Photo compilation of images of Katherine Yan and Kevin Pataroque
Katherine Yan and Kevin Pataroque

Two new Beckman Scholars chosen for undergraduate research grants and extensive mentorship

Two Case Western Reserve University undergraduate students were selected as Beckman Scholars for the 2019-20 academic year to support their research endeavors. This year’s honorees were Katherine Yan and Kevin Pataroque.

In January 2018, Case Western Reserve was among 12 institutions nationally chosen by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to offer research grants and extensive mentorship to six undergraduate students in chemistry and the biological sciences.

“CWRU is truly honored to have been selected as a site for the prestigious Beckman Scholars Program,” said Donald Feke, vice provost for undergraduate education and principal investigator on CWRU’s Beckman Scholars award. “The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has recognized the high quality of the undergraduate research experience that CWRU provides to our outstanding students.”

Each Beckman Scholar is awarded $6,800 per summer and $4,600 for the academic year. Another $2,800 is made available for supplies and travel, including attending the Beckman Symposium, at which students present their research projects.

“Katherine and Kevin were selected as Beckman Scholars through a rigorous evaluation process,” Feke said. “Members of the faculty selection committee were highly impressed by their extensive prior research experiences, the degree of creativity and enthusiasm shown for their research projects, and their plans for taking advantage of the professional development opportunities afforded through the Beckman Scholars program” 

This year’s Beckman Scholars, along with last year’s—Lucille Hu and Jeanette Sullivan—will present their work at the Beckman Scholars Presentation and Information Session Friday, Oct. 25, at 4:30 p.m. in Sears Library Building, Room 439. Everyone is invited to attend; first- and second-year students interested in applying to become Beckman Scholars especially are encouraged to attend.

Katherine Yan

Photo of Katherine Yan

Katherine Yan is a third-year student studying chemistry and chemical engineering and was selected for her research titled “The Effect of Cyclodextrin Polymer Coatings on Protein Adsorption to Biomaterial Surfaces—Towards Prevention of Post-Surgical Adhesions.”

“Adhesions are responsible for the re-hospitalization of one in seven hernia patients within five years of surgery,” Yan said. “My proposed Beckman project reinforces the intersection of engineering and preventative care, as it involves anti-fouling and modifications to a common medical device to improve patient outcomes and reduce complications of hernia mesh surgery.”

Yan will be mentored by Julie Renner, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Kevin Pataroque

Photo of Kevin Pataroque

Kevin Pataroque is a third-year student studying chemical engineering and was selected for his research titled “Degradation of perfluoroalkyl compounds by interfacial reactions between a non-equilibrium plasma and water.”

“Perfluoroalkyl compounds are persistent contaminants in the environment and have been linked to liver diseases and various types of cancer,” Pataroque said. “The primary goal of this project is to engineer a cost-effective and efficient method of degrading perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and other aqueous contaminants.”

Pataroque will be mentored by Mohan Sankaran, the Leonard Case Jr. Professor of Engineering, and Christine Duval, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

About the Beckman Scholars Program

The Beckman Scholars Program is a 15-month experience for exceptional undergraduate students, providing continuous support for a mentored research project over two summers and one academic year. First- and second-year students are eligible to apply by February and are selected in April. Yan and Pataroque began their research during summer 2019 following their second-year.

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, of Irvine, California, provides grants to researchers and nonprofit research institutions to promote scientific discoveries—especially work that leads to new research methods, instruments and materials.