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Research

The research interests of our faculty are distributed from the purely theoretical to the deeply translational and applied, from the fully experimental wet lab to the completely computational dry lab, and everything in between. The below Research Cluster descriptions provide a glimpse into the breadth and depth of this cutting-edge research going on right now in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department here at Clemson, being performed by our B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. students. The Research Cluster boundaries, although distinct to some extent, are constantly blurred and highly overlapping, as you will see by digging deeper into the areas and the work underlying them.

Unraveling how combinations of drugs can be used to more effectively treat cancer; using biological systems to manufacture chemicals and drugs more sustainably and economically; treating diseases through innovative materials for drug delivery; modeling the molecular dynamics of viruses infecting cells; reducing the cost of biopharmaceutical manufacturing through novel bioreactor control and continuous separation processes. These are just a few of the challenges our faculty in the Biotechnology and Biomedical Science Research Cluster address using Chemical Engineering principles. Research projects are supported by NIH, NSF, DoD, NASA, and various industrial sponsors. Graduates are highly sought and have found employment major biopharmaceutical companies, startup biotech companies, national labs, and in academia.

Faculty:
Marc Birtwistle
Mark Blenner
Sarah Harcum
Scott Husson
Jessica Kelly
Sapna Sarupria

Polymers and advanced functional materials are ubiquitous in contemporary fields such as energy storage and transport, water purification, and drug delivery. Here at Clemson, the faculty in the Advanced Materials, Polymers and Nanoscience Research Cluster are working on a myriad of topics including development of low-cost carbon fibers for the automotive industry from sustainable sources such as lignin, advanced polymer membranes for water desalination and radionucleotide detection, next-generation material replacements from green chemistry processes like cellulose nanomaterials for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), nanocomposites for reduced cost and improved lifetime energy storage, and brain-penetrating nanomaterials that deliver enzyme therapeutics for treating neurodegenerative disease and brain tumors. Research projects in the cluster are supported by NSF, DoD, and DOE. Graduates have ample employment opportunities across academia and industry.

Faculty:
Eric Davis
Scott Husson
Jessica Kelly
Chris Kitchens
Amod Ogale
Mark Thies

The world population is increasing towards what many propose is near capacity, while the supply of natural resources traditionally used to support this population is ever decreasing, and in many cases, have a detrimental environmental impact. The Energy and Sustainability Research Cluster faculty are at the forefront of research efforts to facilitate this necessary global transition as seamlessly as possible. For example, projects here are creating novel chemical processes to convert the next-to-unusable 1.3 billion tons of U.S. lignin biomass into valuable feedstocks, novel polymer-based energy storage and battery solutions for dealing with intermittent renewable sources, new sustainable materials for energy efficient housing and lightweight wind turbine blades, and intelligent algorithms and delivery infrastructure designs that are robust to the huge amount of uncertainty in and complex dynamic behavior of wind and solar energy sources. Such projects are currently funded by the NSF and DOE, and graduates are employed in a wide array of careers in environmental and chemical engineering science.

Faculty:
Scott Husson
Chris Kitchens
Mark Roberts
Joseph Scott
Mark Thies

Catalysts alter chemical reaction rates in both traditional processes and biochemical systems. They also have huge societal importance, as they are estimated to be involved with at least 35% of the global gross domestic product. At Clemson, our faculty in the Catalysis, Chemical and Biochemical Reactions Research Cluster are learning how to make catalysts more efficient, more effective, and more durable. Some of our catalyst applications are converting sustainable biomass into widely usable fuels and chemical products, reducing carbon dioxide emissions to improve energy independence and sustainability, producing versatile and less dangerous ethanol fuels from geologic and biologic natural gas sources, and generating ammonia fertilizer from air and water alone to better feed the world’s poorest regions. Research projects are supported by NSF, DOE, and NASA. Our graduates have gone on to careers in industry, academia, and government agencies such as NASA.

Faculty:
Mark Blenner
David Bruce
Rachel Getman
Chris Kitchens
Sapna Sarupria

Mathematical models, from pencil and paper first-principles, to big data-based machine learning, to their supercomputer implementations, not only facilitate deeper scientific understanding of chemical and biomolecular processes but as engineering tools also reduce lab-to-market cost and translational time by orders of magnitude. Our Faculty in the Computing, Systems Engineering and Molecular Simulation Research Cluster develop and use state-of-the-art computational tools to describe, for example, catalytic quantum chemistry, biomolecules in native cellular environments from an atomistic viewpoint, chemical and biochemical manufacturing processes from deeply intensified to traditional scales, and chemotherapy drug responses of malfunctioning signaling pathways in cancer cells. Example applications include ammonia synthesis catalysts, water purification membranes, energy storage using gas hydrates, reducing process scale through intensification, and tailoring cancer drug cocktails to individual patients. We routinely use Clemson’s world-class Supercomputer Palmetto with ~400 Teraflops, ~23,000 CPUs, and ~400 GPUs. Funding sources include NSF, DoD, DoE, NIH, and various industrial partners. Graduates are in high demand in academia and industry alike.

Faculty:
Marc Birtwistle
Rachel Getman
Sapna Sarupria
Joseph Scott