Who We Are


Tracie Baker

Principal Investigator and Director

Dr. Baker has substantial academic training and research in developmental biology, environmental toxicology, genetics, and animal health. Her academic training has been multidisciplinary in nature with an interest in toxicology beginning as an undergraduate at Cleveland State University, where she investigated water pollution effects on zebra mussel survival and behavioral ecology. She earned her Master of Science at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks while researching genes involved in toxin production by harmful algal blooms and bacterial species. After earning her DVM (University of Wisconsin – Madison) and a certificate in fish health medicine from the State of Wisconsin, she was an assistant researcher investigating clinical improvements in fish medicine before accepting an NIEHS-funded postdoctoral position that evolved into a PhD program at UW – Madison under the mentorship of Dr. Dick Peterson. Her research was the first to show transgenerational inheritance of disease using a zebrafish model. In 2013, she competed successfully for an NIH K01 award through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Dr. Baker found that low level, dioxin-induced decreased fertility across multiple generations following early developmental exposure is mediated through the male germline, and has been invited to present these findings at several national and international conferences, including at several workshops hosted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She joined the faculty at Wayne State University (WSU) as an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Department of Pharmacology – School of Medicine in 2016 because of the focus on addressing health disparities in the Detroit community within the Integrative Biosciences Center (iBio). She also has adjunct positions within the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences – Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering, and is a faculty member of WSU’s Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES) and Healthy Urban Waters (HUW) Initiative. As a previous NCAA Division I swimmer, Tracie enjoys being a faculty advisor for the WSU Swimming and Diving team. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her wife, daughter, and their two dogs, participating in open water swim events and triathlons, traveling, and being outside.

Kim Bauman

Lab Manager





Chia-Chen Wu

Post-doctoral fellow

Chia-Chen received her B.S. in public health and M.S. in environmental engineering from National Taiwan University. Chia-Chen earned her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Her research characterized the microbial ecology of point-of-use drinking water filters. She identified if opportunistic pathogens from tap water are enriched in drinking water filters. Chia-Chen joined the WATER lab in the Fall of 2019. While applying her previous bioinformatics and statistics skills, she will be using zebrafish as a model to study the relationship between gut and drinking water microbiome, as well as studying the effect of chemical exposures on aged populations to develop risk assessments. When she’s not working, she enjoys playing piano and hiking.

Danielle Meyer

Graduate student

Danielle is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Pharmacology at the Wayne State University – School of Medicine. She earned Bachelor's degrees in biology and psychology with a minor in neuroscience from Hope College in 2015. She joined the WATER Lab in 2016, and is excited to continue Dr. Baker's investigation into the transgenerational reproductive effects of early life exposure to a model endocrine-disrupting chemical (dioxin). Her research goal is to use the zebrafish model to look at the specific timing of molecular events during reproductive development that become dysregulated by endocrine disruption, leading to sex ratio changes and infertility later in life and in following generations. When not in the lab, she enjoys reading, theater, cuddling with her cat and dog, and both listening to and performing music!

Camille Akemann

Graduate student

Camille grew up in Pinckney, MI and received her B.S. in biochemistry at the University of Michigan in 2016. She has since joined the WATER Lab as a PhD student in the Department of Pharmacology – School of Medicine at Wayne State University. During her first semester, she was also accepted into the interdisciplinary Transformative Research in Urban Sustainability Training (T-RUST) program. Her research is focused on epigenetic mechanisms for adverse, transgenerational health outcomes stemming from exposure to environmental toxicants, such as lead, using the zebrafish model. When she's not in the lab, Camille enjoys running, playing piano, and spending time with her pets, Daisy and Mija.

Alex Haimbaugh

Graduate student

Alex earned her B.S. in neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2015. She worked in a neuroscience lab at Johns Hopkins University before joining Wayne State University's Pharmacology program in 2018. Her research in the WATER Lab uses a zebrafish model to examine the developmental and endocrine disrupting effects of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are found in the Lake Huron to Erie corridor. Outside of the lab, she enjoys CrossFit, being outdoors, and reading.

Jessica Phillips

Graduate student

Jessica is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Pharmacology at Wayne State University (WSU) – School of Medicine. She earned Bachelor's degrees in nursing and psychology from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor in 2012 and a Master of Science in Anesthesia from WSU in 2018.  She joined the WATER Lab in 2020 and is excited to examine the cycle of pharmaceuticals in the environment and the potential developmental impacts using the zebrafish model.  When not in the lab, she works as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at Detroit Receiving Hospital, or hikes and bikes with her husband and their two Dobermans, Athena and Ayva.

Jeremy Shields

Research Assistant

Jeremy is a research assistant in the WATER Lab, Dr. Ryan Thummel's lab, and is an active entrepreneur at Wayne State University. Jeremy combines years of working in the preclinical research industry with his academic background to pursue innovative investigations. His research efforts in the WATER Lab focus on screening emerging environmental contaminants and optimizing larval zebrafish behavioral assays. Supported by the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, Jeremy is also pioneering a zebrafish model for the progression of human retinoblastoma. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Alma College and a master’s degree in basic medical science from Wayne State University. He is currently applying to medical school, where he plans to employ his research and business expertise to advance precision medicine.

2020 Undergraduate lab members:

Mackenzie Connell (reBUILD scholar)

Destiny Johnson (IMSD program)

Abraham Soto (IMSD program)

Mohammad Abdi (reBUILD scholar)

Aicha Khalaf (Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program)

Anna-Maria Petriv

2019 Undergraduate lab members:

Mackenzie Connell (Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program and reBUILD scholar)

Abraham Soto (IMSD program)

Anna-Maria Petriv

Michelle Gorrell (SURE scholar)

Destiny Johnson (IMSD program)

2018 Undergraduate lab members:

Andrea Wahls

Anna-Maria Petriv (Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program)

Abraham Soto (IMSD program)

Mackenzie Connell (reBUILD scholar)

Zane Tolbert (SURE and SURF scholar)

Annelise Crabtree (reBUILD scholar)

Nemer Hijazi