Our current students bring a variety of experiences and backgrounds to the Movement Science Program.
Christina Bourantas, BA is originally from Wilmington, DE. Christina graduated from DePauw University with a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Physics. At DePauw, she conducted research in both the Kinesiology and Physics departments, researching force output of Division III swimmers and astrophysics, respectively. In addition to on campus research, Christina researched at the Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, DE. Her research focused on long-term rehabilitation in children with cerebral palsy and casting effects of children with arthrogryposis. In the Movement Science Program, Christina will be mentored by Dr. Michael Harris and have the opportunity to research orthopaedic biomechanics. Outside of the lab, Christina enjoys playing field hockey, cooking, Greek dancing, and traveling!
Chao Cao, MPH received his Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the Beijing Sport University in China and Master of Public Health from Washington University in St. Louis. After participating in a series of epidemiology studies, he aims to have a more in-depth insight into human metabolism, specifically the biological pathway between lifestyle behaviors and health outcomes. His current research, mentored by Dr. Bettina Mittendorfer, focuses on health benefits of exercise among pregnant women, cancer survivors, and patients with HIV infection. He also served as a statistical editor at BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. Chao enjoyed playing basketball, road trips, and watching movies with friends at his leisure.
Allison Haussler, BS is originally from Cincinnati, OH. She received her Bachelor’s degrees in both Psychology and Dance from Loyola University Chicago. As an undergraduate, she researched the effectiveness of movement-based learning, specifically through the avenue of gesture. Throughout her time in Chicago, Allison worked as an ABA therapist and participated as an instructor for Dance with a Doc, a program designed to educate the aging population on the benefits of movement while providing them access to an informed doctor. In the Movement Science Program, she will be mentored by Dr. Gammon Earhart and hopes to study alternative exercise interventions for people with Parkinson disease. Outside of the lab, Allison enjoys taking dance classes, going to yoga, baking, and spending time with friends and family.
Dakota Kamm, MS received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Exercise Physiology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. During graduate school, Dakota worked on his thesis detailing the impact of both a Western Diet consumption and sexual dimorphic differences on the permeability of the blood brain barrier in a senescence accelerated mouse model. Prior to his time at Washington University, Dakota worked as a research assistant at Saint Louis University, where he was involved with multiple studies investigating the effect of ketogenic diets and ketone bodies on rescuing the functionality of the heart in a mouse model of induced heart failure. Here at Wash U, he is mentored by Dr. Gretchen Meyer. In Dr. Meyer’s lab, Dakota will have the opportunity to investigate muscle physiology and pathology, specifically the role of adipose-derived stem cells, their mechanosensing properties, and how to harbor and direct those stem cells to promote muscle regeneration. Outside of the lab, Dakota enjoys reading, working out, hiking, watching football, and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Jeff Konrad, DPT is originally from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Jeff joined the Movement Science Program in 2019. Prior to that, Jeff served in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, worked in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy, and researched stepping behavior in infants with spina bifida. In the Movement Science Program, his mentor is Dr. Catherine Lang. His research will ask questions related to the quality of human movement. Jeff wants to facilitate an understanding of movement skill that goes beyond typical measures of movement quantity. Outside of school, Jeff enjoys reading, Brazilian Jiujitsu, exploring St. Louis restaurants, or hanging out with his wife and dog.
Kayla Krueger, PT, DPT received a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science from the University of Alabama and a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from Samford University. While pursuing her DPT, Kayla developed an interest in musculoskeletal pain conditions and the efficacy of current treatments. Her research, mentored by Dr. Linda Van Dillen, focuses on understanding how spinal movement impairments contribute to the development and course of low back pain. In her spare time, Kayla enjoys watching college football, working out, and playing tennis.
Jake Parson, MS received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Exercise Physiology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Prior to his time at Washington University, Jake worked as an Exercise Physiologist in Cardiopulmonary Rehab where he helped patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases live healthier lifestyles. During graduate school, Jake worked on his thesis project analyzing the impact of diet and exercise on irisin, a novel protein that stimulates the browning of white adipose and holds interest in the treatment of obesity and diabetes. Here at Wash U he is mentored by Dr. Gretchen Meyer. In this lab, Jake will have the opportunity to further investigate muscle physiology and pathology, particularly in fatty infiltration of muscle and the unique signaling between skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Jake is passionate about further analyzing the language of cells and the interactions between muscle and fat in better understanding and treatment of metabolic diseases. When Jake is not in the lab, he enjoys working out, watching football, book-hunting with his wife, or playing with his great dane pup.
Tanner Reece, Tanner received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Exercise Science at the University of Kansas. At KU, he primarily studied antagonist muscle coactivation as well as how motor unit physiology is affected by resistance training. At Wash U, he is mentored by Dr. Laura McPherson where he primarily studies the motor deficits that are present with Multiple Sclerosis. Outside of the lab, he enjoys umpiring baseball, flying airplanes, and riding his motorcycle.
Molly Shepherd, BS, grew up in Iowa City, Iowa before attending Washington University in St. Louis and receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. During her undergraduate career, Molly was a member of the varsity Cross Country and Track teams, which is where her interest in human movement developed. During her undergrad, Molly joined the WashU Orthopaedic Biomechanics lab where she will continue to be mentored by Dr. Michael Harris during her time in the Movement Science Program. Her current research focuses on how abnormal bony geometry in patients with Hip Dysplasia affects musculature and joint mechanics. Outside of lab, Molly stays busy running, baking, and spending time with friends and family.
Lauren Tueth, DPT grew up on the south side of Chicago. She received her bachelor’s degree in Health Science and Spanish from Saint Louis University and her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Washington University in St. Louis. During the DPT program, Lauren worked in Dr. Gammon Earhart’s lab as a work study student and became interested in movement science research, particularly in patients with neurological diseases. Dr. Gammon Earhart continues to be Lauren’s mentor in the MSP program. The research in this lab focuses on Parkinson disease, and Lauren hopes to continue the work looking at mindfulness and other interventions to improve balance and freezing in this population. Outside of lab, Lauren enjoys hiking, watching Blackhawks hockey, and hanging out with her husband and cat.
Affiliated Ph.D. Students
Maria F. Bandres, BS, Department of Biomedical Engineering. Maria received her bachelor’s degree in Materials Engineering from Simon Bolivar University (Caracas, Venezuela) in June 2015. Maria joined the PMRF Lab, led by Dr. Jacob McPherson at Florida International University in Miami, Florida in Spring 2018. She joined Washington University in St. Louis in 2019, where she is also mentored by Dr. McPherson. In the lab, Maria uses in vivo electrophysiology and neural-computer interfaces to develop intraspinal stimulation approaches that simultaneously improve motor and sensory function after spinal cord injury. Outside the lab, she enjoys binging to TV-shows, listening to podcasts about politics and psychology and exploring breweries and coffee shops.