Two Occidental College Students Win Beckman Scholarships
Occidental College senior biochemistry major Sarah Studer of Tualatin, Ore., and junior chemistry major Rosalie Tran of San Dimas, Calif., have each been named recipients of a Beckman Scholars Program award, one of the country’s most prestigious undergraduate research scholarships.
Both women will receive a $9,100 stipend to conduct research during the 2002-03 academic year and during the summers preceding and following the school year. Additionally, a $3,000 budget will pay for research expenses and professional travel. Studer and Tran are among more than 280 outstanding undergraduates from 68 top American colleges and universities to receive the award since the Irvine-based Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation started the scholars program in 1997. They are the fifth and sixth Occidental students chosen for the honor.
Studer is studying the Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, a bacterium capable of attacking and consuming other bacteria. Some researchers believe Bdellovibrio can be used to destroy bacteria that cause disease or other health problems, such as salmonella. Studer’s lab is one of perhaps four in the world studying the unusual microorganism.
“Getting the award was great, because it told me that I was on the right track,” Studer said. Assistant Biology Professor Mark Martin said Studer will ultimately present her findings at upcoming scientific conferences. “I am delighted that Sarah’s talents and hard work have been recognized by this Beckman Fellowship,” he said. “Already, Sarah’s work is of keen interest to many of my scientific colleagues at other institutions.”
Tran is studying phospholipid bilayers, the major structural components of biological membranes. The structures are thought to influence processes such as cell-to-cell communication. Tran is investigating drug-membrane interactions to better understand how medicinal treatments may affect biological systems. “I am honored to have received this award, and feel that it serves as validation of the work I’ve been doing,” Tran said. “The invaluable knowledge that I have gained from my involvement in undergraduate research these last two years has given me an immeasurable sense of joy and satisfaction in chemistry.”
“She is excellent in research – hardworking, quick to grasp new ideas and resourceful,” added Phoebe Dea, professor and chairwoman of the chemistry department. “I have every confidence that Rosalie will develop into an outstanding scientist and a leader at Occidental and beyond.”
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation makes grants to non-profit research institutions to promote research in chemistry and the life sciences, broadly interpreted, and particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments, and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.
Since it was established in 1977, the foundation has contributed about $350 million to the advancement of scientific research, primarily in the fields of chemistry, biochemistry and medicine.