Students help island nation still recovering from devastating storm

A worker uses a net to scoop leaves out of a cistern that provides drinking water to about 5,000 residents in southern Dominica. Students in Engage Dominica are making plans to cap the cistern.

A worker uses a net to scoop leaves out of a cistern that provides drinking water to about 5,000 residents in southern Dominica. Students in Engage Dominica are making plans to cap the cistern.

About 5,000 residents near the southern tip of Dominica learned just how precarious their water supply was when Tropical Storm Erika’s torrential rains caused a creek to breach the cistern that holds their treated drinking water.

With their usual supply contaminated, drinking water had to be shipped to the Caribbean island. But a landslide caused by heavy rains blocked the only road into the area. There was no dock, so large boats couldn’t access the area, and the smaller fishing boats weren’t seaworthy in stormy weather.

The drinking water eventually recovered from the August 2015 storm, but it remains vulnerable. For a group of Clemson students, it’s among the first challenges in a new global engagement program, Engage Dominica. Eight of the program’s 20 students went to the island nation over spring break to begin gathering information on 10 separate projects, including upgrades to the water treatment system.

They returned to Clemson with reams of data and are compiling a presentation they will use to start building support with the Dominican government, the Cardinal Felix Foundation and other groups that might want to collaborate.

Jared Delk, a sophomore civil engineering student, said he liked having the chance to create a project from scratch, helping design it, build it and make final adjustments at the end. “Just knowing all that, it was one of the best trips I’ve taken,” he said. “It was amazing to know that the ideas that are coming from me could help people.”

Morgan Corp. officials donated a LiDAR scanner and then posed for photos with students, who used it during their trip to Dominica.

Morgan Corp. officials donated a LiDAR scanner and then posed for photos with students, who used it during their trip to Dominica.

Jennifer Ogle, an associate professor of civil engineering, leads Engage Dominica. “These students are working hard to build their own organization and their own agenda and relationships in Dominica,” she said. “This program helps position them to have a global impact now and after they graduate.” The projects the Clemson students are pursuing include a cap for the cistern and designs for a pier to support emergency evacuation, fishing and tourism. They also have plans for a basketball court that will direct rainwater around a low-lying primary school while giving the students a place to play.

Engage Dominica already has corporate support, which is seen as a key to success. Morgan Corp., a heavy civil contractor whose corporate office is located in Duncan, recently donated a LiDAR scanner to the program. Students used the scanner to collect images and point clouds of the proposed project sites in Dominica. Using this data, students can measure distances between any two points with a degree of accuracy within a few millimeters as well as create 3D models.

Broadening the path to higher education

“If you don't have an 'I Am,' someone will have a 'You Are'," said Khalilah Shabazz of Indiana University, demonstrating how men of color are labeled. “Have a clear definition of yourself!”“If you don’t have an ‘I Am,’ someone will have a ‘You Are’,” said Khalilah Shabazz of Indiana University, demonstrating how men of color are labeled. “Have a clear definition of yourself!”

This spring, as most districts were preparing to end the school year, Clemson was focused on helping minority students who too often never make it to graduation day.

Clemson’s inaugural Men of Color National Summit was held in late April at the TD Convention Center in Greenville. The summit’s mission is to close the achievement gap for African-American and Hispanic males, who trail other demographic groups in high school graduation and college enrollment rates. This now-annual event will benefit students and their communities by identifying and promoting strategies that foster success from cradle to career.

Educators, business professionals, advocates and community leaders from 27 states attended. At the heart of the event is the Tiger Alliance — a cohort of 325 ninth through 11th-grade students from the Upstate and I-95 corridor. The 2017-18 Tiger Alliance cohort’s experience at the summit included meeting inspiring role models and attending workshops that emphasized proven, real-life skills.

The summit enjoyed strong support from the Upstate, including presenting sponsors, the city of Greenville and Greenville County. The nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show” broadcast live from the summit.

In addition to 30 breakout session speakers, high-profile keynotes included Tavis Smiley, host of the PBS talk show “Tavis Smiley” and PRI’s “The Tavis Smiley Show”; John Quiñones, journalist and host of the ABC newsmagazine “What Would You Do?”; Desmond Howard, Heisman Trophy winner and ESPN college football analyst; Roy Jones, executive director of Clemson’s Call Me MISTER® program; Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League; and David J. Johns, former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.

