College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; Graduate School

GEM Fellow Simeon McKelvey had his pick of graduate schools. He chose Clemson University.


One of the country’s newest GEM Fellows is a bioengineering Ph.D. student who said he was accepted to seven schools and chose Clemson University because the associate professor who became his advisor made an effort to get to know him.

Simeon McKelvey is one of six new GEM Fellows at Clemson. The National GEM Consortium provides fellowships to master’s and Ph.D. students to help pay for their education and to provide access to some of the nation’s top engineering and science firms.

Simeon McKelvey works in a lab at Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus (CUBEInC).

“My network will expand, and it will be easier for me to focus on my research instead of finding funding,” McKelvey said. “I’m glad to be a part of this consortium.”

McKelvey was part of a dual-degree engineering program as an undergraduate and received two bachelor’s degrees, one in applied physics from Atlanta’s Morehouse College and one in bioengineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

McKelvey remembered reaching out to Dr. Melinda K. Harman, associate professor of bioengineering at Clemson, while choosing an institution to pursue his Ph.D.

“She was one of the few people to reach back to me and get to know what type of person I was,” McKelvey said. “She was really, really open to me studying and researching what I wanted without changing the person that I was.”

McKelvey’s research focuses on a propylene mesh that is placed on top of the hernia during correction surgery. The trouble is that sometimes the mesh moves and causes persistent complications with hernia recurrence, McKelvey said.

“My job is to visualize the mesh while it’s still inside the body with different imaging modalities,” he said. “The imaging modalities they use now destroy the mesh, or they just don’t capture a viable image to see the polymer mesh inside the body.”

While Dr. Harman has been his mentor at Clemson, he has also had some help from back home in Decatur, Georgia, where his mother Wanda Snipes lives, and Opelika, Alabama, the home of his grandmother, Mattie Clark.

“My mother and grandmother are my biggest inspirations to finish my degree because they have always supported me and pushed me to the fullest,” McKelvey said.

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