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New video series puts discussion ‘On the Table’ and in your pocket

Clemson has launched a new video series that puts experts on your screen when and where you want them. “On the Table,” a public policy series from ClemsonTV, tackles such tough subjects as concussions in sports, the role of technology in our lives and health screening disparities, providing in-depth discussion from leading researchers and scholars who are members of the Clemson faculty.

“We wanted to put topics on the table, figuratively and literally, with something very visual to represent the topic,” says ClemsonTV director Jacob Barker. “The web is flooded with how-to videos, but there is very little to offer in the way of substantive discussion. We wanted to combine expert information with the flexibility of on-demand viewing.”

Each episode is hosted by Peter Kent, a career journalist and former science writer at Clemson. The first three episodes are available now, with several more in production.

In episode one, “Protecting Against Concussions,” Greg Batt, an assistant professor in food, nutrition and packaging, and John DesJardins, an associate professor in bioengineering, explain their work with the national Head Health Initiative on three challenges: finding better tools for doctors to detect brain injury; creating new ways to monitor head impacts as they happen; and developing improved, energy-absorbing and energy-reducing materials.

The second episode, “To Trust or Not To Trust,” features Richard Pak, an associate professor in psychology and his research on the relationship between humans and the technology that makes hundreds of hidden decisions in our lives every day. The outcomes can be beneficial, such as self-driving cars that improve highway safety and driving efficiency. Sometimes, however, they can be detrimental. Are we trusting technology enough or too much?

In episode three, “Witness Breast Cancer Awareness,” Rachel Mayo, a professor in public health sciences, talks about the power of a personal experience that led her to launch the South Carolina Witness Project, part of the National Witness Project. The effort, a network of survivors and community-based organizations, aims to eliminate the disparity of breast and cervical cancer diagnoses and deaths: Black women are more likely to have mammograms, but much more likely to die of breast cancer. Mayo’s research shows that how information is presented makes a difference.

Yet another episode looks at Wade Foster.

Wade Foster was 13 when he helped to build a university he could never attend. His children could never attend. His grandchildren could never attend. Foster was a criminal; a black boy caught stealing six dollars worth of clothes from a white family. Sentenced to six months in prison, South Carolina gave Foster to Clemson University to serve his sentence as convict labor. South Carolina called convict labor “slaves of the state.”

Rhondda Thomas, associate professor of African American Literature at Clemson, sheds light on the slaves who labored to build the institution and why it’s necessary to paint the full picture of a school’s history.

Thomas joined the university in 2007 and teaches African American literature in the English department. She is the author of “Exodus: A Cultural History of Afro-Atlantic Identity, 1774-1903 and the editor of Jane Edna Hunter’s autobiography, “A Nickel and a Prayer.” In 2013, she co-edited “The South Carolina Roots of African American Thought” with Clemson professor of English Susanna Ashton.

Last year she received a grant for her research about African Americans who lived and labored on Clemson land during the pre-1963 integration period. James E. Bostic Jr. and Edith H. Bostic of Atlanta awarded Thomas $50,000. That gift was matched by the university, bringing the total grant to $100,000.

New urine test could reduce need for blood samples

Marissa Pierson, a master's student, closes the lid on a centrifuge while workinh gin a Clemson lab with Professor Ken Marcus.

Marissa Pierson, a master’s student, closes the lid on a centrifuge while workinh gin a Clemson lab with Professor Ken Marcus.

If you’ve been to the doctor, you probably know what to do when you’re handed a plastic cup and shown to the bathroom.

Most patients hand over the sample and give little thought to what happens when it’s shipped to the lab for analysis. Chemistry professor Ken Marcus and his students are the exceptions. They have developed a new testing method that they believe will reduce costs, get faster results and lower the volume of urine needed for a sample.

It’s great news for patients who get the willies when the nurse pulls out the needle to draw blood. The method Marcus and his students have developed could help make it possible to use urine instead of blood to test for more diseases such as early-stage coronary heart disease or sleeping sickness.

The trouble with testing urine is that it’s awash in salt, Marcus said. It can be tricky to isolate the proteins that act as biomarkers, the clues that tell whether the patient is sick or has ingested a drug.

The magic ingredient in the group’s research looks like kite string, but it’s no ordinary twine. It’s made of capillary-channeled polymer fibers.

As part of a study, Marcus and his students packed the fibers into plastic tubes and then passed urine samples through the tubes by spinning them in a centrifuge for 30 seconds. Then the researchers ran de-ionized water through the tubes for a minute to wash off salt and other contaminants.

Proteins are hydrophobic, so they remained stuck to the fibers. Researchers extracted the proteins by running a solvent through the tubes in the centrifuge for 30 seconds. When it was all done, researchers were left with purified proteins that could be stored in a plastic vial and refrigerated until time for testing. The team was able to extract 12 samples in about five minutes, limited only by centrifuge capacity.

In urine tests commonly used now, polymer beads extract the proteins. “The difference is that ours is smaller, faster and cheaper,” Marcus said.

The team’s work was recently published by the journal Proteomics — Clinical Applications.

The research has been about a decade in the making with various students working on it over the years. Marcus said that he has graduated 33 Ph.D. students with more than half going on to work for national labs. Others work in industry and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still others in his lab are focused on the development of analytical methods for post-detonation nuclear forensics.

For Marcus, the most important thing is to create a research environment that produces well-prepared graduates. “My pride is putting those people out and seeing them get really good jobs,” Marcus said.

Bradleys invest in imagination and inquiry

Forever-BradleyEach year, more than 4,000 Clemson undergraduate students enjoy exercising their imaginations through a unique, faculty-led research program because of Phil and Mary Bradley’s generosity.

Phil’s father, William F. Bradley, was a veteran student at Clemson College in the late 1930s and finished his degree in 1952 after a long leave of absence. Throughout his childhood, Phil had his heart set on Clemson and much to his satisfaction, enrolled here after high school. After his sophomore year, Phil married his high school sweetheart, Mary, and before he graduated in 1965, they had begun their own family with daughter, Renee.

Clemson’s hills are full of memories for the Charleston natives, and today they enjoy giving back to the place that gave so much to them.

