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Haverford College

Marian E. Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center

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Programs: Beckman Scholars Program

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has awarded Haverford College a grant to designate and fund four students as "Beckman Scholars" over the 2015-2018 summers and academic years. The Beckman Scholars Program was established in 1998 and is a prestigious national scholarship offered at roughly 30 academically-rigorous colleges and universities to recognize exceptional students with an interest in the chemical and biological sciences. To date, nineteen outstanding Haverford College students have been designated Beckman Scholars.

RequirementsPrevious RecipientsProgram DescriptionAdded IncentivesApplication ProceduresList of MentorsApplication

Rebeccah Lijek '07 Molecular Biology Workshop, Univ of Ghana

Haverford College will award four Beckman scholarhips between 2015-2018. Students who are interested in applying to the Beckman program should complete the stage 1 application before the early Spring deadline each year. The 2015 deadline for first stage applications is Wednesday February 25th, 2015. Students with questions about the program should contact Casey Londergan in the Chemistry department.


The requirements of the program are as follows: two summers of full-time research in a lab and participation in research at Haverford [i.e. not abroad] for both semesters next academic year (2015-2016).

Summary of 2015-2016 program:

Amount of Award: approximately $21,000, including summer research stipends, $4,800 academic year scholarship, and allowances for travel and research materials. Funding is from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

Who is eligible: Haverford College Sophomores and Juniors who are Biology or Chemistry majors, or students from other majors (including, but not limited to, Physics, Astronomy, Computer Science, and Mathematics) with interdisciplinary interests involving the Chemical or Biological Sciences. The Beckman Foundation requires that Beckman Scholars be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions.

Selection criteria: Academic course performance, communication skills, and seriousness of interest in scientific research will all be considered by the selection committee.

Required commitment: Ten weeks of research at Haverford College for each of two summers (2015 and 2016) and two semesters of research tutorial courses (on-campus) during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Application deadline: 5 p.m. on Wednesday February 25th, 2015. An link on-line application form is at the bottom of this page. If you are also applying for a KINSC Summer Fellowship, you should indicate that you are also applying for the Beckman Scholarship in that application.

Some history of the program and previous recipients from Haverford College:

Emily Hinchcliff '08 and mentor Jenni Punt at the 07 Beckman scholars conference

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has awarded Haverford College a grant to designate and fund three or four students as "Beckman Scholars" over the next two or three summers and academic years. This is our sixth institutional award from the Beckman Foundation; we previously had Beckman Scholars programs for the 1999-2001, 2002-2004, 2005-2008, 2008-2010 and 2011-13 academic years.

The Beckman Scholars Program was established in 1998 and is a prestigious national scholarship offered at roughly 35 academically-rigorous colleges and universities to recognize exceptional students with an interest in the chemical and biological sciences. To date, fifteen outstanding Haverford College students have been designated as Beckman Scholars.

