The University of Arizona is awarded the Beckman Fellowship Program 2022

Today’s undergraduate researchers are tomorrow’s scientists. Helping students become independent and critical thinkers is essential, and giving them access to research opportunities helps to strengthen their own future as well as the future of scientific research. As part of this effort, the Beckman Fellowship Program provides the opportunity for outstanding undergraduate students in the chemical and biological sciences to develop as scientists through independent research and mentorship.

A prestigious award, the Beckman Scholars Program is awarded to only a handful of institutions that meet the criteria. These institutions must demonstrate a commitment to undergraduate research, have competed successfully nationally for scientific research funding, and have dedicated faculty who have demonstrated an exceptional ability to mentor undergraduate students. As such, it is a great honor that one of this year’s Beckman Scholars Program 2022 scholarships has been awarded to the University of Arizona following a competitive process administered by the Arnold Foundation and Mabel Beckman. Pictured right are the last four Beckman Scholars from UArizona: Catherine Weibel, Amanda Warner, Randall Eck, and Jamie Takashima.

The UArizona Beckman Fellowship Program 2022 is led by Dr. Daniela Zarnescu, Molecular and Cellular Biology faculty member and experienced Beckman mentor. Faculty mentors come from three UArizona departments within the College of Science: Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology. The program will be housed within the Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP) and administered by Ms. Marisa Lester, UBRP Deputy Program Director. The UBRP is an ongoing research initiative at UArizona that has been on campus since 1988 and is designed to teach science to students by involving them in research. UBPR will provide additional support to selected Beckman Fellows by integrating them into a peer network of fellow undergraduate researchers and by involving and co-leading workshops.

The 2022 award supports six undergraduate students, two per year for three years. Beckman Fellows will be selected through a careful process that includes an original research proposal demonstrating the student’s creativity, analytical skills, and familiarity with the scientific process. Selected scholars will work with a faculty mentor on an independent research project. These mentors, also members of the UBRP, were recruited on the basis of their scientific expertise, their experience working with undergraduate students and their demonstrated commitment to mentorship. New Fellows will also be supported by former Beckman Fellows.

As part of the program, Beckman Fellows are encouraged to write a peer-reviewed publication of their research. This will help students develop their scientific writing skills as well as better understand the peer review process. Fellows will also develop leadership and professional skills by inviting and arranging for a distinguished scholar to speak at a Beckman Lecture each year. These speakers will be supported by funds committed by Dr. Betsy Cantwell, senior vice president of research at UArizona. Additionally, researchers will communicate their research to the public by appearing on KXCI Community Radio’s weekly program “Thesis Thursday”.

An important aspect of recruiting and selecting scholars and mentors is a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Ethnic and racial minorities, people with disabilities and first-generation students are often underrepresented in scientific research programs. As such, the Beckman Scholars Program 2022 will actively recruit and select students from the University of Arizona’s diverse student body. Additionally, the program’s Beckman mentors represent a diverse group of faculty across the three participating departments.

Beckman Fellows are leaders among their peers and significant contributors to their respective fields of research. Beckman alumni have gone on to pursue professional and graduate programs at some of the world’s most prestigious institutions. Receiving this award showcases excellence in undergraduate research at the University of Arizona. For more information about the program at UArizona and the application process, please visit: https://ubrp.arizona.edu/programs/beckman-scholars-program.

From: Christine Acosta

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