The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation awarded the University of Richmond a prestigious three-year Beckman Scholars grant for faculty-mentored student research. It is the fourth consecutive Beckman Scholars award to the university since 2006. Only 20 universities nationally have won the award in four consecutive years.

The Beckman grant will provide $104,000 in research scholarships to support four highly talented Richmond students over three years. The university selects Beckman Scholars based on their demonstrated commitment to research, strong academic records and potential to become scientific leaders.

“Our ability to remain competitive in the Beckman Foundation’s review of science programs at the nation’s best colleges and universities is a testament to our students’ talent and faculty’s mentorship, productivity and enthusiasm for undergraduate research,” said Carol Parish, professor of chemistry and director of Richmond’s Beckman Foundation program.

Each Beckman Scholar will receive $26,000 to support research in a faculty mentor’s laboratory. Scholars will work at least 10-hours each week during the academic year and fulltime during two 10-week summer terms. Funds also cover travel and lab supplies, as well as a stipend for each Scholar’s faculty mentor.

Two students, Hannah Small and Michael Pannell, have been selected as Beckman Scholars for the 2016-17 academic year.

Small, who will be mentored by biology professor and department chair Linda Boland, will research the effect of different potassium channels and their modulation on action potential properties. Her research uses frog egg cells to study different ion channels. Both sodium and potassium channels are essential for action potentials, which are the electrical signals that occur in neurons. This research is important in understanding normal and abnormal electrical activity in the nervous system, including epilepsy.

Pannell will work with chemistry professor Michael Leopold on a project aimed at designing a sensor or electrode that can be easily inserted into the body through a catheter or IV to detect uric or lactic acid in the bloodstream. Measuring uric acid can detect preeclampsia risk for pregnant woman, and lactic acid levels can indicate a serious whole body infection known as sepsis.

Additional information about these students and their research projects is available on the School of Arts and Sciences website.

University of Richmond is one of 12 colleges and universities that received awards from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation this year.

“We’re excited to have University of Richmond as one of our program participants again this year,” said Anne Hultgren, executive director of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. “The students supported by this program are the continuation of the legacy of Dr. Beckman, and we are proud to help them as they become the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs.”

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Professor of Chemistry
Computational and Theoretical Physical Chemistry