UNL selected for Beckman Scholars Program

jbrehm2, March 11, 2013 | View original publication

UNL selected for Beckman Scholars Program

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is one of 10 institutions in the United States to be selected this year for the esteemed Beckman Scholars Program, which provides support for interdisciplinary undergraduate research fellowships in chemical and biological sciences.

            The scholarship awards will provide for undergraduate students as they conduct research under the direction of UNL faculty mentors from chemistry, biochemistry and biological sciences. The award, worth $115,800, will allow the university to provide scholarships over three years. Each year, a group of three to five students will be selected for UNL's Beckman Scholars Program.

            "We are pleased and very honored to be chosen for the Beckman program," said Gregory Snow, associate dean for research in UNL's College of Arts and Sciences. "In recent years, UNL has put an emphasis on the life sciences. The Beckman Foundation award serves as clear evidence that we have nationally recognized research programs in these areas."

            Three academic units within the colleges of Arts and Sciences, and Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources — chemistry, biochemistry, and biological sciences — will provide a group of experienced mentors for UNL's Beckman scholars, who will be announced May 15. In addition to the award from the Beckman Foundation, UNL will provide matching funds to help support the scholars.

            Snow said top-performing students would be recruited during their freshman or sophomore year for a mentored research experience. Each year, Beckman Scholars will be selected to join a mentor's research team with whom they are matched for two summers and the intervening academic year.

            The students will conduct research full-time during the summers and part-time as coursework allows during the academic year, with regular hours scheduled in the laboratory in consultation with their faculty mentor, Snow said. At the end of the students' second summer, he said, each scholar's goal will be to have research published in a peer-reviewed journal.

            "That goal is part of our effort to put the students on a trajectory that will lead to a research career in the life sciences," he said.

         Beckman Scholars also will become part of an elite Beckman Scholars Community, both on campus and with students from other universities. Members of this "Beckman community" will:

Ø Live in the same residence hall;
Ø Participate in specialized programming to support the development of professional and leadership skills;
Participate in special events with high-performing students in other disciplines;
Ø Participate in professional development workshops, including scholarship preparation; and
Ø Receive individualized support for the development of scholarship and/or fellowship applications and applications to graduate school.
         The majority of these activities will be offered through the University Honors Program, while the Beckman Scholars Program at UNL will be administered by a committee that includes Snow; Paul Black, chair of the Department of Biochemistry; John Osterman, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences; Mark Griep, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry; and Laura Damuth and Patrice Berger with the University Honors Program.

            Established in 1997 by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation of Irvine, Calif., the Beckman Scholars Program is an invited program for accredited universities and four-year colleges in the United States. The foundation awards grants to nonprofit research institutions for innovative scientific research in chemistry and the life sciences, and to foster the invention of new methods, instruments and materials that will open new avenues of research in science.

            In addition to UNL, the other Beckman institutions include St. Olaf College, Tufts University, the University of Florida, the University of Michigan, the University of Richmond, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Virginia, Wellesley College and Rice University.