facebook twitter Linkedin Email

LU announces 2019 David J. Beck Fellows


Lamar University announced two recipients of the 2019 David J. Beck Fellowship as well as the finalist for the 2019 Presidential Summer Fellowship at the annual reception Monday, November 19.

The 2019 David J. Beck Fellows are Cesar Delgado of Port Arthur, and Omar Hamza of Port Neches. The two are the 17th and 18th recipients of the fellowship since its inception in 2008. The fellowship is one of the most prestigious honors a student can achieve at Lamar University.

Delgado is a sophomore majoring in English with a minor in Communications. A graduate of Memorial High School, Delgado began his career at Lamar in Fall 2017. Hamza is a senior double majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry, with a minor in Biology and a concentration in Pre-Medical Studies. A graduate of Port Neches-Groves High School, he enrolled as a member of the LU Reaud Honors College in August 2016.

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 for a summer project. The Presidential Summer Fellowship grants up to $10,000 funding for summer research projects to top finalists in the application for the Beck Fellowship.

The 1:00 PM event on the 8th floor of the Mary and John Gray Library included reports from last year’s Beck Fellows, Sakurah Fisher and David Quispe, on the projects they pursued through the funding provided by the fellowship.

sakurah.jpgSakurah Fisher, graduating December 2018 with a B.S. in Psychology and minors in Biology and Humanities, spent the summer of 2018 as an intern at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for psychiatric research in Orangeburg, New York and at the New York Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan, New York. She worked under the direction of Antigona Martinez, PhD., senior laboratory scientist for the Schizophrenia Research Division of the institute.

Fisher participated in the institute’s ongoing research on early visual systems and various posterior subcortical areas in clinically high risk and schizophrenia patients. Fisher was also able to help with fMRI data processing using Analysis of Functional Neuroimaging software, had the opportunity to set up an electroencephalogram to monitor brain waves, and shadow the clinical psychologist of NKI during clinical test. Furthermore, she developed a brain map that reflected levels of correlations in subcortical areas to primary visual cortex of a schizophrenia patient, with the purpose of understanding impaired connectivity in brain networking that contributes to visual and other sensory related psychiatric symptoms (e.g. hallucinations).

Looking back on her summer project, Fisher’s advice to students interested in applying for the fellowship is, “I know it is a daunting process, but you can't get anywhere if you don't challenge yourself and take a few risks… But if you surround yourself with good mentors and friends who support you, anything is possible.”

beck-f.jpg2018 David J. Beck Fellow David Quispe, a double major in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, took part in research into the dynamics of solar energy at the University of Arizona. More specifically, he investigated the impact between the optimal characteristics both of indium oxide and of indium tin oxide on the performance of silicon heterojunction solar cells. He began first by electrically and optically characterizing IO and then by optimizing its properties. Afterwards, he fabricated two sets of SHJ solar cell samples for both IO and ITO in order to measure their effect on the solar cells’ performance. As a result, Quispe has expanded his understanding of the research process while at the same time gaining a scientifically precise understanding of the advantages and disadvantages between using IO in comparison to ITO.

Quispe also thanks Dr. Dodson, Dean of the Reaud Honors College, for bringing the fellowship to his attention and says to those interested, “If you have an idea of something you want to pursue, don’t hesitate. Take the time and put in the hard work to enter that idea into consideration for the fellowship.”

The projects that will be worked on by the recipients of the 2019 Beck Fellowship are just as compelling.


Delgado’s 2019 Beck Project plans will take him to Tijuana, Mexico where he will interview three former U.S. servicemen who have been deported. The men reside at the Deported Veterans Support House, an organization helping veterans in achieving self-sufficiency. Delgado will be asking the men about their early life and their transition to civilian life in Mexico. This phase of the project will include four-weeks on site, with the remainder of the summer being spent transitioning the material into an oral history. Delgado’s long-term plan is to take his research and use it for a book about the lives of deported veterans since 1990. His LU faculty advisor for the project is Dr. Adrienne Blackwell-Starnes, associate professor of English.

beck-b.jpgHamza’s 2019 Beck Project plans will focus on the treatment of people in crisis situations. Unfolding in three stages beginning with Hamza shadowing Dr. Hend Azhary at Michigan State University and Dr. Richard Mollica at Harvard University, two experts on the treatment of survivors of extreme violence.

Hamza will then spend the remainder of the summer at Al-Zaatari Camp in Jordan, home for over 80,000 Syrian refugees. There he will interview both refugees and physicians to extrapolate symptoms related to Human Devastation Syndrome and physician burnout with refugees, focusing on the various aspects of HDS that will include rebuilding of social support and reestablishing patterns of normality. With physicians, he will focus on the physical and emotional toll of continuously treating people in crisis situations. His LU faculty mentor for the project is Dr. Ashraf Elhoubi, professor of information systems and analysis.

Also recognized at the event were the 2019 Presidential Summer Fellows, Kyle Delk and Hannah Rumsey.


Kyle Delk is a senior majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and a concentration in Pre-Optometry studies. For the summer of 2019, Delk will have the opportunity to serve as research assistant under the guidance of Dr. Rachel Redfern at the world-renowned University of Houston College of Optometry. Delk and the team will work to more fully understand the causes of dry eye disease (DED), an affliction impacting 50% of the world's population. Specifically, Delk will be looking into Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, one of the leading causes of DED, to understand what keeps the glands functioning and what causes them to stop. His LU faculty mentor is Dr. Ashwini Kucknoor, associate professor of Biology.


Hannah Rumsey is a Junior, double majoring in Accounting and Finance and a double minor in Business Law and Spanish. She is also the vice-president of the College of Business Student Advisory Council. For her project Rumsey, accompanied by a team of other LU students, will analyze the structural differences between Spain’s not-for-profit sector and that of the United States. The research will require her to take part in field interviews with professors, experts, and directors of not-for-profit organizations throughout Spain. She hopes to bring the results of her research home to help local not-for-profits improve their strategic planning. Rumsey’s LU faculty mentor for the project is Dr. Enrique (Henry) Venta, professor of management and marketing.