Meghan Davis named 2022 Mitchell Scholar

Julia Mongo | Office of Distinguished Fellowships
Published by MIT News on November 24, 2020

MIT senior Meghan Davis has been named one of the 12 winners of the George J. Mitchell Scholarship’s Class of 2022. After graduating next spring with dual majors in biological engineering and urban planning, she will pursue a master’s in global health at Trinity College in Dublin.

Mitchell Scholars are selected on the basis of academic achievement, leadership, and dedication to public service. The scholarship is named in honor of U.S. Senator Mitchell’s contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process. This year, over 450 American students applied for the prestigious fellowship, which is sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance and funds a year of graduate studies in Ireland.

Davis, who is the third MIT student to receive this award, was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, and moved to Prosper, Texas, in high school. Her goal is to become a physician-scientist.

An interdisciplinary researcher, Davis is committed to tackling health inequities faced by vulnerable and marginalized communities. Recently, she pursued a mixed-methods approach to understanding the cardiovascular disease disparities in urban Black women and interventions that can be implemented to reduce these disparities. In her current research on cardio-oncology, she is investigating the cellular mechanism of doxorubicin treatment in the laboratory of Professor Laurie Boyer in the Department of Biology. The social side of her research, conducted in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, focuses on breast cancer in Black women and is being done in collaboration with local community health organizations centered on empowering Black women.

Davis is currently the senior director of BoSTEM Scholars Academy, a program that aims to bridge the racial and socioeconomic gap in STEM education through a five-week summer program for underrepresented Boston area high school students. Davis is also an educator and executive board member of PLEASURE: Peers Leading Education About Sexuality and Standing Up for Relationship Empowerment, an organization that acts to prevent gender-based violence on campus. She was honored earlier this year with the MIT Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award for service to the community. She also received MIT’s Bridge Builder award for her “strong commitment to and passion for diversity education and cultural celebration.”

Professor Boyer states, “Meghan exemplifies leadership in every sense of the word: service, commitment, sacrifice, and motivation. By bringing together her talent for research and passion for working on problems that have an impact on human health particularly relevant to underserved populations, I fully expect that Meghan will light the way for change in science and medicine.  We have all benefited from having Meghan in the Boyer lab and we wish her the very best during her year as a Mitchell Scholar.”

“Meghan embodies so much of what we teach and what we practice in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; specifically, the importance of asking the right questions, gathering knowledge, and working alongside our marginalized communities,” says Cherie Miot Abbanat, lecturer in international development. “What is so impressive about Meghan’s work is not just her intellect, her persistence, and her depth of questioning, but her passion to make a difference in the lives of Black women, and by extension all of our underrepresented communities. Meghan is dedicated to using science as her weapon to interrogate and root out injustices in our health care systems.”

Davis was supported in the application process by MIT’s Distinguished Fellowships team in Career Advising and Professional Development, and the Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships. “We are proud that Meghan will be representing MIT on the Mitchell Scholarship,” says Kim Benard, assistant dean of distinguished fellowships. “Our entire committee was impressed with her dedication to serving others and examining racial inequities in health care. She has already done impressive work with BoSTEM as a mentor and teacher, as well as research funded by the Eloranta Fellowship to study cardiovascular disease risk in urban Black women. Her time in Ireland will provide her with further knowledge of public health, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for her.”

By Julia Mongo
Julia Mongo Staff Writer and Advisor