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Beckman Scholars


Beckman Scholars

The College of Science is proud to bring the Beckman Scholars Program, supported by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, back to the University of Utah!

The Beckman Scholars Program is a 15-month mentored research experience for exceptional undergraduate students in chemistry, biological sciences, or interdisciplinary combinations thereof.

This generous institutional award, provided by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to the University of Utah College of Science, spans three years (2020 – 2023), and will enable the funded support of six scholar–faculty mentor pairs. Each internally selected scholar will receive a $21,000 research stipend to facilitate 15-months of mentored research (nine academic calendar months, two three-month summers), in addition to $5,000 provided for the mentor-directed research.


  • April 2021 - Selection

    Committee to conduct interviews with selected candidates (mid-April 2021)
    Committee to select final candidates (May 1, 2021)
    Formal disclosure of two UoU Beckman Scholars (May 15, 2021)

  • June 2021 - Scholars Begin

    University of Utah Beckman Scholars initiate independent research projects


  • Prospective scholars must apply with one of fifteen internally selected UoU Beckman Scholars Program mentors. For participating faculty research mentors, see below.


College of Science faculty mentors for the Beckman Scholars Program.

In addition, a prospective scholar must:

  • Be a full-time student and a declared science major;
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • Be a freshman, sophomore, or junior;
  • Commit to a research project that will last two summer semesters and the the entire academic year in between.

Please email with any questions.

2020-2021 Beckman Scholars

  • These students have been selected as this year's University of Utah's Beckman Scholars. The students will work with their faculty mentors from June 2020 to August 2021.  Sonia Sehgal's project, "Finding the role of biological probes on MUTYH activity," will use computational modeling and activity assay to explore MUTYH's potential in anticancer drug discovery.  Rory Weeks' project, "Mechanistic understanding of a model solid electrolyte/electrode interface for advancing electrochemical energy storage applications," will use a multimodal approach to examine solid-state sodium batteries as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries.
  • Finding the role of biological probes on MUTYH activity (S. Sehgal)
    DNA damage is implicated in many cancers, such as colorectal cancer. One form of this damage occurs when guanine becomes oxidized to form 8-oxoguanine (OG). MUTYH is a base excision repair (BER) enzyme in humans that excises adenine (A) at OG:A lesions in DNA and thus prevents mutations that may arise after rounds of replication. Interestingly, both inhibition and overactivation of MUTYH can contribute to cancer-causing activity. In this project, MUTYH will be studied through computational modeling and an activity assay to find biological probes that can bind to the protein and affect its function. These probes can later be tested in animal models and may serve as the foundation for anticancer drug discovery. In addition, through analyzing the effect of biological probes on this enzyme, the BER pathway and the dual role of MUTYH in preventing and causing cancer can be further understood. Use of these probes to control MUTYH activity and BER overall can aid with creating more efficient drug targeting systems for cancer treatment in the future.


  • Mechanistic understanding of a model solid electrolyte/electrode interface for advancing electrochemical energy storage applications (R. Weeks)
    To mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic climate change as we transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, advanced storage systems are necessary to make intermittent renewable energy sources a viable option. One solution for meeting these energy storage needs involves the use of batteries. However, the lithium-ion battery technology ubiquitous in electronic devices and electric vehicles may be unsuitable for advanced grid storage systems due to concerns about lithium sourcing and safety. In particular, safety issues stem from the use of flammable liquid organic electrolytes and the formation of a poorly defined solid electrolyte interphase which can deleteriously affect battery performance. My research will investigate beyond lithium-ion battery and liquid organic electrolyte technologies in favor of all solid-state sodium batteries. My objective is to develop a multimodal approach to determine the key characteristics of solid/solid interfaces, tailored with controllable interlayers chosen to mediate ion/charge transfer between a nanowire cathode and ionically conducting polymer electrolyte. Such understanding will enable the fabrication of highly efficient and environmentally safe beyond lithium-ion energy storage technologies with tunable interfaces.

Beckman Scholars

Prestigious undergraduate research program returns to the U.

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Application deadline is March 31, 2021.

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