Students rewarded for design Astronaut teams up and creativity

Starboard Sandwiches

Starboard Sandwiches

The challenge:

Design a functional and creative package for a quick-serve chain kids’ meal and address how the plans could be altered to serve an additional purpose.

That’s what Clemson’s packaging science team started with. What they ended up with was “Starboard Sandwiches,” a colorful boat-shaped container that holds the drink in the center and the sandwich in the stern. The side of carrots sits on top of the sandwich; condiments, a straw and napkin fit in an opening at the front. A removable insert includes interesting facts and a coloring sheet. Best of all, the boat actually floats.

They walked away from the Paperboard Packaging Alliance’s eighth annual Student Design Challenge in Chicago with the third-place prize (and $1,000) for their design and creativity. Professor Andrew Hurley was the adviser for the team. This year, a record number of students from the U.S. and Canada participated in the challenge, with more than 200 students from 13 leading packaging and graphic design programs.

Gilbert honored as Presidential Endowed Chair

Juan Gilbert

Juan Gilbert

Professor Juan Gilbert has been named the first Presidential Endowed Chair in Human-Centered Computing. The Presidential Endowed Chair recognizes the accomplishments and dedication of current faculty at Clemson University.

“The inaugural Presidential Endowed Chair selection was particularly important because it sets the standard for all other presidential endowed chairs,” President Barker said. “We believe Juan Gilbert sets these standards at a very high level in his teaching, research, mentoring and service.” Gilbert is a professor and chair of the Human-Centered Computing Division in the School of Computing. At the forefront of his research is what Gilbert calls “innovative solutions to real-world problems.” His work addresses societal issues and integrates people, technology, policy, culture and more.

“This is a huge honor for the School of Computing and for me personally,” Gilbert said. “The funds I receive from the Endowed Chair will enable me to purchase equipment, fund students, travel, some faculty and/or post-doc salaries and more. We can do cutting-edge research at the moment of conception, and that gives us an edge.”

Researchers in Gilbert’s division gained national and international attention for multiple solutions-based technologies, including Prime III, an electronic, accessible voting system. This year, Prime III researchers put the system to use in official and mock elections around the country. Gilbert could tout many career accomplishments, but he is most proud of his students. About 10 percent of the nation’s African-American computer science faculty and Ph.D. students are at Clemson.

Provost Dori Helms said, “Endowed chair faculty stimulate the academic environment of the entire campus. They initiate, encourage and support the development of ideas and innovations that improve both social and economic well being of citizens in our state, region, country and even our world.”

Read more about Juan Gilbert’s current research at

Debate team begins season with a sweep

Debate team

Debate team

The debate team brought home multiple awards at the National Educational Debate Association tournament in Anderson, Ind. The Judge Harold E. Achor tournament, which marks the beginning of the season, was hosted by Anderson University.

Clemson took six teams to the tournament; three teams participated in the open competition, while three competed in novice. Clemson was awarded the overall team sweepstakes and also had the first-place teams and speakers in both the novice and varsity competitions.

Lindsey C. Dixon, director of forensics and lecturer in communications studies, coaches the debate team.

Always in the details

Louis Henry

I have always felt blessed and unabashedly proud that my academic career brought me to Clemson University — and doubly so that my greatest influence there was Louis Henry. He was, after all, a native son: Born in 1931 to parents who were employed by the University, he would graduate from Clemson in 1953 and some two decades later be named the first Alumni Master Teacher. I’d known nothing of the award until I picked up a 1974 Homecoming program a few years ago on eBay and started thumbing through in a fit of nostalgia. There he was, featured in a two-page article, younger than I’d ever seen him, but much the same man I’d come to know during my college years in the 1980s.

“Yes, that was quite an honor,” he chuckled when I called down a few days later, then promptly shifted conversation in another direction, a classic Henry maneuver. Of all the subjects on which he’d freely converse — and there were many — he was least inclined to discuss himself, always more interested in the person who’d taken up a seat in his office, living room, wherever.

