This year, seven faculty representing four colleges have been awarded National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development grants. It’s one of the most sought-after recognitions a young faculty member can receive. The agency funds about 500 CAREER awards annually, providing a financial stipend to support research activity for a period of five years.
Since 2013, Clemson has received 47 NSF CAREER awards. This year’s grants represent a broad spectrum of interests and applications — from soil health and biodiversity to disaster recovery and computing curriculum in elementary schools to artificial intelligence as a better teammate.
Fatemeh Afghah, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, received a $541,949 grant for research on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in disaster management operations to collect data and imagery to inform rescue teams. Current operations often involve a single UAV remotely controlled by a commander or pilots in a manned aircraft relatively close to the danger zone. Afghah will work to develop frameworks for a network of fully autonomous multi-agent systems with minimum human interventions.
Golnaz Arastoopour Irgens, assistant professor of education and human development in the College of Education, received a $1.4 million grant for a project to develop critical computing curriculum in elementary schools, in which upper elementary students evaluate and develop AI technologies. The project will involve 500 students, teachers, school administrators and researchers in the design and implementation of the curriculum. The research will take place in an area with schools with a high percentage of African Americans and youth in poverty.
Matthew Koski, assistant professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, received a $1 million grant for his study of the ecological and evolutionary processes that generate color diversity in flowering plants. As part of his project, Koski will mentor undergraduates through two Creative Inquiry courses. One group will use plots in the Experimental Forest to conduct research and outreach with 4-H junior naturalists (K-12 students). The other student group will manage a Citizen Science project fueled by members of native plant societies in seven states.
Shunyu Liu, assistant professor of automotive engineering in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, received a $503,613 grant for research on a novel hybrid in situ rolled additive manufacturing (HI-RAM) technique to fabricate high-performance structural parts that could be used as critical components for many industries.
Nathan McNeese, the McQueen Quattlebaum Endowed Assistant Professor of Human-Centered Computing in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, received a $580,227 grant to develop AI systems that act as good teammates with humans, making AI not only more effective but more accepted and thus utilized.
Samantha Price, assistant professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, received a $1.3 million grant to advance her research on the repeating themes and general principles governing the evolution of biodiversity. She plans to increase research opportunities for underrepresented students through the creation of the Classroom-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) lab.
Vidya Suseela, associate professor of soil ecology in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, received a $1.2 million grant for research on soil organic carbon. She investigates the effect of plant functional types on the quantity, composition and stabilization of soil carbon and the associated nutrient cycling for improving the soil health and productivity of agroecosystems.