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UK Awarded Beckman Scholars Program With Undergraduate Chemistry Focus

By Alicia Gregory and Rob Theakston 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 31, 2022) — The University of Kentucky has been named a 2022 Beckman Scholars Program Award winner. The award will create a new program focusing on diversity and equity in undergraduate research — Scholars United by Chemistry: Cultivating Excellence through Science Stewardship (SUCCESS). This invitation-only program for top-tier research institutions provides a 15-month mentored research experience for exceptional undergraduate students in chemistry, biological sciences and associated interdisciplinary combinations.

“The University of Kentucky is honored to have been invited by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to apply for this award," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "It is a testament to the research-intensive focus of our university and will provide meaningful new research opportunities for our undergraduates."

The Beckman Foundation expanded the Beckman Scholars Program for 2022, awarding more than $2.1 million in funding for 84 undergraduate scholars at 14 institutions.

“We’re excited to see this exceptional program grow with our 2022 class of undergraduate researchers," said Anne Hultgren, Beckman Foundation executive director. "The applicant pool for this year was very competitive, and we are confident we’ve selected awardee institutions that will host exceptional programs with a diverse and talented cohort of scholars. We look forward to meeting each of them, learning more about their research projects, and welcoming them to our upcoming annual Beckman Symposium."

UK’s SUCCESS program is the result of an intensive, multi-faceted collaboration among the Office of Undergraduate Research, Office of Philanthropy, Proposal Development Office, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Medicine, Center for Applied Energy Research, Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center and the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits.

The SUCCESS program is built on the cornerstone of chemistry and its contribution on UK’s Research Priority Areas, funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research: cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes & obesity, diversity & inclusion, energy, neuroscience and substance use disorder. These areas were chosen based on local relevance, existing funding strength, sustainability and disciplinary scholarly diversity. 

SUCCESS will pair undergraduate researchers with faculty mentors who will cultivate both their personal and professional development as scholars, with an emphasis on growing a culture of inclusivity. The program will help scholars develop inclusive leadership skills to prepare them for roles in an increasingly diverse research landscape. SUCCESS will be led by Office of Undergraduate Research Director Chad Risko and an advisory board of senior research leaders. 

“The world-class researchers at the University of Kentucky are constantly finding innovative ways to collaborate, teach and mentor the next generation of researchers. The SUCCESS program is another critical cornerstone to not only our commitment to the next generation of Kentucky scientists and scholars, but also to our goal of enacting and integrating equity in everything we do,” said Lisa Cassis, vice president for research.

The Beckman Scholars Program award will support SUCCESS over a three-year period for a total of $156,000.  UK will select two scholars a year for the duration of the award. Scholar candidates will be screened based on their field of research, established programs and commitment to undergraduate research.

A UK Beckman Scholars Info Session will be at 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, via Zoom. Students can register at For more information, visit

About the Beckman Scholars Program

This 15-month mentored research experience for exceptional undergraduate students is a limited-submission program, with applications considered through an invitation-only process. The Beckman Foundation annually reviews information about institutions from across the country and identifies colleges and universities to receive Beckman Scholars Program application invitations. Identified institutions show the capability to compete successfully on a national level for scientific research funding in peer-reviewed government and private foundation-supported programs over previous years. Selected universities are judged to be of the quality necessary to support the caliber of undergraduate research programs sought for the Beckman Scholars.

About the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation 

In Irvine, California, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation supports researchers and nonprofit research institutions in making the next generation of breakthroughs in chemistry and the life sciences. Founded in 1978 by scientific instrumentation pioneer Arnold O. Beckman, the foundation supports United States institutions and young scientists whose creative, high-risk and interdisciplinary research will lead to innovations and new tools and methods for scientific discovery. For more information, visit

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.