Michael P. Timko, PhD  Professor of Biology and Public Health Science

Dr. Timko was appointed Director of the program in May 2013.  Dr. Timko received his BS degree with High Honors from the College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University in 1975. He went on to earn his MS and PhD in Plant Biology from Rutgers University. After receiving his doctorate, he held postdoctoral positions at Brandeis University and Rockefeller University. During his postdoctoral work he was involved in some of the earliest studies on gene expression analysis and gene transfer methods in plants, including seminal research on technologies widely utilized in the production of commercial varieties of transgenic plants grown worldwide.

Dr. Timko joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1986, and is currently Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences. He also holds a joint appointment in Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. In addition to his role with Echols, Dr. Timko is the Director of the interdisciplinary Distinguished Major Program in Human Biology.  

During his time at the University Dr. Timko has taught a variety of courses that integrate his interests in plant biology, molecular biology, and human health. He has also organized numerous workshops and training courses abroad. He directs an internationally recognized research program that uses molecular genetics and functional genomics for the improvement of food crops and other commodities for Africa and Asia, and the development of novel plant- and microbial-based human nutraceuticals and therapeutics. He is actively involved in basic research, graduate and post-graduate training, and outreach activities throughout the world with ongoing projects in sub-Saharan Africa, China, Europe and South America. He currently holds Visiting Professorships at Zhejiang University and Southwest University in China. In 2009 he was a recipient of The Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award for his work on probiotic-based therapeutics.

Dr. Timko’s work has been supported by various national and international granting agencies, private foundations, and corporations including the NSF, NIH, USDA, Rockefeller Foundation and Kirkhouse Trust. He has authored or co-authored over 120 research papers, book chapters and review articles and has multiple US and world-wide patents in agricultural and nutritional biotechnology. He is currently a member of the editorial boards of several internationally recognized scientific journals.

He credits his undergraduate advisor for cultivating his passion for research by involving him is independent study, and for introducing him to the problems of international agriculture.


Association Dean and Assistant Director

Sarah R. Cole, PhD   Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Cole joined the Echols Scholars Program in 2013, after teaching in the History and Literature program at Harvard University and serving in several advising roles at Harvard College. She did her undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr College and received her PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. At UVa, she teaches in the English Department and the COLA (College Advising Seminar) program, while serving as Association Dean for the Echols Scholars and as Assistant Director of the Echols Scholars program.

Dr. Cole’s academic interests include nineteenth-century British fiction and poetry, gender studies, and concepts of national and ethnic identity in Modern Europe. Her research focuses on the literary genre of the Bildungsroman (or novel of education), exploring how stories of youthful development relate to historical changes in British gender and class relations. In her most recent article, published in Victorian Poetry, she examines Alfred Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam in the context of Victorian debates about how "gentlemen" should be educated. She teaches a variety of interdisciplinary seminar courses that aim to connect classic works of literature with questions that are relevant to today’s society. One recent course, “Migrant Europe,” explores the experiences of immigrants and ethnic minorities in modern Europe, using examples ranging from nineteenth-century fiction to contemporary films and newspaper articles. Her teaching has received several awards, including the Harvard University Certificate of Excellence in Teaching.

As an Association Dean at the College of Arts and Sciences, she provides academic advising and support for the Echols Scholars. She is available to discuss issues such as course choices and career goals, and she hopes to serve as a resource for any students experiencing challenges that affect their academic work. She also serves as Assistant Director of the Echols Scholars program, collaborating with Director Michael Timko and members of the Echols student community to plan academic initiatives that enhance the Echols experience.


Assistant Director of Career & Professional Development

Beverly T. Lorig, M.Ed.

Beverly T. Lorig was appointed Assistant Director of Career & Professional Development for the Echols Scholars Program in January 2016.  Ms. Lorig is an alumna of Georgia Southwestern State University where she earned her Bachelor in Science in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude. She received her Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Higher Education and Student Personnel Administration from the University of Georgia.

Prior to joining the UVA Career Center, Ms. Lorig was director of the Career Development Center at Washington and Lee University for over 15 years where she advised liberal arts and science students as well as those studying journalism and commerce.  She led initiatives establishing alumni-sponsored internships, expanded programs for liberal arts students and launched the successful Alumni in Residence series.  Most recently she served as Interim Executive Director of the Center for Work and Service at Wellesley College, Boston, MA.  Her experience with liberal arts colleges includes roles with Yale University, Augustana College (IL), and Agnes Scott College (GA). 

Among her notable accomplishments, Beverly was elected to the Board of the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE), President of the Virginia Association of College and Employers (VACE), and participated in the external review of liberal arts career programs. She is a National Certified Counselor and Certified Career Coach.

Ms. Lorig advises Echols Scholars in all stages of their career development. In addition to individual consultation, she works with the Echols administration and Echols Council to define unique programs that complement and expand the Echols experience.

A resident of Fairfield, VA, she lives with her husband and Ozzie, a cairn terrier, who loves the country-life of skunks and groundhogs.  In her spare time she bikes in the Shenandoah Valley and is looking forward to volunteering with and riding in the May 2016 New York City Five Boroughs Bike Ride.


Graduate Assistant

Tierre Sanford

Tierre Sanford was appointed the Echols Graduate Assistant in Fall 2016. She is a PhD candidate in Slavic Languages and Literaturest at the University of Virginia. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University having received her BA in 2014 in Russian and Linguistics with English, Editing, and Ancient Near Eastern Studies as her minors.

As the Echols Graduate Assistant,Tierre resides in the Scholars' Residence and organizes intimate dinner lectures between first year Echols Scholars and University faculty and staff. Tierre also acts a liaison between the students and administration and helps students transition to college life through academic advising, essay editing, and resume/application review.