Trainees

Bone Center Trainees

  • Rafay Ahmed

    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    Lab Phone
    (615) 322-7184
    Lab Address
    MCN
    1161 21st Ave S
    Room / Suite
    B0213
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Rafay Ahmed received his PhD from City University of Hong Kong in 2019. There he diagnosed the healing of calvarial defects by assessing the molecular and elemental changes using Raman spectroscopy, X-Ray fluorescence spectroscopy, optical profiling and microscopies. Additionally, he developed the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy system in his lab that was used for several elemental studies including bones, teeth, thyroid, Red blood cells etc. Currently, Rafay is working as postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Nyman’s lab on the development of Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy to translate it for clinical assessment of bone matrix quality; to diagnose the reasons of fragility fractures in type 2 diabetes; fatigue testing of cortical bones using single edge notch bend specimen and assessing the ability of Raman spectroscopy to predict mechanical properties of human bone.

  • Erik Beadle

    Graduate Student
    Cancer Biology
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1155
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Erik is a 4th-year cancer biology graduate student in the Rhoades lab. He came to Vanderbilt in 2016 after completing his bachelor’s in biology (2014) and master’s in molecular science and nanotechnology (2016) at Louisiana Tech University. Erik’s master’s thesis focused on transcriptional control of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell differentiation, which corresponded well to the research in the Rhoades lab.  His current research is focused on solidifying the link between Gli2 and PTHrP in tumor-induced bone disease while identifying how this interaction facilitates the development of osteosarcoma. 

  • Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215B Garland Avenue
    Room / Suite
    1155
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Natalie is from Nashville, TN and graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she received a BA through the College Scholars Program in Cancer Biology & Cellular Metabolism. She is a graduate student in the Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program and is conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Julie Rhoades. Her project focuses on myeloid cell regulation in bone metastatic disease.

  • Casey Butrico

    Graduate Student
    Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
    Lab Phone
    615-936-8476
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1035
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Casey is a graduate student in the Microbe Host Interactions program. She is originally from New Jersey and received her B.S. in Biology from Gettysburg College. Casey worked at Janssen R&D in the Translational Oncology Disease Area Stronghold before joining the Cassat lab in 2018. Her research focuses on S. aureus metabolism and abscess formation during osteomyelitis in the context of comorbid immune-modulating conditions, including diabetes. Outside of lab, Casey enjoys running and exploring Nashville coffee shops.

  • Déja Grant

    Graduate student
    Cancer Biology (Meharry)
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Déja is a Cancer Biology graduate student at Meharry Medical College and joined the Johnson Lab through the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance in 2022. Originally from North Carolina, Déja came to Nashville in 2021 after completing her B.S. in Bioengineering at North Carolina A&T State University. Déja’s current research focuses on PTHrP and its effect on bone metastasis while also studying relevant dormancy factors as well as the interactions between the bone and immune cell microenvironment. Outside of the lab, Déja enjoys dancing, yoga, and spending time with friends and family.

  • Dustin Groff

    Graduate Student
    Chemical Engineering
    Lab Phone
    (615) 343-4977
    Lab Address
    Olin Hall
    2400 Highland Ave
    Room / Suite
    107
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37235

    Dustin received his B.S. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from the University of Arizona in May of 2015. He then spent one year working for W.L Gore Medical in Phoenix, AZ before returning to school. Dustin joined the Guelcher lab in August of 2016 and his researched is focused on the characterization of polyurethane based scaffolding for bone tissue remodeling.

  • Elizabeth Hennen

    Graduate Student
    Biomedical Engineering
    Lab Phone
    (615)-875-6095
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    P410
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Elizabeth graduated from Roger Williams University in 2021 with a degree in Engineering and specialization in Biomedical Engineering. Her research focuses on the mechanism by which hypertension promotes osteoclast formation. She is currently a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt.  

  • Tara Hickman

    Graduate Student
    Department of Biochemistry
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Tara graduated from Willamette University in 2021 with a B.S. in Physics. Tara is now a biochemistry graduate student in the Peck lab after joining the QCB program at Vanderbilt in August 2021. Tara’s research focuses on better understanding how extracellular matrix dysregulation in synthesis, deposition, and degeneration impacts musculoskeletal health, specifically in the intervertebral disc. Outside of the lab, Tara enjoys baking, CrossFit, and spending time with her friends and cat Miso.

  • Peyton Hinojosa

    Undergraduate Student
    Biochemistry
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Peyton is an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University seeking a major in biochemistry. He is a native of Hendersonville, Tennessee, and is conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Sun Peck. Peyton’s research focuses on understanding the role of the extracellular matrix in musculoskeletal biology. He plans on pursuing a career within the medical field. Outside of the lab Peyton enjoys working out, reading, and playing with his dogs.

  • Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Gwen is a 1st year cancer biology graduate student in the Johnson lab. She is originally from Westfield, IN and received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. Gwen worked in the Graduate Research Education Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN before joining Vanderbilt through the IGP in August 2021. Her research focuses on the effects of immunotherapy treatment on the skeleton in breast cancer metastasis. Outside of the lab, Gwen enjoys baking, trying new coffee shops, and staying active through climbing, strength training, and sand volleyball.

  • Jeremy Kane

    Graduate Student
    Cancer Biology
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Jeremy graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2019 and worked at Cornell and Roswell Park Cancer Institute before attending Vanderbilt. He is interested in how cancers initiate, and the molecular mechanisms of how they begin this process, especially in difficult environments. He joined Vanderbilt IGP in fall 2021, and is currently a graduate student in the Rachelle Johnson lab, where he will be researching PTHrP and its role in breast cancer tumor growth and metastasis to bone.

  • Ananya Nandy, PhD

    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Medicine
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    I received my PhD from Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in New Delhi, India in 2020. My thesis work was focused on lipid metabolism in tuberculosis. I was trying to find out how Mtb rewires its physiology to adapt to lipid rich niche which it faces in human granuloma post infection. I joined Beth’s lab in January 2021 as a post-doctoral researcher. Currently, I am studying the importance of lipid metabolism in the maintenance of bone homeostasis.

  • Jenna Petronglo

    Graduate Student
    Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
    Lab Phone
    615-936-8476
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1035
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Jenna attended Fordham University where she majored in Biological Sciences and completed a research thesis on the ecology of the black-legged tick, the major vector of Lyme disease. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a research technician at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine and assisted in projects studying Huntington's disease. She joined the IGP in 2017 and the Cassat lab in 2018. Her project focuses on how inflammation generated during the innate immune response to S. aureus osteomyelitis affects osteoclast differentiation and function.

  • Nyah Webb

    Undergraduate Student
    Medicine, Health, and Society
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Nyah is a fourth-year undergraduate student here at Vanderbilt University who joined the Peck Lab in the Spring of 2021. Originally from Michigan, Nyah came to Nashville to pursue a higher education that would prep her for entering the medical field. Majoring in Medicine, Health, and Society, she plans on attending Diagnostic Medical Sonography school after graduation to become a registered Sonographer. Inspired by a personal experience with a family member with Heterotopic Ossification, Nyah joined the Peck Lab with the goal of learning more and quickly became interested in the other various projects in the lab, including research involving neurodegenerative diseases and their effects on bone health. Outside of the lab, Nyah enjoys working out, trying new things, and spending time with her puppy, friends, and family.

Bone Center Staff

  • Sophia Acosta

    Research Assistant I
    Medicine
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Sophia is a research assistant in the Peck Lab and joined as an undergraduate student in 2021. She graduated from Vanderbilt with a B.S. in Engineering Science and Medicine, Health, & Society. Her long-term plans are to attend medical school and become an OB/GYN. Sophia spends her time outside of the lab going to cycling classes, trying new restaurants, and spending time with friends and family.

  • Shannon Kelty

    Research Assistant I
    Orthopaedics
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1155
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    I graduated with my B.S. in molecular biology with a minor in psychology from Ohio Northern University in 2021. Shortly following graduation in May 2021, I joined the Schoenecker lab! Much of my research consists of studying the musculoskeletal and cognitive healing of polytraumas as well as trying to understand the mechanisms that lead to osteoporosis. With the other various projects in our lab, I offer help when needed.

  • Rachel McKee, HT (ASCP)

    Histotechnologist
    Orthopaedic Research
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1155B
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Rachel McKee is a research histologist living and working in Nashville, TN. She graduated from Indiana University-Purdue and became an ASCP board-certified histotechnologist in 2005. Rachel worked in a hematopathology clinical laboratory prior to joining the Schoenecker lab in 2021. Her current research focuses on the role of coagulation and inflammation processes in orthopaedic healing. Outside of the lab, Rachel is a visual artist whose practice includes painting, photography, and ceramic sculpture.

  • J. Court Reese

    Research Assistant II
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    6509246094
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1155
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Working in this lab has really given me a lot of confidence in my abilities. I feel very fortunate I’ve been given the opportunity to go from solid foundations to empowerment to change and enhance the directions I’ve been given, from PCR genotyping to colony management and beyond. My understanding of not just bones but aspects of the healing process have grown in ways I would never have expected. Feeling the heart-pumping excitement of realizing you’re a part of a group that’s discovering puzzle pieces necessary for survival never before found by others is without compare.

