Pia Bhatia and Grace Feagin named Clare Boothe Luce Undergraduate Scholars

Physics majors Pia Bhatia (C’21) and Grace Feagin (C’22) have been awarded Clare Boothe Luce Undergraduate Scholarships. This merit-based scholarship recognizes high-achieving undergraduate women pursuing degrees in science, math, and engineering fields. 

Using nanotechnology to improve healthcare

Pia is interested in the intersection of nanotechnology and healthcare. “I’m excited about the capacity for nanotechnology to drastically change the ways in which healthcare is provided to patients across the globe,” she explains.  For her thesis research, Pia is working on two projects under the mentorship of Prof. Mak Paranjape in the Georgetown Nanoscience and Microtechnology Laboratory. One involves characterization and optimization of polymer materials used in the fabrication of a glucose-sensing patch for diabetics. Pia is a co-author on a recent research article on this work. The other project, which is a collaboration with the FDA, focuses on developing a platform for studies of bacterial and mammalian cell toxicity. 

Outside the lab, Pia has been active in the department as Co-President of the Society of Physics Students (SPS). The group recently received a Distinguished Chapter Award from the SPS National Council for its membership building, outreach, and professional development efforts.

Understanding the universe 

Grace explains that she has “always been drawn to physics because of its problem-solving nature and the broad range of questions it tackles attempting to explain the universe.” While at Georgetown, Grace has engaged in a wide variety of research opportunities, from creating organic solar cells in Prof. Ed Van Keuren’s lab, to building a plasma chamber with Prof. Chris Cothran, to using satellite data to study correlations between river erosion and migration patterns with Prof. Donato in the School of Foreign Service, to research on binary stars at the US Naval Observatory. Grace found that each internship provided chances to develop valuable skills and knowledge that are widely transferrable. Through her research, as well as her involvement in the leadership of the GU Astronomical Society, Grace has developed a keen interest in astrophysics and she hopes to pursue a career in that field.

Supporting women in science

The Clare Boothe Luce Program was established in 1989 through the bequest of Clare Boothe Luce, an American playwright, journalist, ambassador, and one of the first women elected to Congress. The program aims 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.