Miami senior Andy Zhou, left with professor Gary Lorigan, and Miami junior Ben Schwarz, right with professor Michael Robinson, were named Beckman Scholars.
Two Miami students selected as Beckman ScholarsJun 30, 2011
Miami University students Andy Zhou and Benjamin Schwarz have been
selected as Beckman Scholars for 2011-2012. Each supported by $19,300
scholarships, Zhou and Schwarz will conduct research with their faculty
mentors this summer and next and through the intervening academic year.
Miami is one of nine institutions nationwide selected for the Beckman Scholars Program Institutional Award for 2010-2012. The scholarship program established by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation recognizes outstanding undergraduates in chemistry and biological sciences research at select universities throughout the United States.
Zhou, a senior biochemistry major from Oxford, has been working with faculty mentor Gary Lorigan, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, since his first year at Miami. After learning about Lorigan’s research during a first-year chemistry seminar, Zhou contacted Lorigan and sat in on group lab meetings his first semester and joined the lab his second semester.
“I’ve always liked the physical sciences, and have the strength for chemistry,” Zhou said. “I like the biological, chemical and physical aspects of (Lorigan’s) research...and I will be able to go several ways in graduate school.”
Zhou “has been very productive since he joined my lab as a freshman,” Lorigan said. “He is a remarkably talented undergraduate student and researcher... and is doing exceptionally well on this challenging research project.”
Zhou’s project involves investigating the structure and function of integral membrane proteins using the new-pulsed EPR (electron paramagnetic resonance) spectrometer at Miami. He is also investigating the new technology of electron spin echo envelope modulation spectroscopy (ESEEM) to probe the structure of membrane proteins and peptides.
“The pulsed EPR and ESEEM membrane peptide project that (Zhou) is working on is very complicated and well beyond the comprehension of a standard Miami undergraduate student,” Lorigan said. “Andy needs to be challenged in the research lab. The level of his project is aimed for a top graduate student in our department.”
“Dr. Lorigan encourages his students to do the best they can,” said Zhou, who was also a 2010 Undergraduate Summer Scholar. He plans to pursue a doctorate in biophysical chemistry.
Zhou is a College of Arts and Science (CAS) Dean’s Scholar, a CAS Ambassador and is a member of Miami’s Asian American Association (AAA), Korean American Student Association (KASA) and Chinese American Culture Society (CASA).
Schwarz, a junior zoology major from Oxford, started working with faculty mentor Michael Robinson, professor of zoology, the summer before his first year at Miami. He has continued his independent study research through the past two academic years and last summer.
“I feel very fortunate to have gotten so heavily involved so early in my Miami career,” Schwarz said. “I hope that other students get the opportunity to do the same.“
“I have yet to see any undergraduate student with a higher level of science comprehension than Ben,” Robinson said. “He was immediately able to absorb concepts and information that many undergraduate, and some graduate, students struggle with.”
Schwarz’s long-term project—"Can the Megabladder Insertional Mutation be Rescued by Supplying Myocardin?"—has been supported by an Undergraduate Research Award from Miami.
“In essence, I am attempting to elucidate the role of the myocardin gene in the formation of smooth muscle surrounding the urinary bladder,” Schwarz said.
His research involves the goal of creating a transgenic mouse, using embryonic stem cells, into which he has inserted a myocardin isoform to determine if the inserted gene can rescue bladder function in mice with the megabladder mutation.
Schwarz is a member of the university honors program, is a College of Arts and Science Ambassador, a member of the Undergraduate Research Committee and vice president of the Genetics Club. He was a member of Miami’s Mock Trial program his first year, and participated in a study abroad workshop in Kenya. He plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D.
Miami was also the recipient of a Beckman Scholars Program Award for 2006-2008 and for 2003-2005. Lorigan has been mentor to four other Beckman Scholars: Aaron Coey (2010-2011), who will enter graduate school at Stanford University this fall; Nidhi Subbaraman (2008-2009), who received a master’s degree in science writing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010; Stuart Grosser (2006-2007); and Ethan Karp (2004-2005), who recently received a doctorate in biochemistry from Harvard University.
Miami faculty mentors involved in the Beckman Scholars program include: Luis Actis (microbiology); Mike Crowder, Ben Gung, Ann Hagerman, Scott Hartley, Gary Lorigan, Chris Makaroff and Michael Novak (chemistry and biochemistry); John Kiss, Quinn Li, Nicholas Money and Richard Moore (botany); and Katia Del Rio-Tsonis, Richard Lee and Michael Robinson (zoology).