Washington Research Foundation donates $1.65 million to support UW and WSU graduate students

Vascular dysfunction. Ice melt in Antarctica. Chronic liver disease. University of Washington graduate students are finding solutions to these problems — and many more — with the support of Washington Research Foundation. And thanks to the foundation’s most recent gift, emerging scientists at the UW and Washington State University will be supported for years to come.

Washington Research Foundation (WRF) recently donated $1.65 million to support ARCS Foundation Seattle Chapter endowments held at the UW and WSU, with the intention to fund annual ARCS scholar awards at both universities in perpetuity.

This gift deepens WRF’s long-standing commitment to supporting graduate students who conduct transformative research with potential for real-world impact in natural sciences and engineering. WRF seeks to cultivate the talents of outstanding, early career researchers in Washington state so their work may benefit the public through innovative discovery that leads to new products, services or practices. Since 1996, WRF has supported 132 ARCS scholars at the UW and WSU through a combination of endowed and annual contributions.

“We could not be more pleased with our support of ARCS scholars over the past two-plus decades,” said Brooks Simpson, WRF’s board chair. “These talented young scientists have been able to select the UW or WSU for their graduate programs due in part to these awards, which is a win-win. Our research universities are more able to attract the best graduate students, and the students get the finest education in their disciplines.”

Graduate students, said Meher Antia, Ph.D., WRF’s director of grant programs, make crucial contributions to advancing research and innovation at Washington state’s universities.

“WRF funding for ARCS scholars through the years recognizes their scientific excellence and dedication, and we are delighted that this endowment will continue to do so in the future,” she noted.

The 15 WRF-supported ARCS scholars are just a few of the 170+ graduate students that ARCS Foundation Seattle Chapter supports each year. ARCS Foundation Seattle Chapter was founded in 1978, as one of 15 chapters nationwide, to provide financial awards to graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health disciplines. To date, ARCS Seattle Chapter has supported over 1,400 STEM scholars at the UW and WSU with awards totaling more than $21.2 million.

“WRF’s donation is the single largest endowment gift to ARCS, and we couldn’t be more appreciative,” said ARCS Seattle Chapter President Margaret Niver McGann. “Best of all, WRF’s support of ARCS scholars extends far beyond the financial by providing ARCS scholars with opportunities that enhance their future as STEM leaders in Washington state.”

Since 1958, ARCS Foundation has awarded more than $121 million to over 11,000 scholars nationwide. ARCS Foundation scholars have produced thousands of research publications and patents, secured billions in grant funding, started science-related companies, and played a significant role in teaching and mentoring young people in the STEM pipeline.

“ARCS scholar awards are crucial to the success of graduate students as they pursue their research and degrees at the UW,” said UW Graduate School Dean Joy Williamson-Lott. “With financial support, they can focus on discovery, scholarship, innovation and impact – all of which help them launch successful careers and make the greatest impact.”

For UW graduate student Gemma O’Connor, the WRF/ARCS Foundation award was a significant factor in her decision to pursue her Ph.D. in Earth and Space Sciences at the UW. O’Connor researches past climates in order to understand and combat climate change today.

“The ARCS fellowship played a pivotal role,” she said, “in allowing me to juggle all of my work-related and personal commitments over the last three years, which has made a monumental difference to my success as a scientist.”

Gemma O’Connor, UW ARCS Scholar supported by Washington Research Foundation

Posted June 23, 2022, UW Graduate School Staff