College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; College of Science; OUR Clemson; Research

Chowdhury, Tran named Clemson University Researchers of the Year


A chemist working to unlock the power of quantum technology and a cybersecurity expert helping to advance smart cities and regions were named 2024 Clemson University Researchers of the Year.

Mashrur “Ronnie” Chowdhury, the Eugene Douglas Mays Chair of Transportation in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, was named Senior Researcher of the Year at the annual Clemson University Research Symposium on Wednesday. Thao Tran, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Science, was named Junior Researcher of the Year.  

two men pose for a photo.
Mashrur “Ronnie” Chowdhury, left, receives his Researcher of the Year award from President Jim Clements.

Chowdhury serves as founding director of the National Center for Transportation Cybersecurity and Resiliency (TraCR) and the Center for Connected Multimodal Mobility (C2M2), both sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. His research focuses on the evolving realms of sensing, communications, computing, cybersecurity, and cyber-resiliency, all with the goal of establishing a secure and resilient IoT environment for smart cities and regions. Chowdhury and his team delve into the myriad vulnerabilities present in the nation’s transportation systems, public infrastructures, and cyber-physical-social systems, while also exploring strategies to mitigate these vulnerabilities effectively.

“Dr. Chowdhury has long been a highly productive researcher at Clemson who has gained a national reputation as one of the top experts in cybersecurity research. He is helping us reimagine mobility, paving the way for secure, efficient smart cities of the future. I congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition,” said Tanju Karanfil, Clemson senior vice president for research, scholarship and creative endeavors.

Chowdhury is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a member of the Transportation Research Board Committee on Intelligent Transportation Systems.

“I am honored to receive this award, as it represents recognition of the impact of our research and the dedication of our team members, including my students,” Chowdhury said. “This recognition will motivate us to continue and expand our work in the evolving frontiers of cyber-physical-social systems and their cybersecurity.”

A man and woman pose for a photo
Thao Tran, left, receives her Researcher of the Year award from President Jim Clements.

Tran is working to develop a deep understanding of how chemistry determines targeted physical properties in innovative materials and why such chemistry-property relationships exist. Her work is supporting important advances in energy and information technologies that could advance environmental conservation, national security, and healthcare.

“I’m truly honored to receive the 2024 Junior Researcher of the Year award. My research team, including Ph.D. students, undergraduate researchers, and exchange scholars, feels encouraged to be recognized for all the work we are putting in,” Tran said. “We’re grateful for the continued, unparalleled support from multiple units, people and leaders across the institution. We’re excited to continue to contribute to quantum materials research that benefits people and society while cultivating the future STEM workforce with new knowledge, skill sets, and thinking capabilities necessary for building meaningful careers.”

Tran is one of just 11 researchers from the United States selected for a prestigious 2023 Beckman Young Investigators Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to support her research in quantum technology. She is the first recipient from Clemson or any college or university in South Carolina. Tran is also a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Early CAREER Award and the College of Science 2024 Rising Star in Discovery Award. She was honored as 2024 Scialog Fellow by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement and named 2024 Rising Star in Materials Chemistry Science by American Chemical Society Materials Au.

“Tran has established herself as one of the country’s brightest young minds in materials chemistry. Her work has wide-ranging applications. I congratulate her on this recognition and I am excited to see the impact she makes through scientific discovery as her career advances,” Karanfil said.

For Researcher of the Year, each college nominates a junior faculty member who received their terminal degree within the past 10 years and a senior faculty member. Winners were selected by an interdisciplinary committee.

In addition to Tran, junior faculty nominees were Elizabeth Cieniewicz, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences;  Dhaval Gajjar, assistant professor in the Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning; Joshua Catalano, assistant professor in the Department of History; Irene Pericot-Valverde, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Emily Howell, assistant professor in the Department of Education and Human Development; Jessica Larsen, Carol and John Cromer ’63 Family Endowed Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; and He Li, assistant professor in the Department of Management.

Additional senior faculty nominees were Xiuping Jiang, professor in the Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences; Hala Nassar, professor in the School of Architecture; Jordan Frith, Pearce professor in the Department of English; Lesley Ross, professor and SmartLife Endowed Chair in the Department of Psychology; Hans Klar, professor and chair of the Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development; Barbara Campbell, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences; and Ryan Mullins, J. Daniel and Nancy Garrison Distinguished Professor in the Department of Marketing.

“Congratulations to all of our nominees,” Karanfil said. “This is a tremendous group of scholars, all deserving of this recognition. Being nominated by your college for this award is a great honor.”

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