Clemson Division of Research

Sept. 2020: Extraordinary work during the COVID-19 pandemic

Clemson University Vice President for Research Tanju Karanfil wearing a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19
Tanju Karanfil

This fiscal year, Clemson University faculty collectivity submitted $734 million in research proposals, a 23 percent increase from the prior year.

Your productivity in the months on-campus access was limited was extraordinary. As you juggled online instruction, uncertain funding guidelines, childcare, remote working and many more matters that I’m sure I am forgetting, you did not rest on your research. You seized the opportunity to do more. You sought more projects. You pushed forward. In fact, in the months of April, May, June and July, you submitted $311 million in research proposals, twice as much as the same period a year ago. Congratulations and thank you. I am so proud to work with such an extraordinary group of scholars who are constantly seeking answers to society’s grand challenges.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, our competitive expenditures exceeded our Clemson Forward goal for a second year, and seven years ahead of schedule. Our competitive awards again increased. You can read more about our research activity in my September 2020 Research Report to the Board of Trustees. During my report to trustees, Trustee Joe Swann, who chairs the Research and Economic Development Committee, asked me to pass along his appreciation for all of the work you are doing. He said the entire report, which highlights your research productivity, made him very proud.

The cover page of the September 2020 Research Report to the Board of Trustees includes a collage of photos related to COVID-19 research, including pictures of a mobil health clinic, a student making face masks, a faculty member in a lab with students, and a doctor seeing a patient under a protective hood.
The September 2020 Research Report to the Board of Trustee highlights some of the ways Clemson faculty and students have lent their expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Challenges persist. We must remain United as Tigers to protect our own health and the health of the entire Clemson Family, so we can continue with in-person instruction and research. Wear a mask. Stay home if feeling ill. Wash hands regularly. You all know the routine. We have developed several guidance documents to provide tips for ramping up laboratories after extended shutdowns, sanitizing equipment and limiting coronavirus spread in laboratories. You can view those documents and other information on our COVID-19 Research Resources webpage. We will update this page as necessary, and I will email you and your college leadership with important updates on research activity, as needed.

Please note that while in-person instruction resumes, some members of the Division of Research team continue to work remotely. That said, the entire Division of Research is available and ready to support you. You can reach us via the emails listed on the Division of Research website, as well as the webpages for each office within the Division of Research. You can also call us on our office numbers, which will forward to team members’ mobile numbers if they are working remotely. If you receive voicemail, my expectation is that we will respond as quickly as possible. Like others, our team members will be taking furlough over the next several months. We will work to manage this time off with little disruption to the services we provide.

As you have likely noticed, the university has revamped As part of that, we have a new Division of Research landing page.  Here you will find information on our R-Initiative support programs; links to our offices, which provide support for proposal submissions, grant administration, industry collaboration, compliance training and more; along with introductions to the Division of Research Leadership Team. You’ll also find timely announcements and notices of upcoming events and workshops aimed at helping you advance your research. Important links that you may have bookmarked for safety, compliance or regulatory programs have not changed. If you notice anything working incorrectly, please notify Division of Research communications director Scott Miller at

Vincent Richards, left, accepts a check as junior faculty Researcher of the Year during a virtual awards ceremony.
Vincent Richards, left, accepts a check as junior faculty Researcher of the Year during a virtual awards ceremony.

Finally, I want to congratulate our Researchers of the Year and recipients of our University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Awards. Please take a moment to read about these outstanding faculty members. They are doing outstanding work and serving as role models for all of us, continuously seeking to impact society through their research. Unfortunately, but necessarily, our research awards celebration had to be conducted virtually this year. You can watch the video here. The event included some surprise award presentations that I hope made the occasion memorable. It is important for us to continue to celebrate our accomplishments together and to support each other in our efforts to improve the world.

Thank you for all you do and for your ongoing commitment to scholarship and discovery at Clemson University.

Go Tigers!