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Three Clemson University Professors Win Governor’s Awards for World-class Research

Gov. Nikki Haley has recognized three Clemson University professors for the global impact of their research in optical materials science, nanoscale physics and environmental nuclear chemistry.

by Clemson University
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John Ballato and Apparao Rao each won the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research. Brian Powell won the 2014 Governor’s Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Scientific Research.

They will receive their awards Saturday at the annual meeting of the South Carolina Academy of Science in Charleston. The awards are presented annually under the joint sponsorship of the Governor’s Office and the academy.

John Ballato.Photo courtesy of Clemson UniversityBallato is Clemson’s vice president for economic development, a professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET).

Haley told Ballato in a letter that his work has “directly impacted the economic growth of the State of South Carolina and the Southeast Region.”

“Your research in optical materials science has had a far-reaching impact, not only on the state but also the nation and the world, and your contributions to building our state’s research infrastructure have increased the visibility of South Carolina within the global scientific community,” she wrote.

Ballato’s award came in the wake of two other high honors. He has been selected to deliver the prestigious Arthur L. Friedberg Ceramics Engineering Tutorial and Lecture in Pittsburgh in October. Ballato was also named the 2013 winner of the Class of ‘39 Award, which was established to inspire the greatest possible achievement by Clemson faculty.

“These awards are humbling bookends on a remarkable school year,” he said. “Our research and scholarship have had a tangible impact on local, regional and national competitiveness. We have also had an impact on security.

“It is heartening to know that Clemson faculty and the state have recognized our contributions.”

Apparao Rao.Photo courtesy of Clemson UniversityRao is the R.A. Bowen professor of physics and the director of Clemson’s Nanomaterials Research Laboratory.

Haley told Rao in a letter that his work at Clemson University has earned him the respect of his colleagues in the state and in the nation.

“You have contributed in tangible and meaningful ways to building our state’s research infrastructure, increasing the visibility of South Carolina within the national and international scientific community while contributing to the teaching mission of our state,” she wrote.

Rao said it is a great honor for his team to be recognized by the state for its research accomplishments, which have been presented at numerous scientific conferences over the past year.

“While we’ve received several national and international accolades for our research and development, it feels a lot sweeter when it comes from our own state,” he said.

Brian Powell.Photo courtesy of Clemson UniversityPowell is an associate professor of environmental engineering and earth sciences and oversees the environmental radiochemistry education and research program.

Haley told Powell in a letter that his work on the fate and transport of radionuclides and trace metals in the environment has received national and international recognition and brought credit to South Carolina.

“This is a very important topic for our state, and your cooperative work with the nation’s National Laboratories is commendable,” she wrote. “As an educator, you have mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students, introducing them to research and demonstrating how exciting science can be.”

Powell said he is honored.

“I know a lot of smart, energetic, young faculty in Clemson and throughout the state,” he said. “To win this award within that community, I’m humbled.”