  • Alexander Au (class of 2000) worked with Professor of Biology Judy Owen to examine regulation of B lymphocyte apoptosis as a function of cell division.
  • Katie Connell (class of 2001) worked with Professor of Chemistry Karin Åkerfeldt to study the domain organization of calbindin D28k, a unique EF-hand protein.
  • Shelli Frey (class of 2001) studied the interaction between porphyrins and DNA by resonance Raman spectroscopy in the laboratory of Professor of Chemistry Julio de Paula. Shelli Frey faculty profile at Gettysburg College
  • Brooks Bond-Watts (class of 2004) studied the photoconductivity of porphyrin-based nanorods in Professor de Paula's laboratory.
  • Sam Edmondson (class of 2003) studied cell signaling processes with Professor of Biology Jennifer Punt.
  • Christen Fornadel (class of 2004) also studied cell signaling processes with Professor Punt. Christen Fornadel profile at The Hopkins Somer Scholars
  • Katie Hart (class of 2004) was mentored by Professor of Biology Rob Fairman in her project to develop peptide-based conducting nanowires.
  • Melanie Smith (class of 2006) studied formation of amyloid fibers using a peptide model system in the laboratory of Professor Fairman. Melanie Smith profile at The Hertz Foundation
  • Rebeccah Lijek (class of 2007), was mentored by Professor of Biology Iruka Okeke, and studied the emergence of antibiotic resistance in enteric bacteria from West Africa.
  • Emily Hinchcliff (class of 2008)(worked in Professor Jenni Punt’s lab) researching Cytoskeletal Polarization in Mature and Immature T-cells.”
  • Alexander Tuttle (class of 2008) was mentored by Professor Wendy Sternberg and studied Social Modulation of Pain in Mice.
  • Brian Pepe-Mooney (class of 2010) used "the Coiled Coil Protein Motif to Design Photoelectronically Conductive Regulated Filaments and Fibers” with mentor Professor Rob Fairman.
  • David Fischer (class of 2010) researched the cause of the enriched environment’s central sensitization, with Professor Wendy Sternberg
  • Harper Hubbeling (class of 2011) studied regulation of the transcription factor Nur77 in murine T-cells in Professor Jenni Punt’s lab. Haverford News: Harper Hubbeling '11 Published in Nature Immunology
  • Alice Vienneau (class of 2012) characterized the Dynamic Structure of α-Synuclein using single-site vibrational probes in Professor Casey Londergan’s lab.
  • Kevin Hoffman (class of 2012) worked with Professor Londergan to relate virulence to structural dynamics of a viral protein, using deuterium-labeled histidine as a site-specific vibrational probe.
  • James Taggart (class of 2013) worked in Professor Robert Fairman's lab (Biology) "Towards the Creation of Myosin-Based Porphyrin-Modified Nanowires."
  • Samuel Rodriques (class of 2013) worked with Professor Peter Love (Physics) to investigate mixed state entanglement with applications to energy transport in photosynthetic proteins and quantum chemistry.
  • Niki von Krusenstiern (class of 2015) worked with Professor Louise Charkoudian to better understand the microbial synthesis of peptide-based natural products.

The Beckman Scholars Program granted these students creative freedom and mentored guidance to pursue their research interests with an intensity they could not otherwise have enjoyed. Several of the Beckman Scholars have, with support from their mentors, supplemented their significant research experiences with important contributions to education of other students. Sam Edmondson helped design and teach a course on signal transduction, Christen Fornadel and Katie Hart, Emily Hinchcliff and David Fischer both used Beckman Scholar travel funds to support their contributions to the “Biography of an Experiment” project, and Brooks Bond-Watts helped design and teach a summer workshop on nanoscience for high school students and teachers. Rebeccah Lijek co-taught a molecular biology workshop at the University of Ghana.

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Program Description for 2015-2016 Beckman Scholars at Haverford College

Sam Edmonson '03

The Beckman Scholars Program at Haverford College allows us to reward exceptional students who have demonstrated both interest and promise in careers in the chemical, biological and/or medical sciences. Our program is designed to enrich these students' scientific experience outside the classroom by giving them enhanced opportunities to engage in intensive, original research. Scholar and mentor together craft a curriculum and research plan that encompasses more than one and, in some cases, two full years at Haverford. The program offers the student prestige and the unique benefits of long-term, intensive research collaboration with a faculty member.

All scholars will be required to engage in at least ten weeks of research under the guidance of the mentor for two consecutive summers (2015 and 2016). They will also be expected to enroll in a research tutorial course at Haverford for both semesters of the 2015-2016 (junior or senior) year in which they will spend 10-20 hours/week in the laboratory performing independent original research. They will be paid for their research efforts during the two summers and will receive a tuition stipend and research and travel funds for the academic year they are designated as Beckman Scholar. The research will be undertaken in the chemical and/or biological sciences in laboratories at Haverford College. When appropriate, some part of the research may be carried out at other institutions where mentors have strong collaborative ties. Beckman Scholars and at least one faculty mentor will attend the annual research symposium held each summer at the Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, California.

