Meet The Team
Rachelle Crescenzi, PhD
Dr. Rachelle Crescenzi, PhD is a translational imaging scientist and Assistant Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). She studied Physics at the University of Delaware and completed her doctoral thesis in 2015 in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania. During her doctoral research, she received interdisciplinary training in the Center for Magnetic Resonance and Optical Imaging (CMROI) to develop molecular MRI methods for studying neurodegeneration. Her postdoctoral training in the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS) focused on clinical vascular imaging in patients with lymphatic disease. Dr. Crescenzi was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship through the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) in partnership with the Fat Disorders Resource Society (FDRS) in 2016 to apply imaging science to study lipedema. She received a Career Development Award in 2018 and Innovative Project Award in 2019 through the American Heart Association, before joining VUMC faculty in 2018. Dr. Crescenzi began SALT lab shortly after, with support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to apply imaging science to critical needs for patients with lymphedema or lipedema. Dr. Crescenzi is committed to building an interdisciplinary research team.
Michael Pridmore, MA, PhD
Post Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Michael Pridmore joined the SALT Lab as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the summer of 2020. Michael earned his PhD from the Chemical and Physical Biology Program, Imaging Science Track, at Vanderbilt University in the spring of 2020. Previously, Michael received a BS in Neuroscience from the Psychology department at Middle Tennessee State University in 2012, where he would later earn his MA in Experimental Psychology in 2014. Throughout Michael’s career he has had the opportunity to work in research areas including electroencephalography studies, William’s Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, peripheral neurodegenerative disease, peripheral nerve injury/recovery, as well as methods development for magnetic resonance imaging protocols across multiple modalities and anatomies. Currently, Michael oversees the proton/sodium MRI acquisition and data processing for lipedema and lymphedema studies in the SALT lab, as well as supporting collaborator’s data and reporting pipelines. In his free time Michael enjoys playing guitar, kayaking, and catching local music and comedy shows around Nashville.
Vanessa Crain, BS
Vanessa Crain is an Imaging Specialist II in Dr. Rachelle Crescenzi’s lab currently focused on the lymphedema study and assists on the lipedema, building MRI tools, and biorepository studies. Vanessa graduated in 2015 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Exercise Science. She has previously worked in out-patient physical therapy clinics and as an in-patient acute care rehab tech at Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans, LA. They are an LGBTQ+ advocate and love learning about expanding inclusivity and diversity.
Maria Garza, BA
Maria Garza is an Imaging Specialist III and clinical trials coordinator at VUIIS and the VUMC neurology department. She received her bachelor's degree in business and entrepreneurship from Belmont University in Nashville, where she is currently pursuing her MBA. She has ten years of experience in community-based research. Previous studies she has assisted focused on nutrition and behavioral interventions in underserved communities. Maria joined the Donahue lab in 2019 and the Crescenzi Lab the following year. She currently assists with stroke, lymphedema, lipedema, and glymphatic studies. Her efforts focus on data collection, processing and organization, recruitment and patient interaction, as well as technical assistance during research scans and fostering collaborations across labs and departments.
Shannon Taylor, BS
Shannon Taylor is a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering program at Vanderbilt University. She graduated from Lehigh University in 2020 with a BS in Bioengineering. Shannon’s research interests are in the physiologic mechanisms of salt handling and how the lymphatics system plays a role in tissue sodium storage. She works with sodium MRI methods to better understand these relationships and explore the biological basis of sodium MR signal.
Cheyenne Whaley, MS
Imaging Research Specialist I
Cheyenne is an Imaging Research Specialist I in Dr. Rachelle Crescenzi's lab. Cheyenne has 18 years of experience with animals and transitioned into human medical care during college. In 2020, she earned her Masters degree in Biology with an emphasis on neuroscience from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In 2017, Cheyenne earned her Bachelor degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin in Animal Science, Pre-Vet, and Pre-Med. In her free time, she enjoys reading, singing, boxing, axe throwing, archery, and watching movies or shows. Her future career goals include earning her PhD or becoming a Neurosurgeon in the US Army.
Yinan Zheng, BA
Yinan Zheng is a medical student at Vanderbilt University applying into diagnostic radiology. He graduated from Princeton University in 2019 with a BA in physics. Yinan's research interests include point-of-care ultrasound, screening modalities for lipedema, and the use of informatics tools to quantify the prevalence of lipedema. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, climbing, and exploring coffee shops and restaurants around Nashville.
Caitlin Johnnides is an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University pursuing a BE in Biomedical Engineering. She is an intern in Dr. Crescenzi’s lab, and she enjoys learning about sodium MRI and the research process in general. Caitlin has worked on developing a standardized protocol for sodium standard creation and organizing lipedema data. In her free time, she enjoys baking, listening to music, and going on walks.
Imaging Research Specialist III
Allison Scott is an Imaging Research Specialist III in Dr. Crescenzi’s lab. Allison had a background in Anthropology, Religious Studies, and Refugee Services when she first started working in clinical trials. She joined the Donahue Lab as a research analyst in 2014, where she assisted stroke, sickle cell, and lymphedema imaging clinical trials. In 2017 Allison moved to the UK and took a position working with Early Phase Oncology and Hematology Clinical Trials at University of Oxford. There she had the opportunity to work on international multisite trials and gained valuable skills in collaborating with global pharmaceutical sponsors. In 2021 Allison graduated with a Master of Science in Global Public Health and Policy from Queen Mary University of London. She is now excited to apply her clinical trials experience and public health degree to the lipedema trials within the Salt Lab.