New Luce Research Scholars Program Encourages Women in Science

Luce Scholars Laura Stamp ’16 & Mary Ignatiadis ’16

Luce Research Scholars Laura Stamp ’16 (left) and Mary Ignatiadis ’16 crush 800-million-year-old rock samples to prepare them to be dissolved in acid to extract microscopic fossils. They are working this summer with geosciences professor Phoebe Cohen.

Seven female science majors will spend the summer conducting research alongside their professors as part of the new Luce Research Scholars Program.

Established by the college in January with the help of a $246,440 grant from the Clare Boothe Luce Program of the Henry Luce Foundation, the research scholars program funds fellowships for up to eight women pursuing scientific research during the summer after their sophomore of junior years. It’s designed to encourage women to pursue graduate school and eventual careers in scientific fields.

“Increasing the representation of women in the physical sciences is a tremendously important component of the larger goal of diversifying the scientific community,” says Andrea Danyluk, the Dennis A. Meenan ’54 Third Century Professor of Computer Science, who served on the committee that chose the scholars. “There’s a great deal of evidence that early research experiences and cohort building are extremely effective in encouraging and retaining young scientists. We’re thrilled to provide such opportunities to our talented students in this new program.”


Astrophysics major Allison Carter ’16 and physics major Ariel Silbert ’16, who joined physics professor Ward Lopes’ research group to study the motion of defects in diblock copolymers, molecules that self-assemble in repetitive patterns that attain repeat spacings from tens to hundreds of nanometers;

Math major XiXi Edelsbrunner ’16, who, under the mentorship of math professor Steven J. Miller, is working on a variety of problems in probability and analytic number theory as part of a research program sponsored by the National Science Foundation;

Geosciences major Mary Ignatiadis ’16, who, with geosciences professor Phoebe Cohen, is comparing the temporal distribution of eastern New York state stomatolites—reef-like structures formed by cyanobacteria during the Cambrian era—to older stomatolites from elsewhere;

Math major Olivia Meyerson ’16, who, with math professor Mihai Stoiciu’s research team, is working on problems in mathematical physics, analyzing random and deterministic operators to develop a better understanding of the behavior and properties of metals, semiconductors and insulators;

Geosciences major Laura Stamp ’16, who is spending a week in the field with Professor Cohen, exploringn the diversity of microfossils from the Fifteenmile Group formation of the Yukon Territory, and then, back on campus, working to identify new microfossils; and

Computer science major Lauren Yu ’16, who is helped to develop algorithms for Professor Danyluk to identify whether a website belongs to a computer scientist, and, if so, whether it belongs to a woman.

Image credit: Phoebe Cohen