College of Science

College of Science faculty and staff recognized for excellence


Several College of Science faculty and staff members were honored for excellence during an awards ceremony on May 12.

The awards recognized teaching and research excellence, outstanding performance, and outstanding student service and engagement.

The honorees were:

College of Science Outstanding Staff Member Amanda Ellenburg and College of Science Associate Dean Calvin William

Outstanding Staff Member: Amanda Ellenburg

Amanda Ellenburg, the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s graduate program student services coordinator, plays an integral part in the success of the department and its graduate students.

She creates a welcoming atmosphere for the department’s graduate students, regularly checks in on them and advocates for them to the faculty. She meets with each of the 75 students at least once each year to identify challenges they may be facing and ensure they get the support they need. During the pandemic, she set up weekly check-ins and created virtual social events to ameliorate the isolation many students struggled with.

She is a vital conduit of information about the status of the graduate program and plays an integral role in the reforms the department implemented to improve its program. Since 2011, when Ellenburg took her position, the department has seen the percentage of graduate students completing a Ph.D. increase from 30% to 60%.

“Amanda is a team player who is the glue that holds our office together. No matter how complicated the challenge, she takes it on with a smile and never lets on to the faculty and students what she had to go through behind the scenes to address the issue,” wrote Department Chair Sean Brittain in his nomination letter.

Outstanding Staff Member Jennifer Blyden and College of Science Associate Dean Calvin Williams.

Outstanding Staff Member: Jennifer Blyden

As College of Science Dean’s Office administrative coordinator, Jennifer Blyden manages the recruitment process for faculty and staff hires and assists the department administrators within the College with human relations and payroll activities.

She has a collaborative relationship with the department administrative teams and is an integral liaison from the Dean’s Office with the units, HR partners and the Provost’s Office. She leads a monthly office manager meeting to create consistency, discuss training opportunities and needs, and develop a team of HR professionals within the College.

Blyden assists in developing a yearly strategic hiring plan, including reviewing needs with leadership, making adjustments as needed, tracking available position numbers within the College and submitting weekly hire requests to the Provost’s office for approval. 

“The work that Ms. Blyden does has been a game-changer,” said Department of Biological Sciences Chair Saara DeWalt in her nomination letter.

College of Science Associate Dean Calvin Williams and Hattie B. Wagener Award recipient Teri Elliott.

Hattie B. Wagener Award: Teri Elliott

Teri Elliott, an administrative assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences, received the Hattie B. Wagener Award. The endowed award is named after Hattie Boone Wagener, a long-time administrative staff member at Clemson. It recognizes an individual who readily and routinely exceeds stated job expectations and presents a positive work attitude. 

During the pandemic, when most employees were working remotely, she was one of a few staff in all of Long Hall, and she made sure packages and other mail were delivered. Throughout this stressful time, Elliott was unflappable and maintained a professional demeanor that assured visitors and callers to the main office that everything was under control and that the department was available to assist them. This past year, she transitioned to supporting faculty with copying exams, ordering scantrons, giving out keys, arranging in-person graduate defenses, and making job candidates, seminar speakers and new personnel feel welcome.

She played key roles in the new graduate student orientation, BioSci Research Expo, Discover Science, the department’s appreciation lunch, graduate student weekend, and lunches for seminar speakers and 14 faculty candidates.

“Teri’s positive attitude, her competent demeanor, her excellent knowledge of the workings of the Clemson community, and her extraordinary resilience and flexibility are huge assets to the Department of Biological Sciences,” Lecturer Nora Espinoza wrote in her nomination letter. “I am grateful for her every day. Teri strives to make a difference in our department, and she succeeds.”

Biological Sciences Academic Advising Team
The Biological Sciences Advising Center was named the College of Science Outstanding Team at an awards ceremony held May 12. Team members are (L-R) Brad Jones, Andrew Archibald, Carla Brewer, Laura Love and Londan Charley. Not pictured are Anna Lee McTeer, Robert Ballard and Ashley Hubbard.

Outstanding Team: Biological Sciences Advising Center

Head academic adviser Londan Charley; staff advisors Laura Love, Ashley Hubbard, Brad Jones, Anna Lee McTeer and Andrew Archibald; faculty advisor Robert Ballard; and registration coordinator Carla Brewer compose the Biological Sciences Advising Center. Department of Biological Sciences Chair Saara DeWalt calls them the “Dream Team.”

The Department of Biological Sciences has the largest number of undergraduate majors on campus, and this team advises all biological sciences and microbiology majors. In addition, many incoming first-year students and transfers start in biological sciences and then pursue other majors. Many have aspirations of getting into closed majors such as nursing or health sciences. The BSAC helps them navigate the systems at Clemson so they can make the most informed choices about how to finish a degree that will help them with their career goals.

During the pandemic, the BSAC team got numerous students home from their study abroad programs, found classes for them to take, learned how to advise 1,600 students via Zoom and helped students who were stressed while dealing with the challenges of working from home.

“I believe the BSAC serves as a model of advising for the rest of the University,” DeWalt wrote in her nomination letter.

Calvin Williams and Jason Brown pose after Brown won the College of Science's Excellence in Teaching Award.
College of Science Associate Dean Calvin Williams and Excellence in Teaching Award recipient Jason Brown.

Excellence in Teaching Award: Jason Brown

Teaching a service physics course with about 200 students is challenging. Jason Brown, a senior lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has met those challenges.

He has developed numerous demonstrations to capture students’ attention, even those in the back of the lecture hall. He projects the experiment on a screen to ensure all students see the demonstration. To translate the demonstrations into learning moments, he incorporates the use of audience response systems.

Brown developed numerous practice exams and review videos, and he runs optional evening help sessions. These resources provide students extra help in honing their problem-solving skills. After finding textbooks expensive and not particularly effective, he wrote a low-cost digital textbook. The platform allows Brown to integrate videos of himself solving problems or performing demonstrations, requires students complete exercises or answer quiz questions before proceeding, and updates the text in real-time.

“Dr. Brown is the consummate professional who takes his craft extremely seriously. He has demonstrated that he is an effective instructor, a caring instructor and an innovative instructor,” Brittain wrote in his nomination letter. “Indeed, he epitomizes excellence in teaching at Clemson University.”

College of Science Associate Dean Calvin Williams and Excellence in Student Engagement Award recipient Antonio Baeza.

Excellence in Student Engagement Award: Antonio Baeza

Associate Professor Antonio Baeza stands out among faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences who work with graduate and undergraduate students in providing Clemson signature experiences through his global engagement efforts.

Baeza works with Creative Inquiry (CI) teams with an average of seven students per year to investigate various topics related to marine biology and conservation. He works with them to present and publish their work from his lab. He has had 16 Clemson undergrad co-authors of peer-reviewed publications, and 14 Clemson undergrads have co-authored an oral or poster presentation. Last year, he had two undergraduates as first authors on papers.

He also has been heavily involved in getting more study abroad engagement opportunities in the biological sciences department. He co-led a study abroad trip to Costa Rica for students interested in going into medicine. In addition, he began an international virtual exchange (IVE) before such programs were broadly explored during the pandemic. He created and curates an artifact-rich website used by CI and IVE students.

“Dr. Baeza was the most influential professor I had during my time at Clemson due to his enthusiasm for research, talent for teaching and genuine support of his students. I credit his commitment to the growth and success of his students for my acceptance into medical school and my ability to assert myself within the scientific community,” wrote Isabelle Conrad, a 2021 graduate who is a student at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Carolinas campus.

College of Science associate dean Calvin Williams and Rising Stra in Discovery Award recipient Zhicheng Dou pose with award in front of a College of Science banner.
The 2022 College of Science faculty meeting was held at 11 a.m. May 12, 2022, in the Poole Agricultural Center auditorium. An awards event and brunch follwed in the Life Sciences Facility atrium.

Rising Star in Discovery Award: Zhicheng Dou

Department of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Zhicheng Dou received the Rising Star in Discovery Award. This honor recognizes an assistant professor or first-year associate professor and emphasizes work conducted at Clemson. His work focuses on understanding how the human protozoan pathogen Toxoplasma gondii infects and propagates within its host cells to facilitate the development of new therapeutics.

Dou has secured around $2.5 million in grants for his research. He has published eight research papers since coming to Clemson, including two in PLOS Pathogens, one of the best journals in microbiology. He has given talks at national and international scientific conferences and was symposium chair for the second global virtual symposium on toxoplasmosis in 2022.

He has served as an academic editor in PLOS One since 2019 and as a guest editor for Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. He regularly reviews manuscripts for various journals and has reviewed grants for the National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust and the American Heart Association.

“Zhicheng is conducting research that is having major impacts on public health,” Lesly Temesvari, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, wrote in her nomination letter.

College of Science associate Dean Calvin Williams poses with Jeff Anker, winner of the College of Science's Excellence in Discovery Award for 2022.
College of Science Associate Dean Calvin Williams and Excellence in Discovery Award recipient Jeff Anker.

Excellence in Discovery Award: Jeff Anker

The Excellence in Discovery Award recognizes a tenured faculty member with demonstrated excellence in forefront research, emphasizing work performed in the previous three years. 

Chemistry Professor Jeff Anker has built an internationally recognized lab focused on developing innovative chemical and biophysical sensors. He has four patents and has received more than $4.8 million in grant funding.

Anker, who has a dual appointment in the Department of Bioengineering, received a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program grant to conduct research and teach in Finland for six months beginning in July. He is a College of Science Dean’s Distinguished Professor, one of the first recipients of the Wallace R. Roy Distinguished Professorship and a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors. During the past three years, he co-edited a book on biomedical applications of magnetic particles and published 15 peer-reviewed journal papers. His students have won several awards, including five Mandel Fellowships.

“Dr. Anker exemplifies the spirit of multi-disciplinary collaboration. He has an aptitude for working on teams on innovative projects that cannot be successful alone,” John DesJardins, the Hambright Distinguished Professor in Engineering Leadership, wrote in his nomination letter.

The College of Science pursues excellence in scientific discovery, learning, and engagement that is both locally relevant and globally impactful. The life, physical, and mathematical sciences converge to tackle some of tomorrow’s scientific challenges, and our faculty are preparing the next generation of leading scientists. The College of Science offers high-impact transformational experiences such as research, internships, and study abroad to help prepare our graduates for top industries, graduate programs, and health professions. 

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