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Faculty Spotlight

November Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Louise Risher

Q: Tell us about yourself!

Dr. Risher: I was born in Sweden and raised in England with my two sisters. I began my undergraduate education in England with a focus on Pharmacology and Toxicology. However, after two years I accepted a full scholarship to George Mason University in Northern Virginia. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I accepted a research technician position in the laboratory of Dr. Alvin Terry. This is where I fell in love with neuroscience and eventually met my husband-to-be Chris. Dr. Terry encouraged me to pursue a PhD. and I remained in his laboratory for my graduate training in behavioral neuropharmacology and toxicology. I then went to Duke University for my postdoc and was eventually promoted to research assistant professor. In 2018, Chris and I joined the faculty at JCESOM within the department of Biomedical Sciences at Assistant Professors.

 

Q: What brought you to Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine?

Dr. Risher: Looking for a tenure track faculty position as a dual career couple within the same field is incredibly challenging. While interviewing for positions, I learned a lot about what was important to me. Ultimately, the environment that Dr. Rankin has created within his department just felt right. I could envision potential for growth and felt that it would be a supportive and collegial place to grow my research.

 

Q: Why did you choose your field of practice and what do you enjoy about it?

Dr. Risher: I don’t know that I ever really chose neuroscience or addiction research, it just happened. From my first day in the lab, as an undergrad, I loved combining theory with experimental approaches, regardless of the topic. There is so much that we still don’t understand about the brain and I guess I enjoy that challenge. As a field, we are constantly exploring and uncovering fascinating new processes that move us closer to true understanding. As technology advances, we are able to apply more and more sophisticated approaches to answering difficult questions that were challenging to address 30 years ago. In combination, these facets make neuroscience a really exciting field to be part of. Now, if can only keep up with the literature!

 

Q: What is your scholarly interest?

Dr. Risher: My interests have definitely evolved over my career but have remained within the area of neuroscience. My current interests are pretty extensive, however, one of the major goals of the lab includes understanding how structural and functional interactions between astrocytes and neurons change throughout adolescent development and how exposure to repeated binge ethanol exposure during this period disrupts this developmental process. I am also particularly interested in how modulation of astrocyte-neuronal crosstalk influence behavior, including learning and memory.

 

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

Dr. Risher: There are so many things I love about my job. Getting paid to read, think, and be creative makes me feel incredibly lucky. I really enjoy interacting with other faculty and trainees that are just as passionate about neuroscience as I am.

 

Q: What do you do during your free time?

Dr. Risher: I have a really hard time switching off. However, my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family (Chris, our daughter Abigail, and our new puppy Chica). Really, as long as we are hanging out together, I am quite content. I also enjoy reading science fiction, swimming, and walking the forest trails in the area.

 

Q: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve received?

Dr. Risher: Being a woman in science can be intimidating. It is easy to question whether you belong, however if you find the right environment it is possible to thrive. I think the best advice I received was from an unofficial mentor from my time as a postdoc. She told me to just ignore the drama, put my head down, and work. It’s actually very similar to what my college swim coach (Peter Ward) used to say, “just put your face in the water and swim”.

 

Q: What is a piece of advice that you would give to a new faculty member of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine?

Dr. Risher: If you have a clear plan of action before you arrive then, submit all of your equipment orders, IACUC, and biosafety protocols in advance, then when you arrive you will hit the ground running. Prioritize preliminary data for grant submissions. Talk to others about what they are doing in their labs and set up collaborations. You also never know what kind of equipment people may have that may help move your research forward efficiently.




About the Faculty Spotlight Series

The Faculty Spotlight is a monthly release in the Faculty Bulletin Newsletter. Faculty Spotlights are a way for the Office of Faculty Advancement to highlight our faculty and help tell their stories. 

Interested in having a spotlight written about you? contact OFA@marshall.edu for more information!

Q: Tell us about yourself!

