Nine Clemson students and alumnae awarded graduate research fellowships

May 12, 2023

Seven graduating Clemson University seniors and two recent alumnae are receiving three years of financial support towards their graduate degrees through Graduate Research Fellowships provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with an additional student receiving an honorable mention.

The national fellowship program is highly competitive, with more than 12,000 applications every year. Recipients receive an annual stipend of $37,000 towards their graduate program and an additional $12,000 cost of education allowance that covers their tuition and fees. They also benefit from professional development opportunities offered to fellowship recipients.

The number of students receiving these fellowships this year is indicative of our growing strength and prominence in undergraduate research. Our students are solving real-world problems through experiential and transformational learning opportunities that build a foundation for them to become leaders in their respective fields.


Student Recipients

Carleigh Coffin

Carleigh Coffin (’23) majors in bioengineering with a minor in chemistry. During the COVID-19
pandemic, she partnered with another student to create a grocery store scanning device that
uses light to combat viruses and other bacteria. Since then, she’s worked as part of the Nanobiotechnology Lab on campus, exploring peptide-based targeted delivery systems for RNAi therapeutics to treat ovarian cancer. An Honors student, Coffin was also awarded the 2022 Barry W. Sauer Outstanding Bioengineering Undergraduate Researcher Award. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Florida where her future work will be focused on deciphering the mechanisms of fungal vomocytosis. After that, she hopes to become a principal investigator at a government research agency or professor at a university to pursue a career in bioengineering research.

Gabe Cutter

Gabe Cutter (’23) an Astronaut, Goldwater, and Point BIPOC Scholar, is an Honors student graduating with a double major in computer engineering and economics. His research focuses on creating the technology needed to produce affordable biomedical sensors that can save people’s lives. He’s worked with several research labs on and off campus and served as a research mentor for other engineering and biology students. In recognition of his service and leadership he was selected for the university’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, awarded to just two graduating seniors. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Quantum Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and later work in a leadership position at a U.S. National Lab, where he can create a national technology roadmap for the future of quantum and biomedical sensing.

Arabella Hunter

Arabella Hunter (’23) a Goldwater, Beckman and Annexstad Leaders of Tomorrow Scholar, is an Honors student that majors in materials science and engineering with minors in math and chemistry. She studies magnetic nanoparticle interactions for applications to magnetic particle imaging and therapeutic diagnostics – research she’s conducted at labs on campus and with faculty at MIT and the University of South Carolina. Hunter is also in the process of organizing other collaborations with the University of Florida, the University of California: Berkeley and the University of Newcastle. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Materials Science Engineering at Clemson, with a research focus on macromolecules for biomedical applications while receiving additional training on bringing a laboratory project to market through the NSF I-Corps program. 

Anna Logan McClendon

Anna Logan McClendon (’23) is an Honors student that majors in biosystems engineering with an emphasis in bioprocessing and a double minor in mathematical sciences and sustainability. She explores how geospatial analysis can be used to develop climate-resilient solutions in underserved communities, such as rural communities in the South. She’s conducted research with faculty on campus and through an internship with the Edisto Island Watershed Plan, using geospatial information systems (GIS) to analyze water quality data and determine pollution sources. She plans to pursue a Master’s in Geospatial Data Sciences at the University of Michigan in the School for the Environment and Sustainability, where she will study the expected displacement of individuals forced to migrate due to climate-related disasters.

Amanda Murray

Amanda Murray (’23) is an Honors student that majors in bioengineering with a concentration in biomaterials and a minor in chemistry. Her research focuses on improved ovarian cancer disease models for in vitro nanoparticle delivery testing applications in Dr. Alexander-Bryant’s Nanobiotechnology lab. Murray will be earning her Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, with the goal of working in academia and leading her own research lab while mentoring the female engineers of tomorrow. 

Jacob Russell Seiter

Jacob Russell Seiter (’23), majors in plant and environmental science with a concentration in agricultural biotechnology. He researches how plant viruses spread disease in various botanical systems worldwide. He’s conducted that research at a molecular biology lab on campus and with the Institute for Mediterranean and Subtropical Horticulture in Malaga, Spain. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in plant pathology with an emphasis on molecular plant-virus-vector interactions at North Carolina State University before starting a research career focused on plant virus epidemiology and vector interactions, serving the local community to provide knowledge and assistance in addressing food security.

Grant Wilkins

Grant Wilkins (’23) a double major in computer engineering and mathematical sciences as well as a National Scholar and Honors student, has also been awarded Churchill, Astronaut, and Goldwater Scholarships. He is also this year’s recipient of the University’s prestigious Norris Medal, awarded to the best all-around graduating senior. Wilkins researches green computing and smart grid applications that can keep the electrical grid running, even in a climate crisis. He’s conducted research at Clemson’s high-performance computing (HPC) laboratory and Argonne National Lab, as well as through an internship with Tesla. Next year he will pursue an M.Phil. in Advanced Computer Science at Cambridge. Upon his return to the U.S. he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in smart-grid technology and Internet of Things (IoT) computing.

Alumnae Recipients

Ronnie Clevenstine

Ronnie Clevenstine (’22) a Truman Scholar and National Scholar, is Clemson University’s first-ever Graduate Research Fellowship recipient in the social sciences. She majored in economics with a minor in political science, applying economics to understand how best to leverage the powerful tools of data analysis and econometric modeling toward improving outcomes for low-income communities. As an undergraduate, she participated in several research initiatives through Clemson and the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project. After graduation, Clevenstine accepted a position as a Research Assistant at MEF Associates working on social policy programs funded by the USDA. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Sociology at Princeton University, where she can fully explore social safety net innovations across disciplines.

Chelse VanAtter

Chelse VanAtter (’21) studied bioengineering with a bioelectrical concentration at Clemson to build the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in robotics. A former Honors student, VanAtter worked as the only undergraduate student in the Singapogu Lab on campus for three years and participated in two NSF-funded summer research experiences for undergraduates in robotics. After graduation, she worked as an electrical design engineer at Schneider Electric and at Hewlett Packard, where she designed new parts and processes for a pick-and-place robot that places flexible circuits in ink cartridges. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in robotics at Oregon State University where she will explore in-hand sensing to improve this technology in different applications, including in industrial, medical, prosthetic, underwater and agricultural settings. Her goal is to become a professor who inspires future students the way her family and mentors inspired her.

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