Research Grants Boosted Student into Brainy Graduate Work

Story posted February 23, 2010

Chris Cashman '07 will likely read hundreds of scientific and medical papers during his present graduate studies in a M.D.-Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University. When he gets to the field of endocrinology, however, some of those papers may even be his own.

cashman at microscope
Chris Cashman '07 at work in Chemistry Professor Elizabeth Stemmler's lab.

As a Bowdoin College Beckman Scholar, Cashman spent two summers and a full academic year working with Bowdoin faculty researchers on a groundbreaking, collaborative research project. His survey of peptides and neuropeptides revealed new discoveries in the field, and prompted him to co-author nine published papers.

The Beckman Scholars program is a highly selective grant program funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which supports undergraduate research and faculty mentoring for select students in chemistry, biochemistry, and the biological sciences. Bowdoin was awarded its second Beckman Scholars grant in February 2010. Read more.

"Being a Beckman Scholar was one of the highlights of my time at Bowdoin," notes Cashman. "It gave me the freedom to research my interests and passions for an entire year, without having to stop during the school year for lack of funding. I began to learn how to ask more complicated questions that could not be studied over a single summer. These types of questions are what make science so exciting, and I am certain that the Beckman Scholars program helped foster my passion for science and nurture my interests in neuroscience and biochemistry. After graduation, I worked as the INBRE Junior Biomedical Researcher at Bowdoin, investigating another facet of the research I had begun as a Beckman Scholar.

"My current research interests still stem from some of the work I did at Bowdoin. I am interested in the development of brain-machine interfaces, which requires an understanding of neural patterns and circuitry, as well as chemistry and biochemistry, all fields that I was exposed to while doing research at Bowdoin.

"Bowdoin's science education is phenomenal. With ample opportunities to get involved in research at Bowdoin, you can really learn how to think like a scientist rather than simply follow a protocol. I can honestly say that I have used information from every single science class that I had at Bowdoin on a regular basis. Even more so, Bowdoin taught me how to learn and to be passionate about pursuing curiosity and understanding. I feel that these lessons may be the greatest of all."

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