It began in 2005 when Phil and Mary met with former provost Dori Helms to learn more about her vision for a new undergraduate research program called Creative Inquiry. The Bradleys also were introduced to a few of Helms’ students and took note of what they were accomplishing in their studies. To say they were impressed would be an understatement.

“Some students were starting businesses and even had patents and copyrights. It was a real eye-opener for me,” Phil said.

The Bradleys stepped up and assisted with funding the program through annual support for five years. “I really wanted to help a program that needed financial support, and there’s been unbelievable growth,” he said. The program’s growth as well as the Bradley’s continued appreciation for the students led them to provide the first major gift for the Creative Inquiry Enhancement Fund.

However, it wasn’t just the students who made an impact on the Bradleys. They also took note of how passionate the faculty members were about the students’ success and felt these mentors deserved recognition. This inspired the Bradleys to establish the Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry — a generous award presented to a faculty member in recognition of outstanding work with undergraduate students.

Clemson traditions were engrained in the Bradley’s children, Philip and Renee, at a very young age. They are now proud alumni and have passed on their love for Clemson to their very own families. The family’s shared love for Clemson encouraged Phil and Mary to become more involved on campus. Phil was elected to the Board of Visitors in 2006 and is also a proud member of the Clemson Foundation. “This gave me the opportunity to see the needs of Clemson University and how we go about meeting those needs. It’s gotten me more involved in not just the support of athletics but what’s happening on campus and how we can further those goals,” he said.

The Bradleys are a “One Clemson” family, supporting both athletics and academics, and believe that seeing the outcomes has made a big difference in their lives. Phil and Mary often talk to one another about their relationship with Clemson and always agree that it is money well spent. “There is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in the life of a Clemson student,” Phil said.

When Phil is presented with the opportunity to talk to someone about investing in Clemson, he always says, “Do not hesitate. Do not wait. It doesn’t matter how small. I use the philosophy that if you’re a Clemson alum, you learned, you earned and now you need to return. You need to return and give something back to Clemson. I think Creative Inquiry is a great program you can start with.”

“There is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in the life of a Clemson student.”

Q&A: Catherine Mobley

CW: What do you enjoy most about your job? Or what’s the most satisfying thing about your job?

Mobley: There’s so much that I enjoy about my career, but perhaps my favorite part is that I am constantly learning something new. No day is ever the same as I am continually challenged to apply sociology in new ways in a diversity of contexts – in the classroom, in my research, both within the field and across other fields in my interdisciplinary research. I especially enjoy engaging in interdisciplinary research and teaching. While I have engaged in independent research, I have had the opportunity to engage in empirical research with colleagues from other discipline across campuss. According to Ernest Boyer’s definition of the “scholarship of integration,” interdisciplinary research consists of making connections across disciplines in order to advance understanding of complex scientific questions and social issues. Indeed, the “lone ranger” concept is rarely effective for investigating the issues that are central to my research efforts. Funding agencies are increasingly recognizing the value of interdisciplinary research and teaching. These efforts also support the recent call on the part of my college and university to increase interdisciplinary research. These research collaborations are beneficial and interesting to me both personally and professionally. I enjoy working with my colleagues to develop and implement creative approaches to challenges that would not otherwise emerge if I was working in isolation. Indeed, I am finding that the most innovative research often emerges at the interface of disciplines. Across campus, I think I am known to be a reliable collaborator who makes substantial contributions to projects and adds value to research teams through my expertise in sociological theory and methods. Together, we have applied for multiple research grants and co-authored research presentations and manuscripts. I have truly enjoyed these experiences!

CW: How do you balance teaching and research?

Mobley: I view both as inevitably intertwined with one another. For example, as I work on my research I am always seeking opportunities to enrich my teaching. And, students often raise questions in the classroom that inspire my research.

CW: Give me a brief description of your research. What piqued your interest in that area (s)?

Mobley: At the current time, my two main areas of research are in the area of environmental sustainability and engineering education. The two topics often overlap with one another, depending on the particular research effort. I have long been personally interested in environmental issues and feel lucky to be able to pursue my personal interests through the lens of the sociological perspective. I’ve been able to explore a vast variety of topics related to environmental sustainability, including human behavior as it pertains to water quality and water quantity, college student perceptions of environmental issues, the influence of formative experiences on the development of environmental concern, and public perception of a variety of sustainability related topics. For the past decade or so, I have been involved with an extensive research project related to engineering education, the MIDFIELD project. This project, headed up by Matt Ohland (formerly at Clemson University and now at Purdue University) involves a study of the academic experiences and pathways of engineering majors from 12 institutions. One part of the research team analyzes a longitudinal database of over a million student records from the 12 MIDFIELD institutions. I have been involved in the qualitative portion of the project, investigating a variety of research questions through focus groups and interviews with engineering transfer students. The most recent qualitative project focused on engineering transfer students and in Fall 2014, my colleagues and I received a NSF grant to investigate the experiences of student veterans at four institutions (University of San Diego, Clemson University, Purdue University, North Carolina State University). I also collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines, such as hydrogeology, to learn more about engineering education.

CW: What does this award mean to you…being chosen by your peers?

Mobley: I am so honored to be receiving this award, especially knowing it is coming from my peers. I’ve been walking by the Carillon Bell monument for nearly 20 years now, in awe of the people whose names are inscribed there. It means so much to me, especially knowing there were so many qualified candidates for the award. Recently, I was talking to a recipient of the Class of ’39 award and learned that one of the purposes of the award is to inspire faculty to do their bes,t and to go above and beyond expectations. This recognition has definitely inspired me! Little did I know when I was attending Clemson University in the early 1980’s that I’d be here 30 years later, pursuing the career of my dreams!

Soccer Dad by Day, Star-Gazer by Night

Astrophysicist Sean Brittain straddles two worlds

Sean Brittain has used some of the world’s most powerful telescopes to study the chaos swirling around a young star about 335 light years from Earth. Huge chunks of rock are slamming together to form what could be the first planets of a budding solar system.

Back home in Clemson, Brittain deals with a different kind of chaos each Tuesday and Thursday night during soccer season. He coaches a team of youths, ages 7-9.

“We’re working on passing the ball,” the father of three said with an easygoing smile.

