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Crespi Lab People

Dr. Erica Crespi, Associate Professor

imageI am interested in interacting with students who are passionate about discovering how animals interact with the environment.  

School of Biological Sciences
Affiliated with Center for Reproductive Biology, School of Molecular Biosciences; Member of the WSU Teaching Academy and President’s Commission on the Status of Women
Phone: 509-335-3833

B.A. Lehigh University (Journalism and Biology)
M.S. Wake Forest University (Biology and Biostatistics)
Ph.D. University of Virginia (Biology-Population Biology and Evolution)
Post-Doc: University of Michigan (Reproductive Sciences Program, Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology)


Current Graduate Students


   Robyn Reeve

My research is focused on nutritional regulation of the immune system during development and regeneration in amphibians. I am currently interested in understanding leptin’s immunomodulatory role in the development of immune organs and during limb and tail regeneration in Xenopus tadpoles. My Master’s work focused on the role of the immune system in visceral regeneration of the sea cucumber Parastichopus californicus  during annual atrophy events.



Grace Curtis

I am interested in physiology, development, and regeneration, specifically the connection between expression of the hormone leptin and blood vessel formation in regenerating Xenopus tails.







Jennifer Madigan

My research focuses on how maternal stress during pregnancy effects offspring’s early development and their long-term stress resilience. I primarily focus on cortisol research using human hair. I use both behavioral and molecular approaches to understand the effect of stress on mothers and their children. I am also interested in looking at environmental factors and how they impact early development and epigenetics.


Kourtnie WhitfieldKourtnie Whitfield

Kourtnie graduated from WSU in 2019.  After working in the Crespi lab on leptin signaling in embryonic development as an undergrad, Kourtnie started in the M.S. program in the fall of 2019 to continue her work. She is focusing on leptin signaling in epidermal differentiation during embryonic development in Xenopus laevis/tropicalis. Kourtnie earned Honorable Mention NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awards (2019 and 2020), and was awarded a Notable Achievement award by the School of Biological Sciences in May 2020.


Undergraduate Students


Kyla Quale, Effects of leptin on wound healing in amphibians



Eric Navarro, Tino LoGerfo, Sara Nogueiro, Kyle Dorosch, Marissa Bernhofer, Haley Anderson, Katie Barton, Britta Farr, Jessica Graham, Jessica Holsclaw, Brandon Hutzenbiler, Mo Mowbray, Audrey Parks, Mark Smyly, Karl Westby, Jennifer Wroe, Tiffany McElroy, Krysta Dawson, Molly Diamond, Juan Ramirez, Kayla Titiiali, Essence White, Sonia Weatherly, Sonja Werth, Tyler Watkins, Vitoria Fernandez

Former Lab Members

Bernardo Traversari, M.S.

Currently the Interim Director of Science Outreach at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.

Marietta Easterling, Ph.D.

Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the UNC-School of Medicine McAllister Heart Institute, in the lab of Michael Bressan.

Travis Seaborn, Ph.D.

Currently is an Idaho NSF EPSCoR Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences

Aurelia Kucera, M.S.

Now at North Dakota State University for her Ph.D.


Maggie Unkefer, M.S.

Now a research assistant at WSU


Mike Prozio, M.S.

Now the R&D Lab Manager at Senestech


John Peterson, Ph.D. (former post-doc)

Now an assistant professor at University of Wisconsin – Platteville



Kristin Engbrecht, M.S.


Jennifer Cundiff

Now a lab manager in the School of Global Animal Health, WSU


Emily Hall, Ph.D.

Now a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, working with Louise Rollins-Smith