Member Spotlight

Kelsey Huntington

Doctoral Candidate
Brown University
AWIS member since 2021


“I aspire to be a role model to the next generation of women pursuing careers in STEM. “

Headshot of Dr. Lamiaa El Fassi

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

Communication is key, accept and respond to feedback, everyone has something to teach you, and learn from your past mistakes.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?

In 2021 I had the honor of being awarded a Women In Cancer Research Scholar (WICR) Award by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for my thesis research presented at the 2021 AACR Annual Conference.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why?

I aspire to be a role model to the next generation of women pursuing careers in STEM. Mentorship, networking opportunities, and advice from the role models in my life were pivotal in making career decisions and I strive to be a similar resource for the next generation.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

Early in my pre-doctoral studies, I had the opportunity to contribute to COVID-19 research as a member of Brown Experimentalists Against COVID-Nineteen (BEACON), a small group of volunteers focused on examining the multiple stages of the COVID-19 infection from the spike protein that facilitates viral movement into a cell to the inflammatory response that is triggered in the lungs upon infection. Although this research was outside of my traditional field of study, I had the opportunity to meaningly contribute to the innovative COVID-19 research taking place at Brown University in an effort to repurpose drugs to lessen disease severity in patients.

What is your favorite word?


How do you define it?

Sticking with something despite difficulty or duration of time commitment.

How has this word influenced or inspired your career?

In my mind, perseverance is the most important attribute in achieving success. I can’t think of a more accurate statement than “nothing worth having comes easy,” as attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. The accomplishments in my life, both professionally and personally, that I am most proud of such as running my first marathon, being awarded my first NIH grant, summiting my first volcano, and pursuing a PhD have all required a great deal of perseverance.

What are you currently reading or listening to?

The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?

Be open-minded. Unexpected opportunities may present themselves and your interests may change- those that remain open-minded will be able to best take advantage of these new opportunities.

Kelsey E. Huntington is an NIH NCI F31 Predoctoral Fellow and a PhD Candidate in Pathobiology with a focus in cancer immunology at Brown University. Her research is focused on discovering ways to therapeutically modulate the tumor microenvironment to promote anti-tumor immunity, especially in combination with immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint blockade. Kelsey is also passionate about gender equality in STEM fields and volunteers with organizations that empower girls with the confidence to pursue an interest in STEM starting from a young age. Kelsey received her B.Sc. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of Washington and worked for several years in biotechnology developing bispecific antibodies for hematological malignancies before pursuing her graduate studies.

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