2021-22 Clare Boothe Luce Scholars

Three undergraduate physics students have received Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) scholarships and awards for the 2021-22 academic year. These merit-based awards recognize high-achieving undergraduate women pursuing degrees in science, math, and engineering.

Connecting math and physics to real-world problems
CBL Undergraduate Scholarship recipient Ugomma Ugwu-Uche (C’22) has always loved math and working with numbers, but it was when she took AP Physics in high school that she knew she had found her discipline. “Physics breathes life into mathematics,” she explains. At Georgetown, Ugomma has conducted research in Professor Ed Van Keuren’s lab, where she worked with graduate student Eleni Hughes to study the formation of polymer nanoparticles that are being developed for delivery of a pharmaceutical agent to treat acute kidney injury. “Through research,” Ugomma says, “I saw up close the beauty of applied math and physics and how what I learned could be implemented and used for good in the real world,” 

In addition to Physics, Ugomma is also majoring in Anthropology. She is also active in McDonough Women, a group that seeks to empower females on campus to achieve their leadership potential. 

The physics and biology of oceans
CBL Undergraduate Research Award recipient Victoria Boatwright (C’22) has been fascinated by the ocean for as long as she can remember. “Through sailing, I learned complicated relationships between wind, waves, and currents,” Victoria says, “and then when I took physics, all the maneuvers finally made sense.”  Majoring in biological physics, Victoria is pursuing interdisciplinary research on phenomena that involve coupling between oceanic physics and marine biology, with an eye on implications for climate change. After completing her undergraduate studies, Victoria plans to pursue graduate research in oceanography or earth sciences.

Beyond academics, Victoria is passionate about environmental issues and is part of the leadership team of GREEN (Georgetown Renewable Energy and Environment Network). She is also a member of the GU Sailing Team. 

Fundamental science and applications of materials
CBL Undergraduate Research Award recipient Catherine McCarthy (C’22) is drawn to condensed-matter physics research because of its two-faceted nature. “It reveals the fundamental nature of materials, but it also is applicable to a variety of practical problems,” she explains. In her current work, Catherine is studying processes involved in the evolution of cement from an aqueous suspension of small particles to a rigid solid. Working with Professor Emanuela Del Gado, she is carrying out atomistic simulations of confined ion-water solutions to understand nanoscale forces that affect cohesion in cement. In addition to providing scientific understanding of the material, Catherine‚Äôs research will test ideas that could lead to greener formulations of cement. 

Catherine serves as co-President of GUTEC (Georgetown University Technology and Engineering Club). In this role, she works to foster a vibrant community of technology and engineering enthusiasts by providing education, hands-on experiences, and tools for creating.

Encouraging women in science
Since its first grants in 1989, the Clare Boothe Luce Program for Women in STEM has become the single most significant source of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering in Higher Education in the United States. Clare Boothe Luce was an American playwright, journalist, ambassador, and one of the first women elected to Congress. Her bequest established the program to encourage women to enter, study, graduate, and teach in science, math, and engineering fields in which women have been most underrepresented. To date, the program has supported more than 2800 students and faculty around the country.