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Fourth Beckman grant brings prestige to SFSU

June 16, 2005

Photo of Beckman scholar Christle GuevarraFor the fourth straight time, SFSU has received a three-year package of funding from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to support undergraduate student research. The University is one of only three in the country to have been awarded the prestigious grant every time it has applied. The $98,500 funding package will support five Beckman scholars at SFSU over the next three years. One new scholar, Christle Guevarra, has been selected by SFSU biology and chemistry faculty to date.

"This bodes well for the quality of our undergraduate programs in chemistry and biology," said Frank Bayliss, a biology professor who has headed up the application process for all of the Beckman scholarships at SFSU.

Arnold O. Beckman, the scientist and lab instrument inventor, created the foundation with his wife to provide opportunities for in-depth, faculty-mentored undergraduate laboratory research. The Foundation only awards funding to those institutions it has invited to submit applications. Selection is based on each school's rankings in the quality of research programs as determined by the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. This year the Beckman Foundation's panel of scientists and scholars invited proposals from 161 of 800 nationally recognized undergraduate biology programs.

"Dr. Beckman liked to say that 'there is no satisfactory substitute for excellence,'" said Jacqueline Dorrance, executive director of the Foundation. The 14 institutional award recipients "have convincingly demonstrated excellence and distinction in their undergraduate research capabilities and commitments as well as their plans and activities for their Beckman scholars," she added.

The newest Beckman scholar, senior Christle Guevarra, will receive a $19,300 stipend to support her research for 15 months. The chemistry major will travel this summer to the annual Beckman Scholars Research Symposium held each year in the Foundation's hometown of Irvine.

Guevarra's undergraduate research exemplifies the sophistication of Beckman scholars and the work that is conducted by both graduates and undergraduates in SFSU labs.

"Christle's research into chemical inhibitors that stop or slow the growth of breast cancer cells for cancer researchers at University of California, San Francisco, was more challenging than any typical undergraduate research," said Cliff Berkman, SFSU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Christle's adviser. "But she was the top undergraduate in my medicinal chemistry class and has always impressed me with her 'can do' attitude, her technical abilities and perseverance."

Berkman reports that Guevarra has already submitted some promising leads to cancer researchers.

"When I began college I never imagined that I would go on to graduate school," said Gueverra, who expects to receive her bachelor's degree in chemistry from SFSU in 2006. But grad school and a Ph.D. are now definitely in her plans. "My success has a lot to do with the mentorship, the emphasis on productive relationships between students and their mentors and professors here at State," she said. Gueverra eventually plans to teach at the college level.

"Student enrichment opportunities like this have really paid off at SFSU," Bayliss said. "All but one of our Beckman scholars moved on to PhDs. We are proud to celebrate another example of how SFSU stands out in the world of academic research."

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified June 16, 2005 by University Communications