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.


Cadence Count: Clemson University Graduate School


Here’s just a snapshot of what graduate students contribute to the Clemson Experience:

One in five active Creative Inquiry teams is led or co-led by a Clemson graduate student.The vast majority of our alumni are undergraduates, and for many of us, when we talk about the “Clemson Experience,” we’re thinking about those four (or more) years we experienced on campus working on our bachelor’s degrees.

What you may not know is that 20 percent of current Clemson students are graduate students, working on master’s or doctoral degrees in fields as diverse as Clemson graduate theses and dissertations have 500,000+ downloads around the world.human-centered computing, automotive engineering, and travel and tourism. While those students go to class and perform research, they also teach and run labs, work in departments across campus, and add to Clemson’s reputation in the world with their transformative research.

Clemson Degrees conferred


Clemson Center for Human Genetics opens in Greenwood

Self Regional Hall, a new 17,000-square-foot, state-of-the art facility that will house the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics, has opened on the campus of the Greenwood Genetic Center.

The facility will enable Clemson’s growing genetics program to collaborate closely with the long tradition of clinical and research excellence at the Greenwood Genetic Center, combining basic science and clinical care. The center will initially focus on discovering and developing early diagnostic tools and therapies for autism, cognitive developmental disorders, oncology and lysosomal disorders. The building will house eight laboratories and several classrooms, conference rooms and offices for graduate students and faculty.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six children between the ages of 3 and 17, roughly 15 percent, suffers from some type of developmental disorder.

“Opening Self Regional Hall means that we will be able to do even more to help children with genetic disorders, and their families, and to educate graduate students who will go out into the world and make their own impact,” said President James P. Clements.

“As the parent of a child with special needs, the kind of research that you are doing here is especially meaningful and important to me and my family,” Clements said during the event. “As you all know, an early diagnosis can make a huge difference for a child and their family because the earlier you can figure out what a child needs, the earlier you can intervene and begin treatment.”

“Self Regional Hall is a state-of-the-art facility that provides the resources our scientists need to understand the genetic underpinnings of disorders,” said Mark Leising, interim dean of the College of Science at Clemson. “This facility, and its proximity to the Greenwood Genetic Center, elevates our ability to attract the brightest scientific talent to South Carolina and enhances our efforts to tackle genetic disorders.”

The facility’s name recognizes the ongoing support from Self Regional Healthcare, a health care system in Upstate South Carolina that has grown from the philanthropy of the late James P. Self, a textile magnate who founded Self Memorial Hospital in 1951.

“Self Regional Healthcare’s vision is to provide superior care, experience and value. This vision includes affording our patients with access to cutting-edge technology and the latest in health care innovation — and genomic medicine, without a doubt, is the future of health care,” said Jim Pfeiffer, president and CEO of Self Regional Healthcare. “The research and discoveries that will originate from this center will provide new options for those individuals facing intellectual and developmental disabilities, and will provide our organization with innovative capabilities and treatment options for our patients.”

“We are pleased to welcome Clemson University to Greenwood as the first academic partner on our Partnership Campus,” added Dr. Steve Skinner, director of the Greenwood Genetic Center. “This is the next great step in a collaboration that has been developing over the past 20-plus years. We look forward to our joint efforts with both Clemson and Self Regional Healthcare to advance the research and discoveries that will increase our understanding and treatment of human genetic disorders.”

Katsiyannis honored with Class of ’39

Antonis KatsiyannisThe 2016 Class of ’39 Award for Excellence was announced at the December faculty meeting, but the official presentation to Antonis Katsiyannis took place in February in front of the bell that bears the names of all those who share the honor.

Katsiyannis, who holds the title of alumni distinguished professor in special education, is known for his teaching, his research and his service, both in and beyond the University. Now he has the added designation of being an honorary member of the Class of 1939, which endowed the award to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the class. Recipients are chosen by their faculty peers to represent the highest achievement of service to the student body, University and community, state or nation.

“I am humbled with this distinct recognition,” said Katsiyannis. “I am thrilled to be at a university with world class faculty, bright students and dynamic leaders. The spirit of the Class of ’39 is well and alive in all Clemson does!”

Katsiyannis was recently recognized with the 2017 Outstanding Leadership Award by the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders in recognition of his wide-ranging and exemplary service in the field of special education. He has published 180 articles in legal and policy issues and delinquency in professional journals, such as Behavioral Disorders, Exceptional ChildrenRemedial and Special EducationFordham Urban Law Review, and the Journal of Special Education. He serves as an associate editor for Remedial and Special Education and Intervention in School and Clinic and just completed a five-year term as co-editor of the Journal of Disability Policy Studies.

He has mentored numerous graduate and undergraduate students in publishing in professional journals and serves as a co-investigator of a federally funded grant — Project EXPERTISE. He also is president of the Council for Exceptional Children.
He has served as president of Clemson’s Faculty Senate and has been active in community-based activities for children with developmental disabilities such as TOPSoccer and Challenger League (baseball).

Thin Ice

Assistant Professor of Art Todd Anderson is a printmaker, skilled at transferring beauty and wonder from landscapes onto paper. His most recent project, The Last Glacier, involved hiking more than 500 miles through Glacier National Park over the last six years.