Two professors receive prestigious NSF award

Sophia Wang works with a robotic arm in her lab.

Sophia Wang works with a robotic arm in her lab.

Two faculty members have received a total of $1 million in funding as part of the National Science Foundation’s highest honor for junior faculty members.

Jacob Sorber and Yue “Sophie” Wang were among the honorees in this year’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. Each has been awarded $500,000 for research.

Sorber’s research enables low-cost, low-power sensors to gather data for long periods of time. The sensors would be powered by energy from environmental sources, such as the sun, with no need for batteries or manual recharging.

He said the sensors have the potential to transform science and society. They could, for example, be used to monitor human health, growing conditions in greenhouses or the behavior patterns of animal populations in the wild.

Wang is focusing on two distinctly human attributes — trust and regret — to develop new “control algorithms” and decision-making strategies that would help humans and robots work together to be more productive. She sees big opportunities for humans and robots to collaborate in manufacturing.

Wang also sees high potential for “human-supervised mobile sensor networks.” Robots could begin doing low-level simple and repetitive tasks while humans could be involved in high-level complex tasks, she said. While research is central to the award, winners also must be excellent teachers and have proven themselves exemplary in integrating research and education. Selection is highly competitive.

Sorber is an assistant professor in the School of Computing, and Wang is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Long road to Clemson drives student’s entrepreneurial spirit to help others

InTheseHills-Kaitlynn_LewisKaitlynn Lewis’s journey to Clemson has been a circuitous one.

Through grit, determination and generous scholarship donors, she has overcome numerous obstacles and hopes to use what she learned from the school of hard knocks — and Clemson — to help others like her move beyond the hardships in their lives.

Lewis is a junior business management major with a nonprofit leadership minor and a concentration in entrepreneurship. Her future looks bright, but it wasn’t always that way.

The oldest of five children, she experienced a tumultuous childhood, having lived a nomadic existence from Texas to Virginia. She spent a good deal of her adolescence homeless, raising her siblings, working multiple jobs while in school, and in foster care. She attended eight high schools, four middle schools and a dozen elementary schools. Lewis’s 17th birthday was marked by her mother’s suicide. Through it all, her spirit and drive to help others hasn’t wavered.

Like the road to Clemson, Lewis’s experience since arriving has been atypical of most 21-year-old college students. When she’s not commuting more than three hours a day to and from Greer, her day is consumed with a variety of jobs, volunteering and, of course, studying.

Scholarships have helped her with the financial burdens of tuition, but she is still supporting herself and has had to work upwards of 50 hours a week to cover living expenses, like food, gas money and car insurance.

“I worry all the time about my future, money and my family,” Lewis said. “Happiness for me would be not having to worry about having food to eat, a place to live or not having to sleep in my car. Without the scholarships, a lot of my career objectives wouldn’t be possible.”

Outside the classroom, she’s learning and contributing to helping others less fortunate through her involvement in AmeriCorps and organizations like Youth for National Change, which advocates free college tuition for financially challenged foster children.

Lewis sees herself pursuing an entrepreneurial career path in helping people help themselves. “I see myself going the startup route in a way that will enable people in need to be able to sustain themselves and become self-sufficient on a path to stability and becoming productive members of society,” she said.

One startup idea Lewis is championing involves building “tiny” homes for the homeless, where the future inhabitants would play a role in their construction, giving them skin in the game and an accountability. She calls the concept Micro Homes for Macro Hope, and she floated the concept last fall at the Clemson IDEAS student organization’s “Startup Weekend.” The idea received an honorable mention and won the event’s social entrepreneurship award.

“My path to Clemson hasn’t been like a lot of others here, but I’ve learned from it,” Lewis said. “That, combined with the nonprofit leadership and entrepreneurial track of my education here, is preparing me well to make a difference in the world.”

As for life after Clemson, Lewis wants to continue helping others who walked in her footsteps, perhaps through the Peace Corps.

“I’d like to work in business development in the nonprofit sector, maybe helping people start their own business, again along entrepreneurial lines.”

CU-ICAR students unveil Deep Orange 5

InTheseHills-DeepOrangeStudents at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) unveiled its newest concept vehicle, sponsored by General Motors, at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.

Deep Orange 5, the fifth generation of Clemson’s concept vehicle program, is designed for young adults who will live in mega cities in 2020. The vehicle was designed by Art Center College of Design students and engineered by Clemson automotive engineering graduate students.

