Name and Title:
Rebecca Wachs, Assistant Professor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Biological Systems Engineering
Profile (education, etc.):
BS from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Mechanical Engineering, M.Eng and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Who has been (have been) your mentor(s)?
Academic mentors: Jan Stegemann, Deanna Thompson, Eric Ledet, Christine Schmidt, Kyle Allen, Lori Setton. Other mentors: Cherise Galasso, George Lunney, Elise Shumsky.
What is your specific area of interest?
Orthopaedic pain, biomaterials to treat pain and cartilage/disc degeneration, models of pain, drug delivery systems
What are you currently working on? 
One of our major projects currently is exploring if we can selectively induce axonal retraction of painful nerve fibers that have grown where they should not be (inflammatory disc or knee), thus reducing pain. We are also working on developing drug microreactors to reduce oxidative stress in joints.
What has been the biggest challenge/issue for you lately in your research?
Learning about neurobiology of pain. As an engineer by training, my lab and I have spent a lot of time over the past 2 years learning about mechanisms of pain so that we can accurately mimic them and develop novel treatments. However, we still have a lot more to learn!
When not in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
I have recently gotten into long distance running and just completed my third half marathon. I also like to travel with my husband (in normal times) and hike with our rescue dogs, Maggie and Ziva. Since COVID I have started baking a lot and have really enjoyed learning how to make scones and cheesecakes. Next up – croissants!
What was the last book you read for fun? Would you recommend it?
I am currently reading the The Boys in the Boat as part of a book club. I am normally not a fan of historical books, but this one is really good at weaving the story and history together in an elegant way, so I do recommend it!
What is the most unusual/unexpected item sitting on your desk right now?
A squishy pig and alligator. I need something to keep my hands busy during ZOOM meetings.

Jennifer Woodell-May received her PhD in Bioengineering from Clemson University in 2001, her MS in Bioengineering from Clemson in 1996, and a BS in Physics from Furman University in 1995. She is the Associate Director of Research in Biologics for Zimmer Biomet.

Where do you fit into your organization?
Since 2001, I have been in R&D in the Orthobiologics division for Biomet, Inc. and then exclusively for Biomet Biologics beginning in 2007 and then Biologics for Zimmer Biomet 2015.

Could you describe your main job responsibilities?
I manage research activities for currently marketed therapies as well as pre-clinical, clinical, development, marketing, and regulatory efforts for new technologies.

What do you like most about your current position?
I find it very exciting to get the opportunity to actually translate ideas from bench top to clinical trial in humans to commercial product. It is so rewarding to actually speak with patients that feel that your product has helped their quality of life.

Can you describe your career path?
I completed my Ph.D. in 2001 and then joined Biomet as a Project Manager. I have progressed through being a Principal Scientist and then Associate Director of Research.

Can you describe challenges/obstacles you faced in your career?
I know my challenges are shared by millions of women trying to earn respect and being considered equal to our male peers. I cheer my advocates and have become more confident to highlight dipartites when I can.

What are some ways in which mentoring (either as a mentee or mentor) has shaped your career in orthopedics?
I have grown from both my mentor and mentee relationships. I was originally hired by a female scientist. Her guidance both as a professional and as a scientist was invaluable to me. I have since had the honor of having young female scientists report to me and have learned just as much from them as I hope I have been able to guide them.

What is one piece of advice you can offer to people interested in pursuing orthopedic research in industry?
Find a company whose corporate culture best fits your own personality. You will have so much more job satisfaction in a place that matches you. It is OK to ask during an interview what the culture is like. Companies work hard on their culture and they should be able to describe it to you.

Is there any other information or comments you would like to offer?
We are always our worst critics. I personally battle with imposter syndrome throughout my entire career. Find allies that will give you the confidence you need to grow.