Brittain’s feet are on Earth, but his eyes are often on the night sky. He led an international team of scientists that discovered evidence strongly suggesting a planet is orbiting a star known as HD100546. The team reported its findings in The Astrophysical Journal. News outlets around the globe covered the discovery in at least four different languages.

The planet would be at least three times the size of Jupiter, so there would be plenty of real estate. But if you’re looking to relocate, don’t book your ticket on the USS Enterprise just yet. The planet would be an uninhabitable gas giant. And even if you traveled at the speed of light, it would take more than four lifetimes to get there.

Astronomers are interested in the solar system for a different reason.

This graphic is an artist’s conception of the young massive star HD100546 and its surrounding disk. Brittain’s team believes that this is a new planet that is at least three times the size of Jupiter. Credit: P. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF

This graphic is an artist’s conception of the young massive star HD100546 and its surrounding disk. Brittain’s team believes that this is a new planet that is at least three times the size of Jupiter. Credit: P. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF

The work that Brittain’s team did built on previous research by a team that found a collapsing blob of gas and dust could condense into a planet in about one million years. That means astronomers believe they have found not one but two “candidate planets” orbiting HD100546.

Taken together, the findings could mark the first time astronomers have been able to directly observe multiple planets forming in sequence. It’s something astronomers have long believed happens but have never been able to see.

Other solar systems that astronomers have observed are either fully developed or too far away to see in the kind of detail that HD100546 offers.

“This system is very close to Earth, relative to other disk systems,” Brittain said. “We’re able to study it at a level of detail that you can’t do with more distant stars. This is the first system where we’ve been able to do this.

“Once we really understand what’s going on, the tools that we are developing can then be applied to a larger number of systems that are more distant and harder to see.”

AROUND THE CLOCK, AROUND THE WORLD

sean brittain_036_final_aAs an astrophysicist, Brittain could be working just about any time of the day or night. It sometimes means staying up all night to observe the stars and then pushing through to teach class.

In one recent all-nighter, Brittain logged on to a video conferencing website to work with two collaborators, one in Tucson and one in Berkeley. The telescope they used was at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

The patchwork of faces on his screen looked like something out of “Star Trek,” Brittain said.

The team worked from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. Clemson time, and then Brittain headed for the classroom.

“You finish observing, and you still have to teach class,” he said. “Your day job doesn’t get pushed aside.”

Brittain has the opportunity to observe the stars about four times a year. He collaborates with researchers all over the world, so conferences calls can be early in the morning.

“There’s no time of day when it’s 9-to-5 for everybody,” he said.

Brittain made three trips to Chile as far back as 2006 to gather data for the research he did on HD100546. He used telescopes at the Gemini Observatory and the European Southern Observatory.

Northern Chile is one of a few places in the world just right for high-powered telescopes, Brittain said. The weather is predictable, the skies are usually clear and the political climate is stable.

Each time Brittain went to Chile, he flew from Atlanta to Santiago, where he would spend the night. Then he would take another flight to Antofagasta, where he would catch a two-hour ride to the observatory. The city quickly gave way to a desert landscape, he said.

“It’s like being on Tatooine,” Brittain said, referring to the desert planet from “Star Wars.” “There’s no vegetation. It’s sand and rock, a really bleak landscape.”

AN ASTROPHYSICIST BY CHANCE

Brittain grew up watching “Star Wars,” but he isn’t a serious sci-fi fan. And he wasn’t the kind of kid who grew up gazing at the stars through a telescope in his backyard every night.

Brittain fell into astronomy after receiving his bachelor of science in chemical physics from LeTourneau University in Texas. He headed to Notre Dame to study the foundations of quantum mechanics but found that the adviser he wanted was retiring and not accepting new graduate students.

Brittain soon found another professor who was doing research into the organic chemistry of comets.

It seemed to be a fit considering Brittain’s chemistry background. Even better, the professor did some of his research at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

“Here I am in South Bend, Indiana, where it’s cold and gray, and here was an opportunity to go to Hawaii,” Brittain said.

Brittain has spun the opportunity into a successful career. He received his Ph.D. in 2004 and became a NASA-funded Michelson postdoctoral fellow at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

Brittain came to Clemson two years later with his wife, Beth, and their children, Olivia and Sam. They have since added a third child, Charlotte.

MEASURING SMALL CHANGES TO DETECT GALACTIC EVENTS

Brittain’s chemistry background helped get him an early start on using high-resolution spectroscopy to study the formation of stars and planets. It was a relatively new technique early in his career, he said, and has played a major role in his research on HD100546.

The technique enabled the team to measure small changes in the position of the carbon monoxide emission. A source of excess carbon monoxide emission was detected that appears to vary in position and velocity. The varying position and velocity are consistent with orbital motion around the star.

The favored hypothesis is that emission comes from a circumplanetary disk of gas orbiting a giant planet, Brittain said.

“Another possibility is that we’re seeing the wake from tidal interactions between the object and the circumstellar disk of gas and dust orbiting the star,” he said.

Brittain served as lead author on The Astrophysical Journal article. Co-authors were John S. Carr of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.; Joan R. Najita of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona; and Sascha P. Quanz and Michael R. Meyer, both of ETH Zurich Institute for Astronomy.

Mark Leising, the chair of Clemson’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Department, said Brittain’s work will raise the department’s international profile.

“I congratulate Dr. Brittain and his team on their excellent work,” Leising said. “Astronomers are now very good at finding already formed planets around many nearby stars, but it has been difficult to watch the planets in the process of forming.

“Using very clever techniques and the most advanced telescopes on Earth, they have accomplished that. It’s great to see our faculty working with leading institutions around the world to make discoveries at the forefront of astronomy.”

Brittain said he is looking forward to observing the solar system using more advanced telescopes, including the James Webb Space Telescope scheduled for launch in 2018 and the 30-meter telescopes that could be ready as early as 2022.

If there’s any similarity between Brittain’s research in space and his coaching on Earth, it’s that both take teamwork to be successful, he said. “No one is the boss, but every-one is working toward a common goal,” Brittain said.

You can read more about Brittain’s research at the following links:

Are Fireflies Vanishing?

Clemson team recruits citizens scientists to answer the question.

