College of Science

Top College of Science students honored


The Clemson University College of Science recognized some of its most outstanding undergraduate and graduate students during an awards ceremony on April 11.

“We honor the best and brightest in the College of Science. I am amazed by the accomplishments of our students. All of the honorees are outstanding scholars, many are accomplished researchers, and others have committed themselves to special service projects,” said Joan Marler, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and interim chair of the College’s scholarships and awards committee.

The following students won awards:

Outstanding Junior in Science

This award recognizes the best overall junior in the College of Science based on scholarship and character. Maggie Marte is majoring in physics with a minor in mathematical sciences.

Maggie Marte

While maintaining a 4.0 GPA in her course work, Marte conducted research in Kasra Sardashti’s lab on the properties of piezoelectric materials for development in quantum devices. She received the Best Engineering Oral Presentation at the South Carolina Academy of Science Meeting in 2023. Her work has already contributed to one submitted publication from the group.  

“She is arguably the best student I have ever worked with, not only at Clemson but throughout my research career,” Sardashti said in his nomination, highlighting her work ethic, intelligence, perseverance and ambition. “She is undoubtedly on her path to becoming a rising star in quantum information science research.”

Last summer, she served as a teaching assistant for an on-campus research experience for undergraduates (REU). Marte serves as vice president for the Society of Physics Students and was an active member of the local organizing committee for the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, which hosted over 100 students. She is a member of the College of Science Student Ambassadors.  

She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics and continue with a career in research.

Outstanding Senior in Science

This award recognizes the best overall graduating senior in the College of Science based on scholarship and character.

Erin Jones

Erin Jones is majoring in genetics and minoring in biochemistry and women’s leadership. 

Beginning in her first year at Clemson, Jones has worked in the laboratory of James Morris researching amoebae metabolism. The focus of her work has been to develop tools for drug discovery in the pathogenic free-living amoeba Naegleria fowleri.

Morris said Jones’ work may very well lead to new therapeutics for a pathogen that presently lacks efficacious treatments. 

To expand her research experiences, Jones participated in an REU program at Washington University in St. Louis last summer studying the molecular mechanisms involved in bacterial urinary tract infections.

Outside the lab, Jones has completed training required to be an emergency medical technician and routinely works weekends in Seneca in that capacity. She has served as a mentor for incoming College of Science students and has been a part of the University Student Government.

Morris noted Jones’ ability to maintain excellence across different pursuits, including a large research project, a full academic schedule and extensive service to the community.

Jones intends to continue her education and pursue M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.

Outstanding Undergraduate in Discovery

This award is given to a graduating senior who has performed outstanding original research in the sciences.

Walker Hodges

Walker Hodges, a chemistry major, has been an active member of the research team of Chris Chouinard and established himself as a leader in the reactions subgroup performing reactions on different isomeric compounds. 

One application of this research is to help provide analysis for organizations like the World Anti-Doping Agency to prevent doping within sports. His work has been published in the Journal of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. He will also present his findings at the meeting of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry.

“(Walker) clearly demonstrates the practical common sense combined with the traditional intelligence that makes a great researcher. But, arguably, Walker’s best trait is that he is universally liked and respected within the group,” Chouinard said in his nomination.

Hodges is a member at-large for WSBF, the university radio station, and has helped bring the arts to Clemson by helping set up around 20 concerts in Clemson restaurants and parks.

After graduation, he intends to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry with a research emphasis related to the study of ion mobility mass spectrometry.

Blue Key Academic and Leadership Award

The Blue Key Academic and Leadership Award recognizes one student in each of the Colleges at Clemson who has distinguished themselves in academic scholarship and campus leadership.

Elizabeth Caldwell

Elizabeth Caldwell is a genetics major with a minor in biochemistry.

Caldwell is an active researcher in the Michael Sehorn laboratory. She was also one of 15 students chosen to participate in a special research project with Dr. Andrew Schneider at Prisma Health to study the role of surgical approach on cholecystectomy outcomes. She received one of four National Scholars Programs scholarships at Clemson and, as part of this elite program, studied abroad in South Africa.

Sehorn said Caldwell quickly became a leader in the lab, participating in three different projects, one of which was completely new to the group. 

She is the co-founder and president of Tigers 4 Accessibility, which serves to address accessibility barriers at Clemson. She is also the student representative of the Accessibility Commission at Clemson.

She is an Academic Success Center peer tutor for biology, genetics and organic chemistry courses. Caldwell volunteers at the Clemson Free Clinic and as a hospice volunteer. 

Caldwell plans to pursue an M.D., MPH (master of public health) to bridge the gap between patient care, disability advocacy and scientific discovery.

Phi Kappa Phi Certificate of Merit

The Phi Kappa Phi Certificate of Merit recognizes a graduating senior with a GPA of 3.4 or above who has made noteworthy contributions in areas such as leadership, service and creative endeavors to their department, College and Clemson University.

Caroline Eichhorn

Caroline Eichhorn is a biology major with a minor in psychology.

She has a 4.0 GPA. She recently participated in an intense summer research program with the Medical University of South Carolina studying the human gut microbiome. Over the course of 12 weeks, she published two papers — one of which she was first author —and gave an oral presentation on the work.

