Biochemistry and genetics graduate awarded 2016 Norris Medal

InTheseHills_Austin HerbstEach spring, one Clemson student is chosen as the recipient of the Norris Medal, the highest honor for an undergraduate. Established in the will of Clemson trustee D.K. Norris, the honor is awarded to the graduating senior judged the best all-around student by the Scholarships and Awards Committee.

This spring, that student was Austin Herbst of Easley, who graduated with a dual degree in biochemistry and genetics, with a double minor in microbiology and psychology. Two weeks before graduation, he took home multiple awards from the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, including being named the outstanding senior in genetics and biochemistry and receiving the Martin Award, which honors the student in the life sciences with the highest GPA. The Blue Key Academic and Leadership Award and the Phi Kappa Phi Certificate of Merit rounded out the list. The Blue Key award is given to one senior in each of Clemson’s seven colleges to honor outstanding scholarship, campus leadership and service.

Last spring as a junior Herbst was awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for excellence in science, mathematics and engineering. He was involved in undergraduate bioengineering research during his first three years at Clemson, and conducted research at both Furman and Emory universities. He published five peer-reviewed articles. He has volunteered in the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua, and was active in Engineers without Borders, Engineering World Health and Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, of which he was president.

Having been admitted to medical school at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt, Herbst is planning to attend Harvard this fall. He would like to pursue a career in global health and work internationally.

President Clements receives honorary degree from alma mater

InTheseHills_Clements UMBC GradPresident Clements may be a three-time alumnus of University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC), but he can now add a fourth degree to his resume. In May, he and Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust received honorary degrees from the institution during the spring commencement ceremonies. He is pictured here with UMBC president Freeman Hrabowski III.

UMBC is a member of the University of Maryland system and is a public research university with an enrollment of approximately 14,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Clements, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1985 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in operations analysis in 1991 and 1993, respectively, received an honorary doctorate of education and spoke at the graduate school commencement ceremony. Faust spoke at the undergraduate commencement ceremony and received an honorary doctorate of public service.

“I’m so pleased and honored to return to my alma mater to address the graduate students of the university that has significant personal meaning in my life.” Clements said. “I stood in their place not so very long ago, and I’m anxious to see how they will make a difference with the education they have received. UMBC is one of the most innovative universities in the country and highly regarded. A degree from this prestigious university will help open many doors for these new graduates.”

Immelt receives honorary doctorate at commencement


InTheseHills_ImmeltUniversity officials bestowed an honorary doctorate of humanities on General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey R. Immelt at the commencement ceremonies in May. Immelt, who spoke at the ceremony, was honored for his continued partnership with Clemson as well as his devotion to excellence in business and to improving the lives of citizens around the globe.

The ninth chair of GE, a post he’s held since Sept. 7, 2001, Immelt became an officer of GE in 1989 and joined the GE Capital board in 1997. He was chair of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Under Immelt’s leadership, GE has been named by Fortune magazine as “America’s Most Admired Company,” and he has repeatedly been named one of the “World’s Best CEOs” by American financial magazine Barron’s.

General Electric has generously and consistently supported education, technology and health care initiatives around the globe. Under Immelt’s leadership, GE has been a key partner with Clemson in the study of innovative technology and workforce development — on campus and in the innovation campuses across the state.



The Clemson Medallion

Clemson honors Barker and Bostic with University’s highest public honor

This spring, Clemson recognized two alumni — President Emeritus James Barker and businessman and trustee James E. Bostic Jr . — with its highest public honor, the Clemson Medallion. The Medallion is presented to individuals who have rendered notable and significant service and support to the University and who exemplify the dedication and foresight of its founder, Thomas Green Clemson.

The lives of both men began as Clemson students and their commitment to the University never waivered. Here are the 2016 Clemson Medallion winners.


James Barker

Medallion-James_BarkerOne Clemson. It’s a term that permeates Clemson vernacular, along with “Clemson family” and “All In.” But the two words together helped James Barker ’70 lay a foundation for a vision where he saw Clemson achieving more than ever as an institution.

