we grow food year round in our gardens and four season greenhouse.  We are the proud owners of Huntington, Vermont’s first vineyard (named Briefly Complex and unfortunately it is an accurate name) and my wife and I have hosted a dinner party every 15th of the month for the last 17 years!  Culinary delights are often found often in my classroom.

Recent News

Mark Lubkowitz and Valerie Bang-Jensen learned in July they have been awarded a four year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of a collaborative research group led out of Iowa State. This $2.3 million dollar project is headed by Jianming Yu from Iowa State with collaborators Michael Scanlon from Cornell, Bing Yang from University of Missouri, Lie Tang from Iowa State, along with Mark and Valerie from Saint Michael’s College. Over the course of the funding, this team will investigate how leaf angle in corn can be genetically manipulated to increase photosynthesis and thereby crop yield. Additionally, Mark and Valerie will develop outreach modules to disseminate plant science to primary and secondary school systems. Mark and Valerie also will design workshops about school gardens and literacy for K-12 teachers to be held on campus. Valerie and Mark also presented online webinars this past fall semester, one for the STEM Teacher Leadership Network titled “The Crosscutting Concepts: Science, children’s literature, and beyond,” and the other titled “Literacy in the Garden” on behalf of the website — they had 267 global “attendees” for that one.
(posted July 2022)

Valerie Bang-Jensen of the Saint Michael’s education faculty presented “ Literacy Moves Outdoors: Story Walks, Word Gardens, and Interpretive Signage” at this year’s virtual National Children and Youth Gardening Symposium, run by the American Horticultural Society. Also, she and Mark Lubkowitz of the biology faculty, frequent collaborators on a wide variety of projects, this past winter “spent a delightful hour with members of the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers on Wednesday, February 24.” Valerie and Mark, the co-authors of Sharing Books, Talking Science, kicked off the STEM Book Share-A-Thon with a brief introduction to the connections between science concepts and children’s literature (via Zoom). Later in the spring semester, a website and podcast for educators called Read-Aloud Revival featured Valerie and Mark presenting ideas from their book. Given that the Saint Michael’s College Word Garden is now 10 years old, Valerie and Mark, its creators, in June also held a spontaneous Zoom class on the Word Garden with a group of teachers attending a week-long professional development workshop on school gardens at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. An LSU professor who was part of the workshop in comments afterward referred to the St. Mike’s duo as “rock stars.”
(posted July 2021)

Mark Lubkowitz of the biology faculty in November made another of his engaging YouTube videos to explain various scientific questions in the news of our world, as he has done in the past. In the video Mark explains the science behind Pfizer’s and Moderna’s RNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. Earlier, in the summer, Mark, on a similar YouTube video, addressed the topic of COVID-19.
(posted February 2021)

Mark Lubkowitz of the biology faculty and Valerie Bang-Jensen of the education faculty and were featured speakers at the virtual conference STEM20. This year with the pandemic, the National Science Teaching Association had to cancel its spring conference where Valerie and Mark, frequent Saint Michael’s faculty collaborators, were to be the live featured “elementary strand” speakers. However, on July 27-28, they spoke at the NSTA’s re-envisioned virtual conference, STEM20, giving a featured talk called “The Crosscutting Concepts: Science, Children’s Literature, and Beyond.”
(posted February 2021)

