Eleanor Davis ’20 was named a Goldwater Scholar by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, a prestigious program for students intending to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering science. She is the 23rd Trinity student to be named a Goldwater Scholar since 1994.
Davis is laser-focus pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. degree so she can conduct translational, or “bench-to-bedside,” research, which she explains takes useful data from clinical trials and other medical research and translates it into useable techniques for improving health outcomes.
“I have personally seen how instrumental biomedical, translational research can be to patients,” Davis says. As a first-year student at Trinity, she faced scary news: Doctors diagnosed Davis with a rare condition called spitzoid melanoma.
“A lot about this disease is unknown,” says the Missouri City native. Her doctor had never encountered such a case but shared a scientific paper with Davis that shed light on how she might pursue treatment.
“I was so grateful research had been done in that area, because that was something I could grasp onto,” Davis recalls. “It was the scientific literature that really helped inform my medical decisions.”
By pursuing translational research, Davis says, she too can take ideas from the laboratory and develop them into potential clinical products.
She is earning a double major in biology and business administration as she works toward becoming a physician-scientist. Currently a junior, she says learning the basics of business administration is all part of her plan to pursue translational research.
“If I developed a technique, drug, or therapeutic, then I could use my business major when I disseminate that product,” she says. “I can also see myself forming a bio-tech, and I’d have to know how a strong company functions.”
She recently took an experiential learning class that simulated a real research study and guided students through designing a well-planned research experiment. She explains that at Trinity, the academics are rigorous and professors have high expectations.
“It’s good, because it gives you a realistic expectations of working in a research lab,” Davis says.
Outside of her undergraduate work, Davis has gained a great deal of laboratory experience in translational research in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine. There, she has had the opportunity to study rare forms of musculoskeletal disorders and liver disease.
Davis also mentors a junior high student one-on-one through the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio Young Achievers college-preparation program. Together, they work on writing prompts typical of college application essays.
"Last year my mentee was interested in medical school,” she says. “Even though that’s a long ways off, it was fun to help her think about the sciences.”
The program pairs mentors such as Davis with middle schoolers, ensuring they enter high school fully understanding college application process and available scholarship opportunities. Davis knows first-hand how powerful that personal connection can be.
“My personal experience has been a big factor pushing me to become a physician scientist.”
Davis was one of 496 Goldwater Scholars chosen from among 1,223 nominated students from 443 academic institutions. The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established in honor of former Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater.