Lab Members

Rachel Redfern

Principal Investigator

Dr. Rachel Redfern received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas A&M University. She then earned her Doctor of Optometry and PhD from the University of Houston, College of Optometry (UHCO) in 2005 and 2010 respectively. Dr. Redfern is a recipient of the Institutional Ruth Kirschstein National Research Post-doctorate Award and the ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician-Scientist Research Award. She was previously funded by National Institute of Health and her research investigates the role of toll-like receptors in the pathogenesis of dry eye syndrome and their involvement in modulating the risk for infection when the ocular surface is compromised from dry eye.

Dr. Redfern enjoys interacting with optometry and graduate students. She lectures in the General Pathology and Physiology and Molecular Biology to first year optometry students. Dr. Redfern is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Optometry and the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society. She is also a William C. Ezell Fellow and a reviewer for several journals including Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science, Public Library of Science ONE, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, and Optometry and Vision Science.


Carolina Lema

Research Associate/Lab Manager

Dr. Carolina Lema earned her BS degree in Biochemistry from Universidad Mayor de San Andres, La Paz-Bolivia in 1994 and her PhD degree in Immunogenetics from Kagoshima University, Kagoshima-Japan in 2002. Her postdoctoral training was focused on cancer genomics and Toxicogenomics at the Houston Advanced Research Center, The Woodlands, TX. She previously worked as staff scientist at the Cell Culture and High-Throughput Screening Core Facility at the University of Texas at El Paso for five years. In February 2013, she joined Dr. Redfern’s lab at The Ocular Surface Institute to investigate the pathogenesis of dry eye inflammation and the risk for infection in the desiccated ocular surface.


Alyce Alven

Master's Student

Alyce Alven is currently pursuing her OD/MS at the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) with plans of pursuing her PhD when she graduates in 2016. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Advertising from the University of Houston in 2010 with a focus in media buying and selling. Since beginning research in 2013 with UHCO's summer research program, her primary focus has been on dry eye with Dr. Kelly Nichols and now with Dr. Rachel Redfern investigating the role of damage associated molecular patterns in stimulating dry eye inflammation in patients and ocular surface cells. As president of Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, she also has participated in vision screenings, the Special Olympics, and has gone abroad to Mexico and Peru.


Betty Zhang

OD/MS Candidate

Betty Zhang is pursuing combined OD/MS degrees at the University of Houston College of Optometry. She received undergraduate degrees in Biology and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. Betty currently works under the direction of Dr. Rachel Redfern, O.D., Ph.D. studying the pathogenesis of dry eye syndrome. She is investigating the role of toll-like receptors in the increase of pro-inflammatory molecules in an experimental dry eye mouse model.