“I am convinced that there is no university in America stronger than Clemson when we are ‘One Clemson.’… If we unite around the idea of Clemson, we have a future beyond our highest aspirations,” he said during his inauguration address.

And unite the campus he did. Clemson went from being ranked No. 38 among public universities to No. 21 during his term. Undergraduate applications increased from about 11,400 a year to more than 18,500. Scholarship support increased from $5.4 million to $13.8 million annually. Freshman retention went from 83 percent to 91 percent. More than 59,000 degrees were awarded during his time as president — representing 41 percent of all living alumni.

“Jim Barker is a man of integrity. He is a great visionary and great strategic planner. He leads with a core passion to put the students and their success first,” said Trustee E. Smyth McKissick III ’79, when interviewed about Barker’s presidency in 2013.

From student, alumnus, faculty member, dean, president and even parent — Barker’s seen Clemson from every perspective. “All of us who love Clemson will always be indebted to Jim Barker for his visionary leadership and service. It is an honor to present this well-deserved award to him,” said President Jim Clements.

His roles throughout the University and community are varied and active, including participating in IPTAY as an honorary life member; serving as president emeritus and professor in the School of Architecture; and serving at Fort Hill Presbyterian as an elder and choir member.

Under his administration, the Will to Lead campaign, which concluded successfully this summer, was launched with a $600 million goal and then re-launched with an ambitious and historic $1 billion goal.



James E. Bostic Jr.

Medallion-James_BosticWith $10 from his mother tucked into a Bible, James Bostic ’69, Ph.D. ’72 stepped off the bus from Marlboro County into the hills of Clemson. Since that day, Bostic’s legacy has included success in education and business, as well as philanthropic support for efforts to provide a more diverse campus.

Even as a White House Fellow in 1972-73, Bostic’s love of Clemson never faltered, according to retired Gen. Colin Powell, even if it wasn’t always endearing to others. The two met as the only minorities in the class, with Powell becoming like a big brother to Bostic.

“His life revolved around things colored orange, Tigers and basketball,” said Powell. “Only when he got married were his wife and I able to get the orange furniture and paintings out of his apartment, to his great distress.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from Clemson, Bostic went on to serve as deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture until 1977. From there his business acumen gathered steam as he served 10 years with Riegel Textile Corporation before moving on to Georgia–Pacific Corporation, moving up through the ranks to the position of executive vice president in 2000 and retiring in 2005.

“He has volunteered his time and talents as a leader for the University,” said President Clements, “and he continues to lead by assisting us in our efforts to improve diversity and inclusion. I am extremely proud to honor him with this award.”

Bostic’s desire to pay it forward goes well beyond what’s listed on a resume. He and his wife helped fund the Edith H. and James E. Bostic Presidential Scholarship as part of the Harvey B. Gantt Scholars program for diversity scholarships. His name is also on the Dr. James E. Bostic Presidential Scholarship in the College of Engineering and Science and the James E. Bostic Endowed Leadership Program for Resident Assistants.

“Jim’s love for Clemson can’t be measured by what he has done but by the difference he has made in the lives of students and Clemson University as a whole,” said Bert Henderson, IPTAY/ Athletics Director of Gift Planning.





Nursing program expanding with GHS partnership

July 17, 2013 - Clemson Nursing students with patient at Clemson Free Clinic

Clemson Nursing students with patient at Clemson Free Clinic

When it comes to health care, one thing is clear: We need nurses.

As the population ages and health care needs intensify, the demand for nurses is growing. The registered nurse workforce is expected to increase 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With this growth, the United States will need nearly 440,000 new nurses
by 2024.

Equal to the demand for nurses is the need for nurses with advanced training and education. The Institute of Medicine recommends that 80 percent of nurses hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020 — a move to help the nursing workforce manage the increasing complexity of patients and the health care system.

Recognizing these needs, Clemson and Greenville Health System (GHS) are entering a unique, collaborative program expansion that will enable Clemson to increase the number of students accepted into its nursing program and expand student clinical placements within GHS.