Features of the car include a reconfigurable seating concept, double-hinged doors, a two-piece rear hatch concept and a color display on the outside of the front doors for digital message display.

Janet Goings, associate director of research and development at General Motors, said, “Our experience working with these students was exceptional. They came up with creative and innovative ideas for their defined target consumers. We were very impressed with their holistic approach and final result of this accelerated product development process.”

Watch a 2-minute video showing the building of Deep Orange 5:

Students flex fiscal muscles to win national competition

InTheseHills-Raymond-SauerA proposal by economics students on how to stabilize the nation’s debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio won first place at the national collegiate Fiscal Challenge on Capitol Hill this spring. The Fiscal Challenge is a competition among college teams to create a plan putting the U.S. on a sustainable fiscal path.

“Our team put a tremendous amount of work into developing their budget proposal,” said Raymond “Skip” Sauer, the John E. Walker Department of Economics chair and team adviser. “They’ve been meeting three days a week since January and the collaboration of all five of them gave them the ability to attack the budget challenge on all possible fronts. What they did on Capitol Hill was impressive and very hard to replicate in a classroom.”

Judging was conducted by a group of four federal budget experts associated with major Washington think tanks and government organizations. Mike Aguilar, national coordinator, said the winning proposal “struck a nice balance between spending cuts and tax increases. One thing that set Clemson apart was their advocacy of supply-side changes to stimulate growth and their support for structural reforms to the budget process itself.”

Headed off to New Challenges and Opportunities

In May, almost 3,000 Clemson students received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Littlejohn Coliseum and joined the ranks of 137,000 alumni.

President Clements voiced his hope that the graduates’ time at Clemson helped make them better all-around people.

“I hope that your Clemson experience has been everything that you hoped it would be and that we taught you more than your academic subjects,” he said. “I hope that we challenged you and inspired you to think critically and creatively, to be engaged with your community and your world, and to make a positive difference every day.”

Here are the stories of just six of those graduates:

Alyssa Daniel

InTheseHills-Alyssa-DanielAlyssa Daniel makes you believe that there are more than 24 hours in a day. During her four years at Clemson, the accounting major has crunched an unbelievable number of leadership roles and experiences into her time as a student. But at the heart of her super-human schedule is a very human factor — family.

“I have a younger brother and a younger sister here at Clemson, and setting a good example for them is super important to me,” Daniel said.

Daniel said she owes a lot to her involvement with the professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, where she has served in multiple executive positions. It was also at the encouragement of Delta Sigma Pi that Daniel was prompted to take on her biggest challenge — spending a semester abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark.

“I always think I can throw something extra on my plate,” Daniel jokes.

Daniel also was involved with Beta Alpha Psi, an international honors organization for financial information students, served on the Student Advisory Board for the School of Accountancy and Finance and worked as a student assistant in the Office of Student Enrichment.

“I think that Clemson has a thousand things to offer you, and that it’s just a matter of pursuing them,” Daniel said. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who are just as academically motivated as you.”

This summer Daniel will complete a second internship with the Charlotte consulting firm Deloitte, before moving to Alabama to work on her master’s in accounting at Auburn University.

Nate Diehl

InTheseHills-Nate-DiehlEven before he arrived at Clemson, Nate Diehl had delved heavily into research at the University of Pennsylvania where he spent the three summers during high school immersed in cancer-related protein research. As a Clemson undergraduate, the biochemistry major continued to explore the medical field with both his undergraduate research and through two summer medical trips to Panama and Costa Rica.

“Those trips were confirmation that I was doing the right thing,” Diehl said. “Seeing the look on people’s faces after you helped with even just the smallest thing gave me an incredible amount of joy.”

Wanting to combine his love of research, medicine and people, Diehl applied for M.D./Ph.D. programs. Programs from across the nation flocked to accept him — eight in all. Diehl says the deciding factor came down to the students.

“I knew that I could become a physician scientist in any of these amazing programs,” Diehl said, “But the Chapel Hill students were incredible to be around. They seemed very similar to the people at Clemson, and the people were one of the best parts of Clemson for me. The students here have made my experience. They’re absolutely awesome; I’ll never forget them.”

Diehl plans to continue his cancer research throughout his program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the eventual goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist.

