The Great Depression inspired many families to find creative ways to fund higher education. Loyal Davis’ family was also united in their determination to provide for each of the five children.
“Loyal’s parents paid for his oldest sister to attend college. Then she helped the next one, who helped the next one, who helped the next one until they were all through,” said Helen Davis, wife of the late Loyal. This family commitment inspired Loyal to help the next generation of students seeking a degree from WSU.
The Loyal H. and Helen Davis Fellowship, created in 1995, is awarded annually to graduate and post-doctoral student in the Institute of Biological Chemistry. The IBC director and faculty select student recipients. “It goes to students who by their research and publications show promise for the future,” said Mike Kahn, IBC faculty member.
“The world’s going to need a greater and better food supply, and this Institute is working to address that,” said the late Loyal. “I hope what we’re giving advances the Institute’s work and also helps students.”
After Loyal graduated from WSC in 1932 with a B.S. in chemistry, he found a job with Philip Morris in Virginia. He retired in 1977 as director of quality control.
Helen still supports IBC research, as does her late husband’s former employer. “Even though Loyal never moved back to Washington, the fellowship was very important to him. It was a very worthwhile thing to do,” said Helen. Since the establishment of the fellowship, Philip Morris created a program to match monetary donations to the IBC.
Laura Wayne, a graduate student in molecular plant sciences, received the Loyal H. and Helen Davis Fellowship in 2009. “[Loyal’s] portrait is hanging in Clark Hall with the names of past recipients, and I am proud to be among them,” Wayne said. She is currently studying how the model plant, Arabidopsis, “a plant’s version of the lab mouse,” produces unsaturated oils. Her overall research goal is to find renewable sources for domestic oil production.
“I do not know if I will continue in academia or go into industry,” she said. “I enjoy studying the foundation of plant biology, but I am also excited about the technological implications of plants.”