Kathleen M. Susman

Professor of Biology on the J. P. Giraud, Jr. Chair
Kathleen M. Susman wearing a yellow shirt, light green jacket with lab equipment in the background.

Research Interests

Ever wonder how those garden chemicals that give you healthier-looking vegetables affect the soil organisms that keep the soil rich and healthy? My lab explores the behavioral and neuron-specific effects of common lawn chemicals on the beneficial soil nematode, Caenorhabditis elegansC. elegans is a terrific model organism for exploring mechanisms of toxicity. We are also concerned about the effects of chemical use in gardens and agricultural settings on the overall soil health, particularly on nematodes. Our current work also includes communicating the science, biology and health risks of lawn and garden chemical use, through podcasting and other types of media.

Teaching Interests

neurobiology, cell biology, introductory biology, neuroscience and behavior seminars, stress physiology, evo-devo, science communication

BS, College of William and Mary; MS, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
At Vassar since 1991


Olmsted Hall of Biological Sc
Box 189
By appointment

Research and Academic Interests

Neuroscience and Behavior; Stress Physiology; Evo-Devo; Science Communication

Selected Publications

  • Raley-Susman, K.M. (2022) Examining the effects of pesticides in Caenorhabditis elegans neurons. J. Vis. Exp. https://www.jove.com/t/63845/examining-the-effect-of-pesticides-on-caenorhabditis-elegans-neurons
  • Zhang, S.G., *Singhvi, A., Susman, K.M., Hastings, H.M., and Magnes, J. (2022) Dynamic markers for chaotic motion in C. elegans. Nonlinear Dynamics Psychology and Life Sciences 26: 21-43.
  • *Bradford, B.R., *Whidden, E., *Gervasio, E.D., Checchi, P.M. and Raley-Susman, K.M. (2020) Neonicotinoid-containing insecticide disruption of growth, locomotion and fertility in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0238637. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238637
  • Magnes, J., Hastings, H., *Hulsey-Vincent, M., *Congo, C., Raley-Susman, K.M., *Singhvi, A., *Hatch, T., *Szwed, E. (2020) Chaotic markers in dynamic diffraction. Applied Optics 59:6642-6647. https://doi.org/10.1364/AO.397618
  • Song, Y., Cao, C., Qiu, R., Hu, J., Liu, M., Lu, S., Shi, H., Raley-Susman, K.M., He, D., Uptake and adverse effects of polyethylene terephthalate microplastics fibers on terrestrial snails (Achatina fulica) after soil exposure, Environmental Pollution (2019), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/ j.envpol.2019.04.066
  • Magnes, J., *Congo, C., *Hulsey-Vincent, M., Hastings, H. and Raley-Susman, K.M. (2018) Live C. elegans diffraction at a single point. Open J. Biophysics 8: 155-162. https://doi.org/10.4236/ojbiphy.2018.83011
  • Lei, L., Wu, S., Lu, S., Liu, M., Song, Y., Fu, A., Shi, H., Raley-Susman, K.M. and He, D. (2018) Microplastic particles cause intestinal damage and other adverse effects in the zebrafish Danio rerio and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Science of the Total Environment 619-620: 1-8. www.elsevier.com/locate/scitotenv 
  • Rossi, M., *Kwok, L., *Lee, G., *Caruso, A., Belli, S.L., Raley-Susman, K.M., Caruso, F., Filipsky, T., Candelotti, E., Tofani, D., Pedersen, J. and Incerpi, S. (2017) Protection by extra virgin olive oil against oxidative stress in vitro and in vivo. Chemical and biological studies on the health benefits due to a major component of the Mediterranean diet. PLoS ONE 12(12): e0189341. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189341 
  • Magnes1, , J., Hastings2, H.M., Raley-Susman3, K.M., Alivisatos1, C., Warner1, A., Hulsey-Vincent1 , M. (2017) Fourier-Based Diffraction Analysis of Live Caenorhabditis elegans. J. Vis. Exp.
  • Xu, T., Li, P., Wu, S., Li, D., Wu, J., Raley-Susman, K.M. and He, D. (2016) Chronic exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate reduces lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans through insulin/IGF-1 signaling. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (BECT). DOI 10.1007/s00128-016-1808-5
