Danielle DaSilva ’24 named Goldwater Scholar

DaSilva is one of 413 students across the national awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

Danielle DaSilva ’24 has been named as a 2023 Goldwater Scholarship recipient. The junior is an applied mathematics and computer science major and an Honors Fellow.

The award, given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

“I chose to apply to Goldwater because it was a great opportunity to gain confidence in my abilities to communicate my research with others and to be recognized for my work on a national level. Goldwater has empowered me to know that I can be successful in mathematics research and any career path I choose,” DaSilva said.

The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most selective awards in the country, with only 413 students named as Goldwater Scholars from an estimated pool of over 5,000 overall students and 1,242 students who were nominated by their respective institutions. The scholarship selects individuals who have a demonstrated passion for research, often exhibited by completing multiple projects at the undergraduate level.

DaSilva has participated in undergraduate research since her first year at Elon. In 2021, she began a year-long research collaboration with Wake Forest University that focused on modeling the economic impact of COVID-19 intervention strategies. This past summer, she participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) project at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) focused on optimizing treatment strategies for transplant patients.

DaSilva completed these projects in addition to her ongoing honors thesis research, “Modeling United States Obesity Trends.”

“My honors thesis is focused on analyzing the factors contributing to the rise in prevalence of obesity in the United States, with the goal of predicting future trends and developing data-driven strategies to minimize the prevalence of obesity,” DaSilva said. “These factors will be integrated into mathematical models based on identified influences on the prevalence of obesity and established epidemiological modeling techniques.”

DaSilva’s mentor, Professor of Mathematics Karen Yokley, was “ecstatic” to hear she’d been named a Goldwater Scholar. “Danielle is a truly exceptional student. Every time we discuss her research, she impresses me with how thorough and insightful she is.”

Following graduation, DaSilva plans to pursue a doctorate in applied mathematics with a focus in biomathematics. Her ultimate goal is to pursue a research career developing models to improve responses to diseases and optimize disease treatment.

DaSilva is the seventh Elon student to be awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, following Madison George ’23, Ashlyn Crain ’22, Anna Altmann ’23, Mariana Kneppers ’18, Kelsey Van Dalfsen ’12 and Geoffrey Lynn ’07.

When asked what advice she has for students interested in applying for fellowships like Goldwater, Danielle placed emphasis on the fellowship process, saying, “I would encourage students to appreciate the value of the process of developing the application even if the outcome does not turn out as you hope, as I learned a lot about myself and my research just by drafting the application.”

Goldwater Scholars have a history of going on to win other post-graduate fellowships, including the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the Rhodes Scholarship, and Fulbright U.S. Student Grants, among many others.

Elon students and recent alumni interested in the Goldwater Scholarship or other nationally competitive fellowships are invited to contact the National and International Fellowships Office.