Nateisha Drayton

InTheseHills-Nateisha-DraytonIf you’d asked Nateisha Drayton five years ago where she would be today, she would have said she’d be a proud member of the military, rising through the ranks, seeing new parts of the world.

She has traveled. But instead of being in a uniform, she’s been in a lab coat.

“College was just never an option that I’d thought about,” the Charleston native said. “I’d thought that I would join the military like so many of my family members before me. I didn’t know the first thing about filling out an application or the Free Application for Financial Student Aid paperwork.”

At the encouragement of her high school teachers however, Drayton took her first (and last) college tour at Clemson.

“I knew it was the right place for me. I didn’t need to look anywhere else,” Drayton said.

The first-generation college student has forged her own path through Clemson while also lending her hand as a PEER (Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention) mentor for the past two years. PEER welcomes and encourages underrepresented students in the College of Engineering and Science.

“My own PEER mentor did so much for me. If it hadn’t been for him that first semester, I don’t know if I would have made it through,” Drayton said. “I wanted to give back to the same program that was in fact the main reason I was still here in the first place.”

Drayton also has completed three research projects — one at Clemson, the other at Rutgers and the third in Singapore — all centered on the environmental impacts of cancer research compounds in addition to other contaminants and their biodegradability.

Drayton heads into the Air Force’s Officer Training School where she will serve in an environmental engineering position.

Neyle Noyes

InTheseHills-Neyle-NoyesNeyle Noyes doesn’t pull out job acceptance letters to talk about the future. He pulls out a handwritten bucket list that he keeps in his wallet. His dreams include graduating, skydiving, watching “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway and dancing in the rain.

He talks about these because he feels confident about life after graduation — he’s anticipating a job with the NBA once its season ends.

He got hooked on the organizational side of athletics after taking a “Trends and Sports” class, which examined sports through data analysis. Later, he connected with a prospective student’s father while giving a campus tour, a chance meeting that led to an internship with the Houston Astros minor league team in Greeneville, Tennessee.

But it was his senior project analyzing NBA trends that really captured his attention. He wants to take number crunching to basketball. For those unfamiliar with sport statistics, he’ll be doing what Brad Pitt did for baseball in “Moneyball.”

“I’ll be changing the game, but not the heart behind it,” Noyes said. Having heart has always been important for Noyes. He says the high-fives, hellos and student passion he saw on his own prospective tour of Clemson clinched his college decision.

“At Clemson, we build and breathe the idea of getting close and taking time to know each other,” Noyes said. Ever since, he’s added to that tradition with his own big smile as a campus tour guide and sharing life with his Kappa Sigma brothers on the quad.

He knows he’ll miss Clemson, but, according to his bucket list, he’ll hopefully have tickets to one football game a season.

James E. Vines

HEHD Spring Research Forum 4-19-12James Vines first learned about the small number of male minorities earning Ph.D.’s while getting his Africa and African Diaspora studies certificate at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to help improve those numbers,” Vines said.

To do that required his own navigation of graduate school waters, which is how he docked at Clemson.

“I heard about the outstanding reputation of the School of Education. Clemson was at the top of my list,” Vines said. While getting his doctorate here, he worked as a research assistant for the Charles H. Houston Center for the Study of the Black Experience in Education.

“I had no idea what to research for my dissertation. Thankfully, I had an amazing adviser, Dr. Patricia First, who helped me from day one,” Vines said.

His research includes cyberbullying, focusing on advocacy coalitions in the policy-development process. This fall, he has moved on to a fellowship at Bloomsburg University (Pennsylvania), where he’ll be an academic adviser in the Office of Academic Enrichment.

“I’ll miss being able to find my quiet spot in the Cooper Library — I have gotten so much stuff done while writing and getting coffee in Java City,” Vines said.

But he says that more than finding a quiet space, building strong connections with his professors, classmates and Phi Beta Sigma brothers contributed to his positive Clemson experience.

“The support you get from other students is invaluable, and people who can motivate you will go a long way,” Vines said.

Aurelia Wurzel

InTheseHills-Aurelia-WurzelTired of sitting on the bench for basketball, Wurzel needed little prompting to follow her older sister to the boathouse one day. And that was that.

“I was short, I was on the bench and that wasn’t working,” Wurzel said. “Then my sister brought me with her to the boathouse, put me in a double with her, and I’ve been rowing ever since. It just clicked.”

