Kara Cerveny

hope the students are learning a lot, not just from chatting with us but also from researching their interests on their own

Favourite Thing: I love using a combination of logic, reason, and creativity to understand biology. In the lab, the experiments that I love the most involve looking at samples with various microscopes. One of my images just won a prize from the Wellcome Trust (it’s number 18 in the collection that can be found at



I grew up and went to school in the USA — Memorial Parkway Elementary, Katy, Texas; Central Elementary, New Philadelphia, Ohio; Jackson Memorial High School in Jackson Township, Massillon, OH.


Duke University; Biology and Chemistry. Johns Hopkins Universtiy; PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology.

Work History:

University College London, Post-doctoral Research Fellow


Cell Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Current Job:

Science writer and editor, but I’m still involved in mentoring a grad student (via skype and email) in my previous lab.

Me and my work

I have just started working as a science writer and editor at Cell, one of the top journals (magazines) that publishes cutting-edge biolgical research discoveries.

I have just started working as a science writer and editor at Cell, one of the top journals (magazines) that publishes cutting-edge biological research discoveries.  Transitioning from doing experiments to writing about them has been an exciting challenge.  I miss looking through the microscope at experiments that I’ve done, but I love learning about diverse areas of biology from stem cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases to evolutionary explanations for human development and behavior.  Most of my job consists of reading, communicating with authors and reviewers about specific scientific studies, and editing manuscripts.  Another part of my job is writing.  Below is one example of the type of pieces I write.  These pieces are written about science for scientists, so that they can keep up with the discoveries in other fields.


The best part of my job is learning about all kinds of cool new science and working closely with authors to publish their research.  The hardest part of my job is sitting at a desk for long periods of time.


My Typical Day

As a scientific editor and writer, I read, evaluate, and summarize some of the newest and most exciting biological research.

My typical day begins around 6am.  I wake up, check email and then practice yoga for at least 30 minutes (I stive for 45 min – 1hr, but that generally only happens on weekends).   Then it’s time for breakfast and my walk to the office (about a mile away).  I’m in the office by 8:30am.   During any given day, I read scientific papers, I write lots of emails, and I have phone conversations with authors and reviewers about science.  Lunch is generally a quick affair or eaten during our daily group meeting where we discuss the papers that have been submitted that day as well as other papers or interesting science that we’ve heard about.  My afternoon is more reading, writing, and talking.  I also think about and work with other editors to figure out how best to visualize and summarize the scientific studies we publish.  I try to leave the office by 7pm, stop by the gym/swimming pool for some exercise and then home by 8/8:30pm.  After dinner, sometimes I read more papers and answer work-related emails and other times I just relax and watch a movie or read a book. 


I would recommend my job to you if you like learning, reading, writing, and thinking about science and if you enjoy working closely with people.  I would also say that for scientific writing/editing as well as for scientific/lab-based research you need to be able to be creative and analytical.

What I'd do with the money

Reinvest it in programs like this one.

If were to win the money, I would reinvest it in this project so that students (perhaps the ones who ask the most insightful and/or relevant questions) could win a day with the scientist of their choice.  I would also like to facilitate the more collaborations between scientists and artists, like the one I most recently participated in.  myimage2

You can listen to the science inspired words and sounds at

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Kind, Hard-working, Intellectual.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I have two favorites — Beethoven (especially his piano pieces) and Nina Simone.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

everyday is an adventure, but I had a lot of fun participating in a science/art/music program recently. you can listen to the pieces at (

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1. More time for family and friends. 2. A dog to run with. 3. To write books (and have them published).

What did you want to be after you left school?

an astronaut

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

not really; I was pretty much a miss goody-two-shoes.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I’ve trained several excellent students who have gone on to be either physicians or scientists.

Tell us a joke.

When does multiplication mean the same thing as division? In cell biology — when one cell becomes two cells.