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Beth Clements: Coming home to Clemson

What you need to know first about Beth Clements is that she’s real. That smile is genuine, and she speaks from the heart. When she’s passionate about something, you see it in her face and hear it in her voice. “Being fake is too hard,” she says. “It’s too much work.”

Beth grew up in western New York on the Finger Lakes, and she and Jim met at Towson University, where she earned her bachelor’s in elementary education and her master’s in reading. A six-month courtship was followed by a six-month engagement, and six months after the wedding, they were expecting their first child. Tyler, now a fourth-year student at WVU, was followed by twins, Maggie (a freshman at WVU) and Hannah (a freshman at Clemson), and Grace, a 13 year old at R.C. Edwards Middle School.

Speaking of Grace, who has special needs, Beth says, “She’s really just the cornerstone of our lives. She’s made not just our immediate family, but our extended family, better.” With curly red hair, beautiful blue eyes and freckles, Grace had become somewhat iconic in Morgantown. She was surrounded by peers in school who championed her and was active in a community sports program. With the move to Clemson, she’ll be surrounded by extended family as well. Beth’s two brothers and their families are here, providing an instant “village” of love and support.

Grace has introduced Beth to a new passion for people who learn differently. “My passion found me, and my purpose found me,” says Beth, “and that’s Grace and others.” Because of that passion, she hopes to bring more awareness of the Clemson LIFE program, both for parents whose children might qualify and for people who might be interested in supporting the program.

As she looks to the year ahead, Beth is looking to create a home where her family can feel comfortable and settled, and to begin to put down roots. She loves the feeling of family that comes with being at Clemson. “When we were announced, people said, ‘Welcome Home. Welcome to the Clemson Family.’ We do feel that, and we appreciate it. I love their passion, and that it doesn’t go away, and that they pass it along to their kids.”

“It’s contagious,” she says, “and we’ve all caught it.”

Travelers Spring 2014

Slovenia Shoue Bell ’11, Scott Rickard ’12, Kyle Sporrer ’12 and Will Gordon ’13 climbed Mt. Triglav, the tallest point in the Julian Alps.

Slovenia Shoue Bell ’11, Scott Rickard ’12, Kyle Sporrer ’12 and Will Gordon ’13 climbed Mt. Triglav, the tallest point in the Julian Alps.

 

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Betsy Byars Duffey ’75 and Laurie Byars Myers ’73

Betsy Byars Duffey and Laurie Byars Myers - The Shepherd's Song book.

Betsy Byars Duffey and Laurie Byars Myers

Writing Sisters: It’s a Family Affair

These Clemson sisters have blazed a trail in the publishing world. Together they have published more than 35 children’s novels and won numerous awards, including the S.C. Children’s Choice Award. Their names are known and loved by children all over the state of S.C., across the country and even around the world with books translated into Japanese and Korean.

Betsy Byars Duffey and Laurie Byars Myers The Shepherd's Song book.

Betsy Byars Duffey and Laurie Byars Myers The Shepherd’s Song book.

Their first novel for adults, The Shepherd’s Song, has been published by Howard Books of Simon & Schuster. It follows the incredible journey of one piece of paper —a copy of Psalm 23 — as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message, and forever changing the lives of those who read it.

Whether it’s children’s or adult’s books, Betsy and Laurie do their research. In the past they’ve visited the Lewis and Clark trail, ridden dozens of roller coasters and gone SCUBA diving. The Shepherd’s Song involved a trip to a sheep farm to see first hand the life of a shepherd and the sheep.

Betsy and Laurie were born into a writing family with deep Clemson roots, beginning with grandfather, Edward H. Byars ’18. Their father, Edward F. Byars ’46, M ’54, wrote engineering textbooks and books about aviation; their mother, Betsy Byars, was a distinguished children’s author and the winner of numerous book awards, including a National Book Award, a Newbery and others. Two siblings, Nan Byars ’78 and Guy Byars ’80, are writers in their own fields.

Clemson laid a strong foundation for writing — for these two sisters and for their whole Tiger family!

Betsy and her husband live in Atlanta and have two grown sons. Laurie and her husband, Michael ’72, live in Augusta and have three grown children.

The Shepherd’s Song is available at Amazon.com.

www.WritingSisters.com | www.facebook.com/WritingSisters | @WritingSisters

Rembert R. Stokes (’53 ME)

Rembert R. Stokes Cultivating Generosity: Giving What's Right,

Rembert R. Stokes Cultivating Generosity: Giving What’s Right,

Cultivating Generosity: Giving What’s Right, Not What’s Left details programs for churches that let money permeate the environment in a wholesome and constructive way. The book is available at Amazon.com.

