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Blazing the Trail

When Emily Peek Wallace ’72 arrived at Clemson as a math major in the fall of 1968, she was often the sole woman in her technical courses. Her strength and determination served her well academically and later as a successful businesswoman. Today, she is regarded as a pioneer in the software industry through her leadership role at Statistical Analysis System Institute.

Since graduating with a B.S. in mathematics, Wallace — a first-generation college graduate — has generously given back to the University, not only through donations and service on boards but also as a mentor and presenter to students. Now, she is giving a new gift of $1.25 million to establish the Emily Peek Wallace ’72 Endowed Directorship for the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

Creating endowed faculty positions allows Clemson to recruit and retain top talent. As the first endowed faculty position at the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences in the College of Science, it provides support for the director and assists initiatives throughout the school. This is the largest gift ever given to the College of Science since its inception in 2016.

“I wanted to do something to help the faculty,” says Wallace. “Everybody has had to shift their teaching and learning methods due to COVID-19, and the faculty has additional challenges to make sure students are not getting behind and that they’re learning what they need to be learning. I wanted to provide encouragement and funding to help them and add additional resources to help students stay current.”

The gift includes tutoring assistance for students who may be struggling academically or who may have fallen behind due to unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, it aims to help establish business connections and internships for students who wish to enter the job force instead of going into academic research, and it makes training with current statistical software and other resources available for students regardless of their future tracks.

In the current academic year, 25 students are benefiting from the Wallace scholarships.

Wallace has dedicated much of her life to creating innovative opportunities for underrepresented scientists. In 2014, she established the Emily Peek Wallace ’72 Scholarship Endowment for S.T.E.M., which provides financial assistance for underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition to establishing the two endowments, she serves on the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors and as a founding member of the Order of the Oak.

 

Klaine Fellowship Recipient Focusing on Roadside Waterways

Stephen Klaine was a professor in the Clemson Department of Biological Sciences and a member of the environmental toxicology graduate program for 24 years. He was an internationally recognized environmental toxicologist with a legacy of devotion to teaching and mentoring until he passed away in 2016. Colleagues and friends of Klaine honored his contributions to biological sciences by establishing a fellowship in his memory.

In 2021, Stephanie LaPlaca, a graduate student in the College of Science, is the first recipient of the Dr. Stephen Klaine Annual Memorial Fellowship.

“Receiving the Klaine Fellowship is a huge honor. Although I never got the chance to meet Dr. Klaine, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about him through other students and faculty at Clemson. His legacy is inspiring,” said LaPlaca, a fourth-year Ph.D. student from Virginia in the Department of Biological Sciences’ environmental toxicology program.

LaPlaca’s research focuses on the toxicity of crumb rubber particles to aquatic organisms. As tires wear, they leave tiny particles of rubber on the roadways. When it rains, those particles wash into creeks, streams and lakes. Understanding how crumb rubber affects aquatic organisms can inform stormwater regulators on how to best manage road runoff and help consumers make more eco-friendly choices to reduce their impact.

LaPlaca and Peter van den Hurk, her academic adviser, published a paper in the journal Ecotoxicology last April.

“It’s quite impressive for a student to have a publication out of doctoral research in their third year.” said van den Hurk, who coordinates the environmental toxicology program. “Steve was very science-oriented, but he was also oriented toward translating science to applications in the real world. As environmental scientists, we help society address environmental problems. Steve advocated that. I think Stephanie fits that picture very well.”