The award will support LaFrenier, who is majoring in neuroscience, as she conducts collaborative research with Dr. Phillip Rivera, assistant professor of biology. She will work full-time with Rivera for 10 weeks during each of the next two summers and part-time during the academic year in between.
Hope is the only college or university in the nation to have had an active award from the foundation since the grant program began in 1998, and was one of only 12 to receive new awards earlier this year. The college’s latest award will support a total of four students across the next three years as they conduct research collaboratively with faculty mentors.
LaFrenier has been conducting research with Rivera since the fall of 2019 on a project focused on chronic low-dose proton radiation to better understand the psychological and physiological effects of space radiation. This summer the team will be initiating a new phase of the research examining helium radiation. This spring she has also worked with a psychology research project that is studying physical health and mental wellbeing in the context of outdoor activity.
Post-graduation, she plans to obtain a Ph.D. in neuroscience and work as a principal investigator at a research institution.
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation supports leading-edge research, in the fields of chemistry and life sciences, broadly interpreted, and particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments and materials that open up new avenues of research and application in those sciences and related disciplines. The Beckman Scholars Program provides support for stipends and supplies for select students at recipient institutions to engage in in-depth research with designated faculty members in bio-medically relevant science disciplines. The foundation also hosts an annual research symposium for the program’s student scholars from across the nation each summer.
Since the program began, Hope has named 31 students as Beckman Scholars including LaFrenier. The recipients have subsequently received a variety of major external honors through the years, including Goldwater Scholarships and Honorable Mentions; Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships; and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. A total of 19 have continued to graduate school, five to medical school and three to MD/Ph.D. programs.
The college’s Beckman Scholars are among hundreds of students who conduct mentored collaborative research campus-wide at Hope each year. Approximately 150 engage in research full-time during the summer, and about 350 participate in research alongside their coursework during the school year.