Assistant Professor Kristen Prufrock joins the Department of Neuroscience

Kristen Prufrock, PhD

Kristen Prufrock, PhD, has joined the faculty of the Department of Neuroscience as an assistant professor starting in January 2022.

Prufrock earned her PhD at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in functional anatomy and evolution. Later, she joined the Mizzou Musculoskeletal Research Training program at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine and served as a lecturer in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences there.

“Dr. Kristen Prufrock brings a proven record of excellence in anatomical education to Washington University. Her enthusiasm for medical education is contagious, and we look forward to her joining our team.” says Amy Bauernfeind, PhD, associate professor of anatomy and vice chair for education in the Department of Neuroscience.

Prufrock’s research focuses on the chewing system of primates and other mammals, in particular, the jaws, teeth and chewing muscles. She is interested in understanding how the anatomy of those parts are affected both due to short-term effects such as disease or by long-term evolutionary influences such as diet. Combining dissection and 3D modeling from micro-CT scans, she studies fossils as well as samples from animals around today. She is also beginning research using animal models of certain diseases, in particular, muscular dystrophy, to learn how the jaws and skulls change as the disease progresses.

At WashU, Prufrock is looking forward to establishing her own lab and hoping to involve students in her research. She will also collaborate with the faculty from the Department of Anthropology.

Enthusiastic about teaching, Prufrock will join the clinical educator track and teach anatomy to medical students. “As a teacher, I think it is important to show students how to learn anatomy. I always encourage them to be flexible, adjust their study habits and find the best approaches to study anatomy.”

Prufrock says she is excited to move to St. Louis and indulge in the thriving food scene here.