With this partnership, entering freshmen in 2016 and beyond will have the opportunity to be part of one of two cohorts — the Clemson University School of Nursing or the Clemson University School of Nursing Greenville — beginning in the fall of their junior year.

Students in both cohorts will take general education and nursing foundation courses on Clemson’s main campus their freshman and sophomore years. Students in the Clemson University School of Nursing Greenville will complete clinical rotations during their junior and senior years at one of Greenville Health System’s seven campuses, while students in the Clemson University School of Nursing will complete clinical rotations at other health care systems across the Upstate.

By expanding clinical placements at GHS, the School of Nursing will be able to better meet enrollment demands. Historically, the School of Nursing has been able to enroll only about 8 percent of its applicants, but with the program expansion, Clemson hopes to double the enrollment over the next several years.

“Improving health in South Carolina is an important part of Clemson’s land-grant mission,” said Brett Wright, dean of the University’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, which houses Clemson’s nursing program. “We are excited about this collaboration with Greenville Health System that increases our capacity to prepare nurses, and we are grateful to all of our health system partners that give our students the best in clinical education. These efforts serve the well-being of people in South Carolina and beyond, and we are honored to be a part of the work.”

“Greenville Health System is excited to be a part of this strategic effort with Clemson that will positively affect both workforce needs and patient care,” says Brenda Thames, GHS vice president for academic and faculty affairs. “By working together, we will continue to meet the evolving health care needs of our community, state and nation.”

The nursing expansion is part of a continuing partnership between Clemson and Greenville Health System that is seeking to transform health care. Clemson has worked with GHS on health care research projects since 1990 and, in 2013, GHS and Clemson established a new health care partnership, naming the University the health system’s primary research collaborator.

Students from two cultures find common ground, understanding

Editor’s note: Jess Collins ’14 currently is serving as a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Niš, Serbia. She wrote this article for us about a recent experience with Clemson students studying abroad in Serbia. 

InTheseHills_StudyAbroad-NisJanuary of 2016 marked the first semester-long Clemson study abroad trip to Belgrade, Serbia. Seven students from Clemson spent three and a half months studying at the University of Belgrade. As an alumna of the summer 2012 Balkan study abroad program and a current Fulbright ETA in Niš, Serbia (about three hours south of Belgrade), I was thrilled for the opportunity to initiate an academic exchange between my alma mater and students at the University of Niš. A grant from the U.S. Embassy in Serbia funded the exchange.

The first meeting between the students took place in Belgrade, and the task was for each Serbian student to write on the American perspective and vice versa, with the papers to be presented a few weeks later in Niš. The students were eager to meet, and together they chose topics of LGBT rights, women’s rights, sex education, millennial mentality, cultural-specific traditions, religion and nationalism/racism.

Serbian student Petar Milenkovic´ enjoyed both the interchange of ideas and the experience of sharing his own culture: “I found out how different problems that are existent in Serbia, in a greater degree, are tackled in America,” he said. “I also had the joy of being a teacher. I believe I brought my American partner some insight into our society and its problems, and that I gave her something to think about during her stay here.”

A few weeks later the Clemson students went to visit the Niš students. We were joined by U.S. Embassy staff and professors from the faculty. Students gave their presentations, which were followed by lively discussions on the presented topics. The Clemson students then had the opportunity to share coffee and kafana, a traditional Serbian dinner, with the Niš students, deepening their relationships through discussions about the two cultures.

“It was an amazing experience getting to meet such a smart group of like-minded individuals and building friendships that I am confident will last long into the future,” said Clemson student Ryan Bartley. “We were able to use each other as sounding boards to create a mutual understanding of each other’s perspectives and paradigms.”

Serbian student Milan Krstic´ offered a similar response: “The experience with the Clemson students was refreshing, both intellectually and when spending some free time we had together. The students were very keen to participate in the project and strove to learn about Serbian culture, and even the language. I’ve enjoyed hearing their comments about the politics in Serbia, given the fact they are ‘outside observers’ and political science majors.”

