#ElonGrad 2021 spotlight: Carter Jenkins, biology

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2021 from a wide array of disciplines.

An Elon College Fellow and Lumen Prize recipient, Carter Jenkins ’21 came to Elon already passionate about majoring in biology. She added minors in chemistry and neuroscience while studying on health professions pathways and pre-medical track.

Carter Jenkins '21
Carter Jenkins ’21

“Carter was always a strong student from day one and really hit the ground running. What has really impressed me was the growth she had in leadership skills as she progressed through her degree,” said Associate Professor of Biology Antonio Izzo. “Her leadership this past two semesters as president of Beta Beta Beta was a key factor in the success of the group’s activities in this COVID-challenged year. As with any good leader, she empowers the others she works with and knows how to communicate with them. It will be exciting to see how these tools translate in her next phase!”

With Professor of Psychology Amy Overman as her mentor, Jenkins received the Lumen Prize for her research into brain activity patterns and Alzheimer’s Disease. She is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa and was named to the President’s List.

Why did you choose biology as a major?

I love learning about how the systems around us work, particularly bodily systems, and I am constantly fascinated by the material I learn in my biology classes.

Tell us more about your research.

I participated in undergraduate research in the Psychology Department on a project entitled “Graph Theoretical Analysis of the Default Mode Network in Healthy Older Adults and Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease.” I am studying changes in brain networks that occur as a result of abnormal aging. I have always had an interest in brain diseases and disorders and wanted to pursue this interest through research at Elon.

I am also fascinated by the relationship between brain structure and function, so a project involving fMRI was a perfect fit for me. I have presented this research at the National Conferences of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and Elon’s Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF). My abstract has also been accepted for presentation at the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS) conference this summer.

What is your proudest accomplishment at Elon?

Receiving the Lumen Prize. I pushed myself to apply for this highly competitive award, and though I doubted my abilities, I was incredibly honored that my efforts had been recognized. The Lumen Prize has enabled me to conduct high-caliber research and produce a project that I am extremely proud of.

How did working with your mentor influence your Elon experience?

Dr. Overman has served as an excellent role model to me. She has pushed me to develop many skills, including communication skills, problem-solving skills, and technical research skills. She expects high-level research in her lab, and her mentorship has allowed me to produce meaningful work. The skills I have developed under her mentorship will be invaluable in my future career, and I am extremely grateful for her guidance throughout my time at Elon.

What are your future plans?

After graduation, I will be taking a gap year before medical school to work as a medical scribe. I am also applying to medical school this summer for entrance in Fall 2022. I hope to attend an allopathic medical school to obtain a doctor of medicine degree, and considering specializing in neurology, neurosurgery or anesthesiology.

What advice would you give future Elon students?

I would tell future Elon students to get involved and not to be afraid to branch outside of your comfort zone. Some of my best memories and most impactful experiences have resulted from me taking advantage of opportunities outside of my comfort zone.

What’s your favorite Elon tradition?

My favorite Elon tradition is the Festival of Holiday Lights! I really feel a sense of community during this event, and it is always a great break from studying for fall semester finals.