Kendra McGlothen is a brainiac. She excelled as a psychology undergraduate, is now a third-year Ph.D. student in UNLV’s interdisciplinary neuroscience program, and just tied for first place at the Graduate College’s Rebel Grad Slam competition.
But it's persistence and curiosity, much more than genius epiphanies, that have largely defined McGlothen’s academic success. “The best and most memorable moments in my science journey have not come to me in the form of ‘Eureka!’ moments,” McGlothen says. “Ultimately, the most defining moments have been me examining the same questions, with the same instruments, but with a new perspective.”
McGlothen’s research centers around astrocytes, star-shaped cells found in the brain that serve myriad roles, from nourishing the nervous system to repairing scar tissue in the brain after traumatic injuries.
With her research, McGlothen strives “to innovate novel neurodiagnoses, interventions, and therapeutics for motor-related neurodegenerative disorders.” In short, she says, “I want to understand movement disorders to create better tools to treat them.”
She began her academic journey as an undergraduate psychology major at UNLV “because I was very interested in how the brain connected with and controlled the body,” McGlothen recalls. An undergraduate course with professor Dustin Hines launched McGlothen on her current academic journey as a doctoral student. “I took a psychology course with Dr. Hines and immediately became enamored with the brain.”
When she is not in the lab or teaching Psychology 101, McGlothen can be found exploring the rich landscape that surrounds Las Vegas with fellow members of UNLV’s Mountain Club. She credits the organization for her “newfound love of the great outdoors.”
Always up for adventure, McGlothen sees her graduate career at UNLV as an experience marked by growth. McGlothen says, “My experience as a graduate student has been filled with so much growth as a young scientist. I often feel as though I am on an expedition venturing out into the great unknown. As a graduate student I get the opportunity to not only explore science but myself as well.”
This brainiac does not plan on leaving the field of neuroscience research anytime soon. Of her future goals, McGlothen says, “I aspire to continue on the adventure of my current research and explore novel alternatives that directly impact the early diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.”