Thomas R. Waldron (’61 CE)

Thomas R. Waldron I Flew with Heroes

Thomas R. Waldron I Flew with Heroes

I Flew With Heroes is the author’s eyewitness account as a gunship pilot of the joint U.S. Army/U.S. Air Force raid on Son Tay POW camp, Nov. 21, 1970. The book can be found at Amazon, Kindle and Clemson’s Cooper Library.

Cadence Count

The Will to Lead campaign, by the numbers

In 2012, Clemson surpassed the $600 million goal of the Will to Lead campaign. In an act of optimism and confidence, the campaign leadership and Board of Trustees decided to dream big and raise the challenge to a new goal of $1 billion. Here are a few illustrations of the progress we’ve made, thanks to your generosity, as well as what still lies ahead to be accomplished.

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Power Ahead

Clemson is now home to one of the world’s largest and most capable electrical grid simulators. Thanks to the work of Clemson graduate and eGRID creator Curtiss Fox, one day, renewable energy sources like wind, solar and more will do even more to make things go.

When the lights flicker, we barely notice. Our homes stay warm. Our laptops switch to battery backup. Maybe an old clock radio needs a reset, but otherwise life goes on uninterrupted.

In the world of distributed-energy production, however, even a momentary disruption in power can be a big deal.

Whether it’s something as small as a voltage fluctuation (think: a squirrel in a transformer or a tree falling on a power line) or something as significant as a cyber attack on the power grid, knowing how the next generation of energy will respond to these disruptions matters — a lot.

That’s where Curtiss Fox of the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) comes in. The work he and his team are doing today at the University’s Energy Innovation Center on its grid simulator will forever change the way we power our nation, and even our world.

The Duke Energy eGRID has been under construction at Clemson’s Charleston-based testing facility since the first of this year, shortly after Fox was named director of operations. Assembly wrapped up on the eGRID this spring, and the summer months will be spent essentially turning the equipment on in preparation for the center’s first customer: a private company affiliated with the energy industry. Although the proverbial switch has yet to be flipped, the eGRID project has been four years in the making, with Fox at the helm since the very beginning — first as a Ph.D. student and now as director of operations. It’s no wonder the prospect of making the simulator come to life, likely sometime this fall, is so thrilling for Fox.

“This,” he offers enthusiastically, “is when you really start making the equipment perform.”

J. Curtiss Fox receiving his doctoral (2013) degree in electrical engineering from Clemson.

J. Curtiss Fox receiving his doctoral (2013) degree in electrical engineering from Clemson.

FOX RECEIVED HIS PH.D. IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING in December 2013, but his work on the eGRID project dates back to May 2010. At that time, the Department of Energy had just awarded a grant to the drivetrain facility so that it could conduct mechanical testing of wind turbines by constructing two wind turbine dynamometers: one 7.5 megawatts, one 15 megawatts.

The Department of Energy grant had a specific purpose: to allow Clemson to perform Highly Accelerated Life Tests on wind turbines — in layman’s terms, the tests are designed to simulate extreme events, those outside the turbine’s normal operating range, to see how they respond. These tests are important before the turbines are deployed to the field for obvious reasons, namely to prevent equipment failures and avoid expensive replacements on the highly technical equipment.

About the time the grant was awarded, Fox’s longtime Clemson adviser, Randy Collins, associate dean of the College of Engineering and Science and professor of electrical and computer engineering, attended a presentation about the then-proposed wind turbine drivetrain testing facility. Collins spoke with Energy Innovation Center facility director and senior scientist, Nick Rigas, and learned about an electrical diagram of the proposed facility. On that diagram, there was a box. But no one quite knew what type of equipment was going to go into the box.

Collins mentioned to Rigas that he had a grad student who could look into that for him. A few weeks later, Fox drove to Charleston. He met Rigas. He landed the job: grad assistant at CURI. Fox’s main objective was to figure out what kind of electrical equipment went into the box. He also was charged with designing power-flow studies and studying the transient response of the electrical equipment within the facility.

The rest is history, or the future — as the case may be.

THE BOX HAD A NAME, if not a specific function: LVRT equipment. It turns out it was actually an addition to the wind turbine facility’s electrical system. It wasn’t until after the grant was awarded that the Department of Energy came back to Clemson and asked if the University could also look at working an electrical test into what was otherwise mechanical testing of the wind turbine drivetrains.

