GWYou: Kaylan Kelsey

Alumna Seeks to Save Lives by Working to Improve Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer

GWYou: Kaylan Kelsey

In her classes at Gardner-Webb, Kaylan Kelsey explored her interests in chemistry, discovering the properties of matter and chemical reactions. After graduating in 2018 with a major in chemistry and minor in mathematics, Kelsey is using her research skills to improve early detection of ovarian cancer, a disease that kills over 13,000 women a year.

“I am fortunate to be in a research group I am passionate about, and one that resonates highly with me,” observed Kelsey, a native of Warner Robins, Ga. “At the age of 4, my mother was left motherless. Her mother had a malignancy that was undiagnosed until the late stages of cancer, because of the lack of availability of an efficient cancer diagnostic tool at the time. Though over 40 years have passed, many ovarian cancers are still left undiagnosed until late stage without detection. Through my endeavors, I am fighting for women like my late grandmother, to greatly increase the survival rates of ovarian cancers through early detection and diagnosis.”

Kelsey is a doctoral student working in the lab of Dr. Ken Marcus at Clemson (S.C.) University. She was selected by Clemson professors to continue her studies in the program after participating in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates at Clemson.

Her GWU chemistry, biology and math professors gave her the foundation she needed to thrive in the NSF program and succeed as a graduate assistant. “Dr. Venita Totten (professor of chemistry) made a major impact on my academic career,” Kelsey affirmed. “I really appreciated the student-directed classes she instructed. This helped us not only to learn more, but to also begin to initiate assessments and projects.”

Besides academics, Kelsey appreciated the Christian community at Gardner-Webb. “It was essential to my success as it allowed me to connect with a community of believers and to build wholesome and lifelong relationships with others, while sharing the love of Christ,” she shared.

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