Olin College Receives $180,000 Grant from Luce Foundation to Fund Undergraduate Research for Women

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$180,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation funds undergraduate research awards for up to 24 women at Olin College. The awards, which will begin in 2013, will provide stipends and other support to women students enabling them to pursue research with a faculty advisor.

We intend to build a strong support network among the Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholars and the program mentors, and we hope our students will continue to use this network after graduation, while they are in graduate school or pursuing their careers.

Through its Clare Boothe Luce Program, the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., of New York City, has made a grant of $180,000 to Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering to fund undergraduate research awards for up to 24 women students over a three-year period. The awards, which will begin in 2013, will provide stipends and other support to women students at Olin to pursue research with a faculty advisor. The recipients will be known as Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholars.

“We are very pleased that the Luce Foundation has recognized Olin’s leadership in preparing women for careers in science and engineering,” said Richard K. Miller, president of Olin College. “Recruiting talented women, as well as talented men, has always been an important goal of our admission activities. This is just one of the many ways we empower women for success as scientists and engineers. These awards will provide a significant boost to our efforts to attract high-performing women to our innovative program and prepare them to become top-notch scholars, engineers and innovators.”

The CBL Research Scholars Program at Olin College will provide women students who have completed their first or second year an opportunity to pursue a research project full-time in the summer and part-time during the following school year. Other activities in which Olin’s CBL Scholars will participate include a weekly facilitated discussion group open to all members of the Olin community; relationship building with mentors and peers; public presentation of their work; travel to professional conferences; publication of the results of their work; and, as appropriate, campus visits to explore graduate school and career options with researchers active in their fields of interest. The funding from the Luce Foundation will provide additional resources to supplement existing initiatives at Olin in support of women and men pursuing science and engineering careers.

“We are thrilled to begin the Clare Boothe Luce Research Program at Olin College,” said Sarah Spence Adams, project director and professor of mathematics and electrical and computer engineering at Olin. “The program will provide women students with additional meaningful research experiences and close mentoring relationships with dedicated faculty research advisors. The skills and perspectives our students gain through this program, including participating in professional technical conferences, will be transformative.”

Each award will provide a stipend for research during the summer, summer housing, an additional stipend and four course credits for research continued through the following academic year and access to additional funds to cover research-related expenses, conference registration fees and travel costs. Olin College will contribute faculty time, summer on-campus housing, mentoring activities and mentor support.

“We intend to build a strong support network among the Clare Booth Luce Research Scholars and the program mentors, and we hope our students will continue to use this network after graduation, while they are in graduate school or pursuing their careers,” said Adams. “Additionally, we hope to benefit students not directly involved in the program, for example through certain mentoring programs and activities that will be open to all students.”

Since its first grants in 1989, the Clare Boothe Luce Program has become the single most significant source of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering. Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987), the wife of Henry R. Luce, was a playwright, journalist, U.S. Ambassador to Italy and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut. Through her bequest establishing this program, she sought “to encourage women to enter, study, graduate and teach” in science, mathematics and engineering. The program is part of the New York-based Henry Luce Foundation, which was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc. The Foundation focuses on broadening knowledge and encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership.

Opened in 2002, Olin College of Engineering is rapidly garnering a national reputation for innovation in engineering education. With only six classes of graduates and 430 alumni (43 percent women) to date, Olin is also emerging as a major producer of young women pursuing graduate degrees in science and engineering. Currently 45 percent of Olin’s student body is women, an unusually high proportion for an engineering school. Sixty-two Olin alumnae (35 percent) are currently enrolled in graduate programs, most of them at top-ranked universities, in areas including Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering. Twenty-one of these women have received the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (70 percent of Olin’s 30 NSF Graduate Fellowship recipients). Olin women have also won the Goldwater Scholarship and five Fulbright awards.

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