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Bianca Nguyen ’19 is a chemistry student whose research benefited from the Stauffer Challenge Grant.

Bianca Nguyen ’19 is a chemistry student whose research benefited from the Stauffer Challenge Grant.

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Grant helps Pacific chemistry students fund summer research

Donor gifts helped university hit $500,000 Stauffer goal year early
Dec 12, 2017

Pacific's Department of Chemistry beat its goal one year early to raise $500,000 to secure matching funding from the John Stauffer Charitable Trust.

Donations from university alumni, supporters and students in the professional chemistry organization Alpha Chi Sigma will be matched dollar for dollar by the trust for a total of $1 million. The money will pay for undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry research.

"We're excited this is happening," said Andreas Franz, former chair of the department. "This is the first time there is an endowed pool of money to provide multiple students in perpetuity with research opportunities, specifically in chemistry and biochemistry, which is really fantastic for us."

The effort to pursue the grant began in 2013 when the chemistry department was awarded a $500,000 challenge from the John Stauffer Charitable Trust to enhance its research opportunities. The university was given five years to raise the money, but it met its goal earlier this year.

The effort received a boost in 2014 when members of the Pacific chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, a national chemistry fraternity, donated $10,000.

Already, two Pacific chemistry students have taken advantage of the $5,000 stipends to conduct research last summer.

Bianca Nguyen '19 worked with Professor Vyacheslav Samoshin on his research into enzymes. She synthesized and tested compounds aimed at regulating enzymes. The research could lead to better treatments with fewer side effects for diseases such as diabetes.  

Nguyen said knowing that her living expenses were covered for the summer allowed her to focus on her research.   "It helped pay for my housing for the summer," Nguyen said. "I'm from a family six. There are three other siblings. So, it really helped my parents out."

Franz expects to be able to offer $5,000 stipends to five students next summer. He said the grant makes the chemistry department more competitive when attracting talented students. It also gives students better experiential learning opportunities.

"They have a real opportunity to engage in active research and with that, bring valuable hands-on experience to the marketplace when they look for a job after graduation," Franz said. "So, they can really sell this as a special skill."  

The John Stauffer Charitable Trust is a private foundation based in Pasadena established in 1974 following the death of John Stauffer, a principal officer, director and shareholder of the former Stauffer Chemical Co., founded in San Francisco in the 1880s. The trust primarily supports California hospitals, universities and colleges and in recent years, it has emphasized grants to fund undergraduate student research in chemistry and biochemistry at such colleges and universities as University of the Pacific, California Lutheran, Caltech, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Occidental, Pepperdine, Pomona, Redlands, Scripps, UC Berkeley and Westmont. 

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