UA Beckman Scholars Program

About the UA Beckman Scholars Program

The Beckman Scholars Program, funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, helps stimulate, encourage and support research activities by exceptionally talented, full-time undergraduate students who are pursuing their studies at accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The Beckman Scholarship is a prestigious one, providing a total student stipend of $18,200 plus $2,800 for research supplies and travel support over the course of the 15-month experience. One to three Beckman Scholars may be selected annually.

The UA Beckman Scholarship Program gives undergraduates funding and support to conduct in-depth research with one of 15 stellar mentors in UA’s College of Science on a full-time basis for two consecutive summers, and part-time during the intervening academic year. UA Beckman Scholars work on a project of interest in their selected mentor’s lab and engage in professional development activities including serving as peer facilitators at the annual UBRP Ethics Retreat, leading undergraduates in small group discussions during the summer, inviting and hosting an eminent scientist to give a seminar at UA during the academic year, meeting with Beckman Mentors, and serving as student leaders within the Undergraduate Biology Research Program.

Eligibility for the 2019-2020 UA Beckman Scholars Program

To apply to UA’s Beckman Scholars Program you must:

  • Be a University of Arizona full-time undergraduate student majoring in any biological or chemical science.
  • Be a sophomore or junior at the time of application, graduating in May 2020 or later.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5.
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident of the United States.
  • Be willing and able to devote Summer 2019 and Summer 2020 (both full-time) and the intervening 2019-2020 academic year (part-time) to working on a research project.
  • Be willing and able to participate in the Beckman Foundation’s summer symposium, held in Irvine, CA, for both summers (travel expenses will be covered).
  • Be willing and able to serve as a summer small group leader and peer facilitator for Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP) participants, and engage in the professional development activities associated with this program.

UA Beckman Scholar Application Process

Students interested in the Beckman Scholarship must submit two items as part of the application process to the UBRP Office (Life Sciences South #348) by 4:00pm on Wednesday, January 30, 2019:

1. An Information Packet which includes the following items:

  • A complete 2019 Beckman Scholars Application Cover Page, including a list of the Beckman Mentors you would like to work with in order of preference.
  • A one-page personal statement describing your career goals and reasons for applying to be a Beckman Scholar.
  • A one-page description of your previous research experience.
  • Official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended.
  • One letter of recommendation from a math or science professor.
  • Your current course schedule indicating times available for interview.

2. Applicants will select ONE of the following selected Scientific American articles and write a five-page sample research proposal on the related prompt.  This proposal is NOT a proposal for the research you would be doing with a Beckman Mentor; rather this is an exercise to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to think creatively in terms of scientific research.

  • “Brain’s Dumped DNA May Lead to Stress, Depression” by Knvul Sheikh published in Scientific American, September 13, 2018 (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/brain-rsquo-s-dumped-dna-may-lead-to-stress-depression/). Prompt: Mitochondrial DNA has been shown to have a wide variety of notable properties, from its maternal pattern of inheritance to its role in stress response described in this article. Examine a notable property of mitochondrial DNA in the context of a mental or physical disorder and then develop a therapeutic treatment or diagnostic test that takes advantage of it.
  • “New Thalidomide-Like Therapy Hijacks Cells’ Trash-Disposal System” by Karen Weintraub, published in Scientific American, May 23, 2018 (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-thalidomide-like-therapy-hijacks-cells-trash-disposal-system/). Prompt: New thalidomide treatments can target specific proteins for degradation. Devise a strategy to specifically degrade a protein critical to a chosen disease by engineering or utilizing an existing cellular degradation mechanism and then demonstrate its efficacy.

A typical proposal of this type has several pieces:

  • Very brief introduction/specific aims (1 page or less).
  • Background and significance. Elaborate upon the problem you have chosen, explain current approaches to solve the problem, e.g. why you chose your approach versus other approaches (1-2 pages).
  • Describe specific aims and lay out experimental details/problems/solutions that elaborate on your aims from page 1 (1-2 pages). Clearly describe the logic behind your experiments and consider possible pitfalls.
  • Potential problems & solutions (0.5 page).
  • Make sure to cite all relevant background articles that form the basis for your proposal and any figures that you use.

UA Beckman Scholar Selection

A committee will review students’ application packets and evaluate the creativity/merit of their research proposals. The most highly qualified applicants will be invited for an interview with the selection committee the week of February 18, 2019. At the interview, applicants will give a 10-minute presentation on their proposal to the selection committee. All applicants will be notified of their acceptance or rejection for the UA Beckman Scholarship by March 1, 2019.

Questions?

Please contact Jennifer Cubeta (cubeta@email.arizona.edu) in the Undergraduate Biology Research Office at (520) 621-9348.