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Kendra L

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Virginia


neuroimmunology, neurodevelopment, developmental biology, glia, neurodegenerative disorders, neurobiology, science ethics, music & neuroscience


Hi, my name is Kendra and I'm originally from Arizona. Currently I am in a Neuroscience Ph.D. program in Virginia where I'm doing research on the death that happens in your brain during development. I have a lot of different research experience, from designing swimming experiments with beetles to working with yeast to understand Alzheimer's disease. And now I work with zebrafish! Besides science, I am a musician and I enjoy cycling, playing video games, and cuddling with my two cats. I am also learning crocheting!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

What's the hottest in neuroscience?

There are many articles that boast about the newest, hottest developments in neuroscience. But are they "real"? Do they accurately convey the science? How does this affect the public's view of research and their opinions of science? In this project, we find some popular science articles and compare them to the academically published research. By examining the subtleties (and sometimes not so subtle) of science communication, this project aims to get us thinking about the relationship between science and the public. (Image thanks to iPhone emojis.)

How is science (or neuroscience) biased?

In school we are taught that science is impartial and unbiased, yet that is farther than the truth! In this project, we will explore areas of science (experiments, research, teaching, philosophy, etc.) and the biases behind them. We will work to understand inequities inherent to the topic and communicate them clearly (article, video, interview, etc.). We will also imagine what the area of science could be like in a "perfect world" and what things we can do in our reality to mitigate biases and inequities. (Image thanks to iPhone emojis.)

The Anything Project

A huge part of science is going past the current boundary of knowledge and delving into the unknown. In this project we will work together on a science subject that you find exciting and find the "limit" to our knowledge. Here is where the fun part begins - we will imagine and create the studies and direction that you would like to see the field go in. Here's an example: Say you are really interested in brain organoids, which are three dimensional cell systems grown in a dish that are designed to try to mimic the brain (also called "brains in a dish"). What's the current limit of these dish brains? Do they look the same? Are the active? How long do they survive? After finding the answers to these questions we will then explore how to push past this boundary. Perhaps you're interested in how to make them survive longer, how would we do that? Maybe you're thinking about whether we can grow other animals' brains in dishes, is it possible? The end of the project could be a set of experiments you'd like to do, an article discussing future directions/implications of the work, or multimedia depicting this process and where you want the field to go.

Coding skills

Basic R, Basic Java, Basic MATLAB

Teaching experience

I have worked with middle school, high school, and undergraduate students in the past, both in STEM outreach activities and for in-lab projects.



University of Arizona
BS Bachelor of Science (2016)
Neuroscience & Cognitive Science and Molecular & Cellular Biology
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
MPhil Master of Philosophy (2019)
Life Science
University of Virginia
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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