Holy Cross Receives Funding to Renew Competitive Grant for Women in the Sciences

Clare Boothe Luce program to award two full-tuition scholarships this spring

The College of the Holy Cross has received a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation in the amount of $218,722 to continue the competitive Clare Boothe Luce Program at the College, which encourages women undergraduates to major in the physical sciences, including mathematics, computer science, physics, and chemistry. This marks the second grant from this foundation; the first offered scholarships to women in the classes of 2010 through 2014.

The Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship is awarded to two women majoring in the physical sciences who are entering their fourth year of study at the College. The scholarship will cover tuition and fees. In addition, the College will support Luce Scholars with paid research fellowships during the summer prior to the start of their senior year. The funding will be used over the course of three years to support six undergraduate scholars. This year’s recipients will be chosen in the spring of 2016.

“We are delighted that the Henry Luce Foundation has rewarded our past efforts in promoting female students majoring in the physical sciences by awarding the College with another grant,” says Daniel Bitran, science coordinator and professor of psychology. “Most of the prior Clare Boothe Luce scholarship recipients are in some of the best graduate programs for the physical sciences in the nation. In this current grant, we are aiming to increase the formal mentoring of our scholars with the goal of increasing their influence on our younger female students so that they will encourage more of them to pursue a major in a STEM discipline at the College.”

Most recently, chemistry majors Kaylie Gage ’14 and Kelsey Poremba ’14 received the grant. Gage worked closely with Kevin Quinn, associate professor of chemistry, on the synthesis of cis-Sylvaticin, a potential anti-cancer agent, during her time at the College. Her work culminated in a paper published in the fall of 2014. Poremba worked alongside Bianca Sculimbrene, assistant professor of chemistry, focusing on developing an efficient method to synthesize peptide isosteres which can be used to study the structure and binding of proteins, or provide alternatives to peptide drugs that are not currently pharmacologically available.

The Clare Boothe Luce Program first started awarding grants in 1989 and since then has become the single most significant source of private support for women in the physical sciences. Clare Boothe Luce, widow of Henry R. Luce, was a playwright, journalist, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut. She sought to “encourage women to enter, study, graduate, and teach” in the physical sciences, including chemistry, mathematics, and engineering. The program has supported more than 1,900 women.

In 2010, Holy Cross received a grant of $420,532 from the Henry Luce Foundation to support eight undergraduate Clare Booth Luce Scholars over four years. Past recipients include:

2014: Kaylie Gage and Kelsey Poremba 2013: Emma Colbert and Stephanie Craig 2012: Katharine Chamberlin and Kelly Gilmore 2011: Lindsey Tonge and Annie Cervin

For more information or to apply visit: Clare Boothe Luce Scholarships.