Mark Lubkowitz of the Saint Michael’s biology faculty and Valerie Bang-Jensen of the education faculty presented a session at the annual Vermont Science Teachers Association conference, “Science for All Learners” on October 24, in Fairlee, Vermont. They addressed an audience of teachers, curriculum coordinators, and college professors on their favorite topic, seeing scientific crosscutting concepts in literature and beyond. He and Valerie are finding that local and national organizations are interested in their seminal work in using children’s literature to teach scientific crosscutting concepts. Last October, they presented to the Vermont Science Teachers Association Conference in Fairlee, VT, on “The Crosscutting Concepts in Children’s Literature.”  Currently, they are providing the Burlington, VT, Public Schools with a five-day professional development strand for elementary teachers on content-area writing.  In April, they will be featured speakers at the National Science Teaching Association conference, delivering the McCurdy Lecture. Mark and Valerie’s 2017 book on this concept, titled Sharing Books, Talking Science (that’s its cover in image at right) is the basis of professional development work by a school district in the Michigan community of Manistee; a photo at the district’s Facebook Page features all the teachers holding it. The authors will be having a video chat next week with the teachers from that district studying their book.
(posted February 2020)

Mark Lubkowitz, professor of biology, and Valerie Bang-Jensen, professor of education, continue their mission to convince everyone they encounter that the scientific crosscutting concepts appear everywhere in books and our daily lives, enriching our understanding of daily life experiences. This fall the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) published their blogpost on structure and function, and on Friday, October 26, they were invited to present their work on science and children’s literature at the Massachusetts Science Education Leadership Association’s annual conference in Marlborough, MA.

Mark Lubkowitz, professor of biology, in March attended the 60th Annual Maize Genetics Conference in St. Malo, France. Mark was invited to present some of his research, so he traveled there with three students for part of a week.  The title of the poster that he and the students presented was “Elucidating the transcriptional regulatory network controlling SUT and SWEET genes in maize,” authors (students) Nick Ferrigno, Brian Eldridge, Jess Tidd, along with David M. Braun and (Professor) Mark Lubkowitz. They also visited St. Michel and saw the chapel dedicated to the Edmundites.
(posted June 2018)

Mark Lubkowitz, professor of biology, gave a talk titled “Code Switching: How to communicate your science to different audiences,” at the Annual Cell and Molecular Biology and Neuroscience Retreat at the University of Vermont. August 22, 2017.
(posted December 2017)

Mark Lubkowitz, professor of biology, and Valerie Bang-Jensen, professor of education, made a juried presentation, “Read Like a Scientist: Exploring science concepts with children’s literature,” at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO, on November 19, 2017; an invited presentation: “Read Like a Scientist: Exploring science concepts with children’s literature” for Science Outreach at Whitman College, Walla, Walla, Washington. September 15 & 16, 2017; and presented a professional development workshop:  “Exploring the NGSS Crosscutting Concepts with Children’s Literature,” a full day of professional development for Addison North East Supervisory Union, Vermont, on Nov 3, 2017. Also, a podcast called “Vegetable Gardening with Mike the Gardener” features in its episode #303 “The Wonders of the Teaching Gardens at St. Michael’s College in Vermont with Founders Valerie [Bang-Jensen] & Mark Lubkowitz.” The two professors have continued to provide professional development for elementary teachers and curriculum directors about the integration of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) crosscutting concepts and children’s literature. They were among the four featured authors at their book-publisher Heinemann’s summer “Teacher Tour” in July. Their book, Sharing Books, Talking Science: Exploring science concepts with children’s literature (Heinemann, 2017) was in recent months named a National Science Teachers Association recommended book. Mark and Valerie write seasonal blog posts to provide context for anyone learning how to see science in everyday life.
(posted December 2017)

Mark Lubkowitz, professor of biology, and Valerie Bang-Jensen, professor of education, presented “Read Like a Scientist: Exploring Scientific Concepts with Children’s Literature” at the annual National Science Teachers Association conference in Los Angeles on March 31, 2017. The presentation was based on their new book, Sharing Books, Talking Science, which was featured at the publishers’ booth during the conference. Also, their educational book-publisher Heinemann (“dedicated to teachers”) has been publicizing that book widely, with it rending on Amazon in recent months.
(posted June 2017)

Mark Lubkowitz, professor of biology, gave a talk at City University of New York (CUNY) in June titled “Discovering peptide transport systems,” and presented another talk in July titled  “Leaves of Green: a project-driven workshop for question-based exploration of plant biology in the high school curriculum” at the American Society for Plant Biologists’ annual conference in Minneapolis, MN.
(posted September 2015)

