At A Glance

World-renowned in the fields of physics, chemistry and spectroscopy, Ken Marcus’ discoveries have fueled innovations in health care, national defense, advanced materials and other industries. His fierce curiosity and commitment to excellence have led to a broad-ranging career that encompasses everything from nuclear forensics to race cars. He is a subject matter expert in nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation, analytical chemistry, biopharmaceuticals and physics. He has produced more Ph.D.’s through his research group, per capita, than nearly any other office on campus.


Holding more than a dozen patents, Marcus has made a significant impact on the field of chemistry with his innovative research, which deals with the design of new chemical instrumentation. His discoveries have been used to sense the makeup and origin of nuclear materials and to identify the layers and thicknesses of coatings, paints, primers and other materials in the hood of a NASCAR race car.

His research is rooted in analytical chemistry but has two unique fields of study: development of the Liquid Sampling – Atmospheric Pressure Glow Discharge (LS-APGD), a groundbreaking means of analyzing the chemical makeup of liquids by using light and ions; and research of a separation method of proteins and exosomes (“the next big little thing”) that uses polymer fibers in high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) – the physical process by which complex mixtures are separated and analyzed. He has also designed instruments that can analyze the nutrients in bioreactors used to make antibody-based drugs.

He serves on the editorial advisory board of three scientific journals and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Applied Spectroscopy, and the National Academy of Inventors. In 2019, Marcus was awarded the inaugural Clemson University Researcher of the Year designation.

In 2015 Marcus was awarded the Society for Applied Spectroscopy’s Lester Strock Award. His research program – the Marcus Group – is currently funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute for Innovation in the Manufacturing of Biopharmaceuticals, (NIIMBL), the Advanced Mammalian Biomanufacturing Innovation Center (AMBIC), Advion Corporation, and Merck &Co. His research group has published over 220 refereed journal articles, made over 650 conference presentations, and yielded over a dozen U.S. patents.

Marcus has been on the Clemson faculty for 33 years and has guided close to 40 graduate students through the rigorous process of obtaining their Ph.D.’s. More than half of those graduates are now employed by the federal government in national laboratories like the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Centers for Disease Control, or the National Institute of Standards and Technology because of his track record of training people who excel in working in those environments.

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There’s a yin and a yang between technology and science. Which is the chicken and which is the egg? If you don’t have a tool that allows somebody to measure something to know that it’s important, how do you know that it’s important? Or vice versa. They have to coexist.

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    • Nuclear nonproliferation
    • Nuclear safeguard and nonproliferation
    • Atomic spectroscopic analysis

    Degrees, Institutions

    • Ph.D. analytical chemistry, University of Virginia
    • B.S. physics, Longwood College
    • B.S. chemistry, Longwood College