Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship Prepares Women Scientists for the Future

Kathryn Bozell, Teagan Sweet, Natalie Williams

l to r: Kathryn Bozell ’20C, Teagan Sweet ’20C, and Natalie Williams ’20C

July 15, 2020

Named for the visionary woman who excelled in myriad fields, St. John’s Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Undergraduate Scholarship encourages gifted women to pursue collegiate studies in the sciences and technology—areas in which women historically are underrepresented. The CBL scholarship is an outgrowth of the University’s Women in Science (WIS) Scholarship Program. St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Science’s Class of 2020 included three recipients of the prestigious scholarship, each with an inspiring story to tell.

Kathryn Bozell ’20C

When toxicology major Kathryn Bozell enrolled at St. John’s four years ago, she was not even aware of the CBL scholarship. This fall, the scholarship recipient returns to the University to pursue her master’s degree in toxicology as a CBL Graduate Fellow.

During her first year, Kathryn, a native of Louisville, KY, was encouraged to apply for the CBL scholarship by several faculty, who saw great promise in the budding scientist.

“Upon learning about the exciting opportunities available through WIS and the CBL scholarship program, I eagerly applied,” she recalled. “The scholarship program provided me with the opportunity to connect with incredible female mentors and peers. It also inspired me to continue my studies and pursue a master’s degree.”  

The experience also served as a launchpad for her research on the effects of copper dimethyldithiocarbamate (CDDC) on the release of a protein that is known to propagate the inflammation of nervous tissue. Neuronalinflammation has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.

“Participating in WIS activities was an integral part of my academic and professional development at St. John’s,” she recalled. “In addition to the invaluable networking opportunities it offered, it provided me the chance to build personal relationships with other women in science, which greatly enriched my academic experience overall.”

Kathryn is excited to return to campus to begin her graduate work and serve as a role model for younger students. “As I continue my education and research, I am excited to inspire the next generation of women in science in the same manner,” she said. “I would highly encourage all young women interested in a career in the sciences to learn more about the Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship program.”

Teagan Sweet ’20C

For Teagan Sweet, the CBL scholarship was a connection to a welcoming community of female scientists at St. John’s and around the globe.

“CBL was such a pivotal experience for me,” the native of North Attleborough, MA, recalled. “I loved being surrounded by—and supported by—the strong women in STEM at St. John’s who became my role models. CBL validated my experience in science.”

That experience saw the chemistry major complement her study of the field with minors in photography and international studies. She also explored computational research, focusing on understanding how orientation and the folding of proteins lead to large-scale changes in the cell.

Teagan traveled to Dublin, Ireland’s Trinity College to work on the development of new “green” materials, which could one day lead to advances in energy storage, solar cells, and drug delivery.

In addition to her rigorous course load, Teagan was “Head Skull” of the Skull and Circle Honor Society, St. John’s College’s highest honor for students, and was awarded the prestigious Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship—a three-year, international internship program funded by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. She was also an S-STEM scholar and contributed to research in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, which focused on the development of a biodegradable water filter to be used in disaster situations.

Both the WIS and CBL programs assisted Teagan in her graduate school application process, “through mentorship, as well as words of wisdom.” This fall, she will pursue a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at the University of Notre Dame.

“Thanks to these programs, I feel especially connected not only to women in STEM at St. John’s, but across the country, as well,” she said. “I will always be proud to be a part of this elite, intelligent community.”  

Natalie Williams ’20C

Like many students, Natalie Williams entered her senior year unsure of her postgraduation plans. A chemistry major with a minor in graphic design, Natalie sought the advice of a faculty mentor, who suggested she pursue a career where she could combine her passion for chemistry with her love of the arts.

“One of my professors told me about science-related research at art museums,” she recalled. “I had not given this field any serious thought, but now my goal is to be a scientific researcher at a museum.”

In pursuit of that goal, Natalie will attend Yale University this fall, where she will work toward her Ph.D. in material chemistry. While her focus now is on the future, she looks back on her four years at St. John’s with fondness and gratitude.

“The CBL scholarship helped me not only financially, but professionally, making the way for new and lasting professional connections,” she said. “This program introduced me to fellow women in science who will always serve as my inspiration.”

Natalie was a member of St. John’s National Science Foundation-funded S-STEM Scholars Program, which introduced her to undergraduate student research, including a research group in the chemistry department that designed, synthesized, and analyzed materials using DNA nanotechnology. There, she was able to combine her chemistry and biotechnology skills with her graphic design knowledge and made nanometer-scale DNA “origami” objects, which fold themselves into particular shapes.

She was also a member of the American Chemical Society’s Scholar Program, an extremely competitive program for underrepresented minority students who plan to pursue careers in chemistry. In addition, Natalie participated in the BIOMOD research competition, an international bio-molecular design competition for students sponsored by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

Natalie is grateful for the support she received as a CBL scholar as St. John’s. “Everyone here gave me great advice that helped guide me in the best direction to achieve my goals,” she recalled. “Conducting research on art is something that truly fascinates me, and I plan to fulfill this dream.”