last updated March, 2011

Kathryn W. Tosney

Chair of Biology
Director of SEEDS
The University of Miami

Download CV
Biology Department Website

SEEDS website

Contact information
Professor Kathryn Tosney
Chair of Biology
Director of SEEDS
The University of Miami
1301 Memorial Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Lab (305) 284-4134
Chair office (305) 284-3988
FAX (305) 284-3039


Professional Training

  • Phi Beta Kappa, The University of Oregon, 1976
  • Woods Hole Embryology Course, 1977
  • Ph.D. Stanford University, 1980 with N.K. Wessells
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University and The University of Connecticut, 1980-1984 with L.T. Landmesser

Current extramural support

  • NSF grant 2006-2011, Regulation of functionally distinct adhesions and neuronal motility
  • NSF grant, 2008-2011, NSF ADVANCE: SEEDS at the University of Miami. Supports the SEEDS program: Scientists and Engineers Expanding Diversity and Success


  • Francis Lou Kallman Award, Stanford University, 1979
  • University of Michigan Faculty Teaching Award, Amoco Foundation, 1991
  • Excellence in Education Awards; College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts, Univ. Mich., 1992, 1993, 1995
  • Faculty Recognition Award; College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts, Univ. Mich., 1994
  • Gayle Morris Sweetland Senior Fellow, University of Michigan, 1999


Administrative Positions

  • Associate Director, Developmental Neurobiology Training Program, Univ. Mich., 1990-2000
  • Associate Chair, Department of Biology, Univ. Mich., 1991-1995
  • Executive Committee, College of Literature, Science & The Arts, Univ. Mich., 1996-1999
  • Board of Trustees, Society for Developmental Biology, 1996-2000
  • Treasurer, Society for Developmental Biology, 2000-2003
  • ADVANCE Implementation Committee, Univ. Mich., 2002-2006
  • Chair, Rackham Divisional Board, Univ. Mich., 2003-2004
  • Provost's Committee on Faculty Mentoring and Community Building, Univ. Mich., 2003-2005
  • LSA Grievance Review Board panel, Univ. Mich., 2002-2005
  • LS&A College Divisional Committee, Univ. Mich., 2003-2006
  • Biomedical Research Council, Univ. Mich., 2003-2006 |
  • Executive Committee, MCDB Department, Univ. Mich., 2003-2006
  • Editorial Board, Developmental Dynamics 2003-present
  • Director, Society for Developmental Biology Educational Website, 2005-2006
  • NSF Panel for Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, 2005-2006
  • FASEB finance committee, 2004-2006, 2008-present
  • Chair, Department of Biology, The University of Miami, 2006-present
  • Director, SEEDS (Scientists and Engineers Expanding Diversity and Success) 2008-present


Click on a link belowfor a research statement
and related publications

growth cone guidance
axon guidance in vivo
neural crest migration
neural patterning
muscle development

methods developed

A major focus currently is on
the control of motility:
control of filopodial initiation
control of lamellar extension


A cultured sensory neuron extending a growth cone with long thin filopodia, photo by Ken Balazovich

Some recent publications:

  • Steketee, M. and K. W. Tosney (1999). Contact with isolated sclerotome cells steers sensory growth cones by altering distinct elements of extension. J. Neurosci. 19: 3495-3506.
  • Polinsky, M., K. Balazovich and K.W. Tosney (2000). Identification of an invariant response: Contact with Schwann cells induces veil extension in growth cones. J. Neurosci. 20: 1044-1055.
  • Steketee, M., K. Balazovich, and K.W., Tosney (2001) Filopodial Initiation and a Novel Filament-organizing Center, the Focal Ring. Mol. Biol. Cell 2001 12: 2378-2395
  • Steketee, M., and K.W. Tosney (2002) Three Functionally Distinct Adhesions in Filopodia: Shaft Adhesions Control Lamellar Extension, J. Neurosci., 22: 8071-8083
  • Tosney, K.W. (2004). Long-distance cue from emerging dermis stimulates neural crest melanoblast migration. Dev. Dynamics 229: 99-108
  • Chapman, S, D.Raible, D. Henken and K.W. Tosney (2004). Neural crest as a way of knowing: New perspectives on lineage and morphogenesis. Dev. Dynamics 229: 140-142
  • Eberhart, J. J. Barr, S. O'Connell, M.E. Swartz, A. Flagg, K S. Cramer, K.W. Tosney, E.B. Pasquale and C.E. Krull (2004) . Ephrin-A5 exerts positive or inhibitory effects on distinct subsets of EphA4-positive motor neurons. J. Neurosci. 24: 1070-1078
  • Krull, C. and K. Tosney (2008). Embryo Slices and Strips: Guidance and Adhesion Assays in the Avian Embryo. In Methods in Cell Biology: New Methods in Avian Embryology. Vol 87. ed.: M. Bronner-Fraser, pp. 99-115
  • Hess, G., K. Tosney, L. Liegel (2009) “Creating Effective Poster Presentations: AMEE Guide no. 40.” Medical Teacher Apr 31 (4):319-21
  • Tosney, K. W. , A. Wagnitz, D. Dehnbostel, and K. J. Balazovich (2010). Evidence that growth cones exert mechanical force as they exit the spinal cord. under revision



    Graduate Researchers
    Sally Schroeter (Ph.D., 1990)
    Robert Oakley (Ph.D., 1993)
    Michael Steketee (Ph.D., 2000)
    Dante Fenolio (Ph.D. 2008)
    Ron Rozar (Ph.D. 2010)

    Research Associates
    Ken Balazovitch (1995-2001)
    Linda White (2007- present)

    Postdoctoral Researchers
    Kevin Hotary (1992-1995)
    Michael Polinsky (1993-1995)
    Lisa Foa (1996-1998)
    Gary Ten-Eyck (1998)

    Undergraduate Researchers
    Lisa Bodley (1993-1994)
    Mia Champion (1993-1995)
    Chris Fecteau (2002-2003)
    Chris Lasky (1990-1991)
    Lina McCarty (1997-1998)
    Rebecca Sexton (1993-1994)

    Undergraduate Honors Researchers
    David Berry (2002-2004)
    Bill Catherino (1988-1989)
    Nayana Dhavan (2004-2006)
    Margaret Hageman (1987-1988)
    Jennifer Pokrzywinski (1986-1987)
    Edwin Raffi (2002-2004)
    Alex Rothis (1985-1986)
    Jason Schrum (2002-2004)
    Sophia Tyrrell (1985-1988)
    Aimee Wagnitz (1997-1999)

Co-chair, Graduate Dissertation Committees
Ron Allen (Ph.D., 1993)
Jaikun Song (Ph.D.. 1989)

Masters Researchers
Lynn Coulter (1984-1985)
Gerhard Schlosser (1985-1987)
Kathryn Van Koevering (1986-1988)
Renee Pierce (2004-2005)
John Constantinide (2007-2009)

Technical Associates
Varghese Cherian
Denise Dehnbostle
Celeste Malinowski
Kay Scott King

Undergraduate Research Assistants
Tannesha Barlow (1994-1995)
Moneesh Bhow (1993-1995)
Sarah Earle (2004)
Rebecca Fitch (1997-1998)
Michelle Gibson (1998-present)
Charmagne Goodman (1990-92)
Michelle Jacque (1999-2000)
Laji Kattungal (1996-1997)
Megan Lemmon (1998-2000)
Kristen Levy (1996)
Christine Martin (1989-1990)
Andrea Morisette (1992)
Katie Parish (2004)
Tom Pierce (1991-1992)
Elizabeth Schmidt (1996-1997)
Ebonie Struther (1997- 1998)
Allison Toby (1997-1998)
Toubor Vang (1992-1993)


Graduate training programs
Department of Biology
Neuroscience Program

Professional writing and grantsmanship Bil 614
This graduate course, taught in Fall terms, is open to graduate students whose research focuses in Biology. While the focus is on students in the Biology Department, a limited number of students from the Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and the Miller School of Medicine can also register, with prior permission. Students learn strategies for writing compelling arguments and are required to submit at least one extramural grant. The grants may be of any type and from any source, and any level (e.g., graduate fellowship, dissertation improvement grant, postdoctoral fellowship, etc.). One
aim of the course is to increase the fundability of submitted grants. The course will treat the realities of grantsmanship and aid students as they compose their grant submissions. It will convey the elements of argumentative writing: writing to convince. This style is distinct from descriptive prose, or from technical writing.. It will also introduce students to the "reader-oriented" writing strategy, first publisized in science writing by the seminal article, The Science of Scientific Writing, by Gopen and Swan. This strategy, when put into practice, dramatically increases clarity and power.

In Fall 2011, the course will be taught on Wednesdays from 9:00 to 12:00 in Cox room 215. Students will not be allowed to audit the course (although written course materials will be available electronically to those who request them ). Registration is by permission only. For permission to register, email Dr. Tosney

    U Galapagos: Semester Abroad in the Galapagos Islands
    Launched in January 2010, UGalapagos is an exciting new semester study abroad program that takes students and University of Miami faculty to the famed Galapagos Islands for a field-oriented semester of study. Through an academic partnership with the Isabela Oceanographic Institute, located in the picturesque community of Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island, UM offers a full five-course (15 credit) semester in Fall 2010 designed for non-science majors, and a five-course (15 credit) semester in Spring 2011 tailored to the needs and interests of students majoring in marine science and biology. In both semesters courses are sequentially as immersive two-week experiences. In the Spring semester, I teach in a curriculum that gives students a hands-on introduction to the geology, biology, ecology, oceanography and evolutionary history of the Galapagos Islands. Marine Science: (MSC) 421, Terrestrial Biology and Adaptation: The Plants, Reptiles and Birds of Galapagos

Career survival
You’ve heard the term “publish or perish.” Alas, one can both publish AND perish. This lecture, given every other year at Miami and by arrangement elsewhere, gives one survivor’s perspective on navigating the shoals of academia.

This talk has been presented at Bowling Green University, Florida International University, Georgetown University Medical School, Medical College of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, Society for Developmental Biology National Meeting, the ARVO National Meeting, University of Chicago, University of Kansas Medical School, University of Miami, University of Michigan Biology Department, University of Michigan School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, University of Oregon, University of Utah, Wayne State University and Wesleyan University.

    How to Devise a Convincing Poster
    Is the space in front of your poster perennially devoid of people? Do those that do come fail to understand your message? If so, visit this site for examples and advice to help you increase your clarity and impact.
    Workshops are also given yearly at the University of Miami, and by arrangement elsewhere.

    The Origami Embryo
    This learning aid helps you understand the four-dimensional changes that characterize a developing embryo, as it transforms with complex three-dimensional changes over time (the fourth dimension).
    This site gives instructions on how to fold your own complex embryo from colored paper.

aCross Development
This book is a crossword puzzle guide to Scott Gilbert’s textbook, Developmental Biology, 6th edition by Sinauer. This link connects you to a set of (free) puzzles to the initial chapters in Gilbert's 5th edition.

Undergraduate research
Undergraduate Researchers photos and publications