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Football Team Succeeding in Classroom and on Field

Defensive back Jerrodd Williams graduated this spring.

Defensive back Jerrodd Williams graduated this spring.

CLEMSON’S FOOTBALL TEAM HAS FINISHED THE LAST TWO SEASONS WITH A top-10 final ranking in the USA Today coaches’ poll. The NCAA Academic Performance Public Recognition Awards released in May show that the team is performing just as well in the classroom. For the fourth consecutive year, Clemson ranks among the top 10 percent of all FBS football Bowl Subdivision) programs nationally in Academic Progress Rate (APR) score.

Clemson is one of only five FBS programs ranked in the top 10 percent each of the last four years, joining Boise State, Duke, Northwestern and Rutgers. Clemson is the only FBS program nationally to finish each of the last three seasons in the top 25 of both the AP and USA Today polls on the field, and in the top 10 percent of APR scores in the classroom.

Excellence in the Academic Progress Rate has translated into a strong graduation rate for the Clemson football program. Over the last four years, 67 of Clemson’s 72 seniors have earned degrees, 93.1 percent. The APR is a metric developed to track the academic achievement of teams each academic term. Each studentathlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by one thousand to equal the team’s APR score.

Graduates Commissioned as Second Lieutenants

SHAROSCA MACK ’14, AN ECONOMICS MAJOR FROM LORIS, WAS commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army at a joint Army and Air Force ceremony on May 8. Nineteen students received commissions into the U.S. Army and 11 received commissions into the U.S. Air Force. The ceremony featured guest speaker Col. (Ret.) Rick Schwartz M ’95. A former Army ROTC instructor, he retired last year after 29 years in the Army.

Following the commissioning ceremony, the new lieutenants participated in a Silver Dollar Salute ceremony at Military Heritage Plaza. The ceremony marks the first salute the new officer receives from an enlisted service member. As a sign of mutual respect, the officer presents the enlisted member with a silver dollar.

Clemson Lands $11 Million Grant

CLEMSON HAS BEEN AWARDED $11 MILLION to expand a bioengineering center that helps mentor junior faculty members as they research how labgrown tissue can treat some of the world’s most debilitating diseases, ranging from heart disease to spinal cord injuries.

The money comes from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) program that supports the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) nationwide, including Clemson’s South Carolina Bioengineering Center of Regeneration and Formation of Tissues (SC BioCRAFT). The grant is the largest from the NIH in the University’s history; it brings the total NIH funding for the center to $20.3 million.

The grant will pay for maintaining and upgrading state-of-the-art facilities and provide funds for five junior faculty to begin their research, said Naren Vyavahare, the SC BioCRAFT director and Hunter Endowed Chair of bioengineering.

“This is seed money,” he said. “The whole idea behind the center is to fund and mentor junior faculty and make them successful. When they get their own major grant, we graduate them and bring new people in.”

Clemson researchers will collaborate with Roger Markwald of the Medical University of South Carolina, who is a co-principal investigator on the grant. Senior investigators Thomas Borg and Mark Kindy, both of MUSC, will provide biology expertise.

Freeman Hall expanding

Freeman Hall expanding

Freeman Hall renderingFreeman Hall is expanding to make room for rapid growth in the industrial engineering department. The $10-million addition will include new offices, conference rooms and a 108-seat auditorium, and will include additional room for a fast-growing online Master of Engineering in industrial engineering with an emphasis on supply chain and logistics that has been supported by Fluor Corporation. The program now has about 120 students and is expected to grow to 160. Growth in the industrial engineering department underscores the power of philanthropy and the importance of Clemson’s long partnership with Fluor. Fluor contributed $1.5 million in 2013 to create the Fluor-Clemson International Capital Projects Supply Chain Partnership to help with the online program’s expansion.

 

 

Collaboration with Adobe to Support Next-Generation Creativity

Jim Holscher, Adobe’s vice president of education field operation.

Keith Spencer, Senior account executive, Adobe Education

CLEMSON AND ADOBE ARE WORKING TOGETHER to enable campus wide access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud tools for all faculty, staff and students. Creative Cloud is a platform for making, sharing and delivering creative work through design, Web, video, collaboration and digital-imaging tools.

