March 23, 2006
Director of Media Relations
(413) 542-8417

AMHERST, Mass. — The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation (Irvine, Calif.) has selected Amherst College as one of 13 recipients of the 2006 Beckman Scholars Program award. The award will provide $77,200 over the next three years to support student research in chemistry, biochemistry and neuroscience, and recognizes Amherst’s commitment to quality undergraduate research. Amherst was one of 122 colleges and universities invited to compete for an award last fall, and is one of only three liberal arts colleges among the 13 participants in the Beckman Scholars Program this spring.

Established in 1997, the Beckman Scholars Program is designed to encourage and support research activities by exceptionally talented undergraduates working in the areas of chemistry, biochemistry, biology and the medical sciences. Amherst’s award will enable participating faculty over the next three years to select four juniors as Beckman Scholars, each one completing a senior thesis that addresses a significant research problem. Each Beckman Scholar will work closely with an individual faculty mentor for two summers and the intervening academic year; the final summer will focus on helping the graduate to prepare his or her work for possible publication. In addition, all Beckman Scholars will attend an annual research symposium at the Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, Calif., during the two summers of their scholarship.

“These funds will allow four undergraduates over three academic years to receive stipends to participate in summer undergraduate research,” says Patricia O’Hara, the Thalheimer Professor of Chemistry at Amherst. “We have sketched out a tiered progression through the undergraduate research experience, starting with a research proposal and ending up with presentation of results at a scientific meeting. In this way, we have tried to mirror experiences students will have in graduate school and guide our undergraduates through these experiences so that they will be fully prepared to meet the challenges of the best graduate schools in the country.”

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation was established in 1977 by the late inventor, philanthropist and founder of Beckman Instruments, Inc., a manufacturer of biomedical laboratory technologies. The foundation makes grants to non-profit research institutions to promote research in chemistry and the life sciences, broadly interpreted, and particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments, and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.