The answer, thanks to Fox, was “yes.” That box was right in his wheelhouse. Low Voltage Ride-Through, or LVRT, is the ability of electrical equipment to keep working even when there are brief disturbances in the power system — something like lightning strikes, fallen trees or even animals on the power lines. When the lights flicker or short out, it’s because the flow of electricity has been disrupted. Fox had been pursuing a thesis on the subject, and now he had an opportunity to give it real-world application.

So, Fox developed a grid simulator to troubleshoot these kinds of power interruptions and reduce the risks that those in the energy industry worry about as they try to integrate new technologies into the electrical grid.

Since then, Fox’s work to bring this capability to the Energy Innovation Center has introduced a world-class, advanced testing platform capable of modeling grid conditions anywhere in the world.

The grid simulator is a center for innovation, where energy efficiency, energy storage and smart-grid technologies can be developed, tested and certified before they are rolled out for the mass marketplace. All the while, the project has been an opportunity to educate industry about power systems engineering and to show them how it could impact their future workforces.

“THE QUESTION THAT ARISES IS, ‘How do we go about integrating the renewable, distributed, new-generation storage energy equipment into the existing infrastructure, such that you can offset costs associated with upgrading the infrastructure?’” Fox explains of his work at CURI.

Think of it like this: Say you have a power line feeding a neighborhood, and then a developer decides to build again, and the neighborhood doubles in size. “They would either need to install another power line or rebuild it with bigger equipment,” Fox explains.

“But what if they could come in and install energy storage and not have to rebuild that power line?” Fox asks. “They could defer an upgrade, or avoid having to put in a whole new power line, by simply placing newer, more efficient equipment in existing locations.”

That’s exactly the kind of technology Fox’s grid simulator works to troubleshoot, something that is of great interest to utility companies, energy equipment manufacturers and national energy officials, among others. Specifically, the eGRID houses equipment that facilitates testing of the three key renewable energy technologies: energy storage, wind turbine energy and large, utility-scale solar energy.

It is this third and final component of the testing facility, a Photovoltaic (PV) Array Simulator, that is the most recent innovation moving Clemson to the forefront of the alternative energy field. Clemson’s PV Array Simulator — which essentially combines several acres of solar panels designed to capture energy from the sun into a small box — is scheduled to come online this fall, and when it does, it will be the largest such simulator in the world. It will also make Clemson’s grid simulator the only one in the world capable of testing all three of the key renewable-energy technologies.

The $98 million testing facility has been funded by a $45 million Department of Energy grant, and matched with $53 million of public and private funds. The eGRID represents another $12 million on top of that. It’s truly pioneering technology, something officials at the highest levels of government have taken notice of, including U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman.

“Developing America’s vast renewable energy resources is an important part of the Energy Department’s ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future,” Poneman offers. “The Clemson testing facility represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing global industry — helping to make sure the best, most efficient wind energy technologies are developed and manufactured in the United States.”

J. Curtiss Fox (right) chats with U.S. Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman at the dedication of the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center.

J. Curtiss Fox (right) chats with U.S. Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman at the dedication of the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center.

LAST YEAR FOX AND HIS COLLEAGUES FILED A U.S. PATENT on the grid simulator while he also successfully defended his dissertation on Low Voltage Ride-Through technology. The grid simulator project is now a separate, Department of Energy-sponsored project supported in large measure by corporate partners including Duke Energy and SCANA.

“The energy industry is a growing and changing industry,” offers Kevin Marsh, chairman and chief executive officer of SCANA Corporation, the parent company of SCE&G, a key partner in the project. “It is important for the private sector to work with public partners such as the U.S. Department of Energy and Clemson University to address the opportunities and challenges that face our industry.”

It’s Fox’s past collaboration that bodes so well for the future of the electrical grid.

“As a student, I was allowed to collaborate directly with industry,” Fox says in retrospect. “These projects are only a steppingstone for the research and innovation that will be needed for the grid of the future. I hope to continue to contribute to those efforts.”

SCETV: World’s Most Advanced Energy Testing Facility Opens in South Carolina

Clemson University’s Drive Train Testing Facility: Economic Impact

Clemson and SCE&G partner on one-of-a-kind energy systems research & testing facility

In These Hills

International teachers learn and teach

Richard Balikoowa from Uganda was one of 16 teachers from seven different countries who studied on campus and taught in local schools from January through May. They are part of the International Leaders in Education Program, a professional exchange program funded by a subgrant from the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), which is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The teachers completed an on-campus academic program with some of Clemson’s School of Education faculty, and then interned with a partner teacher at Riverside Middle, Liberty Middle and Seneca High.

