Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation promotes research and scholarship in chemistry and the life sciences through programs aimed at elementary school students, college students majoring in life sciences, and beginning faculty in higher education who show potential.

IP TAKE: The Beckman Foundation wants to support the young scientists of today and develop tomorrow’s leaders in the field. Undergraduate students, doctoral candidates, or recent Ph.D.s in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, or a related field may find Beckman a valuable resource.

PROFILE: The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, established in 1977 and headquartered in Irvine, California, focuses its grantmaking activities in STEM higher education concerning the life sciences, including chemistry, biology, biochemistry, and related fields. It seeks to support “researchers and nonprofit research institutions in chemistry and the life sciences, to promote scientific discoveries and particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments, and materials that will open up new avenues of research.” The foundation operates through four areas: Beckman Scholars, Beckman Young Investigators, Beckman-Argyros Award in Vision Research, and Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows.

The foundation conducts grantmaking to benefit higher education through a variety of programs:

The Beckman Scholars Program makes awards to institutions of higher education. Each year, the foundation selects a number of research universities and solicits applications from them to nominate one student conducting research in “chemistry, biochemistry, [or] the biological and medical sciences.” The partner institution then awards the funds to the winning student (the scholarships are not awarded by the foundation directly to individual students). Colleges and universities are selected based on a number of factors, including research support from the National Institutes of Health, research awards from the National Science Foundation, and grants and awards from other foundations.

The Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Award program supports postdoctoral scholars “who are judged to have the highest potential for success in an independent academic career in chemistry and the life sciences” to assist in their “transition from graduate student to independent researcher.” Many recent awardees have hailed from the nation’s top-tier universities, though several recipients were scholars at lesser-known institutions. This fellowship has an open application, generally available from June to September each year.

Beckman's Young Investigators Program supports scholars in the early stages of their academic careers who are working in “chemical and life sciences,” and have projects with the potential to “foster the invention of methods, instruments and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.” Grant awards are for up to four years and may be as high as $750,000. Applicants must submit a Letter of Intent endorsed by their school chancellor and dean.

Finally, the Beckman-Argyros Award in Vision Research is intended “to reward individuals who are making significant transformative breakthroughs in vision research.” Unlike the other programs, this award is given to a single individual per year. The recipient of the Beckman-Argyros Award receives a total of $500,000 ($100,000 directly to the individual, and the remainder allocated to the winner’s university or charity in the form of a research grant). This award requires nominations from  “holders of an established post, such as an officer, dean or other authorized person” at a university or public charity or hold a similar position at a “private/public corporation,” and must be qualified to “identify the [nominee’s] significant transformative research.”

Grants may range from $100,000 to $600,000 for multi-year periods. The foundation has no grants database, but does publicize previous winners of each award. Grantseekers should check the pages of each program to confirm whether the application is open or requires a nomination.

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