This past summer, two members of William & Mary’s class of 2011 worked on scientific research projects as Beckman Scholars. Frederick Lambert of Powhatan, Va., and Brittany Lewis of Andover, Mass., are receiving financial support for continuing their mentored research work over two summers plus their senior year at the College.
William & Mary has been an invited participant in the program sponsored by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation since its inception in 1997. Over the years, the College has had 19 undergraduate scientists, including Lambert and Lewis, serving as Beckman Scholars.
“The Beckman Scholars program is one of the most valuable and important programs in the nation for supporting young researchers in the sciences,” said Carl Strikwerda, William & Mary’s dean of Arts & Sciences. “William & Mary being invited to participate speaks volumes about the quality of undergraduate education and research in the sciences here at the College.”
Frederick Lambert is a chemistry major. He is working in the laboratory of Robert Hinkle, associate professor of chemistry, investigating the potential use of bismuth compounds as chemical catalysts. They are working toward using safe and inexpensive bismuth catalysts for the synthesis of dihydropyrans—a structural unit commonly found in antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs. Lambert says his Beckman scholarship will help him advance his blossoming scientific career on several levels.
A neuroscience major, Brittany Lewis is conducting research in the lab of Margaret Saha, Chancellor Professor of Biology at William & Mary. Lewis is investigating the development of the nervous system, using frog embryos.
“My specific project is looking at how calcium ions affect the nervous system and how neurons differentiate and acquire a neurotransmitter phenotype,” she said. Her work will shed light on the process by which a single type of cell can give rise to hundreds of different cell types, knowledge that could lead to advances in stem cell biology, cancer research and regenerative medicine.
The Beckman Scholars program allows young researchers such as Lambert and Lewis to devote the summer after they graduate to their research. This feature of the program allows them to concentrate on finishing their projects without the responsibility of academic classes. In addition, both Lambert and Lewis presented their work and met other young scientists at the Annual Beckman Scholars Symposium in Irvine, Calif.