April is Research and Innovation Month at Clemson. Major events will happen throughout the month to shine light on the research Clemson students — both graduate and undergraduate — are doing on campus.  A full schedule can be found here, or check out a preview below of three events during the monthlong celebration.

3-Minute Thesis Presentations

Graduate students spend years on their research, narrowing their focus, gathering data and results. Now, a group is taking on the challenge of presenting their work in three minutes.

“The goal of the 3-Minute Thesis competition is to force students to present their research — whether technical or non-technical — to a broad audience,” said Jesse Kelly, Graduate Student Government secretary of research and procurement. “It’s kind of like the elevator pitch; instead you’re explaining three to five years of research in three minutes.”

Compressing years of study and communicating intensely department-specific research is also a wonderful challenge for graduate students.

“Usually what [graduate students] train for is not communication, but it’s important for Ph.D.s to be able to communicate their findings,” said Graduate Student Government president Simon Li. “It educates grad students in career development by building on their professional communication skills.”

The first round of the competition happened last week, and the field was narrowed to 20. The final 20 will present their theses on March 31 in the Hendrix Student Center Ballroom B. Presentations will happen from 10 a.m. to noon and 1-3 p.m. Winners will be announced during an awards ceremony in the Hendrix Student Center ballrooms on April 4 from 4:30-6 p.m.

Focus on Creative Inquiry

Clemson undergraduates have incredible opportunities through Creative Inquiry to do research side-by-side with professors and peers. From health care to languages and culture to agriculture to the hard sciences, students are taking on projects and making an impact here at home and across the world.

The Focus on Creative Inquiry event will showcase hundreds of campuswide projects such as a bioengineering group that is inventing a more affordable diabetes test strip and glucometer. And, just as importantly, items that could be replicated and used in countries like Tanzania, where the Clemson bioengineering department is doing a lot of service work.

“What excites me most about this is it puts the technology in the hands of the people who are in need,” said Tyler Ovington, a senior from Greenville who is involved in the project.

Commercially available test strips sell for about $1 each, and many diabetics need to use five or more a day.

The student-designed test strips can be printed for about a penny each by rigging an inkjet printer to shoot enzymes instead of ink. Students have also made a glucometer out of widely available parts that can be found in any U.S. electronics store or bought in bulk and shipped to remote parts of the world.

That’s key because when medical equipment breaks in Tanzania, it can be tough for engineers to find replacement parts. And failing to maintain blood sugar levels can lead to complications, including kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, neuropathy, ketoacidosis and gastroparesis.

To learn more about this bioengineering project and others like it, head to the Hendrix Student Center ballrooms on April 3. Posters will be displayed and students on hand to answer questions from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 1-3 p.m.

Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

For the second year, graduate students are aiming to raise the bar when it comes to presenting graduate student research at Clemson — and that comes in the form of the Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium.

Students like microbiology Ph.D. student, Yash Raval, will have presentation posters set up to describe and explain the research they are working on. Under the direction of microbiology professor Jeremy Tzeng and collaborating with materials science and engineering professor Thompson Mefford, Raval has spent the last three years at Clemson focused on using magnetic nanoparticles-induced hyperthermia treatment to reduce bacterial infections.

“In the current clinical settings, there is an urgent need to develop new approaches for treating bacterial infections without using antibiotics since a majority of bacteria have become resistant to various antibiotics, with many of them being also multi-drug resistant,” he said.

Much like how an MRI or cancer treatment uses magnetic nanoparticles to focus on a specific region of the body, Raval believes they can be also used to treat bacterial infections using the same approach. For his proof of concept, he’s been studying how magnetic nanoparticles-induced hyperthermia can be used to treat E. coli infections.

While he still has about two years left before he completes his Ph.D., Raval and his professors are already looking into finding grant research money so they’ll be able to continue their work and potentially bring this idea to market.

To hear more about Raval’s research and others like it, head to Hendrix Student Center ballrooms on April 4. Posters will be displayed and students on hand to answer questions from 1-4 p.m., which will be followed by an awards reception at 4:30 p.m.