Researcher of the Year

2022 Clemson University Research Symposium

The Researcher of the Year awards recognize the efforts of high-achieving faculty whose work is improving society through the generation and dissemination of new knowledge. Each college nominated a senior faculty member and a junior faculty member who received their terminal degree within the past 10 years. The awards program was created with input from the Vice President of Research Research Advisory Board and includes a $5,000 award.

2022 Researcher of the Year

Senior Researcher of the Year

Brian Powell
Professor
Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science
College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences


Brian Powell

Dr. Brian A. Powell is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at Clemson University and holds the Fjeld Professorship in Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science.

Dr. Powell has published over 60 refereed journal publications, 16 research reports, and made over 100 technical presentations on these topical areas. He has conducted sponsored research in a wide range of projects dealing with topics of nuclear forensics, evaluation of nanoparticle behavior, sorption and environmental transport of plutonium, development of radiation detection and radiation detection laboratory courses, iodine, radium, strontium geochemistry in wetland and subsurface sediments, radionuclide geochemistry of saltstone and solid waste performance assessments at the Savannah River Site, measurement of thermodynamic parameters supporting advanced fuel cycle chemistry, and related topics. These research projects have received over $16.9M in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Nuclear Security Agency, and Savannah River Nuclear Services (through the South Carolina Universities Education and Research Foundation). The knowledge gained from this work can be used to evaluate risk posed by subsurface contamination, to design remediation strategies for contaminated sites, and to facilitate the use of safe disposal practices.

Junior Researcher of the Year

Nathan McNeese
Assistant Professor
Human Centered Computing
College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Nathan McNeese

Dr. Nathan J. McNeese is the CECAS Dean’s Professor and Assistant Professor of Human-Centered Computing and Director of the Team Research Analytics in Computational Environments (TRACE) Research Group within the division of Human-Centered Computing in the School of Computing at Clemson University. Dr. McNeese is also the Director of the university-wide Clemson University Data (Science) Lab. He also holds a secondary appointment in Clemson’s Human Factors Institute, is a Faculty Scholar in Clemson’s School o Health Research, and a Watt Family Faculty Fellow. Dr. McNeese received a Ph.D. in Information Sciences & Technology from The Pennsylvania State University. For over 15 years, Dr. McNeese has conducted research mainly focused on teamwork, artificial intelligence (AI), and collaborative technology within a variety of different contexts (command & control, manufacturing, emergency crisis management, and healthcare).

Nathan McNeese’s research seeks to better understand teamwork in health care domains through studying health care teams in context and then developing human-centered collaborative technologies to support specific teamwork activities. He is particularly interested in studying the concepts of team cognition, artificial intelligence, and collaborative technology design and development.

Meet the 2022 Nominees (listed alphabetically)

Senior Faculty Nominees

Nominees Profile
Vernon Burton, Professor

Vernon Burton
Professor
History
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
Dr. Burton's research and teaching interests include the American South, especially race relations and community, and the intersection of humanities and social sciences. He has served as president of the Southern Historical Association and of the Agricultural History Society. He was elected to honorary life membership in BrANCH (British American Nineteenth-Century Historians).

Bryan Miller,Associate Professor

Bryan Miller
Associate Professor
Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
Dr. Miller is currently working on a Bureau of Justice Assistance funded initiative with the Clemson University Police Department to partner with campus and community behavioral health services to improve law enforcement responses to individuals in mental health crises.

Brian Powell, Professor

Brian Powell
Professor
Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences
College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences
Dr. Powell’s research focuses on understanding and prediction of the physical, chemical, and biological processes which govern the mobility of radionuclides in natural and engineered systems. He has conducted sponsored research in a wide range of projects dealing with topics of nuclear forensics, evaluation of nanoparticle behavior, sorption and environmental transport of plutonium, development of radiation detection and radiation detection laboratory courses, iodine, radium, strontium geochemistry in wetland and subsurface sediments, radionuclide geochemistry of saltstone and solid waste performance assessments at the Savannah River Site, measurement of thermodynamic parameters supporting advanced fuel cycle chemistry, and related topics.

