Jennifer Liang

Jennifer Liang Photo
Professional Title


  • B.S., 1990, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Ph.D., 1997, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

Curriculum Vitae



Research Focus

The research in my laboratory uses zebrafish to uncover mechanisms that control development of the vertebrate nervous system. One of our goals is to understand how the neural tube is formed during development. The neural tube starts as a flat layer of cells that then folds or rolls to form the neural tube, the precursor to the brain and spinal cord. We have identified a new signaling pathway that is essential for neural tube closure, which may ultimately give insights into the causes of neural tube closure defects, such as spina bifida, in humans. Other projects focus on identifying the mechanisms that control the onset and maintenance of circadian rhythms during development.

Visit the Zebrafish in the Classroom website.

Courses Taught

  • Biology 2202 (Genetics Laboratory)

  • Biology 3001 (Outreach to the K-12 Science Classroom)

  • Biology 3011 (Writing for the Duluth Journal of Undergraduate Biology)

  • Biology 3301 (Patterning the Embryo)

  • Biology 3987 (Biology Seminar)

  • Biology 4361 (Developmental Biology)


Recent Publications

  • Holtzman, N.G., M. K. Iovine, J. O. Liang*, J. Morris. 2016. Learning to fish with genetics: A primer on the vertebrate model Danio rerio. Genetics 203: 1069-1089. *corresponding author, invited review.

  • Anorve-Andress, K., A. L. Arcand, B. R. Borg, J. L. Brown, C. A. Chartrand, M. L. Frank, J. N. Jansen, M. J. Joyce, M. T. Joyce, R. S. Khan, J. A Kinney, S. L. Kruggel, A. D. Lecy, P. Ma, K. M. Malecha, K. Melgaard, P. L. Miller, K. K. Nelson, M. Nieto Robles, T. R. Perosino, J. M. Peterson, A. D. Rollins, W. L. Scherkenbach, A. L. Smith, K. A. Sodergren, J. J. Stiller, K. R. Wehber, J. O. Liang. 2016. Variation in spot and stripe patterns in original and regenerated zebrafish caudal fins. Zebrafish 13: 256-265.

  • Gonsar, N., A. Couglin, J. A. Clay-Wright, B. R. Borg, L. M. Kindt, J. O. Liang. 2016. Spatial and temporal requirements for Nodal-induced head mesendoderm and mesoderm in anterior neural tube closure. Genesis 54:3-18.

  • M. Omoru, M., A. Coughlin, J. O. Liang. 2015. Pigmentation Pattern Formation in Spotted and Striped Zebrafish. Duluth Journal of Undergraduate Biology 2: 40-47.

  • Ma, P., M. Swartz, L. M. Kindt, A. Kangas, J. O. Liang. 2015. Temperature Sensitivity of Neural Tube Defects in Zoep Mutants. Zebrafish 12:448-56.

  • J. O. Liang, M. Noll, and S. Olsen. 2014. Learning about vertebrate limb development. American Biology Teacher 76: 471-475.

  • Lu, P.-N., C. Lund, S. Khuansuwan, A. Schumann, M. Harney-Tolo, J. T. Gamse, J. O. Liang. 2013. Failure in closure of the anterior neural tube causes left isomerization of the zebrafish epithalamus. Dev. Biol. 374: 333-344.


Previous Graduate Students

  • Alicia Heil (M.S., Integrated Biosciences).

  • Jennifer Krznarich (M.S., Integrated Biosciences).