In the liturgy of a late spring night, the call and response of a tree frog chorus accompanied the fireflies’ ethereal light, as a guard let in a dozen people to the Cooper Library to launch a “flash” mob.

It was the May 31 kickoff for 2014 Clemson Firefly Count, part of a project investigating the question, “Are fireflies vanishing?”

Over the summer, firefly census takers would count lightning bugs for the fifth year in a row. New technology was being used, and the Vanishing Firefly Project team of scientists and students was keeping their fingers crossed that it would work without a hitch.

The count this year included new and improved mobile apps, software to view the count in progress and social media to get the word out. The work spanned the University, calling on talents of entomologists, environmental and computer scientists and science educators.

Computer science senior Joshua Hull hunched over his laptop, checking the computer network that collected observers’ tallies and displayed their locations. He also had upgraded one of two mobile apps people used to “phone” in their counts.

“I feel like my mother must have felt when she dropped me off at college,” Hull said. “She had prepared me the best she could, and it was time to let me go into the real world. But I’m not going to cry like she did.”

Hull paused, scanning a new screen load of data. “Unless things go bad, then I might cry.”

By the end of the evening, Hull was smiling, not crying.

Firefly project

NOSTALGIA+SCIENCE

Are fireflies disappearing? A lot of folks say so. They remember summers when children dashed and darted through the dark holding an empty jelly jar in one hand and its lid poked with nail holes in the other in pursuit of the greenish glow. Triumphant young whoops of capture and the bittersweet release “bye-bye firefly” are not heard so much today.

Joshua Hull

Joshua Hull

Nostalgia needed to be buttressed by science, and so the Clemson Vanishing Firefly Project began. It was started by a scientist who had not seen a firefly until he was an adult, and then became enchanted by the blinking little lights in the night.

“My family had not yet come from California, so I was working late,” said Alex Chow, an associate professor stationed at Clemson’s Belle W. Baruch Institute for Coastal Ecology and Forestry in Georgetown. “As I walked from my office to the dorm, I saw these lights in the woods, and I didn’t know what they were.”

Chow grew up in Hong Kong, where he never saw fireflies. During his first southern summer in 2008, Chow enjoyed the light show. The next year, he did not see as many fireflies. His curiosity was piqued.

“We had done some prescribed burning, and I wondered if it had affected the fireflies,” Chow said. A biogeochemist, Chow studies how land disturbances such as fires, flooding or timbercutting, affect soil and water chemistry. He could imagine a relationship between firefly abundance and changes in their habitat. Chow decided to do an observational study looking for the effect of human activities on firefly populations. But Chow wasn’t a firefly guy.

Alex Chow

Alex Chow

“I needed an entomologist,” he said.

Chow searched the Clemson faculty and found one in Florence, which was closer to him than Clemson. But there was a problem.

“I didn’t know anything about fireflies, but I was willing to learn,” said Juang Horng “JC” Chong, stationed at the the Pee Dee Research and Education Center. Chong specializes in controlling insects that harm ornamental plants and turfgrass. Landscape plants and grass are multimillion-dollar industries in South Carolina.

Chong reviewed firefly studies and found that nothing had been done to learn about fireflies in South Carolina since the 1960s.

With so much to do on a spare-time project, the researchers had to be committed. Are fireflies worth the work?

“Absolutely,” said Chong. “Fireflies may not be endangered, but they are an indicator of environmental conditions. Just as important, fireflies affect our feelings about the future. What kind of world are passing on to our kids? I want my children to see fireflies like I did growing up in Malaysia.”

That Chow did not see fireflies growing up and Chong did see them lights the way to understanding what fireflies can show us about the environment. In Chong’s Malaysia, the fireflies that flash synchronously in large groups in the mangroves near Kuala Selangor are an international tourist attraction. In South Carolina, fireflies in the Congaree National Park swamp glow en masse, too.

Water or moist areas is one key to a robust firefly population. Another is tall grasses, bushes and trees. But perhaps the most important element is darkness.

Chow’s Hong Kong is a nightmare for fireflies. The bright white lights of a big city make it virtually impossible for one firefly to see another’s flashes. And the glow is not simply an ornamental taillight, but the medium by which the fireflies communicate about safety, food and sex. Light pollution prevents the signals from being seen.

Add the concrete and asphalt landscape of urban living and the malls and lawns of the suburbs, and it’s not hard to believe firefly numbers are declining.

But are they really vanishing, or is it just that many of us now live in places where fireflies do not flourish?

A CRACKERJACK TEAM

Chow and Chong needed help counting fireflies. They didn’t have the time or resources to sample beyond Georgetown, so the scientists turned to the public, launching a citizen-science project. The researchers also needed to enlist experts who could help them. Chow sent emails and made phone calls and began to assemble a crackerjack team.

David White was the first onboard, coordinating the computer work. Director of environmental informatics for Clemson’s Cyberinstiute for Technology and Information, White developed the firefly webpages and mapping programs.

In 2009, the tallies were recorded on paper, and researchers would enter the data online. Then White installed a Web page form in 2010 that observers could use directly via computer. Chow, Chong and White knew what was needed to make the process easier.

There had to be an app for that.

So Chow made calls.

“I was at a conference three years ago in Raleigh when my cellphone rang — it was Dr. Chow,” said Roy Pargas. “He introduced himself and said he was involved in counting fireflies.”

Firefly Project viewPargas is an associate professor in human-centered computing. He teaches courses in mobile app design and development — Apple IOS in the fall and Android in the spring. Students have to put theory to use.

“Students can work alone or in groups, but theyall have to do projects that produce a benefit — help students learn, help faculty teach, help Clemson in some way,” said Pargas. “Dr. Chow’s project was a good fit. I mentioned it to my Apple class.”

A student volunteered immediately. Doug Edmonson developed the iPhone app, continuing to work with the firefly project until he graduated. Josh Hull took over from Edmonson, seeing the app through its latest version in the Apple online store. New for 2014 was an Android app done by Greg Edison (“my dad is Tom but no relation to the inventor”). Edison installed a nifty feature, a light meter that lets the user measure the level of ambient light, which may correlate to the number of fireflies seen.

BRIDGING THE GAP

While it would be years before there would enough observation data to determine the fate of fireflies, Chow and Chong were seeing something notable, and they sought to publish their findings.

