Research Collaborate Lab Bench

Medical Scientist Training Program

Alison Huckenpahler

Alison Huckenpahler

G4 Student

Faculty Advisor

  • Joseph Carroll, PhD, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Biophysics, and Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy


  • Medical Scientist Training Program


BA, Biochemistry and Spanish, University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012


I received a dual degree in biochemistry and Spanish from UW-Madison, intending to go to medical school. My freshman year, I joined a laboratory studying free energy changes in bacterial RNA polymerase during transcription initiation. Although biophysical chemistry wasn’t my passion, I really loved doing research. I have always loved puzzles and to me, research was the ultimate puzzle, requiring knowledge, logic, and creativity. During the four years I was in the lab, I realized that while I wanted to continue doing research, I still wanted to treat patients. After graduation, I took a year off, worked as a tech studying epigenetic control of metabolic genes in the liver, and applied to combined MD/PhD programs.

Research Interests

I am currently working using adaptive optics to characterize a transgenic pig model of retinitis pigmentosa. This disease is caused by a mutation in rhodopsin which results in a loss of rod photoreceptors, eventually leading to blindness. This model will allow us to look in depth at the pathophysiology of the disease and hopefully lead to possible gene therapies to restore/preserve vision.

Research Experience

Medical College of Wisconsin, 2013
Advisor: Dr. Lisa Cirillo
Project: Epigenetic changes in liver metabolism genes in response to fasting or feasting

University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008-2012
Advisor: Dr. Thomas Record
Project: Thermodynamics of structural changes in E. coli RNA Polymerase during transcription initiation


Huckenpahler AL, Wilk MA, Cooper RF et al (2016) Imaging the adult zebrafish cone mosaic using optical coherence tomography. Vis Neurosci in press

Meeting Abstracts

Huckenpahler, A. et. al. Imaging the Adult Zebrafish Cone Mosaic Using Optical Coherence Tomography: Method and Repeatability, Retinal Degeneration 2016, Kyoto, Japan, 9/19/2016 – 9/24/2016

Huckenpahler, A. et. al. Imaging the Adult Zebrafish Cone Photoreceptor Mosaic Using Optical Coherence Tomography, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington, 5/1/2016 – 5/5/2016

General Interests

Cooking, ballroom dance, and classic movies