Rob Ross Receives Outstanding Young Alumni Award

May 12, 2008

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson University has inducted three new members into its prestigious engineering and science academy while honoring the contributions of two young alumni.

At the 13th annual Engineering and Science Banquet, the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists recognized the following three individuals for outstanding career success, contributions to community and notable contributions to engineering and science.

Tom Keinath, a native of Michigan who now lives in Seneca, S.C., is a scientist and leader in the field of environmental engineering, most notably wastewater treatment, as well as an academic administrator. As its first dean, he provided leadership to the College of Engineering and Science at Clemson. Under his tenure, Keinath helped merge the two colleges into a model of multidisciplinary collaboration. Also in this capacity, Keinath worked to launch several academic and research centers, perhaps the most ambitious of these is the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).

John Petersen, a native of Los Angeles who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from California State University-Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California-Santa Barbara. He came to Clemson as a member of the chemistry faculty in 1980 and was appointed associate dean of research in the college. Research grew dramatically during his tenure and he oversaw the Electron Microscope Facility. The multi-user facility is the backbone of Clemson’s Advanced Materials Research Laboratory and attracts clients from automotive, pharmaceutical, textile, electronics, environmental and medical industries. Today, Petersen serves as president of the University of Tennessee, leading a statewide system.

Michael L. Watt of Atlanta, Ga., is the president and chief executive officer of Scientific Research Corp., which provides electronic systems and engineering services to public and private sectors in countries around the world. He has directed the development of air-traffic control, communication, air defense, electronic surveillance and industrial controls systems. SRC has a heritage in national defense and the global war on terror. It also has made notable contributions to the international peace process and securing a sustainable environment for future generations. Watt serves on numerous boards for corporations and academic institutions, including the Clemson University Advisory Board for the department of electrical and computer engineering. Watt earned a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering at Clemson and a master’s in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech.

In honoring the inductees, Esin Gulari, dean of Clemson’s College of Engineering and Science, said, “Those singled out for inclusion in the academy illustrate what can be attained through diligent application of talent, hard work and dedication. We are extremely proud of all of these individuals.”

Two outstanding alumni were recognized for making significant contributions to the world around them. They received an Outstanding Young Alumni Award for 2008 for significant career success and notable contributions to society.

Robert Ross, a resident of Argonne, Ill., received a bachelor of science in computer engineering in 1994 from Clemson, followed with a Ph.D. in 2000. He’s been recognized with a Presidential Early Career Award and R&D 100 Award, a mark of excellence recognizing the most innovative ideas of the year. His work with MPICH2, a high-performance software application, enables developers to run the same code on a wide variety of platforms, from laptops and workstations to the largest and fastest parallel computers in the world. Applications include materials science, combustion simulation, astrophysics, climate modeling and bioinformatics.

Andrew Sowder, a resident of Charleston, S.C., is a physical scientist whose research has focused on the environmental behavior and effects of uranium and nickel. He has served as technical liaison in the U.S. effort to assist with the Chernobyl cleanup and stabilization. Recently, as a foreign affairs officer, he has helped negotiate agreements through which foreign countries and the United States cooperate to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists. Sowder obtained his Ph.D. in environmental engineering and science from Clemson in 1998.