Dr. Munie: I was born and raised in Ethiopia. I came to the U.S. for my college education where I completed a B.S in Chemistry at Ithaca College. I then went to the University of Vermont College of Medicine for my medical school education, followed by Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan for my general surgery residency. I stayed at Henry Ford for another year to complete my surgical critical care fellowship. I then went to the Medical College of Wisconsin for my Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Fellowship.  I am currently double board certified in General Surgery as well as Surgical Critical Care by the American Board of Surgery.  My husband Nadew Simone used to be a Cardiology Fellow at Marshall. She completed his training this past June and is doing his Advanced Cardiac Imaging Fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta. We have two kids, Zoe Simone who is 2 years old and Naomi Simone who is 9 months old.

 

Q: What brought you to Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine?

Dr. Munie: Our initial reason for traveling to Marshall was a family affair. My husband was starting his Cardiology fellowship training at that time, and I was finishing my fellowship and was looking for an academic institution with a strong history of exceptional patient care, education, and research. Marshall was an ideal match for what I was looking for and has more than exceeded my expectation in nurturing my interests and strength.

 

Q: Why did you choose your field of practice and what do you enjoy about it?

Dr. Munie: General surgery specialty to me is not just a job but what I truly believe I was meant to do in life. I enjoy the taught process involved in evaluating patients with a surgical process, preparing them for surgery, performing the operation, and getting them through the post-operative phase. The field of surgery needs a balance between science and the art of medicine. It requires a level of detail-oriented that I enjoy. As a surgeon, the relationship with my patients requires them to trust me while under anesthesia during surgery and I don't take that trust for granted at any time. It is an incredibly fulfilling profession that I really enjoy.

 

Q: What is your scholarly interest?

Dr. Munie: I enjoy research and medical education. My interests in research include bariatric research outcomes, narcotic use minimization in post-surgical patients, critical care as well as in the area of simulation education for medical students and residents.

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

Dr. Munie: My favorite part of my job is getting to teach. It gives me the honor of seeing first-year residents or first-rotation medical students become more knowledgeable in the field when they finish than when they started. It always reminds me that I have been able to make a small impact in their life and career for the better. That's what I enjoy the most.

 

Q: What do you do during your free time?

Dr. Munie: I love spending my free time enjoying family time with my husband and kids going to the park or swimming.

 

Q: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve received?

Dr. Munie: "Treat your patients like you would want your family member to be treated. Even when it is the end of the day and you are tired, you will never take a short cut"

 

Q: What is a piece of advice that you would give to a new faculty member of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine?

Dr. Munie: Welcome to JCESOM. I encourage you to take full advantage of all the opportunities Marshall has to offer to help you excel in your field of interest. The sky is truly the limit.

Q: Tell us about yourself!

Dr. Serrat: I am originally from northeast Ohio and spent two years in upstate New York before coming to Marshall in 2009. My husband also works at Marshall and we have a 6-year old daughter who was born here in Huntington. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Miami University (Ohio) in 1999 and Master’s (2002) and PhD (2007) in Biological Anthropology from Kent State University. I did postdoctoral training in cartilage imaging (skeletal growth plates) at Cornell University in 2008-2009. I teach gross anatomy and run a skeletal biology lab as Associate Professor here at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in the Department of Biomedical Sciences with a joint appointment in Orthopaedics.

 

Q: What brought you to Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine?

Dr. Serrat: I was in the right place at the right time with the right skills. My entry into the job market coincided with the financial crisis of 2008. Amidst hiring freezes and limited positions, a fellowship from the American Association for Anatomy and resources from my postdoc mentor gave me the opportunity to extend my postdoctoral training for 1-2 more years. It was during this time that I was made aware of an opening at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in what was then the Department of Anatomy and Pathology. I don’t remember the exact wording of the job ad (though I bet I still have it on file), but I felt that it had been written for me. The Department was looking for someone with experience teaching medical gross anatomy and conducting skeletal biology research. It sounded like the perfect fit so I applied. My first interview was cancelled due to a snowstorm that shut down the state in January 2009. After googling pictures of a few inches of snow in Pullman Plaza, I could not comprehend this because I grew up in the snowbelt just south of Cleveland, Ohio and was living in Ithaca, New York, where I had just driven into the lab during several feet of snowfall. [Side note – having lived in Huntington for the past 13 years, I get it now]. I did finally make it to interview that February and was offered, and ultimately accepted, the job. Amidst curricular, institutional and departmental reorganizations over the past decade plus, I have still been able to do the two things that I love: gross anatomy teaching and skeletal biology research.

