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Small group of Oregon women quietly raises $1.4 million for promising scientists-in-the-making

Motivated group helps OHSU, OSU recruit and retain top scholars as part of national strategy to help the United States remain technologically strong and internationally competitive

*** Editors: Media are invited to the invitation-only ARCS Foundation awards luncheon Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Portland Art Museum, 1219 S.W. Park Ave., Portland, Ore. Please confirm attendance by calling 503-494-8231.

A small group of forward-thinking Oregon women is quietly investing in academically outstanding young people working to complete doctoral degrees in science, engineering or medical research at Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon State University. In just seven years, the group — ARCS Foundation Portland — has provided financial support for 90 Oregon men and women to the tune of $1.4 million. 

ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation Portland is one of 17 ARCS Foundation Inc. chapters nationwide. Together, they have awarded more than $79 million to 52 schools nationwide since 1958.

Recipients of these highly sought-after awards have gone on to conduct significant breakthrough research in fields of science and technology; found companies; receive patents; publish extensively in major science journals; and receive national or international science-based awards.

"My involvement with ARCS Foundation has been rewarded many times over. Getting to know these extraordinary young scientists who have elected to enroll at OHSU and Oregon State University is reward enough, but working alongside the forward-thinking women of the Portland Chapter has been an honor and privilege,” said Caron Ogg, ARCS Foundation Portland president.

“Becoming a scientist is a long, hard slog, and as funding for research and education continues to decline, these awards have become increasingly critical for encouraging students to pursue scientific careers. ARCS scholar awards also help OHSU and OSU attract, and retain, brilliant scientists to Oregon,” said Christopher Cunningham, Ph.D., a professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine who has sat on the OHSU ARCS selection committee since day one.

OHSU and OSU scholars receive $18,000 over three years from ARCS Portland. Each chapter member contributes $500 a year toward the scholar award fund, and additional funds are collected through donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. All money donated goes directly to the scholars.

Only American universities whose departments are ranked in the top 100 nationwide are eligible to receive ARCS Foundation scholar awards.

“The ARCS award was a determining factor in my decision to come to OHSU. OHSU was definitely the best fit for me for graduate school, and besides being a great honor, the award made it easier to make the big move,” said Danielle Robinson, doctoral candidate in the OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program and recipient of the Richardson Scholar Award donated by Ellen Richardson, a founding member of ARCS Portland, and her husband, OHSU School of Medicine Dean Mark Richardson, M.D., M.B.A.

Robinson is studying synapse formation in cells involved in hearing and balance in the lab of Teresa Nicolson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine, Oregon Hearing Research Center and the Vollum Institute; and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

The ARCS Foundation Portland presented its first 11 scholar awards in October 2005. This year 13 new scholars will be recognized along with 27 second- and third-year scholars at the ARCS Foundation awards luncheon Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Portland Art Museum.

The keynote speaker for the luncheon is retired Intel CEO and chairman Craig Barrett, Ph.D., a leading advocate for improving education in the United States and around the world. Barrett was appointed by President Obama as a private sector leader of “Change the Equation,” a national science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) initiative. Among his civic, foreign affairs and technology contributions are serving on the Business Coalition for Student Achievement, the National Innovation Leadership Council and the Clinton Global Initiative Education advisory board.

Read a complete list of current ARCS Foundation scholars for 2012 and their areas of research.

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