College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Fulbright Scholar Kelly Caine credits mom and Greenville public schools as she packs for Iceland


When Kelly Caine goes to Iceland for a year as a Fulbright Scholar, she will be planting a flag for the United States, Clemson University and her hometown, Greenville, South Carolina.

Kelly Caine

Caine, a professor of human-centered computing at Clemson, plans to research and teach cybersecurity at the University of Iceland starting in August as part of the U.S. Fulbright Program, a prestigious honor aimed at encouraging cultural and educational exchange.

For Caine, the road to Reykjavik began in Greenville, where she was born and raised and still lives. She attended Armstrong Elementary and Duncan Chapel Elementary schools, then Berea Middle School and graduated from Travelers Rest High School.

“I never thought as a kid living in Greenville that I would get to spend a year living in Iceland,” Caine said. “It seems like such an amazing, incredible, wild, adventure, and we are lucky that we get to do it.”

Caine credits Greenville County Schools with giving her the start that led to a spot on the Clemson faculty and now her Fulbright Award.

Among her most influential teachers in Greenville were (first and last names provided where available): Detra Dawkins and Barbara Trammell at Armstrong Elementary; Ms. Howard, Jane Snyder, Ray McGee, Kim Satterfield and David Wise at Duncan Chapel Elementary; Mr. Sullivan (strings) and Pat Earl at Berea Middle; JoAnn Clanton and Ann Looper Travelers Rest High; and Lucie Fink, who taught at the Fine Arts Center.

Kelly Caine, playing the cello on the left, credits several teachers from Greenville County public schools with helping put her on the road to her Fulbright Award.

In Iceland, Caine plans to co-teach a fall class at the University of Iceland on usable cybersecurity and give a public lecture on her co-authored book, “Understanding Your Users.” In the spring, she will conduct research.

Caine is among the few Palmetto State natives who can claim Tiger and Gamecocks status. Before joining Clemson as a professor, she went to the University of South Carolina for her bachelor’s degree and then the Georgia Institute of Technology for a Master of Science and Ph.D.

Caine will be the first Clemson faculty member to travel to Iceland as part of a Fulbright Award. She is the 10th woman Fulbright Scholar from Clemson.

Caine’s Fulbright Award came with a touch of bittersweetness. She was pregnant with her son when she lost her mother, Patricia Hill, a lifelong Greenville resident who worked with the state Department of Social Services, helping abused and neglected children.

The day Caine learned she received the Fulbright Award would have been her mother’s birthday.

“I remember thinking, ‘This is a gift from mom,'” Caine said. “She used to take me on all sorts of adventures. She would put my brother and me in the car and say, ‘We’re going on an adventure!’ She would take us to Sliding Rock, Tweetsie Railroad, for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or maybe just to the library. I’m adventurous because of her.

“I expect this experience to be one of the biggest adventures of my life, one I don’t think I’d have if she hadn’t been such a wonderful, brave, kind, adventurous mom. She would be so happy for us.”

Caine will be traveling to Iceland with her husband, Micah, and 3-year-old son, Bash.

For Caine and her family, the weather will be quite a change, going from the subtropical warmth of the Upstate to the subarctic chill of Iceland’s capital city.

But the professor isn’t the only one excited for new adventures in a different climate. Bash is excited to see snow for the first time and was asked what he thought it might be like.

“It’s soft and white,” he said.

Soon, he will experience it first hand.

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