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Two Juniors Awarded Full-Tuition Scholarship for Women in the Sciences

Phallika Mon ’18 and Michelle Yu ’18 named 2017-18 Clare Boothe Luce Scholars
May 8th, 2017 by 

Tom Rettig

Phallika Mon ’18, a chemistry major, and Michelle Yu ’18, a mathematics major and environmental studies minor, have been named recipients of Clare Boothe Luce Scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year. The scholarship is awarded to two women entering their fourth year at the College of the Holy Cross and majoring in the physical sciences, which include mathematics, computer science, physics, and chemistry. The scholarship covers tuition and fees. In addition, the College supports the Clare Boothe Luce Scholars with paid research fellowships during the summer prior to the start of their senior year.

Phallika Mon ‘18

Phallika Mon, of Lynn, Mass., will continue her research on the misfolding and aggregation of protein. The goal of this research, being conducted under the guidance of Sarah Petty, associate professor of chemistry, is to explore the earliest stage of protein aggregation, which has been shown to be associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Mon has been working in Petty’s lab since she was a first-year student in the First-year Research Advancement Program (FRAP).

This past summer, Mon conducted research in the chemistry and chemical biology department at Northeastern University through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), a highly competitive summer research program funded by the National Science Foundation for undergraduates studying science, engineering, or mathematics. She plans to continue her ongoing research on campus this summer through the support of the College.

“After graduation, I plan on taking a year off and exploring the industry field before entering graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry,” says Mon. “I am grateful for this scholarship because it has helped alleviate my financial constraints, thus enabling me to focus more on conducting research.”

At Holy Cross, Mon, who moved to the United States at the age of 10 from Cambodia, is a member of Science Ambassadors, a teaching assistant in the chemistry department, and volunteers through Student Programs for Urban Development.

Michelle Yu ’18

Michelle Yu ’18, of San Fransciso, Calif., has been conducting research on comparing frequentist and Bayesian statistical methods in modeling varicose vein treatment outcome. During the upcoming academic year, Yu will be completing a mathematics honors thesis on using Bayesian statistics to identify climate change points, under the guidance of Eric Ruggieri, assistant professor of mathematics. The goal of the research is to develop an efficient technique that will detect the exact timing of change points in various climate time series. This upcoming summer, Yu will be conducting energy systems research at Argonne National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Yu’s long term goal is to develop and apply mathematical, statistical, and computational models and tools to solve environmental problems.

“In order to do so,” Yu says, “I plan on pursuing a Ph.D in an interdisciplinary field. I am extremely grateful to have been awarded this scholarship, which will help support me in my research and in achieving my scientific goals.”

At Holy Cross, Yu is a beekeeper and a Calculus Workshop tutor. She also volunteers as a tutor for local elementary to middle school students and is on the executive board of the American Women in Mathematics (AWM) chapter at Holy Cross.

Clare Boothe Luce Program at Holy Cross

In 2015, Holy Cross received its second major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation in the amount of $218,722 to fund the competitive Clare Boothe Luce Program at the College, providing scholarships to women in the classes of 2017 through 2019. Holy Cross’ Clare Boothe Luce Scholars serve as role models and facilitators for additional programming developed and funded by the College, aimed to attract female students to major in the physical sciences.

The first grant offered scholarships to women in the classes of 2010 through 2014, and both grants were authored by Daniel Bitran, science coordinator and professor of psychology.

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Comments (1)
  1. Laurie Beals says:

    Well-deserved ! Very impressive credentials and great young people… ! Met Phallika during her senior year of HS as she was on her way to be honored at Fenway Park as one of the Red Sox’ Yawkey Foundation Scholars