12:36 PM

Biology Student Receives Rising Black Scientist Award

By Emmi van Zoest

Kevin Brown Jr., a Cal State San Marcos cellular and molecular biology student, was one of four recipients of the Rising Black Scientist Award from the journal “Cell Press,” Cell Signaling Technology and the Elsevier Foundation.

The other winners were from Yale, Cornell and MIT.

To be selected for the award, Brown had to shine in an applicant pool of more than 350, the largest number of submissions in the four-year history of the award. The honor includes sharing a young Black scientist's story and their future goals. Brown’s article, published in “Cell Press” on Feb. 15, details how he pushed through his past with an admirable goal to decrease medical distrust among underrepresented groups.

Brown writes how he became interested in science and medicine after a trip to the ICU in his childhood. He suffered from ventricular tachycardia, a heart condition in which the lower chambers of the heart beat quickly, and had to undergo heart surgery to help fix the issues.

Since this life-altering experience in the ICU, Brown has worked in several different avenues of medicine, including research at California's Institute for Regenerative Medicine BRIDGES internship, where he studied full time for a year in the neuroscience lab. He later worked on his own project centered on Alzheimer's disease. For that research, Brown said he “worked toward better understanding synaptic development of stem cell-induced neurons across various genotypes that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

The main goal of Brown's project was to “see if genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease had any effect on the growth and maturation of developing neurons.”

Brown’s experience on the project helped him grow his passion for medicine. He used this passion to work with a mentorship program that helped aspiring STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) majors with the high school-to-college transition process. He also built a tutoring company that has since helped several students pass their organic chemistry classes.

Brown took his passion for science and medicine abroad, continuing his studies in Lisbon, Portugal, where he worked at another neuroscience lab. There, his research “explored the effects of a genetic mutation in the cerebellum.” Using a mouse model, Brown was able to show that, “a single point mutation in a single gene produced deficiencies in learning and memory.” Brown is aiming to find breakthroughs in medicine that will be beneficial in the treatment of disease in underrepresented groups.

After all of the challenges Brown has overcome, he is grateful for this award recognition.

“This award helps me grapple with the idea that I belong here; I am where I’m supposed to be,” Brown said. “I am humbled by the recognition of my hard work and truly honored to have an entity like Cell acknowledge my potential.”

Brown, who is currently applying to Ph.D. programs, plans to continue striving to leave a positive impact on the world with his research and accomplishments that help others.

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Interim Assistant Director of Editorial and External Affairs

ebreier@csusm.edu | Office: 760-750-7314