IUPUI will help develop the next generation of leaders in STEM education as part of the Beckman Scholars Program. A $156,000 grant through the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation will help IUPUI provide intensive mentoring and research experiences to talented undergraduate students.
IUPUI was one of fourteen U.S. institutions selected in 2022 as new sites for this prestigious program.
Two IUPUI undergraduates in their junior year – six total during the program’s three-year award term – who have an interest in pursuing careers in biology and chemistry will be selected as Beckman Scholars, with the first selections happening in the spring. Selected students should be interested in learning more about research and have a love for science, which will be nurtured to prepare them to become educators, leaders and researchers in the future.
"The Beckman Scholars program will allow us to support the most exemplary and promising students at IUPUI, including a focus on helping underrepresented and marginalized students, and I anticipate these Beckman Scholars will bring new ideas and energy to the research enterprise," said Janice Blum, vice chancellor for research and graduate education and co-PI on the project. "It will allow us to help promising undergraduate students see the benefits of research and understand the role researchers play in leading our world and making contributions that impact people’s lives."
Mentorship will play a key role during the 15-month Beckman Scholar experience, with 12 faculty from the biology and chemistry/chemical biology departments serving as senior mentors. In addition to teaching what it means to work in a lab, mentors will share their own career paths that led to current positions as scientists and researchers.
"The Beckman Scholars will have a tier of mentors guiding them — including faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students — in order to help them learn not just about being a researcher in a laboratory, but also about the life of a researcher," Blum said. "We want them to understand how the discoveries being made impact others, what inspires and motivates us as researchers, but also how we blend our interests in innovation and discovery with our lives outside of the laboratory."
While the emphasis of the Beckman Scholars program is on chemistry and biology, Blum and her co-PIs —Ted Cummins, professor and chair of the department of biology, and Partha Basu, professor and chemistry department chair — hope the lessons students learn throughout the program can be extended to other departments in STEM schools at IUPUI. Kristy Sheeler, interim associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education and dean of University College, and Kathy Marrs, interim executive associate dean of the IUPUI Honors College, will assist in leading the program and recruiting talented students.
"This program will be a great benefit to us in terms of thinking about innovative approaches for training the next generation of research leaders," Blum said.
IUPUI's Beckman Scholars program is a partnership between the chemistry and biology departments in the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.