“We wanted to write up what we were learning about citizen-participation science research,” said Chow. “But we were out of our depth — I do soil, JC does insects. We needed somebody in education.”

Chow again asked around, and Joe Culin, an associate dean and entomologist in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, suggested a collaborator.

“I knew right away I wanted to work with them,” said Michelle Cook, associate professor of education. “Fireflies offer a way to help people learn about who scientists are and how they work.”

Cook’s specialty is science education, a hot topic in the national conversation about what students need to know in order to succeed. Science depends on creativity and figuring things out. Cook advocates adding more inquiry activities that teach and encourage students to work out experiments, using the scientific method, which relies on accurate and repeatable data.

Cook and doctoral student Renee Lyons analyze survey results from firefly counters who volunteer to answer online questions. A number of firefly counters see their efforts as helping scientists. Some believe that the count can have an impact on environmental concern, but other are unconvinced that there is a link between human activities and environmental problems. Overwhelmingly, people surveyed enjoyed participating.

“It helps build a bridge between scientists and the public,” said Cook. “People get to know and talk with scientists, connecting to their work.” The bridge helps people not only develop a positive attitude about science but also helps encourage kids to try science.

MISSION CONTROL

This year, Lori Tanner joined the project as well. Tanner is part of the Clemson IT ivision and runs the Digital Learning Resource center, where firefly mission control set up in the library. The center looked like a high-tech movie set with projections of stunningly sharp digital images, maps and displays of Internet chatter about the firefly project.

Tanner is a specialist in social media — the buzz of the digital communities populating the Internet. Weeks ahead of time, Tanner and recent biosystems engineering graduate Devin Schultze kept the web-based world informed about preparations for the count and how to participate. Well more than 40,000 people were reached digitally.

Firefly Project TweetIn previous years, older people were the largest group of firefly counters. The 2014 counters in their late 20s to mid 30s comprised the larger group, a shift Lyons attributes to an increased use of social media.

By the end of the May kickoff night, nearly 500 people had reported firefly counts. Two months later, it had risen to more than 3,095 — one from Italy. They had reported seeing more than 62,400 fireflies.

Firefly APPThe Vanishing Firefly Project is on the glow.

Additional resources:
The New York Times article about the Vanishing Firefly Project.

CBS Sunday Morning recently produced a story about synchronous fireflies in Tennessee.

Why does the terrapin cross the runway?

 

Laura Francoeur and her team balance wildlife protection and air safety.

To rescue a turtle on a roadway is one thing.
To rescue a turtle on a runway is quite another.
Look left. Look right. Look UP.

This is the mission on a New York afternoon, as the Diamondback terrapins poke their heads from their telltale geometrically patterned shells, plodding to cross the JFK International Airport runway jutting into Jamaica Bay.

The wildlife patrol team plucks them from danger and tucks hatchlings into a see-through plastic bag while adults go into the back of patrol pickups, the first step in relocating them to safety.

The loudspeaker atop a yellow-striped, white patrol SUV babbles airport tower chatter until, clear as a bell, comes “Four Left” — the two words you were warned about.

“Go, now,” commands Laura Francoeur. “Off the runway.”

We hightail it to the safety of the crew-cut coarse grass apron. The twin turbine engines roar as the jetliner whooshes by no more than 10 yards away, leaving you feeling out of scale on this landscape, oddly like some small animal beside a highway.

Awed by the din, I look at Francoeur, who smiles, then quips, “It’s just another day at work.”

Managing wildlife and protecting the public

Clemson alumna Laura Francoeur is chief wildlife biologist for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, “Gateway to the World.”

But today, the world will have to wait, while Francoeur picks up Diamondback terrapins following their instincts.

In 2012 more than 1,300 terrapins were picked up by runway patrols during summer nesting season. The critters became media darlings, even getting their own Twitter handle #JFKturtles. “I did a Google search once for JFK and turtles and there were more than 900,000 hits,” Francoeur says.

To the public and media, Francoeur and wildlife patrol staffers are saving turtles. Actually they are protecting the airport by managing a wildlife problem. While the terrapins pose little hazard to the planes, they do cause a big headache for airport operations.

“Pilots on the taxiways will see a terrapin or a bunch of them, and will hold their positions and radio the tower to have someone from operations come out to pick them up,” Francoeur says. “During nesting season in the early summer, sometimes there are dozens of terrapins in the way. Delays are usually no more than 10 minutes, but they have gone on for nearly an hour.”

Why does the terrapin cross the runway? To get to the other side.

Terrapin crossing the runway.

Terrapin crossing the runway.

Runway 4L juts 400 feet into Jamaica Bay. On one side the terrapins live their lives and mate. On the other, females dig nests to lay their eggs. The biologists have had to figure ways to block the terrapins. Existing fences did not stop the turtles, which would look for gaps to slip under or trudge to the end and go around. The best solution so far is corrugated plastic pipe laid on the ground. The airport has installed more than 4,000 feet of it. “They can’t get a grip and slide back, and the pipe is staying on the ground,” Francoeur says. “The terrapins finally give up and lay their eggs outside the fence.”

Francoeur presented the JFK terrapin work during the 15th Wildlife Damage Management Conference held at Clemson last March. She had time to catch up with friends and colleagues, including her graduate program adviser, wildlife professor Greg Yarrow.

Wildlife-damage management, regardless of the problem species, has four basic components, according to Yarrow, now a division chair in the School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences. It’s problem-solving that follows a process: You define the problem by identifying and assessing the damage. Next, study the behavior and ecology of the problem species. Then choose and apply controls, and finally evaluate the results.
Yarrow remembers Francoeur, who graduated in 1995 with a master’s in wildlife biology, and her thesis about deer damage to soybean fields.

Nicknamed “Spike” for her short-cropped gel-spiked blond hair, Francoeur was one of “the graduate students we had then who went all out all the time,” Yarrow says. “They were a group of great graduate students that put Clemson wildlife biology on the map.”

“Wildlife management was the right fit for me,” Francoeur says.