Years later, Wurzel’s passion for the sport was responsible for bringing her halfway around the world, from her hometown of Como, Italy, to her new home in Clemson when she was recruited for the women’s varsity rowing team.

“Coming to Clemson allowed me to pursue the two things that I was really passionate about — sports and academics,” Wurzel said.

Most of Wurzel’s mornings these past four years have been spent on Hartwell Lake as a member of the women’s rowing team. For two months each summer, she returned to Como to compete in the national championship, winning seven national titles, and even rowed in the world championship for Italy.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Wurzel moved to Como when she was six where she spent the rest of her childhood before coming to South Carolina. During high school, Wurzel was enrolled in the language program where she gained fluency in Spanish, French and English. When it came time to choose a major at Clemson, language and international trade was an obvious fit.

Her skills were put to the test during a summer internship with the candy manufacturer, Haribo. The company was working on a business-to-business product that Wurzel was able to help create through a variety of marketing, advertising and logistics measures.

Excited by this taste of the business world, Wurzel will go on to work in Switzerland this fall.

See a video of graduation in less than a minute:

Clemson World recognized for print and digital versions

CW_WINTER14Cv1CW_S-F 2013-Cv1CW_S-F_2014Cv1Clemson World brought home three awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s District III conference in February. The magazine won a Grand Award in the category of Magazine III, which includes universities with 15,000+ students, as well as a Grand Award in the category of “Magazine or Publication Rendering for Tablet or Mobile Technology.” The magazine also won a special merit award for magazine improvement.

CASE is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. District III includes nine Southeastern states.

Duckenfield Scholars return to campus to host symposium

Ten years ago, Clemson’s first Duckenfield Scholar, Lindsay Green-Barber, went abroad to study at Oxford. This spring, she and the 16 other Duckenfield Scholars have traveled back to Clemson to return the favor.

The group of alumni planned and executed a Clemson Global Symposium, held in March, to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of a program they consider life changing. Oxford University professor Ken Addison provided the keynote address.

The Christopher J. Duckenield Scholars Program was established by the family and friends of Chris Duckenfield, who was Clemson’s vice provost for computing and information technology. He was also an alumnus of St. Peter’s College of the University of Oxford. The program enables one or two members of the Calhoun Honors College, who demonstrate extraordinary talent, motivation, commitment and ability, to attend St. Peter’s College. Duckenfield Scholars also are expected to demonstrate the ability to adapt to the tutorial style of learning that exemplifies university education at Oxford and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Zucker Family Graduate Education Center to bring engineering education to Charleston

Laura Zucker, Anita Zucker and President Clements in front of Jonathan Zucker at the ground breaking.

Laura Zucker, Anita Zucker and President Clements in front of Jonathan Zucker at the ground breaking.

It wasn’t your typical groundbreaking, but Jonathan Zucker certainly broke ground with a giant black and yellow excavator, marking the official beginning of construction of the $21.5-million Zucker Family Graduate Education Center in North Charleston.

Located at the Clemson University Restoration Institute on the site of the former naval shipyard, the approximately 70,000- square-foot center will offer master’s and Ph.D. degrees in engineering when its doors open in 2016. The center is expected to grow to accommodate approximately 200 students, filling a critical need for engineers for corporations such as Duke Energy, where 60 percent of its engineering workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.

President Clements joined Anita, Jonathan and Laura Zucker for the ceremony that was attended by more than 75 Charleston County School District middle school STEM students. As Clements spoke to the students through a bullhorn while standing next to the excavator, he said, “Here we have the Hunley submarine in the Warren Lasch Conservation Center — that focuses on our past. Over there we have the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center — that deals with the present. And today we break ground on the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center, and that’s all about the future.”

Upon completion, the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center will serve as the academic anchor in the CURI applied technology park. In addition to students and faculty, office space in the center will be leased to industry looking to engage with faculty, students and researchers.

Long-time Clemson supporters, Anita Zucker and Jonathan Zucker helped fund the center that will bear their family’s name. Anita Zucker explained why she wanted to help make this center possible. “I’m passionate about STEM. I’m passionate about education. And I’m passionate about our region and what’s happening here,” she said. “For years our business community has complained that we don’t have enough graduate-level courses in engineering. Well, I feel like that call will finally be answered with this new center.”

The Zucker family gift is part of the $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign.