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Inaugural KU Beckman Scholars announced

Thursday, August 06, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has announced its first Beckman Scholars in a program designed to encourage undergraduate research.

The 2015 scholars, Michael Cory,  Wichita, and Aidan Dmitriev, Lawrence, will take part in a 15-month program designed to enrich their development as students and scientists through innovative research, mentoring, collaboration and practice in effective communication. The program offers students a unique opportunity to become immersed in the scientific community.

Each Beckman Scholar receives a total of $21,000 via stipend and travel and supply funds over the course of the program. Additionally, the scholars’ mentors each receive $5,000.

“I’m excited to mentor Michael in my lab as a Beckman Scholar," said John Karanicolas, professor of molecular sciences. "He has a tremendous aptitude for science and a great knack for designing and carrying out new experiments. His work will play a huge role in helping us build protein-based switches and sensors.”

Dmitriev will also work with a molecular biosciences researcher.

“Aidan is an exceptional student and highly engaged person already showing promise as a developing scientist," Professor Scott Hefty said. "I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to mentor Aidan and looking forward to the discoveries we’ll make together to better understand the biology and disease processes of chlamydia.

Funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the Beckman Scholars Program is led by co-directors David Benson, associate professor of chemistry, and Lynn Hancock, associate professor of molecular biosciences, along with grant principal investigator Susan Egan, professor and chair, molecular biosciences, and co-principal investigator Brian Laird, professor and chair of chemistry.

Students interested in applying for the 2016 Beckman Scholars competition should consult the website http://beckman.ku.edu/ and can direct questions to beckmanscholars@ku.edu.

More about the awardees

Michael Cory

Cory attended Andover High School before attending the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University for his junior and senior years of high school. While at Fort Hays, he began laboratory research. His current project involves finding small molecules that rescue the activity of the lac repressor in E. coli in the context of special loss-of-function mutations using computational and experimental approaches. He hopes to graduate with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and then pursue a doctorate.

Aidan Dmitriev

Originally from Lakewood, New York, Aidan has lived in Lawrence for three years and is a graduate of Free State High School. He is a rising junior with plans to graduate with a bachelor's degree in microbiology and pursue further education through an M.D./doctoral program. As a Beckman Scholar, Dmitriev will work with his mentor to discover the structure and function of several proteins with unknown function in the chlamydia trachomatis proteome. C. trachomatis is the leading cause of sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. and the primary etiological agent of preventable blindness worldwide. Structural and functional studies of these "hypothetical proteins" will contribute to the overall initiative to better understand the mechanisms of pathogenesis in chlamydia and develop improved treatment strategies for infection.

Photo: From left, Michael Cory and Aidan Dmitriev.