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Chemistry department receives Beckman award to support undergraduate research

APRIL 23, 2012
by Vince Moore, Media Relations

GREENVILLE, S.C.—Furman University is one of 11 schools nationally to receive a Beckman Scholars Program Institutional Award, a highly competitive grant supporting scientific research by undergraduates.

The $77,200 grant was awarded to Furman’s Chemistry Department and will fund four Beckman scholarships over a three-year period beginning this summer.

This is the 15th year of the Beckman program, and Furman is one of only three baccalaureate institutions to have received at least five of the awards over the history of the program.

Each year the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation invites approximately 100 schools, from baccalaureate to major research institutions, to apply for the grants. This year, 36 of the applications were selected for extensive review by a panel of distinguished professors.

“I salute your commitment to quality undergraduate research,” said Jacqueline Dorrance, executive director of the Beckman Foundation, in notifying Furman of the grant.

The other schools to receive grants this year are Allegheny College, Bucknell University, Hope College, San Francisco State University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of California at Davis, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Chicago, University of Oregon and Vanderbilt University.

The chemistry majors named Beckman Scholars at Furman will receive scholarships of $19,300 each and will be required to do research part-time during one academic year and full-time during two summers. This scholarship includes funds for travel to scientific meetings and for research supplies.

According to Furman chemistry professor Paul Wagenknecht, the success of the university’s 15 former Beckman Scholars was instrumental in Furman receiving another award this year.

“Seven of our former scholars enrolled in chemistry Ph.D. programs, four entered M.D./Ph.D. programs, and three attended medical school,” Wagenknecht said.  “Another entered graduate school in public health administration after serving for two years as a volunteer at rural health clinics in Africa and India.”

Furman’s Beckman Scholars have earned a number of fellowships to continue their education and research. They’ve received five National Science Foundation graduate fellowships, two NCAA postgraduate fellowships, a National Defense Science and Engineering graduate fellowship, and a National Institutes of Health doctoral training fellowship.

“This impressive group has published 62 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and given more than 100 scientific presentations,” Wagenknecht said.

For more information, contact Dr. Wagenknecht at 864-294-2905.

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