As part of this program, which is in its sixth year at Clemson, the teachers engage in formal and informal cultural activities in which they learn about American culture and share about their own. Teacher Fellows go through a yearlong selection process; they are nominated by their own country, approved through that country’s American embassy and local Fulbright commission, and screened through the U.S. State Department and IREX. Clemson is one of four universities selected to host the group.

Clemson team selected for Solar Decathlon

Clemson's Solar Decathlon team

Clemson’s Solar Decathlon team

The U.S. Department of Energy selected a Clemson team to compete in the Solar Decathlon 2015. Clemson is one of 20 colleges and universities across the country and around the world that will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative and highly energy efficient.

“We are honored and excited to participate in the Solar Decathlon 2015,” said Akel Kahera, associate dean for Clemson’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. “This competition offers our students a one-of-a-kind learning and training experience that helps students excel once they enter the clean energy industry.”

Over the coming months, the Solar Decathlon teams will design, construct and test their houses before reassembling them at the Solar Decathlon 2015 competition site in Irvine, Calif. As part of the Solar Decathlon, teams compete in 10 different contests, ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance, while gaining valuable hands-on experience.

In fall 2015, the student teams will showcase their solar-powered houses at the competition site, providing free public tours of renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products and appliances that today are helping homeowners nationwide save money by saving energy. The solar-powered houses will represent a diverse range of design approaches; building technologies; target markets; and geographic locations, climates and regions, including urban, suburban and rural settings.

The Solar Decathlon helps demonstrate how energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies and design save money and energy while protecting local communities and boosting economic growth.
To view a video about the Solar Decathlon, go to clemson.edu/ clemsonworld and click on “In These Hills.”

Clemson partners in national hub for genetics research

President Clements presents Self Regional’s Jim Pfeiffer with a bowl crafted from a cedar tree at Fort Hill, the historic home of John C. Calhoun and Thomas G. Clemson.

President Clements presents Self Regional’s Jim Pfeiffer with a bowl crafted from a cedar tree at Fort Hill, the historic home of John C.  Calhoun and Thomas G. Clemson.

In February, Clemson, the Greenwood Genetic Center and Self Regional Healthcare announced a new partnership that will establish formal collaboration among genetic researchers and Clemson faculty. Self Regional Healthcare will support Clemson’s Center for Human Genetics with a gift of $5.6 million over three years. The gift consists of an initial contribution of $2 million for the center’s facilities and a subsequent contribution of $3.6 million to support research in genetics and human diagnostics at the facility located on the Greenwood Genetic Center campus.

“Today’s announcement will create a new pipeline for genetic research,” said John Pillman, chair of the Self Regional board of trustees. “The collaboration of these three partners will ultimately connect genetic therapeutics research to patients.”

Steve Skinner, director of the Greenwood Genetic Center, said such collaborations are crucial in turning research advances into clinically available therapies for patients, not only in Greenwood and across South Carolina, but globally. “This collaboration is a major step forward for patients as we combine the resources and strengths of each institution: Self’s commitment to patient care, Clemson’s expertise in basic scientific research and our experience with genetic disorders and treatment.”
Self Regional and the Genetic Center have had an affiliation agreement since 1975 with the Genetic Center’s clinical faculty serving as the Department of Medical Genetics for Self Regional.

President Clements said the announcement brings us a step closer to moving basic discoveries in human genetics from a research environment to a clinical setting, where they can be used to diagnose and treat real human disorders. “Clemson is proud to be part of this important collaborative effort, and we’re grateful to Self Regional Healthcare for its support of our research efforts at the Greenwood Genetic Center.”

The center will address research and clinical opportunities in human diagnostics and epigenetic therapeutics advancing personalized medicine for intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and disorders of the immune and nervous systems. Specific research will include molecular diagnostics and therapeutics, bioinformatics and computational/systems biology.

Self Regional Healthcare, as a research and lead health care partner, will support hospital-based clinical trials and collaborate in designated research activities. This marks Clemson’s third significant development at the Greenwood Genetic Center. In June 2013, Clemson announced it would expand its genetics programs, create an internationally competitive research and development team, and expand research capabilities at the Greenwood Genetic Center’s J.C. Self Institute through the Center for Human Genetics, a 17,000-square-foot research and education center in human genetics. And in November, Clemson established the Self Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Human Genetics, jointly funded by the Self Family Foundation and the state of South Carolina.