Dr. Eve Donnelly is an Assistant Professor in the department of Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University, where she joined the faculty in 2012. She received her BS and MS in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. In 2007 she received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell University. Dr. Donnelly was awarded an NIH Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award for her postdoctoral fellowship to study the effects of bone tissue mineral and matrix properties on fracture incidence at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Research Interests

Dr. Donnelly studies the effects of tissue mineral and matrix properties on the material and structural behavior of bone. Recent work has focused on characterizing disease- and treatment-induced changes in the properties of mineral and collagen and relating these changes in bone tissue composition to fracture risk. In particular, recent projects have addressed two diseases that result in compromised bone quality: osteoporosis and type II diabetes. The long-term goals of Dr. Donnelly’s work are to identify the material factors that contribute to the integrity of healthy skeletal tissues and to improve prediction of structural failure and treatments that may restore function to diseased tissues.

Career and Recent Highlights

Dr. Donnelly received the New Investigator Recognition Award from the ORS in 2009 and the Alice L. Jee Memorial Young Investigator Award in 2007 for her work on imaging primary cilia in tendon. In 2010 she received the ASBMR Young Investigator Award, and in 2013 she received the ASBMR Harold M. Frost Young Investigator Award for her work on bisphosphonate-induced changes in material properties of osteoporotic bone.

Dr. Donnelly has recently received two grants supporting her team’s efforts to improve the understanding of material and structural properties in patients with compromised bone quality. These include an NIH/NIAMS grant, 1K01AR064314-01 entitled “Nonenzymatic glycation, bone quality, and microdamage in type 2 diabetic bone”, and the ASBMR Junior Faculty Osteoporosis Research Award entitled “Spectroscopic and biochemical markers of bone quality in patients with atypical femoral fractures”

The Women’s Leadership Forum would like to congratulate Dr. Donnelly on her tremendous achievement.

Chantal de Bakker is an Associate Member of the ORS and a graduate student in the Bioengineering Department of the University of Pennsylvania. She is conducting her PhD thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Xiaowei (Sherry) Liu (ORS Member). Ms. de Bakker received the 2015 ORS/RJOS Young Female Investigator Travel Grant for her presentation “Pregnancy, Lactation, and Weaning Induce a Physiological Redistribution of Bone Mass at Multiple Skeletal Sites with Minimal Impact on Bone Quality,” as well as one of the International Chinese Musculoskeletal Research Society’s poster awards (both at the ORS Annual Meeting in Las Vegas). However, her participation in ORS includes annual authorship on presentations dating back to the 2011 Annual Meeting in Long Beach, California, when she was an undergraduate student working with Dr. Elise Morgan (ORS Member).

WLF past-chair Dr. Karen King recently interviewed Ms. de Bakker on her research career path and her experience as an ORS member.

Your research uses high-resolution imaging to measure resorption and formation in bone. What first interested you in this field of research and why did you chose to do your thesis in a Bone Lab?

I became interested in this field during my undergraduate courses, Human Physiology and Biomechanics Laboratory. Upon the recommendation of my mechanics professor, I joined Dr. Morgan’s lab, where I was first introduced to bone research. In her lab, I became intrigued by the dynamic nature of bone tissue and I wanted to learn more about the factors that influence the development of its structure. After being accepted to graduate school, I chose to continue in this field. I became very interested in the exciting new bone imaging techniques being developed by Dr. Liu, and I chose to become involved in developing and applying new methods to visualize bone tissue remodeling.

What helps you be productive in your research and studies?

It took me a while to get into the rhythm of it, but learning early in graduate school to plan experiments well in advance, and schedule specific times for each and then sticking to that schedule has helped.

Tell us about your mentors.

Dr. Morgan, as well as the graduate students in her lab, helped me to develop the foundation for a career in orthopaedic research, and even today they remain very supportive. Dr. Liu has great amount of enthusiasm and is supportive of trying new directions. When the work gets difficult, she always finds ways to motivate me to find solutions and is very willing share her own experiences. What also really helps me is being around more advanced students and post-docs who listen to my challenges and share their experiences with me. I work in part of a large group of orthopaedic labs at Penn, and because of that, I have the opportunity to work with and have as mentors, not only members of my own lab, but also graduate students and post-docs from other labs, who provide unique perspectives.

What advice would you give to beginning researchers about mentors?

