For Family & the Future

Vincent Edwards playing saxophone

Vincent Edwards is a seasoned saxophone player, a jazz aficionado, and wants to prevent the onset of neurodegenerative diseases. Lucky for us, this cognition and neuroscience Ph.D. student is bringing his talents to the CVL this Fall

“I was searching for a Ph.D. program thinking that the best way for me to learn more about the brain and dysfunction in it was to understand what normal aging should look like,” says Edwards.

The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, awarded Edwards a fellowship. The award is designed to support underrepresented minority students as they begin and complete their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Ph.D. degree. Edwards could have chosen to use his fellowship at a number of institutions, but he chose the CVL.

“Seeing how transparent, kind, and collaborative they were really drew me in. They made me feel like the CVL was truly a place I could grow and feel supported,” says Edwards.

Vincent Edwards (right) speaking at the President’s Banquet at the University of South Carolina where he advocated for diversity, inclusion, and the usefulness of programs to represent underrepresented students.

Edwards received his bachelor’s degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina and his master’s degree in Experimental Psychology from Georgia Southern University. He says he was always interested in human behavior and the brain. But it wasn’t until the former pre-med major took his first psychology class that he discovered his passion.

 “I entered my undergraduate studies on the pre-med route with hopes of eventually becoming a neurosurgeon, but once I began taking psychology classes I was hooked. I was introduced to a field where there were theories to answer so many of the questions I had about people, and each possible answer brought about new questions. I switched majors and stuck with what I was passionate about.”

Edwards says he was drawn to neurodegenerative disease after seeing his great-grandmother battle Alzheimer’s while his family struggled to watch its debilitating effects.

 “My family watched her lose more of herself every time we went to visit her. It was hard and frankly scary for all of us. I want to learn and understand more about these types of diseases, and if there are any steps that can potentially be taken to decrease the chances of onset.”

“We are delighted that Vincent has chosen to pursue his graduate studies here at the CVL, and we congratulate him on winning such a prestigious fellowship,” says Dr. Michael Rugg, CVL Director.

Edwards will be co-mentored at the CVL by Dr. Kristen Kennedy and Dr. Karen Rodrigue. He says that for him, it’s not just about the journey towards cognitive understanding that drives his passion, but also the application of what we learn in order to help others.

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