Students Earn Goldwater, Hollings, Tillman Scholarships

Melissa McCullough

Melissa McCullough

Clemson students are the recipients of premier national undergraduate scholarships this year.

Riley Garvey, a biosystems engineering major from Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Caleb Todd, an environmental and natural resources major from Summerville, S.C. are the recipients of the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship from the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The award supports two years of full-time study as well as a paid summer internship with the NOAA between the junior and senior year.

Clemson claimed three winners of the 2019 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a national undergraduate award in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Laura McCann, a chemistry major; Erin Mihealsick, a genetics and biochemistry major; and Benjamin Slimmer, a physics major, each 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.

Melissa McCullough (left), a Navy veteran and Ph.D. student, is among 60 U.S. service members, veterans and military spouses who have been named to the 11th class of Tillman Scholars. The scholarship is named for Pat Tillman, who left his NFL career to join the U.S. Army and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. Honorees are sharing in more than $1.2 million in scholarship funding this year. McCullough is pursuing her Ph.D. in bioengineering while teaching and working full-time as a bioinstrumentation lab manager.

Students interested in applying for these or other major fellowships should contact the Office of Major Fellowships at

Clemson, Duke Energy Partner on Mobile Engineering Lab

Mobile engineering labClemson and Duke Energy are hitting the road this fall behind the wheel of the Explore Mobile Lab, an innovative approach to educating middle school students across the Palmetto State about the critical and growing field of engineering.

The mobile STEM lab, made possible by a $400,000 gift from Duke Energy, was created to educate and engage young scientists and engineers who will be the future workforce for industries that will power communities in the 21st century.

As Duke Energy and other utilities build the smart-thinking grid of the future, having great minds on our team who understand science, technology, engineering and mathematics will be critical to our success,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s South Carolina state president. “Engineers will lead our efforts to build the smarter energy infrastructure necessary for our state. I cannot think of a better partner than Clemson University to work with on this project, and I know our efforts together are going to raise interest in the field of engineering as a career for young students across our state.”

The Explore Mobile Lab was unveiled at a ceremony in July with leaders from Duke Energy, Clemson and the community alongside seventh- and eighth-grade students participating in the Project WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) summer camp on campus, which also is sponsored by Duke Energy.

The mobile lab will be managed by the University’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. Student-focused activities are designed to show students how the math and science they learn in the classroom apply to real life.

Brad Putman, the college’s associate dean for undergraduate studies, said the lab’s goal is to help fix the “leaky pipeline” between school and industry. The drip tends to start in middle school, when the difficulty level rises and students start taking separate classes. That’s when some students start to peel away from the high-level math and science that are foundational to engineering.

This initiative comes at a time when demand for engineers continues to increase as government and industry work to meet the needs of a growing global population. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of engineering is expected to grow as much as 10 percent in the coming decade.

The Explore Mobile Lab will be making its way to 159 middle schools across the state beginning this fall.

News & Notes

STARS logoSilver star for sustainability efforts

Clemson has earned a STARS Silver rating for its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

First Forward logoFirst-generation success

Clemson has been recognized as a First Forward Institution by NASPA’s Center for First-Generation Student Success. This designation recognizes universities that have shown a commitment to the success of their first-generation student populations. About 14 percent of Clemson’s undergraduates are first-generation college students, and Clemson’s FIRST Generation Success Program provides these students with a support system as well as tools for success.

Digitizing history

Clemson’s Board of Trustees recently approved a new Ph.D. program in digital history — the nation’s first.

Find out more.

New cybersecurity offerings in Charleston area

In response to growth in Charleston’s technology industry, two Clemson faculty members are relocating to the Charleston area for a year. Engineering professors Harlan Russell and Kelly Caine will take the lead in creating new cybersecurity initiatives at the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center in North Charleston.

Applying big data to decision-making

Clemson is introducing a new master’s degree for working professionals interested in focusing on analyzing and applying big data to strategic decision-making.

Find out more about the online Master of Science in data science and analytics.

