UCSB is one of nine new recipients of the Beckman Scholars Program, which will provide two undergraduate students every year for the next three years the opportunity to conduct research under faculty in chemical, engineering, and biological fields.

The Beckman Scholars Program is available to distinguished four-year research universities and colleges within the United States. In order to receive the scholarship, a university must be invited to apply based on their reputation and the environment that the university fosters for undergraduate research. Members of the faculty at a university must write a proposal to the Beckman Program requesting that the scholarship be granted to their institution.

According to Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Kathy Foltz, a participating faculty mentor, the program provides students another means of pursuing research opportunities during their undergraduate educations.

“Undergraduate research fellowships, such as the Beckman Scholarships, are wonderful opportunities for students who plan on a career in research to experience the process of scientific research at an early stage,” Foltz said. “The monetary award enables students to focus on research as a member of a scientific team. There are many opportunities for UCSB students to participate in the scientific research process; the new Beckman Scholars Program is just one of many paths, albeit a highly prestigious path, for doing so.”

According to Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Todd Squires, a participating faculty mentor, the Beckman Scholars Program will equip recipients with skills that will benefit them throughout their educational careers.

“The Beckman Scholars Program provides a fantastic opportunity for talented undergraduate researchers to devote themselves to a deep and challenging research project over a sustained period of time,” Squires said. “In addition to a very generous stipend, it provides support for research supplies and for travel. Beckman Scholars will participate in a strong mentorship program, designed to expose them to various aspects of academic research and to prepare them to present their work in scientific meetings, to publish their research, to prepare grant applications, and to succeed in graduate school. The Beckman Scholar will get an incredible opportunity for research and mentorship, and UCSB will get to showcase how phenomenal our students are. It is tremendous news”

Students are eligible to apply to be a Beckman Scholar if they are majoring in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or chemical engineering, are of sophomore or junior year standing, and possess a GPA of 3.3 or above in their major courses. Students would also have to obtain a letter of recommendation from a faculty member. The application deadline is Monday, May 2 at 5 PM. The scholarship is a grant of $19,300 that would go entirely to the students’ research expenses.

If awarded the grant, Beckman Scholars will commit to a 15-month long program of academic and professional activities intended to supplement their research experience. The program will consist of a 10-week research program in a faculty mentor’s lab during the summer, continued research throughout the academic year, followed by an addition 10-week summer of intensive research. Along with the time devoted to research, Scholars will be required to attend meetings, workshops, and events intended to further develop their academic and professional skills. This all would culminate in a final presentation of the Scholars’ research at the National Beckman Scholars Meeting.

According to Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Songi Han, a participating faculty mentor, the program can work as an inspiration for many students even though it only can provide support to a few.

“The Beckman Scholarship is an extremely prestigious program that is going to have a huge benefit among students,” Han said. “Even though one may think that providing a scholarship to only two students each year is rather narrow, it sets the stage and motivates future students to pursue research opportunities when they wouldn’t have considered it before. This program acts as an inspiration for students and triggers an interest in pursuing various research opportunities, even if that student doesn’t obtain the Beckman Scholarship.”