With the support of Clemson President James P. Clements, the event was spearheaded by Lee A. Gill, Clemson’s chief diversity officer and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence. Gill gives the lion’s share of the credit to co-chairs Chuck Knepfle, associate vice president for enrollment management, and Julio Hernandez, associate director for Hispanic outreach, as well as a host of dedicated staff and volunteers.

A 20-year higher education veteran, Gill came to Clemson in 2016 from the University of Akron, where he had led the Black Male Summit for nine years. He hailed the first Clemson summit as a huge success.

“The Clemson summit exceeded my wildest dreams,” Gill said. “It took us nine years at Akron to reach the 2000-person level. In our first year here, to attract some 1,700 people was just outstanding. From the very start, the city of Greenville, the County of Greenville and the superintendents of the school districts understood the importance and possibilities for this event. Their support went beyond anything I ever imagined.” Gill added, “The Tiger Alliance is where the rubber meets the road. This is where our emphasis will be from now into 2018 and for years to come.”

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Confirmed keynotes for the 2018 summit include Roland Martin, Michael Eric Dyson and Marc Lamont Hill.

Undergraduates capture prestigious Goldwater, Truman awards

Killian McDonald is the second Clemson student ever to be named a Truman Scholar.

Killian H. McDonald

Clemson students have demonstrated to the nation this year that their education has prepared them to compete with anyone in the country. This year, two students were awarded Goldwater Scholarships and another was the second Clemson student ever to be named a Truman Scholar.

Killian H. McDonald of Columbia, a junior political science and women’s leadership double major, has been named a 2017 Truman Scholar. McDonald is Clemson’s first Truman Scholar since 1979 and the second Clemson student ever to receive the award.

The Truman Scholarship is a prestigious, highly competitive graduate scholarship program for aspiring public service leaders in the United States. Sixty-two Truman Scholarships were given this year to college juniors who are planning careers in public service, according to Ricki Shine, director of major fellowships for Clemson. The 2017 Truman Scholars were selected from among a near-record number of applications, with 768 applications and nominations from 315 colleges and universities — the highest number in the scholarship’s history.

As a Truman Scholar, McDonald will receive a scholarship to be used toward graduate school, along with opportunities to participate in professional development programming and internships to help her prepare for a career in public service leadership.

“I am so excited to have been selected as a Truman Scholar,” McDonald wrote. “This scholarship reaffirms and supports my goal of entering public service and fighting for women’s rights. It is an honor to be a part of the Truman community and connect with mentors who can help me become a great public servant.”

Two students, Caitlin Seluzicki and Jessica Zielinski, have been awarded Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, considered one of the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate awards. Another, Bridget Luckie, received an honorable mention.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premiere undergraduate award in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation awarded 240 scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. An additional 307 nominees received honorable mentions. The scholars were selected from a field of 1,286 students nominated by campus representatives from among 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide.

Seluzicki, a microbiology major, and Zielinski, a biochemistry major, will receive one-year scholarships that will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500. Though Luckie will not receive any funds, she will share in the prestige. Goldwater scholars and honorable mentions often go on to win numerous distinguished awards during their collegiate careers.

Pershing Rifles’ precision earns national championship

Pershing Rifles at Clemson UniversityFor the ninth time in school history, Company C-4 of the Pershing Rifles has claimed the national championship in drill competition. The 30-member unit brought the top prize back to the Upstate in competition last month in Jacksonville, Fla., against 14 other teams.

“The achievement by these young men and women is a testament to their discipline and perseverance,” said Lt. Col. K. Todd Crawford ’96, professor of military leadership. “Through precision and expert technique, Company C-4 established itself as the most elite drill team at the Pershing Rifles National Convention.”

Company C-4, commanded by Capt. Evan Dunker, a senior from Aiken, was first established in 1939 at Clemson. The Pershing Rifles unit is a professional military fraternity dedicated to preserving Clemson’s military heritage by performing as color guards, and doing 21-gun salutes and professional drill routines during ceremonial occasions around the Clemson community.

“We are proud to have upheld Clemson’s military heritage by winning this competition,” Dunker said. “Our unit showed tremendous discipline and dedication in being selected as the best in the country. It’s an honor to have brought this standard of excellence back to the Clemson campus.”

Though comprised primarily of ROTC students, Pershing Rifles is open to civilians on campus also. Dunker said the standards are high and that solid academics, sound character and being physically fit are prerequisites to making the grade. In winning the Pershing Rifles Varsity Rifles Championship, Company C-4 competed in every event and won first place in Platoon Regulation and Squad Exhibition competitions.

The National Society of Pershing Rifles was founded in 1894 by Lt. John J. Pershing, a professor of military science at the University of Nebraska. Pershing later became general of the armies.

