Jennifer Kennell

Associate Professor of Biology
Woman in a black sweater smiling - Pictured: Jennifer Kennell

My teaching and research interests include genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, genetic engineering, stem cell biology, and epigenetics. All cells in an animal contain the same set of genes, yet each cell has unique characteristics based on how those genes are actually used. My research has fundamentally focused on answering questions about how gene expression is regulated in different cell types and tissues throughout animal development and in response to environmental conditions, such as temperature and food availability. Most recently my research has focused on the role of a family of haloacid dehalogenase phosphatases in regulating metabolism and development in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). Vassar students are involved in all aspects of my research.

BA, Luther College; PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
At Vassar since 2008


Olmsted Hall of Biological Sc
Box 616
By appointment using Google calendar appointments

Research and Academic Interests

Cell Biology
Molecular Biology
Genetic Engineering
Stem Cell Biology


BIOL 393 Special Topics in Biology
STS 131 Genetic Engineering: Basic Principles and Ethical Questions

Selected Publications

Asterix after name indicates Vassar student author

  • Clerbaux, L-A., Schultz, H.*, Roman-Holba, S.*, Ruan, D.*, Yu, R.*, Lamb, A.M., Bommer, G.T., and Kennell, J.A. 2021. The microRNA miR-33 is a pleiotropic regulator of metabolic and developmental processes in D. melanogaster. Developmental DynamicsLink to paper
  • Sinha, A., Fan, V.B., Ramakrishnan, A., Engelhardt, N.*, Kennell, J., and Cadigan, K.M.  2021. Repression of Wnt/ b-catenin signaling by SOX9 and Mastermind Like Transcriptional Coactivator 2.  Science Advances.  17 Feb 2021: Vol. 7, no. 8, eabe0849.  Link to paper
  • Lopatto D et al., 2020. Facilitating Growth through Frustration: Using Genomics Research in a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience.  J Microbiol Biol Educ. Feb 28;21(1). pii: 21.1.6. Link to paper
  • Laakso, M.M., Paliulis, L.V., Croonquist, P., Derr, B., Gracheva, E., Hauser, C., Howell, C., Jones, C., Kagey, J.D., Kennell, J., Silver Key, S.C., Mistry, H., Robic, S., Sanford, J., Santisteban, M., Small, C., Spokony, R., Stamm, J., Van Stry, M., Leung, W. and Elgin, S.C.R. 2017. An undergraduate bioinformatics curriculum that teaches eukaryotic gene structure. CourseSource, 4: 1-9. Link to paper
  • Elgin, S., Hauser, C., Holzen, T.M., Jones, C.J., Kleinschmit, A., and Genomics Education Partnership. 2017. The GEP: Crowd-sourcing big data analysis with undergraduates. Trends in Genetics, 33: 81-85. Link to paper
  • Bolin, K., Rachmaninoff, N., Moncada, K.*, Pula, K.*, Kennell, J., and Buttitta, L. 2016. miR-8 modulates cytoskeletal regulators to influence cell survival and epithelial organization in Drosophila wings. Developmental Biology. 412:83-98. Link to paper
  • Shakhmantsir, I.*, Massad, N.L.*, and Kennell, J.A. 2014. Regulation of cuticle pigmentation in Drosophila by the nutrient sensing Insulin and TOR signaling pathways. Developmental Dynamics. 243: 393-401. Link to paper
  • Kennell, J.A., Cadigan, K.M., Shakhmantsir, I.*, and Waldron, E.J.* 2012. The microRNA miR-8 is a positive regulator of pigmentation and eclosion in DrosophilaDevelopmental Dynamics. 241: 161-168. Link to paper.
  • Kennell, J.A. and Cadigan K.M. 2009. APC and β-catenin degradation. Chapter in APC Proteins, eds. Nathke I.S., McCartney B.M. Landis Bioscience, Austin. 1-12. PubMed
  • Kennell, J.A., I. Gerin, O.A. MacDougald, K.M. Cadigan. 2008. The microRNA miR-8 is a conserved negative regulator of Wnt signaling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 105: 15417-15422. Link to paper.
  • Kennell, J.A. and O.A. MacDougald. 2005. Wnt signaling inhibits adipogenesis through β-catenin dependent and independent mechanisms. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 25: 24004-24010. Link to paper
  • Kennell, J.A., E.E. O’Leary, B.M. Gummow, G.D. Hammer, and O.A. MacDougald. 2003. T-Cell factor 4N (TCF-4N), a novel isoform of mouse TCF-4, synergizes with β-catenin to coactivate C/EBPα and Steroidogenic Factor 1 transcription factors. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 23: 5366-5375. Link to paper
  • Longo K.A., J. A. Kennell, M.J. Ochocinska, S.E. Ross, W.S. Wright, and O.A. MacDougald. 2002. Wnt signaling protects 3T3-L1 preadipocytes from apoptosis through induction of insulin-like growth factors. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 277: 38239-38244. Link to Paper
  • Douglas, K.R., M.L. Brinkmeier, J.A. Kennell, P. Eswara, T.A. Harrison, A.I. Patrianakos, B.S. Sprecher, MA Potok, R.H. Lyons Jr, O.A. MacDougald, and S.A. Camper. 2001. Identification of members of the Wnt signaling pathway in the embryonic pituitary gland. Mammalian Genome. 12: 843-851. Link to paper

In the Media

Bald person smiling in front of a grey backdrop.

Principal Investigator Hadley Bergstrom, Associate Professor of Psychological Science, and co-PIs Bojana Zupan, Associate Professor of Psychological Science, and Jennifer Kennell, Associate Professor of Biology, received a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase a new state-of-the-art confocal microscope platform for basic research and teaching at Vassar, which will fundamentally transform faculty research, faculty-mentored undergraduate research, and advanced-level teaching.


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