“For the students, both ours and Serbian, it was a great experience to try to understand each other’s culture,” said Vladimir Matic, one of the Clemson professors in charge of the program. “It is something that helped them open up their minds, and it will influence the rest of their lives. Our students came back enriched. Study Abroad exposes students to new experiences and different cultures. They understand better the world, but maybe more importantly themselves and what they want to do in their lives.”

Clemson’s political science department has an ongoing study abroad program in Serbia and the Balkans.
For more information, contact Jeff Peake at

Kosovo native visits Clemson for the first time to receive doctoral hood

IntheseHills_BalidemajA doctoral hood is a highly coveted garment in academia, so much so that one student was willing to travel nearly 5,000 miles to obtain the hood she had worked toward for years. Kosovo-native Albina Balidemaj’s visit to Clemson in May to attend her doctoral hooding ceremony also happened to be the first time she ever set foot on campus.

Balidemaj’s time in Clemson was short; she left for Kosovo the morning after the hooding ceremony so she could be back in time for the commencement ceremony at the Rochester Institute of Technology campus in Kosovo where she now works as manager for academic affairs. She said she was happy to finally see Clemson in person. “The final plans for the trip happened so fast I had coworkers who didn’t even know I left,” Balidemaj said. “I hope to spend more time in Clemson in the future; the campus is bigger than I expected, and it is so beautiful.”

This was not Balidemaj’s first trip to the United States. Her family came to the U.S. in 1999 as refugees fleeing the armed conflict between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation Army. Balidemaj attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to earn an undergraduate degree in clinical psychology. She returned to Kosovo in 2006 with the World Health Organization (WHO) to work with cognitively challenged children from the Roma community and ended up staying in her home country.

“When I returned to Kosovo the country was still transitioning and building back up,” Balidemaj said. “I decided to stay because of the work WHO and other local NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) were doing in the community.”

Balidemaj was attracted to the Ph.D. program in International Family and Community Studies at Clemson because of the program’s partnership in Albania with Marin Barleti University. After looking into the program online, Balidemaj met with Jim McDonell, director of the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life.

The program, its faculty and the tools it would afford her were reason enough for Balidemaj to pursue her doctorate through the program’s distance-learning blended format. Balidemaj’s doctoral hooding represents not only Clemson’s first doctoral degree to a student from Kosovo, but also the program’s first graduate to have a university appointment there.

“My background was in clinical psychology, but I wanted to be able to do more general research in the Balkans,” Balidemaj said. “The education I received at Clemson will allow me to focus on community interventions and affect public policy.”

Balidemaj’s dissertation was titled “Acculturation, ethnic identity and psychological well-being of Albanian-Americans in the United States,” and as such became a highly personal research experience for her. She explored how well refugees between the ages of 25 and 35 adapted to a new culture.

Mark Small, director of the graduate program at the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, was Balidemaj’s major professor during her time in the program. He said Balidemaj, like other students who participated in the program from outside of the U.S., helped to enrich the experience for all students in the program by providing a first-hand account from a country undergoing democratic change.

“[Albina’s] curiosity and unique perspective made her a class favorite among professors,” Small said. “Her research was personal, a natural fit for our doctoral program and relevant to family and community transformation.”

Clemson’s footprint expands in the Lowcountry

InTheseHills Cigar Fctry exterior

It’s a warm, humid morning in Charleston and the call of seagulls has finally replaced the sound of bulldozers and blowtorches. In just over nine months, architects and construction workers erected a building that is more than just a pretty face.

The state-of-the-art 75,000-square-foot facility, an iconic glass and metal structure located on the waterfront of Charleston’s old naval base, will symbolize the joint vision of Clemson University and businesswoman/philanthropist Anita Zucker. The program will serve as the academic anchor in the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) applied technology park, joining the Warren Lasch Conservation Center and the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center. The Zucker Family Graduate Education Center will offer master’s programs in electrical engineering, systems engineering and digital production arts (DPA) and a Ph.D. program in computer science.

“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,” Zucker said.