Arbitrating the conflicts of nature and development

Wildlife and airplanes have needed managing since the beginning of flight. Orville Wright wrote in his diary about a 1910 run-in with birds. In 2012, approximately 10,900 wildlife strikes to U.S. civilian aircraft were reported. Since 1988, more than 250 people have died because of wildlife strikes worldwide, according to the U.S. Bird Strike Committee. Damage to nonmilitary U.S. aircraft from wildlife strikes costs about $700 million a year.

A day with Francoeur and a colleague, wildlife biologist Jeff Kolodzinski, offers a glimpse of JFK from the outside in. The terminals, ticketing counters, TSA checkpoints, quick-bite joints, concourses and baggage carousels are out of sight, but not out of mind. “Our job is safety, looking for and controlling wildlife hazards,” said Francoeur.

It’s a deceptively simple statement, as complicated to achieve as is running an airport as big as a New York City borough. About 15 miles from downtown Manhattan, JFK borders the borough of Queens, Nassau County and Long Island.

In statistical description alone, JFK is a mind-boggling place, a city within a city. Some 49 million passengers buckle up for more than 400,000 takeoffs and landings a year on four runways linked by 25 miles of taxiways. Sited on 5,000 acres, the airport core is the 880-acre Central Terminal Area encompassing six airline terminals along with parking lots, hangars, administrative buildings and cargo facilities connected by 30 miles of road. More than 35,000 people work there. JFK’s economic impact in the region exceeds $30 billion a year.

It is a microcosm of the world coping with economic and environmental factors, where nature runs into increasing conflicts with its human neighbors.

Francoeur began her career in Newport News, Va., where she conducted wildlife-hazard assessments for airports and landfills for USDA Wildlife Services. Since 1999, she has been part of the wildlife management team dealing with animals that live or pass through the airports operated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International, Teterboro and Stewart International outside of Newburgh, N.Y.

The work is challenging, even daunting. Animals don’t follow regulations and sometimes neither do people. The job requires a multi-tasker — part biologist, bureaucrat, trainer, forensic investigator and enforcer.

On any given day, Francoeur may work on how to discourage hawks from using airports as hunting grounds or preventing deer from dashing across runways. There are meetings with Federal Aviation Agency officials who regulate airports, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service professionals, as well as state and local leaders. Topics can involve everything from designing new parks (tree selection can affect bird roosting) to supervising taxicab sanitation (some cabbies were tossing their edible trash where animals could eat it).

JFK also has a unique stakeholder — the U.S. Park Service. The airport and the Gateway National Recreation Area Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge interlace in the marshes and upland scrublands that harbor more than 325 bird species.

A CSI for bird collisions

Birds, especially bigger ones like gulls, geese and brants, are an obsession.

“We were mostly in the background until 1549,” said Francoeur. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 taking off from LaGuardia Airport collided with Canada geese, forcing Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to land the plane in the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers and crew.

“Collecting information on bird strikes — reporting them, when and where it happened, the species involved, the extent of damage and how long the plane was out of operation — helps us know how to prepare and respond,” Francoeur says. “We do a lot of training to help airport personnel to know what to do and who to call.”

Being a CSI for bird collisions is also a big part of the job. When a bird collision occurs or a bird carcass is found around the runways, the wildlife management team dons latex gloves and breaks out the evidence collection kits. Often the remains of a smashed bird or one sucked through a jet engine are not readily identifiable.

“It’s called ‘snarge,’” says Francoeur. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution Feather Identification Lab made up the term for the mess of bird tissue, blood and feathers biologists bag and tag for identification. Tools ranging from DNA to microscopic feather analyses help researchers look for clues and narrow the search. The lab processes about 3,000 cases a year, adding to the FAA Wildlife Strike Database.

Set up in 1990, the database contains more than 133,000 reports. The actual number of strikes is far greater. Officials estimate that only 20 percent — one in five — wildlife strikes are reported.

Experts say hazards from wildlife conflicts are rising, as animal populations increase and adapt to living closer to humans. The number of Canada geese — the species that caused Flight 1549 to ditch in the Hudson River — has risen from 1 million birds in 1990 to more than 3.5 million in 2012, according to U.S. Bird Strike Committee data.

Meanwhile, the number of passengers getting on planes nationwide has soared from 310 million in 1980 to 715 million in 2011 on 25 million flights — a number expected to climb to 37 million by 2030.

The friendly skies have gotten a lot more crowded. It’s a serious concern, but for Francoeur and her colleagues it’s a manageable one for now.

More stories about wildlife management at JFK can be found at:
http://usfwsnortheast.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/why-does-the-terrapin-cross-the-runway/
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/nyregion/03birds.html?_r=0

In These Hills

FIVE FACULTY AWARDED NSF EARLY CAREER GRANTS

Fadi Abu-Farha

Fadi Abu-Farha

It’s the most sought-after recognition an emerging science, engineering or mathematics faculty member can receive: a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant. And this year, Clemson faculty claimed five.

A CAREER grant is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of early career development activities, providing a financial stipend to support research activity for five years. The NSF, an independent federal agency, supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

As any professor who has applied for a CAREER grant can attest, a submission for this award is much more than a research proposal: It’s a career development plan. The goal is to fund faculty members early in their careers to promote their development into teacher-scholars. The scientists and researchers who receive the awards are widely considered the most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. Since 2005, Clemson has been home to more than 30 CAREER grant recipients.

The CAREER grants awarded at Clemson this spring represent a broad spectrum of interests and applications — from harnessing the power of giant computer systems to innovative medical advances to developing lighter-weight materials for modern
car construction.

Fadi Abu-Farha (pictured)
Associate Professor of Automotive Engineering
Amount: $400,000
Low-cost manufacturing of lightweight sheet components for the automotive sector

Jeffrey N. Anker
Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry
Amount: $526,000
High-resolution spectrochemical imaging through tissue
Delphine Dean
Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Amount: $400,000
Hierarchical mechanical models of cell constructs

Haiying (Helen) Shen
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Amount: $400,000
Large-scale distributed data-sharing system

Melissa Smith
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Amount: $450,000
Harnessing hybrid computing resources in PetaScale computing and beyond

LIBRARY DIGITIZES TAPS

TAPS yearbook cover 1943.

TAPS yearbook cover 1943.

