Class of 2014
Majors: Biology, Chemistry
Hometown: Dixon, Ill.
As a smart teenager in the small town of Dixon, Ill., David Goad considered two career options: become a doctor or an engineer. He came to Valparaiso University leaning toward pre-med and enrolled in biology courses. His Valpo education opened David up to many more career opportunities.
An experiment assigned by Professor Rob Swanson in BIO 171: The Unity of Life provided the first glimpse of David’s future aspirations.
“When we started the project, Professor Swanson said, ‘What you’re going to be doing in here, no one else has done before. You’re to going to find out things that no one has known before’,” David recalls.
“The way he said it, it flipped a switch in my head. I realized that’s what science actually is and that I wanted to keep doing that.”
Then, David had a hospital internship that affirmed his interest in science. A doctor he was job-shadowing mentioned his regret at leaving his previous job as a researcher. The doctor counseled David, “If you love the lab, don’t miss your opportunity to get involved with it.” It was then that David decided to become a scientist.
David spent the next three years as one of Professor Swanson’s student researchers, studying plant genetics in Swanson’s lab. When the faculty-student team hit stumbling blocks, David got to experience the planning and re-planning stages of experimentation. Sometimes the team followed experimental procedures that David had developed — a rare experience for an undergraduate student.
Now, David is preparing to enroll in his first-choice Ph.D. program at Washington University. He knows his lab skills are strong, and after leading study sessions for introductory biology classes at Valpo, he is also looking forward to the opportunity to teach.
“Valpo taught me how to research, and how to communicate complex scientific ideas to people who’ve never been exposed to them before,” he says.
Soon, that will be his full-time job.