Summer Clemson Fun

Summer ScholarsAre you exploring summer possibilities for your children or grandchildren? Do you have a high school student interested in attending Clemson? Clemson University Summer Scholars offers weeklong sessions May 31-August 1 for high-achieving middle and high school students on topics that range from architecture and engineering to packaging science and professional golf management. The early bird registration deadline is April 1.

 | Clemson sponsors numerous other overnight camps and day camps for elementary, middle and high school students. Go to for more information.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Regret illustrationHow many times have you wished you could give your younger self a piece of advice? Clemson psychology professor Robin Kowalski is willing to bet there’s not a single person who hasn’t thought about this at least once in the last year. According to her research, the odds are pretty good that she’s right.

Her latest article in the Journal of Social Psychology, “If I knew then what I know now: Advice to my younger self,” analyzes the results of two studies of more than 400 individuals 30 years of age or older. Kowalski said the results have been truly revealing about the nature of regret, how people can use it to self-actualize and what areas people tend to fixate on in their later years.

Q | You shouldn’t dwell on the past, right?

A | “My findings would suggest otherwise as long as you’re not obsessing about it,” Kowalski said. One-third of the participants in the study spontaneously thought about advice they would offer their younger selves at least once a week.

Thinking about the past can help people conceptualize and even realize their “ideal self,” which reflects who the person thinks they would like to be. “Following the advice helped participants overcome regret,” Kowalski said. “When participants followed their advice in the present, they were much more likely to say that their younger selves would be proud of the person they are now.”

Q | What areas do people tend to focus on when it comes to advice to the younger self?

A | Kowalski said the top three areas are education, self-worth and relationships.

Advice tied to education often involved individuals urging themselves to return to or finish school, and many participants offered a timeline, such as “get master’s while in your 20s” or “finish college in four years.”

Advice related to self-worth, such as “be yourself” or “think through all options before making a decision,” tended to be more inspirational and corrective than the more temporal advice about education.

“My favorite piece of advice in the whole paper,” Kowalski said, “came from a guy who said ‘Do. Not. Marry. Her.’ That’s valuable for the person that he is now because he can reflect and have a better idea of what he’s looking for in an ideal mate, plus he can offer advice to others.”

Q | Will this research make it more likely that children will follow their parents’ advice?

A | “No,” Kowalski laughed, “but that’s an interesting way of looking at things because I think children between 10 and 30 tend to deny how similar they are to their parents. If they embraced it, they might be more likely to listen to the advice their parents would have given to their younger selves, and the closest thing to that younger self is their children.”

Q | What could a young Robin Kowalski learn from today’s Robin Kowalski?

A | “I would do high school totally differently. I was so academically focused, so I think I would tell myself to have a little bit more fun and enjoy high school a little more.”

Advancing Biomedical Research in South Carolina

Statewide team lands funding to explore solutions to biomedical challenges

Naren Vyavahare

Naren Vyavahare

In its first decade, SC BioCRAFT matched seasoned mentors with 23 early-career researchers. They went on to generate $35 million for research into spinal cord injuries, new ways of growing vascular tissue for grafts and a wide range of other biomedical challenges.

Now the South Carolina Bioengineering Center for Regeneration and Formation of Tissues has received $5.7 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to fund the next five years of research on treatments for illnesses ranging from diabetes to heart disease.

Researchers involved in the center have been awarded 24 patents, spun off four start-up companies and generated 304 articles in peer-reviewed publications.

SC BioCRAFT began operating in 2009 under the direction of Naren Vyavahare, the Hunter Endowed Chair of Bioengineering at Clemson. “It feels good to know that we have junior faculty who have been so successful and have their own independent labs because of this center,” Vyavahare said. “SC BioCRAFT is playing a key role in building the biomedical research infrastructure in South Carolina.”

The center’s primary mission is to increase the number of South Carolina biomedical researchers who receive funding for their work from the National Institutes of Health. The research theme revolves around regenerative medicine, a fast-growing field that offers the promise of repairing and regenerating diseased tissues.

The center brings together researchers, clinicians and other health care professionals from across the state to advance biomedical research. Clemson researchers collaborate closely with colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina and Prisma Health.

Clemson is now home to three Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, including the South Carolina Center for Translational Research Improving Musculoskeletal Health and the Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center.

