Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education

Kern Scholars and Kern Postdoctoral Fellow Programs

The Kern Scholars and Kern Postdoctoral Fellow programs are capacity building programs with the specific intent to further develop faculty, who are focused on transforming medical education resulting in virtuous caring physicians.

About the Kern Scholars Program

The Kern Scholars program was initiated in the spring of 2019 to develop mid- to late career faculty or staff. The Scholars program is affiliated with two master’s degree granting programs: Master of Health Professions Education (MHPE) through the New York University Langone’s Department of Medicine; and a Master of Arts in Character Education at the Jubilee Center for Character and Virtues through the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Each degree program requires three years to compete. This program offers 2 Kern Scholars awards each year: one for each affiliated master’s degree granting program. Plans are to continue offering 2 Kern Scholars Awards per year – one in each of its affiliated master’s degree granting programs.

Previous awardees by program (with anticipated graduation date):

MHPE degree scholars:
Erin Green, MD (2023)
Denise Cook Snyder, PhD (2025)
Bryan Johnston, MD (2026)

MACE degree scholars:
Jeff D. Fritz, PhD (2023)
David Marks, MD (2024)
Julia Schmitt (2025)

Erin Green Bio

Erin Green, MD

As assistant dean for clinical learning on the Green Bay campus, I oversee all preclinical courses and clinical clerkships. Additionally, I collaborate with leadership across all three campuses to ensure our students develop excellent clinical skills that will contribute to their future success as physicians.


Brian Johnston_Bio

Bryan Johnston, MD

Bryan is an assistant professor of family & community medicine at MCW. He is board certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine and is active in clinical, educational and community engagement activities in these areas. He is core faculty at the All Saints Family Medicine Residency Program and the MCW Office of Community Engagement, directs medical student electives and is involved in the medical school pathway program as instructor and advisor.


Denise Cook Snyder Bio

Denise Cook-Snyder, PhD

Denise Cook-Snyder, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Physiology at MCW, and the director of the Master’s in Medical Physiology program. She is on the Student Pillar of the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education, and a member of the Kern Scholars program.


Julia Schmitt_Bio

Julia A. Schmitt

Ms. Schmitt is associate director of Experience Design at UnitedHealth Group. She is an alumna of the Kern Institute, where she co-founded the Human-Centered Design Lab and the Transformational Ideas Initiative, was a founding member of the Transformational Times editorial board, and a co-editor of the 2021 publication Character and Caring: A Pandemic Year in Medical Education.


Jeff Fritz Bio

Jeff D. Fritz, MD

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Regional Campuses with Medical College of Wisconsin on the Central WI Campus providing pre-clinical instruction. I currently serve as the Editor-in-Chief for the Transformational Times and oversee the Kern Scholars and Kern Postdoctoral Fellows programs with the Kern Institute.


David Marks, MD, MBA

Dr. Marks is Professor and Clinical Vice Chair of Medicine and Radiology and an interventional cardiologist. He is the Senior Medical Director for Access and Analytics for Froedtert Health. He is completing his MA in Character Education and has interest in the application of virtue ethics and character education in the practice of medicine and the introduction of novel technology in the clinical space.

About the Kern Postdoctoral Fellows

The Kern Postdoctoral Fellows program was initiated in the summer of 2020 to develop early-career faculty to address immediate and future capacity needs and focused on revisioning MCW’s medical school curriculum. This fellowship is 1-3 years in duration depending upon the recipient’s level of training and capacity to meet programmatic objectives leading to faculty positions with MCW and the Kern Institute. This program offers between one and three fellowships per year depending on research capacity needs within the Kern Institute and applicant qualifications. The inaugural year of the Fellow Programs saw two Fellows admitted: Jeff Amundson,PhD, started in the fall of 2020 and Ethan Duwell, PhD, started in the spring of 2021. Dr. Suma Thareja joined the fellow program in June of 2022. Dr. Amundson completed the Fellow program in the fall of 2021 and subsequently was named Assistant Professor at MCW’s Central Wisconsin Campus and remains engaged with multiple Kern Institute initiatives. Dr. Duwell is an active Fellow in the Program with a research interest in the Kern Institute Data Science Lab and Human Centered Design Lab.

Ethan Duwell_Bio

Ethan Duwell, PhD

Ethan Duwell is a cognitive vision and data scientist currently working under Dr. Tavinder Ark in the Kern Data Lab and Dr. Adam Greenberg in the Sensory Neuroscience Attention and Perception (SNAP) Laboratory in Biomedical Engineering.


Jeff Amundson

Jeff Amundson, PhD

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Regional Campuses at Medical College of Wisconsin-Central WI Campus. I am an experimental cognitive biopsychologist with training in pluralistic educational psychology and a research focus on learning and memory. At the Kern Institute, I am a Faculty Contributor helping design an innovative curriculum for MCW to promote the development of competency, character, and caring in physicians.


Suma Thareja Bio

Suma Thareja, PhD

Suma Thareja, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow conducting research in the Human Centered Design Lab. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Chicago and as an extension of the Good Physician Project, part of her work looks to understand physician professional and character development longitudinally. In a separate project seeking to improve URiM enrollment in medical school, she facilitated focus group research to understand the successes and challenges faced by MCW medical students during their curricular and extracurricular experiences.