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February 19, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 11

Beckman Program Renewed

Scholarships will fund more undergraduate research in sciences

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

The sciences at Boston College have received an added boost with the renewal of the Beckman Scholars Program that supports undergraduate research in biology and chemistry.

BC is among 13 colleges and universities that will be awarded funding in 2004-06 for undergraduate research scholarships in chemistry and the life sciences, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation announced.

Five BC students over that period will receive Beckman Scholarships, each of which provides $17,600 for two summers and one academic year of research in the laboratory of a faculty mentor.

Boston College currently is in the third year of a Beckman award shared by the Biology and Chemistry departments, and had been invited by the Beckman Foundation to apply for a renewal.

Five Beckman Scholars supported by that initial award from 2001 have been engaged in research on areas ranging from nanotechnology to the cell biology of the sea urchin. Work with Prof. John Fourkas (Chemistry) on laser microscopy helped Beckman Scholar Thomas Kempa '04 land a Marshall Scholarship to Cambridge.

"The current Beckman Scholar award has not only helped us to provide a unique and rewarding research experience for five of our most outstanding undergraduates, but has also added additional energy to an already robust undergraduate research program in both departments," said Prof. David L. McFadden, Chemistry chairman.

"The new award will allow us both to make this exceptional, interdisciplinary program available to five more of the most advanced students in biology, chemistry and biochemistry and, in a broader sense, to continue to foster enthusiasm for scientific research among our majors at the earliest stages of their college careers."

DeLuca Professor and Biology Department chairman Marc Muskavitch said: "The renewal of the Beckman Scholars award is a strong endorsement of the continuing commitment of our faculty to integrating undergraduates into their active research programs, and to creating a community of scholars made up of graduate students, postdoctoral associates, and undergraduates."

Fourkas, who will direct the renewed Beckman Scholars program at BC with Prof. David Burgess (Biology), attended a symposium in Irvine, Calif., last summer for Beckman Scholars from across the nation.

"The attendees were the most outstanding undergraduate researchers and the most dedicated faculty members imaginable," Fourkas said. "It's an incredible honor for Boston College to again be named part of this elite group. More importantly, it helps to further foster the excitement for research shared by so many of the undergraduates in the Biology and Chemistry departments.

"Above and beyond the outstanding research opportunities afforded to these undergraduates, this award will provide an unparalleled chance for those students selected as Scholars to excel in their projects, to attend national conferences, and to interact with their peers from other institutions at the Beckman Scholars' Symposium," he said.

A selection committee led by the Biology and Chemistry chairmen and including faculty from both departments chooses the Beckman Scholars, each of whom pursues at least 15 months' training in the lab of a faculty mentor. Science students who have strong academic credentials and participate in one of the University's honors programs will be invited to apply to the selection committee.

More information on the Beckman Scholars Program is available at www.bc.edu/schools/cas/biology/undergrad/specprogs/beckman/.

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