Katalin Kovács

by Al Nadosy, Membership Chair

This Board Member Spotlight honors another member our scientific community, Dr. Katalin Kovacs, who, in addition to her work load as a neurobiological researcher, group home care-taker,and doting parent, was elected to the Minnesota Hungarians board in 2006. ►►►


Kati Kovacs was born in 1956 in southeast Hungary, in Gyula, to a pediatrician mother and gynecologist father. When she was four, her family moved to Zalaergerszeg, west of Lake Balaton. The beauty of the area inspired Kati's love of biology, and her enduring love of the outdoors.

She graduated from Jozsef Attila University's College of Natural Sciences (JATE) in Szeged in 1979 and earned her Ph.D. as a researcher in fresh water biology (limnology) in 1985.

While working for the River Control and Environmental Protection Authority in Szeged, Kati married fellow biology student Denes Budai in 1983. Kati became the proud mother of two children, Zsofia and Daniel.


Kati's young family came to the United States for the first time in 1987, when Denes was invited to the University of California at Irvine for a two-year stay. The family returned again in 1990, this time to the University of Minnesota. It was then that Dr. Kovacs began the post-doctoral work that made her a neurobiologist and a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota's Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, a position she holds to this day. Their's became a "commuter marriage" when Denes returned to his research position in Szeged.

Today, Dr. Kovacs' research investigates the immune system's involvement in and during transmission of pain signals through the central nervous system. And after 10 years of doing so, Kati still works as a weekend caretaker at a group home for the developmentally handicapped. She finds all her work fulfilling and most satisfying. We all should all be so fortunate!

As for her children, both of whom, when they were growing up, actively participated and performed in Minnesota Hungarian programs and events, Daniel often playing the trumpet, and Zsofia often reading poetry: with a masters degree from Georgetown University' School of Foreign Service in Russian and East European Studies, Zsofia is currently in Moscow working on her fluency in Russian; and Son Daniel is a graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in Computer Science and sound engineering and currently works at Shure Inc. in Chicago.