Newswise — The Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Program has awarded $192,000 to support undergraduate research at Olin College. The award, which will be spread over three years, will go toward establishing a CBL Research Scholars Program under which up to 24 students will have the opportunity to do paid research in the fields of science, engineering or mathematics over the summer months.

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Emily Tow, who wrote the grant proposal, says, “This program opens up more research opportunities to women students at Olin who may be unsure if research or graduate school are for them. Participants will develop technical skills, confidence and resilience while building a professional network of peers and mentors. Through their future leadership and mentorship, we hope that Olin’s CBL Scholars will contribute to diversity in engineering research and accelerate positive change in the engineering profession.”

The award is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Clare Boothe Luce was a playwright, journalist, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut. Her estate established a program to encourage women to “enter, study, graduate and teach in science, mathematics and engineering.” 

That mission aligns closely with Olin’s. In 1997, Olin College was established with a commitment to offering a different kind of engineering education including a gender balanced student body. In the 2018 academic year, 50.5 percent of Olin students were women; more than a quarter of all women Olin graduates pursue advanced degrees in STEM.

Faculty at Olin do research in a wide range of disciplines, from wireless communications, to mass spectrometry, to the role of gender in engineering education. CBL Research Scholars can work with any faculty member on research projects in engineering, science, or math, such as developing low-cost air quality sensors, creating robots that can automate repetitive tasks with painstaking precision, or using data science to optimize bike share programs. All of Olin’s professors in engineering, science and math hold Ph.Ds. and have a commitment to mentoring undergraduates.

This will be the second Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholars Program at Olin. The prior program ran from 2012-2017 and inspired many of its 28 participants to continue on to graduate school. In the grant application, participant Ava Lakmazaheri ’20 was quoted as saying, “being recognized as a CBL Scholar bolstered my confidence in the prospects of pursuing a future in academia. It solidified my plans to continue conducting research here at Olin, to apply to and hopefully later teach at graduate school.”

Applications are currently being accepted for the summer of 2020.