The Helms Endowment
The Helms Research Awards were established by Dr. R. Marshall Helms in 1987 with a donation to the ECU Foundation. The award honors three members of the Helms family who were involved in research and teaching at ECU. Marshall was a native North Carolinian and was a member of the Physics Dept. at ECU from 1948 until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1972. He remained active in his retirement, presenting his last seminar to the Dept. of Physics in 2001 at the age of 93. He passed away the following year.
The Helms award also honors two of Marshall ’s three wives. Marshall ’s second wife was Dr. Mary Caughey Helms, who was a faculty member in the Biology Dept. at ECU from 1937 until her death in 1966. She was the first biologist with a Ph.D. to become a faculty member in the Department of Science, as it was known when she first came to ECU in 1937. She served as Chairman of the Division of Biology from 1959-1963. Marshall Helm’s third wife was Dr. Christine Wilton Helms, who was a faculty member in the Biology dept. from 1940 until her retirement in 1971.
The Helms Student Research Award focuses largely on the clarity and significance of a single research publication of which the student is an author. The manuscript may be either published, in press or in preparation and may be submitted in any area of science or engineering. In determining the winners, the awards committee takes into heavy consideration a nominating letter provided by a Sigma Xi member who comments on the student’s research abilities.
The Helms Faculty Research Award focuses largely on the impact that a single publication has on the research discipline. In evaluating the submissions, external reviews are solicited from experts in the discipline who comment on the impact of the work. Faculty submissions alternate on a four year cycle between the Biological Sciences (non-human), the Medical/Social Sciences, and Mathematics and the Physical Sciences. The prize is awarded in the area of Biological Sciences (non-human) every other year (i.e., Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences/Mathematics, Biological Sciences, Medical/Social Sciences, ...). This rotation reflects the distribution of disciplines in the ECU Chapter.