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Takiar Wise-Draper Laboratory Members

Group Celebration 10.6.2022

Rochelle Rodrigo

Senior Research Assistant

Rochelle received her bachelor of science degree from the University of Akron in 2016 where she worked with Dr. Peter Neiworski in biomimicry research with geckos. She then went to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to work in gene therapy under Dr. Kathrin Meyer in 2017. In 2021, Rochelle started at The Ohio State University under Dr. W. David Arnold in aging research. She then Came to UC to join Dr. Trisha Wise-Draper as a Senior Research Assistant. Rochelle has always been interested in Cancer biology and is excited to have an opportunity to learn more in the field.

Rachel Hefner

Rachel Hefner

Undergraduate Student

Rachel is a current undergraduate student studying Cell and Molecular Biology on track to graduate spring of 2023. She joined the lab as a student worker in January of 2022. Rachel is interested in all cancer and infectious disease related areas with goals to become accepted into UC's Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine PhD program.


Samuel Thompson

Research Assistant

Samuel earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Sciences from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in May of 2022. He joined the lab as an undergraduate research fellow (SURF MedEx) during the summer of 2021. Following completion of the SURF program, Samuel completed a biomedical research capstone working with Dr. Takiar to describe the costs of radiation therapy in Ohio hospitals. He is interested in all areas of cancer care, including clinical practice, translational research, and basic science research, and plans to pursue a career as a physician.


Sam Nusbaum

Graduate Student

Sam received two bachelor of science degrees from the Ohio State University in 2021, one in biology and one in microbiology. While an undergraduate student, she worked with Dr. Wu in a molecular genetics lab. She is currently a PhD student in the Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine program at the University of Cincinnati.

Julianna Korns

Julianna Korns

Graduate Student

Julianna is currently a PhD student in the Cancer and Cell Biology Program and joined the lab in March 2020. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2019 where as an undergraduate researcher she studied telomere biology and genomic constructs. Currently her research focuses on improving treatments with radiation for head and neck cancer patients.

Maria Lehn

Maria Lehn

Senior Research Assistant

Maria completed her BS in dietetics at Ohio University in 2009 where she worked in Dr. Robert Brannan’s lab studying beta-lactoglobulin and its effectiveness of blocking oil absorption in fried foods. Maria then came to UC to work in the lab of Dr. Maria Diaz-Meco and Dr. Jorge Moscat where she worked as a research assistant. In late 2010 Maria then went on to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to work in Dr. Edith Janssen’s lab in the department of Immunobiology. Maria helped to optimize, run, and analyze flow cytometry panels. She worked with both human tissues and mouse models for lupus, cancer, diabetes, and aging. At the beginning of 2020 Maria joined Dr. Vinita Takiar and Dr. Trisha Wise-Draper serving as a lab manager. Maria enjoys serving as a resource to her lab mates and facing the exciting challenges of research.


McKenzie Crist

Graduate Student

Kenzie is currently a PhD student in the Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine program and joined the lab in April 2019. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Miami University in 2018 where she studied metabolic disorders as an undergraduate researcher. Her current research focuses on immunological treatments and their mechanisms for head and neck patients.


Christina Wicker, MS, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Wicker obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology as well as her master's degree in Neuroscience and Physiology at Wright State University in 2006 and 2008 respectively. During her graduate studies at Wright State University, she identified that the cruciferous vegetable extract benzyl isothiocyanate could sensitize K-Ras mutant, chemotherapeutic-resistant pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell lines to TRAIL induced apoptosis. She later joined the laboratory of Dr. Carolyn Price at the University of Cincinnati where she studied telomere biology. Dr. Wicker then completed her PhD in Toxicology at the University of Kentucky in 2017. There she worked on multiple projects including examining regulation between base excision repair protein, Apurinic/Apyrimidinic Endonculease 1, and tumor suppressor Parkin in glioblastoma multiforme and in cell lines. She is currently working to identify possible mechanisms for radiation resistance in patients with HNSCC in an effort to identify potential biomarkers as well as novel drug treatment targets. Christina was awarded a 2019 Young Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine. Congrats!

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Contact Us

Vinita Takiar, MD, PhD
Department of Radiation Oncology
The Barrett Cancer Center
234 Goodman Street, ML 0757
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0757

Office: 513-584-1450

Trisha Wise-Draper, MD, PhD
Department of Internal Medicine
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
231 Albert Sabin Way, MSB Room 6065
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0557
Office: 513-558-2826