David Buckley

David Buckley, a fourth year Clemson University Ph.D. student studying microbiology, is one of three students internationally selected to receive a $10,000 scholarship from ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials.


How has your experience working in this field helped you achieve your academic goals?

I have not achieved my ultimate goal of graduating with a Ph.D. However, working in the norovirus field and with my committee has opened new doors and helped set new academic goals, such as involvement with professional groups, publishing my work, and working with with industry.

Why is this field important to you?

I originally got involved in microbiology after taking the introductory course as an undergraduate. I have always been interested microbiology and how such small organisms can have a profound effect on our daily lives. This area of research is important to me because I get to work at the edge of science and possibly improve people's lives.  

What is the overall goal of your research and how will you achieve it?

My overall goal is to assess the survivability of human noroviruses and the virucidal activity of both physical and chemical treatments on noroviruses contaminated on soft surfaces, such as carpet. To achieve these goals we need money. The cell culture systems needed to observe virus growth can be costly. Beyond costs, we need time and collaboration.

Have you faced any obstacles academically or in your research? How did you overcome them?

I was originally seeking a Master's degree. However, my ultimate goal is to earn a Ph.D. To overcome this, I petitioned the graduate advisory committee. Ultimately, I was granted a bypass based on my academic performance and awards. There have been numerous stumbling points in my research. However, these were quickly corrected with the support of my advisors, Xiuping Jiang and Angela Fraser, and their large collaborative network.

What would you say is your biggest take-away from your studies?

Characterizing the virus-soft surface interaction continues to be a challenge and these surfaces continue to elude sanitizing standards.

What are your future goals?

After I obtain my doctorate I intend to pursue a career in government or industry, but plan to remain the Army National Guard.

Quote from Advisor: “David is one of the most motivated and self-disciplined people I know, and is very knowledgeable about his research field,” says Xiuping Jiang, professor in food microbiology at Clemson’s Department of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences. “You never have to ask him to do something, and he devotes his weekends and extended hours to his research.”

David, observing the cytopathic effect of murine norovirus on RAW 264.7 cells (mouse macrophages).

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.