New scholarships available for transfer students

Students who transfer to Clemson from South Carolina technical colleges are now eligible for scholarships as part of a program backed by nearly $5 million from the National Science Foundation. The plan calls for more than 300 transfer students who plan to pursue bachelor’s degrees in engineering or computing to receive $3 million in need-based scholarships over the five-year life of the grant. The rest of the funding will pay for programs to support those transfer students as well as follow-up research on results.

More information at

Graduate calls on Clemson for help on massive set

Jesus Christ Superstar setMike East’s Charleston-based company, TTS Studios, was contracted to create the Jesus Christ Superstar set for the musical’s 50th anniversary U.S. tour, beginning in September. Plans called for another company to build the set for the earlier London production. At almost the 11th hour, the producers asked East to build the set for the London performances — by late May, at least three months earlier than planned.

The new timeline created a challenge: The large spaces in Charleston that could be used to construct a theater set were occupied with productions for the city’s annual Spoleto Festival.

A 2007 performing arts alumnus, East called his former colleagues at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts on the spur of the moment. Luckily, the Brooks Center was not being used during the last two weeks of May. Six Clemson students and two performing arts professors worked with six employees from TTS Studios to build the 32-foot-high set, one of the largest projects in the three-year history of the company.

The structure, designed by veteran set designers Tom Scutt and David Arsenault and which East describes as “post-apocalyptic,” has the appearance of an industrial steel grid — with a fallen steel cross in the center of the stage. The beams are actually aluminum covered by plywood.

On May 30, East’s massive set was disassembled and loaded into four tractor-trailers, driven to the Port of Charleston and shipped to London to be reassembled at the famed Barbican Centre.

The purpose of completely building the set only to disassemble it before it was shipped to London was “to make sure it’s going to work, that it’s safe,” East said. “It’s an abnormally high set.”

The set will return to the United States in the fall for a two-year national tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar” that journeys to major cities such as Philadelphia, Cleveland and Miami, and also swings by Greenville’s Peace Center for a week of performances in August 2020.

Sellout Crowd for Third Men of Color Summit

Freeman Hrabowski at Men of Color Summit 2019The 2019 Clemson University Men of Color National Summit opened with college professor, political commentator and TV personality Melissa Harris-Perry challenging the standing-room-only crowd of attendees to question the way we measure, define and reward achievement.

She encouraged attendees to think about “the stories we tell about the challenges facing our community, what questions we can use to challenge those stories and how these questions help us create more socially just outcomes.”

Held in May, this was the third year of the conference dedicated to help create college and career pathways for male students of color. The conference brought together 2,000 experts, educators, thought leaders and students from across the nation to share ideas, discuss what works and doesn’t work, and to consider what hasn’t yet been tried.

Attendees also chose from more than 45 breakout sessions covering topics such as “Seven Steps to Make Adversity Your Advantage” and “My Destiny Is Great. Now How Do I Get There?”

“The summit is an especially powerful experience for the students who attend because they are able to see for themselves how many people support their success,” said Julio Hernandez, chief of staff and associate director for Hispanic outreach in Clemson’s Division of Inclusion and Equity. “When resources are made available to these young men and they receive mentoring, their professional and personal growth is limitless.”

Clemson President Jim Clements introduced the 400 members of Tiger Alliance, a college access program designed for South Carolina African American and Hispanic males in grades nine through 12, and the 200 participants of Clemson’s Emerging Scholars program, which focuses on students from South Carolina’s I-95 corridor.

“I know we need to work harder to close the achievement gap that exists in this county,” Clements said, describing the work Clemson is doing to ensure all students excel. “I truly believe in the life-changing, transformational powers of education, and that education is a path to a better life not just for an individual but for society as a whole.”

In addition to Harris-Perry, speakers included Ronald Estrada of Univision Communications, author and leadership consultant Anton J. Gunn, University of Maryland-Baltimore County president Freeman Hrabowski, Joy Thomas Moore of JWS Media Consulting, UCLA education professor Pedro Noguera and Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada.

Canada was introduced by his son, Clemson student Geoffrey Canada Jr. Canada challenged the high school students in attendance to stand up for what they believe in, never give up and prepare for the moment that could shape their lives.

“Nothing in this life happens without courageous people standing up and doing the right thing,” he said.  “And part of what you’re going through right now as young men is not just getting a decent education and getting into college but to figure out what do you stand for.”

