NAU students gain prestigious national award

Julia Mackey and Robert Buscaglia will have money for living expenses while continuing work on their groundbreaking research as 2006 recipients of the Beckman Scholar Award.

The Northern Arizona University students will each receive $17,600 for new equipment, experimental samples, travel and living expenses. The Beckman Scholar Award recognizes outstanding undergraduate research students in the chemistry and biological sciences.

Each student will use the award for one academic year and two summers of research, beginning summer of 2006.

Buscaglia, a junior biochemistry and math major from Gilbert will use the funding to continue his research on DNA to “turn off” cancerous genes. His money will be spent toward purchasing a circular dichroism, a machine that will give more information about DNA structure. Buscaglia also will purchase samples to continue his research.

“It’s nice to know I won’t have to get a part-time job and can contribute to research collaboration in our department,” Buscaglia said.

Mackey, a junior chemistry major from Phoenix, will be continuing her research focusing on chromium, the types of damage it causes to DNA and ways in which that damage can lead to cancer. She will be using the monies for travel costs to conferences to present on her findings. She will also use the funding to buy supplies such as microplates and cell cultures for her research.

“It’s really exciting to receive this award. It gives me a lot of opportunity and allows me to continue this research,” Mackey said.

“These are pretty special awards,” said Lee Drickamer, Regent’s Professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. “Both of these students have outstanding research records. They’re scholars in the professional sense, not just students.”

NAU is rare in that is one of only a few universities nationwide to have received awards back to back. The previous Beckman Scholar Award winners were Seth HaymoreLana ChavezBrooke Baker,James BogertNicole MarthalerMatthew Fryer, Robert Spurgiesz and Forrest Helfrich.