In addition, Adobe will invest in an innovative, state-of-the-art Adobe Digital Studio in Cooper Library that will serve as a teaching, training and collaboration environment to support next-generation learning and creativity. This joint effort includes software training support, access to the Digital Publishing Suite platform to produce academic and professional publications, and on-campus student internship programs sponsored by Adobe.

Through this collaboration, Adobe will help Clemson become a flagship institution for developing new applications for digital publishing and content creation across campus.

“Ubiquitous access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud will transform and elevate the quality, innovation and creativity of our communication practices at every level and across all media,” said David Blakesley, Campbell Chair in Technical Communication and professor of English. “Clemson is already known as a leader in communication across the curriculum, so this new implementation raises the bar for everyone.”

“Today’s students want to make a difference in the world, and they want to do it using the technology tools they’ve grown up with,” said Jim Holscher, Adobe’s vice president of education field operation. “Through our work with Clemson University, we are providing faculty, staff and students with the right tools to successfully create and communicate their ideas while mastering essential communication skills that will increase their marketability to potential employers.”

One Clemson event supports scholarships

ONE CLEMSON MAINC.J. Spiller ’09 was one of the more than two dozen legendary Clemson athletes who were in attendance at the One Clemson Main Event, held in April at the ONE Building in downtown Greenville to support athletic and academic scholarships. Auctioned items included a personal “C.J. Spiller Experience” at a Buffalo Bills game and golf with PGA Tour players Charles Warren and Ben Martin. Proceeds benefit the One Clemson scholarship initiative, a part of the Will to Lead campaign.

Are Fireflies Vanishing?

Clemson team recruits citizens scientists to answer the question.

In the liturgy of a late spring night, the call and response of a tree frog chorus accompanied the fireflies’ ethereal light, as a guard let in a dozen people to the Cooper Library to launch a “flash” mob.

It was the May 31 kickoff for 2014 Clemson Firefly Count, part of a project investigating the question, “Are fireflies vanishing?”

Over the summer, firefly census takers would count lightning bugs for the fifth year in a row. New technology was being used, and the Vanishing Firefly Project team of scientists and students was keeping their fingers crossed that it would work without a hitch.

The count this year included new and improved mobile apps, software to view the count in progress and social media to get the word out. The work spanned the University, calling on talents of entomologists, environmental and computer scientists and science educators.

Computer science senior Joshua Hull hunched over his laptop, checking the computer network that collected observers’ tallies and displayed their locations. He also had upgraded one of two mobile apps people used to “phone” in their counts.

“I feel like my mother must have felt when she dropped me off at college,” Hull said. “She had prepared me the best she could, and it was time to let me go into the real world. But I’m not going to cry like she did.”

Hull paused, scanning a new screen load of data. “Unless things go bad, then I might cry.”

By the end of the evening, Hull was smiling, not crying.

Firefly project

NOSTALGIA+SCIENCE

Are fireflies disappearing? A lot of folks say so. They remember summers when children dashed and darted through the dark holding an empty jelly jar in one hand and its lid poked with nail holes in the other in pursuit of the greenish glow. Triumphant young whoops of capture and the bittersweet release “bye-bye firefly” are not heard so much today.

Joshua Hull

Joshua Hull

Nostalgia needed to be buttressed by science, and so the Clemson Vanishing Firefly Project began. It was started by a scientist who had not seen a firefly until he was an adult, and then became enchanted by the blinking little lights in the night.

“My family had not yet come from California, so I was working late,” said Alex Chow, an associate professor stationed at Clemson’s Belle W. Baruch Institute for Coastal Ecology and Forestry in Georgetown. “As I walked from my office to the dorm, I saw these lights in the woods, and I didn’t know what they were.”

Chow grew up in Hong Kong, where he never saw fireflies. During his first southern summer in 2008, Chow enjoyed the light show. The next year, he did not see as many fireflies. His curiosity was piqued.

“We had done some prescribed burning, and I wondered if it had affected the fireflies,” Chow said. A biogeochemist, Chow studies how land disturbances such as fires, flooding or timbercutting, affect soil and water chemistry. He could imagine a relationship between firefly abundance and changes in their habitat. Chow decided to do an observational study looking for the effect of human activities on firefly populations. But Chow wasn’t a firefly guy.

Alex Chow

Alex Chow

“I needed an entomologist,” he said.

Chow searched the Clemson faculty and found one in Florence, which was closer to him than Clemson. But there was a problem.

