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Kaela S. Singleton, PhD


I am a Black, Samoan, and Queer developmental neuroscientist completing my postdoctoral training at Emory University. Currently, I am a NINDS DSPAN scholar, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment fellow as well as co-founder and President-Elect of Black In Neuro. As a postdoc in the Faundez Lab, I investigate mitochondria integrity and localization in Menkes Disease, a progressive form of childhood neurodegeneration that is triggered by dysregulation of copper.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Faundez Lab
Department of Cell Biology, Emory University


My research interests are driven by three key questions:

  • How are mature, unique neurons generated and maintained in the brain?

  • How do pathologic mechanisms disrupt molecular and cellular events during neuron generation and development?

  • Why do rare genetic diseases preponderantly affect the nervous system of children?

My postdoctoral research addresses the molecular and cellular events disrupted in Menkes disease, a progressive form of childhood neurodegeneration that is triggered by dysregulation of copper. I am investigating the role of mitophagy in mitochondrial retention seen in Menkes disease by using mouse and Drosophila models.

Teaching, Mentoring & Philosophies

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”

- Toni Morrison

My teaching, mentoring and service philosophies are rooted in my research interests. I believe the formation of a successful, productive researcher is comparable to the formation of a neuron. Both processes are driven by intrinsic and extrinsic factors, which interact to create a mature and unique individual. Regarding my own maturation into a scientist, my identity as a Black Queer woman represent intrinsic factors, while my experiences at an all-women’s college and in an interdisciplinary graduate program represent extrinsic factors. 


My career goals are enriched by the opportunity to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as representation and accountability within the field. My experiences in inclusive training environments contribute to my past and present ambition. As an independent researcher, I seek to ‘pay it forward’ by continuing to generate high-quality science, participating in the education and mentorship of students, and remaining active in service to my community.

Image by Joey Kyber
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