The program was begun in 1997 by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, with the College of William and Mary selected as one of 20 four-year institutions to participate in the initial round of awards. Since 1998 the College has received the award four times, and more than a dozen students in chemistry, biology, or applied science have been designated Beckman Scholars.
Beckman Scholars work under the close supervision of a faculty mentor and participate in the program's annual research symposium. The community also benefits, as the students are required to complete an appropriate service or volunteer experience. The award includes support for two summers of undergraduate research, free college housing, and a one-year academic research scholarship. Expenses over the life of the award cover travel expenses and research supplies.
"I think we're a natural fit for the program, because the goals of the Beckman Scholars Program and the goals of William and Mary really dovetail completely," said Professor Saha, who also directs the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Program at William and Mary.