Seven Faculty Win Top Awards for Early Career Achievement

Seven assistant professors are receiving some of the nation’s top awards for faculty who are early in their careers, providing a boost to Clemson’s research in smart materials, supercomputers, environmental sustainability, math education and soil science.
Their awards came from three separate federal agencies, each of which have grant programs aimed at supporting researchers early in their careers, including several hundred thousand dollars in research funding.
1 | Fadi Abdeljawad
assistant professor of mechanical engineering
Army Research Office Young Investigator Program Award

Abdeljawad and his team are working to better understand how nanocrystalline metallic alloys respond to extreme environments. Their work could be the next step in creating a new generation of alloys with unprecedented properties, resulting in lighter, more fuel-efficient cars and airplanes.
2 | Abby Allen
assistant professor of special education
Institute of Education Sciences’ Early Career Award
Allen is researching and designing a sentence writing intervention for students with learning disabilities. She hopes to fill both a research and practice gap she first noticed during her time as an elementary school speech-language pathologist.
3 | Jon Calhoun
assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering
National Science Foundation CAREER Award
Calhoun’s project is aimed at helping engineers and scientists use supercomputers to solve increasingly large problems, potentially clearing the way for new research ranging from predicting the weather to designing better airplanes.
4 | Carlos Gomez
assistant professor of education
National Science Foundation CAREER award
Gomez will use the grant to characterize and analyze the developing mathematical identities of Latinx students transitioning from elementary to middle-grade mathematics. He is interested in how mathematics and language intersect, especially for students who are pulling double duty learning math and the English language for the first time.
5 | Kara Powder
assistant professor of biological sciences
National Science Foundation CAREER Award
Powder investigates gene regulatory elements that determine craniofacial development and evolution. Insights from Powder’s research may someday provide targets for gene therapies addressing craniofacial malformations, which occur in about 70 percent of all human birth defects.
6 | Ulf Schiller
assistant professor of materials science and engineering
National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Schiller and his team will employ sophisticated supercomputing techniques to better understand complex fluids, a step toward creating new smart materials that could potentially be used in energy storage, drug delivery and water treatment, and have applications in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
7 | Rongzhong Ye
assistant professor of plant and environmental sciences

National Science Foundation CAREER Award
Ye studies soil biogeochemistry to understand physical, chemical and biological processes that affect microbial communities, soil health and crop production. The grant will allow him to extend his research in identifying the links between soil microbial communities and soil functions in agriculture. 

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