Clemson Division of Research

March 2017: Celebrating CAREERs and postdocs

Celebrating CAREERs and postdocs

Spring has come early to Clemson’s beautiful campus. The color is returning after the mild winter drained it briefly. The gingko trees are unfurling their fresh, chartreuse leaves; yellow dandelions are poking through the grass and at the Musser Fruit Research Center the rolling hills are bathed in the light pink of peach blossoms – it’s easy on the eyes but not so good for the peaches.

With newness springing up around us, it’s a good time to celebrate two activities focused on young researchers: the Faculty Early Career Development Program referred to as CAREER awards and a new Office for Post-doctoral Affairs.

Notable careers

The CAREER awards are among the most prestigious grants given to young researchers by the NSF, NASA, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force and other federal agencies. It took three attempts for me to receive a CAREER Award. I learned more about proposal preparation and writing each time I applied, finally realizing that it’s a proposal that needs to be worked on continuously through the year to be perfected.

I encourage all eligible junior faculty to use all their available chances to apply. Beyond the prestige, the awards bring steady funding for about five years, removing a little bit of the pressure of research funding and allowing more time for actually doing research.

At the time of this writing, seven Clemson faculty are CAREER Award winners:

  • Marissa Porter in Psychology received one of the very few awards given for social science research, building on her work to identify the best cohesion-building interventions for groups.
  • Sophie Joerg in the School of Computing will use her award to perfect complex hand and finger movements in animation so virtual reality can include an important component of communication.
  • Luiz Jacobsohn in Materials Science and Engineering is enhancing ways to identify short-term and long-term radiation exposure.
  • Sapna Sarupria in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is studying materials that promote or inhibit the freezing process for water.
  • Amin Khademi in Industrial Engineering is applying his expertise to the pharmaceutical development process, using data to get drugs approved safer and faster.
  • Mishra Ashok in Civil Engineering is improving forecast methods for extreme drought conditions so water resources can be optimally managed.
  • Simona Onori in Automotive Engineering will use her award to examine lithium-ion battery function and lifespan to find the best battery system configurations for use in the automotive, healthcare, aerospace and defense sectors.

We have posted online a list of all Clemson CAREER Award winners – those with active awards and those whose awards came years ago – so that junior faculty can seek them out for potential mentoring. You can see them at

Post-doctoral Researchers

This month, the Division of Research launched the new Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to address the specific needs of postdoctoral scholars. The office is an investment in postdoc culture, providing professional development and training that foster fulfilling careers.

We also aim to build a sense of community among all postdoc scholars, who occupy an often-overlooked space between students and faculty. I have advised about 20 postdocs during my career. Their hard work and novel ideas have made significant impacts in my research program. Postdocs are a vital resource to a research university, and they contributions are felt beyond a research group, to include the university environment and the community. They also become our colleagues very soon.

Our new Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will collaborate with Clemson’s Postdoctoral Association to identify  and address the needs of our postdocs across campus, and we hope this resource will attract more postdocs to Clemson. Please visit for more information.

Please join me in congratulating our CAREER Award winners and celebrating our postdoctoral scholars. The Clemson Family is very proud of all your contributions.

Go Tigers!