Assistant Professor
Program in Physical Therapy & Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Washington University School of Medicine

I grew up in the ballet studio, and naturally transitioned into physical therapy (Columbia University). After working clinically for several years (Thomas Jefferson University Hospital), I decided to pursue a PhD (University of Delaware, PI: Karin Silbernagel, PT, PhD, ATC) to gain the tools to ask clinical questions in tendon injury and rehabilitation. After my PhD, I completed a postdoc at Washington University School of Medicine (PI: Mary K. Hastings, DPT, MSCI, ATC; Michael Mueller, PT, PhD) where my focus was on diabetes-related orthopaedic complications in the foot and ankle, with a focus on tendon tissue.

Who have been your mentors?
My formal research mentors from my PhD and postdoctoral training are Karin Gravare Silbernagel, Mary K. Hastings, and Michael Mueller. In addition to being fantastic people to work alongside, these mentors have shaped my interest in tendon disorders in the context of systemic disease. I have also had the great fortune to be mentored from investigators whose names may not appear in the “education” section of my CV but who have been incredible supporters, collaborators, and facilitators – including Simon Tang, Linda Van Dillen, Jie Zheng, Spencer Lake, Farsh Guilak, Gretchen Meyer, Alayna Loiselle, and Daniel Cortes.

What are your specific research areas and expertise?
My lab takes a translational approach to understanding tendon healing and improving the clinical management of individuals with tendon conditions. I have a particular interest in the intersection between tendon dysfunction and systemic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.

What are you currently working on?
The lab is currently asking questions about tendon homeostasis/healing and how it is impacted by obesity and diabetes. We are asking this question in human and preclinical models at various points along the translational spectrum.

What has been the biggest challenge for you in your research?
Being a researcher requires a lot of perseverance (and being comfortable with rejection). Lately, my biggest challenge has been in deciding when it is time to persevere versus when it is time to move on to a different idea or approach to answer a research question. Thankfully, I have senior mentors who graciously listen to my thoughts and help guide my decision-making.

What project(s) are you looking forward to in the near future?
We are in the midst of analyzing data for some -omics work in human tendon tissue so I’m looking forward to seeing what that data tells us and sharing it with the tendon community.

What do you want to do next in your career?
I am excited to grow the lab and see the results of the work we do together.

What advice would you give young investigators in the field?
I thrive with a plan. While having a plan is an important part of reflecting on where I want to go and identifying the steps to achieve those goals, most often things do not go exactly according to plan. I have had to practice being flexible, embracing contingency plans, and leaving room for unexpected, not-to-be-missed opportunities. So, my advice is to have a plan, but be prepared to deviate from that plan. Also, avoid planning paralysis (where one spends more time planning at the expense of doing).

When you’re not in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends doing anything involving music, dance, and exploring new and exciting ways our bodies can be active. (This includes everything from aerial arts to pickleball – all of which I’m pretty terrible at but have a lot of fun trying!)

What resources would you like to see available from the ORS Tendon Section?
I think ORS and the Tendon Section have developed some great resources recently for early career researchers. With the new requirements from NIH regarding data sharing, I think it would be helpful to develop resources to improve method standardization/reporting standards and practical guidance for data sharing/storage.

How can we follow you?
Lab Website