Louis Henry was a gifted educator, and a good deal more, in part due to his belief that teachers did their greatest work outside of the classroom. It was a mantra he’d adopted early on in his career and practiced daily in his first-floor Strode Tower office. Like so many other Clemson students, I spent my share of time there. First as an undergraduate, then a graduate student and finally, for two years, as an instructor, I took any and all questions — many of them grammar related — and mooched coffee that might have been poured from a crank case. I always felt welcome there, its book-lined shelves punctuated with photographs, the manual typewriter and potted plants. It was a comfortable, easy-going space that seemed in those days Louis Henry’s natural domain.

Equal parts inspiration and common sense, that’s how I remember him and that’s what I took from two of the most valuable lessons I ever received. The first he seemed to embody: Find your passion and pursue it. His work with students over the years spoke to the depth of his commitment. The same might be said of his friendships, now that I think about it, since there was scarcely ever a conversation that didn’t involve the latest on half a dozen other folks of our shared acquaintance. A lot of those lives crossed paths through Louis Henry. Then there was lesson number two, a tough one in this high-tech, fast-paced age that holds everything at the fingertips except time. “Life is in the details,” he said, and said it over and over in the way he lived.

For the past 22 years, our conversations were split between the telephone and the occasional visit in his living room out in Central. The last decade or so saw his health compromised and his activities pared down so that eventually he had to give up his Clemson baseball tickets. Years ago we’d discovered a mutual passion for baseball in general, Clemson baseball in particular, and this near obsession became a recurring theme.

Dr. Henry’s birthday was in February, the same month the Tigers fire off the first pitch, appropriately enough. He knew all the players by name and position, could detail their respective strengths, and preferred “watching games on the radio.” And his trip out to the College World Series in 1996 stayed always fresh in his mind. Indelible, really.

“You have to go. That’s a trip you just have to make,” he kept saying until there was no missing the opportunity and I found myself on a plane out to Omaha with my 9-year-old son in 2010. Life in the details, I remember thinking then, as my traveling companion, who carries the Henry middle name, settled back and tried to rein in his excitement. Always in the details … though it may be years before we fully grasp their meaning.

There are two memorial funds for Dr. Henry set up with the Clemson Foundation: the Dr. Louis Henry ’53 Endowment, supporting The Tiger newspaper, and the Clemson Baseball/Louis Henry Memorial supporting the baseball team.

Clif Collins ’84, M ’88, largely due to the influence of Dr. Henry, is now teaching college English in Laurel, Md.

Young businesswoman on the rise: Raven C. Magwood ’12

Three D’s, one young woman and a long list of accomplishments and ambitions. Recent graduate Raven Magwood believes that dedication, determination and discipline are the sources to her success. She graduated from Clemson at the age of 19, but that’s just one of her many accomplishments.

By the time she was 12, Magwood had a national gymnastics title, was a published author and had started high school. At 16, she followed in her parents’ footsteps to Clemson, planning on a career in medicine. A conversation with her mother altered that career path.

“She asked me if someone would pay me to do anything, what would I do? I told her that I would speak and write,” Magwood said. With her parents’ support, she changed her major to communication studies.

By this time, her motivational speaking was gaining a lot of attention. Halfway through college, she made a bold decision to take time off to host her own television show, “The Raven Magwood Show,” which aired Saturday mornings on My 40. She interviewed celebrities that included Alveda King (Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece), actress Porscha Coleman and former Clemson football player Stanley Hunter. After a year and a half, Magwood decided it was time to go back and finish her degree.

Her final year at Clemson, she attended classes during the week and spent most of her weekends traveling the country to speak and promote her third and latest book, The 7 Practices of Exceptional Student Athletes. Magwood graduated in December, finishing college in just four semesters. And now she has plunged into her full-blown career of speaking and writing.

Her advice to others? “It is key to set goals; when times get tough for me, my goals show me what I’m working so hard for and where I want to be.”

Making his way in L.A.: Judson McKinney ’08

Judson McKinney hopes he has just joined the likes of Elton John, James Taylor and Tom Waits. All three of them performed early in their careers at the legendary Troubadour club in West Hollywood, where McKinney had the opportunity to take the stage on June 20.

Unlike the alums who headed to Nashville (see p. 20), McKinney headed to Los Angeles with a degree in philosophy. He’s worked hard, pounding the streets with CDs, even living in his car on occasion.

