Biology Department

Kara CervenyKara Cerveny

Professor of Biology

Reed College
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR 97202

Phone: 503-517-7644
Office: B224
Research Lab: B222

From Proliferation Toward Differentiation: Understanding Growth and Development of the Visual System

Big Picture Goal: I’m interested in understanding growth control, specifically the mechanisms employed to ensure that tissues of the appropriate size and composition are formed. My lab investigates how neuronal stem and progenitor cells behave in the growing zebrafish retina.

Why Zebrafish: These hearty, tropical fish are a highly favored model for addressing a wide range of developmental and cellular biology questions. Zebrafish embryos are transparent, develop outside of the mother, and are amenable to genetic and embryological manipulations. They grow continuously, making them ideal for investigations into the cellular and genetic mechanisms that regulate growth and size.

Specific Scientific Aims: By analyzing behaviors of mutant cells grafted into wild-type retinae, monitoring cell cycle progression in the developing eye, and interrogating how specific extrinsic signals impinge on cell cycle exit, I aim to uncover how local environmental signals influence cell cycle exit and differentiation of neuronal progenitors. On-going projects are designed to:

  1. Explain why distinct classes of retinal progenitors appear to be more or less sensitive to differentiation cues from the local environment
  2. Quantitatively dissect the in vivo cell cycle kinetics of retinal stem and progenitor cells
  3. Define how specific extrinsically modulated pathways, including Hedgehog, TGFb, Notch, and Retinoic Acid control cell cycle exit and differentiation of retinal progenitors emerging from their stem cell niche.

Want to Know More? Check out the Cerveny lab website for more specific information about on-going research in the Cerveny lab, potential thesis projects, my publications, courses I teach, and a link to Reed’s Developmental Biology Blog, “Dive into Development”.