Eight win NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

This year’s crop of NSF Graduate Research Fellows included (from left) Jacqueline Rohde, Lauren Pruett, Lauren Gambill and John Sherwood. Not pictured are Sarah Donaher, Kylie Gomes, Shyla Kupis and Brandt Ruszkiewicz.

This year’s crop of NSF Graduate Research Fellows included (from left) Jacqueline Rohde, Lauren Pruett, Lauren Gambill and John Sherwood. Not pictured are Sarah Donaher, Kylie Gomes, Shyla Kupis and Brandt Ruszkiewicz.

One of the nation’s top honors for graduate students is going to eight from Clemson, putting them in the same club as several Nobel Prize winners, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and “Freakonomics” co-author Steven Levitt.

The students are receiving Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. A fellowship is recognition that the recipient shows high promise in becoming a knowledge expert who can contribute significantly to research, teaching and innovations in science and engineering.

Each fellow receives a $34,000 annual stipend and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance. The money supports graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in science and engineering. The NSF received more than 13,000 applications for the 2017 competition and made 2,000 award offers to students from 449 institutions.

This year’s crop of Graduate Research Fellowships underscores the success of Clemson’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program. Two students who received fellowships and one student who received an honorable mention are in the inaugural graduating class of Grand Challenge Scholars at Clemson.

In 2014, Clemson became the 19th engineering school in the nation to offer a Grand Challenges Scholars Program, which is aimed at helping students prepare to become world-changing engineers.

These Clemson students received research fellowships:

  • Sarah Donaher, senior, environmental engineering major and Grand Challenge Scholar.
  • Lauren Gambill, senior, biochemistry major.
  • Kylie Gomes, graduate student, industrial engineering.
  • Shyla Kupis, graduate student, environmental engineering.
  • Lauren Pruett, senior, bioengineering major.
  • Jacqueline Rohde, senior, bioengineering major and Grand Challenge Scholar.
  • Brandt Ruszkiewicz, graduate student, automotive engineering.
  • John Sherwood, graduate student, environmental engineering.

Seven researchers earn NSF CAREER awards

Luiz Jacobsohn

Luiz Jacobsohn is working to find the most effective material for use in radiation scintillators, which will lead to a reduction in the radiation dose in medical treatments.

How can we keep food fresh with less energy during cold storage and transportation? What’s the best way to manage water supplies during extreme drought? How can we get personalized medications to patients faster?

Seven Clemson researchers will tackle these questions, and others, thanks to competitive awards from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program totaling more than $2.7 million. CAREER awards are investments in some of the country’s most promising young researchers, providing a boost to their careers and to the quest for answers.

Clemson has experienced increasing success in winning CAREER awards. There currently are 31 active projects funded by CAREER awards; 30 University faculty members have received awards since 2010, including seven each in 2016 and 2017.

“These CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation are a testament to the talent, dedication and ingenuity of Clemson’s faculty,” said Tanju Karanfil, vice president for research. “Not only are these faculty working to solve some of society’s most pressing problems, they are providing the highest quality education to our undergraduate and graduate students.”

The 2017 CAREER Award winners are:

Luiz Jacobsohn (pictured above), assistant professor of materials science and engineering. Jacobsohn’s quest is for the most effective material for use in radiation scintillators, which detect radiation in a number of applications, from medical imaging to national security.

Sophie Jörg

Sophie Jörg

Sophie Jörg, assistant professor of digital production arts. Jörg works to make the virtual world more realistic. With the NSF grant, she will develop and refine the complex and subtle movements of hands and fingers.

Amin Khademi

Amin Khademi

Amin Khademi, assistant professor of industrial engineering. Khademi is tackling the complex and complicated process of bringing pharmaceuticals and other products to market and to patients, by developing new mathematical methods for carrying out clinical trials.

Ashok Mishra

Ashok Mishra

Ashok Mishra, assistant professor of civil engineering. As a water resource engineer, Mishra is creating mathematical models to characterize extreme drought events that can improve water security in a changing environment.

Simona Onori

Simona Onori

Simona Onori, assistant professor of automotive engineering. Onori, a control engineer, is helping make the world a cleaner place. Her research involves multiscale modeling to develop advanced controls that will mitigate emissions in new-generation vehicles.

Marissa Shuffler

Marissa Shuffler

Marissa Shuffler, assistant professor of industrial and organizational psychology. Porter received a rare award for behavioral research. Her work focuses on improving the ways teamwork and leadership are taught in organizations.

