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Cougar Queries: "Our research has helped to discover 19 new genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease."

Name: Keoni Kauwe

BYU employee since... I started working at BYU as an assistant professor on January 1, 2009. But my first BYU job was cleaning the fish tanks on the first floor of the Widtsoe Building in 1996!

My job at BYU is… to teach and mentor students while striving to conduct high-quality research. I love providing my students with resources for their education—wages, scholarships, opportunities for presentations and publications, internships, etc. I take it as a personal responsibility to ensure that students who work with me feel like they are spoiled! 

Keoni Kauwe
Photo by Todd Wakefield/BYU Photo

Currently I’m working on… The main focus of my research is to solve Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, I have always loved biology and have developed projects on the evolution of lizards and fish with great collaborators here at BYU. 

Through our Alzheimer’s research, we have… helped to discover and report 19 new genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease in the past seven years. In cooperation with colleagues here at BYU, we have developed and are refining ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease using blood or cerebrospinal fluid. In addition, we have developed large datasets that are used by hundreds of other scientists in our field. We work hard together in the lab and the results have been really exciting. 

I’m currently reading… grant proposals and manuscripts. Oh, you mean for fun? I have been reading all the Percy Jackson books out loud to my kids, so that counts, right? 

Opportunities to lead have ...changed the way I view... being part of an organization ...because... I realize that those in leadership often have much more information and see many more sides of an issue than one might think there are before making a decision.

Students don't think I notice… texting or falling asleep in class.

My advice to incoming freshman is… to learn for knowledge, not just for grades. Great grades will come when you commit yourself to mastering the content of each course and acquiring knowledge. 

My favorite BYU tradition is… I can’t really think of any. Hiking the Y is pretty cool.

On Saturday mornings you’ll find me… on the road to a backcountry fishing location.

I’m most looking forward to… understanding every detail of the processes that underlie the unity and diversity of life on this planet.

One item on my bucket list is… fly fishing for bonefish and giant trevally on remote atolls around the world.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced was…​ organic chemistry at BYU. Let’s just say I didn’t come out victorious. Some of you might know that feeling...

Keoni Kauwe
Photo by Todd Wakefield/BYU Photo