She has also spent a summer volunteering with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital occupational therapy and physics therapy be.well program where she taught swimming lessons to children with disabilities. In Clemson, she is a volunteer at the Clemson Free Clinic and a member of the Medlife student organization, which works to provide health care to impoverished communities.

Eichhorn is a Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society member as well as a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, Alpha Epsilon Delta (pre-health society), Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and the Order of the Omega.

She plans to pursue an M.D. degree.

Outstanding Graduate in Engagement

This award honors a graduate student who has excelled in strengthening and engaging with the community outside of the University.

Andrealuna Pizzetti

Andrealuna Pizzetti recently defended her Ph.D. entitled “To the torus and beyond: an X-ray study of AGN tori morphology” in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

In addition to being a productive researcher with more than 10 publications, Pizzetti is committed to engagement.

“Her passion for knowledge dissemination has been and continues to be outstanding. Andrealuna’s impact on engagement transcends boundaries of age, nationality and dissemination method,” said Pizzetti’s adviser, Marco Ajello.

Pizetti gave a TEDx talk entitled “What if the Moon didn’t exist?” She also participates in a science outreach YouTube channel called “(On) Planet Nine” and has taken part in local events including “International Observe the Moon Night,” talks at the Roper Mountain Science Center and outreach at local elementary schools.

“Andrealuna is an outstanding public speaker, a role model for other students, particularly women, and a shining example of the excellence fostered by the College of Science,” Ajello said.

Outstanding Graduate in Learning

This award honors graduate students who have been exemplary in undergraduate science teaching, particularly in their sincere interest in and concern for the success of undergraduate students and who went the “extra mile” in ensuring this success.

Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson is a microbiology Ph.D. candidate working with Tzeun-Rong Tzeng. 

While a Ph.D. candidate, Johnson has served as a teaching assistant for many of the industrial microbiology lab courses.  He went above and beyond creating TA instruction notes, student handouts and quiz banks. He makes learning fun by introducing various awards during his lab sections, including the Hardest Working Award and the Miss/Mr. Congeniality Award, even handing out miniature Oscar replicas.

“Walter has demonstrated that he is an outstanding and valuable asset to our graduate and undergraduate programs,” Tzeng said. Principal Lecturer Krista Rudolph said, “It is obvious that Walter truly cares about his students and wants them to love microbiology.”

One of his students wrote, “I have never worked with another TA who seemed so passionate and involved with the learning topics and activities, which in turn influenced students to view this lab truly as a place to learn and analyze rather than just another class requirement.”

Sayani Ghosh

Sayani Ghosh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy working with Bradley Meyer. Her research involves characterizing the dynamic weak equilibrium in neutron-rich low-entropy white dwarf stars.

In addition to her research, she has been a dedicated teaching assistant for introductory physics laboratories. Most recently, she has co-developed a supplemental physics skills course. This course, which meets for a mini-mester, helps students get comfortable with math and physics concepts needed for introductory physics before the first exam.

Principal Lecturer Amy Pope wrote, “One of her notable strengths is her effective delivery…her interaction approach encourages student questions.”

One of her students wrote, “After Sayani would run through different problems, I slowly saw everything click differently for me.” Another wrote, “Ms. Ghosh is truly a beacon of positivity and an amazing person who deeply cares to inspire others.”

Outstanding Graduate in Discovery — Experimental

This award honors graduating doctoral students in the College of Science who have made distinctive and discernable contributions to their field.

Leah DeLorenzo

Leah DeLorenzo will receive her Ph.D. in biological sciences this year on work completed in Kara Powder’s group. DeLorenzo’s main research is in the investigation of the genetic and epigenetic architecture of body shape divergence in cichlid fishes.

Her thesis contains chapters on experimental embryology, genomics, quantitative genetic mapping and analysis of museum collections. “Each chapter could have easily been expanded into an entire thesis proposal,” Powder said. 

DeLorenzo has three first-author publications with five more forthcoming. She has presented her work four times at national and international meetings.

In addition to her research contributions, DeLorenzo regularly steps up to leadership roles in the lab. She served as the primary mentor for two undergraduates, including over an Honors College thesis.

Powder said DeLorenzo takes on “any new scientific challenges with curiosity and an eagerness to grow.”

DeLorenzo will start a postdoctoral position at the National Institutes of Health in May.

Outstanding Graduate in Discovery — Theoretical/Computational

Lucas Ayres

Lucas Ayres from the Department of Chemistry recently completed his thesis entitled “Design and Application of Smart Systems to Address Analytical Problems” with work performed in Carlos Garcia’s group. His work stands at the intersection of artificial intelligence, biosensors and method development.

In addition to eight publications, six of which he was first author, Ayres also has written a book chapter and is co-author on six patent applications. He has five more publications in the works. In addition, he has given numerous presentations at national and international conferences.

In addition to performing his own research, Ayres mentored others in the lab, ranging from high school students to fellow graduate students.

“Lucas is an exceptional young scientist who has been able to make the absolute best of each opportunity and is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the imminent growth of machine learning,” Garcia said.

One of Ayres’ collaborators said, “He embodies everything I look for in a collaborator — keen insight, determined curiosity and clear vision. Lucas discovers new things, things of great merit.”

Other awards

Anvita Pudipeddi received the Outstanding Board Member Award from the College of Science Student Advisory Board.

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