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.
Miracle Darrington, BS, MHS
Imaging Research Specialist I
Miracle Darrington is an Imaging Research Specialist I in Dr. Crescenzi’s lab. She focuses on running lymphedema and lipedema study visits, analyzing data, and processing MRI images. Miracle graduated from the University of Toledo in 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Science and later moved to Nashville, TN to receive her Master’s of Health Sciences at Meharry Medical College in 2022. Previous research she has assisted focused on the role of oxidative damage processes in DNA and RNA for treatment/prevention of cancer at the University of Toledo. Currently, she’s working to gain more research experience at VUIIS during her gap years to prepare for medical school.
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, MBA
Maria Garza is a Clin/Tran Research Coordinator III at VUIIS and the VUMC neurology department. She received both her bachelor's degree in Business and Entrepreneurship and her Master's of Business Administration from Belmont University in Nashville. 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.
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.
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.