LU Announces 2022 David J. Beck Fellows, Presidential Fellows

Lamar University announced two recipients of the David J. Beck Fellowship as well as the finalists for the 2022 Presidential Summer Fellowship at the annual reception on Wednesday, March 2. The David J. Beck Fellowships reward outstanding academic achievement and allow top students to further challenge themselves with unique opportunities for undergraduate research and creative study.

David J. Beck Fellows are awarded full academic scholarships coverall all tuition, books, fees and on-campus room and board. They also receive up to $10,000 in tuition funding for a summer project, which may entail research, an internship, or international study.

Beck Fellows are awarded to up to two fellows for one calendar year and is one of the most prestigious honors that a student can achieve at Lamar University. The 2022 David J. Beck Fellows are Beaumont native Zaid Mohammed and Angel Flowers of Port Arthur. The two are the 23rd and the 24th recipients of the fellowship since its inception in 2008. LU Announces 2022 David J. Beck Fellows, Presidential Fellows

Zaid Mohammed | Faculty mentor: Dr. Ian Lian, associate professor of biology
Zaid Mohammed is a sophomore biology major with a minor in chemistry and a concentration in Pre-med. For his Beck Fellowship summer project, he has been invited to conduct research in Ottawa, Canada at the University of Ottawa with molecular biologist and co-director of the Genome Editing and Molecular Biology facility, Dr. Ryan Russel. Russel’s lab environment is one of the few labs in the world that are proficient in autophagy experiment.

During his 9-week stay in Ottawa, Mohammed will utilize the special cell culture platform developed by Dr. Ian Lian, association professor of biology, and his team. His project will involve using SILAC, co-IP, and a neural network, or AI, to identify unknown proteins involved in the initiation of autophagy. 

Angel Flowers | Faculty mentor: Dr. Matthew Hoch, associate professor of biology
For her 2022 Beck Fellowship summer project, Angel Flowers, junior biology major, will conduct research regarding the microscopic animal phyla, Tardigrada. She will be studying the marine tardigrades and the effects of water quality, sediment organic content and habitat type on population density and species distribution patterns. She also will be working with different groups domestic and abroad to conduct this research. In Belize, Angel will be working with Dr. Arlenie Rogers of the University of Belize, Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and the Smithsonian Institute Carrie Bow Cay Field Station to perform onshore-to-offshore transects. Samples will be collected, processed, and prepared for export to the U.S. where Angel will travel to Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.  While there, she will work with Dr. Williams R. Miller, a renowned tardigradologist, for morphological identification to species using advanced microscopy methods. Then, she will travel to McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana to work on DNA barcoding of specimens with Dr. Kathy Jackson and Dr. Harry Meyer. Target sequences will be deposited in GenBank and voucher specimens and type/paratype specimens will be sent to Dr. Anna Phillips, curator of the Tardigrada collection at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. 

Also recognized at the event were the 2022 Presidential Summer Fellows, Taliah Belcher and Tristan Tonche.  

Taliah Belcher | Faculty mentors Dr. Dan French, dean of the College of Business, and Dr. Gevorg Sargsyan, assistant professor of the department of business.

Taliah Belcher is a senior, double majoring in accounting and finance. For her 2022 Presidential Summer Fellowship project, she will participate in an international study and research project joining Lamar University’s College of Business study abroad trip to Alicante, Spain. After the study abroad program ends, Belcher will remain in Spain for most of the summer while researching the impact of militarization on the financial and economic growth of developing and highly militarized countries. She will test multiple hypotheses by obtaining data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations. More specifically, she will be looking at Global Militarization Index rank, GDP per capita, military expenditures and foreign direct investment, using this data to perform statistical analysis tests for each of her hypotheses.

Tristan Tonche | Faculty Mentors: Dr. M. Diane Clark, professor of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, and Beverly Buchanan, instructor of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.

Sophomore American Sign Language major Tristan Tonche has been invited to research and interview the Plains Indian Sign Language users that remain today at the University of British Columbia with Dr. Joanna Cannon. She will work alongside the Native Indian Teachers Education Program faculty and interview Deaf Natives and collect data about how they acquired PISL, their experience with PISL throughout their childhood and educational background, among other variables that will be analyzed. Tonche also will meet with staff members of the Indigenous Studies department to learn more about the Native and Indigenous community and culture of the British Columbia region.