Team

Tristan Maerz, Ph.D

Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Maerz completed his undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University, followed by his Master’s and doctoral training in Biomedical Engineering at Wayne State University. Prior to joining the Orthopaedic Surgery faculty at the University of Michigan, Dr. Maerz was a research engineer and the director of sports medicine research at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI and held an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery appointment at the Oakland University – William Beaumont School of Medicine. Dr. Maerz and his laboratory are part of the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories and the MedSport group at the University of Michigan, and he is interested in basic science, translational, and clinical research focused on sports medicine-related injuries and pathologies.

A native German, Dr. Maerz is an avid outdoor athlete, happiest on a rock-climbing route, on the mountain bike or skies, or on a remote trail in the mountains to actively enjoy nature’s beauty with his wife Basma and close friends and family. Dr. Maerz is an active member of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) and Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI), which are his primary academic communities.

Contact: tmaerz@med.umich.edu | (734) 936-2566

CV, NIH-Biosketch, and Pubmed

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Alex Knights, Ph.D

Alex hails from Sydney, Australia, where he gained his PhD studying how immune cells like macrophages and eosinophils regulate inflammation and metabolism. Following his graduate studies, Alex moved to the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, to investigate immune cells that secrete acetylcholine to regulate adipose and liver function. Now, in the labs of Drs. Maerz and Hankenson, he aims to better understand the intricate crosstalk that takes place between different cell types residing in the joint microenvironment, with a particular focus on the role of R-spondin 2, a Wnt signaling agonist. For leisure, Alex enjoys outdoor pursuits like sports, hiking, camping and birdwatching, while also being an avid history and wildlife enthusiast.

Email: aknights@umich.edu

Twitter: @ajknights7

Alex's Publications

Maerz Laboratory Staff

Lucas Junginger, Research Laboratory Specialist

Lucas grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017 with a double major in neuroscience and computer science. Lucas' undergraduate research focused on the development of a Drosophila model of axonal injury at the neuromuscular junction. During his time in the lab, he has focused on two topics: 1) TSP-2's anti-angiogenic function and its role in the progression of post-traumatic osteoarthritis, 2) novel computational methods for automation of image analysis. On the side, Lucas is pursuing a part-time MBA at University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

Email: lmjun@umich.edu

Graduate Students

Lindsey Lammlin, PhD Student - Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Lindsey is a first year PhD student in the Molecular and Integrative Physiology program, and has been a member of the Maerz lab since 2019. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2020 where she double majored in Biochemistry and Earth & Environmental Science. Lindsey is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. During her PhD, she will explore the roles of thrombospondin and R-spondin/Wnt signaling in joint injury and development. Outside of lab, Lindsey enjoys weightlifting, disc golfing, yard games (especially cornhole!), and baking cookies.

Email: zlammlin@umich.edu

Twitter: @zlammlin

Rachel Bergman, Medical Student - University of Michigan

Rachel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Northwestern University. After spending a year conducting clinical research at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, she began medical school at the University of Michigan in 2017. At that time, she met Dr. Maerz and has been working on research outside of the lab throughout her first two years of medical school. With a career interest in Academic Orthopaedic Surgery, Rachel took a leave from the Medical School to spend a year in the Maerz lab to learn basic science laboratory techniques and conduct her own project, studying sex differences in PTOA utilizing the lab's non-invasive murine model of ACL rupture. In her free time, Rachel enjoys spending time with family and friends, outdoor activities and exercise, exploring Ann Arbor's restaurants, cooking, as well as a newfound interest in mixology.

Email: rfbergma@med.umich.edu

Easton Farrell, PhD Student - Biomedical Engineering

Easton is a first-year PhD student majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at the University of Michigan, and previously studied spatiotemporally controllable induction of myofibroblast phenotype under focused ultrasound and local matrix strain. His work in the Maerz lab focuses on the mechanobiology of synovial fibrosis and the response of synovial fibroblasts to modulated mechanical ECM characteristics in PTOA. Understanding the initial molecular interpreters of mechanical injury and the exacerbatory pathways they stimulate is important in identifying possible upstream targets in PTOA. He heavily employ bioinformatics techniques in his studies to identify differentially expressed genes, specialized fibroblast subtypes, and patterns of signaling interactions in injured tissue. Outside of the lab, he enjoys writing fiction stories, and he hopes to be an author following obtaining his PhD.

Email: farreeas@umich.edu

Undergraduate Students

Alexa Samani, Undergraduate - LS&A

Alexa is a junior at the University of Michigan and has been working in the Maerz lab since January of 2021. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a minor in Business. During her time in the lab, she assists Rachel Bergman in her project studying sex differences in PTOA through work in histology. Following graduation in May of 2023, Alexa plans on attending dental school. In her free time, Alexa enjoys listening to new music, wake surfing, and baking.

Email: alexasam@umich.edu

Eleanor Knight, Undergraduate - LS&A

Eleanor is a sophomore at the University of Michigan and has been working in the Maerz lab since October of 2021. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Health, and Society (BHS). During her time in the lab, she assists Easton Farrell on his project investigating the roles of synovial fibroblasts in post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Following graduation in May of 2024, Eleanor plans on attending medical school. In her free time, Eleanor enjoys spending time outdoors, watching Michigan football, cooking, and baking sourdough bread.

