Jenny Lenkowski

Associate ProfessorBiological Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Jenny Lenkowski is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Dr. Lenkowski taught in China then worked as a research technician at Tufts Medical School before returning to graduate school. She completed her doctorate in biology in 2010 at Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to her arrival at Goucher in 2013, she completed post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan exploring how the vertebrate retina regenerates using zebrafish as a model organism. At Goucher College, Dr. Lenkowski’s research focuses on the TGFβ signaling pathway and its potential role in the regulation of neural development and regeneration in zebrafish. She also teaches several courses in the biology and biochemistry and molecular biology programs that include introductory biology, cell biology, development biology, and neurobiology.

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Research, Scholarship, Creative Work in Progress

The Lenkowski Lab research focuses on how the zebrafish retina develops and how it regenerates following intense light injury that destroys photoreceptor cells. Historically, researchers had observed that teleost fish could regenerate destroyed areas of the neural retina. While hypothesized, it was not until the mid-2000s that Müller glial cells were proven to act as a tissue specific adult stem cell in this process and studies of the regulation of the regenerative process could truly begin with more modern approaches. In particular, we are particularly interested in the role of conserved molecular pathways in regulating the cell cycle in Müller glial cells. Research has shown that proper regulation of TGFβ signaling during retinal regeneration is critical in the zebrafish. The Lenkowski Lab is building on previous research to explore how TGFβ signaling regulates the cell cycle and differentiation in neural development and regeneration. Because zebrafish have the capacity to regenerate their photoreceptors and mammals do not, these studies inform comparisons among vertebrates to identify gene targets for human regenerative medicine. Undergraduate students are an integral part of this research during the school year and during Goucher College’s Summer Science Research Program (see * in presentations and posters for Goucher student contributions).


Lenkowski, J.R. and Raymond, P.A., 2014. Müller glia: stem cells for generation and regeneration of retinal neurons in teleost fish. Prog Retinal Eye Res. 40C: 94-123.

Lenkowski, J.R., Qin, Z., Sifuentes, C.J., Thummel, R., Soto, C.M., Moens, C.B., Raymond, P.A., 2013. Retinal regeneration in adult zebrafish requires regulation of TGFβ signaling. Glia. 61: 1687-1697.

Complete list of published work in MyBibliography:

External Awards, Honors, Grants

National Institutes of Health AREA Award “Regulation of the cell cycle and differentiation in the vertebrate retina by TGFβ signaling” (1R15EY027124-01, 9/01/16 – 8/31/19).

Invited Talks

Downey, M.* and Lenkowski, J.R. (2015) Research and teaching at a small liberal arts college: TGFβ signaling and the retina. Baltimore Zebrafish Meeting (BALZEE), Carnegie Institute, Baltimore, MD.

Academic or Professional Associations

Society for Developmental Biology

Association for Women in Science

Other Professional or Scholarly Activity

Volunteer with STEMnet, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, as a STEM specialist in the classroom.

Serve as an ad-hoc reviewer for several research journals.

Poster presentations (undergraduate research students indicated with an asterisk):

Meir-Levi, D.* and J.R. Lenkowski (2014) Examining the cell cycle in retina development and regeneration in zebrafish. Landmark Research Conference, Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA.  (2015) Understanding the effects of aging on the regenerative capacity of the zebrafish (Danio rerio) retina. Landmark Research Conference, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD.

Brandt, K.* and J.R. Lenkowski (2015) Studying the effects of TGFβ signaling during retinal development in the embryonic zebrafish (Danio rerio). Landmark Research Conference, Goucher College, & Mid-Atlantic Regional Zebrafish Meeting, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD.

Lenkowski, J.R. (2016) Redesigning an upper-level developmental biology lab course to incorporate zebrafish and morphometric analysis. Mid-Atlantic Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Brandt, K.*, G. Cooper*, M. Downey*, E. Ferreira*, M. Koropsak*, D. Meir-Levi*, J.R. Lenkowski (2016) Regulation of the cell cycle and cell fate by TGFβ signaling in larval and adult zebrafish. The Allied Genetics Conference, Orlando, FL.

Koropsak, M.*, E. Ferreira*, and J.R. Lenkowski (2016) Effects of TGFβ signaling on differentiation and proliferation in developing zebrafish retina. Landmark Research Conference, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA.

Cooper, G.* and J.R. Lenkowski Evaluating the effects of TGFβ signaling on glial scarring in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) retina. (2016) Landmark Research Conference, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA and (2017) Mid-Atlantic Regional Zebrafish Meeting, Carnegie Institute, Baltimore, MD.

Hannifin, E.* and J.R. Lenkowski (2017) Visualization of p57 as a cell cycle exit marker in progenitor cells of Danio rerio. Mid-Atlantic Regional Zebrafish Meeting, Carnegie Institute, Baltimore, MD.

Vogel, S.* and J.R. Lenkowski (2017) Effect of TGFβ signaling on progenitor proliferation and Müller glia differentiation in the developing zebrafish (Danio rerio) retina. Mid-Atlantic Regional Zebrafish Meeting, Carnegie Institute, Baltimore, MD.