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Grant to encourage females in STEM careers

The College has received a three-year, $196,200 grant that will be used to encourage female students to pursue science and math careers.

The award is one of only 10 grants nationwide, from the Clare Boothe Luce Program of the Henry Luce Foundation. It will be used to engage female college students in collaborative research with faculty mentors in computer science, mathematics, and chemistry.

"This is a testament to St. Scholastica's longstanding tradition of encouraging women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields," said Aileen Beard, dean of the School of Sciences.

Such support is critical to help women build careers in math and science fields where they are underrepresented, she said.

"Grants such as this help provide encouragement, support and mentoring to young women interested in pursuing careers in these fields," Beard said. "In particular, the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research is a powerful mechanism to excite students about science and allow them to participate in solving scientific problems in a meaningful way."

Thomas Gibbons, associate professor of computer science, said the grants will fund eight undergraduate students each summer for the next three summers for research in computer science, math and chemistry.

"Undergraduate research opens the door to graduate school for our students," Gibbons said. "The research piques the students' interest in graduate school and helps them get accepted into the competitive programs."

Students will work with faculty to select research projects that build upon their current work, including such topics as robot vision, mapping and navigation; and antimicrobial compounds in honey.

Beard said The College is committed to expanding opportunities for all underrepresented groups in STEM fields.

"We plan to continue to pursue funding that supports research opportunities," Beard said.

The Clare Boothe Luce Program is a leading source of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering. Luce was a playwright, U.S. ambassador to Italy, and the first woman from Connecticut to be elected to Congress. The CBL Program has supported more than 1,900 women so far.