McNair Scholar Recognized as Outstanding Graduate at Fall 2014 Commencement

News | 2014 | by Afsha Bawany, UNLV Media Relations Specialist

Krystal Belmonte, McNair Scholar (photo courtesy of UNLV Photo Services)

Krystal Belmonte spent her final summer as a UNLV Rebel researching the biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. Selected for a summer undergraduate research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, Belmonte’s work at the prestigious institution solidified her commitment to piecing together the puzzle that is Alzheimer’s. Belmonte’s motivation to find solutions for patients comes from personal experiences. Her family members have suffered from the disease and her parents have served as primary caregivers, so the disease has always had a part in her life. “It may be a long time before we find a cure, but at least we are taking steps, and I want to be a part of those steps,” Belmonte said.

Under the mentorship of psychology researcher Dr. Jefferson Kinney, Belmonte studied the links between diabetes and Alzheimer’s. As a Ronald E. McNair scholar, she completed a research paper on neurological systems that could affect the progression of Alzheimer’s. In the Honors College, she taught a first-year seminar course to introduce freshmen to campus resources and research opportunities available at the undergraduate level. Whatever students choose, she encourages them to pursue passion first rather than settling for something they have to do. “I want them to enjoy their time. You don’t have to go in one direction,” Belmonte said.

Belmonte will graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences, a minor in Mathematics, and a 3. 8 GPA. Her accolades include the Academic Advising Student of The Year award and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar Summer Research Institute scholarship. Following graduation, Belmonte will work as a technician continuing Alzheimer’s research at the Mayo Clinic before graduate school in the fall of 2015.

Click here to read UNLV's article on Krystal Belmonte.