Clare Boothe Luce Award Winner at 'Home’ with Physics

  • Elizabeth Bushong '10 in the physics lab.  

Elizabeth Bushong ’10 moaned disapprovingly to herself after she tried to fit her house key into the lock of a Hackman physics lab.

“I do that every time. What does that say about me and how much time I spend in this lab?” she said with wry smile.

Once inside the lab, Bushong cozied up to the table in the center of the room. Clearly at home, she pointed out the various tools and mechanisms that crowd the lab.

She “found” physics in high school and that is where she intends to stay, Bushong said. And she will, thanks to the Clare Boothe Luce Award program, which provides full tuition for women studying science, engineering or mathematics.

Clare Boothe Luce, the widow of Henry R. Luce, was a playwright, journalist, U.S. Ambassador to Italy and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut. In her bequest, she established a scholarship to encourage American women to pursue professions in math and sciences.

Bushong said she is thankful for the award, which includes a $2,000 grant for individual research.

“I’ve always been an inquisitive person,” Bushong said. “Physics gives me a chance to question why and how things happen in the world.”

When she first came to Franklin & Marshall College, Bushong also studied chemistry. She showed promise in both and was asked to join a select few to work in the chemistry lab before her first year as a Moore Mentor. Before her sophomore year, she stayed over the summer as a Hackman scholar in chemistry.

However, by the end of her sophomore year she had made her choice. Physics won her over.

This past summer, in her second season as a Hackman Scholar, Bushong worked in the physics lab with Ken Krebs, associate professor of Physics and Astronomy, studying how atoms in solids react to light, and how that reaction influences the electrical characteristics of the solids. This work is aimed at developing new materials for solar energy harvesting.

After she graduates from Franklin & Marshall, Bushong plans to go to graduate school and perhaps get a doctorate.

Bushong is the first, but not the last of her family to come to F&M. Her younger sister, Cathy, is a first-year student studying “anything but physics,” said her sister.

The Clare Boothe Luce Award is a program of the Henry Luce Foundation. For more information on the award visit www.hluce.org.

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