It is helpful to have somebody who has been in your shoes and understands the problems and has had the experience to overcome such problems. It has especially helped me to have mentors who are at various career stages, since they can all provide different opinions and different types of advice. Meet someone in your lab or class (even a peer mentor is helpful).

How has ORS membership benefited your research and your career?

ORS has given me the opportunity to discuss my research with others that I wouldn’t otherwise meet. My favorite event at the ORS Annual Meeting is the poster session. I find receiving feedback encouraging – especially that which counters previous negative feedback and criticism. I’ve found that one also receives feedback that leads to new avenues of research, new experiments.

What advice would you give to someone who is attending their first ORS Annual Meeting?

  1. Plan ahead, review all sessions and posters.
  2. Stay focused – but do include some talks outside your area of research.
  3. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of material.

For the first time in its 65-year history, the American-British-Canadian (ABC) Traveling Fellowship, organized by the American, Canadian and British Orthopaedic Associations, has chosen two females to represent North America on the 2013 tour of the United Kingdom and South Africa. Although in previous years the United States has chosen a female candidate, Canada has never before done so. This year, with the first female Canadian ABC Fellow, an American woman has also been chosen. A total of seven fellows (five from the United States and two from Canada) will travel as ABC Fellows this spring. The two female ABC Fellows are Dr. Michelle Ghert and Dr. Jennifer Wolf.


Dr. Michelle Ghert is an Orthopaedic Oncologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery and the Deputy Director for Research at the Center for Evidence-Based Orthopaedics at McMaster. She is also the Associate Director of the Orthopaedic Training Program and Director for Resident Research. Dr. Ghert grew up in Toronto, Canada and did her undergraduate studies at Stanford University in California where she earned a BSc in Biological Sciences and History. She then earned her Medical Degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and completed her residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. She completed 18 months of basic science training during her residency at Duke and went on to do a post-doctoral fellowship in Cancer Genetics at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto, Canada. Her final training was completed at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto in Orthopaedic Oncology and she was offered a position on Faculty at McMaster University as a surgeon-scientist in 2005.

Dr. Ghert has an interest in Cancer Biology and runs an independent research lab. With highly competitive funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Dr. Ghert has published 15 basic science manuscripts as an independent investigator. Dr. Ghert has also developed an interest in Clinical Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Surgery through exposure to world-class multi-center surgical trials at McMaster. She is currently leading the first international multi-center trial in Orthopaedic Oncology (PARITY Study, Prophylactic Antibiotic Regimens in Tumor Surgery) and thus hopes to change the paradigm of clinical research in her subspecialty. Finally, Dr. Ghert has worked with the McMaster Orthopaedic leadership to move the Orthopaedic Training Program at McMaster University to the forefront of Canadian training programs with innovations in curriculum development and novel evaluation tools. She considers her greatest professional achievement to date to be chosen as the first female Canadian ABC fellow. She is beholden to her spouse, Philippe, and two young boys, Sebastien and Nicolas, for their support.

Dr. Jennifer Moriatis Wolf is Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Connecticut Health Center. She was born to American parents in Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK and lived there until age 5. She grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and attended the University of Maryland. She received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and did her orthopaedic training at Brown University in Rhode Island. She completed a hand surgery fellowship at the Mayo Clinic and joined the faculty at the University of Colorado in Denver, where she lived for 7 years before moving to the University of Connecticut. She specializes in surgery of the hand, wrist, and elbow,

with a special clinical interest in basilar thumb osteoarthritis. She was awarded the John J. Fahey North American Traveling Fellowship from the American Orthopaedic Association in 2007, and the Sterling Bunnell Fellowship from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand in 2010.

