Office of the Provost; OUR Clemson; Research

Karanfil named senior vice president


Clemson University has promoted Tanju Karanfil to senior vice president for research, scholarship and creative endeavors, reflecting the university’s strong growth in scholarly activities across academic disciplines and its rise as a top Carnegie R1 research institution.

Karanfil became vice president for research in 2016, focusing on increasing scholarly activity across disciplines through the R-Initiatives funding, professional development, faculty recognition programs like Researcher of the Year, and advancing the University’s core research facilities. Clemson has emphasized large, interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research projects under Karanfil’s leadership, leading to large gains in research funding awarded by federal agencies. Karanfil has also emphasized the support of young faculty in the successful pursuit of highly competitive “early career” awards from funding agencies, positioning Clemson to be home to many future academic leaders.

“Clemson’s research enterprise has significantly expanded over the past decade, culminating with our inclusion among the nation’s most active Carnegie R1 research institutions. Tanju is a proven leader, and this new title reflects the contributions, collaborations and innovations across disciplines that pursue meaningful, significant scholarship and discovery, transforming lives statewide and beyond,” said Clemson Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Robert H. Jones.

Senior Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors at Clemson University, Tanju Karanfil
Tanju Karanfil

Clemson was first classified as a Carnegie R1 institution in 2016, placing it among the nation’s most active research institutions. Clemson’s position among its R1 peers has grown stronger during Karanfil’s tenure due to growth across academic fields in research expenditures, PhDs awarded and the number of research faculty on staff, metrics tracked by Carnegie.

Karanfil has led Clemson through a period of historic growth to its research enterprise:

  • Research awards reached an all-time high at Clemson of $242 million through May of the current fiscal year, tripling the number of awards from 2013.
  • Total research and development expenditures reached $263 million in 2022, growth of nearly 83 percent over the past 10 years.
  • Journal articles authored by Clemson researchers have increased 42 percent over the past decade, and citations of Clemson research are up 82 percent, a testament to the quality and impact of scholarship and discovery at Clemson.

“The impact of our faculty and students is greater than ever before. This is an exciting time for scholarship and discovery at Clemson,” Karanfil said. “This exponential growth in our research enterprise is unlocking new opportunities for students and generating innovations that are put to use throughout South Carolina by our many partners and collaborators. Together, we are improving quality of life through scholarship and discovery at Clemson.”

Karanfil came to Clemson as an instructor in 1996 after earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of Michigan and his bachelor’s degree from Istanbul Technical University in Turkey. He rose through the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences as a professor to become chair of the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences and then associate dean for research and graduate studies in the college. Karanfil is a registered professional engineer in the State of South Carolina, a board-certified environmental engineer by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, and a Fellow of the International Water Association. He also serves on multiple boards, including the Battelle-Savannah River Alliance that oversees research at the Savannah River National Laboratory, and is the principal investigator  of South Carolina’s $20 million Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Devices for the Advancement of Personalized and Transformative Health Care in South Carolina (ADAPT-SC) project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR).

Karanfil maintains an active research group and portfolio on water quality and wastewater treatment and serves as a consultant to utilities throughout the state. He has published two books and more than 180 peer-reviewed journal articles during his career and mentored more than 100 graduate students, postdoctoral research associates and graduate-level visiting scholars.

Karanfil has received several awards for his research and scholarship, including the National Science Foundation’s early CAREER award and the S.C. Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research. He was elected a member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TUBA), a society of the top academicians of his native country Turkey, and earned the Science Special Award in Engineering from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey.

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