Helping students develop a lifelong passion for learning.

Welcome, students. My name is Dennis and I teach Biology in the Science, Mathematics and Engineering Division at Modesto Junior College. Learn more about me.

Current Resume

Instructional and Administrative Background:

My first teaching assignment was Introduction to Modern Genetics at U.C. Santa Barbara.  That experience confirmed what I had suspected for some time; that I truly love to teach.  I soon found myself at Modesto Junior College (CA), teaching Microbiology, Biology and Laboratory Techniques.  That was a wonderful experience, and soon after earning tenure, I found myself being pulled more and more towards Community College Leadership.  As a faculty member, I knew I was at my best when there was someone there to help my colleagues and I to cut through red-tape, tap into funding sources and encourage new and exciting programs.

Somehow, what I had intended to be a brief flurry into college administration, turned into what has now become a life-long passion.  I found it very exciting to see that I had the ability to influence many more students as an administrator, than I ever could as an instructor.   I saw that I could indirectly reach students through the talents of other faculty and staff at the college.  I see my role as a Community College leader as being an advocate and catalyst for the learning experiences of our students.

In Chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that modifies and increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process.  I hope my efforts serve to increase and modify the ‘reactions of learning’ at Columbia College, and that I can continue to influence how our students learn for many years to come – I also hope that (like a catalyst) I am not consumed in the process.

At Modesto Junior College I earned tenure as a Biology/Microbiology Professor; served as Dean for Science, Math and Engineering; Interim Dean of Library, Learning Resources and Technology; and as Dean of Instructional Services.  Having held positions as Dean for Student Services, Dean for Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Student Learning and President of Columbia College - I am excited to have returned to my roots at Modesto Junior College as a Tenured Faculty Member in the discipline of Biological Sciences.

Dennis Gervin (Evidence of Humanity)

Yes, I am an instructor, and believe it or not most of us are human or at least there is strong evidence to support that theory.  I have 4 kids (14, 16, 22 and 25) and they keep me young at heart.  I love music and I am pretty sure I keep iTunes going with constant downloads and I challenge you to find a genre that I don't appreciate or have in my ridiculously enormous collection.  What do I do in my spare time? I am a serious online gamer and currently in a 12-step program to let go of PC gaming (Steam). I love anything electronic and build - rebuild and repair PC's and iPhones for fun. If it connects to the internet... i want it.

I am an outdoor enthusiast and fanatic gear head.  My wife tries to keep me at a minimum of 10 tents, but is not very successful.  My best moments are those when I am in deep wilderness with family and friends. My current exploits are in the deepest parts of Yellowstone and the Rockefeller wilderness. If I don't hear or see wolves, I am always a bit disappointed. My brain and attitude has not progressed much beyond about 20 years, but my body is not nearly as youthful so I am sort of transitioning from exclusive cross-country off-trail backpacking to canoe and kayak expeditions.

My life has always revolved around music and I sing both professionally and non-professionally. I play the guitar, saxophone and have just started playing the blues harmonica.

I love teaching science because when I was in my early twenties I was certain that I would never be successful at anything to do with math or science.  To my good fortune, I had two instructors at American River College that turned my life around and showed me that I could actually be successful at science (and even enjoy it!). I took a science course (on a lark), assuming I would fail.  But George Moore and Lou Heinrich (ARC) showed me I could be successful at science if I was in a supportive and fun learning environment. I teach at a community college because I hope I can influence others like George and Lou influenced me. I teach in a way that focuses on elements of science that everyone will find useful in everyday life, and strive to deliver content that will never be seen to be a waste of time. I think I am successful at teaching because I absolutely love what I do, and I focus on my student's needs. Every student is important to me and I work hard to learn who every student is, and if possible, what is going on in their lives and what they enjoy to do.


Research Background:

My doctoral dissertation, Integrin Vitronectin Receptors in the Developing Avian Retina, was focused on identifying extra-cellular receptors that might help retinal neurons migrate and extend axons to their targets in the brain during development.  I was able to clone an avian vitronectin receptor, and then characterized its genetic expression during the development of the avian retina.

This work was done as part of the Neuroscience Research Institute at the University of California at Santa Barbara, in the laboratory of Dr. Dennis Clegg.


Gervin, D.B., Cann, G.M., and Clegg, D.O. (1996) Temporal and Spatial Regulation of Integrin Vitronectin Receptor mRNAs in the Embryonic Chick Retina. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 37. 1084-1096.

Gervin, D.B. (1995) Integrin Vitronectin Receptors in the Developing Avian Retina.  Doctoral Dissertation. University of California at Santa Barbara 

Cann, G.M., Bradshaw, A.D., Gervin, D.B., Hunter, A.W., and Clegg, D.O. (1996) Widespread Expression of b1 integrins in the developing chick retina; Evidence for a Role in Migration of Retinal Ganglion Cells Developmental Biology 180. 82-96 

Bradshaw, A.D., McNagny, K.M., Gervin, D.B., Cann, G.M. and Clegg, D.O. (1995) Integrin a2b1 mediates interactions between developing embryonic retinal cells and collagen. Development 121. 3593-3602

Clegg, D.O., Mullick, L.H., Wingerd, K., Lin, H., Atienza, J., Bradshaw, A.D., Gervin, D.B., and Cann, G.M. (2000) Adhesive events in retinal development and function: The role of integrin receptors in Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation: Vertebrate Eye Development, E. Fini, ed. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, 3:141-156

Mamounas, M., Gervin, D.B., and Englesberg, E. (1989) The Insulin Receptor as a Transmitter of a Mitogenic Signal in Chinese Hamster Ovary CHO-K1 Cells.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 86(23), 9294-9298


Gervin, D.B., Cann, G.M., and Clegg, D.O. (1994) In situ Localization of Transcripts for Integrins Beta-1, Beta-3, and Beta-5 in the Developing Chick Retina. American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, #2092

Gervin, D.B., Cann, G.M., Bradshaw, A.D., Cadwell, R.C., Cummings, C.J., Hunter, A.W., LaBel, R.M., Choi, E.S.-H., and Clegg, D.O. (1992) Regulation of Integrin alpha and beta mRNAs in developing chick retina. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Anaheim, CA #5573

Clegg, D.O., Cann, G.M., Gervin, D.B., Bradshaw, A.D., Tribble, B. and Hunter, A. (1994) Integrin Receptor Expression and Function in the Developing Retina. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, Sarasota, FL, #1191

Dr. Dennis Gervin