Mark Lubkowitz and Valerie Bang-Jensen, professors of biology and education, respectively, presented a workshop in July titled “Reading a Garden: Discovering Plant Biology in Great Children’s Literature” at the National Children and Youth Garden Symposium sponsored by the American Horticultural Society in Austin, TX.
(posted September 2015)

Valerie Bang-Jensen, associate professor of education, is author of the article, “Books in Bloom: Flowers as cultural, historical and aesthetic themes in picture books: The Dragon Lode,” appearing in the peer-reviewed journal International Reading Association, Spring/Summer 2014 issue. Valerie also co-presented with her Saint Michael’s colleague Mark Lubkowitz, associate professor of biology, at two conferences in the spring: The first, on March 28, 2014 at the Vermont State Department of Education Kindergarten Conference in Burlington, was “Stories and Seeds: How great children’s literature invites scientific understanding.” The second, on May 20, 2014 at the Vermont Library Association Conference on the Saint Michael’s campus, was “Books in Bloom: Read your way to a summer garden,” in the session titled “STEM programming at your local library.” Mark and Valerie also were interviewed by Jane Lindholm on the Vermont Public Radio program Vermont Edition in May about their book Books in Bloom: Discovering the Plant Biology in Great Children’s Literature, published in 2014 by the National Gardening Association.
(posted August 2014)

Mark Lubkowitz, associate professor of biology, Valerie Bang-Jensen, associate professor of education, report that the National Gardening Association recently published their new curriculum book, Books in Bloom: Discovering the Science in Great Children’s Literature. This illustrated book, written for educators, parents, and anyone involved with environmental education, explores the literary and biological themes in 17 excellent books for children. (March 2014)

Mark Lubkowitz, associate professor of biology, and Valerie Bang-Jensen, associate professor of education, were co-presenters at several academic events this past semester. On October 19, 2013, they were plenary speakers at the Captain Planet Learning Gardens Conference in suburban Atlanta, presenting “Books in Bloom: Inviting children to develop biological and literary lenses to create rich understandings of their world.” They also spoke at the 2013 Annual Convention National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in Boston on November 23, 2013, presenting as members of the panel, “Books in Bloom: Integrating Children’s Literature and Plant Biology.” Here’s how the NCTE Convention Web site described the session: “Imagine Miss Rumphius without lupines, or Winnie-the-Pooh without thistles for Eeyore. Explore the relationship between children’s literature, botany, and gardens. Participants will choose a book from our collection and construct a literary desktop garden followed by discussion and guidelines for creating similar projects in their own learning and gardening communities.” On December 11, 2013 they presented “Embracing Complexity: Creating a Richer Picture Through Merging Biological and Literary,” as part of the Science Speaker Series at Johnson State College. Each fall that college’s Department of Environmental and Health Sciences hosts a speaker series on Wednesday afternoons featuring experts on topics in science, and Valerie and Mark made the final presentation of this year’s series. (November 2013)

Mark Lubkowitz, associate professor of biology, and Valerie Bang-Jensen, associate professor of education, presented a talk, “Interpretive Literary Gardens,” at the American Horticultural Society’s National Children and Youth Gardening Symposium in Denver, CO, in July 2013.They are slated to give the following talk at the National Council of Teachers of English annual conference in Boston in November, 2013: “Books in Bloom: Integrating Children’s Literature and Plant Biology,” and also will participate in the Current Topics in Science Speaker Series at Johnson State College in Vermont, presenting “Embracing Complexity: Creating a richer picture through merging biological and literary lenses” (December 11, 2013). Finally, they will give a plenary talk at the Captain Planet Foundation Learning Gardens conference for suburban Atlanta schools in Acworth, Georgia in October, 2013. September 2013