Equal Partners in Discovery

2015-16 Scholars

Ms. Caroline Kerr was mentored by Cassandra Fraser of Chemistry. Caroline worked to develop a new class of nano-scale oxygen sensors that can be directed to any desired tissue. These new oxygen nanosensors, it is hoped, will demonstrate their usefulness by imaging oxygen in cancerous tumors and other tissues.
Ms. Yi-Ting Liu was mentored by Dr. Jay Hirsh of Biology. Yi-Ting is working to understand the biological clock – our internal rhythm of sleep and arousal. Specifically, she studied where in nerve cells the neurotransmitter dopamine is located, and how that location is tied to the biological clock.
The UVA sponsored Scholar for 2015 was Mr. Naveed Tavakol mentored by Shayn Pierce-Cottler of Biomedical Engineering. Naveed studied pericytes – cells that surround the endothelial cells that line capillaries. He worked to understand whether pericytes can change into smooth muscle cells and in doing so contribute to the growth of new blood vessels.

2014-15 Scholars

Mr. Christopher Waters was mentored by Dr. Craig Nunemaker (Medicine). Christopher worked to understand type II diabetes. He tested a novel idea – that an excessive metabolic rate in cells of the pancreas leads to glucose hypersensitivity and ultimately to diabetes. If true, this will be a major new insight into the mechanisms of this fast growing disease.
Ms. Catherine Henry was mentored by Dr. Shayn Peirce-Cottler (Biomedical Engineering). Catherine worked to understand the biomechanics of the diaphragm, and how they change during Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Her unique combination of animal models, computational models, and microscopy shed new light on the respiratory failure that so often marks the end of life with this disease.
The UVA sponsored Scholar for 2014 was Ms. Rachel Stadler was mentored by Dr. William Guilford (BME). Rachel studied the motile system of a disease-causing, single-celled parasite, and doing so at the level of the individual molecules that cause it to move and invade cells. Her work may inform drug development for malaria, cryptosporidosis, and toxoplasmosis.

2013-14 Scholars

Ms. Anna Brosnahan was mentored by Dr. Brent Gunnoe (Chemistry, Dr. Harman presenting). Anna worked 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 was mentored by Dr. Dean Harman (Chemistry). Andrew's project was to create tungsten-based compounds to break open aromatic compounds, but do so in a stereospecific manner – a necessary step in the creation of effective and safe drugs.
Our UVa sponsored Scholar for 2013 was Mr. Tristan Jones mentored by Dr. Jeff Saucerman (Biomedical Engineering). Tristan worked 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.

2012-13 Scholars

Ms. Kelsey Murrell was mentored by Dr. Richard Price and graduate co-mentor Josh Meisner(BME). 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.
Ms. Allison Kramer was mentored by Dr. William Guilford (BME). 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.

2011-12 Scholars

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). 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.

The inaugural 2010-11 Scholars

laib and guilford Mr. Alan Chien was mentored by Cassandra Fraser (Chemistry). 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.
chien and fraser Ms. Jeneva (Laib) Cronin was mentored by William Guilford (BME). 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.


Kitter Bishop


Kitter Bishop is the Program Coordinator for our Beckman Scholars. Write to Kitter with questions about submitting your application, or about events like the Annual Banquet.

Email Ms. Bishop

William Guilford


Will Guilford is the Program Director for Beckman Scholars at UVA. Write to him with questions about the program, support for current Scholars, or general inquiries from the press.

Email Dr. Guilford