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Kristen E. Severi

Severi, Kristen E.
Assistant Professor, biological sciences
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About Me

I am a biologist by training who has always been interested in animal behavior and the neural circuits which execute motor actions. I am interested in investigating how fish swim using in vivo activity monitoring such as calcium imaging and electrophysiology in the intact animal, to watch motor circuits function in real time.


Northeastern University, Ph.D. 2011

Dickinson College, B.S. 2004


Society for Neuroscience


Current Research

Larval zebrafish swim to move around their environment, find food, and escape from predators. We are interested in the neural circuits in the brain and spinal cord which control that locomotion. Larval zebrafish can be genetically manipulated so we can mark certain neurons with colors or calcium activity monitors, and view them through their transparent bodies, while they perform motor actions. Using these techniques, we try to understand what specific circuits are essential for performing different motor actions, and how those circuits are wired together.


Optimization of a Neurotoxin to Investigate the Contribution of Excitatory Interneurons to Speed Modulation In Vivo. Sternberg JR*, Severi KE*, Fidelin K, Gomez J, Ihara H, Alcheikh Y, Hubbard JM, Kawakami K, Suster M, Wyart C. Current Biology, 2016.

Neural control and modulation of swimming speed in the larval zebrafish. Severi KE*, Portugues R*, Marques JC, O'Malley DM, Orger MB, Engert F. Neuron, 2014.

ZebraZoom: an automated program for high-throughput behavioral analysis and categorization. Mirat O, Sternberg JR, Severi KE, Wyart C. Frontiers in Neural Circuits, 2013. [OA]

Genetically encoded calcium indicators for multi-color neural activity imaging and combination with optogenetics. Akerboom J, Carreras Calderón N, Tian L, Wabnig S, Prigge M, Tolö J, Gordus A, Orger MB, Severi KE, Macklin JJ, Patel R, Pulver SR, Wardill TJ, Fischer E, Schüler C, Chen TW, Sarkisyan KS, Marvin JS, Bargmann CI, Kim DS, Kügler S, Lagnado L, Hegemann P, Gottschalk A, Schreiter ER, Looger LL. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 2013. [OA]

​Optogenetics in a transparent animal: circuit function in the larval zebrafish. Portugues R, Severi KE, Wyart C, Ahrens MB. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 2012.

Control of visually guided behavior by distinct populations of spinal projection neurons. Orger MB*, Kampff AR*, Severi KE, Bollmann JH, Engert F. Nature Neuroscience, 2008.