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2018 Predoctoral Researchers


Kaelan Brennan

Purdue University
Zeitlinger Lab

Kaelan Brennan’s earliest curiosity about science-related topics began in a garden, when his mother explained that even though the plants couldn’t move or talk, they were still very much alive and growing, just like he was. That sparked many questions and a future interest in biology. In high school, he even took AP Biology twice because he found it was so much fun.

Brennan was first introduced to the Stowers Institute as a Stowers Summer Scholar in 2016. Those 10 weeks spent in Julia Zeitlinger’s Lab solidified his strong interest in gene expression regulation and developmental biology.

After that summer, Brennan returned to Purdue University to finish his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and interviewed at several universities for PhD programs in biology. Ultimately, he chose the University of California, Berkeley. However, once he got there, something about Berkeley didn’t feel right to him.

Soon, Brennan realized the profound impact his summer at Stowers had made on him. After a few conversations with his Stowers mentors, he packed his bags, rented a moving truck, and drove from San Francisco to Kansas City. He returned to the Institute as a technician in the Zeitlinger Lab and is thrilled to be accepted into the graduate program.

Brennan looks forward to learning how to ask new, meaningful questions in both familiar and unfamiliar areas of scientific research and find exciting ways to address and answer these questions. For Brennan, the Stowers Institute represents the perfect union of high-impact, meaningful science with warm-hearted, accommodating individuals.

A committed runner, Brennan logs 60 miles a week, preferring to run outside in nature, especially in new places he hasn’t seen before. His wanderlust has taken him to many places in the U.S., Peru, the Galapagos Islands, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain.