Boston College is one of a dozen colleges and universities selected to receive a 2018 Beckman Scholars Program Award, which will fund six undergraduate research fellowships during the next three years.
The $156,000 grant from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation will support two Beckman Scholars a year for the next three years. The Beckman Scholars program provides an in-depth undergraduate research experience for exceptionally talented students at four-year colleges and universities in the U.S.
“The selection of BC to receive the Beckman Scholars Program is a very big deal,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Laura Anne Lowery, who joined with Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeff Byers as a co-principal investigator on the grant application to the foundation. “It is considered to be a very prestigious undergraduate honor. It is a great honor both for BC as an institution, as well as for the six students who will receive significant financial and career benefit from this program.”
Beckman Scholars conduct research under the guidance of faculty mentors who have been selected for their excellence in mentoring undergraduate researchers. The projects will all be highly interdisciplinary and address problems of significant social importance, which is in line with the theme for the program. In addition, Beckman Scholars will be given the opportunity to participate in professional or scientific meetings and attend the annual Beckman Scholars Symposium in Irvine, Calif. Scholars receive a stipend for research and funding for supplies and travel.
Selection of the scholars will be determined by the Beckman Scholars steering committee, which is composed of Byers, Lowery, Louise and James Vanderslice and Family Professor of Chemistry James Morken and Associate Professor of Biology Michelle Meyer.
“Beginning this year, students will spend two summers and a full academic year working on a research project with a faculty mentor,” said Byers.
While BC has been selected as a Beckman Scholars Program in the past, Byers said, “the application process is extremely competitive. BC’s latest proposal included connections to the new Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society and placed an emphasis on highly interdisciplinary projects, as well as projects with significant social significance.”
In addition, the University will sponsor programs in conjunction with the Beckman program. The Beckman Scholars Ideas Challenge is an event where BC students are given the opportunity to work with BC faculty to devise solutions to grand challenges in chemistry and biology. The Beckman Scholars Symposium Series is run by the Beckman Scholars, who select leaders in chemistry and biology to deliver lectures about their research to BC students and faculty.
“These added events are very different from BC’s earlier approach to the Beckman Scholars,” said Byers. “We’ve really tried to reimagine how the Beckman Scholars fit into the broader arena of BC’s commitment to cutting-edge research and its importance to society. We believe inclusion of these events was a major factor in BC’s selection as a host institution for Beckman Scholars.”
In addition to BC, other institutions receiving a 2018 Beckman Scholars Program Award include Amherst College, Barnard College, Case Western Reserve University and College of William and Mary.
Ed Hayward | University Communications