University of Richmond Student Selected as Luce Scholar

February 17, 2021

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Fiona Carter-Tod, a University of Richmond senior, has been selected as a recipient of the prestigious Luce Scholars Program. This nationally competitive fellowship is awarded annually to 15 to 18 graduating seniors and young alumni nationwide. Carter-Tod is UR’s first Luce Scholar.

The Luce Scholars Program was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia, which is finalized after recipients are announced.

Carter-Tod, a double major in biology and leadership studies who will graduate in May, is pursuing a career in immunological research centered around social justice and the elimination of health disparities. She entered the University of Richmond as a Richmond Scholar, knowing she wanted to pursue science and became particularly invested in immunology as she learned how most diseases disproportionately and disparately affect vulnerable and underserved groups.

During her undergraduate career, she conducted research under the mentorship of biology professor Shannon Jones on the inflammatory effects of biomass smoke, produced by the burning of natural materials for heat, light, and cooking in predominantly emergent nations. She has also investigated the potential of yew tree bark as a natural combative supplement against biomass-induced inflammation.

“I’m excited to continue expanding my understanding of biomedicine, inequality, and health disparities beyond the United States,” said Carter-Tod. “My initial interest in global health came from mission work I conducted during high school in Guatemala City and Cape Town. This interest grew further when I had the opportunity to study indigenous and eastern views on health while abroad in New Zealand during the spring of 2020.”

“We are so proud to have Fiona represent Richmond as our first Luce Scholar,” said Dana Kuchem, director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships. “The opportunity to spend a year developing as a researcher abroad will have a lasting impact on her future as an immunologist.” 

Following the completion of her Luce fellowship, Carter-Tod plans to pursue a Ph.D. in immunology.