Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholars

Clare Boothe Luce was a playwright, journalist, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut. In her bequest establishing the Clare Boothe Luce Program, she sought “to encourage women to enter, study, graduate, and teach” in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The Program has become the single most significant source of private support for women in STEM in higher education in the United States. To date, the program has supported more than 2,800 women. As of 2020, the CBL Program for Women in STEM has awarded a total of 807 grants to 200 different institutions, including 64 grants to Minority-Serving Institutions. In 30 years of grantmaking (1989-2019), the Clare Boothe Luce Program has awarded over $200 million in support of more than 2,600 women.

At Le Moyne College, the Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholars program supports undergraduate women majoring in chemistry, computer science, mathematics, or physics. The program is designed to motivate and prepare high-potential women for success in graduate school and academic or research careers through engagement in mentored research, networking, and career preparation activities.

For more information about Ambassador Luce, please visit the Henry Luce Foundation website.

Program Benefits & Activities

Each CBL Research Scholar receives a stipend of $7,200 for participating in faculty-mentored research, a research expense fund of $1,500 (e.g., materials, supplies, fees, specialized software), and a domestic travel fund of $1,000 (e.g., professional conference participation, graduate school visit). CBL Scholars selected for the summer program are also offered on-campus housing (up to 10 weeks at no charge). All CBL Scholars receive special mentoring and preparation for graduate school and research careers through scholar-mentor lunches, women in STEM/research seminars, networking events, and one-on-one advising.

Program Expectations

CBL Scholars engage in research throughout their appointment, devoting approximately 350 total hours to their project and related activities. CBL Scholars attend designated activities and events, meet regularly with their faculty mentor, meet periodically with the CBL Program Director, and connect periodically with their alumna mentor. As concluding activities, CBL Scholars present their research findings in a public venue (e.g., Scholars’ Day, professional conference) and submit a final report and personal essay to the CBL Program Director.

Meet Our Current Scholars
Ashley Lojko

Hometown: Hamburg, Pennsylvania
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Gender and Women's Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emily Harcourt

Why a chemistry major?
"I had passion for the class in high school, and I reasoned that a job in a chemistry field would always be interesting."

My CBL project in brief:
 I'm synthesizing a new compound that is important in biochemical processes.My initial reaction wasn't producing high yields, so I substituted a chemical that is similar to my reagents in order to produce a product that is comparable to the the intended compound so I can study it using NMR.

Most rewarding part of my CBL experience:
It's being able to get so much hands-on experience and using the different equipment in the lab.

Other career-related experience:
I worked virtually in a biochemistry lab at SUNY Upstate Medical University in the spring 2021 semester. I also had a Research Experience for Undergraduates opportunity in the summer of 2021 working on an organic synthesis research project at the University of Southern Mississippi.

On campus involvement:
I'm heavily involved in the chemistry department, from setting up the organic and general chemistry labs to tutoring in the Student Success Center.

After Le Moyne:
I'd like to attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. After that, I'd like to pursue a career in research, and possibly become a college professor.

Brittany Cripps

Hometown: Hilton, NY
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Mathematics
Faculty mentor: Dr. Joseph Mullins

My CBL project in brief:
The urea functional group is a structural feature in many compounds that demonstrate promise for the treatment of neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. Such derivatives have been studied for pain remediation and for other central nervous system (CNS) disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Diaromatic ureas are relatively simple molecules that have activity across a spectrum of CNS disorders. We are synthesizing and purifying diaromatic urea molecules as potential therapeutics for such CNS disorders by modifying substituents on the arene rings, which modulate properties. 

Most rewarding part of my CBL experience:
It’s doing something I love, while working on a project that can potentially help others. Through this experience I see myself grow and become more independent with guidance and support from a mentor who wants me to succeed.

Other career-related experience:
I completed an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Syracuse University in the summer of 2021, doing research on forming holographic gratings by photopolymerization for quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) sensor applications, as well as learning to write our own Python program.

On campus involvement:
I’m a mentor for Stempower, involved in various academic and fun clubs, attend Bingo on Fridays, and participate in many of the trips and activities the campus offers.

After Le Moyne:
I plan to attend graduate school for chemistry, ideally at the University of Rochester, and then work in the forensic science field, perhaps at the Monroe County (NY) Crime Lab.

Isabela Fernandez

Hometown: Cicero, NY
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Psychology
Faculty mentor: Dr. Joseph Mullins

Why a chemistry major:
I’ve been fascinated with it since my high school chemistry class and my AP Chemistry class in senior year. It’s been a perfect fit for me at Le Moyne!

My CBL project in brief:
As a 2020-2021 CBL Scholar, I applied principles of rational drug design in an effort to find curcumin derivatives that are effective against a treatment-resistant form of breast cancer. In 2021-22, I’m building on this work with a continued focus on synthesizing curcuminoids and method development. Curcuminoids have shown to possess anti-cancer properties against certain types of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), a protein that promotes the growth of cancer cells.

Most rewarding part of my CBL experience:
It’s the relationships that I build and strengthen with members of the Chemistry community here at Le Moyne. With Le Moyne being a small college, I interact with other CBL scholars and my mentor on an almost daily basis. As a result, I have been able to meet new people and become involved in campus life.

Other career-related experience:
This is my second year as a CBL Research Scholar.

Campus Involvement:
I assist Dr. Mullins with demonstrations (and clean up) for his class, CHS 339: Science and World War II, and help my friend with workshop/chemistry lab set up.

After Le Moyne:
I’d like to focus on synthetic organic chemistry and earn a master’s degree or Ph.D. I’d love to teach organic chemistry and I’m eager to continue spending time in the lab, either in higher education or in the pharmaceuticals or skincare/cosmetics industry.

Learn more about Isabela’s experience as a 2021-2022 CBL Research Scholar.

Bryanna Howes

Hometown: Gansevoort, NY
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Criminology
Faculty mentor: Dr. Anna O’Brien

Why a chemistry major:
I want to become a forensic analyst, which requires a bachelor’s degree in a natural science, and I really enjoyed chemistry in high school.

My CBL project in brief:
My project involves creating a ligand to produce complexes with various metals. These complexes are set to be used for a thin film electronic chip which is found in all electronics, including mobile phones and laptops.

Most rewarding part of my CBL experience:
It’s working with Dr. O’Brien to explore new ideas and having an influential role in determining the direction of our project.

Other career-related experience:
I completed an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Syracuse University in the summer of 2021 where we worked on Air Force-funded research for gunshot wound technology. Also, I assisted with a project on a hydrogel for Crohn’s fistulas. Both projects were biochemistry related, but I worked on their chemistry aspects.

Campus involvement:
I’m involved in a few clubs and organizations on campus, including ERIE21, Stempower, Chronic Illness Awareness Club, Peace Action Le Moyne, and Manresa. Beyond campus, I volunteer for a Syracuse-area organization that provides food, hygiene products, and clothing to the homeless.

After Le Moyne:
I plan to pursue a master’s degree in Forensic Science through Le Moyne’s 4+1 partnership with Syracuse University. Afterward, I’d to work as a Forensic Toxicologist in either criminal cases or in the cases of DUI or DWI incidents.