Whether you’re digging for family history or just browsing for fun, thumbing through decades-old Clemson yearbooks is an intriguing experience. And now that experience is accessible to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.

Clemson’s Special Collections Library has digitized the complete run, from the first volume (Clemson College Chronicle) in 1899 through 2012. The yearbook had several names before finally becoming Taps in 1908.

Clemson's Special Collections Library has digitized TAPS.

Clemson’s Special Collections Library has digitized TAPS.

Through a partnership with the Internet Archive, the yearbooks were scanned cover-to-cover in full color. Online visitors can page through a volume, download a PDF, view it on a Kindle or search the full text.

This project was made possible through the LYRASIS Digitization Collaborative — a Sloan Foundation grant-subsidized program that has made digitization easy and affordable for libraries and cultural institutions across the country.

Also available digitally are the Clemson Catalog (undergraduate announcements) and the Clemson Chronicle (the student literary/arts/photography journal). In the coming months additional publications will be made available: Clemson College Newsletter (faculty/staff), The Agrarian (School of Agriculture student publication), and Bobbin & Beaker (official journal of the Textile School).

When all these publications have been digitized, more than 100,000 pages of full-color, text-searchable Clemson-related materials will be available for researchers worldwide.

To view the yearbooks, visit http://library.clemson.edu/depts/specialcollections/clemson-yearbooks/.

RICHARDSON NAMED TO CLEMSON BOARD

Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson

Charlotte business leader Mark Richardson ’83 is the newest member of the University’s board of trustees. Manager and owner of MAR Real Estate LLC, a commercial real estate company, Richardson is co-owner of the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon and more than 50 Bojangles’ restaurants in North Carolina and Virginia. He played on Clemson’s 1981 national championship football team.

“Mark brings to the board keen business and marketing insights, a commitment to excellence and a passion for Clemson University,” said Board Chair David Wilkins.

Richardson succeeds the late Bill L. Amick of Batesburg, who retired after serving for 30 years. Amick, a 1966 Clemson graduate, was chief executive officer of the Amick Company and a real estate developer. He served as chair of Clemson’s board from 1991 to 1995 and was awarded Clemson’s Distinguished Service Award.

EXPLORING THE BIODIVERSITY OF THE ROAN HIGHLANDS

Big Yellow Mountain in the Roan Highlands.

Big Yellow Mountain in the Roan Highlands.

Students from Patrick McMillan’s plant taxonomy class explored some of the most ecologically diverse areas in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, thanks to alumnus Witt Langstaff. Langstaff has property on Big Yellow Mountain, located in the Roan Highlands along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, and hosts McMillan’s class each fall. One of the highest elevation areas in the Eastern U.S., the Roan Highlands has plant communities and climate typical of New England and Canada and is the location of one of the most picturesque and unique natural communities, the grassy bald.

CLEMSON OPENS DOORS IN VILLAGE OF WEST GREENVILLE

Clemson's Center for Visual Arts opens at West Greenville

Clemson’s Center for Visual Arts opens at West Greenville

Clemson’s Center for Visual Arts opens at West Greenville [/caption]Once the heart of the local textile industry, West Greenville has reinvented itself as an art destination. The Village of West Greenville is home to more than 30 artisans — including potters, sculptors, photographers and painters — as well as local businesses and restaurants. And now Clemson’s Center for Visual Arts has opened its doors there as well.

The Center for Visual Arts serves as the umbrella for all visual art activities at the University. The location on Pendleton Street will allow for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and alumni to have hands-on experiences in developing, curating, installing and exhibiting art. The center will engage local, regional, national and international artists and will give Upstate residents an opportunity to both see and “do” art.

Greg Shelnutt, chair of the art department, sees the center as a mutually beneficial partnership for Clemson and Greenville. “This is a chance to become a part of the fabric of the community. Artists want to give back; we want to share what we do. Artists want to expand upon the cultural heritage of a community, using art to tell the stories of life in that community,” he says. “We get so much out of our interaction with the public, and this will give our students a chance to jumpstart their art careers.”

STUDENTS UNVEIL COMPLETED DEEP ORANGE 3 VEHICLE

Deep Orange 3 Vehicle

Deep Orange 3 Vehicle

Students in Clemson’s graduate automotive engineering program displayed a new concept vehicle at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show in November. Deep Orange 3 features a unique hybrid powertrain that automatically chooses front-, rear- or all-wheel drive; a load-bearing structure based on innovative sheet-folding technology patented by Industrial Origami; and groundbreaking 3+3 seating configuration in sports-car architecture.

Clemson’s graduate automotive engineering students are required to create and manufacture a new vehicle prototype. The vehicle’s concept and design are developed in partnership with students from the transportation design department at the Arts Center College of Design (Calif.) focusing holistically on the vehicle and the end-user. Each year, a prototype vehicle is developed with a new market focus and technical objectives, providing students an opportunity to work directly with automotive industry partners to innovate and develop ideas.

STUDENT RESEARCH TAKES AIM AT CONCUSSIONS

Assistant professor of bioengineering David Kwartowitz works with a student Creative Inquiry team conducting research to prevent sports concussions.

Assistant professor of bioengineering David Kwartowitz works with a student Creative Inquiry team conducting research to prevent sports concussions.

Hardly a week goes by without a news story about the effects of concussions on athletes from pee-wee to professional. And Clemson researchers and students are tackling the issue.

An undergraduate Creative Inquiry student research team, working with bioengineering professors David Kwartowitz, John DesJardins and Delphine Dean, has designed a dummy equipped with brain sensors that provide concussion data. The students built a track system to strike the head of the dummy with numerous objects, including weights, footballs, baseballs and helmets. Using this system, the researchers can manipulate the impact of these objects and the sensors provide instant concussion results.

“We control impact and collect concussion data while the dummy is donning an NCAA-approved football or baseball helmet,” says Kwartowitz.

And in that process, students are trying to find solutions. “We’ve begun a competition for the students to design their own padding inside the shell of a football helmet to avoid probable concussions at high impact,” Kwartowitz says. “Ultimately, the data collected will offer insight as how to better protect an athlete from concussion.”