Ballato selected for class of ’39 award

John Ballato 2013 recipient of the Class of ’39 Award.

John Ballato 2013 recipient of the Class of ’39 Award.

With the increasing popularity of Sci-Fi movies, it’s no surprise that lasers conjure up images of futuristic adventures in outer space. But materials science and engineering professor John Ballato’s work in fiber optics isn’t happening in a galaxy far, far away — it’s all happening right here in Clemson.

The 2013 recipient of the Class of ’39 Award, Ballato is director of the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET). His research in glass and specialty fiber has made seemingly fictitious concepts a reality. “It sounds very Star Trek-ish, but the military has lasers deployed around the world to shoot down a variety of threats,” Ballato said, “everything from missiles to RPGs.”

Although Ballato and his team don’t make the lasers that are sent to the battlefield, they do help develop the fiber optics that go inside them. The program’s success in the field of specialty fiber has enabled Ballato to work closely with the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Technology Office, which has invested more than $10 million in COMSET over the past eight years.

Ballato moved to Clemson in 1997 and worked with other researchers to start an optics program, no easy task for junior faculty members. “Doing optical fiber research is extremely expensive,” he said. “The equipment that you need is big, complex and dangerous.”

But a confluence of events fell into the team’s favor. The dot-com boom turned into the dot-com bust in the late 1990s, leaving a glut of fiber optic cable that no one wanted. But Ballato and his team knew there was more research to be done. They quickly found an underserved sector, a “sandbox” where no one else was playing, he said. “The Department of Defense was clamoring for specialty fiber,” he said. “They couldn’t get any because it was all going to communications.”

It was a perfect fit. The research had to be done onshore for security reasons, Ballato said, and the Department of Defense was a client with deep pockets. “There was nobody else talking to them,” he said. “Everybody else had moved on http://creative.clemson.edu/clemsonworld/2014/05/hills/to other things, and we rode that wave in fiber for 10 years, through two wars and a staggering amount of investment.”

Ballato said COMSET partners with companies to pitch programs to the Department of Defense. “Clemson is actually pretty unique nationally in the sense that we go from ‘dirt to shirt,’” he said. “We model it, we design it. We study new materials. We make the glasses. We draw the fiber. We build the lasers for them at a prototypic level. That’s extremely valuable for our partners. It’s a one-stop shop for them.”

Ballato served as the interim vice president for research and associate vice president for research and economic development, where he championed Clemson’s advanced materials related research and economic development. His achievements speak volumes, but this award may be the most meaningful. Ballato was chosen by his peers to represent the highest achievement of service to the University, the student body and the larger community.

As the 2013 winner of the Class of ‘39 Award, Ballato’s name will be engraved in stone next to 24 past winners. The Class of 1939 established the Award for Excellence in 1989 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the class and to recognize and inspire faculty service above and beyond expectations.

In March, President Clements announced that Ballato would take on additional duties as the University’s vice president for economic development.

Honoring Sacrifice

Clemson’s Air Force ROTC detachment gathered in March to send Lieutenant Colonel Tom von Kaenel on a 120-day bicycle journey to Juneau, Alaska, to raise awareness of the sacrifices of service members, veterans and their families since 9-11. Kaenel is the founder of Sea2Sea, a military nonprofit that organizes bicycling events across the country, partnering with other nonprofits and local organizations. During the memorial service held that day, Clemson cadets read the names of South Carolinians who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nanoparticles, Big Ideas

Apparao (Raja) Rao

Apparao (Raja) Rao

Although these images can easily be mistaken for abstract art, they are indeed high resolution transmission electron microscope images of unique nanostructures explored by R.A. Bowen Professor of Physics Apparao (RAJA) Rao and his team at the Clemson Nanomaterials Center.

The honeycomb-like structure (in purple) with rows of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal fashion forms the basis of a graphene layer — the quantum building block for buckyballs, carbon nanotubes and graphite. Supported by a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Rao and his team have begun to chip away at reinventing energy storage by developing a cost-effective and scalable way to produce carbon nanomaterials. While energy is one of the focus areas, Rao’s team is also working on understanding the fundamental implications of nanomaterials on the physiological response.

Shown in the image (orange) is a silver nanoparticle coated with serum albumin, whose modified structure could be used to generate nanoparticles that can deliver useful drugs without being engulfed by the immune system.