• Betsy Martinez-Vaz

    Betsy Martinez-Vaz

    Associate Professor of Biology and Co-Director of Biochemistry


    Betsy M. Martinez-Vaz is an Associate Professor of Biology and the Co-Director of the Biochemistry Program at Hamline University. She grew up in Puerto Rico in a family of teachers, who valued education and academic achievement. Betsy holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Chemistry from Universidad del Turabo, Puerto Rico.

    Dr. Martinez-Vaz leads a successful undergraduate research laboratory at Hamline University. In collaboration with investigators at the University of Minnesota, her research group is studying plant-microbe interactions relevant to nitrogen fixation and food safety, including genetic determinants relevant to symbiosis specificity in nitrogen-fixing bacteria and the model legume, Medicago truncatula. Her most recent project focuses on investigating the transcriptional responses of enteric pathogens during survival and persistence in fresh leafy green vegetables.

    Dr. Martinez-Vaz teaches courses in Biochemistry, Microbiology, Nutrition and Virology; she is also one of three Pre-Medical Advisor at Hamline University. She has also successfully mentored numerous students and faculty, both domestic and international, and gets immense satisfaction from seeing them graduate into careers in the fields of science, medicine and healthcare. She is committed to creating an enjoyable and goal based learning environment for her students that encourages curiosity for the basics of Microbiology & Biochemistry and their application to daily life. She is also an active member of the American Society for Microbiology and a section editor for the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education.

    Teaching Style

    “I believe that passion and practical applicability are essential components of teaching and learning any subject. I strive to create a dynamic classroom environment where students engage by asking questions and relating the course material to everyday life around them. I adopt a humorous and casual lecturing style that encourages the students to connect with me, each other and to actively participate in the learning.

    I think the most important aspect of teaching is to spark enthusiasm and interest in the subject rather than memorizing facts. Science is evolving constantly and ever more rapidly, however the enthusiasm for scientific exploration is something that will stay with my students throughout their lives and careers.”

    Betsy Martinez-Vaz

  • Publications

    Martinez-Vaz, B.M., Makarevitch, I. and Stensland, S. (2010). “Studying Gene Expression: Database Searches and Promoter Fusions to Investigate Transcriptional Regulation in Bacteria”. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. 11:1
    Lintner, R.; Mishra, P.; Srivastava, P.; Martinez-Vaz, B.; Khodursky, A.; Blumenthal, R. (2008). “Limited Functional Conservation of a Global Regulator Among Related Bacterial Genera: Lrp in Escherichia, Proteus and Vibrio”. BMC Microbiology 8:60
    Xiao, G.; Martinez-Vaz, B.; Pan W and Khodursky, A.K (2006). "Operon information improves the gene expression estimation in cDNA microarray". BMC Genomics. 7:87

    Public Library of Science and Medicine

    Research Gate


    B.M. Martinez-Vaz, M.J. Sadowsky, N.D. Young and P. Tiffin. (2010) Integrating Plant-Microbe Interactions in the Biology Curriculum: Utilizing the Sinorhizobium-Medicago Model to Introduce Undergraduates to Different Aspects of Symbiosis. ASM Conference for Microbiology Educators, San Diego, CA
    K.M. Burleson and B.M. Martinez-Vaz (2010) Microbes in Mascara: Hypothesis-Driven Research in a Non-Major Biology Lab ASM Conference for Microbiology Educators, San Diego CA
    B.M.Martinez-Vaz (2009) An Investigative Laboratory Project Using Glutamate Synthase (gltB) to Learn about Using Reporter Genes to Study Transcriptional Regulation in Bacteria. ASM Conference for Microbiology Educators, Fort Collins, CO
    P. Srivastava, B. Martinez-Vaz, A. B. Khodursky (2008). Structural Conservation of the Lrp Regulon. American Society for Microbiology Conference. Boston, MA.