Sapna Sarupria

Sapna Sarupria

Sapna Sarupria, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Sarupria is designing new materials for keeping things on ice. She’s using high-throughput screening to efficiently discover new materials that either inhibit or promote ice formation.

Words Matter

From March 29 – April 1, students involved with the Clemson Literary Festival bustled around campus introducing authors, doing microphone checks and thriving off adrenaline and coffee. On the backs of their navy blue t-shirts, white type spelled out, “Words Matter.” And the festival shows that indeed, they do.

In 2008, professors Keith Morris and Wayne Chapman began the Clemson Literary Festival as a Creative Inquiry. Over the past decade, the festival has presented a noteworthy array of authors, including former Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic.

As a Creative Inquiry, the Clemson Literary Festival is planned by students over the course of a full school year. While the larger, logistical tasks surface in the spring, the fall revolves around the core of the festival: the authors. During this initial semester, students and faculty members can offer authors for the screening and voting process. After weeks reading selections of dozens of contemporary writers, the students of the CI vote. Unlike the majority of other college-sponsored literary festival, the planning remains largely student-based.

“Some of our writers are teachers, some are lawyers, some are editors, some are stay-at-home parents, some have six-figure contracts with large publishing houses and movie options and some are still struggling to pay student loans, but all of them find value in the art of the written word,” said John Pursley, one of the CI professors. “I think it’s this congruence that really hits home with students hoping to work within the larger writing world.”

For the undergraduate organizers, the festival allows for hands-on, dynamic experience at the intersection of literature and event planning. Katy Koon, a graduating English major, said, “Lit Fest gave me the opportunity to plan, promote and execute events that connected my interest in literature with the Clemson community. I think it’s incredible that the collaborative efforts of a group of dedicated students made this whole thing possible.”

Collaboration serves as a key aspect within the process, as students choose certain areas and events to spearhead. Whether working with local media outlets, designing the brochure or developing a transportation schedule for authors, the directors of the festival stay busy while pursuing their personal interests.

One of the major events, the Young Writers Workshop, invites high school students from the area to share their work and learn from the festival authors. Casey Collins, a graduating English major who is headed toward a teaching career, said planning the event was her favorite part. “I gained some valuable event planning skills, but when I met the high schoolers and listened to them read their writing, I knew I had chosen the correct career path as a high school teacher,” she said. “It was so fulfilling getting to know them and hearing their voices in their work.”

Gabby Nugent, a graduate student in the English program, returned this year to help organize the festival. After graduating in 2014, Nugent pursued a career in publishing, landing jobs at The New Yorker and the Aragi Literary Agency. Even after her own personal successes, Nugent is still impressed by the Clemson Literary Festival. “Though the sheer volume of work that goes into planning a festival this size is dizzying,” she said, “this year’s group of undergraduate student directors was superb.”

2017 marked the 10th year for the Clemson Literary Festival, a milestone that celebrated and solidified the importance of the humanities on campus. And certainly, this year’s lineup reflected such an achievement with a wide selection of authors and the presence of Viet Thanh Nguyen as the headliner. Beyond his position as the chair of the English department at the University of Southern California, Nguyen won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his novel The Sympathizer.

During his reading, Nguyen shared selections from various works, while also providing personal anecdotes to the audience. In regards to his Pulitzer-winning work, Nguyen said, “Writing this book, writing The Sympathizer — I wrote it in 2011 to 2013 — at the time refugees, although they certainly existed, were not at the forefront of American consciousness, and now, of course, they are. And for me, it’s been really crucial to constantly assert wherever I go that I am not an immigrant. I am a refugee.”

After nearly a year of planning, the festival happens in four days: a whirlwind of readings, panels, venue set-ups and break-downs, airport trips and book signings. Hayes Owens, a graduating English major, admitted, “It’s definitely hard work and is very stressful at times.” Yet the overarching sentiment within the class was that of excitement and fulfillment. “Once the Festival comes around, all that stress and effort instantly pays off and somehow the busiest and most hectic week of your life is simultaneously the most fun week of your life as well,” said Owens.

The 11th annual Clemson Literary Festival will take place in the Spring of 2018 and will be sure to host another lineup of exceptional, diverse authors. For more information and updates, please visit the website at www.clemson.edu/litfest or the Facebook page.

Four students awarded Fulbright grants

Rachel Lang-Baldé

Before Rachel Lang-Baldé’s first trip to West Africa in 2002, she never knew anyone who had died in childbirth. During her almost four years spent in Guinea as an English teacher and consultant with community health and education nongovernmental organizations, she would come to know many mothers who wouldn’t survive to hold their own child or even hear their first cries.

