Ivan Kent

Ivan Kent

Philadelphia, PA

“The Amgen Scholars Program has helped me realize my true calling in life as a scientist.”

Host University: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Home University: University of Scranton
Amgen Scholar Year: 2015
Major: Neuroscience and Philosophy (double major)
Expected Graduation: 2016

Journey to Science

What inspired you to major in science?

“My AP Psychology course in high school really inspired me to further observe my environment. I started to view education, particularly science, as a way out of the negative environment of West Philadelphia. I made up my mind that I would study neuroscience and one day return to my and other neighborhoods plagued by poverty, violence, and other disadvantages to make a difference as an example of what you can accomplish if you’re willing to go for it.”

“My particular research deals with autism and theory of mind (knowing that other people have independent thoughts) in regards to emotional processing in faces. My ultimate career goal is to understand the neurological bases of consciousness, morality, and prejudice. I believe a mechanistic investigation of these phenomena would prove invaluable in explaining how and why we are who we are and act as we do.”


Academic and Professional Ambitions

Why did you apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?

“I applied to the Amgen Scholars Program because I wanted a chance to prove to myself that I could do research at a high level and learn from experts in neuroscience. I also wanted to learn skills and have conversations with other scientists to determine whether research is really right for me. Luckily I’ve been able to both learn and confirm that I want to do research for the rest of my life. The Amgen Scholars Program has helped me realize my true calling in life as a scientist.”


What aspects of the program are you most enjoying this summer?

“The most enjoyable aspects of the Amgen Scholars Program is the people and the research. I’ve been privileged to interact with not only my scientific superiors but also my peers who have great aspirations of their own. The tour of Amgen during the U.S. symposium was also life-changing for me since I’d never considered industry before. Even though I’m not sure which route I’ll take – industry or academia – it was great to be exposed to more possibilities for a career in science.”