Members and Alumni

Current Members

Alexandra Rogers
Graduate Student Dentist Scientist Training Program (DMD, PhD)

My strong passion for dental research developed while I was working toward a degree in Microbiology at the University of Tennessee. I saw a need for more dentists to stay in academia. As a student in the Dentist Scientist Training Program (DMD, PhD), I joined Dr. Christi Kern’s lab to study the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) with a desire to provide knowledge that will lead to a better understanding and development of treatments for TMJ osteoarthritis. This understudied disorder is of particular concern because it disrupts the extracellular matrix homeostasis leading to cartilage degradation. Our experimental approach tests the hypothesis that extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling of proteoglycans is critical for development and maintenance of fibrocartilage in the TMJ condylar head. To elucidate the role of TMJ proteases we are utilizing a multidisciplinary approach of histology, genetics, and cell assays. In collaboration with Drs. Hai Yao and Michael Kern, we will also generate Crisper-Cas9 transgenic rats to evaluate how changes in ECM turnover impact the biomaterial properties of the TMJ fibrocartilage.

Sarah Cisewski, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

As a graduate of the joint Bioengineering program at Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina, my research on temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc degeneration and elucidating constitutive relationships between nutrient solute diffusivity, tissue hydration, as well as cellular metabolite rates within the disc have peaked my interest in this unique joint and its complexity associated with the onset and progression of degeneration. My long-term goal is to develop effective therapeutic approaches for the treatment of TMJ disorders. In Dr. Christi Kern’s lab, I seek to merge my engineering background with molecular cell biology to address the lack of knowledge of TMJ fibrocartilage development and maintenance.

Jeanette Huber, B.S.
Research Specialist I

I joined Dr. Kern’s research team during the summer of 2017. I primarily work on the cardiovascular projects including the etiology of cardiac valve disease and vascular abnormalities associated with changes in extracellular matrix remodeling. I am also finishing my Masters of Science in the Environmental Studies graduate program at the College of Charleston. My thesis documented the global genetic variation of one of the most endangered group of fishes, the iconic sawfishes (Family Pristidae). I have enjoyed the challenges of graduate school, and using the laboratory techniques I learned in graduate school and applying them to my research in Dr. Kern’s lab.

Jeremy Laxner
Undergraduate Researcher

I am a student at the College of Charleston Honors College. I am majoring in Biochemistry and I plan to go into the medical field after graduation.

Ashton Lancaster
Undergraduate Researcher

I started doing research in Dr. Kern’s lab when I was a rising senior at the South Carolina Governor’s school for Math and Science. Currently I am a student in the Honors College at the College of Charleston (Class of 2020) and have been working in Dr. Kern’s lab on projects related to the temporomandibular joint as well as the cardiovascular development projects working with the ADAMTS5 deficient mice.

Christi Kern Lab Alumni

Loren Dupuis, B.S.
Research Specialist II, Lab Manager, Part-time

Current: Physicians Assistant Program
I began working in Dr. Kern's lab as a Research Technician in 2009, shortly after graduating. My work has focused on the etiology of cardiac valve disease and identifying anatomic abnormalities. My specialties include confocal imaging techniques, Amira 3D reconstructions, and micro-dissections of murine heart valves.

Kitty Rice, B.S.
Research Specialist I

Current: Accelerated Bachelor’s in Nursing program applicant
After graduating, from Clemson, I joined Dr. Christi Kern's lab team in the summer of 2015. I facilitate the cardiovascular and temporomandibular joint projects. My main responsibilities were mouse husbandry, histology and training of undergraduate researchers in the C. Kern laboratory.

Josh Mifflin, B.S.
Research Specialist I, Part-Time

Current: Medical Student Indiana University
I am a recent graduate of the College of Charleston Honors College. As an undergraduate I did my bachelor’s essay research with Dr. Kern, and as a technician continued the cardiac research focus in my ‘gap year’

Lea Russell
Undergraduate Researcher

Current: Medical Student MUSC
I was a senior in the Honors College at the College of Charleston majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. In Dr. Kern's lab, I worked on a Bachelor's Essay in cardiovascular development.

Mike Simonetti
Undergraduate Researcher

I was an undergraduate student at the College of Charleston. In Dr. Kern's lab, I focused on the development of the temporomandibular joint. My goal is to attend dental school after graduating from the College of Charleston.