Goldwater Scholar

Goldwater Scholar

Childhood cancer diagnosis shapes Daniel Poston’s career aspirations

As a daydreaming middle schooler, Daniel Poston thought he might like to grow up to be, oh, maybe an architect.

“Design rollercoasters or something like that,” says the Creighton Honors Program scholar from Sioux City, Iowa, who just completed his junior year, with a faux wistfulness in his voice. “It was seventh grade. It seemed like a good career to pursue.”

Then, in a mere moment, as life’s starker realities are wont to intrude, Poston’s whole outlook changed. At 12, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and spent several months undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. There, as doctors and nurses and researchers fluttered about him and he watched other children in the oncology department undergo similar measures, a newer, sharper picture of the future began to come into view.

Poston’s cancer ultimately went into remission, but his experience remains forever etched on his heart. He still returns to the hospital where he was treated to volunteer with children undergoing chemotherapy. And as a biochemistry major at Creighton (a recipient of the John and Ann Langley Scholarship and other scholarships), he’s amassed a research record in nucleic acid biochemistry, earning him placement as the University’s 16th scholarship winner in the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. In the last five years, Creighton has produced more Goldwater Scholars than any other Catholic college or university. This year, Creighton also had a Goldwater honorable mention in Jordan Roth, a physics major from Omaha.

Following his Creighton graduation and with the Goldwater scholarship in hand, Poston plans to pursue dual medical doctorate and doctor of philosophy degrees with an eye toward research, teaching and designing new cancer therapies.

“Prior to being in the hospital and having chemotherapy, I hadn’t given science much of a thought,” Poston says. “I always wanted to be a doctor because I loved helping people, but after I came to Creighton and learned what research looks like, I wanted to do that, too. I realized my true calling is to use knowledge gained from scientific research and translate that into more effective treatment options. Having both an M.D. and a Ph.D. will help me perform that kind of translational research.”