CLEMSON – The College of Science, having just recently surpassed its inaugural year, has appointed three faculty members to Associate Dean positions in the Dean’s Office. They will begin their roles starting in January 2018.

  • Apparao M. Rao, an R.A. Bowen Professor in the department of physics and astronomy and the director of the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute (CNI), has been named the Associate Dean for Discovery.
  • Alumni Distinguished Professor of Genetics, Julia A. Frugoli, will become the Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Graduate Education.
  • Calvin Williams, a professor of mathematical sciences, has been selected as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Excellence and Community Engagement.
Rao headshot

Apparao Rao will become the Associate Dean for Discovery.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Rao will be responsible for monitoring research grants and proposals within the college and assisting faculty with their research and funding endeavors.

Rao earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Kentucky in 1989, then joined researchers at MIT as a post-doctoral research associate until 1991. Before coming to Clemson in 2000, Rao served as a research assistant professor and a senior research scientist at the University of Kentucky.

Rao’s research on the properties of micro- and nano-structured materials paved the way for the creation of CNI, which is housed in the Advanced Materials Research Laboratory in Anderson. By collaborating with the Watt Family Innovation Center and the South Carolina Research Authority, Rao was able to forge research partnerships with industries such as Haworth and Cornell Dubilier, Inc. He is a fellow of two prestigious scientific societies – the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science – and a recipient of the S.C. Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research.

“The Associate Dean for Discovery position provides an exciting opportunity for me to create similar relationships as those at CNI, but on a larger scale, through close interactions with faculty in our college. It will enable me to connect them with collaborators on convergent research,” Rao said.

In addition to being an Alumni Distinguished Professor, Frugoli is the associate chair of the department of genetics and biochemistry.

She served as a research chemist for the U.S. Army before receiving her Ph.D. in biological sciences from Dartmouth College in 1998. Frugoli then conducted postdoctoral research in plant pathology and microbiology at Texas A&M until joining faculty at Clemson University in 2000.

The Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Graduate Education will be professor Julia Frugoli.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Frugoli’s passion is her research, which focuses on nodule development in legumes, such as peas and beans. Using a molecular approach, Frugoli’s lab seeks to understand how legumes regulate the process that allows them to harvest nitrogen from the air – a study that could benefit the environment by reframing the way agriculturalists fertilize their crops.

To conduct this research, Frugoli has secured funding from Clemson University and federal agencies like the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Next to research, Frugoli takes an interest in promoting research ethics. Through sponsorships from the Rutland Institute for Ethics and the Office of Research Compliance, Frugoli has taught workshops, designed programs and served on panels to develop sound research practices in higher education.

“I’ve been involved with issues in graduate education since I was a graduate student myself, and in diversity issues throughout my career as a female scientist. The ClemsonForward and the ScienceForward plans under development have generated exciting opportunities to influence inclusive excellence and graduate education at Clemson, and I just couldn’t pass up this chance to make a difference in this area while keeping my research active,” Frugoli said.

As Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Graduate Education, Frugoli will be dedicated to supporting graduate students, strengthening graduate degrees offered in the College of Science and increasing the number of underrepresented faculty, staff and students in the college.

Frugoli hopes to implement programs that increase the number of graduate students and graduate programs in the College of Science, while also supporting the College’s recruitment of a diverse faculty, staff and student body.

“Inclusive excellence is about making the best decisions because there are many different voices in the room contributing to the process, but that can’t happen if we don’t have a diverse group of people ‘in the room’ to make them – and we need to improve in this area,” she said.

Calvin Williams will be the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Excellence and Community Engagement.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Williams will be responsible for student recruitment, success and engagement in the College of Science, helping to increase freshmen retention and six-year graduation rates for undergraduate students. Williams will be the lead for all student affairs initiatives, including everything from promoting Science outreach, to handling curriculum advising and strengthening teaching and learning methods.

Williams is currently the director for Clemson’s Center of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education, where he leads the development of programs for PreK-16 teachers and PreK-12 students to study policy issues affecting pre-collegiate education.

In 1987, Williams earned his Ph.D. in biometry from the Medical University of South Carolina. He was a visiting research scholar in Stanford’s department of statistics before beginning postdoctoral research in the psychiatric statistics training program at Carnegie Mellon University. Williams has served on a number of committees and panels for the National Science Foundation, and was a program director for the agency’s Division of Undergraduate Education for two years.

“With my experience, tenure as an academician, and as an administrator, I wanted to explore the opportunity to serve Clemson University in a different and more impactful way,” Williams said. “One of my goals as Associate Dean is to have an impact on how we attend to the academic needs of our students and the general Clemson community. I hope to engage community partners, such as primary and secondary schools across the state, as well as students, faculty and staff at Clemson to make our educational experience one of the best in the country.”

In their roles as Associate Deans, Rao, Frugoli and Williams will assist Dean Cynthia Y. Young in advancing the college’s ScienceForward strategic plan. Created in alignment with the university’s ClemsonForward plan, ScienceForward will act as a roadmap to guide the College’s strategic priorities in academic, faculty and inclusive excellence.