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2023 Scholar Awards Reception

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2023

“Wow!” “Amazing!” “Astounding!” These were exclamations from guests at the ARCS Foundation Metro Washington Chapter’s (ARCS MWC) 2023 Scholar Awards Reception (SAR) on October 26, 2023, as they crowded around the 16 Scholars’ posters in the spectacular Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences to learn more about their amazing cutting-edge research in fusion, biomedical research, computer sciences, and other fields!

The excitement was further fueled by the two keynote speakers’ inspiring presentations: Dr. Margaret McCarthy (Chair, Department of Pharmacology, at the University of Maryland (UM) School of Medicine and Director of the UM-Medicine Institute of Neuroscience Discovery) and Dr. Gregory Ball (Vice President for Research at the UM College Park and the UM Baltimore), a married couple with outstanding science careers. Duncan Sparrell, the Chief Cyber Curmudgeon at S-Fractal Consulting, the evening’s sponsor, introduced the speakers, highlighting their backgrounds and successes.

The keynoters spoke about the amazing upward trajectories in research, technology, and research funding over past decades that fostered world-class discoveries in science and engineering in the United States. Dr. McCarthy focused on evolving technologies that spurred a deeper understanding of gender differences in the brain while Dr. Ball spoke about continuous evolution in research that underpinned U.S. innovations in moon shot projects ranging from the Apollo missions to the more recent CHIPS and Science Act. Dr. McCarthy concluded by asking the Scholars: “What will you do tomorrow?” Speaking of U.S. research opportunities, Dr. Ball told the Scholars: “This is an exciting time with tremendous opportunities! There’s really a ferment of activity in this country, and [you should] jump on the train! You have a real opportunity to make a difference and have a wonderful career!”

The exciting evening was capped by a video of Dr. Jessica Meir, presenting her congratulations to the ARCS MWC Scholars! Dr. Meir, a NASA astronaut, marine biologist, and physiologist who is herself an ARCS Scholar Alumna, told them: “Remember that without risk, there is no true reward. Remember to push the envelope, to think outside of the box, and to follow your heart. Seek out solid mentorship, particularly from those who appreciate you as a person—not only as a scientist—and pay that forward by mentoring someone with less experience than you.” She concluded with: “Science and exploration are only made possible with robust support and consistent opportunities. Thank you, ARCS community, for recognizing the potential of these young scientists to enable scientific discovery and progress.”

The energy levels continued at high levels even past the SAR! At least two friends of ARCS MWC members became members this week because they were impressed by everything at the SAR! Also, the chapter’s success was highlighted in a Danaher Scholar’s heartfelt statement that “The support provided by ARCS has been instrumental in furthering my scientific development,” adding that her funding is being used for conferences, essential technology upgrades, and cutting-edge experiments.

View the photos from the 2023 SAR here.