Lamar University Beck Fellows engage in research across nation, globe

Senior Biology major Jacob Thompson and senior English major Allison Harmon, recipients of the David J. Beck Summer Fellowship, delved into intensive research projects this summer that spanned diverse disciplines. Jacob Thompson Summer Research

Thompson’s research commenced at the Mayo Clinic School of Biomedical Sciences in Rochester, MN, where he focused on researching the biological basis of neuronal aging and its connection to Alzheimer's disease.  

His research focused in on the molecular intricacies of cellular senescence in neurodegeneration, shedding light on how these processes influence cognitive function. Thompson then continued his investigative work at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, delving into tauopathy, a significant factor suspected to contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of Alzheimer's disease.  

Collaborating with leading experts, he sought to understand the biological patterns underlying the development and spread of key proteins associated with the disease. Thompson, driven by a passion to become a neurologist, has already begun incorporating his fellowship findings into ongoing Alzheimer's disease research at Lamar University. 

Allison Harmon Summer ResearchMeanwhile, Harmon’s Beck Summer Fellowship brought her to Brighton, England, where she meticulously transcribed Leonard Woolf's journal from 1911 to 1915. Each day, she immersed herself in the historical archives at the University of Sussex's "The Keep," unraveling accounts of Edwardian England captured over a century ago.  

Starting with Leonard's travels through India and Sri Lanka in 1911, Allison traced his journey, including his evolving relationship with Virginia Stephen, a prominent modernist writer whom he would later marry. Notably, Leonard's entries from 1913 took a turn as he became Virginia's primary caretaker, documenting her daily activities and mental well-being.   

Allison deciphered Leonard's unique code, unraveling entries that detailed Virginia's symptoms, treatments, and other observations. Her archival research provided insights into the intimate lives of the Woolfs. Harmon plans to continue transcribing the remaining journals (1914 & 1915) as part of her ongoing academic journey. 

Both Thompson’s and Harmon’s projects, supported by the Beck Fellowship, exemplify Lamar University's commitment to fostering diverse and impactful research across disciplines.  

To learn more about the David J. Beck Fellowship, visit