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Daily CSR
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Inspiring ‘Amgen Scholars Experience’


With the help of the Amgen Scholars Program, Simpson-Kent’s world travelled a long way from dangerous neighbourhood to Cambridge’s classroom.

Dailycsr.com – 30 January 2019 – For Ivan Simpson-Kent, who grew up in West Philadelphia’s dangerous neighbourhood, says that he found his “early idols” in criminals, as he added:
“I perceived these criminals as invincible outlaws going against the limits society had placed upon them”.
However, since then, his new set of idols consists of “neuroscientist mentors” as he works with them while pursuing “his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge”. He specialises in “developmental cognitive neuroscience”, which marks a major turn in Simpson-Kent’s life. During his final year in high school, Simpson-Kent found his interest in the study of human brain for the first in a “psychology course”. Recounting the incident, he said:
“My teacher made something as complex as human behavior and the brain seem understandable and exciting. I began to see a future for myself in science, particularly psychology and neuroscience.”
Following his new found interest, Simpson-Kent visited the “University of Scranton” and discovered his fascination with insect behaviour; as he studied entomology, he paid special attention to ant behaviour. However, in 2015, he took part in the “Amgen Scholars Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wherein he regained his interest in human behaviour.
As he was finishing his programme with MIT, Simpson-Kent got to meet Rebecca Saxe, a “world-renowned neuroscientist”, with whom the former had a discussion on his future in science. Recalling the same, Simpson-Kent added:
“It was during that conversation that I realized my calling as a neuroscientist as opposed to being an entomologist. The Amgen Scholars experience inspired me to attempt to tackle my passion to understand the brain I’d had since high school.”
Simpson-Kent is also an ex- Fulbright Research Fellow, currently pursuing Ph.D. as a second year candidate in “Biological Science at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at the University of Cambridge”. The thesis subject deals with the “neuroscience of cognitive development, particularly aspects of intelligence”. He explained:
“So, I spend most of my time analyzing behavioral and neural data using various statistical modeling approaches”.
He wants to enter in the industry on “neuromorphic artificial intelligence” post his Ph.D. As an alumni, Simpson-Kent was present at the Europe symposium’s round table in September, wherein he shared his journey of “becoming a scientist” with the present Amgen Scholars. One of his key messages was to be oneself, as he said:
“I know that’s cliché but I believe this is the most important thing to remember for a successful future in any field or line of work. Without the freedom of expression, you’ll always feel incomplete”.
His research began in the United States and currently he his pursuing it in the United Kingdom and Simpson-Kent doesn’t see the place being an issue as he said:
“What’s more important are the type of research you do and the community within which you do such work.  You must do research on topics that you have a passion for. Without that you’re doomed to fail and/or produce subpar science, which is basically the same as failing in my opinion.”