 

Q: Why did you choose your field of practice and what do you enjoy about it?

Dr. Serrat: I fell in love with anatomy during my sophomore year of high school, circa 1992. I remember my amazement when my group’s indiscernible fetal pig dissection was transformed into a magnificent work of anatomical art by the effortless skill of our biology teacher, a Catholic Franciscan brother who taught us that food and sex were the primary drivers of evolution. When our class visited the Cleveland Museum of Natural History later that year, I simply could not stop looking at the skeleton of “Lucy,” a 3.2 million-year-old fossil of what was then the oldest known human ancestor [scientists now date the oldest human ancestors back to 5.8 million years]. I’m pretty sure I lost my class during the visit. I can’t even tell you specifically what I found so intriguing about the fossil, other than a pure fascination with skeletal anatomy and/or old stuff (I am equally intrigued by old houses). I eventually found myself in graduate school pursuing Biological Anthropology and had the opportunity to teach human gross anatomy starting in 2002. It seemed I improved a bit in the 10 years following my lousy pig dissection, and I was actually quite good at human anatomy. At that point, I knew it was what I wanted to teach. My postdoc mentor, who taught veterinary gross anatomy at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is the one who helped direct my research away from anthropology and into basic bone biology. I ultimately chose to pursue a career in academia that gave me time for research and teaching because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I knew that I would never be happy doing only one or the other (research versus teaching), and I knew I would not be happy in a setting where I could not control the line of research that I pursued. Academia gave me that ideal balance between self-directed research and team-based teaching opportunities.

 

Q: What is your scholarly interest?

Dr. Serrat: My laboratory specializes in postnatal skeletal growth. We use in vivo models to study the physiological regulation of bone elongation and the influence of environmental factors, such as temperature and diet, on the bone lengthening process. From measuring the effects of temperature on bone length and blood flow in mice during my graduate work to imaging real-time molecular transport to growing bones during my postdoc, I have dedicated my career to understanding mechanisms of bone growth regulation. Research in our lab here at Marshall takes an integrated approach to these problems by employing tools such as multiphoton-based live animal imaging and mouse model of temperature- and diet-enhanced growth to identify mechanisms, and potential interventions, for pediatric growth disorders.

 

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

Dr. Serrat: I love having the freedom to pursue scientific research that interests me and to share my enthusiasm for research and teaching with trainees. I couldn’t imagine not having this dual role in academia. To me, the most exciting part about research and discovery is being able to include others in the learning process, from colleagues and collaborators to students and trainees. I am so fortunate that I get to wake up every day and do something that I find interesting. I’ve been able to present my work in 5 (soon to be 6) countries and network with some of the top scientists because of my job. I have served on the Board of Directors of the American Association for Anatomy and learned from the leaders in my discipline. No two days are alike and I always look forward to learning and growing as an educator and researcher.

 

Q: What do you do during your free time?

Dr. Serrat: I try to make the most of every minute I get to spend with my 6-year old daughter, who is growing up way too fast in first grade, and my husband, who works night shift. We love to camp (“glamp”), bike, ski, and visit my parents at the beach in Florida. We also have a plot at the community garden, which doubles as a fantastic sledding hill behind our house in the winter (our daughter helps us “feel” young)!

 

Q: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve received?

