First Beckman Scholar recipients selected

two women standing in stairwell
Kimberly Bottenberg,left, and Faith Ureel were selected as Beckman Scholars and will each receive $21,500 grants to conduct 15-month research projects with faculty mentors.
Image credit - Valerie Wojciechowski

Two Grand Valley State University students were named Beckman Scholars and will each receive $21,500 grants to conduct 15-month research projects with faculty mentors.

Kimberly Bottenberg and Faith Ureel are the first students to participate in the Beckman Scholars Program at Grand Valley. In January, Grand Valley was selected as one of 11 institutions to administer the national undergraduate research program funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

Bottenberg is a biochemistry major from Milford. She will work with Cynthia Thompson, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, to research how marmoset monkeys in Brazil use scent to communicate information about food resources. Ureel is a biology major from Livonia. She will work with Amy Russell, associate professor of biology, to reconstruct the population demography of European bats to determine if they have experienced an epidemic of a fungal disease similar to one underway in North America.

Bottenberg and Thompson will travel to Brazil in July to work at a field research station observing marmosets in their natural habitat. When she returns to Grand Valley, Bottenberg will begin analyzing their data. "Doing this intensive research project will prepare me well for graduate school; this is such an amazing opportunity," Bottenberg said. 

In addition to leading a research project, Beckman Scholars have access to a group of 12 faculty mentors, opportunities to attend conferences and network with visiting scholars. 

Thompson said this program provides professional-level research experiences that can otherwise be difficult due to student time commitments and lack of funding. 

Russell said: "I really think this has the potential to make a life-changing impact on talented science students, and I’m so excited to see how high Grand Valley’s Beckman scholars will soar."

Ureel said this experience will positively influence her career path; she plans to study molecular ecology and population genetics in graduate school.

The Beckman Scholars Program is administered by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. 

Susan Mendoza, director of OURS, said a total of five students will be selected over the program's three-year funding cycle. Criteria include majoring in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, or biomedical sciences, having support of faculty mentors and submitting a self-directed research proposal. Sok Kean Khoo, associate professor of cell and molecular biology, co-directs the program.

Information about the program is online, click here.




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