Joseph Ryan, Distinguished Professor

Joseph B. Ryan
Distinguished Professor
Education and Human Development
College of Education
Dr. Ryan's research research interests focus on behavioral interventions and enhancing post-school outcomes for individuals with disabilities. He has been interviewed by Anderson Cooper, CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other leading periodicals, and given three U.S. Congressional Briefings on behavioral crisis interventions for schools.

Christopher Saski, Associate Professor

Christopher Saski
Associate Professor
Plant and Environmental Sciences
College of Agriculture, Forestry & Life Sciences
Dr. Saski's research interests include the use of systems-scale approaches to understand disease resistance and horticultural qualities in Rosaceous crops (peach, plum, cherry, apple, almond, and others). He also investigates fiber traits, genome evolution, somatic embryogenesis, and gene function in Upland cotton; and genome dynamics of rapid adaptation in weeds. Ultimately, Dr. Saski's research portfolio is aimed to deliver healthier foods, more sustainable agriculture, and environmental systems that support agriculture.

Scott Swain, Professor

Scott Swain
Professor
Marketing
College of Business
Dr. Swain's research focuses on the roles of psychological ownership and theory-of-mind on stakeholder perceptions of companies’ offerings and initiatives.


Junior Faculty Nominees

Nominees Profile
Kaileigh Byrne, Assistant Professor

Kaileigh Byrne
Assistant Professor
Psychology
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
Dr. Byrne currently has two distinctive ongoing health-related lines of research. Her line of research examines neurocognitive and decision-making correlates of Substance Use Disorder (SUD). She also examines how interventions, including peer recovery coaching and online cognitive behavioral therapy apps, can improve SUD health and neurocognitive outcomes. This work aims to identify and and alter SUD-related maladaptive decision-making and habits. Dr. Byrne's second line of research is focused on cognitive aging. She is examining how aging affects health-related and financial decisions strategies, cognitive biases, susceptibility to misinformation, and responsivity to feedback.

Matt Hersel, Assistant Professor

Matt Hersel
Assistant Professor
Management
College of Business
Dr. Hersel's primary research interests involve stakeholder-focused management and the organizational effects of changing social evaluations following ethical transgressions. Specifically, he is interested in how leaders manage the aftermath of misconduct and other types of scandals.

Nathan McNeese, Professor

Nathan McNeese
Assistant Professor
School of Computing
College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences
Dr. McNeese’s research mainly focuses on teamwork, artificial intelligence (AI), and collaborative technology within a variety of different contexts (command & control, manufacturing, emergency crisis management, and healthcare). His current research interests span across human-AI teaming, human-centered AI, and the development/design of human-centered collaborative tools and systems.

Andreea Mihalache, Assistant Professor

Andreea Mihalache
Assistant Professor
Architecture
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
Dr. Mihalache's areas of interest as a scholar, designer, and educator cover the history and theory of architecture, representation, and visual culture in Western and Eastern European contexts from the second half of the 20th century to the present; matters of corporeality and embodiment in architecture and visual arts; collective and individual memory; domesticity and the everyday; philosophy and aesthetics. She believes in conjectural and speculative thinking fully anchored in, and supported by, historical research.

Luke Rapa, Assistant Professor

Luke Rapa
Assistant Professor
Education and Human Development
College of Education
Dr. Rapa has an interest in the development of youth navigating adversity, marginalization, and inequitable societal conditions. Additionally, Rapa supports projects that provide targeted professional development to teachers in high-needs, priority schools to address critical student learning needs.

Vidya Suseela, Assistant Professor

Vidya Suseela
Assistant Professor
Plant and Environmental Sciences
College of Agriculture, Forestry & Life Sciences
Dr. Suseela's research focuses on investigating the mechanisms that facilitate the formation and stabilization of soil organic matter in managed and unmanaged ecosystems that are mediated by chemical composition of plant inputs, microbial metabolism and soil mineralogy. Studying the pathways in natural ecosystems through which plants create and maintain legacy effects so as to inform restoration practices. Focusing on conventional and low input agroecosystems, investigating the effect of plant functional types on the quantity, composition and stabilization of soil carbon and the associated nutrient cycling for improving the soil health and productivity of agroecosystems.