CLEMSON – Two undergraduate students in biological sciences – Haley Krachman and Maddie Eastman – received the first disbursements of the Dr. Alfred P. Wheeler Scholarship Endowment at a luncheon held on Dec. 1.

From left: Margaret Ptacek, Michael Childress, Maddie Eastman, Alfred “Hap” Wheeler, Haley Krachman, present biological sciences department chair Bob Cohen and Dean Cynthia Y. Young.
Image Credit: Julie Tovey

The endowment was established in 2013 in honor of professor Alfred “Hap” Wheeler, who was the department chair of biological sciences at Clemson from 2002 to 2013.

Krachman and Eastman are seniors in biological sciences and are members of the Calhoun Honors College.

Krachman, who is from New Jersey, said that she was a shy student when she first started at Clemson in 2014, and she had to learn to reach out to professors in order to succeed. To support her interest in healthcare, Krachman attended professor Vincent Gallicchio’s study abroad trip to Costa Rica, where she worked with medical professionals to set up health clinics in rural areas.

After that summer, Krachman returned to Clemson with a new perspective that she used in helping to establish ISL Clemson, a club dedicated to supporting pre-health students on medical mission trips to Latin America.

Krachman is planning to attend medical school at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville starting in summer 2018.

Eastman – from Minnesota – said that students in biological sciences can visibly see their professors’ passion for teaching, such as in the Behavioral Ecology course she took from professor Michael Childress. It’s this passion, Eastman says, that helps students feel encouraged to learn.

Eastman is currently applying to physical therapy school, which she will begin in Fall 2018.

Wheeler said that he was “deeply honored that this scholarship fund is in my name. However, it was a greater honor to have worked with so many bright and creative students over the years.  I can think of no greater legacy than to have played some formative part in their lives. Because of this scholarship, that legacy can continue in some measure through current students in biological sciences.”

Wheeler told Krachman and Eastman to be proud of themselves for what they have contributed to Clemson in their time as students.

“You and all students have made Clemson what it is today,” he said.

Biological sciences professors Margaret Ptacek and Childress were instrumental in the creation of the Alfred P. Wheeler Endowment in 2013.

Krachman and Eastman celebrated their awards at a luncheon on Dec. 1.
Image Credit: Julie Tovey

“Hap represented a leader who was in it for students, who wanted all of them to succeed,” Ptacek said. “And Michael and I felt that a scholarship for undergraduate students was the best way to carry on his mission.”

With Wheeler’s support and advisement as department chair, the department of biological sciences brought in 19 new faculty members with nationally recognized research programs in microbiology, environmental toxicology, cell and developmental biology, and ecology and evolution.

More so, the department increased student enrollment from 835 undergraduates in 2002 to almost 1,500 in 2013, when Wheeler retired. Now, with more than 1,720 undergraduates in biological sciences and microbiology, the department boasts the largest major of any at Clemson.

Faculty who worked with Wheeler recall his dedication to the sciences and his willingness to work on behalf of faculty, staff and students, earning Wheeler his nickname as the “Champion of Biological Sciences.”

The Dr. Alfred P. Wheeler Scholarship will be awarded on an annual basis to a select undergraduate student in biological sciences who exemplifies the work that professor Wheeler put in to building the biological sciences program at Clemson University.