Oxy Junior Wins Beckman
Occidental College junior Case Prager of Los Angeles has been awarded a Beckman Scholars Program award, one of the country’s most prestigious undergraduate research scholarships.
She is the ninth Occidental student to win the honor since the program started in 1997. Seventy-two students from 14 colleges and universities received the award this year.
Prager, an independent pattern of study major, will receive $19,300 to conduct her research project on the castor bean plant, titled “Variability in extrafloral nectary structure, herbivory, and ant attendance in the exotic plant Ricinus communis in Southern California and Costa Rica.” She will spend several weeks this summer at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. The award allots a stipend and supply funds for 15 months – two summers and the intervening academic year – of independent research with a faculty mentor.
Occidental has a long commitment to undergraduate research. The college’s Undergraduate Research Program – recipient of a 1998 National Science Foundation Integration of Research and Education Award – was cited as one of the country’s best in a 2001 study of undergraduate research sponsored by a consortium of private foundations. Each of Occidental’s previous Beckman Scholars has gone on to graduate study; seven of the eight have earned or are pursuing Ph.Ds or medical degrees.
Twenty-five Oxy students went to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in April. Since 2005, a total of 55 Occidental students have been invited to NCUR. This year’s total is greater than that of any other nationally ranked liberal arts college and that of UCLA, Caltech, Yale, and Stanford combined.
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation makes grants to non-profit research institutions to promote research in chemistry and the life sciences, and particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments, and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.