Undergraduates become research scholars

With the help of funding from the Beckman Scholars Program, two NAU undergraduates are finding their place on the road to discovery.

Brandie Lambdin and Tara Christine Sweigart, undergraduates in NAU’s College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, recently became Beckman Scholars, an honor that comes with funding and a chance to make a difference.

Both Lambdin and Sweigart hope their inquiry into science will have a positive effect on human lives.

“I am not only motivated in my research by my own willpower, but by the fact that I have received a Beckman award and have an obligation to uphold the research standards associated with it,” Sweigart said.

Each student is receiving about $19,000 for one academic year and two summers, as well as chances to work with scientists at NAU and to network with researchers from other universities. About 80 undergraduates around the country received Beckman Scholarships, including students at Georgetown University, Boston University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Sweigart, who hails from the Las Vegas area, is pursuing a biochemistry major at NAU and is delving into ways to use cobalt-centered molecules to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.

Lambdin, from Cody, Wyo., is researching how human impact is affecting Fossil Creek in Arizona’s rim country since its dam decommissioning about two years ago.

“I am comparing the bacterial communities in the stream during the summer when visitation is high as well as in the early spring when the system has been flushed clean,” said Lambdin, who is an environmental biology major. “I hope to draw conclusions about what kinds of impacts human recreation is having on the system.”

Lambdin and Sweigart are the first two of five Beckman Scholars who will chosen at NAU over the next five years.

Information about the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation is online.