“The Zucker Family Graduate Education Center will respond to industry’s demand for an engineering workforce for the future,” said Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, director of business development for CURI. “The center will bring opportunity for personal and professional growth for place-bound engineers who would like to have an advanced degree and expand their opportunities in the job market.”

The idea is that the engineering programs will help keep young talent and expertise from leaving South Carolina for other places that offer opportunities to grow in the industry. Additionally, the DPA program will expand instruction in video game design and content development in hopes of creating a new regional industry. The center will start with a combination of on-site and remote (via video conference) learning with a plan to have the program completely local within three years.

The timing of the opening is ideal as Charleston is quickly becoming one of the nation’s fastest-growing areas for such advanced business and industry sectors as aerospace, transportation, advanced materials, advanced security and biomedical services and manufacturing. According to the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Charleston region is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States, and growth in population and employment is expected to continue to exceed the national average.

But the Zucker center isn’t the only new building for Clemson in Charleston — new to Clemson, that is. In August, the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston and the Historic Preservation Program were united under one roof when they moved into the Cigar Factory on East Bay Street. The former cigar and textile manufacturing plant was originally built in 1881 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Formerly, the two programs were housed in three separate locations. To better meet existing needs, anticipate planned growth and ensure that Clemson students in Charleston have all the resources they need, a larger, more functional facility was required.

“Clemson is thrilled with this solution to house our allied design programs in Charleston under one roof,” said Richard E. Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. “It has been a long-time goal of the University’s to integrate the creativity, scholarship and service outreach of these programs in one central location.”

Though completely different aesthetically, the hope is that both these buildings will expand the footprint of Clemson in South Carolina and in turn cement the idea that the University is committed to providing opportunities to students, teachers and industry alike, across the entire state.

NSF awards research fellowships to Clemson students

April 12, 2016 - CES students, Allison Jansto, Emily Thompson, Jennifer Wilson, Michelle Greenough, and Catherine McGough. They have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

CES students, Allison Jansto, Emily Thompson, Jennifer Wilson, Michelle Greenough, and Catherine McGough. They have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Seven Clemson students have received graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation, and five others received honorable mention awards in the national competition. The NSF offers three-year graduate research fellowships to students in science, engineering, mathematics, technology and some social sciences. Each year, college seniors and early graduate students are invited to apply. Out of 17,000 applicants nationwide, 2,000 students won the prestigious awards.

These Clemson students received graduate research fellowships:

• Ryan Borem of Easley is a U. S. Army combat veteran and Ph.D. student in bioengineering. His research focuses on the development of a tissue engineering scaffold to assist in the repair and regeneration of intervertebral discs in people suffering from back pain.

• Michelle Greenough of Davis, Calif., is a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering. She plans to develop a multilayer ceramic membrane to separate and then capture carbon dioxide gas. The aim of her research is to help reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

• Nora Harris of Rock Hill is a senior industrial engineering student. Her research will investigate how to encourage increased sustainability in the design process of buildings and infrastructure. She will begin a master’s program in civil engineering at Virginia Tech in the fall.

• Allison Jansto of Harmony, Pa., is a graduate student in chemical engineering. Her research focuses on investigating the relationship between the nanostructure, mechanical properties and performance of functional materials with a goal of better understanding the transport and mechanical properties of materials used in fuel cells and batteries.

• Catherine McGough of Charleston, W.Va., is a graduate student in engineering and science education. Her research goal is to identify how undergraduate engineering students’ future goals and motivations relate to how they solve problems in class. These findings will allow instructors to improve and personalize problem-solving instruction.

• Emily Thompson of Rochester, N.Y., is a senior physics major. Her research deals with particle physics. She is pursuing graduate work at the University of Bonn in Germany.

• Jennifer Wilson of Charlotte, N.C., is a senior majoring in plant and environmental science. Her research proposal focused on understanding how plants detect and respond to attack by fungal pathogens. Next year, she will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in plant pathology at Cornell University. Her future research will focus on the transmission of plant viruses by aphids.