UMass Amherst to Host Beckman Scholars Program

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts has received an $88,000 grant from the Beckman Foundation to support five researchers in their junior and senior years in the departments of biochemistry and molecular biology, biology, and chemistry.

"UMass is committed to encouraging undergraduates to conduct science in the laboratory," said Linda Slakey, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "Having this experience better enables our students to secure excellent jobs when they graduate, or alternatively, to enter graduate programs with an eye toward conducting research science in academia or industry."

UMass was one of 16 institutions across the country to receive Beckman grants. Nearly 800 colleges and universities were reviewed by the foundation, and 170 were invited to apply for the 1999-2000 round of funding. The winning institutions were selected on the basis of the quality and amount of external funding for research, the quality of the faculty, and the commitment to undergraduate research.

The program will be launched in June 1999 with a series of workshops, following which the scholars will start research projects in their mentors’ labs. The Beckman Scholars Program provides each undergraduate with $17,600 for full-time research during the summers of 1999 and 2000, as well as for research conducted during the intervening academic year. "The UMass program is especially fortunate because our scholars will be supported for two full years, thanks to supplemental funding from the dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics," noted Beckman program director Elizabeth Connor, a professor in the biology department. The dean’s office will provide an additional $3,500 in funding for each student, so that each will receive funding until June of 2001.

The program also offers a wide range of activities to help students develop as scientists. Sophomores who are members of the University’s Honors Program, and are majoring in one of the three departments, are eligible to apply to the program. One scholarship will be awarded to a transfer student from a community college.

UMass is one of six institutions in the Northeast to receive this award. The others are Boston University, Dartmouth College, Smith College, SUNY Stony Brook, and Yale University.