College of Charleston Student Receives Goldwater Scholarship

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Della Evans, a biochemistry major in the Honors College, has received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Honors College student Della Evans is the College of Charleston’s latest Barry Goldwater Scholarship recipient.

With the goal of fostering and encouraging outstanding students to pursue careers in STEM disciplines, the scholarship recognizes university students who demonstrate exceptional promise of becoming the next generation of research leaders in their fields.

Evans certainly shows that promise.

“I am greatly honored to receive this award,” says Evans. “This scholarship serves as a testament to the hard work, passion and commitment I’ve poured into my studies and research for the past two and a half years.”

To be fair, Evans has been pouring into her studies for much longer than that; in fact, she has had plans to be a medical researcher ever since the seventh grade.

“I had an awesome biology teacher who made science feel really cool and showed how rewarding research can be,” says Evans, who attended school in Clemson, South Carolina. “In high school, I realized chemistry is much cooler.”

At the College of Charleston, Evans decided to combine the two sciences and major in biochemistry. She loves when chemistry and biology coincide and complement each other in multiple ways.

Evans chose the College because she knew she would have the best research opportunities, particularly through the College’s strong relationship with the Medical University of South Carolina. It also helped that the Charleston Fellow was awarded the Frederick Thomas Lense Memorial Scholarship in Chemistry; the Jill Conway Annual Scholarship; a College of Charleston Foundation Annual Scholarship; the Rose Hamm Rowland Honors Scholarship; a School of Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering General Scholarship; the Lucian W. and Peter G. Pinckney Endowed Memorial Scholarship; and the W. Lloyd (Petie) Hamm Scholarship. Receipt of the scholarships validated her decision to attend the College and gave her the freedom to explore research options.

Evans’ decision to attend the College paid off her first semester when she attended the MUSC and CofC research fair. There she met Dr. Joe Delaney of MUSC, who accepted her to work in his lab on the genetic determinants of ovarian cancer and oncogenesis.

“Dr. Delaney emphasizes having a full research experience,” says Evans, who has worked with him every semester since her first year. “He really cares about my development as a scientist.”

She also appreciates the passion of her professors at the College.

“My organic chemistry professor, Michael Giuliano, has a passion for the field,” says Evans. “He positively lights up when he talks about organic chemistry. He is really awesome and motivated by research. Plus, he cares about us as students and always asks for updates about what is happening in our lives.”

Her biochemistry professor, Meredith Frazier, has achieved what Evans wants to do in the future. Frazier has her own lab and only teaches upper-level classes – exactly what Evans plans to do once she has completed her doctoral program. As Evans notes, “A Ph.D. opens doors for research.”

Evans has supplemented her research at MUSC with summer programs. The summer of her sophomore year, Evans conducted research on melanoma at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Through that program, she researched cancer biology while enjoying the mountains around Denver.

This summer, Evans will be taking a big leap and moving to chemistry research at the University of Rochester. She will be researching the self-assembly of peptides to form amyloid structures – or, in lay terms, junk proteins that can create chaos in the body.

“While chemistry continues to be my favorite discipline, all my research so far has been more biology oriented, with the idea of improving a patient’s prognosis,” says Evans. “I’m excited about being able to conduct chemistry research that will help improve people’s health.”

With the Goldwater Scholarship, Evans will continue her quest to explore various fields of medical research and benefit from being part of a supportive community of fellow Goldwater Scholars.

“I am thrilled that Della has been selected as a 2024 Goldwater Scholar,” says Sidney Woram, associate director at the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. “Della is precisely the kind of student Goldwater is looking to support: She is driven, insightful and already well on her way to making significant contributions to her field. Our office is proud of Della’s research and the work she put into her application, and we can’t wait to see what else she achieves at CofC and beyond.” 

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