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Beckman Scholars: Bresler, Dishong and Shoemaker

04/20/2005

Miami students Scott Bresler, Brian Dishong and Christopher Shoemaker have been selected as 2005-2006 Beckman Scholars. The scholarship program recognizes outstanding undergraduate students in chemistry and biological sciences research at select universities throughout the United States.

Supported by $17,600 scholarships, each Miami scholar will conduct research with a faculty mentor during two summers and an academic year. Established by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the program requires scholars to present research results at a regional or national scientific meeting and prepare a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Bresler, a junior double major in chemistry and philosophy from Columbus, has worked with Ben Gung, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, for the past year on the synthesis of organic natural products.

“Scott...has quickly learned the techniques in my laboratory. He is now working on an independent project, the first synthesis of a natural product containing five conjugated triple bonds," says Gung, who is also mentor to the 2003-2004 and the 2004-2005 Beckman Scholars Ryan Fox and Amanda Jones. ”From his record, he not only excels in the classroom, but also is a leader out of classrooms. He is the kind of multi-talented person that we try to attract to science.”

“Miami is focused on undergraduates...which gives us opportunities to get involved in the science community,” says Bresler. He is a member of Miami’s Scholar Leader and university honors programs and is co-founder and treasurer of the Global Medical Relief program at Miami.

Dishong, a junior zoology major from Swanton, has been working on an independent research project in cryobiology with Rick Lee, distinguished professor of zoology, and Jon Costanzo, senior research scholar and adjunct professor of zoology. He is investigating the bioenergetics of over wintering in the hatchling painted turtle, Chrysemys picta. His three-part study will help demonstrate the metabolic costs and benefits of the survival strategies used by C. picta during their first winter of life.

“Brian...seems to be a ‘natural’ in the laboratory. He asks the right questions and seems to know intuitively how to pursue the answers. He welcomes challenge and is committed to doing the best job he can,” says Costanzo, Dishong’s mentor. “I'm confident that Brian has the potential to develop a successful and fulfilling career in scientific research.”

“I have always found conducting experiments fun (as far back as elementary school),” says Dishong. “Working on my own project and being involved in the cryobiology lab has been an awesome experience.” He is a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and involved with Miami’s Best Buddies program.

Shoemaker, a junior microbiology major, will work with mentor Luis Actis, professor of microbiology, on the dental pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. The overall goal of the project is the identification and characterization of the bacterial genes and factors that are involved in the pathogenesis of this oral infection - periodontitis - one of the most common human infectious diseases that can result in severe damage to oral tissues and bone structures.

“During this work, Chris showed enthusiasm, perseverance and independence,” says Actis. “This positive attitude, together with his excellent grades and GPA, indicate that he is a brilliant and motivated student who is genuinely interested in doing research in the lab.”

“I became interested in research last summer when I worked in a lab at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Research Center. I decided that I wanted to continue working in a lab over the school year. I ...was interested in (Actis’) work and approached him about working in his lab,” said Shoemaker, who is participating in Miami’s Luxembourg program this semester.

Miami’s Beckman Scholars program is supported by an $88,000 grant from the foundation with additional matching funds from Miami.

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