UA Little Rock Student Awarded Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Research Grant

University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate teaching assistant Rebekah White is one of 20 recipients nationwide selected for a Graduate Research Grant by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi for her biological research into the photosynthetic mechanism and stress responses of cyanobacteria. Photo by Ben Krain.

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock student has been awarded a $1,500 Graduate Research Grant from Phi Kappa Phi for her biology research. 

Rebekah White, a Ph.D. student in applied biosciences at UA Little Rock, will use funds from the award to support biological research into the photosynthetic mechanism and stress responses of cyanobacteria.

“It’s always exciting to get a little boost for my research, and it will be really nice to have a grant that is specified for my project,” White said. “I will be able to get some specialized equipment to help with my electron microscope work and to help prepare the samples. I’m also looking into getting some antibodies targeting proteins involved in photosynthesis.”

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines, awards grants of up to $1,500 to support graduate students who are active Society members seeking funding for research in support of career development opportunities. White is one of 20 recipients nationwide to receive the award.

Established in 2018, the grants are part of the society’s robust awards program, which gives $1 million each year to outstanding students and members through study abroad grants, graduate fellowships, funding for post-baccalaureate development, member and chapter awards, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives. 

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, White decided to attend UA Little Rock because her parents attended graduate school in Little Rock about 30 years ago.

“My mother did speech pathology here at UA Little Rock, and my dad did his residency at UAMS,” White said. “My parents both loved it here and talked about it all the time.”

At UA Little Rock, White is also a graduate teaching assistant and a senator in the Graduate Student Association. She plans to work in higher education after graduating in 2022 or 2023. The research she is conducting on the photosynthetic mechanism and stress responses of cyanobacteria is part of her dissertation.

“My specific research will benefit the community of scientists who use cyanobacteria,” White said. “There will be more broad implications where scientists who work with photosynthesis in larger plant life can apply it to their work with larger plants. It will be a series of small cause-and-effect research projects. It will contribute to an ever-growing body of knowledge about plants that we can use to make decisions about all of our plant life.”

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