“I didn’t know anything about fireflies, but I was willing to learn,” said Juang Horng “JC” Chong, stationed at the the Pee Dee Research and Education Center. Chong specializes in controlling insects that harm ornamental plants and turfgrass. Landscape plants and grass are multimillion-dollar industries in South Carolina.

Chong reviewed firefly studies and found that nothing had been done to learn about fireflies in South Carolina since the 1960s.

With so much to do on a spare-time project, the researchers had to be committed. Are fireflies worth the work?

“Absolutely,” said Chong. “Fireflies may not be endangered, but they are an indicator of environmental conditions. Just as important, fireflies affect our feelings about the future. What kind of world are passing on to our kids? I want my children to see fireflies like I did growing up in Malaysia.”

That Chow did not see fireflies growing up and Chong did see them lights the way to understanding what fireflies can show us about the environment. In Chong’s Malaysia, the fireflies that flash synchronously in large groups in the mangroves near Kuala Selangor are an international tourist attraction. In South Carolina, fireflies in the Congaree National Park swamp glow en masse, too.

Water or moist areas is one key to a robust firefly population. Another is tall grasses, bushes and trees. But perhaps the most important element is darkness.

Chow’s Hong Kong is a nightmare for fireflies. The bright white lights of a big city make it virtually impossible for one firefly to see another’s flashes. And the glow is not simply an ornamental taillight, but the medium by which the fireflies communicate about safety, food and sex. Light pollution prevents the signals from being seen.

Add the concrete and asphalt landscape of urban living and the malls and lawns of the suburbs, and it’s not hard to believe firefly numbers are declining.

But are they really vanishing, or is it just that many of us now live in places where fireflies do not flourish?

A CRACKERJACK TEAM

Chow and Chong needed help counting fireflies. They didn’t have the time or resources to sample beyond Georgetown, so the scientists turned to the public, launching a citizen-science project. The researchers also needed to enlist experts who could help them. Chow sent emails and made phone calls and began to assemble a crackerjack team.

David White was the first onboard, coordinating the computer work. Director of environmental informatics for Clemson’s Cyberinstiute for Technology and Information, White developed the firefly webpages and mapping programs.

In 2009, the tallies were recorded on paper, and researchers would enter the data online. Then White installed a Web page form in 2010 that observers could use directly via computer. Chow, Chong and White knew what was needed to make the process easier.

There had to be an app for that.

So Chow made calls.

“I was at a conference three years ago in Raleigh when my cellphone rang — it was Dr. Chow,” said Roy Pargas. “He introduced himself and said he was involved in counting fireflies.”

Firefly Project viewPargas is an associate professor in human-centered computing. He teaches courses in mobile app design and development — Apple IOS in the fall and Android in the spring. Students have to put theory to use.

“Students can work alone or in groups, but theyall have to do projects that produce a benefit — help students learn, help faculty teach, help Clemson in some way,” said Pargas. “Dr. Chow’s project was a good fit. I mentioned it to my Apple class.”

A student volunteered immediately. Doug Edmonson developed the iPhone app, continuing to work with the firefly project until he graduated. Josh Hull took over from Edmonson, seeing the app through its latest version in the Apple online store. New for 2014 was an Android app done by Greg Edison (“my dad is Tom but no relation to the inventor”). Edison installed a nifty feature, a light meter that lets the user measure the level of ambient light, which may correlate to the number of fireflies seen.

BRIDGING THE GAP

While it would be years before there would enough observation data to determine the fate of fireflies, Chow and Chong were seeing something notable, and they sought to publish their findings.

“We wanted to write up what we were learning about citizen-participation science research,” said Chow. “But we were out of our depth — I do soil, JC does insects. We needed somebody in education.”

Chow again asked around, and Joe Culin, an associate dean and entomologist in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, suggested a collaborator.

“I knew right away I wanted to work with them,” said Michelle Cook, associate professor of education. “Fireflies offer a way to help people learn about who scientists are and how they work.”

Cook’s specialty is science education, a hot topic in the national conversation about what students need to know in order to succeed. Science depends on creativity and figuring things out. Cook advocates adding more inquiry activities that teach and encourage students to work out experiments, using the scientific method, which relies on accurate and repeatable data.

