Harvey Mudd Math Professor Awarded Clare Booth Luce Scholarship

Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) selected Lisette de Pillis, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, to attend the 2017 HERS Institute at the University of Denver, June 18–July 1. De Pillis was awarded a Clare Booth Luce (CBL) Scholarship that provides full tuition, accommodations, meals and travel for the HERS Luce Program for Women in STEM Leadership.

De Pillis, one of six awarded a CBL Scholarship, will join approximately 60 women leaders from across the United States at the Denver event. HERS is an educational non-profit providing leadership and management development for women in higher education. The HERS Institute provides opportunities for a diverse group of women leaders to share and learn under the guidance of women faculty from higher education, national organizations, government and foundations.

A professor of mathematics and Norman F. Sprague Jr. Professor of Life Sciences, de Pillis is passionate about using mathematics to look for solutions to real-world problems. She collaborates with biologists, oncologists, clinicians, experimentalists and other mathematicians to search for new ways to treat cancer sufferers and victims of HIV infection. Her research interests include parallel computing, mathematical biology and cancer immunology. In 2000, de Pillis’s multidisciplinary accomplishments were recognized by the Argonne National Laboratory with the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Distinguished Scholar award. The award was established to recognize an outstanding woman scientist or engineer, chosen from an international pool of nominees. This was the first and only MGM award that was bestowed upon a researcher from an undergraduate institution, and only the second time the recipient was a mathematician. In 2016, de Pillis was elected as a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, which recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics.

A key part of the HERS CBL Program is the development of a HERS STEM community which supports and encourages strategies that advance a diverse cadre of women into STEM leadership roles. HERS and the Henry Luce Foundation, which funded the Clare Booth Luce Program in 2015, believe that the advancement of women in STEM education requires placing more women into leadership roles in STEM fields and into senior positions supporting STEM.

At Harvey Mudd College, six of seven department chair positions are held by women professors, marking a female majority within the Department Chairs Committee for the second time since 2014. Department chairs are de Pillis (mathematics), Kerry Karukstis (chemistry), Elizabeth Orwin ’95 (engineering), Melissa O’Neill (computer science), Theresa Lynn (physics), Lisa Sullivan (humanities, social sciences, and the arts) and Stephen Adolph (biology).