The award honors individuals or groups who exemplify Martin Luther King’s principles: a commitment to the needs of communities, particularly communities of color and low income; to programs that improve the human condition; and efforts to protect and empower all individuals.
Kendan Jones-Isaac was honored with a service award at this year’s UW Health Sciences Martin Luther King Tribute.
Kendan joined the UW Department of Pharmaceutics with the focused goal to earn his PhD and become an expert in pharmaceutics and drug discovery. During the last 2 years, he has participated in several ambitious projects, including the development of a bioengineered kidney tissue chip that will improve the safety and efficacy of drugs in development, and sending the tissue chip to the International Space Station to explore the effects of microgravity and space travel on kidney function.
In 2021, Kendan will lead the team that will send a new model of the kidney distal tubule to the Space Station to test the effects of microgravity on kidney stone formation. He was recognized for his scientific expertise with an NIH-funded Diversity Supplement (parent grant: UH3TR002178). Despite his highly ambitious and time consuming scientific goals, Kendan has utilized his position as a leader and graduate student to reach out to undergraduate students from under-represented and/or low-resource groups to encourage them to enter the STEM fields.
To date, Kendan has mentored six (6) undergraduate students- all of whom will continue on to graduate or professional programs following their undergraduate graduation. His mentee, Matthew Phoenix Chen, was recently accepted into the University of Washington PharmD program (early decision). Other mentees are currently applying to medical school or PhD programs across the nation. When Kendan mentors a student, he becomes invested in their academic lives and professional futures and is generous with his time. His involvement is not limited to instruction of lab instrumentation and protocols; he also advises them on coursework, extra-curricular activities, and professional advancement opportunities.
Kendan has been instrumental in outreach activities at the UW School of Pharmacy. In addition to participating in existing outreach activities (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, and Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students national meetings), he has initiated outreach to other institutions (Bellevue College, Chehalis STEM Academy, visiting high school students with UW Medicine Strategic Marketing & Communications, MLK day talk at Benson Hill Elementary). His outreach efforts are aimed towards young people in low-income communities or communities of color, with the goal to lift entire communities by encouraging academic achievement.
Kendan’s ability to build a community among young people is remarkable. De has the vision to recognize that it takes more than “cheerleading” to turn a young student into a scientist. He is a teacher, mentor, and friend and brings out the best in his mentees.
Congratulations to Kendan for this recognition of the profound impact he is having in the lives of his mentees, classmates and fellow scientists.