Cook and doctoral student Renee Lyons analyze survey results from firefly counters who volunteer to answer online questions. A number of firefly counters see their efforts as helping scientists. Some believe that the count can have an impact on environmental concern, but other are unconvinced that there is a link between human activities and environmental problems. Overwhelmingly, people surveyed enjoyed participating.

“It helps build a bridge between scientists and the public,” said Cook. “People get to know and talk with scientists, connecting to their work.” The bridge helps people not only develop a positive attitude about science but also helps encourage kids to try science.

MISSION CONTROL

This year, Lori Tanner joined the project as well. Tanner is part of the Clemson IT ivision and runs the Digital Learning Resource center, where firefly mission control set up in the library. The center looked like a high-tech movie set with projections of stunningly sharp digital images, maps and displays of Internet chatter about the firefly project.

Tanner is a specialist in social media — the buzz of the digital communities populating the Internet. Weeks ahead of time, Tanner and recent biosystems engineering graduate Devin Schultze kept the web-based world informed about preparations for the count and how to participate. Well more than 40,000 people were reached digitally.

Firefly Project TweetIn previous years, older people were the largest group of firefly counters. The 2014 counters in their late 20s to mid 30s comprised the larger group, a shift Lyons attributes to an increased use of social media.

By the end of the May kickoff night, nearly 500 people had reported firefly counts. Two months later, it had risen to more than 3,095 — one from Italy. They had reported seeing more than 62,400 fireflies.

Firefly APPThe Vanishing Firefly Project is on the glow.

Additional resources:
The New York Times article about the Vanishing Firefly Project.

CBS Sunday Morning recently produced a story about synchronous fireflies in Tennessee.

My Clemson: Kate Blackmon ’81

Kate Blackmon '81

The technical knowledge I gained in my first undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Clemson, combined with more human-centered history and English literature classes there, has enabled me to take on a wide variety of challenges in managing human and technical systems. Currently this is as senior proctor of the University of Oxford, a post that dates back to the 1100s.

Two colleges elect proctors each year, and a third elects an assessor. We uphold the University’s statutes and regulations, attend key committees, oversee all examinations, attend official university ceremonies and investigate student complaints and discipline. (But we can no longer hang students for misconduct!) The proctors and assessor are visible because we wear subfusc (academic dress) every day, as well a velvet-sleeved gown, ermine stole and hard-shell mortarboard on official occasions such as degree days (graduations, held in Latin) or the Queen’s Garden Party.

After my year as senior proctor, I will return to my “normal” life, where I am an associate professor of operations management at Oxford’s Said Business School, and a fellow and tutor in management studies at Merton College, which is celebrating the 750th anniversary of its founding this year.

The radical ideas and passion that resulted in a university

In my inaugural address at Commencement May 9, I spoke about the upcoming 125th anniversary of the University’s founding. In November 1889, the state of South Carolina officially accepted the terms of Thomas Green Clemson’s will to establish a scientific institution on the grounds of his Fort Hill home.

But the story of Clemson University begins much earlier than that. It started with a set of ideas and the passion to make them happen.

These were radical ideas for the mid-19th century:

  • The idea that education and research could lift a state and a people out of poverty and despair.
  • The idea that education should not be limited to an elite class.
  • The idea that institutions should serve their states and be engaged with their communities.

All of us at Clemson today are the beneficiaries of the vision — and the bequest — of our founders.

These ideas helped shape the Morrill Act of 1862, which created our national network of land-grant universities. Many of these ideas were actually developed, articulated and championed by Thomas Green Clemson. Mr. Clemson wrote and spoke often about the idea of scientific education as the path to prosperity. In the late 1860s he wrote, “Our condition is wretched in the extreme. There is, in my opinion, no hope for the South short of widespread scientific education.”

When his wife, Anna, preceded Thomas in death, she left him the land and her resources, which he later bequeathed to the state of South Carolina. This would be used to fund the college that came from their shared dreams — which he called a “high seminary of learning.”

All of us at Clemson today are the beneficiaries of the vision — and the bequest — of our founders.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, the landmark federal legislation that created the Cooperative Extension Service. Through that statewide network, the land-grant promise became a reality.

Like the Morrill Act, the Smith-Lever Act has a direct link back to Clemson. The national Extension network was based on the “Clemson model,” and Congressman Frank Lever, one of the co-authors of the legislation, was a Clemson trustee. He is buried in Woodland Cemetery, on our campus.

