Saint Mary’s College Receives Physics Grant

Henry Luce Foundation gift will create the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professorship in Physics

President Katie Conboy announced a five-year, $498,900 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to establish the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professorship in Physics. The grant will be used to hire an early-career female assistant professor in physics, adding a tenure track line that builds on the growing strength of STEM education at Saint Mary's.

Conboy said the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor in Physics will mentor Saint Mary’s students and help shape the future of SMC’s physics program during an exciting time of growth and achievement at the College.

“Over the past decade, Saint Mary’s has invested significantly in providing high quality STEM education that prepares our students to succeed in science, engineering, and math,” she said. “This is evidenced in our physics program that has awarded 31 physics degrees in five years. This grant from the Henry Luce Foundation allows us to build on our reputation as one of the best institutions in the US for undergraduate women to study physics.”

With 15 students graduating in 2020/2021, the College’s physics program entered the top 14% nationwide in the total number of physics bachelor’s degrees awarded to women among all colleges and universities—the top 6% among primarily undergraduate institutions.

Ian Bentley is an associate professor of physics at Saint Mary’s and the project director for the Clare Boothe Luce Program for Women in STEM grant. “The physics program at Saint Mary's College is vital for actively confronting the gender gap in physics and engineering,” he said. “Our physics major began five years ago and we have substantially higher than expected interest in the program, particularly because of how well it pairs with the College’s Dual Degree in Engineering program with the University of Notre Dame.”

Bentley said the Clare Boothe Luce Professorship will add a third full time professor dedicated to teaching physics at Saint Mary's, which will allow the College to offer new research and coursework opportunities.

This is the second grant that SMC has received from the Clare Boothe Luce Program at the Henry Luce Foundation. In 2012, Saint Mary’s was awarded a four-year grant in the amount of $240,000 that supported four outstanding students for two years each. The grant provided financial resources as well as opportunities to encourage other young women interested in pursuing STEM education.

November 28, 2022

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