The Clemson University College of Science named Professors Barbara Campbell and Leo Rebholz, Associate Professor Marco Ajello and Assistant Professor Yao Wang recipients of its Dean’s Professorship Awards.
The awards were presented during the College’s faculty meeting May 11.
“The Dean’s Professorship Awards enable us to recognize some of the College of Science’s most talented scholars. This year’s recipients have nationally and internationally prominent research programs, mentor undergraduate and graduate students, and have significant extramural research funding. In short, they are prime examples of the faculty excellence that is accelerating Science,” said Dean Cynthia Y. Young.
Barbara Campbell, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, combines fieldwork with bioinformatics to understand how microbes influence aquatic, soil and host-associated ecosystems.
Campbell’s internationally prominent research program is currently supported by six extramural grants, including a 5-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for her work on microbiomes. The grant has several Clemson co-principal investigators, including two junior faculty from the Department of Biological Sciences. She is a co-PI on two grants from the United States Department of Agriculture with collaborators from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, a recent grant with the U.S. Department of Energy with PES collaborators and a $13.5 million grant from the Department of Defense with collaborators from the Department of Bioengineering and other national and international institutions.
She has published more than 2.5 articles in scientific journals per year, including four in 2022.
Since she came to Clemson in 2012, Campbell has graduated one Ph.D. and four M.S. students. She currently has five Ph.D. students and directs a Creative Inquiry team. She has mentored 45 undergraduate students, including five honors students who completed theses.
“She is highly collaborative and exemplifies the academic culture we are strengthening in the College and at Clemson — productive, inclusive and supportive,” said Department of Biological Sciences Chair Saara DeWalt in her nomination letter.
Anderson acceleration (AA) is a method that has been used for nonlinear algebraic system solving since it was developed in 1965. Despite its widespread success over 55 years, there was no explanation for why or how it worked until Leo Rebholz and a collaborator proved a complete mathematical characterization of Anderson acceleration convergence. The understanding that stemmed from their results revealed ways AA could be improved and led to an explosion of new AA research.
Since AA is applicable to virtually any nonlinear equation, the scope of Rebholz’s research cuts across all of science and engineering.
A Clemson faculty member since 2008, Rebholz has been funded as a principal investigator by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army, often with two grants at once, a rarity for mathematicians.
Rebholz publishes 8-10 papers per year in the top journals, a rate that is significantly above average for his field. He gives several talks a year at R1 universities and the top conferences in his field. More recently, Rebholz has been invited for plenary speaker roles.
He consistently has a large team of student advisees and advises undergraduate research for one student per year. He has graduated 11 Ph.D. students, the most in the mathematics division since his arrival. He is an editor for three journals and routinely serves on NSF panels. He won the College of Science Excellence in Discovery Award in 2021.
A Clemson faculty member since 2014, Marco Ajello is a high-energy astrophysicist who studies the most extreme environments in the universe including the supermassive black holes powering galactic scale jets and the extragalactic background light of our cosmos.
One of Ajello’s most notable achievements was definitively measuring the cosmic background light filling the observable universe. This measurement by Ajello and his team provided a way to measure the total number of stars ever formed in the universe as well as the time at which the very first stars formed.
He is among the most highly cited scholars at Clemson with 59,741 citations and ranks high for scholarly influence. While many of these papers have resulted from his collaboration in a large team, he is a leader within this group. He has received numerous international conferences and colloquia at leading universities to which he has been invited.
He is a tireless mentor of young scientists. His Ph.D. students and postdocs have co-authored more than 25 papers. Two Ph.D. students were awarded pre-doctoral fellowships to work at Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics and a third student spent time at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Berlin. He has graduated six Ph.D. students, one of whom was awarded the Bahcall Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin and another a Hubble Fellowship to work at Yale. Of his 11 postdocs, four are in faculty positions and three in research positions elsewhere.
Ajello received Clemson University’s 2023 Distinguished Doctoral Mentoring Award, the 2021 Governor’s Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Scientific Research and the 2019 College of Science Rising Star Award.
Yao Wang is a condensed matter physics theorist whose work is focused on understanding the fundamental properties of quantum materials. His work promises to play a key role in realizing the promise of a quantum revolution.
Wang joined the Clemson faculty in 2020. He has been awarded $2.3 million from the NSF, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Transportation. In his first two and a half years at Clemson, he has published 43 papers, many of which were published in high impact journals including Nature, Science and Physical Review X. He has published a total of 60 papers and has another 14 pages under review.
He has presented 41 invited talks worldwide, including major conferences such as the Materials Research Society, major workshops such as the Novel Quantum States in Condensed Matter, and major institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale.
He has supervised three postdocs, four Ph.D. students, one masters student and six undergraduate students.
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. clemson.edu/science
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