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Student Awards

Student Success in the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Each year, a number of Physics students receive departmental awards of recognition, usually presented at our departmental awards ceremony in March or April. Our undergraduate and graduate students are also frequent recipients of awards and scholarships at the national, university, and college level.

2016 Physics and Astronomy Department Awardees
Girish Sharma, Gary Vestal, Jaclyn Schmitt, Joshua Hanson, and Amber Porter. Not shown: Emily Thompson.
Student Awards Winners 2015

National Scholarships

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship was established by the United States Congress in 1986 and is the most prestigious undergraduate award given in the sciences, math, and engineering. A Goldwater Scholarship is highly competitive as nominees have to go through a university internal selection process before competing nationwide. In 2015, of the 1,206 nominees, only 260 were named a Goldwater Scholar. Each Scholarship is $7,500 annually. Clemson’s Physics and Astronomy students are extraordinarily successful and have won eight Goldwater Scholarships since 2003.

  • 2015 Emily Thompson
  • 2014 John Farmer
  • 2012 Marc-Andre Schaeuble
  • 2010 Kemper Talley
  • 2005 Caroline Yount
  • 2004 William Sams
  • 2003 Meredith Russell & Matthew Kerr

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was created by the Mercury 7 astronauts in 1984 to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships to the very best and brightest undergraduate college students pursuing these degrees. The Mercury astronauts have since been joined by more than 100 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs making the Foundation a true legacy of America’s space pioneers. For 2013-2014, the amount provided for a single scholarship is $10,000, making it the largest monetary award given in the United States to STEM undergraduates based solely on merit. So far, Clemson’s Physics and Astronomy students won four of these prestigious Scholarships.

  • 2015 Emily Thompson
  • 2014 John Farmer
  • 2013 Brenden Roberts
  • 2010 Patrick Johnson

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. For the 2016 competition, NSF received close to 17,000 applications, and made 2,000 award offers. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.

  • 2016 Emily Thompson

University-Level Awards

Clemson University Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award

  • 2015 Marharyta Petukh (biophysics, advisor: Professor Emil Alexov)
  • 2014 Dale Hitchcock (condensed matter, advisor: Professor Jian He)
  • 2013 Zhe Zhang (biophysics, advisor: Professor Emil Alexov)
  • 2012 Priyanka Bhattacharya (biophysics, advisor: Professor Pu-Chun Ke)

College-Level Awards

College of Science Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant

The award is given to two graduate researchers who have been recognized by the faculty as having conducted outstanding research during the school year. The recipient receives a certificate and a cash award. Awards given before 2017 were awarded under the auspices of the College of Engineering and Sciences.

  • 2017 Bo Wang (condensed matter, advisor: Professor Feng Ding)
  • 2016 Girish Sharma (condensed matter, advisor: Professor Sumanta Tewari)
  • 2015 Marharyta Petukh (biophysics, advisor: Professor Emil Alexov)
  • 2014 Dale Hitchcock (condensed matter, advisor: Professor Jian He)
  • 2013 Zhe Zhang (biophysics, advisor: Professor Emil Alexov)
  • 2012 Priyanka Bhattacharya (biophysics, advisor: Professor Pu-Chun Ke)
  • 2011 Ramakrishna Podila (nanomaterials, advisor: Professor Apparao Rao)

College of Science Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant

The award is given to two graduate assistants who have been recognized by the faculty, students, and fellow graduate teaching assistants as exemplary in undergraduate teaching. The recipient receives a certificate and a cash award. Awards given before 2017 were awarded under the auspices of the College of Engineering and Sciences.

  • 2016 Dhruva Kulkarni (condensed matter, advisor: Professor Chad Sosolik)
  • 2013 Shannon Steffl (biophysics, advisor: Professor Emil Alexov)
  • 2007 Huqin Zhang (condensed matter, advisor: Professor Terry Tritt)

College of Science Outstanding Senior in the Sciences

The award is given to the outstanding senior in the sciences on the basis of scholarship and character. The recipient receives a certificate and a cash award. Awards given before 2017 were awarded under the auspices of the College of Engineering and Sciences.

  • 2016 Emily Thompson
  • 2014 Brenden Roberts
  • 2013 Benjamin Schroeder
  • 2012 Ryan Schurr
  • 2011 Kemper Talley

College of Science Outstanding Junior in the Sciences

The award is given to the outstanding junior in the sciences on the basis of scholarship and character. The recipient receives a certificate and a cash award. Awards given before 2017 were awarded under the auspices of the College of Engineering and Sciences.

