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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 3, 2023) — From bettering life here on Earth to exploring what living off this planet could be like, Beckman Scholars at the University of Kentucky are advancing their branches of science through the prestigious program. 

The UK Beckman Scholars Program is named Scholars United by Chemistry: Cultivating Excellence through Science Stewardship (SUCCESS). The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation funds 15 months of mentored research for two UK undergraduate students in chemistry, biological sciences and associated interdisciplinary combinations.

SUCCESS is an extensive multidisciplinary program that revolves around chemistry as the core science, bridging UK's Research Priority Areas designed to address the immediate needs of Kentucky and the U.S. Current scholars share how the scholarship helps advance scientific projects and propels students in research-related careers.

“The SUCCESS program aims to serve Kentucky’s pressing needs while also combining areas of chemistry, neuroscience and substance use among others. These particular goals align precisely with those I have set for my academic journey,” said Kaitlyn Brock, a Beckman Scholar and a neuroscience and psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Lewis Honors College.

Brock is studying how bacterial endotoxins affect skeletal muscle and synaptic transmission using fly and crayfish models with Robin Cooper, Ph.D., a biology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. These endotoxins can cause an immune response in humans, potentially leading to sepsis and infection. Brock hopes to find lifesaving treatments through her continued research.  

Fellow Beckman Scholar Hena Kachroo is researching biochemical approaches to address challenges of sustainable energy under the guidance of Anne-Frances Miller, Ph.D., a chemistry professor in the in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Through the Beckman Scholar Program, my project has only strengthened my love for laboratory research and has validated my goals of a career in chemistry-based research,” said Kachroo, a chemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Lewis Honors College. “I want to study how space affects the biochemical reactions that govern life on Earth and eventually apply that to exploring the vast unknowns of space.”

Students selected for the award receive a $21,000 research stipend along with $5,000 provided for the mentor-directed research. Beckman Scholar candidates are screened based on their field of research, established programs and commitment to undergraduate research.

The current scholars say the program has empowered them to explore new questions in their research areas. They encourage students to learn more about the program in an upcoming information session.

“The Beckman Scholars Program gives me access to the guidance and resources necessary to advance in my long-term goals,” said Kachroo. “The training, mentoring and networking opportunities that I receive through the Beckman Scholar program provide holistic training, which allows me to gain vital skills necessary to succeed in a career in research.”

“You will learn so many new skills while also growing in your education, and finding your place in the field you wish to pursue,” said Brock.

Chad Risko, Ph.D., faculty director of the UK Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) and associate professor of chemistry, will host a virtual information session on the Beckman Scholars Program at 4 p.m., Nov. 8, 2023. Interested students can register online here.

The application window opens Nov. 15. Prospective scholars must apply with one of 13 internally selected UK Beckman Scholars Program mentors. For participating faculty research mentors, click here.

Students can learn about the application process, scholar funding and timeline online here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.