Alison Dell


Biology & Health Promotion
Assistant Professor

Contact Information



Ph.D. Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Pennsylvania
MSc Enviornmental Science and Policy, University of Manchester
BA Biological Science, Mount Holyoke College

Other Information

Employed Since
Cell Signaling, Developmental Biology, Neuroscience

My research aim is to understand how spatial and temporal signals within the embryo are integrated and interpreted by the cells of developing nervous system. A newly born neuron faces the task of sending out an axon – sometimes over long distances - to connect with its appropriate synaptic partner(s). In order to accomplish this, the motile structure at the tip of the growing axon – the growth cone, must correctly interpret a constellation of attractive, repellent and permissive cues. This process, axon guidance, serves as a fundamental step in the establishment of the neural circuits that underlie our everyday sensory, motor and cognitive functions. Understanding how axons successfully reach their synaptic targets is crucial in innovating therapies for damaged nervous systems.

My pre-doctoral training with Jane Dodd at Columbia University and doctoral research with Jonathan Raper at University of Pennsylvania centered on cell signaling pathways that underlie nervous system wiring. These experiences flowed from a long-standing interest in the relationship between the environment and the developing organism begun at Mount Holyoke College and continued during my MSc project at the Central European University (CEU). In setting up a research agenda at St. Francis College I have dovetailed these interests in investigating the roles of common environmental pollutants on neuronal development; as well as continuing my research on GPCR signaling in neurons as they navigate to their synaptic targets.

In addition to my research, I am also an artist and like to mix science and art together in the classroom and the lab as well as the art studio. In 2015 I co-founded Art in the Lab - an ongoing project bringing scientists and artists together for events that mix drawing and laboratory work.