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Faith Van Nice Scholarship

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Founded in 2006 by Lee and Helen Van Nice in memory of their daughter, the Faith Van Nice Scholarship is the first undergraduate scholarship established in the UO Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Faith Van Nice was a bright, athletic young woman who pursued a passion for science and research, realizing many notable accomplishments in her short lifetime.

Faith was born in Montana in 1961, and attended junior high and high school in Hillsboro, Oregon. While in high school, Faith worked at the Oregon Regional Primate Center and this research was the basis for winning the Western Division Westinghouse scholarship. She attended the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, majoring in chemistry. In 1984, she graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She went on to graduate studies in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Professor John Waugh. Faith was awarded MIT’s Hertz Fellowship and worked with Douglas Osheroff, who later won the Nobel Prize for his low temperature work. In 1989, she earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in physical chemistry from MIT with a study related to her work with Osheroff on the topic of low temperature magnetic resonance.

Drawn to a career in medicine, Faith entered the Health Sciences and Technology joint program between Harvard University and MIT, which would lead to a Medical Doctor degree from Harvard. Her dream was to become a surgeon, and she was admitted into the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital surgery program. However, she was unable to enter the program as she became ill in her third year, and fought for her health into her fourth. On January 3, 1993, Faith died of cancer. She was awarded her Medical Doctor degree posthumously, the only person ever to be granted a posthumous M.D. degree from Harvard University.

Faith is remembered as a compassionate, unpretentious and good-humored colleague, teacher and friend. She was loved by all who knew her. Through the scholarship dedicated to her legacy, her parents, Lee and Helen, desire to inspire young women to become exceptional leaders in science, especially chemistry. “Faith was aiming at becoming surgeon general of the United States, and I have no doubt she would have achieved that goal,” Lee Van Nice says. “We challenge each recipient of the scholarship award to achieve the highest level, up to and including the Nobel Prize.”

The Faith Van Nice Scholarship recognizes exceptional University of Oregon undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry. The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department Head confers this honor and financial support of typically $4000 when an exceptional student is identified. Applications are solicited each spring term and consist of a one page statement with evidence of superior academic achievement, future plans and career goals.

Faith Van Nice at UO Commencement Faith Van Nice at MIT Faith Van Nice with NMR Spectrometer

Photographs courtesy of Lee and Helen Van Nice