Bridge Faculty

During the program, Bridge participants will work with Sewanee faculty members. The faculty will teach coursework in their area of expertise and help the students research a topic or project that will be presented at the end of the 3-week program. Our faculty are all dedicated to active student learning environments and encourage students to explore topics that interest them.

Bridge Program Faculty photo

Pictured above listed left to right: Dr. Emily Puckette, Dr. Alyssa Summers, Dr. Doug Drinen, Dr. Elise Kikis, Dr. Kirk Zigler, Dr. Brandy Tiernan, and Dr. Katie McGhee.

Dr. Alyssa R. Summers

Associate Professor of Biology, Co-Chair of Biochemistry, Director of Health Professions Program, & Bridge Director
B.A., Lawrence University; Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

Alyssa has graciously accepted the position of Director for Bridge but when she is not planning the program, she has her hands full with research. She has a number of interests but her primary areas of focus are Molecular Cell Biology, Molecular Genetics, Epigenetics, and Genomics. 

Learn more about Dr. Summers

Dr. Katie E. McGhee

Assistant Professor of Biology
B. Sc., University of Toronto, Canada; M.A., Ph.D., Florida State University

Dr. McGhee has studied and researched in a number of places. She completed Postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois and University of Cambridge, UK. Her specialties include: Behavioral Ecology and Evolution. For the program, Dr. McGhee will teach about Behavioral Ecology. 

Learn more about Dr. McGhee

Dr. Kirk S. Zigler

Chair & Associate Professor of Biology; Island Ecology Program Co-Director
B.A., Kenyon College; Ph.D., Duke University

Dr. Zigler has a special interest in Cave Biodiversity in the region. His coursework focuses on Invertebrate Zoology, Evolution, and Biodiversity. During the program, he will share his knowledge in Biodiversity. 

Learn more about Dr. Zigler

Dr. Elise A Kikis

Assistant Professor of Biology
B.A., Cornell University; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Kikis started her research career studying the mechanisms of RNA decay in algal chloroplasts and the mechanisms by which flowering plants respond to red light to trigger in changes in gene expression. Now Dr. Kikis studies protein associated with neurodegenerative disease. During the Bridge Program, she will offer a course on molecular biology and genetics with a special emphasis on genes associated with diseases such as cancer and Huntington's Disease. Students will perform laboratory experiments to study 'genes in action' and will also work with C. elegans (microscopic nematodes with less than 1000 cells) that Dr. Kikis has genetically engineered to express the human Huntington's Disease protein. During the Bridge program, she will share her expertise in Molecular Biology. 

Learn more about Dr. Kikis

Dr. Brandy N. Tiernan

Assistant Professor of Psychology

B.A., University of North Texas; M.A., Western Kentucky University; Ph.D., Iowa State University

Dr. Brandy Tiernan is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology. She uses a combination of behavioral and event-related brain potential (ERPs) methodologies to understand how experience modifies the neural bases of cognitive control. She is specifically interested in examining the manner in which instabilities in affect, interpersonal relationships, and concept of self can compromise goal-directed cognition and cognitive flexibility. Dr. Tiernan is thrilled to share her talents in Cognitive Neuroscience with the Bridge program. It's her first full summer in Sewanee and she's most definitely looking forward to working with new students and conducting new and exciting research.

Learn more about Dr. Tiernan

Calculus and Statistics Coursework

Mathematics provides essential tools that support inquiry in the biological sciences. All Bridge students will study and apply calculus and statistics to model and test biological phenomena. 

Dr. Doug J. Drinen

Associate Professor of Mathematics
B.A., Trinity University; M.A., Ph.D., Arizona State University

After a two year post-doc at Dartmouth College, he came to Sewanee in 2001. He greatly enjoys teaching across the entire undergraduate mathematics curriculum. During his time at Sewanee, his research interests have shifted from functional analysis to probability, graph theory, economics, and any other area in which he can find problems to work on with students and colleagues.

Learn more about Dr. Drinen

Dr. Emily E. Puckette

Professor of Mathematics
B.A., Smith College; M.A., Ph.D., Duke University
She began her academic career by teaching math and training teachers as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, Central Africa. Her mathematical fields of interest are probability and analysis, her pedagogical focus is engaging students in mathematics and statistics through hands-on learning, and her favorite spot in Sewanee is the overlook at Morgan's Steep.