Applications for the 2014-15 Beckman Scholarships due February 24

Applications for the 2014-15 Beckman Scholars Program are due Monday, February 24. Detailed instructions on how to apply can be found in the 2013 program announcement. The basic requirements are that you develop a research plan with one of the mentors listed below, and commit to spending two summers and the intervening academic year working in their lab. You will also be required to attend national and international conferences, including two at the Beckman Institute in Irvine, California, and to take a class in technical writing and communication. Sorry, but only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible.

Three scholarships awarded annually!

Thanks to the generous support of the Vice President for Research, we are proud to be able to offer not two, but three scholarships for 2013-2016! We are also instituting new programs to support your development as a young scholar.

About Beckman at UVA

The "Equal Partners in Discovery" Beckman Scholars program at UVA will provide annually one or more $19,300 scholarships to highly talented, research-oriented students who will work in select mentors’ laboratories for two summers and the intervening academic year. In addition to summer salary and academic year financial support, these scholarships sponsor travel to and participation in national scientific meetings, and promote a professional level of research achievement during the undergraduate years.

Funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and in its second consecutive funding cycle, the intent of this program is to advance the education, research training and personal development of select students in chemistry, biochemistry, and the biological and medical sciences.

2013 Scholars

Ms. Anna Brosnahan is mentored by Dr. Brent Gunnoe (Chemistry, Dr. Harman presenting). Anna works to revolutionize the production of alternative fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics and paints by developing new platinum catalysts for the production of ethylbenzene – a precursor of the more complex organic compounds that comprise each of these.

Mr. Andrew Lankenau is mentored by Dr. Dean Harman (Chemistry). Andrew is working to unlock the potential for using aromatic hydrocarbons – abundant and stable molecules – in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. His project focuses on creating tungsten-based compounds to break open these aromatic compounds, but do so in a stereospecific manner – a necessary step in the creation of effective and safe drugs.

The UVA sponsored Beckman Scholar for this year is Mr. Tristan Jones mentored by Dr. Jeff Saucerman (BME). Tristan is working toward improved treatment of heart disease based on regenerative medicine – inducing host cells to change or “differentiate” into beating heart cells that can be implanted to improve cardiac function after heart attacks. His immediate research goal is daunting - the trans-differentiation of 40% of commonplace fibroblasts into functioning heart cells.

Our Scholars are joined by our outstanding 2013 finalists - Nate Hirscher (Chemistry), Adam Goode (BME), and Tomihiro Ono (Chemistry).

Scholar Alumni

The 2012-2013 Beckman Scholars were Ms. Kelsey Murrell mentored by Dr. Richard Price and graduate co-mentor Josh Meisner(BME, left), and Ms. Allison Kramer mentored by Dr. William Guilford (BME, right).

Kelsey's research goal was to determine the role of the signaling enzyme Focal Adhesion Kinase in macrophages, which are agents of the immune system that play a critical role in the expansion of existing blood vessels when blood flow through normal circulatory channels is blocked. Her work could lead to better understanding and treatment of peripheral artery disease.

Allison developed new laboratory methods to isolate functioning molecular motors from minuscule samples of neural tissue. Her long term goal was to determine whether defective transport systems in nerve cells are the root cause of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The 2011-20112 Beckman Scholars shown at left are Mr. Vlad Sviderskiy and Ms. Monica Li, both mentored by Dr. Dean Harman (Professor and Chair of Chemistry). The year's other outstanding finalists were Gretchen Verrilli and Katherine Estep.

Vlad focused his efforts on the synthesis of new organometallic catalysts to aid in the electrolytic splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen. His work has obvious applications in the generation and storage of renewable energy.

Monica's project focused on developing novel approaches to drug synthesis with arenes as a starting material – a largely untapped yet abundant resource for new pharmacologic agents.

laib and guilford chien and fraser
The 2010-2011 Beckman Scholars shown at left are Mr. Alan Chien (mentored by Cassandra Fraser of Chemistry) and Ms. Jeneva Laib (mentored by William Guilford of Biomedical Engineering).

Alan and Jeneva were chosen from an outstanding field of finalists including Jackie Hodges, Justin Kim, Jeremy Louissant, Vlad Sviderskiy, and Laura Wang. Both have finished their degrees. Alan is attending graduate school in Chemistry, while Jeneva is working in the public sector.

Alan's project was to develop difluoroboron complexes to serve as pH and mechanochromic sensors – that is, compounds that change color in response to pH changes and physical impacts. These will have applications spanning the study of cell biology, to novel debris impact sensors for space flight.

Jeneva's research was directed to the understanding of how molecular motors – proteins used by cells to transport cargo – are regulated and coordinated.  It is her hope that this research will lead to better understanding of neurodegenerative and developmental diseases.


William H. Guilford, Ph.D.

Program Director
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Virginia
Box 800759
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
(434) 243-2740

Ms. Angel Thompson

Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Virginia
Box 800759
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
(434) 924-5101

2013-16 Beckman Mentors

Linda Columbus (Chemistry)
Membrane protein structure, function, and dynamics.
Cassandra Fraser (Chemistry)
Synthesis, properties and applications of metal complexes with polymeric ligands.
William Guilford (Biomedical Engineering)
Function and regulation of molecular motors in cell contraction and movement.
Brent Gunnoe (Chemistry)
Organometallic chemistry, homogeneous catalysis, and small molecule activation.
Dean Harman (Chemistry)
Organometallic Chemistry, Organic Synthesis, Electrocatalysis; Activation of aromatic molecules.
Jay Hirsh (Biology)
Behavioral roles of biogenic amine neurotransmitters in the fruit fly.
Michael Menaker (Biology)
Organization of the circadian systems of vertebrates.
Cameron Mura (Chemistry)
Structure, function, and evolution of RNA- and DNA-based protein assemblies.
Craig Nunemaker (Medicine)
Mechanisms of inflammatory-mediated pancreatic islet dysfunction related to diabetes.
Jason Papin (Biomedical Engineering)
Biochemical network reconstruction and analysis; infectious disease and cancer.
Shayn Peirce-Cottler (Biomedical Engineering)
Combinations of angiogenic growth factors in microvascular remodeling.
Richard Price (Biomedical Engineering)
Bone marrow-derived cell regulation of microvascular remodeling.
Jeff Saucerman (Biomedical Engineering)
Signaling and transcriptional networks in heart function and failure.
Jill Venton (Chemistry)
Sensing and sampling techniques for the detection of new molecules in the brain.

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