Dr. Wolf’s research program is focused on the impact of relaxin hormone on trapeziometacarpal joint laxity and the development of osteoarthritis. This has been supported by grants from the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation and the American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand. She has studied normative relaxin levels in military cadets, in a large volunteer population, and in a surgical group undergoing thumb CMC arthroplasty. She and her co-investigators characterized relaxin receptors in the thumb dorsoradial ligaments, as well as in the synovium and cartilage of the trapeziometacarpal joint. Dr. Wolf is also interested in epidemiology of musculoskeletal diseases and has studied TM arthritis in collaboration with colleagues in Sweden, as well as the prevalence of scaphoid fracture and elbow dislocation. She has studied treatment for lateral epicondylitis, with a special interest in autologous blood injections. Finally, she is studying Vitamin D and bone turnover markers as risk factors for distal radius fractures in post-menopausal women.

Dr. Wolf is married and the mother of two children. She enjoys rowing and running, and completed the New York City Marathon in November 2011.

The Women’s Leadership Forum would like to congratulate Dr. Ghert and Dr. Wolf on their tremendous achievement, and would like to convey their best wishes for the upcoming fellowship.

Robin Queen

Dr. Robin Queen is the Director of the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Lab (K-Lab) and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Queen also serves as a member of the Medical Advisory Board at Quest Diagnostics and as a consultant with HipKneeArkansas Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dr. Queen grew up in Youngstown, New York and Raleigh, North Carolina and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a BS in Applied Science with an emphasis on biomaterials. Dr. Queen continued her studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill receiving both a MS and PhD in Biomedical Engineering. At the completion of her PhD program, Dr. Queen was appointed on faculty at Duke University Medical Center as the Director of the K-Lab.

Dr. Queen has an interest in whole body mechanics with an emphasis on loading symmetry and functional outcomes following surgical interventions. Dr. Queen has been the K-Lab director since 2004 and has received industry, foundation, and federal funding to complete her work. Dr. Queen has published more than 60 peer reviewed manuscripts in a variety of basic science and clinical journals as an independent investigator. Dr. Queen was the primary leader in the design and development of one of the world’s largest total ankle replacement database which has been instrumental in improving the understanding of total ankle replacement outcomes from both the clinical and functional outcomes perspective. In early 2014, Dr. Queen was selected to become one of the inaugural basic science members of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, and the first female non-clinical member of the Society.

Dr. Queen’s work on total ankle replacement outcomes was recently recognized as a top story for June 20, 2014 AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) Headline News Now. ( This work entitled, “Patient-Reported Outcomes, Function, and Gait Mechanics After Fixed and Mobile-Bearing Total Ankle Replacement” was published in the June issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and chosen to be a top pick by the AAOS. In addition to her work in foot and ankle, Dr. Queen has been recognized as a leader in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) where she serves as a member of the Strategic Health Initiative on Youth Sports & Health. At the 2014 ACSM Annual Meeting, Dr. Queen was approved as an ACSM Fellow based on her research contributions to the field of sports medicine.

Dr. Queen is grateful for and blessed with the support of her husband Andrew and her two young children, Isabel and Ian who enjoy spending time outside hiking, playing on the playground, going to Disney World, and spending time together as a family.

Karen L. Troy is an Assistant Professor in the departments of Kinesiology and Nutrition, and Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she was appointed in 2007. She earned her PhD from the University of Iowa in 2003 with a focus on orthopaedic biomechanics and biomedical engineering. She trained an additional four years as a postdoctoral research fellow in the area of whole body biomechanics, aging, and fall prevention.

Dr. Troy’s current research program is focused on several related research projects that address bone health. One emphasis is on developing noninvasive and sensitive methods to measure bone strength and assess the effectiveness of interventions to improve or preserve bone health. A related line of research focuses on understanding how different types of mechanical signals that are generated through physical activity can be used to improve bone strength and, conversely, understanding the changes that occur to bone structure with disuse. Dr. Troy has received numerous early career awards for her research, including the Postdoctoral Young Scientist Award from the American Society of Biomechanics (2006), a New Investigator Recognition Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society in 2010, and the Alice L. Jee Memorial Young Investigator Award from the International Bone and Mineral Society (2010). In 2012, Karen received NIH R01 funding as an independent investigator.

In addition to her research, Dr. Troy teaches at the undergraduate and graduate level and actively mentors students in her laboratory. Outside her career, Dr. Troy is the mother of two young children, is a daily year-round bicycle commuter, and is an avid competitive sailor.

