HomeBorum LabAlumni Spotlight – David McDonald, Ph.D.

Alumni Spotlight - David McDonald

David McDonald, PhD

Director of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dave says  “Working with Dr. Borum changed the way I see science and inspired me to pursue a career in research and education. I learned how to take ownership of a project and how to lead a team. Now I get to share those same lessons with my students.”

We asked Dave and this is what he shared with us.

November 2004-May 2008

Back when the lab was the InvestiGators, I was on the Carnitine Team. I analyzed carnitine concentration data collected from blood and organ samples from rats. I also helped with the piglet experiments to care for the animals and collect samples for acylcarnitine analysis. Lastly, I served two terms as the President of the InvestiGators when we were a student organization of about 40-45 members, fostering communication and organization across the teams.

My time working with Dr. Borum was formative for how I think about science and the impact it can have on people’s lives. It was my opportunity to apply what I was learning in classes to real-world problems that don’t have easy answers. I had originally wanted to go to medical school, but my experiences with Dr. Borum showed me that I was more drawn to research. After graduating, I attended Duke University to obtain my PhD and study cerebrovascular genetics.

I learned how to be tenacious, which is an essential skill in research. In serving as President, I also learned a lot about the human side of science – working on teams, communicating, listening to others’ needs. Now that I direct a PhD program, I help my students to build these same skills to they can be effective and responsible scientists.

Remember why you’re doing this work. Research is complicated, slow, and sometimes frustrating. But that’s all part of the process of creating new knowledge and improving patients’ lives. Keeping the big picture in mind can help you stay motivated.