The connection among the Clemson will, the Act of Acceptance and the Smith-Lever Act is that they created a unique and permanent partnership between Clemson University and the state of South Carolina. That partnership distinguishes Clemson from every other institution of higher learning in the state.

In this partnership, those of us at Clemson make an important promise. We promise to make a difference, not just for our students, but also in the lives of all the people in this state. And we make a difference by holding true to three commitments.

First, we commit that we will provide the highest possible level of academic quality. Mr. Clemson wrote that this new education system “is the only hope for South Carolina, and … that it will give life, vigor and prosperity to unborn thousands … .” I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Clemson set the bar pretty high for all of us!

Second, we commit that our campus is the state of South Carolina. We pledge to be actively engaged in every county of South Carolina. Clemson has never been content to remain isolated behind a set of walls. We go where the problems are — where the opportunities are — and where the challenges are.

Third, we commit to support the state’s economic development. Mr. Clemson’s will speaks directly to our responsibility to the economic health of South Carolina. One of the ways we can help to deliver on this promise is through research and innovation.

Holding fast to these commitments will ensure that we meet the high standards set by Mr. Clemson to provide an outstanding education for our students and keep our promise to South Carolina.

I am honored to work alongside all of you to achieve these ambitious goals.

Go Tigers!

Jim Clements

Vanishing Fireflies: The Making of a Cover

AKA: Dresses, Preschoolers and Fireflies … Oh My!

CWSF2014cover

When you’re a photographer with a kid, pictures can go one of two ways. The first being that your child is so used to having photos taken, they act like a tiny model and keep trying to help. The second being they have had their picture made so often, that they run when the camera comes out.

Luckily, I have the former … most days. So when I asked my 4-year-old daughter if she wanted to wear one of her favorite dresses, stay up WAY past bedtime and catch fireflies, she was totally on board.

Night # 1

On went the dress and out came the Mason jar. The camera and lighting were ready; all we needed was a few fireflies.

So the three of us headed out. I named my husband, Mike, as Assistant Firefly Catcher. Our daughter, Savana, was obviously in charge because she would yell and point out every firefly that blinked while he ran around trying to grab them out of the air.

**Disclaimer** No fireflies were harmed during the making of this photo.

Mike and I had a “back in our day” moment when we realized just how few fireflies were available for catching, compared to when we were kids. So in the end we had about four fireflies in the jar. Of course, once they were in the jar, they wouldn’t blink for anything.

But Savana was a trooper and an extremely patient 4-year-old, and Mike was my helpful lighting assistant.

We tried multiple angles with Savana looking in the jar, different lighting exposures and even a few landscape long exposures (a full minute) of just the yard. With the yard exposures I was hoping to capture their little lights blinking in the distance, but there were just too few to make a difference. And we had a small window of time to work with them. Too early in the evening, it was still too bright so we couldn’t see them to catch them; too late and they were already gone, no blinking to be seen.

The next day I brought in the photos and discussed the options with the team in Creative Services. I received a lot of helpful guidance and decided to give it another go with better ideas in mind to really highlight our little blinking friends.


Night #2

Savana and I headed back out and again only caught about three fireflies. This time we added some field grass to the jar to give them a little playground while we worked. The first night, I was lighting Savana’s face but failing to light the fireflies well enough for photos. This time I had her sit on the ground and turned on a small battery-powered video light, which went under the fabric of her dress to slightly diffuse it, and she rested her jar on top of the light.

I started with some close-ups of our main subjects, and they were more than helpful this time around. The fireflies were much more active in the jar that night, crawling everywhere and even giving us a couple of blinks, although the longer the light was on, the less they blinked.

When I was just about done, I wanted to try a few with the light on Savana’s face as well. We unscrewed the lid, and she looked down into the jar.

Once the lid was gone, I had beautiful soft light on her face and the natural wonder that a 4-year-old brings to the table.

Once I had the shots down to the best ones, I headed into Photoshop to really make the fireflies stand out. There was one main firefly in perfect position and all he needed was a little oomph added to make him stand out. Other than that, this shot is pretty much straight from the camera. A little skill and a lot of luck went into this particular photo. Fireflies don’t take direction well.

This assignment was so much fun and a great way for me to try to think outside of the box, made even better by having the opportunity to include my family. It was such a wonderful learning experience for both my daughter and me and, as always, I’m definitely looking forward to the next challenge.

*CW-C1-fireflies