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Neuroscience and Psychology Major Kaitlyn Brock Awarded Prestigious Beckman Scholars Award

By Jesi Jones-Bowman

 Mar 23, 2023Beckman ScholarsResearch SpotlightFaculty MentorStudent Success

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 23, 2023) — Two undergraduates have been selected as recipients of the University of Kentucky’s Beckman Scholars Program, titled Scholars United by Chemistry: Cultivating Excellence through Science Stewardship (SUCCESS).

The Beckman Scholars — Kaitlyn Brock, a neuroscience and psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Lewis Honors College, and Hena Kachroo, a chemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Lewis Honors College — will each begin their independent, laboratory research this summer.

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation’s Beckman Scholars Program is a 15-month mentored research experience for exceptional undergraduate students in chemistry, biological sciences and interdisciplinary combinations. UK was selected as one of 14 institutions of higher learning nationally to receive the award last year.

A highly multidisciplinary program, SUCCESS is built on the cornerstone of chemistry as the central science that unites UK’s Research Priority Areas, established to serve the pressing needs of Kentuckians and the nation.

Brock will be investigating the mechanisms and effects of bacterial endotoxin on skeletal muscle and synaptic transmission within fly and crayfish models in the lab of Robin Cooper, Ph.D., professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology. Bacteria that produce endotoxin trigger an immune response in humans that can lead to sepsis and infection.

“The Beckman Scholars Program will give me an opportunity to better understand the processes associated with endotoxin and find potentially lifesaving treatments,” said Brock. “I’m also looking forward to gaining long-term experience working with both my mentor and other researchers outside of my primary discipline to prepare for a career in science.”

Kachroo will be investigating biochemical solutions to challenges in sustainable energy in the lab of Anne-Frances Miller, Ph.D., professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Chemistry.

“I plan to pursue a career in chemistry-based research and further study areas of astrobiology that relate to the effects of extraterrestrial environments on organic molecules and biochemical reactions that govern life on Earth,” said Kachroo. “The Beckman Scholars Program will allow me to hone my practical research skills and deepen knowledge in my area of research while making valuable connections.”

As Beckman Scholars, Brock and Kachroo will receive $21,000 over 15 months: $18,200 for a student stipend and $2,800 to support scientific supply and travel for current research activities. Faculty mentors will also receive $5,000 to support educational expenses.

Each Beckman Scholar must perform research activities part-time during one academic year and full-time over two consecutive summers. They must also complete a required training and professional development series, at least one outreach or service activity during the academic year and mid-program and end-of-program surveys. Scholars will participate in the SUCCESS Roundtable series, present at the UK Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars in April 2024 and attend one Beckman Scholar Symposium.

Learn more about the Beckman Scholar Program here.