Meet the 2021 EUREKA! Counselors


Liz Dillard | Microbiology |

EUREKA Counselor Liz Dillard

Hi guys! My name is Liz Dillard, and I’m so excited to be the head counselor for the 2021 EUREKA! summer program - I know we are going to have a blast! I’m a rising sophomore and I’m native to South Carolina. I am currently a Microbiology major but plan to switch to Marketing in the fall. Aside from school my personal hobbies include hiking, cuddling with my hamster, and eating Chipotle. Last summer, I worked with Dr. Luo on a project studying transgenic plants and their response to abiotic stresses. Dr. Luo was the coolest mentor ever, and offered me a position as research assistant in his lab here on campus, so I’ve been working in his lab during the school year continuing the research that I started during EUREKA!

EUREKA! is seriously the best program I have ever participated in. Coming to college, I was apprehensive to make friends and build the connections that would get my career rolling. EUREKA! allowed me to come to college with a circle of close friends that I still get dinner with each week, and I gained many skills such as knowing how to work in a lab environment or create a research presentation.

When I came to Clemson, I was so sure that I wanted to be in STEM. However, the in-depth opportunities that EUREKA! provided me with made me realize that I’m better suited for the world of business. This realization is one that I am so thankful for, as I’ll be able to change my major and still graduate on time! Whether you have a detailed life plan or no clue where to begin, EUREKA! will be engaging, enjoyable, mentally stimulating, and will help you form friendships to last a lifetime. And you don’t need any research experience, so I would encourage every single one of you to apply for this program. I can’t wait to meet you soon! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Mariana Holladay | General Engineering |

EUREKA Counselor Mariana Holladay

Hey everyone! My name is Mariana Holladay and I am a rising sophomore from Arlington, VA (5 minutes outside DC!). I am currently a General Engineering major, but I will most likely be transitioning to Materials Science Engineering or Bioengineering this fall. Outside of academics, I am involved in intramural soccer, Greek life, and I volunteer with ClemsonLIFE here on campus. Some of my favorite activities to do in my free time include running, baking, listening to music, and spending time with my friends and family.

Last summer, I was able to work with Dr. Blenner in his Bioengineering Lab and it was an incredible experience. My research focused on Chinese Hamster Ovary cells, which produce therapeutic proteins found in many medical treatments. Although through my EUREKA! experience I discovered cell research was not for me, I did find that I really enjoyed learning about the medical field. This discovery has led me to join the research team I am a part of now, working with Dr. Dean to design medical technology for the developing world.

Outside of research, EUREKA! was a game changer when it came to making friends in college for me. I met so many amazing people through the program, several of which I still consider to be my best friends in college today. Coming from out-of-state, making friends was a huge concern for me and I could not be more grateful for the genuine relationships I have formed with my fellow Eurekans.

I strongly recommend applying to EUREKA! if you are a rising freshman in the Honors Program. The program will give you the opportunity to challenge yourself academically, make new friends, and learn about what Clemson has to offer before even stepping foot on campus. You don’t need any previous experience, just an open mind and a passion for learning! I can’t wait to meet you all this summer!

Andrew O'Rourke | Electrical Engineering |

EUREKA Counselor Andrew O'Rourke

Hello! I'm Andrew O'Rourke, and I'm sophomore electrical engineering major from Fairfax, Virginia. Fairfax is only about 30 minutes outside of Washington, D.C., and I actually live pretty close to Mariana! So far, I've been loving my coursework for engineering. I'm a bit of a math geek, so I've really enjoyed taking advanced calculus classes and physics. If I'm not busy studying, I'm usually with a couple of my friends either hanging out, watching movies, or going to the rock climbing wall (I am very much an amateur at rock climbing, but it's a really fun sport to pursue!).

When I was in the EUREKA! program last summer, I worked on an artificial intelligence and machine learning project with Dr. Bing Li. Although I learned that computer science may not be the field for me, I was able to make my own basic neural-network, image recognition AI. I loved learning all about my mentor's and his graduate students' research, and getting to investigate such an interesting topic was such a fun and amazing experience.

For me, EUREKA! was an essential experience for my freshman year. Especially coming from out-of-state, meeting so many new people early on and getting to talk to them and hangout with them for a month over the summer made a huge difference for me. Getting to know people who share my passions and love for learning took away a lot of the stress of leaving home and going to college 8 hours away, and it made a huge difference coming to campus for the first time in the fall with a such a big group of people who I'd already become friends with. If you're going to be in the Honors College next year, I really do recommend applying to EUREKA! Not only will you learn some amazing things and get some valuable research experience under your belt early on, but you'll meet amazing people and make great memories with them over the duration of the program. I look forward to seeing you all this summer!

Meet a EUREKA! Faculty Mentor

Dr. Srikanth Pilla is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Automotive Engineering at CU-ICAR (Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research). His research focuses on fundamental understanding of the synthesis-processing-structure-property relationships in polymers, biopolymers, polymer derived ceramics, multifunctional composites, nanocomposites, thermoelectric materials, microcellular foams and LCA modeling and analysis. The title of his EUREKA! research project “Sustainable Composites for Lightweighting Automotive Structures” allows students to explore unique fiber architectures, novel renewable matrices and synthesis/manufacturing techniques for use in automotive interiors, exteriors and load-bearing structural applications. For the past two summers Dr. Pilla has worked with EUREKA! students who share his research interests and common desire to make notable contributions to the automotive industry.

Dr. Pilla’s EURKEA! experience
Since joining CU-ICAR in August 2013 Pilla continues to enhance the minds of his students while also showcasing their accomplishments after only a short time under his mentorship. In summer 2014 Pilla worked with incoming Honors freshman Kelly Krumm on a research project titled “Next Generation Sustainable Biocomposites for Automotive Applications.” Krumm won Best Poster award (first prize) in the undergraduate category at the 2014 Society of Plastics Engineers - Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition. Pilla emphasizes the importance of performing rewarding research but also having research rewarded at industry conferences. Krumm wasn’t the only contributor at this conference; his graduate students also received honors. Pilla continued his research in summer 2015 with two additional EUREKA! students. For him, the EUREKA! program is an opportunity to mentor some of the best minds that come to Clemson University. “Being a graduate (only) department, we have minimal opportunities to work with undergraduates but thanks to EUREKA! the doors have opened for access to these wonderful students, who might be our future recruits for graduate study,” says Pilla.   

What Dr. Pilla has to say about the Honors College and EUREKA!
“The Honors College is providing a wonderful platform for incoming students with unique opportunities such as EUREKA! I commend their efforts and encourage continuing to do more to sustain the relationship, experience and scholarship, which will eventually benefit these students to pursue STEM graduate careers.”