SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#collaborativeresearch–Santa Clara University has received its largest gift ever to support collaborative and interdisciplinary research among students, faculty, and schools on campus.
The Whitham Family Collaborative Research Awards Fund is being created through a $3.8 million gift from Santa Clara alumna Jacqueline Whitham ’21 and the Whitham Family Foundation of Colorado.
The gift will support cross-disciplinary collaborations involving two or more Santa Clara faculty members and student researchers. Preference will be given to projects that include at least one faculty member from the arts, and a portion of the fund will be earmarked for student-led research.
Jacqueline came up with the idea for the grant after initially struggling to pursue all her passions—science, engineering, and art—while at Santa Clara University. Minoring in art improved all aspects of her education, she said—from her ability to communicate across disciplines, to visualize scientific concepts, and to learn STEM topics from different angles than her peers.
“The whole approach to Jesuit education includes being well-rounded individuals,” said Jacqueline, who now works at a startup that uses carbon capture to make concrete while reducing carbon emissions in the manufacturing process. “I hope that people who apply for these grants really follow their curiosity, as there is no better time to do that than in university.”
Supported projects will produce tangible outcomes that will benefit students, such as published research papers; books or book chapters; performances or exhibitions; or multi-year research grants.
The funds will be available for three to four research projects annually, with applications starting in the fall of 2022. The endowment will provide an ongoing source of revenue for future awards from the Whitham Family fund.
“Santa Clara has long emphasized the value inherent in bringing together the brightest minds from the arts, sciences, technology and engineering,” said Julie Sullivan, president of Santa Clara University. “This generous gift will open up new avenues and opportunities for students and faculty from diverse disciplines to tackle important issues facing our world today.”
About Jacqueline Whitham
Jacqueline and her sisters Morgan and Caitlin grew up in the Denver area, and attended Mullen High School, where Jacqueline was highly interested in biology, chemistry, and math.
As a student at Santa Clara, Jacqueline initially studied biology, but decided she didn’t want to work in that field as a career. But then she found there was no clear path for her to pursue her specific combination of interests—chemistry, mechanical engineering, and the arts. Eventually, she was able to change majors, add a minor in mechanical engineering and pursue her creative passion for art through a sculpture art minor. But doing so required five years to graduate, and she felt alone in her journey at times.
Still, the extra effort paid off, she said. Her STEM teachers noticed that she attacked problems differently from other students, while still being effective. “Art was a creative outlet, which connected me to people and my other studies in the craziest ways,” she said. “Creativity really fed into helping me understand so many concepts. I want to help people who want to walk similar paths.”
As a student she participated in the REAL program, which funds summer research for student projects. Along with four other students from various majors, she conducted research in the Bioinnovation and Design Lab into how virtual reality and augmented reality could help the company Cepheid design tools for genetic testing.
“I think there are many people who are interested in cross-disciplinary studies and explorations—they just don’t allow themselves to think that they are capable of achieving that,” said Jacqueline.
About the Whitham Family
Born and raised in Kansas, Barth Whitham is president and CEO of Enduring Resources. He has a B.S. in engineering and M.S. in economics from the Colorado School of Mines, and is a Registered Professional Engineer. Barth also serves as a governor for his alma mater, the Colorado School of Mines, and is a trustee for another Jesuit university, Regis University in Denver.
Maureen grew up in Denver and attended Colorado Institute of Art design school. She worked in the home raising the couple’s three children and has been an active partner with Barth in the family’s philanthropic work. From 2015 to 2019, the couple co-chaired the $400 million capital campaign benefitting Children’s Hospital of Colorado, where Barth was chairman. The family also supports the National Western Stock Show Association, the premier livestock, rodeo and horse show in the nation, serving agricultural producers and consumers throughout the world.
About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see www.scu.edu.
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | [email protected] | 408-554-5121