The Beckman Scholars will also be required to participate in a number of programs that are open to all our undergraduate researchers, including our KINSC fellows. These include academic enrichment programs held during the summer, a fall poster session where all students performing summer research present their work to faculty and students at a multi-college symposium, and an academic year bi-weekly journal club where two students from different disciplines co-present a paper to their peers. Beckman Scholars will also invite an external speaker in their research area to campus and host the visit of that speaker during their second summer of research. These opportunities and requirements contribute to a lively scholarly community in the Natural Sciences at Haverford during the summer and throughout the year.

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Added Incentives:

Stipend: Beckman Scholars will receive substantial scholarship support for the two summers of research and for the academic year. The total award for a 15 month period covered by the scholarship is $21,000. Money for research supplies, travel to a national scientific meeting, and travel to a nationwide gathering of Beckman Scholars is included in the award.

Curricular opportunities: We offer all Beckman Scholars the unique opportunity to propose substitutions for up to two required courses with initiatives that will enhance their skills both as researchers and independent scholars. Departments will have the final say on such substitutions of major requirements, but have previously allowed such substitutions for strong and motivated students. Some of our Scholars took full advantage of this flexibility to develop what has now become a new Division-wide initiative called the “Biography of the Experiment” series. This series was conceived principally by Scholars Katie Hart (’04) and Christen Fornadel (’04) who worked with their mentors to develop a sophisticated web-based pedagogical tool that exposes undergraduates to primary literature and the scientific narrative behind influential experiments. Other Beckman Scholars also took advantage of their unique position to involve themselves in other novel pedagogical initiatives. Sam Edmondson ’03 worked with his mentor to design a new problem-based course in Signal Transduction and was co-recipient of an Innovation in Teaching award. Brooks Bond-Watts ’04 worked with his mentor to develop a new summer workshop for our outreach program with high school teachers. Rebeccah Lijek’07 co-taught a molecular biology workshop at the University of Ghana. Niki von Krusenstiern performed research in lieu of Superlab during one of the semesters of his junior year, and then pieces of his project were harnessed in Biochemistry Superlab in spring 2015. We will continue to offer these distinctive opportunities to our Scholars and have our faculty mentors work with the scholars to encourage them to take advantage of the creativity that is essential to inspired research. It is not necessary to have any specific curricular opportunities such as these in mind when applying to the Beckman Scholars program (Stage 1).

Research opportunities: In addition to providing recognition for academic merit and a unique research opportunity, the Beckman Scholar program will allow Scholars to receive the educational advantage of a long-term, intensive collaboration with their faculty mentor, which will encompass career and curricular advising as well. Beckman Scholars will typically be enrolled in more than two semesters of research for credit during their Haverford experience; in fact, many have received 4-5 credits of research during their Haverford experiences.

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Application Procedures

Sophomore and junior Biology and Chemistry majors, and students from other majors with appropriate interdisciplinary interests are encouraged to apply. Sophomore applications are particularly encouraged during spring 2015. The application procedure consists of two stages -

  • Stage 1) an on-line application and submission of transcripts: due by Feb. 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm (see below).
  • Stage 2) written application and interview for those applicants selected as finalists: during the first week of March, with final selection by spring break.

Students interested in the Beckman Scholar program should begin by contacting faculty members who they wish to propose as faculty mentors. The initial contact can be brief, but once a student has been selected as a finalist, the student should meet with the proposed faculty mentor to discuss details of the research project and to devise (in consultation with the student's academic advisor) a research-centered program of study for their remaining year(s) at Haverford. It will be possible (but not necessary) for the student to propose substitutions for courses normally required for the major.

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List of Possible Mentors for Beckman Scholars

The list below includes all faculty members previously approved by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to be mentors to Beckman Scholars. Each prospective mentor was asked to give a one paragraph description of a possible research project for a Beckman Scholar; this list is reproduced below. Please bear in mind that many mentors have several related projects in which a Beckman Scholar could become involved; more information can be found on web pages or by talking to individual faculty members (however, talking with faculty members is not a requirement for the first stage of the application procedure).

Students wishing to do research with a faculty member not listed below should consider the possibility of a collaborative research project involving two faculty members.

