Shuangyue (Angela) Li

Meet our next-gen scientists


Innovation. Creativity. Determination. That’s what it takes to win an OC Beckman Legacy Award – and Irvine students scooped up all six of this year’s awards, collecting $72,000 in scholarships.

“When I got the call, I started jumping up and down,” says Northwood High graduate Shuangyue (Angela) Li, one of two first-place winners of $16,000 each.

The program is designed to encourage the next generation of scientists.

Li built a replica of Arnold O. Beckman’s 1940 invention, the spectrophotometer – hailed as “perhaps the single greatest instrument” of its era – and used it to compare the nutritional value of different almond milks.

After five months of investigation, facing obstacles that nearly made her quit, she earned the county’s top science award for youth.

Other winners were Lawrence Chen, Northwood High; Grace Jones, Woodbridge High; Ashley Kao, University High; Mahdi Ayman, Woodbridge High; and Tara Nguyen, University High.

“These young scientists demonstrated innovation, creativity and determination,” says Anne Hultgren, executive director and CEO of the Irvinebased Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. “We are excited for what their future holds.”

Now a freshman at UC Berkeley, Li plans to become a frontline doctor or scientist whose work benefits others.

She has one other goal too: to inspire young women to pursue science.

“Before this, I never thought I was capable of excelling in the scientific field,” she says. “I’d tell them never to be afraid of trying.”


Arnold O. Beckman

Arnold O. Beckman was an Orange County scientist, inventor and philanthropist. As a Caltech professor in the 1930s, he invented the pH meter, said to have “revolutionized the study of chemistry and biology,” and founded Beckman Instruments. He later developed the DU spectrophotometer, which enabled scientists to identify a substance based on its absorption of light and was hailed as “perhaps the single greatest instrument” of its era. Today, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation is a major contributor to scientific causes, and Beckman’s legacy lives on in Irvine. The Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering is headquartered in UCI Research Park, and Beckman High, which has a focus in science education, is named in his honor.

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