Dr. Mason Posner, Professor, Chair

Dr. Mason Posner

Kettering Science Building
Office Number: 


Students in his lab use molecular biology techniques to understand how eye lens proteins adapt to changes in environmental temperature.
They are currently investigating the evolution and biological role of lens proteins called crystallins. These proteins are responsible for making the lens transparent and refracting light so that focused images fall on the retina. Amazingly, one family of crystallins, the alpha crystallins, also protect other proteins from the harmful effects of aging that can lead to lens cataracts, one of the leading causes of blindness in humans. Alpha crystallins are also involved in the original development of the lens in vertebrate embryos, and they have been linked to many diseases of the nervous system, heart, skeletal muscle, and are now known to be involved in many cancers.
Most research into alpha crystallins is done with mammals. However, by studying how this protein has evolved in a number of fish species that live at different environmental temperatures, from the antarctic toothfish to the tropical zebrafish, they are discovering small evolutionary changes in the protein that alter its function. This helps them understand how alpha cystallins evolve, and gives us insights into how these proteins could be engineered to prevent disease.
In more recent projects his students and him are using the zebrafish as a model organism to study the role of alpha crystallins in the development of the lens. They also use zebrafish to study the toxic effects of pesticides.


Ph.D., Biology, University of Southern California
B.A., Biology, University of Virginia

Courses Taught

Bio 100 Human Biology
Bio 202 Organisms, Adaptation and Diversity
Bio 225/225 Anatomy and Physiology
Bio 328 Vertebrate Biology
Bio 412 Marine Biology

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Biology and Toxicology at Ashland University

When you choose a Biology Science major at Ashland University, you join a program on the cutting edge of scientific exploration with outstanding facilities and research equipment, access to five local nature preserves, strong... Read More