CLEMSON, South Carolina — 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.

David Buckley

David Buckley

Buckley is working on his Ph.D. dissertation under Xiuping Jiang, professor in food microbiology at Clemson’s food, nutrition and packaging sciences department. He is researching the survival and inactivation of noroviruses (also known as the stomach flu) on soft surfaces such as carpet.

“Most studies have focused on disinfecting hard surfaces. But there is strong evidence that suggests soft surfaces, such as carpet, can transmit human norovirus. However, there are no on-the-market products capable of sanitizing soft surfaces after they have been soiled with bodily fluids containing viruses unlike their hard surface counterparts. We do not have a product for viruses because we lack standardized methods for assessing them on soft surfaces. We are currently working to adapt ASTM International standards for sanitizing soft surface contaminated with viruses,” Buckley said.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Buckley has lived many places, including the Netherlands for almost 10 years. He later returned to the U.S. to attend East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, for his undergraduate degree. During this time, Buckley enrolled with the North Carolina National Guard and has served as an active member for almost nine years. He was commissioned in 2011 as a medical service officer and is currently a captain.

Buckley is no stranger to awards. He also earned a $60,000 fellowship from NoroCORE, a USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative initiative at North Carolina State University that works in part with Clemson. The NoroCORE is one of the largest in USDA history, with $25 million going into research and $2 million to Clemson food, nutrition and packaging sciences. Associate professor Angela Fraser is principal investigator and Jiang is one of the co-investigators. Buckley received $35,000 for research and a $25,000 stipend from the fellowship, which he says has greatly contributed to his recent findings.

David Buckley in lab.

David, observing the cytopathic effect of murine norovirus on RAW 264.7 cells.

“David is one of the most motivated and self-disciplined people I know and is very knowledgeable about his research field,” Jiang said. “You never have to ask him to do something, and he devotes his weekends and extended hours to his research. He is actively involved in other professional organizations, such as the International Association for Food Protection, and is a great communicator, which really adds value to his credentials.”

Buckley will use the ASTM Scholarship money to advance his research.

“The supplies for these types of research projects are expensive. More than likely the scholarship money will be going towards resources we need in order to keep up our progress,” he said.

Buckley is interested in pursuing an industry position upon completion of his Ph.D. and plans to remain in the military.