Vivien Alice Casagrande

June 7, 1942January 21, 2017

Vivien Alice Casagrande passed away on January 21, 2017 at the age of 74. She died peacefully at her home in Nashville, TN. Vivien was born on June 7, 1942, in Belmont MA, to Arthur and Erna Casagrande. She graduated with her BA from the University of Colorado in 1964, and her PhD from Duke University in 1973. She was a pioneer in visual neuroscience, publishing more than 150 scientific papers and chapters and more than 230 scientific abstracts; she made over 140 national and international presentations in her 41-year career at Vanderbilt University. She received many awards, including The Charles Judson Herrick Award for Meritorious Contributions to Comparative Neurology, presented by the American Association of Anatomists in 1981. She was also honored by being elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2006 (the first woman at Vanderbilt to be so honored) and a Fellow of the American Association of Anatomists in 2011. She received the Charles R. Park Award for Basic Research Revealing Insights into Physiology and Pathophysiology in 2012, and the Chancellor’s Award for Research in 2013. She was a beloved teacher, mentoring countless undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, who subsequently attained successful careers in academic and medical sciences. She was the Outstanding Teacher of the Year 2015-16 at the Vanderbilt Brain Institute. Vivien was a devoted mother and enjoyed gardening, pets and wild animals, world travel, and bicycling - not only did she regularly commute from home to Vanderbilt on her Peugeot PX10, but also she led the family on spectacular cycling tours from Vienna to Budapest in ‘04 and ‘06, and in China from Chongqing to Yichang along the Yangtze River as the 3 Gorges Dam was under construction in ‘07. She was a joy to those who knew her, and she will be deeply missed. She is survived by her husband James Andrew (Mac) McKanna, two sons Paul (Austy) and James (Zephy) McKanna, sister Sandra Casagrande, sisters-in-law Elizabeth and Candace McKanna, and niece Jade McKanna. On March 4 at 11:00 family and friends will celebrate Vivien’s life at Christ Lutheran Church, 299 Haywood Lane, Nashville, with lunch and fellowship to follow. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her honor may be made to the Vivien Casagrande Lecture & Scholarship in Systems Neurosciences, Vanderbilt University Development and Alumni Relations, PMB 407727, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37240. Visit the Vanderbilt Reporter:


Vivien Alice Casagrande

have a memory or condolence to add?

Sarah Pallas

August 29, 2018

I'm not ready to say goodbye to Vivien, and I will instead choose to imagine her presence every time I go to a meeting where I would expect to see her. Vivien was a very important mentor to me as a female postdoc and young faculty member trying to gain independence in what was then even more of a man's world than it is now. I cherish every bit of advice she gave me. She could light up a room and bring joy to everyone. My condolences to her family and students. I will miss her dearly.

Joan Fabbri, M.Ed.L.

February 21, 2017

Vivien was a straight forward and honest mentor. She is one of the few strongest women I have ever known. I love her for that. She would set you straight in a minute and you would thank her for it later. The years I spent with her in the lab were the greatest learning years I have ever had. I will miss her dearly. I will hold her memory in highest regard. Joan Fabbri, M.Ed. L., Brandon, Mississippi

Peadar McMahon

January 31, 2017

I have treasured memories of Vivien's visit to Ireland in Nov 2014 with Jim and Liz and remember with great affection the three days they spent in McKenna Country, Emyvale. Our sincere sympathies to her family and friends. She will be forever in our prayers.

Alan Bachrach, MD, PhD

January 29, 2017

Vivian was on my PhD committee when I was completing my degree in 1981. She was a real hard core scientist, yet a sweet kind and understanding person. I was very sad to read of her passing and wish comfort for her family in knowing that she personally benefitted me and so many others.

January 28, 2017

I Love you, Viv.
Your sister

Carol D Johnson

January 25, 2017

Dr. Casagrande was a wonderful, sweet and ever loving person. I worked with her for 25 years. Every Christmas her and Dr. McKanna would give us the best cheese and it was sooo good. My prayers are with the family.

Viv: I love you so much and we always had some short but good talks because we were so busy. I will never forget you and your family. I am glad that i was able to know you. It was a pure joy working with you. Love you! Rest In Peace!

Hugh Fentress

January 24, 2017

Vivien was a great mentor and friend. I learned so much from her during my time in her lab. I have so many great memories of her and the lab. She was so caring, giving, and supportive. I will never forget her. May God be with her family and both current and past lab members.

Shirin Pulous

January 24, 2017

I will always treasure and respect the support and guidance that Vivian presented to me throughout my career. She is a boss, a friend, and a true mentor. Having her as my boss has brought the best in me alive. I will miss you Vivien.

Vladimir Enlow

January 23, 2017

My boss, my confidant, my example, my friend.


Learn more about the Casagrande name