Beckman Scholars

Since 1997 the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has provided funding to colleges and universities to support the highest level of undergraduate student research. Each year, the foundation invites more than 150 universities to apply to the Beckman Scholars program, and selects only nine to 15 proposals to fund.

Richmond received its first Beckman Scholars grant in 2006, and was selected again in 2009, in 2013, 2016 and 2020 ($18,200 for two summers and one academic year). As described on the Beckman website, each of these grants is intended to "provide scholarships that contribute significantly in advancing the education, research training and personal development of selected students in chemistry, biochemistry, and the biological and medical sciences. The sustained, in-depth undergraduate research experiences and comprehensive faculty mentoring are unique in terms of program scope, content and level of scholarship awards ($19,300 for two summers and one academic year)." Beckman Scholars present their research at the Beckman Scholars conference at the end of their second year.

Students who are chosen to represent Richmond as Beckman Scholars are exceptional. The Beckman Foundation outlines specific characteristics that institutions should consider when selecting scholars. Scholars should have already demonstrated a commitment to research, have strong academic records and have seriously considered their career trajectory. Scholars are typically selected during their junior year, have demonstrated leadership qualities and superior communication skills during their tenure at Richmond and are already preparing for advanced study at the graduate level. 

University of Richmond Beckman Scholars

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  • 2024-2025

    Marcos Hendler

    Mentor: Carol Parish

    Marcos is studying the cyclization energetics of anticancer prodrugs based upon the enediyne scaffold. His results will provide fundamental structure-activity insights and lead to a better understanding of these important drugs such that can be triggered to cyclize only under very specific cellular conditions.

    Aine MacDermott

    Mentor: Melinda Yang

    Aine’s research focuses on the evolution of the alcohol metabolism gene ADH1B in present-day and ancient East Asian humans. In particular, she is interested in clarifying the origin, intensity, and timing of positive selection for the spread of variants in the ADH1B gene.

    Media Release: Two UR Students Receive Beckman Awards to Further Faculty-Mentored Research on Anti-Cancer Drugs and Ancient DNA

  • 2023-2024

    Abigail Ali

    Mentor: Isaac Skromne

    Abigail’s research aims to develop calcium-binding carbon nanoparticles to deliver proteins to bones to treat skeletal diseases.

    Auden Wilson

    Mentor: Julie Pollock

    Wilson’s research is focused on the development of photoactivated chemotherapies for lung and breast cancer treatment. In particular, he is interested in understanding their mechanisms of action in order to design better therapeutics.

    Media Release: Two UR Students Awarded Competitive Beckman Scholarships to Further Faculty-Mentored Research on Fighting Diseases.

  • 2022-2023

    Camryn Carter

    Mentor: Carol Parish

    Carter’s research focuses on understanding the molecular behavior of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the causative agent of the COVID-19 disease. In particular, she focuses on how the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor, gaining entry to human cells. She is using docking and molecular dynamics to study the effectiveness of viral mutation and to design drugs to block cellular entry.

    Beckman News: 2022 BSP Camryn Carter Accepted to MIT2022 BSP Camryn Carter Published in the Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling2022 BSP Camryn Carter Selected by Cell Press For a Rising Black Scientist Award

    Helen Xia

    Mentor: Wade Downey

    Xia’s studies the elaboration of indoles, a biologically and pharmaceutically important class of compounds, with nitrone, aldehyde, and acetate electrophiles. Indole-containing pharmaceuticals are useful in the treatment of migraines, nausea, and many types of cancer.

    Beckman News: Beckman Friday Feature: Helen XiaHelen Xia Named Goldwater Scholar

    Media Release: University of Richmond Students Awarded Prestigious Beckman Scholarships to Further Undergraduate Research in the Sciences

  • 2021-2022

    Harry Dang

    Mentor: Michael Leopold

    Dang’s research is focused on the development of cost-effective and portable sensors used by law enforcement, health professionals, and consumers to screen for explosives, drugs, and disease biochemical indicators.

  • 2020-2021

    Julia Vidlak

    Mentor: Miles Johnson

    Vidlak’s research is focused on the synthesis of new catalysts for catalytic cross-coupling reactions that are needed for the efficient and selective synthesis of pharmaceuticals.

  • 2018-2019

    Najwa Labban

    Mentors: Julie Pollock and Michael Leopold

    Labban’s research focused on the incorporation of enzymes into biosensor schemes for the detection of abnormal concentrations of biomolecules in diseases such as prostate cancer, galactosemia, and sepsis.

