NSF CAREER Awards

Seven Researchers Win NSF CAREER Awards

NSF CAREER Award Winners

L-R: Sapna Sarupria, Luiz Jacobsohn, Amin Khademi, Ashok Mishra, Marissa Shuffler, Sophie Jörg

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 are currently 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:

1 | Luiz Jacobsohn, 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.

2 | 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.

3 | 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.

4 | 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.

5 | 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. Onori took a position this year at Stanford University.

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

7 | 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.

Social media facts/fiction

Business research examines social media facts/fiction, hiring impacts

Social media facts/fiction

Social media has ways of affecting our perceptions of what is real and fake, and how others perceive us and our beliefs. The implications of those perceptions are examined in separate research projects by Clemson University business professors.

A study conducted by Marten Risius, associate professor of management in the College of Business, illustrated how social media users can discern legitimate news from a fabrication of it on social media channels. A second study, by Phil Roth and Jason Thatcher, professors of management, determined that the likelihood of a person being hired can be affected when their political beliefs are discovered over social media outlets.

Risius was joined in his research by Christian Janze, a Ph.D. student from Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.

“Our study investigates how to automatically identify fake news using information immediately apparent on social media platforms,” Risius said.

The study examined cognitive, affective and behavioral cues in more than 2,000 Facebook news article posts from left, right and mainstream media outlets during the 2016 presidential campaign. Researchers used 230 samples of fake news and an equal number of real news. Using their process, they were able to determine fake from real with 80 percent accuracy overall, when all of the articles were examined. They then trained the algorithm so it could correctly detect 90 percent of the 230 fake stories.

Risius said affective, behavioral, visual and cognitive cues go a long way in determining if a news article is real or fake.

“Emotional cues, such as love or anger, or the amount of likes or shares are telling on a story’s legitimacy, as are exclamation and question marks and the use of quotes,” Risius said. “For example, the word count, or using all caps, exclamation and question marks in a post are strong predictors of a story being fake.”

Roth and Thatcher’s three-year research project involved more than 400 participants and found political beliefs can play a significant role in how a hiring manager assesses a job applicant’s qualifications.

The pair created two versions of a student Facebook page infused with the political leanings of either a Democrat or Republican. The pages were sent to two groups — upperclassmen business majors at a Southern university and employed MBAs. A series of hiring-related questions accompanied the Facebook pages. At the end of the survey questions, the participants were asked to identify themselves politically.

“The bottom line is that decision-makers have a tendency to hire like-minded people,” Roth said. “Based on our experiment, the study showed political similarities correlated with ratings on how a respondent liked the candidate and how they thought the candidate would do their job.”

Roth said that for job applicants, sending clear signals of their political affiliations on social media channels carries risks and rewards.

“If you get a decision-maker who has the opposite of your political viewpoint, there may be consequences. On the other hand, should the hiring manager align with your political beliefs, your chances of being hired may be enhanced,” he said.

Hiring managers should also be cognizant of the power of similar or dissimilar political beliefs among them, applicants or subordinates seeking promotion, according to Roth.

“There is no evidence political affiliation relates to job performance, so a decision to hire or not based on a political ideology could be construed as political discrimination,” he added. “Hiring based on one’s political belief can not only hurt a qualified candidate who didn’t get the job, it can impact the organization if the best applicant wasn’t hired.” 

Operating Room

Doctoring surgical spaces to provide better care

There are more than 100 million hospital visits every year, and many lead to the operating room.  Despite the heavy use of operating rooms and major advancements to medical procedures and technologies, many operating room spaces are antiquated, poorly designed and cramped. This can be an unsafe working environment and an impediment to patient care.

Since 2015, a Clemson professor and a multidisciplinary research team have been working to change the way operating rooms are designed — and now, their designs are receiving national recognition.

“In recent years, there have been tremendous advances in medical procedures and technologies, but the physical environment in which this care is provided has been somewhat overlooked,” said Anjali Joseph, principal investigator of the learning lab on Realizing Improved Patient Care Through Human-Centered Design in the Operating Room, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Joseph, Clemson’s Spartanburg Regional Health System Endowed Chair in Architecture + Health Design, co-principal investigator Scott T. Reeves ’83, M.D., the Medical University of South Carolina’s John E. Mahaffey, M.D., endowed chair, and a team of graduate students, faculty and industry professionals have taken a comprehensive research approach to redesigning operating rooms to create an evidence-based design solution that simultaneously tackles problems related to workflow, equipment design and the built environment — major areas that impact patient safety.

The team also has included windows to provide daylight to teams who typically work long hours with little access to the outdoors.

“The project proposes an operating room that can be implemented in many hospitals. More importantly, our findings will be integrated into a proactive design tool that will allow health care professionals to understand the range of issues involved in designing safer operating rooms, which will be useful to both health care architects and clinicians involved in planning these types of environments,” said Joseph.

