Clemson Ph.D. student April Gillens works in the lab.

Image Credit: Photo courtesy of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, North Carolina A&T State University.

April Gillens, a doctoral student in Clemson’s environmental and engineering science (EES) program, is combining forensics and nuclear research to help keep us safe from nuclear terrorism and dangerous nuclear trafficking.

A native of Eutawville, S.C., Gillens’ research in nuclear forensics looks for unique carbon fingerprints associated with particular elements of nuclear materials, which would aid in the identification and tracking of criminally-trafficked nuclear materials. Her research is funded by Homeland Security’s Nuclear Forensics Graduate Fellowship Program (NFGFP); Clemson is one of less than two dozen universities selected by Homeland Security to participate in the NFGFP.

Gillens, who will become Clemson’s first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in the EES program when she graduates this year, is aiming for a career with Homeland Security. She is the subject of an alumni profile in the most recent issue of Re:Search, a publication of her undergraduate alma mater, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.