Email: eleanork@umich.edu

Haneef Khan, Undergraduate - LS&A

Haneef is a junior at the University of Michigan studying computer science. He has been working in the Maerz lab since January of 2021. In the lab, he works on applying convolutional neural networks to computer vision projects, such as automatically segmenting microCT scans. After graduation in May 2023, Haneef plans to attend medical school.

Email: khanhak@umich.edu

Monique Cruz, Undergraduate - LS&A

Monique is a junior at the University of Michigan and is majoring in Biology, Health, and Society (BHS). She has participated in the Maerz lab since June of 2021. Monique assists with histology priorities for various projects within the lab. With her BHS degree she plans to attend medical school. Monique enjoys reading, going to the gym, and spending time with her little sister for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Detroit program.

Email: cruzmoni@umich.edu

Olivia Ellis, Undergraduate - Engineering

Olivia is a junior majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in computer science. As a member of the bioinformatics team, she analyzes single cell RNA-sequencing data. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and doing crossword puzzles.

Email: oellis@umich.edu

Rida Pervez, Undergraduate - LS&A

Rida is a sophomore at the University of Michigan pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Environment. Since joining the lab in October of 2020, Rida spends her time assisting Dr. Alexander Knights on his project elucidating the role of Rspo2 in the progression of PTOA. Following graduation in May of 2024, Rida plans to attend medical school. In her free time, Rida enjoys kickboxing, photography, and exploring Ann Arbor’s coffee scene.

Email: pervezri@umich.edu


Alumni

Sunghun Cheong, Undergraduate - Engineering

Sunghun graduated with his Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomechanics at the University of Michigan in 2021. During his time in lab, Sunghun worked with Raman spectroscopy to assist the research laboratory specialist, Lucas Junginger, with the study of the anti-angiogenic function of TSP-2 and TSP-2's role in the progression of PTOA. Sunghun is currently pursuing a PhD in Bioengineering at Seoul National University. His research is focused on "organ-on-a-chip" models. Specifically, he is interested in brain-on-a-chip, bone-on-a-chip, and lymph-on-a-chip .

Email: shcheong@umich.edu

Rose Darcy, Undergraduate - Kinesiology

Rose graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Movement Science in the School of Kinesiology with a minor in Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Michigan in 2021. After working with Dr. Maerz on a project to elucidate the local and systemic effects of ischemic therapy in 2018-2019, Rose joined the Maerz lab where she primarily worked under medical student Rachel Bergman and Dr. Alex Knights on their projects studying sex differences in PTOA and the role of R-spondin 2 in the development of osteoarthritis, respectively. Following graduation in May of 2021, Rose plans to attend medical school and hopes to continue to refine her skills in the laboratory and broaden her clinical experience.

Email: rdarcy@umich.edu

Sam Goldman, Undergraduate - Kinesiology

After graduating from the University of Michigan's School of Kinesiology in 2021 with a B.S. in Movement Science, Sam pursued a gap year as a clinical research coordinator for the Integrated Spine Research Program (ISRP) at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, New York. In this role, he conducted basic science cell culture experiments with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), analyzing how varying surface porosities on 3D printed titanium spine implants affect bone growth and the osteopromotive environment. His goal was to determine how to maximize bone growth which could ultimately translate into the development of more successful spinal fusion surgeries. Additionally, he is involved in clinical trials investigating bone graft substitutes in spinal fusion surgery and studies comparing pedicle screw accuracy in robotic-assisted surgery vs. freehand spinal surgery. Following his gap year, Sam plans to pursue a medical degree at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine beginning in August 2022.

Email: samngold@umich.edu

Phillip Rzeczycki, Ph.D - Post-doctoral Researcher

Phil Rzeczycki was a post-doctoral researcher in the Maerz lab. He studied how cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system are involved in the inflammatory and catabolic processes of PTOA, and if these compounds could be therapeutically beneficial. Phil completed his PhD at the University of Michigan in 2018 in pharmaceutical sciences, and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2013 with a degree in chemistry. In his free time, Phil enjoys cooking, playing with his dog Faye, and watching UConn basketball.

Phil's Pubmed Publications

Email: pmrzec@umich.edu

Stephen Redding , Research Technician

Stephen graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan. A forever Wolverine, he then began a Master of Physiology program, during which he started in the Maerz lab. Since the conferral of his Master’s, he has continued to study chemokine expression in joint tissues following mouse ACL rupture. Currently, Stephen is attending medical school and hopes to become an orthopaedic trauma surgeon and continue orthopaedic research. In his free time, Stephen works as an emergency medical technician and spends time with family and friends.

Email: sjredd@umich.edu

Cody Rasner, Masters Student - Physiology

Cody was raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before moving to Nashville, TN where he studied biology at Belmont University. While working in the Maerz Laboratory, he pursued a Master of Science in Physiology at the University of Michigan and investigated the role of the endocannabinoid system in post-traumatic osteoarthritis. He enjoys spending time with friends and family, hiking, camping, and anything fitness related. Currently, Cody is attending medical school at the University of Minnesota and plans to pursue a career in research-based medicine.

Email: crasner@umich.edu