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Undergraduates Alan D. Chien and Jeneva Laib selected as 2010 Beckman Scholars

The Beckman Award, which was established in 1997, is an institutional award that promotes and generously funds a small number of exceptional undergraduate researchers. At U.Va., the awardees will work in labs led by faculty members who have a long track record of undergraduate-authored publications and presentations at national meetings.

Alan Chien, a second-year chemistry major, is working with professor of chemistry Cassandra Fraser to develop luminescent boron diketonate dyes for biomaterials that are oxygen sensitive and possibly also pH sensitive. Additionally, as molecular solids, these light-emitting dyes have the rare ability to change color when scratched and then self-heal at room temperature, suggesting uses as rewritable surfaces and mechanical sensors. Over the next two years, Chien will contribute to our fundamental understanding of these rare luminescent qualities, while also exploring his particular interest in their many medical and sensing applications.

Jeneva Laib, now a third-year student, joined associate professor of biomedical engineering William Guilford’s molecular biomechanics research groups as a first year. By second year, she had helped to discriminate between two general theories of how (and how many) molecular motors coordinate to power cell movement. In a first-author article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Laib showed that molecular motors work together rather than in competition to transport internal cargo or the entire cell.

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