College of Science; Graduate School

College of Science Catalyst Competition will be held March 15


Innovation and problem-solving skills will be on display during the Clemson University College of Science’s second annual Catalyst Competition on March 15 at 6 p.m.

During the event at the Watt Family Innovation Center, five teams of students competing in the entrepreneurial challenge will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for monetary prizes up to $2,500. In addition, the winner gets the chance to compete in the University-wide Spiro Institute’s University Pitch Smackdown.

“The Catalyst Competition is the perfect venue for students to learn about the world of entrepreneurship and the process of turning ideas into viable products,” said Steve Creager, associate dean of the College of Science. “I can’t wait to see what our student-teams have come up with.”

The teams competing on March 15 are:

Team 1 — Elizabeth White, team captain; Simone Boles and Liza Moise.

Team 2 — Sabrina Melendez-Rosales.

Team 3 — Susan Davis.

Team 4 — Anish Jha, team captain, and Danny Carillo.

Team 5 — Soren Spina, team captain, and Devin Casper.

headshot of man wearing suit and tie
Jeff Pearson

The judges are:

Jeff Pearson, an experienced intellectual property attorney with a background in engineering, military service and trial work. Pearson is co-founder of, built and coded to help lawyers save time when citing cases. He leads Mei &Mark LLP’s practice area dedicated to artificial intelligence. He is a 2002 Clemson graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Woman standing in front of large columns outside wearing orange blazer and white shirt
Shontavia Johnson

Shontavia Johnson, Clemson’s associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation. Johnson is one of the nation’s foremost experts in digital branding, intellectual property law and inclusive entrepreneurship. She hosts The Shontavia Show, a web series and podcast that tackles the most common questions about starting, operating and growing a business and personal brand. She has also built the Brand + Business Academy, which teaches working professionals to create their businesses in five weeks or less while working full time.

John Hannon, director of the Clemson University Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Hannon has taught and mentored more than 500 MBA entrepreneurship students who have started dozens of companies. He has personally founded multiple successful start-ups.

John Hannon

Catalyst is open to individuals or teams of up to five students. At least half of the students on each team must be in a College of Science undergraduate major. Graduate students are eligible to participate as part of a team.

Catalyst participants receive support through entrepreneurial-related educational workshops, professional consultants and faculty advisers.

Last year’s inaugural Catalyst Competition saw four teams competing for the top prize. Jack Carson, a genetics major who won the competition, came up with a product that turns a person’s genetic nucleotides into original art or music.

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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