Creighton neuroscience major Tavian Sanchez wins Goldwater Scholarship
When Creighton junior Tavian Sanchez saw his name listed on the Goldwater Scholarship website, he initially felt “like a robot.”
His faculty mentor, Gwendalyn King, PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience, was thrilled, he says.
“I was just in disbelief,” he recalls. “It’s obviously a big scholarship, and I was trying not to get too invested in the outcome.”
Sanchez, a junior in Creighton’s Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience program, was named one of Creighton’s two 2022 recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship. The federally funded award is one of the nation’s most prestigious academic awards for young scientists. This year, just 417 students were chosen from an initial pool of more than 5,000.
Sanchez, alongside King, is researching the aging brain. Specifically, the pair are exploring how, as the brain ages, it becomes more susceptible to neurodegenerative disease, paying particularly close attention to the role of a protein called Klotho during the aging process.
“I always knew I wanted to be involved in undergraduate research when I was picking colleges,” says Sanchez, a native of Sioux City, Iowa. “The big draw to Creighton was the direct, one-on-one mentorship you get with your faculty advisor. That mentorship is what makes Creighton’s undergraduate research experience unique.”
Sanchez was particularly surprised to learn he had won the Goldwater Scholarship because he had applied as an aspiring MD/PhD student. The Goldwater program is particularly centered on students interested in pursuing a research career in STEM fields. So, as someone looking to also study clinical medicine, Sanchez had to write an extra essay explaining his career goals.
“For me, it’s always been clear that we need to have a broad base of expertise when solving problems,” Sanchez says. “We need a variety of people investigating diseases from different perspectives and educational backgrounds. An MD education will add significant value to my research career by giving me a unique perspective that will inform my questions and empower me to conduct clinically informed biomedical research.”