While the project is educational for the Creative Inquiry student team, it’s designed to be educational for elementary, middle and high school students as well on the severity of concussions and the benefits of wearing protective equipment. The dummy simulator eventually will be displayed in Greenville at the Roper Mountain Science Center’s newly renovated health research facility, where 120,000 students visit annually.

SELF FAMILY FOUNDATION CREATES ENDOWED CHAIR IN GENETICS

One of South Carolina’s longest established private foundations has underscored its commitment to medical science by funding an endowed chair in genetics research at the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics. The Self Family Endowed Chair in Human Genetics will advance the development of novel therapeutics treating genetic disorders at the cell level. The $4 million chair is jointly funded by the Self Family Foundation and the state of South Carolina.

The researcher, to be selected, will be a leading geneticist who will work toward treatment, and preventive, diagnostic and curative tools with life-changing and economic potential.

The endowed chair will allow Clemson to build on the Greenwood Genetic Center’s potential for seamless technology transfer through opportunities for industry partners to locate in the adjoining Greenwood Research Park to support local business and economies.

According to Frank Wideman, president of the Self Family Foundation, the foundation made this commitment to honor the late Jim Self who understood early on the enormous potential of research to treat and cure genetic disorders. It was his vision to transform Greenwood from a traditional textile town to a modern center for the life sciences. Self was a longtime chair of the Self Family Foundation, a life trustee of the University and a founding investor in the Greenwood Genetic Center.

Clemson wildlife biology students made a strong showing at the 2013 Wildlife Society Annual Conference in Milwaukee, including first place in the student research in progress poster category and second place for the best doctoral research poster presentation. Senior wildlife and fisheries biology major Jenna Kohles won first prize in flora photography for this photograph of a sourwood leaf floating on a pond in her hometown of Cary, N.C.

Clemson wildlife biology students made a strong showing at the 2013 Wildlife Society Annual Conference in Milwaukee, including first place in the student research in progress poster category and second place for the best doctoral research poster presentation. Senior wildlife and fisheries biology major Jenna Kohles won first prize in flora photography for this photograph of a sourwood leaf floating on a pond in her hometown of Cary, N.C.

SERIES BRINGS SCHOLARS TO CAMPUS ON FOOTBALL WEEKENDS

Georgia Tech professor Nihad Farooq (left) and Clemson professor Kimberly Manganelli confer before the final Road Scholar Series lecture.

Georgia Tech professor Nihad Farooq (left) and Clemson professor Kimberly Manganelli confer before the final Road Scholar Series lecture.

Georgia Tech professor Nihad Farooq (left) and Clemson professor Kimberly Manganelli confer before the final Road Scholar Series lecture.[/caption]The fifth and final Clemson Humanities Road Scholar Series lecture, “Slavery and Social Networks in the New World,” took place Friday, November 15, in connection with the Georgia Tech vs. Clemson football game the night before. The series paired the Tigers’ associate professor of English Kimberly Manganelli (above, right) with Yellow Jackets’ assistant professor of American studies Nihad M. Farooq in a lively discussion of slavery and race.

Jonathan Beecher Field, associate professor of English at Clemson, organized the series which brought humanities professors from visiting football opponents to Clemson throughout the fall to present their current research, each followed by a response from a Clemson professor. Faculty from the University of Georgia, Wake Forest University, Boston College, Florida State University and Georgia Tech accepted Clemson’s invitation to visit and engage with Clemson faculty and students.

“We want to find a way to engage with our athletic rivals academically,” said Field, “and we want to show people what’s important to us at Clemson. This series offers us a way to bring some of the energy surrounding athletics to the academic side of campus and raise the profile of the humanities at Clemson.”

The series received support from across campus, including the Humanities Advancement Board, the Pearce Center for Professional Communication, the Department of Athletics, the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, the Class of ’56 Academic Success Center, the Office of the President and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

In her lecture, Farooq explored how contemporary communication networks might provide ways to re-think the diffuse global networks of slaves in the New World archipelago. She compared slave networks of earlier periods to virtual networks of today, calling them “traceable only through the flow of information.”

In her response, Manganelli explored the networks of slavery, both global and local, and together the scholars engaged their audience in a brief Q&A period.

CLEMSON OPENS ENERGY SYSTEMS TESTING AND RESEARCH CENTER

SCE&G Energy Innovation Center at CURI.

SCE&G Energy Innovation Center at CURI.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman spoke at the November dedication of the world’s most advanced energy systems testing and research center, located at the old Charleston Naval Base. “Developing America’s vast renewable energy resources is an important part of the Energy Department’s ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future,” he said.

“The Clemson testing facility represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing global industry — helping to make sure the best, most efficient wind energy technologies are developed and manufactured in the United States.”

The SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, which is part of Clemson’s Restoration Institute, houses a four-story, 400-ton unit capable of testing drivetrains for wind turbines that can produce up to 15 megawatts, which is enough energy to power 6,000 homes. There are only two other such facilities in the world, but neither has this large of a capability.

In addition to drivetrain testing, the facility also includes the Duke Energy eGRID, which can simulate the electrical grid of any country in the world, allowing companies to see how solar, wind and storage devices might interact with the grid.

STUDENT-RUN LITERARY FESTIVAL TO FEATURE U.S. POET LAUREATE

U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

Pulitzer Prize-winner and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, along with a dozen other authors from around the country, will be on campus this spring for the seventh annual Literary Festival.

The festival, one of the few in the country planned and run by students, will include a Young Writer’s Workshop on Friday and Family Day on Saturday. The Young Writers Workshop is a half-day event for area high school creative writers. Upstate teachers bring selected students to campus for a day of readings and workshops with authors including Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters), Benjamin Percy (Red Moon) and poet Mathias Svalina. The Humanities Advancement Board is funding an expansion of the workshop this year, and the organizers are expecting approximately 70 students to attend.

At the heart of this event is a Creative Inquiry class, taught this year by professor Keith Morris. His class of 11 undergraduates and one graduate student are divided into four groups that handle communications, design, planning and organization. Each student serves as a liaison for one of the authors, handling correspondence, introducing the author at the festival and then writing a critical essay on the author’s work.

Many of the students, according to Morris, have used their experience on the festival as a way to secure jobs and internships. For a schedule and more information about this year’s festival, go to clemson.edu/litfest.