  • Discovery-Based Learning in the Life Sciences. Wiley-Blackwell Press. (2015)
  • Raley-Susman, K.M. (2014) “Like a Canary in the Coal Mine: Behavioral change as an early warning sign of neurotoxicological damage.”
  • *Brody, A.H., *Chou, E., Gray, J.M., Pokrywka, N.J. and Raley-Susman, K.M. (2013) “Mancozeb-induced behavioral deficits precede structural neural degeneration.” Neurotoxicol. 34: 74-81.
  • Magnes, J., Raley-Susman, K.M., Melikechi, N., *Sampson, A., *Eells, R., *Bello, A., and *Lueckheide, M. (2012) “Analysis of freely swimming C. elegans using laser diffraction.” Open J. Biophysics Vol. 2(3): 101-107. DOI: 10.4236/ojbiphy.2012.23013
  • Banta, L.M., Crespi, E.J., Nehm, R.H., Schwarz, J.A., Singer, S., Manduca, C.A., Bush, E.C., Collins, E., Constance, C.M., Dean, D., Esteban, D., Fox, S., McDaris, J., Paul, C.A., Quinan, G., Raley-Susman, K.M., Smith, M.L., Wallace, C.S., Withers, G.S. and Caporale, L. (2012) “Integrating genomics research throughout the undergraduate curriculum: A collection of inquiry-based genomics lab modules.” Cell Biology Education: Life Sciences Education 11(3): 203-208. [Our article was chosen for the cover of the issue]
  • Magnes, J., Raley-Susman, K.M., *Khakurel, R., *Sampson, A., *Kinneberg, M., *Eels, R. (2010) “Diffraction Patterns of Live C. elegans: Acquisition and Analysis.” Biophysical Journal 98: (3, Suppl 1) 746a.
  • Raley-Susman, K.M. and Gray, J.M. (2010) “Exploration of gerontogenes in the nervous system: A multi-level neurogenomics laboratory modules for an intermediate Neuroscience and Behavior course.” JUNE 8(2): A108-A115.
  • Ronsheim, M.L., Pregnall, A.M., Schwarz, J., Schlessman, MA and Raley-Susman, K.M. (2009) “Teaching Outside the Can: A New Approach to Introductory Biology.” Bioscene 35:12-22.
  • Pokrywka, N.P., Payne-Tobin, A., Raley-Susman, K.M., and Swartzman S. (2009) “Microtubules, the ER and Exu: New associations revealed by analysis of mini spindles mutations.” Mech. Dev. 126:289-300.
  • *Gordon, P., *Hingula, L., *Krasny, M.L., Swienckowski, J. L., Pokrywka, N.J. and Raley-Susman, K.M. (2008) “The invertebrate microtubule-associated protein PTL-1 functions in mechanosensation and development in Caenorhabditis elegans.” Dev. Genes Evol. 218: 541-551.
  • Buddle, M., E. Eberhardt, L.H.,*Ciminello, T. *Levin, R. *Wing, and K.M. Raley-Susman. (2003) “Microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) associates with the NMDA receptor and is spatially redistributed within rat hippocampal neurons after oxygen-glucose deprivation.” Brain Research 978: 38-50.
  • Raley-Susman, K.M., I.S. Kass, J.E. Cottrell, R.B., *Newman, G. Chambers and J. Wang, (2001) “Sodium influx blockade and hypoxic damage to CA1 pyramidal neurons in rat hippocampal slices.” J. Neurophysiology 86: 2715-2726.
  • *Monje, M.M., J. *Chatten-Brown, S.E. Hye, and K.M. Raley-Susman, (2000) “Free radicals are involved in the damage to protein synthesis after anoxia/aglycemia and NMDA exposure.” Brain Research 857: 172-182.
  • Wang, T., K.M. Raley-Susman, J. Wang, G. Chambers, J.E. Cottrell, and I.S. Kass (1999) “Thiopental attenuates hypoxic changes of electrophysiology, biochemistry and morphology in rat hippocampal slice CA1 pyramidal cells.” Stroke 30: 2400-2407.
  • Gray, J. and K.M. Raley-Susman, (1998) “Effects of tamoxifen, fluphenazine and estradiol on ATP levels in preoptic area and hypothalamic slices from ovariectomized rats.” Brain Res. 798: 223-231.

* student author

In the Media

A group of adults of various ages stand by a fence in a sunny field.

Students enrolled in Professor of Biology Kate Susman’s Human Physiology class learned real-life applications to their work by volunteering for four community-based organizations.


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