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Karen Bernd

Education

Postdoctoral, Duke University (Developmental, Cellular, and Molecular Biology)
Ph.D., M.A. Princeton University (Molecular Biology)
B.S. Franklin & Marshall College (Biology)

Background

To understand how an organism works we need to understand its basic parts-cells. As a cell biologist I use techniques ranging from microscopy and biochemistry to molecular biology to attack the enormous question of 'how does a cell work?' While each approach by itself is informative a clear picture of a cellular process will only result by combining the right questions with the best techniques and taking time to listen to the data. My courses reflect this 'multi-front' approach and combine discussions of questions and journal articles, interactive lectures, investigative labs, and web assignments.

Research

I require that my students are invested in and connected to their research in how environmental pollutants affect lung cells.

Sparked by an athlete's question of 'why is it bad to run at 4 p.m. on an ozone red day?' we have determined that estrogen, and by extension perhaps gender, play a role in ozone-induced inflammation, redox balance, and cell death, and that DCA, a common water purification byproduct, activates superoxide dismutase and catalase in the lung cell's response to oxidative stress.

A student who predicted vaping's popularity focused our research toward young adult trends involving e-cigarette vaping and hookah tobacco smoking (waterpipes). Recent work investigated how e-cigarette vapor generated at 3.7V or 4.7V from flavored and unflavored e-liquid effect lung viability. Current students are working to provide the FDA with molecular level evidence regarding if/ how the smoke from different configurations of hookah pipes change the smoke and change alveolar cell function. This evidence will be reported to the NIH and FDA and then used to develop interventions, identify groups that may have increased susceptibility to harm, and inform policy. 

Teaching

BIO 111 Molecules, Genes, and Cells (and lab)
BIO 208 Cell Biology (and lab)
BIO 238 Cell Biology and Signaling
BIO 267 Cases in Environmental Health
BIO 357 Biotoxicity of Hookah Smoke