ECE graduate one of six students nationwide to receive prestigious Phi Kappa Phi award

August 1, 2023

From ClemsonNews

Clemson University alumnus Gabe Cutter (‘ 23) is one of only six recent graduates nationwide to be named Marcus L. Urann Fellows by Phi Kappa Phi, America’s oldest and most selective multidisciplinary collegiate honor society.

The fellowship, which provides $20,000 for expenses related to graduate school, recognizes Cutter’s exceptional research, leadership initiative and commitment to service throughout his four years on Clemson campus.

Cutter will pursue a Ph.D. in quantum engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this fall.

I congratulate Gabe for his exceptional academic achievements and for being honored with this highly prestigious fellowship and award. Gabe’s dedication to Clemson University through research, service and leadership has enhanced student experiences for those around him. We’re excited to see the positive impacts he will continue to make in this world.


Cutter said his experience at Clemson helped him discover his purpose in serving others. A computer engineering and economics double major, he spent the summer before his first year on campus in the Honors College’s EUREKA! program, which helps incoming first-year students dive into research before they start their degree.

He joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering microwave and radio frequency laboratory run by Professor Pingshan Wang, who said that Cutter quickly impressed him with his initiative and intellectual curiosity.

Cutter says the experience was transformational. “EUREKA! gave me the flexibility to explore research early, discover I was interested in its alternate method of learning, and ultimately decide that I wanted to pursue research as a career.”

He stayed with the lab for his entire undergraduate degree and began mentoring other students over time. Cutter also contributed to a significant scientific discovery published in leading academic journals.

Gabe Cutter, wearing graduation robes, sitting by the Old Tillman Hall Bell in the Carillon Gardens on Clemson University campus.

Outside the lab, he focused on increasing resources available to underrepresented students and improving the campus community.

Among his first priorities was the cost of tuition. When he heard a rumor that University administration was considering increasing tuition fees for the 2021-22 academic year, Cutter founded an advocacy group called Clemson Students for Tuition Freeze.

The group successfully campaigned to keep tuition at its current level and repeated those efforts the following year.

As part of his role in student government, Cutter also led student delegations to D.C. and the South Carolina state capitol to advocate for increased funding for Pell Grant and other need-based grant programs.

Other high-profile initiatives taken on by Cutter include two Take Back Pride marches. The first, organized in March 2022, was pulled together in three days. He led 800 students to the University’s administrative building in response to statements from a student group opposing drag shows on campus.

Cutter planned a second march during Coming Out Day the same year to successfully advocate for an updated student code of conduct that better promotes a safe environment for all students on campus, regardless of race or sexual orientation.

Clemson’s Tiger and Tiger Cub at the first of two Take Back Pride marches organized by Cutter.

I was inspired to start these marches and to keep Take Back Pride a permanent tradition and annual event because of the queer community that I myself found peace in, helping me find happiness in my own identity. It was no hard feat to find other leaders and friends in this community eager to help put it together.


Last year Cutter also played a crucial role in cementing a partnership with a local investor to launch a program called the Cleo Bailey Experiment. The initiative transformed an abandoned school into a community resource center in Anderson, about 30 minutes from Clemson campus.

According to Cutter, these service projects were among his best experiences and made him sure he was meant to be at Clemson.

“It can be easy for us to feel disenchanted with the world in its current state, but just as how I found my connection to campus, I believe that it is much easier to see the goodness and other people in the world by offering kindness,” said Cutter.

He also continued to receive significant awards for his research and scholarship. Among Cutter’s awards are Goldwater and Astronaut scholarships and a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Most recently, he received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award in May, one of the highest University awards given to graduating seniors for excellence of character and service to humanity.

“Being a Marcus L. Urann Fellow is an extraordinary honor to me. Being recognized for my academics is one thing, but I am equally proud of my advocacy, which is something I strive to continue,” said Cutter.

Robyn Curtis, who leads the University’s Office of Major Fellowships, worked with Cutter for most of his four years at Clemson. She said that Cutter is among the most outstanding scholars she has worked with during her 15 years in higher education.

We need people like Gabe who combine intellectual vision and a passion to open doors and pull others up. He truly embodies Phi Kappa Phi’s motto of letting the love of learning rule humanity.


Students interested in the Phi Kappa Phi fellowship or other nationally competitive programs should contact the Office of Major Fellowships at 864-656-9704 or

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