Sophomore chemistry major and College Station native Brooke Versaw '18 is one of three Beckman Scholars chosen campus-wide for 2015-16 and one of four all-time at Texas A&M University.


Sophomore chemistry major Brooke Versaw '18 has been selected as one of three 2015-16 Beckman Scholars at Texas A&M University, as announced by Texas A&M Honors and Undergraduate Research.

The Beckman Scholars Program was established in 1997 by the California-based Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to recognize and support outstanding undergraduate researchers in chemistry and the biological sciences -- those whose studies of "the chemistry of life" will lead to "the invention of new methods, instruments and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science." The award honors the memory of Arnold O. Beckman, founder-chairman emeritus of Beckman Instruments, Inc., and inventor of several scientific instruments, including the Beckman DU Spectrophotometer that revolutionized chemical analysis. Texas A&M has been an invited member of the prestigious program since 2014.

Versaw, a College Station native and National Merit Scholar, and her fellow 2015-16 honorees -- biochemistry major Gabrielle Lessen '18 from Alexandria, La., and biochemistry and genetics double major Jennifer Tran '18 from Carrollton -- join biomedical engineering major Mikayla Barry '17 in rather elite company as the four Beckman Scholars thus far in Texas A&M's history.

Each year on select campuses across the country, Beckham Scholars are chosen on the basis of an intensive written application and interview process that probes each candidate's goals, values and commitment to a career in scientific research and community service. Texas A&M's process begins by identifying the top students majoring in biochemistry, biomedical engineering, chemistry or genetics during the spring semester of their freshman year. As Beckman Scholars, each will start their undergraduate research career with the top Beckman faculty mentors in their departments the summer prior to their sophomore year, embarking on research projects that they will continue through graduation.

Program officials say Versaw impressed the faculty, staff and student application reviewers and interview panel with the breadth and depth of her experiences, her outstanding writing skills and her articulate answers. Versaw's description of herself as "curious" and "persistent" was amply demonstrated by her ability to articulately discuss a variety of subjects, from ethics to electric cars.

Versaw's interest in chemistry and chemical research was evident as early as high school, where she volunteered as a chemistry and physics tutor. She got an early start in research well before setting foot on the Texas A&M campus last fall as a member of the Class of 2018. She spent the summer of 2013 as a Robert A. Welch Foundation Chemistry Scholar with Dr. Junha Jeon at the University of Texas at Arlington, investigating the mechanism of alkenyl silyl ether hydrolyzation. Last summer, Versaw moved to Dr. Steve Lockless' group in the Texas A&M Department of Biology, where she studied intracellular signaling using synthetic models of cellular membranes.

A University Honors Program freshman, Versaw has been chosen to be a sophomore advisor for the coming academic year for the Honors Housing Community. Her application for this leadership position emphasized rational thought, role modeling and imaginative ideas to help create a sense of community between the two freshman Honors dorms. Versaw is a member of the American Chemical Society Student Affiliate Chapter and a National Aggie Scholar Ambassador. She also spent part of her freshman year serving on the Texas A&M Honor Council, which hears and addresses issues related to the Aggie Honor Code.

Earlier this month, Versaw joined the laboratory of Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Dr. Karen L. Wooley, where she will be working on a research project using organic synthesis and polymerization strategies to build macromolecular structures that can be used to develop new materials.

In addition to lab research, Beckman Scholars are expected to participate in a series of leadership and research programming designed to give them a unique depth and breadth of understanding of the overall research enterprise. These experiences and opportunities include access to student-peer mentors and faculty research advisors, leadership training such as communication skills and conflict management, insight into and participation in the scientific review and publication process and preparation for national fellowship and graduate or professional school applications.

Beckman Scholars receive significant scholarship support from both the Beckman Foundation and the Texas A&M Division of Research during summers and academic years as well as additional funds to help defray the cost of research supplies or travel to professional conferences. Their efforts also are supported in part by generous donations from the Texas A&M Association of Former Students.

Learn more about the Beckman Scholars Program or Texas A&M Honors and Undergraduate Research at http://hur.tamu.edu/.

Find additional information about undergraduate research in the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry.

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About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $820 million in FY 2013, ranking Texas A&M in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation's most recent survey of research and development expenditures among U.S. colleges and universities. Recently reported FY 2014 research expenditures exceed $854 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental, and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Karen L. Wooley, (979) 845-4077 or wooley@chem.tamu.edu
  • Brooke Versaw '18

  • Versaw, interacting with Texas A&M materials science and engineering Ph.D. student and Wooley Lab member Lauren Link '15.

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