Posted: 6/17/21

TAMIU Student Accepted to Vanderbilt University's Doctoral Program in Biological Science


David González
David González  

If a student can take a courageous leap between two seemingly distinct academic paths like the Performing Arts and Science, it is Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) graduate Biology student David González, 30.

Originally from Laredo, González earned bachelor's degrees in both Acting and Biology. His Bachelor of Acting was earned at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in 2013. Then, his B.S. in Biology was earned at TAMIU in 2019.

Currently, a Master of Science in Biology student at TAMIU set to graduate in August, González is about to make one more, huge academic jump after that.

González is one of six students nationwide recently accepted into Vanderbilt University's Ph.D. Program in Biological Science. He plans to leave Laredo in July to begin his doctoral studies in Nashville, Tenn. this Fall.

At Vanderbilt, González was offered a College of Arts and Science Fellowship, which covers his full tuition along with a 12-month stipend totaling $32,000. He was also selected as a Provost Graduate Fellow, which provides an additional stipend for $5,000 per year for three years.

"When I heard that I had been accepted to the university, I immediately felt that all the work that I had put in towards both my undergraduate and graduate years had been worth it," González said, "I felt a sense of accomplishment upon receiving my acceptance letter."

He continued, "Being accepted to the Biological Science program at Vanderbilt University was also an accomplishment because it spoke to the quality of work that I had done in my previous academic experiences that ranked me alongside the candidates that also got accepted into the program."

González's academic trajectory took him out of Laredo once, and later, returned him back to his hometown.

He first decided to pursue his Bachelor of Acting in Los Angeles. After culminating his degree, he stayed in California and started work as a store manager at apparel company Abercrombie & Fitch. After three years of working for the company, he decided to change his career path and return to TAMIU.

He said he chose TAMIU for his studies because in addition to being close to  home, it offers myriads of opportunities.

"Many students that graduated from TAMIU that belonged to my graduating high school class have gone on to pursue professional careers and this spoke volumes about the University," he said, "I wanted to be a part of that legacy and be an inspiration for others in that it is never too late to begin your academic career."

While at TAMIU, González said he took advantage of various academic opportunities and delved deeply into research under the mentorship of  Dr. Ruby Ynalvez, TAMIU associate professor of Biology.

He worked on two major projects. As an undergraduate student, he started his first project by determining the second metabolites, antibacterial and antioxidant properties of the leaf extracts of Acacia rigidula and Acacia berlandieri. Now, his master's thesis focuses on optimizing lipid accumulation in the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii strain cc5373-sta6 under nitrogen and sulfur deprivation.

"I have been very fortunate to present this research at conferences such as the American Society for Biochemistry and Biology (ASBMB) and the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB)," he said, "Both research experiences have molded me into becoming a resilient graduate student and have prepared me for my Ph.D. experience."

Conducting research has been transformative in his life, González said.

"It has allowed me to express myself the way the performing arts had," he said, "I am very fortunate to have been under the outstanding mentorship of Dr. Ynalvez."

Ynalvez introduced him to the academic world and helped shaped his career path, he explained.

"With Dr. Ynalvez's mentorship, I have had the opportunity to teach Cell Biology and Biochemistry I labs for undergraduates, further solidifying my track in pursuing a Ph.D.," González said, "Dr. Ynalvez truly invested herself into my growth academically and personally and I am forever indebted to her for the mentorship that she provided for me."

González said he chose Vanderbilt University because of its prestige, location and the quality of research produced there.

"The university is ranked among the top schools in the nation," González said, "It spearheads high-quality research that was showcased very well during my interview process. I was able to speak to professors from the Department of Biological Science and was very impressed with the research that was being done."

He continued, "The graduate students that presented their research also impressed me and I could really see myself fitting in with this university the most."

González said he plans to continue his education in research and pursue post-doctoral training at a top-tier university upon receiving his Ph.D.  He added that his goal is to become a professor at a top-tier institution, with the hopes of managing his own lab.

"My advice for students who would like to follow the path towards a Ph.D. is to focus on generating a strong curriculum vitae (CV)," he said, "The CV is a requirement in the application process for a Ph.D. and it dictates your academic interests."

He said it is never too late to begin actively working on one's CV.

"There are many opportunities at your university that are accessible to you, it is just a matter of asking your mentors for guidance," he concluded.

For more information, please contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, email prmis@tamiu.edu or visit offices located in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library.

TAMIU Summer and Fall 2021 Registration is now underway. For detailed registration information, visit: https://go.tamiu.edu/registration21

TAMIU’s Fall 2021 plans are focused on a return to a full and vibrant on-campus experience for all students, faculty and staff at its 300-acre northeast Laredo campus. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.

For more information, contact the Office of the University Registrar at 326.2250, email registrar@tamiu.edu or visit offices in the University Success Center, suite 121.