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LU announces 2017 David J. Beck Fellows

2016 RecipientsLamar University has selected two students as 2017 David J. Beck Fellows as well as two finalists as 2017 Presidential Summer Fellows, all announced at a reception in the University Event Center, Tuesday, November 22.

The 1:30 p.m. event on the 8th Floor of the Mary and John Gray Library included reports from last year’s Beck Fellows on their summer experiences that were made possible through the fellowship.

The David J. Beck Fellowship covers all school expenses such as tuition, fees, books and on-campus room and board for one year and includes up to $10,000 to pursue a summer project. Presidential Summer Fellowship grants up to $10,000 funding for summer research projects to the top two finalists in the application for the Beck Fellowship.

The 2017 recipients of the David J. Beck Fellowship are Dillon Nicholson, a Groves senior double majoring in sociology and French and minoring in philosophy, and Natalie Sfeir, a sophomore speech and hearing sciences major from Beaumont.

Dillon NicholsonNicholson will be mentored by Amy Smith, associate professor in the Department of English and Modern Languages. His research includes travel to Europe to study language and culture in France at Paris-Sorbonne University where he will meet top social philosophers as an assistant to Giovanni Tusa, co-director of the Institute for Critical Media and Cultural Studies at the Global Center for Advanced Studies. Nicholson’s long-term goals are to become a philosopher and university faculty member.

Sfeir will be mentored by Ashley Dockens, assistant professor of audiology, and Karen Whisenhunt Saar, director of clinical services, speech and hearing services in her study of communication strategies with dementia patients.

Natalie SfeirShe will research at two communities known for excellence in the treatment of dementia and at the House of Memories in Liverpool, England, a reputable training facility for dementia patient caregivers. Natalie plans to complete her studies, including graduate degrees, and enter the health care profession by working with geriatric patients and those affected by dementia.

The recipients of the newly established 2017 Presidential Summer Fellowship are Rebekah Gonzales, a Beaumont sophomore majoring in theater and dance with a dance emphasis, and John Ellis, a junior from Bridge City majoring in computer information systems. Ellis is also LU’s drum major

Ellis’s faculty mentor is Kami Makki, professor of computer science. His summer proposal is to conduct research observing and assessing the information and communications technology of Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!), a non-profit in Allentown, Pennsylvania dedicated to enriching the lives of students through performing ensembles and outreach programs.

Gonzales will be mentored by Golden Wright, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theater and Dance. Her research to study creative learning will take place in Montreal, Quebec with Brila Youth Projects, a program to enhance child development through a blend of creativity and philosophical thinking activities. She plans to learn and research the program’s pedagogies and implement their best practices locally.

Rebekah GonzalesParticipants in the event heard reports from 2016 David J. Beck Fellows Cade Johnson, a Lumberton senior double majoring in biology and exercise science, and Nicolas Nikoloutsos, a Vidor native and triple major in electrical engineering, physics and mathematics.

Johnson was mentored by Ashwini Kucknoor, assistant professor of biology. He researched at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia under Dr. Sarah Tasian, a nationally recognized professor of pediatrics, on targeted therapies for two types of leukemia.

John EllisJohnson suffered from leukemia as a child, and he says he owes his life to the care he received. After graduation, he hopes to enroll in medical school with the goal of becoming an oncologist.

Nikoloutsos explored biology under the mentorship of Ian Lian, assistant professor of biology, then researched experimental procedures in nanomedicine in Academica Sinica in Tapei, Taiwan. There, he worked with Jack Hu, a University of California-San Diego professor who runs one of the world’s leading laboratories in the delivery of nanoparticles utilizing the technique of biomemetics.

Nikoloutsos plans to complete his degree then pursue a Ph.D. in Bioengineering and become a research scientist in the field.