Description of recently funded R01

“A prospective study of human bone adaptation using a novel in-vivo loading model”
1R01AR063691-01; funded through NIAMS

The objective of this project is to quantitatively define the relationship between strain magnitude and strain rate to changes in distal radius bone structure and strength. This will be accomplished through a series of experiments that systematically manipulate the strain magnitude and rate applied to the bone of women using a simple in vivo human loading model. Osteoporosis can be most effectively addressed with prevention, and the knowledge gained through this project will contribute to future clinical trials of exercise to improve bone health by allowing interventions to be systematically designed to maximize their potential effect.

Has ORS had any influence on my career success?

I have been attending ORS meetings since my first year as a graduate student (2000). I was very glad to see the WLF come into existence during this time period. Simply knowing that there are other women with similar career goals who are a few years farther into the process than I am is encouraging. Women, especially those of us with children, face a different set of challenges and have fewer obvious peer mentors than our male colleagues. Although I also regularly attend other society meetings, the ORS is where I consistently see the strongest science, learn about the most interesting and innovative techniques, and get the most new ideas for my own research and teaching. It is the meeting that I most anticipate because it consistently renews my excitement and enthusiasm for science. One specific way that the ORS has helped my career is by informing me of mentoring and learning opportunities such as the Young Investigator Grant Writing workshop series run by the US Bone and Joint Initiative

Dr. Cari Whyne is the Director of the Holland Musculoskeletal Research Program and a Senior Scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto (U of T) with cross appointments in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and the Institute of Medical Sciences. She is the Chair of the Orthopaedic Research Committee at U of T and the Research Director for the Centre for Spinal Trauma at SRI. Dr. Whyne served as the President of the Canadian Orthopaedic Research Society in 2011-2012.

Dr. Whyne grew up in Toronto, Canada, and completed her undergraduate studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada where she earned a B.Sc. Eng. in Mechanical Engineering. She then went to work as a project engineer for CARE Canada in Zambia, Africa, working primarily on infrastructure development in the urban slums of Lusaka. She returned to North America and earned her Ph.D. in the joint University of California (UC) Berkeley / UC San Francisco Bioengineering Program, along with a certificate in International Health. In 2000 she was appointed to her current position as a Scientist at SRI and faculty member at U of T.

Dr. Whyne runs the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory at SRI with current funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Ontario Centres of Excellence, MaRS Innovation, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the AO Foundation. She has previously received support for her research from the USAMRMC Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Advanced Cranio-Maxillofacial Research Forum, and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. She has published over 85 peer reviewed articles and has received numerous awards for her academic accomplishments and leadership including the Canadian Orthopaedic Research Society Founders’ Medal (2011) and the Charles H. Tator Surgeon-Scientist Mentoring Award (2012).

Dr. Whyne’s research integrates biomechanical analyses with basic science, preclinical and clinical investigations, including extensive work in computational image analysis and finite element modeling techniques. Her research program primarily focuses on skeletal metastases, spinal/lower extremity/thin bone biomechanics and fracture fixation/healing. Specifically, Dr. Whyne is working to better understand the pathologic effects of spinal metastases on remaining bone tissue and structure and the development and evaluation of innovative minimally invasive techniques to treat this pathology, including photodynamic therapy and radiofrequency ablation. She also works to develop and utilize CT-based image processing techniques to better resolve and characterize thin bone structures and guide fracture reconstruction in 3D.

In addition to her research responsibilities, Dr. Whyne is dedicated to training the next generation of musculoskeletal scientists and clinician scientists. She is a long-standing faculty member of the Young Investigator Initiative run by the United States Bone and Joint Initiative and is leading the research component for the new Competency-Based Orthopaedic Training Curriculum at U of T.

Dr. Whyne is married and the mother of two young boys. She enjoys snowboarding, mountain and road biking, hockey, x-country skiing, hiking, tennis, travel and creative art projects.

The Women’s Leadership Forum would like to congratulate Dr. Whyne on her tremendous achievement.

Read more ORS Member Spotlight interviews here.