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10 Female Students Funded for Science Research by Luce Foundation

Ten women participating in summer research in the Hamilton College Chemistry, Computer Science and Physics departments have been recognized as Clare Boothe Luce Undergraduate Research Scholars. Funded through a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and matching funds from Hamilton College, these awards provide stipends and funding for equipment, supplies, and travel to encourage women to either begin or continue research projects in the three disciplines.

Recipients, their faculty mentors and project names are:


Alex Betrus ’19 (mentor: Max Majireck) “Development of Transannular Hydroamination Strategies for the Synthesis of Pyrrolizidines and Related Nitrogen Heterocycles.”  Betrus will continue her research on a synthetic approach toward neurologically active alkaloids.

Helen Lin ’19 (mentor: Robin Kinnel) “Peptidomimetic Drug Leads Related to Alphafetoprotein.” Lin will continue research on synthesizing peptidomimetic derivatives of the active sequences, TPVN and TPVNP, of alphafetoprotein that are responsible for its activity against estrogen mediated breast cancer.

Willa Mihalyi-Koch ’ 19 (mentor: Farah Dawood) “Development of Electrochemical Deposition Methods for the Growth of Patterned, Nanostructured Surfaces.” Mihalyi-Koch will work on designing Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) sensors for the detection of low concentrations of small molecules and biomolecules.

Computer Science

Eseosa Asiruwa ’18 and Sindy Liu ’18 (mentor: Stuart Hirshfield) “A Scripting Language for Conducting Machine Learning Experiments.” They will continue work toward developing a suite of easy-to-use tools to analyze large data sets using a variety of machine learning (ML) algorithms.

Lyndsay LaBarge ’17 and Maya Montgomery ’18 (mentor: Alistair Campbell) They will continue research on the development and testing of CSPy: a dialect of the programming language Python for use in educational settings.


Anna Mowat ’18 (mentor: Seth Major) “Simple efficiency rating and suggestions for residential structures.”  Mowat will develop a spreadsheet, based on a thermodynamical model of houses, that incorporates local climate data, energy use data and geometry to identify heating inefficiencies then hopes to implement this evaluative tool as a smartphone app.

Anya Nugent ’18 (mentor: Seth Major) “Studies in quantum gravity.” Black holes are central objects in the study of general relativity and are perfect “laboratories” to study strong gravitational field effects. Nugent will study a model system with finite degrees of freedom on the horizon and study its thermodynamical aspects and the relation to the 4-dimensional (covariant) approach to black hole states.

Alexei Smith ’19 (mentor: Kate Brown) “Machine versus Human Drumming: Can Fractals Explain the Difference?” Humans can easily distinguish between drumming sounds produced by another human and those produced by a drum machine. A 2011 study found that the differences between the two types of drumming could be characterized as fractal, and attributed the preference humans have for human-produced drumbeats to these fractal qualities. This project will study the techniques used by the 2011 researchers and attempt to reproduce their findings.

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