Sparking Undergraduate Research

Alumna’s planned gift honors her family and creates new legacy supporting faculty-mentored research for undergraduate chemistry students.

For many students, research as an undergraduate sparks inspiration and opens doors for future studies and scholarly pursuits. For undergraduates in Chemistry, a generous gift from alumna Janet “Chris” Lofgren ’58 (BA, Elementary Education) will make those opportunities for research possible for years to come.  

Lofgren generously gifted a portion of her estate to create a legacy in honor of her father, Richard Lofgren ’31 (Chemistry), which will provide lasting financial support for undergraduate Chemistry students at UNC. Chris Lofgren (1935-2019) had attributed her success and path in life to her father’s UNC degree.  

“This gift is incredibly generous and speaks to the sense of community we have here,” says UNC Provost Mark Anderson, Ph.D. “Our commitment to community service is symbolized by this scholarship. It is wonderful to see donors like Ms. Lofgren set this example for others, and we have a really wonderful, deserving group of students who will benefit and make the entire Lofgren family proud.”  

The Lofgren estate gift establishes the Lofgren Scholars for Undergraduate Chemistry Research at UNC, an endowment that will provide a sustainable source of funding for faculty-mentored chemistry student research projects. Students selected for annual summer research awards will receive up to $5,000 to complete their project, with a portion of the total amount designated for research supplies and materials. When completed, each student scholar, along with their faculty mentor, will have the opportunity to share their respective research project with their peers.  

“The impact of this donation is going to go a long, long way,” says Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Hua Zhao, Ph.D. “We have a very diverse population of students, and we have a high population of first-generation students, too, so there are a lot of students who are doing very well academically but have a strong financial need.”  

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry plans to honor and celebrate the Lofgren Scholars throughout the year, while continually recognizing the influence donors such as Janet Lofgren have on the UNC student experience.   

“To show the scholarship of what they have accomplished in the research lab to the community and fellow students is going to influence other students who are interested in STEM,” Zhao says. “This research experience is going to have a huge impact on the students and prepare them well in summer, so they can go on to an advanced degree.”  

To apply for a Lofgren Scholar Award, a student must be an undergraduate majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry and complete a research project application ahead of the summer term award.

–Amber Medina

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