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Grants Office

Vassar College

Vassar first year and sophomore students planning to pursue studies in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or neuroscience & behavior are invited to apply for a generous 15-month stipend to pursue independent research with a Vassar faculty mentor.

The Program

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has selected Vassar College as a Beckman Scholars Program award recipient for 2022-2025. The prestigious Beckman Scholars Program will provide robust faculty-mentored research experiences for a total of six exceptional undergraduate students in the fields of Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Neuroscience & Behavior (two per year for the next three years). This program will provide students with generous stipends, robust mentorship, funding for supplies and conference travel, and an unprecedented opportunity at Vassar to pursue their research interests across two summers and a full academic year.

Meet our 2023-2024 scholars

Aanzan Sachdeva ’25 (mentor: Zachary Donhauser)

Abigail Tramell ’26 (mentor: Jennifer Kennell)

Meet our 2022-2023 scholars

Sufana Noorwez ’24 (mentor: Colin Echeverría Aitken)

Dariana Serrano ’25 (mentor: Lori Newman)

Information for potential applicants

Research expectations for 2024-2025 Beckman Scholars

Summers: Beckman Scholars will carry out 10 weeks of full-time research with their faculty mentor for two consecutive summers (2024 and 2025)

Academic year: During the academic year between summer research experiences (Fall 2024-Spring 2025), Beckman Scholars will spend at least 10 hours per week continuing their research project.

Expectations and outcomes:

Working closely with their faculty mentors, Beckman Scholars will:

  • Develop plans and timelines for conference attendance, publications and postgraduate pursuits; Identify and access individualized technical assistance and guidance; present at local, regional, and national scientific meetings as well as Beckman’s Annual Symposium;
  • Pursue the publication of their research results in a scientific journal;
  • Receive individualized and strategic support for identifying and applying for relevant nationally competitive fellowships and scholarships as well as graduate school applications; and
  • Participate in specialized activities that support Scholars’ professional development and leadership skills such as attending URSI weekly lunches and workshops and presenting at the URSI Symposium.

Research Support

Student stipend: $18,200

  • Summer Funding — $6,800 per summer for two summers
  • Academic Year Funding — $4,600 for the academic year

Student scientific travel and research supply funds: $2,800


To be eligible for the Beckman Scholars Program, students must:

  • Be a first year or sophomore majoring in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, or neuroscience & behavior or firmly intend to declare one of these majors (reach out to Dr. Kennell at if you plan to declare another related major to check on eligibility)
  • Have an intention to pursue an advanced science degree or other scientific pursuits after Vassar
  • Be a full-time student in good academic standing at Vassar throughout the 15-month duration of the award
  • And be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have DACA status

Selection Criteria

Vassar students are eligible for selection and naming as Beckman Scholars as early as the second semester of their first year of studies and up through their sophomore year on the basis of their early successes at Vassar and potential for future leadership in scientific research.

Highest-ranked applicants will have: 

  • articulated how their research interests and/or experience aligned with a faculty mentor as well as compelling goals for independent research and professional pursuits
  • demonstrated a strong understanding of their proposed project and shown potential for true ownership of, and intellectual contribution to, their project
  • demonstrated strong communication and leadership skills 
  • demonstrated a commitment to meeting the rigorous expectations of the program

To Apply for the 2024-2025 round

December and January: Interested students should review the list of available mentors for this round (see below), read about the mentors' research by reviewing their websites and publications, and select a potential mentor that fits best with your interests and goals.

January 26: Deadline to complete a short online pre-application form to confirm your eligibility for the program and express your interest in applying to receive formal sponsorship from that potential mentor.

Each pre-application will be reviewed by the potential faculty mentor designated on each form and the faculty will reach out to selected pre-applicants about meeting to discuss sponsorship. Decisions on sponsorship will be provided by February 9.

February 23: Deadline for those students who receive formal faculty sponsorship to submit a full application (details below) that will be reviewed by a selection committee.

March 1: Semi-finalists announced by selection committee

Week after spring break: Semi-finalists will give a short presentation on their proposed research and be interviewed by a small panel of the selection committee.

March 25: Two 2024-2025 Beckman scholars announced

Beckman Faculty Mentors available for 2024-2025 round

Click on the faculty names to be directed to their Vassar or lab webpage. Read brief research statements provided by the faculty.

Hadley Bergstrom Psychological Science and Neuroscience & Behavior

  • Area of Research: Memory Neuroscience

Megan D. Gall Biology and Neuroscience & Behavior

  • Area of Research: Sensory Physiology, Ecology and Behavior

The Beckman Scholars Program Director is Associate Professor Biology and Director of Biochemistry Jennifer Kennell. She is available to answer any questions from applicants and faculty about the program and application process, and is happy to talk with interested students about how to identify a mentor who could be a good fit for their interests.

Full Application Components

  • Student must confirm eligibility and commitment to the program timeline
    • Must be a first year or sophomore BIOL, BIOC, CHEM, or NSB major or firmly intend to declare one of these majors (if majoring in a related major, check possible eligibility first)
    • Must be U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have DACA status
    • Must be committed to conducting research with the Vassar mentor during summers of 2024 and 2025 as well as the academic year 2024-2025 (if you are planning to study abroad for a semester during this time there may be flexibility in this if you commit to continuing research into Fall 2025)
  • A 2-3 page student statement that contains the following:
    • A description of your proposed faculty-mentored research project (developed in consultation with your faculty mentor)
    • A description of your post-graduation educational and professional goals and how the Beckman Scholars program and this research experience fits into these goals
    • A discussion of how you will manage the rigorous commitments of the program
    • Optional: If applicable, please briefly describe any prior research experience you have had and if you have had any experience authoring or co-authoring a scientific publication or presenting research at a scientific seminar or conference
    • Optional: How do you self-identify with regards to any and all dimensions of diversity? How will the Beckman Scholar Program expand your access to research and other opportunities?
    • Optional: Is there anything else that you want us to know as we evaluate your application? For example, were there extenuating circumstances for low grades in a given semester? Have you overcome adversity or challenging circumstances?
  • One page resume or CV
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Letter of sponsorship from proposed faculty mentor
  • Letter of recommendation from another Vassar faculty member (preferably in the natural sciences)