Pitt Is Named 2015 Beckman Scholars Program Institution

Issue Date: 
April 13, 2015

The University of Pittsburgh has been granted the Beckman Scholars Program Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. The program designation is one of the nation’s foremost awards for helping universities 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 faculty guidance. The program also offers students opportunities to present findings at public meetings as well as in scholarly journals. 

This is the fourth time that Pitt has won the award, which was given in 2015 to only  11 other institutions, including the College of William & Mary, Columbia University, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Yale University. 

Pitt’s University Honors College will oversee the University’s Beckman Scholars Program. Scholars will be chosen from the 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 will serve on the Pitt program’s mentoring, selection, and steering committees. 

“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 program. “With the Beckman 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.” 

Pitt will receive $156,000 for six Beckman Scholar Awards, beginning this summer. Each scholar will receive $26,000 for 16 months of research, comprising two consecutive summer semesters as well as the intermediate academic year. The funding amount will include a $5,000 stipend for the faculty mentor’s related research needs. 

Pitt Beckman Scholars will conduct research 40 hours a week during the summer semesters and 10 hours a week during the academic year. Students 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 scholar will present his or her final research during a 40-minute public lecture and in a report similar to a scholarly article. 

Applicants, who will be nominated by faculty members, must have at least a 3.8 GPA and more than two years of undergraduate research in a Pitt faculty member’s laboratory. Finalists will submit their research proposals and be interviewed. Awardees will be chosen based on communication skills, the ability to think independently, and the potential to be able to explore hypotheses in 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.