You can’t find their design in a hospital — yet — but the design is already being recognized by industry professionals for its excellence. In October 2017, the team received two awards for conceptual design at the Healthcare Design Expo + Conference in Orlando.

The Healthcare Environment Awards selected the design as the sole winner in their conceptual category. These awards honor innovative architectural and interior design solutions that enhance the quality of health care delivery. The design also received a Gold Level EBD Touchstone Award during the inaugural Evidence-Based Design Touchstone Awards for its use of an evidence-based design process in the pursuit of increasing value, improving outcomes and engaging stakeholders.

Concepts from the award-winning design are being implemented now in the Medical University of South Carolina’s new ambulatory surgery center being built in North Charleston, which is slated to open in January 2019.

“I am so proud of this team and of the new and innovative ideas we’ve come up with,” said Joseph. “The students’ profound engagement makes this project truly unique, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact they will have in the future as they launch their own careers.”  

Ed Moise posing in his office

Moïse Explores Myths of the Tet Offensive

Ed Moise posing in his office

At the end of January 1968, the Tet Offensive began in Vietnam. During a time in which American politicians and the military were presenting an optimistic view of the war, this wave of attacks by the Viet Cong and People’s Army of Vietnam shocked many Americans and undermined support for the war. Fifty years later, Edwin Moïse, Vietnam scholar and Clemson history professor, explores the Military Assistance Command Vietnam’s (MACV) communication tactics and the Tet Offensive’s size and impact in his book, The Myths of Tet: The Most Misunderstood Event of the Vietnam War (University Press of Kansas).

Myths-of-TET-Book“This topic caught my attention when the CBS documentary ‘The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception’ was broadcast in 1982. I published a little bit about it, set it aside and always thought that someday I would go back to it,” said Moïse. “I’m not sure what triggered my interest again, but I looked at casualty figures and found things I hadn’t seen before.

“A lot of books say the Tet Offensive was a brief episode, that the heavy fighting was mostly over before the end of February. What I found was that it was not just February that saw a higher number of Americans killed in action than any month of the war before the Tet Offensive. The same was true for March, April and May. And it was May, not February, that had the highest death toll of the four.”

While acknowledging the journalists and historians who have correctly reported various parts of the story, Moïse points out widespread misunderstandings about the strength of communist forces in Vietnam, the disputes among American intelligence agencies over estimates of enemy strength, the actual pattern of combat in 1968, the effects of Tet on American policy and the American media’s coverage of all these issues.

“The Communist campaign was shocking, not because of American media exaggerations, but because it was a massive, prolonged campaign by a large enemy force,” said Moïse. “The offensive would not have even been possible if the enemy forces had been the size MACV was reporting.”

Moïse shines a light on the impact of the American media and government on public perception through the analysis of declassified documents and testimony from Westmoreland v. CBS, the
multimillion dollar libel suit originally filed in South Carolina by Gen. William Westmoreland against CBS Inc. for broadcasting “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception.”

“The impact of Tet, going forward, was that people who believed that the American media described the Tet Offensive as much worse than it actually had been, expected the media to make things look worse than they were in later wars. The media’s handling of Tet was far from perfect, but not nearly as bad as many authors have suggested.”

Moïse is also the author of Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, the Historical Dictionary of the Vietnam War and other works.

Rachel Lang-Baldé

Four students awarded Fulbright grants

Rachel Lang-Baldé

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 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 study abroad and conduct research projects or work as English teaching assistants.

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

  • 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 São Paulo, Brazil.

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

The Art of Science

The Art of Science

Artist’s work displays glacial decline for the world to see

The Art of Science

Clemson printmaking professor Todd Anderson keeps good company.

His work, The Last Glacier, was on display at the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Drawings and Prints Gallery along with works by Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya and David Hockney.

The Last Glacier — a book of artwork printed from color woodcuts — explores the remaining glaciers of Glacier National Park in Montana. Anderson collaborated on the book with fellow printmaker Bruce Crownover and Ian van Coller, a professor of photography at Montana State University.

Over the course of four years, the three artists hiked the park’s rugged terrain. Anderson said he has traversed more than 500 miles on foot. The Last Glacier captures the changing world at a pivotal moment in time, helping to visualize the rapid melting of ice that once blanketed Glacier National Park and locations around the world. In 1850, as many as 150 glaciers covered the land now in Glacier National Park. Today, the official park website claims a mere 26 glaciers.

“The hope is that the artwork will connect on an emotional level. Or maybe the science can connect,” Anderson said.

The collective’s next book, ROMO: The Last Glacier, is scheduled for release in 2018. Again, it will pair woodcut prints by Anderson and Crownover with van Coller’s photographs, but this time documenting the last glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park.