Carnegie Mellon University

Danny Davis

Danny Davis (CMU 2014)

Science and Humanities Scholar, Chemistry and Linguistics double major, Undergraduate researcher


Getting The Most Out Of His Carnegie Mellon Experience

Danny Davis came to Carnegie Mellon knowing that he wanted to study language and that he wanted to be a scientist. But he didn’t have all of the details figured out. So he filled his class schedule to the max. He also taught two StuCo courses in ancient Hebrew. He admits that he might have gone a bit overboard.

“I overloaded my schedule every semester, but there was nothing I could have given up,” Danny said. “My motivating factor in going to school and taking classes was to learn. I would have regretted not doing it.”

But then, during the third week of his sophomore year, Danny walked out of class, called his dad and said, “I just found what I want to do with my life.”

The class was organic chemistry, and it led Danny to focus his scientific interests on organic chemistry. It also directed him to the lab of Assistant Chemistry Professor Kevin Noonan, where Danny spent several semesters working on a research project incorporating phosphorus into organic molecules. His aim was to change the molecules’ electrical conductivity with the ultimate goal of producing more effective organic semiconductors.

“Working in the Noonan lab was a very difficult but rewarding experience,” said Danny, who confesses that he spent the first summer in the lab not knowing what he was doing. “I learned something every day, and the guys in the lab are fantastic people. They took me under their wings.”

By this point, Danny had decided to pursue two degrees—a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in linguistics, which gave him the opportunity to explore his love of languages. So, in parallel with his work in the Noonan lab, Danny also conducted research in linguistics. During winter break his senior year, Danny spent time in Israel and the Palestinian Territories to do fieldwork among the Samaritans, a religious sect whose culture and language have evolved separately from the other descendant languages of Ancient Hebrew. For his linguistics senior thesis work, Danny compared Samaritan Hebrew to other dialects of Hebrew, both Ancient and Modern.

With two degrees and plenty of research experience on his resume, Danny is happy with the choices he made during his four years at CMU. He’s currently exploring options for graduate school in organic chemistry, but first he plans to take some time off to indulge one of his other interests—travel.