Louise Charkoudian, Chemistry: My laboratory uses a number of different approaches from molecular biology to bioinformatics to analytical chemistry to understand the bacteriosynthesis of complex natural products. We would like to harness naturally occurring enzymes and carrier proteins to create new synthetic pathways and new “unnatural” products, and to do so we need to understand the genes, the enzymes, the protein-protein interactions, and the chemical reactions that lead to complicated and novel bacterial metabolites.

Rob Fairman , Biology: My laboratory uses the coiled coil protein folding motif to design photoelectronically conductive regulated filaments and fibers. We are also interested in understanding the molecular role of glutamines in protein misfolding for diseases such as Huntington’s. We use a beta-hairpin peptide and the exon 1 fragment of the huntingtin protein as our model systems; we also work with model organisms that express these disease-related proteins.

Sorelle Friedler, Computer Science: A Beckman scholar working in my lab would work on the Dark Reaction Project, an NSF funded collaboration between my group and the Schrier and Norquist labs in Chemistry, that uses machine learning techniques to predict and improve the outcomes ofmaterials chemistry synthesis experiments.

Casey Londergan, Chemistry: My laboratory applies vibrational spectroscopy, including infrared and Raman spectroscopy, coupled with chemical modification of protein side chains to understand particularly dynamic peptides and proteins on a site-specific basis. Site-specific vibrational spectroscopy can show both solvent and structural distribution and dynamics. The systematic basis for undestanding these experiments is established using de novo designed synthetic peptides. Natural systems of particular interest include enzyme active sites, binding domains of intrinsically disordered proteins, and membrane-modifying peptides and proteins.

Peter Love, Physics: I am interested in the use of future quantum computers for the study of quantum systems. In particular: the use of quantum computers to calculate ground state properties of molecules and for the simulation of chemical reactions. We are developing experimental proposals for the calculation of molecular energies using small quantum computers available in the laboratory now. These proposals are based on the historical development of computational electronic structure theory. Current quantum computers have computational capabilities comparable to those available for quantum chemistry in the 1950¹s. We are also developing numerical techniques for the detailed analysis of entanglement in systems at finite temperature. The principle motivation of this work is the elucidation of the role of entanglement in photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes during natural photosynthesis. The electronic ground and excited states of the chromophores in such complexes may be regarded as the states of a quantum bit, making these systems 7 or 8 qubit calculations. The presence of significant thermal mixing of the quantum states in natural biological processes makes the determination of the presence or absence of entanglement in the full state space challenging.

Alexander Norquist, Chemistry:  My research interests are focused on the synthesis of new solid state materials with desirable physical properties. Specifically, mild hydrothermal conditions have been used to prepare a series of new organically templated inorganic compounds. Investigations have been directed toward the development of systematic means for the creation of new noncentrosymmetric materials. Our work has been focused on the study of templated polyoxomolybdates and metal phosphates, sulfates, sulfites and tellurites.

Iruka Okeke, Biology: Our laboratory is interested in the molecular basis for antimicrobial resistance and pathogenesis in intestinal Escherichia coli. We study the agglutinins, a family of outermembrane proteins that confer colonization phenotypes on naturally occurring strains of E. coli. We are also studying agglutinin homologs present in the genomes of other bacterial that colonize eukaryotes. Our antimicrobial resistance research is focused on understanding mobile elements that transmit resistance among intestinal colonizers in West Africa.

Joshua Schrier, Chemistry: Our laboratory performs interdisciplinary computational research with a focus on clean energy production. Systems of interest include novel organic semiconductors, solid-state functional materials, and gas-separation materials

Walter Smith., Physics: My laboratory creates and characterizes the photonic and electronic properties of nanoscale assemblies, including porphyrin nanowires and DNA oligomers, for use as nanoscale devices in concert with microfabricated electronics. Current work focuses on intercalation of prphyrins into DNA base stacks to create DNA-based self-assembing circuits with photoelectronic activity.

Helen White, Chemistry: Biogeochemistry. My laboratory examines the cycling of natural and anthropogenic organic carbon in the marine environment. We seek to understand the chemical and microbiological controls on these cycles and to enhance our understanding of the long term fate of organic compounds and macromolecules in environmental matrices, particularly marine sediments.

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