University of Pittsburgh
March 26, 2015

Pitt Named 2015 Beckman Scholars Program Institution

Three-year grant will help undergraduates develop science research and communication skills in preparation for graduate study, careers
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh has been granted the Beckman Scholars Program Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. The program is one of the nation’s foremost awards for helping universities to prepare undergraduate students for graduate-level study and careers in the life-sciences fields. 

The Beckman Scholars Program Award—a three-year institutional grant—provides aid for students selected by the awarded institutions to conduct large-scale, independent research projects under the guidance of university faculty members. In addition to developing research skills, the program seeks to hone award recipients’ communication skills by offering them opportunities to present findings at public meetings as well as in scholarly journals. 

This is the fourth time that Pitt has been granted the Beckman Scholars Program Award. The University is one of only 12 institutions of higher education in the nation to be bestowed with the program in 2015, joining such notable colleges and universities as the College of William & Mary, Columbia University, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Yale University. 

The Beckman Scholars Program at the University of Pittsburgh will be overseen by the University Honors College, which will serve as a unifying framework for award recipients working in disciplines across campus. Pitt Beckman Scholars will be chosen from the University’s Department of Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering and the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Neuroscience within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Select faculty members from these departments as well as the University Honors College have been chosen to serve on mentoring, selection, and steering committees for the program. 

“This honor is a testament to the University of Pittsburgh’s well-earned reputation as a world-class institution of higher learning that has consistently produced scholars recognized at the highest levels of national and international achievement,” said University Honors College Dean Edward M. Stricker, who will serve as director of Pitt’s Beckman Scholars Program. “With the Beckham Scholars Program Award, the University of Pittsburgh will support our community of undergraduate researchers with a unique research opportunity and pave the way for future careers in scientific advancement and innovation.” 

The University of Pittsburgh will receive $156,000 for six Beckman Scholar Awards, beginning in the summer of 2015. Each Beckman Scholar will receive aid in the amount of $26,000 for 16 months of research study, consisting of two consecutive summer semesters as well as the intermediate academic year. The funding amount will include a $5,000 mentor stipend for the related research needs of the faculty mentor supervising the project. 

Pitt Beckman Scholars will conduct research 40 hours per week during the summer semesters of the program and 10 hours per week during the academic school year. They will present their progress to the Pitt Beckman Scholar selection and steering committees, and they will be required to present at least one poster at a University or departmental research symposium and attend at least one national meeting or conference. Each Beckman Scholar will present his or her final research findings by giving a 40-minute public lecture and preparing a report in the form of a scholarly article. 

Applicants must first be nominated by designated faculty members in the involved departments. They will be required to have at least a 3.8 GPA and more than two years of undergraduate research experience in the laboratory of a Pitt faculty member. Finalists will be asked to submit research proposals and participate in interviews with the selection committee. Each awardee will be chosen based on his or her communication skills, ability to think independently, and potential to be able to explore hypotheses within a laboratory setting. 

Established in 1977, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes research in the life-science fields. The foundation is named for American scientist and philanthropist Arnold Orville Beckman and his wife Mabel.