University of Missouri
Thesis: Characterization of protein-protein interaction networks in the Sin3/histone deacetylase (HDAC) complex
Cassandra Kempf became interested in science as a teenager after her father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an immune disorder that attacked his nervous system and ultimately claimed his life. Every time her father lost his balance or burned his hands in scalding dishwater because he couldn’t feel pain, Kempf asked her mother another question she just couldn’t answer.
Later, working as a high school chemistry teacher in Paraguay after earning her undergraduate degree in mathematics and philosophy, Kempf saw teens struggling with unanswered questions about diseases affecting their loved ones—the same sort of questions she had asked her mother. She resolved to become a scientist and try to find the answers she and others sought.
Kempf returned to the U.S. to earn her BS in chemistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2014. While there, she applied the problem-solving skills from her training in mathematics and philosophy to a variety of research projects that deepened her understanding of basic biological science.She sees the Stowers Institute as a place where her desire to unravel problems intersects with what humanity needs—new approaches for targeting disease—and hopes to help people in ways that science wasn’t able to help her father. Fueled by that goal, Kempf says she is more excited about doing research than she’s ever been.