First year MSE PhD student awarded Clare Boothe Luce Fellowship

By Mariana Sánchez Gaona

First year MSE PhD candidate Jillian Rix was named Clare Boothe Luce Fellowship 2020 recipient.

The Clare Boothe Luce fellowship benefits recipients at the early stages of their graduate studies. According to the Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) program’s website, it is one of the single most significant sources for private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering in higher education in the United States.

The fellowship was named after Clare Boothe Luce, an American fiction author, playwright, journalist and war reporter. She was appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Italy in 1953 and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut in 1942. The Clare Boothe Luce program is part of the Henry Luce Foundation. 

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to study under the Clare Boothe Luce fellowship. Ambassador Luce’s career represents an inspiring and trailblazing contribution to her fields, and I am humbled to benefit from her legacy. I am excited to use this award to pursue a meaningful contribution to advancing green technology and inclusion in STEM,” said Jillian Rix.

Rix works on solid oxide fuel cells, which are green energy devices that react with hydrogen and air to generate electricity. She intends to improve the efficiency of the device to secure its place as a preferable energy resource around the world. 

Rix and her labmates hope to improve solid oxide fuel cell anodes performance by studying how catalytic activity occurs. By infiltrating fuel cell anodes with nickel nanoparticles, they are improving energy efficiency with added reaction sites. Using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and focused ion beam (FIB), they are investigating the microstructure of these anodes by 3-D reconstruction to understand how infiltration improves cell performance and how the cell is impacted over time in service. 

Rix chose Boston University Division of Materials Science and Engineering in large part for the environmental materials research opportunities. “In Professor Soumendra Basu’s lab, there are opportunities to collaborate with chemists and mechanical engineers every day.” She adds, “Coming from a physics background, I feel I have grown as a scientist.”

Rix is a member of two engineering societies, the BU Chapter of Materials Research Society and Graduate Women in Science and Engineering