Tanju Karanfil, Clemson’s vice president for research, said that the success of SC BioCRAFT is helping fuel a trend toward collaboration among institutions. “Each institution brings its own strengths and ways of looking at the various health care challenges we face,” he said. “Bringing them together leads to innovative solutions that might have eluded us if we were to work on our own. SC BioCRAFT and our other Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence are great examples of that concept in action.”

Blenner Receives Presidential Award

Six other early-career faculty also recognized

An associate professor whose research could help enable long-term space missions and search for some of the globe’s most destructive weapons has received the U.S. government’s highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers.

Mark Blenner, the McQueen-Quattlebaum Associate Professor in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Blenner was among 311 researchers nationwide, including two from South Carolina, honored with the award, according to the White House. Blenner is the fifth Clemson researcher to win the award since it was commissioned in 1996 by the cabinet-level National Science and Technology Council. The nominating agency for Blenner’s award was NASA, and he was one of 18 from the administration to win.

Blenner and his team are working to engineer yeast to convert respiration carbon dioxide, algae biomass and urine into 3D printable plastics and nutritional omega-3 fats. Astronauts on missions to Mars, for example, could use the plastics to make new tools and use the omega-3 fatty acids for maintaining health.

Six other Clemson researchers are bringing home some of the nation’s other top awards for junior faculty members — honors that come with new opportunities to advance technology that could lead to a more sustainable environment, safer water supplies, robotic cars and a faster, more secure internet.

1 | Eric Davis, chemical and biomolecular engineering (National Science Foundation). Davis and his team are researching new materials aimed at reducing the cost of large-scale energy storage technologies. Their success could mean that utilities would be able to introduce more renewable energy to the electrical grid and reduce the amount of fossil fuels that need to be burned.

2 | Ben Jaye, mathematical and statistical sciences (National Science Foundation). Jaye is working to understand the structure of high-dimensional sets through the analysis of geometric wavelets. He also is seeking to increase undergraduate student participation in mathematical research with the introduction of an annual research symposium, and to advance educational activities at the graduate and postdoctoral levels.

3 | Hongxin Hu, computer science (National Science Foundation). Hu and his team are developing new security functions to protect computer networks from attacks, including a virtual intrusion detection system that would detect attacks and a virtual firewall system that would repel them.

4 | Yunyi Jia, automotive engineering (National Science Foundation). Jia and his team are studying what it will take to make people more comfortable with robots, like autonomous vehicles and collaborative robots involved in advanced manufacturing.

5 | Judson Ryckman, electrical and computer engineering (U.S. Air Force). Ryckman’s team is working to create smaller and more efficient photonic devices. The research could lead to improvements in a wide range of industries and products, including faster internet downloads and self-driving cars better equipped to navigate city streets.

6 | Ezra Cates, environmental engineering (Environmental Protection Agency). Cates and his team are studying how to break down and remove toxic chemicals from water. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are man-made chemicals that have contaminated drinking water supplies and groundwater at several sites around the country.

A Partnership for Life-Changing Opportunities

Wells Fargo Luncheon

Emerging Scholars and Call Me MISTER® are two of the leading diversity initiatives at Clemson to provide students with the knowledge, desire and resources to pursue higher education.

Emerging Scholars works with students from South Carolina’s I-95 Corridor (a chain of predominantly rural, underserved communities running from the North Carolina border to South Carolina’s southern tip at the Georgia border), concentrating on academic preparation, leadership skills and the college application process. The mission of Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) is to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader, more diverse background particularly among the state’s lowest performing elementary schools. Established at Clemson, the program has expanded to other colleges in the state and serves as a model for nine other states.

A strong partnership between Wells Fargo and Clemson, including a shared commitment to the life-changing and transformative power of education, has allowed these programs to continue to grow and significantly impact education throughout South Carolina. In 2015, there were six Emerging Scholars enrolled at Clemson. Four years later, 50 Emerging Scholars are enrolled. Over the past 19 years, 272 male South Carolinians have become Call Me MISTER graduates — 52 of those graduated from Clemson.

With a recent gift of $300,000, Wells Fargo continues to support these initiatives. “Wells Fargo’s longstanding financial support for Call Me MISTER and the Emerging Scholars Program has provided a sustainability track for two of Clemson’s most venerated programs. This allows them to continue advancing toward achieving our inclusion and equity goals as a land-grant university,” said Lee Gill, chief inclusion and equity officer and special assistant to the president for inclusion and equity. 

Emerging Scholars