Science and technology research attracted this Tiger to Clemson. Seventeen years later, he continues to further the university’s research capabilities, while building confidence in his students and challenging them to excel in their careers. He believes that his students’ successes will form the legacy that he will leave at Clemson.

Meet Apparao Rao.

Title: Associate Dean for Discovery, College of Science
Director, Clemson Nanomaterials Institute
R.A. Bowen Professor of Physics

Years at Clemson: 17

What I do at Clemson: I teach graduate and undergraduate level courses in the department of physics and astronomy and direct research and development at the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute (CNI). I am passionate about mentoring students and helping junior faculty succeed in their careers. My recent appointment as the Associate Dean for Discovery (ADD) allows me to interact with faculty across several disciplines for team building to help advance ScienceForward at Clemson. As ADD, I also assist faculty in identifying funding opportunities for them to pursue their teaching or research goals at Clemson.

What I love about Clemson: I love the greenery around Clemson and its community, which represents one of the best families anyone can aspire for. Compared to some of the other places where I lived before, the weather here is relatively warmer and so are Clemsonites! Going to work feels as if I am going to meet my extended family to spend fun time innovating in the lab. At CNI we grab any opportunity to celebrate. We celebrate birthdays of all team members, and even celebrate students’ successes by having the entire team bow to a student who publishes ground-breaking research. We also travel together to scientific meetings, and CNI’s success is solely because of such team spirit.

Accomplishment I’m most proud of: My students represent the legacy I will leave behind at Clemson. I’m proud of their successes, and am fortunate to be able to continue working with some of them on research projects to this day. Solely due to their research contributions, I am able to spearhead CNI which was established in 2013. CNI is a dream lab for any scientist with numerous in-house capabilities for addressing a wide range of scientific problems. None of the above would have been possible without the constant support of family and friends.

Where I see myself in five years: Retired…and “re-tired” for community service. Though I immensely enjoy research and development, I feel it is important that I should give back to the community that has nurtured my growth. I hope to do so in the form of selfless service.

Last thing I watched on TV: As part of my job, I stare at the lighted screen for 12 hours every day. Therefore, I rarely watch TV, and instead I keep myself updated through news on the radio.

Guilty pleasure: Drumming. I have no formal training in music, and the cacophony I generate can be unbearable for many. When possible, I sneak into my basement and let myself loose on percussion instruments.

One thing people don’t know about you: As a graduate student I was 5’ 8” tall and lean, and could easily consume an entire large pizza in one sitting. It would provide me the much-needed fuel during the all-nighters I pulled in the lab. My Ph.D. mentor nicknamed me the “bottomless pit.”

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