Academic Stories

Beckman Scholars Program receives three more years of funding

Program fosters independent research for undergraduates in chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has awarded the University of Chicago another three years of funding to support the Beckman Scholars Program, which fosters independent research by undergraduates in chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology.

For the past fifteen years, under the direction of Stephen Kron, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, Sean Crosson, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Juliana Feder, Executive Administrator of the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, the program has offered intensive training to rising scientists, who meet weekly to discuss research and professional development. With the guidance of the program directors and faculty mentors, Beckman Scholars develop experience in experimental design and methodology, practice evaluating each other’s research, and present their work to broad audiences in an environment that combines intellectual rigor with mutual encouragement.

The Beckman Scholars Program selects six undergraduates over the course of three years to conduct research in the laboratories of faculty especially chosen for their scientific accomplishments and commitment to undergraduate research. Scholars become integrated members of their mentoring labs, participating in all scientific activities and contributing an independent research project. Considered the highest honor and most competitive research fellowship for STEM undergraduates, the Beckman Scholars Program has demonstrated an impressive record of launching alumni into postgraduate work in science, with eighteen of the past twenty-four awardees entering graduate school and several entering careers in academia, industry, and medicine.

In 2019, John S. Anderson, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and himself a former UChicago Beckman Scholar, takes the helm as Program Director. "It's exciting for me to be part of the continued success of this program, which is the premier undergraduate research experience in the sciences at UChicago," says Anderson. "I know that it played a formative role in my development as a scientist, introducing me to the right way to engage in rigorous scientific discourse and how to critique and understand a broad range of scientific topics. Now it's my turn to try and pass on this same experience to another generation of scholars." 

The 2019 Beckman Scholars will be the first cohort to be funded for two full years with additional support from the University. Applications for the program are due on January 31.

Originally published by the Department of Chemistry on Jan. 28, 2019.