OVERVIEW: The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation gives entirely to science— primarily life science and chemistry—with support for education and research. Its research programs make awards to undergraduate work and early-career scientists working on innovative, unfunded projects.
IP TAKE: This foundation looks to fund budding researchers with innovative ideas. Its criteria are highly selective, but if you are an undergraduate student, doctoral candidate, or recent Ph.D. this funder may be your new best friend.
PROFILE: Beckman, in honor of the Inventors Hall of Fame inductee whose name graces the foundation, values out-of-the-box thinking and projects that aim to revolutionize their scientific fields. As such, its focus is on young, early-career researchers, undergraduate research, with an underlying requirement that funded programs involve new or unfunded avenues of research.
The foundation has two key programs to execute this strategy: Beckman Scholars and Beckman Young Investigators. Both are competitive awards, although the latter tends to involve ongoing, larger support. Applicants are eligible only if they work in fields of interest to the foundation, namely chemical and life sciences and "particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science."
The first program, Beckman Scholars, is an undergraduate scholarship program that selects promising young individuals for annual awards. The total award is broken down into a $4,600 stipend per academic year, $6,800 per summer, $2,800 for travel and supplies, and a $5,000 mentor allowance. Scholarships last two summers and one academic year and allow undergraduates to pursue research in chemistry, biochemistry, and biological and medical sciences with in-depth faculty mentoring.
The foundation does not choose just any institution for the Beckman Scholars Program. 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, grants and awards from other foundations, and participation in the National Conference on Undergraduate Research annual meetings. In short, universities chosen for this program generally have a record of funded research and scholarship.
The second major program is the Beckman Young Investigator awards. These awards support young or early-career academics whose projects show promise for major breakthroughs in their research fields, which again are loosely defined as life sciences and chemical sciences. Applicants must have been in their tenure track for no more than three years.
Faculty members selected for the Young Investigators Program must be working in the “chemical and life sciences,” and should have projects that have 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. The funds are not without strings attached, however. Continued funding beyond the first two years is contingent on demonstrated progress in the funded project. To qualify, your project must be a “truly high-risk” new direction in research, and you cannot have received a “major award from another institution.”
Finally, a relatively new initiative, the Beckman-Argyros Award in Vision Research is intended “to reward individuals who are making significant transformative breakthroughs in vision research.” Unlike Beckman's other programs, this award is given to only one individual per year. The recipient of the Beckman-Argyros Award will receive 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).
In short, if you are a driven, innovative scholar-researcher in the early stages of your STEM-related career, Beckman is a strong supporter that can help push the bounds of your research and raise your career to the next level.
- Anne Hultgren, Executive Director and CEO
- Catrina Bryant, Program Manager
- Nicole Forino, Program Administrator, Beckman Young Investigators
- Sarah Marinkovich, Program Administrator, Beckman Scholars