Colgate Earns New Beckman Funding for Research

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Colgate is the recipient of a second round of competitive Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation funding in support of intensive student biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and chemistry research through 2022.

The Beckman Scholars Program provides $104,000 in funding for four individual students to pursue in-depth and sustained research, under the mentorship of a faculty member, for two full summers and one academic year. In addition, students conducting research with Beckman funding have an opportunity to present their findings at an annual symposium attended by peers from around the country.

“What’s exceptional about this is that students can engage in ongoing work while collaborating with a faculty member over 15 months,” said Damhnait McHugh, Raab Family Chair and professor of biology. “That’s on the order of graduate-level research by our Beckman Scholars. We’re preparing leaders in science, and Beckman has faith enough in us to invest in us again for three more years.”

Some examples of past Beckman scholarship work at Colgate includes research into how industry cultivation of redder tomatoes impacted the plants’ natural defense mechanisms and the creation of a mathematical model for circadian rhythms and anxiety.

Ernie Nolen, the Gordon and Dorothy Kline Chair in chemistry and director of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said the faculty panel that selects students for Beckman funding seeks individuals committed to long-term research, and who have an interest in conducting research after college.

“Students learn that research is an ongoing endeavor, and that very research opens up more questions and more places to explore,” Nolen said.

McHugh said the $26,000 stipend for each student affords the opportunity to focus on research instead of finding other employment during the course of the award period, and it helps pay for essential lab equipment and travel expenses.

“If you’re doing lab work, there’s a lot of expensive chemicals and kits that are required and that can add up. Or, it might mean, if you’re doing field work, you might need equipment for that. This covers something even as basic as shipping,” McHugh said.

“There are probably four or five small schools a year who are awarded this —some of the best science and biomedical programs in the country. We’re in good company,” Nolen said.