Two UR Students Awarded Competitive Beckman Scholarships to Further Faculty-Mentored Research on Fighting Diseases

February 23, 2023

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — University of Richmond sophomores Abigail Ali of Columbus, Ohio, and Auden Wilson of Brooklyn, N.Y., 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 faculty-mentored student research in the sciences. 

Beckman Scholars are selected among undergraduate biology and chemistry students based on commitment to research, strong academics, and potential to become scientific leaders.

Abigial headshotAbigail Ali is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. Under the mentorship of biology professor Isaac Skromne, Ali’s research aims to develop calcium-binding carbon nanoparticles to deliver proteins to bones to treat skeletal diseases, like osteoporosis. She is working with adult Casper Zebrafish that have regenerative properties and are ideal for this research because they are genetically modified to have transparent skin, which makes it easier to track the medicine delivery.

“Our research is looking at targeted treatment and ways to deliver medication directly to bones,” said Ali, who plans to attend a Ph.D. program after UR. “The opportunity to help people suffering from diseases that affect their quality of life is rewarding, and this award will allow me to continue this important research.”

Auden headshotAuden Wilson is double majoring in biochemistry & molecular biology and health studies. Under the guidance of chemistry professor Julie Pollock, Wilson’s research focuses on the development of photoactivated chemotherapies for lung and breast cancer treatment.

"We are trying to understand how our compounds would behave in a human, so we can optimize their photoactivated anticancer properties,” said Wilson, who plans to pursue MD-PhD and remain committed to cancer research. “This award gives me the resources to prioritize this commitment.”

“The Beckman Scholars Program invests in the education and development of the scientific leaders of the future,” said Floyd D. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald Professor of Chemistry and Associate Provost Carol Parish, who directs Richmond’s Beckman program. “Under the mentorship of UR faculty, our Beckman Scholars are advancing important scientific research while gaining world-class training experiences.”