Varna Ramaswamy was born in Potsdam, New York. She has a B.S. (Biology/Education) from St. Lawrence University where she was a North Country Scholar. In 1991 Varna graduated from Purdue University with an M.S. in Recreation Management and began working as a Recreation Planner for TVA's "Land Between the Lakes," a 170,000 acre recreation area in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. Upon moving to Vermont in the early 1990s Varna worked with the US Forest Service on evaluating their Rural Community Development Grant programs. This interest in rural communities led Varna to complete a M.S. degree for the University of Vermont's (UVM) School of Natural Resources in Natural Resource Planning (now The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources).
From 1996-2005 she worked as the Outreach Coordinator and then Director of the Vermont Tourism Data Center, working with the State and University on conducting and providing research on tourism in Vermont to small businesses and community development organizations. During her time at UVM Varna was an active community member working on issues related to diversity and community-building. In 2002 she was awarded the University Diversity Commitment Award for dedication to improving the campus climate.
From 2005-2008 Varna was a special projects assistant in the Dean's Office of The Rubenstein School working on a variety of projects from writing conservation and diversity related scholarship grants to coordinating school-wide institutional information and research.
She has published papers in journals such as Tourism Analysis and Annals of Tourism Research. Varna co-authored a series of briefing documents for farmers and ranchers interested in Agritourism through the National Extension Service which was recognized with a Fall 2008 National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals Communications Award.
Her interests include travel, cooking different kinds of vegetarian cuisine, any outdoor activity, college basketball, gardening and chasing after her second-grader!