  • Sasidhar Uppuganti, MS

    Lab Manager
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    Lab Phone
    (615) 322-7184
    Lab Address
    MCN
    1161 21st Ave S,
    Room / Suite
    B0213
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Sasi graduated with a Masters in BME from University of Akron, Ohio in 2010. After a brief stint in the industry with Philips Respironics (Monroeville, PA) as an Engineering Assistant, he joined the Nyman lab in August 2011. He assists with the research studies for Dr. Nyman, VCBB collaborators, Vanderbilt Orthopaedic department, and other industry projects; besides overseeing the daily operation and management of the Bone Biomechanics laboratory. He has strong technical skills with hands-on experience in Micro-CT, 1H NMR, Raman spectroscopy, SEM imaging, and biomechanical testing of bone.

  • Lawrence (Tony) Vecchi, III, MS

    Lab Manager
    Medicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology
    Lab Address
    MRB 4 (Light Hall)
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37212

    Tony attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he graduated with his B.S. in Biology. He also earned his Master of Laboratory Investigation from Vanderbilt University. His current research consists of studying how disseminated tumor cells exit dormancy and metastasize to the bone by using transgenic mouse models, qPCR, Western blotting, and other techniques.

Bone Center Alumni

Graduate Students:

Lauryn N. Luderman, 2022
Neuroscience Program
Dr. Ela Knapik

Greg Lowen, 2022
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Courtney Edwards, 2022
Cancer Biology
Dr. Rachelle Johnson

David Florian, 2022
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Christopher Peek, 2022
Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
Dr. Jim Cassat

Tolu Omokehinde, 2021
Cancer Biology
Dr. Rachelle Johnson

Vera Todd, 2021
Cancer Biology
Dr. Rachelle Johnson

Thomas Spoonmore, 2021
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Kristin Kwakwa, 2021
Cancer Biology
Dr. Julie Rhoades

James Houdelette, 2021
Master’s Program in Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Rachelle Johnson

Ian Houdelette, 2021
Master’s Program in Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Julie Rhoades

Caleb Ford, 2021
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Jim Cassat

Lauren Boller, 2021
Chemical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Adrian Alepuz, 2020
Master’s Program in Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Jeffry Nyman

Gokhan Unlu, 2019
Cell and Developmental Biology
Dr. Ela Knapik

Nicole Putnam, 2019
Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
Dr. Jim Cassat

Aimee Potter (Wilde), 2019
Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
Dr. Jim Cassat

Miranda Sowder, 2019
Cancer Biology
Dr. Rachelle Johnson

Joe Vanderburgh, 2019
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Madison McGough, 2018
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Amy Creecy, 2018
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Jeffry Nyman

Sichang Lu, 2018
​Chemical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Denise Buenrostro, 2018
​Cancer Biology
Dr. Julie Sterling

Patrick Mulcrone, 2017
Cancer Biology
Dr. Julie Sterling

Shellese Cannonier, 2016
​Cancer Biology
Dr. Julie Sterling

Ushashi Dadwal, 2016
​Chemical Engineering
Dr. Julie Sterling / Dr. Scott Guelcher

Daniel Levic, 2015
Cell and Developmental Biology
Dr. Ela Knapik

Matthew Karolak, 2015
​Pharmacology
Dr. Florent Elefteriou

Alex Makowski, 2015
​Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Jeffry Nyman

Preston Campbell, 2012
​Pharmacology
Dr. Florent Elefteriou

Na Lian, 2011
​Pharmacology
Dr. Xiangli Yang

Rachelle Johnson, 2011
​Cancer Biology
Dr. Lynn Matrisian / Dr. Julie Sterling

Weiguang Wang, 2011
​Pharmacology
Dr. Xiangli Yang

Nazanin Ruppender, 2011
​Chemical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher / Dr. Julie Sterling

Jessica Fowler, 2010
​Cancer Biology
Dr. Claire Edwards

Postdocs:

Miranda Sowder (Johnson Lab)

Mustafa Unal (Nyman Lab)

Sabrina Danilin (Sterling Lab)

Mathilde Granke (Nyman Lab)

Yun Ma (Elefteriou Lab)

Jean Ndong de le Croix (Elefteriou Lab)

Koichiro Ono (Elefteriou Lab)

Beth Rendina-Ruedy (Perrien Lab)

​Guillaume Vignaux (Elefteriou Lab)