But it’s paid off, as evidenced by his performance at the Troubadour. With a style that’s been described as Americana, the singer/songwriter/guitarist is playing regularly at venues in Los Angeles and beyond. His new album, “Drink the Wine,” released by Atomic Sweater Records, cracked the iTunes charts upon its debut. And one of the tracks, “People Grow Up So Slow,” is soon to be featured in Michael Rosenbaum’s film “Old Days.”

His reviews describe him as “both straightforward and oddly mercurial.” A reviewer from L.A. Record described the performance at the Troubadour like this: “Judson and his Americana crew rocked the Troubadour and got everybody’s hips shaking and faces smiling.” LA Times has called him one of “the more compelling live acts around.”

At Clemson, McKinney played in a band called Sum Yung Gai, later known as Everyday Strangers, which performed at the now-defunct Joint, as well as at the Handlebar in Greenville and at clubs in Charleston.

Tiger is a Harvard Hero: Rupal Ramesh Shah M ’07

Rupal Ramesh Shah, a microbiology graduate, was honored by Harvard University as a 2012 Harvard Hero. This prestigious award is given to a select number of Harvard staff members who are recognized for “above and beyond” achievements and for their contributions to the university. Out of 12,000 Harvard staff members, only 49 received this award in 2012.

Shah is laboratory manager of the tuberculosis laboratory in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases in the School of Public Health.

“As a researcher, I value working with and learning from other scientists and colleagues in the lab and the department,” she said. “As a lab manager, I use the leadership skills I developed at Clemson to organize, lead and manage teams, and I truly enjoy this aspect of my work.”

Shah’s view of the world extends from the cellular to the global. Her work as a laboratory scientist involves molecular biology to help fight disease. As a humanitarian, she volunteers with both local and global organizations to help fight poverty, lack of education and improve public health.

“Her dedication to the well being of humanity is innate. I don’t think she will ever stop trying to make the world a better place, and many will benefit from her efforts,” said Alfred “Hap” Wheeler, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson, and one of Shah’s mentors.

Turning ‘Mock Turtle Soup’ into ‘Gold’

When Jason Underwood ’04, Harrison Brookie ’07, M’08, Meg Pierson ’08  and Ben Burris  ’11 were members of Clemson’s improv comedy group, Mock Turtle Soup, they never dreamed that one day they would come together and form their own theater.

Alchemy Comedy Theater was created to perform and teach improv comedy. All of the members have day jobs, but have pooled their talents and experiences to form the only comedy improv theater in Greenville.

Artistic director Brookie is a secondary education graduate teaching at Southside International Baccalaureate High School. Underwood, class instructor, has a degree in architecture and works at Fluor Daniel. Pierson, Improv 201 instructor, graduated in history, and electrical engineering graduate Burris works at aeSolutions and is the group’s assistant artistic director.

They created a training center that has produced almost 50 students of comedy — some who have joined the theater. Performances are every Friday night at Coffee Underground. For more information, go to

Veterinarian with heart: Mary Mauldin Pereira ’01

After graduating with a degree in animal science, Mary Mauldin Pereira enrolled at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) on the island of St. Kitts. Her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian was realized after graduating in 2005. She and her husband, Gary, and their daughter, Ava Kate, live on the island where she is an assistant professor of parasitology at RUSVM.

In addition to teaching, Pereira has created a fundraising program, oneLOVEPets, for animals in need. Through the sales of pet collar tags, wristbands and other products, funds are raised to support animal shelters, spay and neuter clinics, fostering and food drives.

For more information, go to, oneLOVEPets on Facebook and Twitter @OneLovePets!

Coming back to Clemson: Jimmy D. Mullinax ’94

Industrial management major Jimmy Mullinax has come back to Clemson 17 years after being commissioned by the Clemson Army ROTC. A lieutenant colonel in the Army, Mullinax, a logistics officer, returned in June tasked with developing cadets into future Army officers and ensuring that they meet yearly Army commissioning requirements.

Mullinax has also served as an air defense officer in a Patriot Missile unit, as well as in a variety of positions ranging from platoon leader to brigade operations officer. He has been stationed in South Korea, Germany, California, Kentucky, Virginia and Texas. He has his master’s degree in military studies from Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Mullinax and his wife, Angie Chapman ’95 (SED-MA) Mullinax, are living in Liberty with their three children.