Dr. Serrat: This is hard to answer because I have gotten so much good advice during my career. I probably learned the most when my postdoc mentor cautioned each of us that “your poor planning is not my emergency!” This is salient advice because there is so much packed into that simple statement, which helped me learn to: respect others’ time; own my mistakes; plan ahead; communicate; prioritize; manage my time; strictly adhere to starting and ending times, whether it’s a course lecture or invited talk; make contingency plans when I know that I cannot meet a deadline; schedule meetings in advance rather than expect someone to drop what they are doing to address a question that may be unimportant to them at that very moment (asking “is this a good time” or “is there a time we can talk” goes a long way); and set the same standards and expectations for my mentees. Obviously, things don’t always work out even with the best intentions or the most careful planning, so I do my best to adapt, accommodate, take personal responsibility when the shortcomings are mine, and be understanding when they are not (because the next time they could be).

 

Q: What is a piece of advice that you would give to a new faculty member of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine?

Dr. Serrat: See above. I think we all could use a reminder at some point that “our poor planning is not someone else’s emergency,” regardless of that someone else’s rank or role. Try to keep that in the back of your mind and it will almost certainly be to your benefit. At the same time, always know your value and don’t be afraid to speak up, stand out, take risks, and reach out to any and every one that could possibly help. Just do it respectfully and realize that your immediate priority might be at the very bottom of someone else’s very long list of to-dos (if even on their list). In other words, don’t let yourself into someone else’s office uninvited, remember to ask if now (or perhaps later) is a good time to discuss your concerns, and do your best to provide plenty of advance noticed when you need something from anyone else because you don’t know what other deadlines and commitments they might already have.

Also, take time to have fun. I didn’t learn to do this until I had my daughter. It was also when I learned how quickly kids can acquire skills if you immerse them early, so don’t hesitate doing the activities you love because you think your kids can’t participate. Our daughter was skiing black diamonds at Snowshoe by 5 years old because she was too young to realize that she should be scared (although a little fear on the ski lift might have been helpful)! Bottom line, whether you have kids or not, you won’t be less busy later, so figure out how to fit in the fun stuff now.



Q: Tell us about yourself!

Dr. Lauffer: I am from Hurricane, WV! I went to MU for undergrad, medical school, and residency! I completed my IM-Peds residency and continue to work as a Med-Peds hospitalist. I am married to Dr. Caleb Huff, and we have 4 beautiful children!

 

Q: What brought you to Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine?

Dr. Lauffer: I was honored to be able to return as faculty in 2020 to help launch our PHM fellowship program.

 

Q: Why did you choose your field of practice and what do you enjoy about it?

Dr. Lauffer: I love hospital medicine because you get to work with a team of physicians, nurses, and other staff to help patients get well. The complexity and acuity of inpatient medicine is also challenging and exciting. It is also very rewarding to be able to help patients and their families during difficult times.

 

Q: What is your scholarly interest?

Dr. Lauffer: I am currently involved in a safe sleep project to help increase meaningful safe sleep education to parents of neonates. I’m also getting ready to participate in a national QI project through the AAP with regard to the new neonatal phototherapy guidelines.

 

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

Dr. Lauffer: Being able to teach medical students/residents about hospital medicine.

 

Q: What do you do during your free time?

Dr. Lauffer: I love to cook and eat out at restaurants. I love being outdoors. And I love being a part of my kids’ extracurricular activities!

 

Q: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve received?

Dr. Lauffer: To always treat patients like they are members of your family….with kindness, dignity, and respect.

 

Q: What is a piece of advice that you would give to a new faculty member of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine?

Dr. Lauffer: The mentorship and faculty development opportunities are outstanding. There is a tremendous support system within our institution to help one strengthen their skills as a clinician and educator. Take advantage of those opportunities!




About the Faculty Spotlight Series

The Faculty Spotlight is a monthly release in the Faculty Bulletin Newsletter. Faculty Spotlights are a way for the Office of Faculty Advancement to highlight our faculty and help tell their stories. 

Interested in having a spotlight written about you? contact OFA@marshall.edu for more information!