College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences

Creative Inquiry program recognizes faculty, graduate student for mentoring undergraduate researchers


Cathy Jachowski, assistant professor of forestry and environmental conservation, has been recognized for her work mentoring undergraduate researchers with the Phil and Mary Bradley Faculty Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry. 

Jachowski has been a Creative Inquiry mentor since 2017, leading four different projects related to research in freshwater ecology and conservation. Her research focuses on understanding how freshwater species interact with their environment and respond to broad scale global changes. 

One of her recent Creative Inquiry projects involved tracking the activity of hellbenders — the largest salamander species in the country — in western North Carolina. Jachowski and her team of students traveled to Brevard, N.C., to tag hellbenders in the French Broad River so that the team could track their social interactions and movements. Examining this data can give researchers information about the water quality and health of the river that they can use to help protect the ecosystem. 

Nominations for the award come from Creative Inquiry students. One of Jachowski’s nominators wrote, “My experience here at Clemson has been better than I could ever imagine, and it would not have been the same without her guidance and this program. I will forever be an advocate for the Creative Inquiry Program and the opportunities it has presented me with that other universities cannot provide.”

Jachowski joined the Clemson faculty in 2016. Prior to that, she was a resource scientist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. She earned her bachelor’s in environmental science from Georgetown College, a master’s in wildlife and fisheries science from the University of Missouri and a Ph.D. in fish and wildlife conservation from Virginia Tech.

Doctoral student Vishal Manjunatha (center) with President Jim Clements and Provost Bob Jones

Vishal Manjunatha, a doctoral student in food, nutrition and packaging sciences, received the Graduate Student Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry. He mentors students in a Creative Inquiry project that examines microbial communities in food products and the environment. 

“[He] is one of the most driven individuals I’ve known, and his drive and passion are evident from his numerous accomplishments and dedication to his education,” wrote one student nominator. “His dedication to education doesn’t stop with his own. He consistently shows his dedication to his students. The hands-on experience and guidance I have received from working with [him] and his role in our CI have made me realize I have a passion for microbiology in the food industry… and that I want to focus on food microbiology in graduate school.”

Manjunatha has a bachelor’s in biotechnology from the Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering in Bangalore, India, and a master’s in food science from Drexel University. He has been involved as a Creative Inquiry mentor at Clemson since 2019.

About Creative Inquiry + Undergraduate Research

Creative Inquiry + Undergraduate Research combines experiential learning, multi-disciplinary interactions and team-based research. Since it began in 2005, more than 55,000 students from every major have participated in Creative Inquiry projects.

Today, approximately 2,800 students participate in Creative Inquiry each semester, exploring a wide range of topics. Projects typically last for multiple semesters, allowing students and faculty to dive deeper as they tackle tough questions and search for solutions to life’s challenges.

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