One of her close friends, a doctor in Guinea named “Mama” Condé, became one of those mothers who died during childbirth. Condé and Lang-Baldé had often talked about doing research that would help shed light on birth outcomes and maternal health in Guinea. Thanks to a Fulbright U.S. student grant, Lang-Baldé is headed to Guinea in January to begin such research. A Ph.D. student in international family and community studies, Lang-Baldé is one of four Clemson students selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants this year. The grants provide funding to live and study abroad on research projects or to work as English teaching assistants.

The other Fulbright U.S. Student Program recipients from Clemson are:

Amanda Farthing, Danielle Gill and Rachel Lang-Baldé

Amanda Farthing, Danielle Gill and Rachel Lang-Baldé

  • Amanda Farthing, an industrial engineering major. She will spend her Fulbright year in Chile studying the development and optimization of solar energy.
  • Amanda Pridmore ’14 who majored in political science. She currently resides in Arlington, Va., and will spend her Fulbright year in Germany researching the funding and financing of Holocaust memorials.
  • Danielle Gill, a biological sciences major, was awarded an English teaching assistantship in Argentina, but has decided to enter a Ph.D. program in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Amanda Pridmore

Amanda Pridmore

Clemson also has two semifinalists this year: Caroline Hensley, a health science/English double major from Waxhaw, North Carolina, and Kaitlyn Scola, a genetics/microbiology major from Charlotte.

Spirit of fallen NASCAR driver lives on

Robert Prucka was still too young to legally drive a car by himself but not too young to work on engines when one of his favorite NASCAR drivers, Alan Kulwicki, died in a plane crash.

Now Prucka is taking on a new position at Clemson named for his fallen childhood hero.

Prucka, an automotive engineer whose passion for engines is alive as ever, is the new Kulwicki Endowed Professor in Motor Sports Engineering. His first big project will be guiding a team of graduate students and industry sponsors in building a next-generation Rallycross race car at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Engineering in Greenville.

“It’s awesome and it’s humbling,” Prucka said. “It’s a big responsibility to carry on his spirit. He left big shoes to fill.”

Kulwicki received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and applied what he learned to make his car go faster. When Kulwicki won the 1992 Winston Cup Championship, Prucka was a teenager growing up in Monroe, a small town amidst the cornfields south of Detroit. He was a NASCAR fan and the kind of kid who loved working on engines, whether they powered cars, chainsaws or lawnmowers. “Alan Kulwicki was an engineer, and he owned and drove his own car,” Prucka said. “He used his engineering knowledge to make his small team more successful. In the 1990s, it was rare.” Kulwicki and three others died on April 1, 1993, when a small plane crashed near Blountville, Tennessee. The plane had just left Knoxville, where Kulwicki had been signing autographs at a Hooters restaurant as part of his new sponsorship deal. Among those killed was Mark Brooks ’91, the 26-year-old son of former Hooters restaurants chairman Robert H. Brooks.

The elder Brooks, a Clemson alumnus, later provided the funds that allowed the University to establish the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, the Kulwicki Endowed Professorship and what is now called the Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute. He died at age 69 in 2006.

Prucka is now focusing much of his attention on Deep Orange 9. The ninth installment of the much-celebrated program will be the first aimed at motorsports. Rallycross cars are modified, high-horsepower road cars that compete in sprint races on dirt and paved tracks.

But the new Deep Orange car will be about more than racing. Students will also try to make the car safer and more fuel efficient while reducing emissions. “I love it,” Prucka said. “Deep Orange is a shining star, an example of the right way to educate students for industry. Cars are not four wheels and a steering wheel. They are a mobile electronics platform with advanced powertrains and miles of wire.

“They have the complexity of an airplane, and it’s tough to teach out of a textbook. You need to learn by doing. With Deep Orange, you teach them by building a vehicle.”

Students will also use sensors to track drivers’ eyes and reaction times. The information combined with artificial intelligence could help search for signs of concussion, a problem now largely self-diagnosed in racing.

Kulwicki died at age 38, but his legacy lives on in the way engineers have revolutionized NASCAR. “Today there’s an engineer on every pit box and at least two or three more back at the shop,” Prucka said. “It all started from him. It’s an essential part of being successful in motorsports.” Prucka, a member of the automotive engineering faculty since 2008, has long been central to the Brooks legacy at Clemson. He continues to be active in the Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute.