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Mara Schvarzstein

Mara Schvarzstein is a Brooklyn College Assistant Professor in the Biology Department since 2014. She is also a faculty member of the CUNY Biology PhD program.

 The Schvarzstein lab aims to understand how chromosomes and centrosomes are inherited and the consequences when these mechanisms fail. For these studies her laboratory uses C. elegans meiosis as a model system and combines cutting edge molecular genetic and cell imaging technologies. Her laboratory’s work has implications in genome maintenance, reproduction, birth defects and cancer. Other work in her lab includes research of the effect pollutants and chemotherapeutic drugs have on reproduction.

 Professor Schvarzstein obtained her PhD at the University of Toronto in Canada where her focus of research was the mechanisms behind gonadogenesis and specification of sexual fate in C. elegans. After her PhD, Dr. Schvarzstein joined the Department of Developmental Biology in Stanford University as a Postdoctoral Scholar, where her work was mainly focused on the investigation of mechanisms necessary for the proper inheritance of chromosomes during meiosis in C. elegans oogenesis, spermatogenesis, and in the embryo.

 Despite her lab’s solid focus on their research endeavors, Professor Schvarzstein is also passionate about training and mentoring students.  She recently hosted a CUNY-wide C. elegans meeting at Brooklyn College in which mostly students had the opportunity to present their research along with high-profile speaker attendees from across diverse fields of study. This meeting and ones like it help raise CUNY’s profile as an institution for new and significant scientific research. She also teaches genetics and research courses at the graduate and undergraduate level. Her use of peer-led team learning and flipped classroom techniques has provided an encouraging environment for student learning. Dr. Schvarzstein is the recipient of a grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) for the study of the role of HORMA proteins in regulation of chromosome and centrosome inheritance during meiosis.

Text by Emma Jo Ciccarelli and Katherine Rivera Gomez