Celebrating the contributions of Vivien Casagrande

Vivien Casagrande, Ph.D., poses with colleagues at the recent symposium honoring her contributions to science

5-casagrande-in-labColleagues of Vivien Casagrande, Ph.D., celebrated her distinguished career in the visual sciences with a “Lifetime of Vision” symposium on November 18.

Casagrande, who joined the Vanderbilt University faculty in 1975, is professor of Cell & Developmental Biology, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Psychology, and a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) investigator.

“Meeting Vivien in 1974, just as she was completing her postdoctoral training in neuroanatomy, motivated us to begin plotting a way to have her join our vision research group even though no positions were available, resulting in a scheme that made her a full-status member of the Department of Psychology   while filling a tenure-track teaching position in anatomy in the School of Medicine.,” said her long-time colleague Robert Fox, Ph.D., professor of Psychology and VKC member. 

“Promises made then have been fulfilled many times over, as she quickly obtained grant support for a research program dedicated to resolving fundamental questions about the development of the primate visual system, at both ontogenetic and phylogenetic scales, bringing to bear all the emerging techniques for connecting structure and function, resulting in profound advances in understanding that make mandatory revision of the textbooks. She is among the top echelon of world-class investigators in vision research.

“Moreover, Vivien has made invaluable contributions to the growth and stature of the neuroscience program at Vanderbilt, serving as an investigator in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, as president of the Society for Neuroscience chapter, and as mentor of numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.”

Casagrande has been a VKC investigator since 1982 and has held significant leadership roles within the Center, including directing the Neuroscience Research Cluster (1988-1992), serving as associate director of Biomedical Research (1988-1991) and directing the Neuroscience Core (1989-1991).

“At a time of transition for the Center, Vivien provided calm, positive leadership for VKC neuroscientists and core staff,” said Steve Warren, Ph.D., who served as VKC interim director, 1990-1991, and is now University Distinguished Professor of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders and an investigator in the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies.

“Vivien has been an exceptional ‘citizen’ of our Center,” said Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., VKC director, “as well as being an exceptional researcher who has been an investigator in the Center’s NICHD-funded Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center in virtually every 5-year renewal since she joined the Center. Our Center is so grateful for her service in so many significant roles.”

Casagrande’s service to the VKC includes: member of the Search Committee for VKC director (1987-1988); chair, Colloquium Committee (1985-1989); chair, Membership Committee, 1993-1997; Hobbs Discovery Grants Awards Committee, 1997; VKC Young Scientist and Graduate Awards Committee, 1999.

A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association of Anatomists, Casagrande has received a Chancellor’s Award for her research and an Outstanding Teacher award from the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.

Jan Rosemergy is VKC deputy director and director of Communications and Dissemination.

Lead Photo: Vivien Casagrande, Ph.D., poses with colleagues at the recent symposium honoring her contributions to science. With her, from left, are René Marois, Ph.D., M.S., Ian Macara, Ph.D., Mark Wallace, Ph.D., and David Calkins, Ph.D. (photo by Anne Rayner)

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This is a monthly email of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Notables published by the Communications staff of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Between issues of Notables, you can stay up to date on the latest Vanderbilt Kennedy Center news, information, and resources via the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Facebook page.