The 2020 Men of Color National Summit will take place March 34 at the Greenville Convention Center.

Call for Thomas Green Clemson Medallion nominations

Clemson MedallionClemson University is currently accepting nominations for its highest public award, the Clemson Medallion. The award is bestowed by the Board of Trustees and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a long and sustained commitment and significant service to the University.

Recipients of the Clemson Medallion are recognized as having earned the collective respect and admiration of the Clemson Family. As the highest honor, it is bestowed in a most selective manner, and to a maximum of two recipients every other year. 2019 is deemed a selection year.

Background of award

This award is reserved principally for nominees who graduated from Clemson and others who have cultivated a meaningful relationship with the University. The award is reserved only for those individuals who exemplify the dedication and foresight of benefactor Thomas Green Clemson, who advocated for scientific education and the advancement of agriculture when higher education in those studies in the United States was in its infancy. Thomas Green Clemson not only provided financial support to the institution but was also a model as an agricultural scientist and man of learning for his fellow South Carolinians.

Explore the nomination application here. Only nominations through this electronic form will be accepted. No less than three and no more than 10 letters of support are required per nomination. The nominator’s cover letter will be considered a letter of support. Please attach all supporting documentation when submitting the final nomination form for consideration.

The deadline for submissions is 4:30 p.m. Sept. 13, 2019.

Bridging the Gap

The United States is now more racially and ethnically diverse than it has ever been, but that diversity is not yet reflected in the sciences. In 2017, traditionally underrepresented minorities — African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders — accounted for nearly a third of the U.S. population, yet only about 17 percent were employed as scientists and engineers in the country. Several years ago, Meredith Morris, an associate professor of genetics and biochemistry who teaches molecular biochemistry at Clemson, began to notice that racial and ethnic gap reflected in her classes.

Faith, Family and Research Intersect

One of the darkest periods in the life of Clemson sociologist Andrew Whitehead led to some of his most recent nationally recognized research.

That dark period occurred in 2014, after Whitehead and his family — his wife, Kelly, and their three children — moved to Clemson. Faith is important to the Whiteheads, but the family couldn’t find a church that could accommodate the needs of their two sons, who have autism and don’t speak.

“We all suffered when we didn’t have a community to belong to,” Whitehead said. “We knew from experience that it’s a difficult search. We just weren’t ready yet to take the inevitable ‘walks of shame’ to retrieve our children from a church nursery because they were having a meltdown.”

Whitehead began to turn his academic eye on what his family was going through. By viewing his family’s struggles as a sociologist would — on a macro scale — he emerged with findings that revealed an unseen population and tragically underexplored issues in faith communities. Whitehead’s yearslong examination of national data found that children whose disabilities affect social interaction are the most likely to be deterred from worship.

“I hoped my research could serve as a wake-up call to religious communities,” Whitehead said. “In many ways, this population is unseen because they never show up, or when they do, they have a negative experience and never return.”

The likelihood of children with chronic health conditions never attending religious services is 14 percent higher than that of those without conditions, while physical conditions alone have almost no effect on attendance, Whitehead discovered.

The difference becomes more pronounced in disabilities that affect social interaction. One in 4 children with developmental delays, learning disabilities, anxiety or conduct disorder never attend church. That ratio becomes 1 in 3 for children with autism, depression, speech problems or brain injury. Citing prior research, Whitehead notes that 1 in 3 parents of children with disabilities changed their places of worship because they felt the child wasn’t sufficiently included.

Whitehead’s findings related to attrition in church attendance confirmed a hypothesis and helped him put his own experiences into perspective. After publications in national journals and an article in The Washington Post, he hopes his research can aid congregations in serving growing numbers of children with disabilities.

The Whiteheads found a church near Clemson that has been open to their needs. Their sons have a “buddy” during church whom they’ve grown comfortable with, and Whitehead looks forward to working with the church to fold their sons more completely into worship activities.

“If congregations rarely have children with chronic health conditions who show up to worship, that doesn’t mean they can’t still be prepared,” Whitehead said. “Having a system in place goes a long way toward preventing a religious community from becoming yet another bureaucracy that families have to navigate. Instead, these communities can become places of rest and refuge.”