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Cox Scholars program paves path for student success

Jan. 24, 2013

Ask James Byers about his path to Stanford University’s Biosciences Ph.D. program and he’ll attribute it to one thing: His participation in IU’s Cox Research Scholars program.

“As a Cox Scholar, I loved working in professor Dale Sengelaub’s neurobiology lab studying mechanisms of neuroprotection following spinal cord injury, and Dale was a fantastic mentor because he set aside so much of his own time to make sure I was developing as a scientist,” Byers said.

Cox Scholars

Indiana University junior and Cox Research Scholar Kelsey Schrank with mentor William Hetrick, the department chair and professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The program at IU greatly prepared me for what I’m doing now as a doctoral student. I never would’ve been accepted into such a prestigious program if I hadn’t put in the time working in the lab as an undergraduate.”

Byers’ success isn’t unusual within his research cohort.

According to data compiled by the university’s Hutton Honors College, half the 24 Cox Research Scholars who graduated in 2011 had obtained jobs by commencement while more than 40 percent went on to graduate school. In 2012, 35 percent of the scholars obtained jobs while nearly 40 percent got into graduate school. By December 2012, the class of 2011 had reached a 100 percent placement rate, while the 2012 cohort clocks in at 87 percent.

Destinations for Cox Research Scholar alumni form an impressive list. They’re studying at MIT, Emory School of Medicine and NYU’s School of Law. They’re employed at Deloitte Consulting, Cummins Inc., Price Waterhouse Coopers and General Mills and a few even spent time working for President Obama’s re-election campaign.

“On the one hand, it’s not surprising that IU’s Cox Research Scholars are fast out of the gate at securing excellent employment opportunities and placement in top-tier graduate programs,” Hutton Honors College dean Matt Auer said. “After all, these students are incredibly talented and hardworking -- something we’ve known about even before they joined IU. But considering the challenging job market, it’s gratifying to see Jesse and Beulah Cox’s generosity leading to such superb outcomes for so many of these scholars.”

That includes Bryce Fathauer, who accepted a job at Columbus-based Cummins Inc. as a finance development program analyst while still a junior at IU.

Waddel and Burke

Indiana University junior Marcus Waddell with mentor Ray Burke, the E.W. Kelley Chair of Business Administration, director of the Customer Interface Laboratory and professor with the Kelley School of Business. Waddell has since switched mentors and is no longer conducting research with Professor Burke.

“The Cox Research Scholarship opened numerous doors and bestowed instant credibility, even as an incoming freshman,” he said. “It allowed me to work with four different faculty mentors in four unique areas of interest, expanding my business education to areas outside my major, and giving me access to databases and resources reserved for faculty and graduate students. Working hand-in-hand with the leading professors in their respective fields, I believe my education was enhanced beyond what is taught in the classroom.”

The Cox Research Scholars program offers exceptional students from Indiana high schools a unique scholarship opportunity to explore their interests and partner with a faculty mentor or mentors to develop a research project or scholarly activity tailored to their interests and possible career paths. Competitive applicants will have a minimum SAT score of 1350 or ACT score of 31 and will rank in the top five percent of their graduating class. Once awarded, a Cox Research Scholarship is renewable for a total of eight semesters of undergraduate study as long as students continue to meet the program’s requirements.

The program is one of five funded through $92 million in gifts from the late Jesse H. and Beulah Chanley Cox of Indianapolis, making it the largest IU scholarship program on the Bloomington campus.

IU Bloomington faculty interested in mentoring a Cox Research Scholar should contact the program’s new director, Legene White at 812-856-1589 or whitell@indiana.edu.

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