University of Richmond Students Awarded Prestigious Beckman Scholarships to Further Undergraduate Research in the Sciences

March 2, 2022

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Junior Camryn Carter, of North Chesterfield, Virginia, and sophomore Helen Xia, of Coppell, Texas, have each been awarded a prestigious Beckman Foundation Scholarship. These scholarships are part of a larger award to the University of Richmond from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which supports student research in the sciences.

Camryn CarterCamryn Carter is double majoring in computer science and chemistry. Under the mentorship of chemistry professor Carol Parish, Carter’s research focuses on designing drugs to combat COVID-19. Carter was part of a research team that recently performed computational mutations to study the omicron variant and how it gains entry into human cells. She is the lead author on an upcoming article detailing this research for the journal Scientific Reports. Carter participated in UR’s Integrated and Inclusive science program and URISE, a pre-first year program that aims to increase the number of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in science and math disciplines.

“This award represents my passion for chemistry and commitment to using research as a tool to develop solutions to significant problems,” said Camryn, who aspires to attend a Ph.D. program and conduct research at a Department of Energy national laboratory. “As someone who is financially independent and supporting my own education, this award relieves a financial burden that will allow me to focus more effort on my research projects.” 

Helen XiaHelen Xia is double majoring in biochemistry & molecular biology and leadership studies. Under the guidance of chemistry professor Wade Downey, Xia’s research focuses on the field of synthetic organic chemistry with indoles. Indoles are an organic compound found in many natural products and medicines. This past summer, Xia spent more than 400 hours working on 1:1 indole-nitrone product research, which was published in the Journal of Organic Chemistry in December 2021.

“Research has been the most rewarding part of my education and what has driven my academic ambition,” said Xia. “This award gives me resources to continue my research in synthetic organic chemistry with indoles that has a wide range of application in medicinal drugs for treating critical human diseases. It also inspires me to strive to become a scientific leader that can improve the life of others in my future career.”

“The Beckman Scholars Program invests in the education and development of the scientific leaders of the future,” said Carol Parish, who oversees the Beckman Scholar program. “Under the mentorship of UR faculty, our Beckman Scholars are advancing important scientific research while gaining world-class training experiences. Past recipients have gone on to pursue impressive scientific careers, and we have no doubt Camryn and Helen will follow in those footsteps.”

Beckman Scholars receive $26,000. They work at least 10 hours a week during the academic year and full-time during two 10-week summer terms in a faculty mentor’s laboratory. Funding covers travel, lab supplies, and the faculty mentor’s stipend.