Neuroscience major Cristina Baker and biochemistry major Michelle Schroeder have been selected to receive the Beckman Scholarship, a highly competitive scholarship that provides top undergraduate students with research stipends, as well as funds for travel and research materials. The Scholarship will support Baker and Schroeder in conducting research from summer 2020 through to the end of summer 2021.
Baker's research with Todd Streelman, professor and chair of the School of Biological Sciences, addresses the genetic variance and differential gene expression of cichlids, a type of fish, and how these elements affect behavior.
Schroeder works with M.G. Finn, professor and chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who is also the James A. Carlos Family Chair for Pediatric Technology. Finn also holds a joint appointment in the School of Biological Sciences. Schroeder’s research focuses on the discovery of monoclonal antibodies, which are antibodies made by identical immune cells that are all clones of a unique parent cell. By coupling antigens to virus-like particles, Shroeder’s research uses monoclonal antibodies against toxins, bacteria, viruses, and designer drugs (synthetic analogs of controlled substances, devised to circumvent drug laws).
"Both Cristina and Michelle have impressive research records so far, and an intensive program like the Beckman Scholarship will give them the support to make significant scientific impacts over the next year," says Jennifer Leavey, principal academic professional and faculty director of EXPLORE Living Learning Community in the College of Sciences, who served on the selection committee.
"A number of exceptional applications for the Beckham Scholarship were received this year. Kudos to Cristina and Michelle for rising to the top following a rigorous review process," adds Cameron Tyson, assistant dean for Academic Programs in the College of Sciences, who also reviewed the applications.
Baker and Schroeder join biology majors Alicia Caughman and Kathleen Imbach in receiving the honor. The pair were appointed Beckman Scholars in summer 2019 and will continue their research with support from the scholarship through summer 2020.
"The Beckman Scholars program provides us with the opportunity to engage our very best students in extended research experiences — with faculty members who have strong track records of mentoring undergraduates in the research laboratory," says David Collard, associate dean in the College of Sciences and professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who directs the program at Georgia Tech. "Alicia, Michelle, Cristina and Kathleen certainly embody Arnold Beckman's "Rules for Success", which include, ‘There is no satisfactory substitute for excellence '."
The Beckman Scholars Program at Georgia Tech is supported by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. The program provides grants to institutions throughout the nation to support undergraduate research in chemistry and life sciences.