    Post-graduation activity: MD-PhD program at the University of Virginia

  • 2017-2018

    Arjun Jaini

    Mentors: Carol Parish and Michael Leopold

    Arjun’s research focused on the computational and experimental design of halogen-based sensors. He also worked on understanding the aggregation behavior of asphaltenes and tautomerization of enediynes.

    Post-graduation activity: PhD program in Materials Chemistry at Yale University

  • 2016-2017

    Hannah Small

    Mentor: Linda Boland

    Small’s research focused on how different potassium ion channels regulate action potential firing and investigated metabolic regulation of cellular excitability.

    Post-graduation activity: Research Assistant, Brain and Cognitive Sciences Dept., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Michael Pannell

    Mentor: Michael Leopold

    Pannell’s research focused on the use of nanoparticle networks as functional components of amperiometric biosensors designed for the detection of clinically relevant targets.

    Post-graduaction activity: Post-Baccalaureate Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  • 2015-2016

    Adam Luxon

    Mentor: Carol Parish

    Adam’s research involved understanding the singlet and triplet cyclization pathways for enediynes as well as the aggregation behavior of asphaltenes.

    Post-graduation activity: PhD program in Chemical Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University

    Scott Yeudall

    Mentor: John Gupton

    Scott Yeudall’s research focused on developing new organic chemical reactions to synthesize Lycogarubin C, which is an important and novel antitumor agent

    Post-graduation activity: MD-PhD program at the University of Virginia

  • 2014-2015

    Tyler Heist

    Mentor: Malcolm Hill

    Heist’s research involved Investigating Intracellular Symbiont Dynamics in Sponge:Symbiodinium Relationships.

    Post-graduation activity: Quantitative and Computational Biology (QCB) graduate program at Princeton University

  • 2013-2014

    Caroline Braun

    Mentor: Kristine Nolin

    Braun’s thesis focused on Addition Reactions of Electron-Deficient Cyclopropanes Catalyzed by Calcium(II) Complexes.

    Post-graduation activity: Ph.D. in chemistry at Vanderbilt University

  • 2012-2013

    Emily McFadden

    Mentor: Michelle Hamm

    McFadden studied the mutagenic potential of the damaged deoxynucleotide 8-oxo-2’-deoxyguanosine with different DNA polymerases.

  • 2011-2012

    Sarah Rhoads

    Mentor: Lisa Gentile

    Rhoads worked on a project geared at understanding the regulation of ionotropic glutamate receptors.

    Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School

    Ian Winters

    Mentor: April Hill

    Winters’ research focused on developing an RNA interference methodology for the knockdown of gene expression in sponges.

    Post-graduation activity: Stanford University School of Medicine Biosciences PhD Program in Genetics

  • 2010-2011

    Sally Fisher

    Mentor: Carol Parish

    Fisher’s research focused on Dynamics and folding pathways of the tetratricopeptide repeat region in the cargo binding domain of Kinesin motor proteins.

    Read more about Sally in our newsroom.

    Andrew Massaro

    Beckman Mentor: Malcolm Hill

    Massaro’s research focused on Trophic status of tropical marine sponges: the effects of symbiosis and temperature on feeding behavior.

    Post-graduation activity: Studies at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

  • 2008-2009

    Ben Giglio

    Mentor: John Gupton

    Giglio’s research focused on the Application of Vinylogous Iminium Salts to the Synthesis of Biologically Active, Marine Natural Products of the Lamellarin.

    Post-graduation activity: Studies University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry

  • 2007-2008

    Kathryn L. Holstien

    Mentor: April Hill

    Holstien’s research focused on the Unexpected Diversity of T-box Transcription Factors in Porifera.

    Post-graduation activity: Studies in developmental biology at Baylor University

    Evan B. Wang

    Mentor: Carol Parish

    Wang’s research focused on the Conformational Analysis of Trans-fused Ether Rings in Brevetoxin A.

    Post-graduation activity: University of California at Berkeley to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry

  • 2006-2007

    Robert W. Contino

    Mentor: Craig Kinsley

    Contino’s research focused on the effect of Maternal Reproductive Experience on Cytochrome c Oxidase mRNA Concentration in the Rat Brain.

    Post-graduation activity: Emory University Medical School

    Sarah M. Remmert

    Mentor: Carol Parish

    Remmert’s reserch focused on the Spin-Flip Studies of Diradicals.

    Post-graduation activity: Studies at Oxford University on a Clarendon Scholarship