  • 2016 Gary Vestal
  • 2015 Emily Thompson
  • 2014 John Farmer
  • 2009 Kemper Talley
  • 2007 Justin Moody

Departmental Awards

Outstanding Graduate Researcher

Graduate researchers make a vital contribution to scientific research. Each year, the department of Physics and Astronomy acknowledges and recognizes the best graduate researcher for his/her scientific work. The recipient receives a certificate, a cash award and has his/her name engraved on a permanent plaque in the Department.

  • 2017 Yufei Liu and Bo Wang
  • 2016 Girish Sharma
  • 2015 Jingyi Zhu
  • 2014 Nick Geitner
  • 2013 Pooja Puneet (first awardee)

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant

Graduate teaching assistants make a major contribution to undergraduate education. Each year, the department of Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University acknowledges and recognizes the best teaching assistant for his/her work as instructor in the classroom and laboratory. The recipient receives a certificate, a cash award and has his/her name engraved on a permanent plaque in the Department.

  • 2017 Nicolas Underwood
  • 2016 Amber Porter
  • 2015 Ethan Kilgore
  • 2014 Evan Figg
  • 2013 Jeremy Capps
  • 2012 Shawn Witham
  • 2011 Dhruva Kukarni
  • 2009 Ginger Bryngelson
  • 2008 Ginger Bryngelson
  • 2007 Huqin Zhang
  • 2006 Brian Donehew
  • 2005 Joseph Johnson

L.D. Huff Junior Award

The award is given annually to the outstanding junior in Physics based on academic achievement and faculty recommendation. The recipient receives a certificate, a cash award and has his/her name engraved on a permanent plaque in the Department.

  • 2017 Joshua Hanson
  • 2016 Gary Vestal
  • 2015 Jaclyn Schmitt
  • 2014 Emily Thompson & John Farmer
  • 2013 Andrew Hanson
  • 2012 Catherine Matulis & Marc-Andre Schaeuble
  • 2011 Kevin Cooke
  • 2010 John Spear
  • 2009 Jessica Herrington & Kemper Talley
  • 2008 Laura Laughlin & Ryan Goldsbury
  • 2007 Russell Hedden & Robert Clarke
  • 2006 Caroline Yount
  • 2005 Christina Riddle & Jessica Moore

L.D. Huff Sophomore Award

The award is given annually to the outstanding sophomore in Physics and Astronomy based on academic achievement and faculty recommendation. The recipient receives a certificate, a cash award and has his/her name engraved on a permanent plaque in the Department.

  • 2017 Adam Miller
  • 2016 Joshua Hanson
  • 2015 Jacob Covington
  • 2014 Jacylyn Schmitt & Jeremy Glick
  • 2013 John Farmer
  • 2012 Andrew Hanson
  • 2010 Patrick Johnson & Kevin Cooke
  • 2009 Edward Ball, David Harrison & Austin Schwartz
  • 2008 Jessica Harrington, Lucas Hurd & Charles Bergman
  • 2007 Laura Laughlin & Matthew Henderson
  • 2006 Russell Hedden
  • 2005 Caroline Yount

Erin Samantha Cawthorne Award

The award is given in memory of Samantha Erin Cawthorne to honor an outstanding student in Physics and Astronomy based on scholarship, character, and other factors demonstrating the recipient's excellence and integrity in the major. The recipient receives a certificate and a cash award.

  • 2017 Matheu Spencer
  • 2016 Jaclyn Schmitt
  • 2015 Rachel Andorfer
  • 2014 Emily Thompson
  • 2013 Allison Setser
  • 2012 Kristyn Brandenburg (first awardee)

SPS Senior Award

The Society of Physics Students Senior Award recipient is elected by the members of the Clemson University Chapter and receives a certificate.

  • 2017 Jacob Covington
  • 2016 Emily Thompson
  • 2015 Kristyn Brandenburg
  • 2014 Charles Tupper
  • 2013 Scott Lindauer
  • 2012 Matthew Daniels
  • 2011 Kemper Talley
  • 2010 Samantha Cawthorne
  • 2009 Laura Laughlin
  • 2008 Russell Hedden
  • 2007 Greyson Gambell
  • 2006 Christina Riddle
  • 2005 Stephanie Cortes