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GSSM Honors Dr. Delphine Dean of Clemson University with 2021 Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Research Leadership Award

The Governor’s School for Science + Mathematics (GSSM) was pleased to award the Fall 2021 Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Leadership Award to Dr. Delphine Dean of Clemson University at the 33rd Annual Research Colloquium. 

Dr. Delphine Dean is the Rob and Jane Lindsay Family Innovation Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University. Dr. Dean earned her B.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined the Clemson University faculty in 2007. She is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, Materials Research Society, Biomedical Engineering Society, Society for Biomaterials, American Society for Engineering Education, the Orthopaedics Research Society, and is one of the newest members of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows. Dr. Dean is a recipient of the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence from Clemson University. 

Dr. Dean’s Multiscale Bioelectromechanics Lab at Clemson University studies the mechanics and interactions of biological systems at the nano-to micro-scale using techniques like atomic force microscopy and mathematical modeling. Her research focus includes the nanostructure of cardiovascular cells and tissues, the effects of ionizing radiation, and the development of novel medical devices. These innovations include saliva-based blood glucose strips that can be read by a smartphone application and a biodegradable marker for tumor localization that reduces the cost of breast cancer surgery. 

Many of the projects led by Dr. Dean address needs in under-resourced communities around the world – a commitment aligned with that of GSSM’s mission to develop “ethical leaders” prepared to take on “the world’s most significant issues.” These efforts include a breast pump with a filter to inactivate HIV in breast milk, basket-woven braces for neck injuries that can be produced and sold by local women in Tanzania, and a low-cost patient monitor that a hand crank can power. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Dean led the establishment of the certified clinical diagnostic Research and Education in Disease Diagnosis and Intervention lab at Clemson, which is key to Clemson’s COVID-19 testing strategy, as well as providing testing for their surrounding community. She also led the Clemson COVID Challenge, an undergraduate research, and design challenge to address issues related to the pandemic. 

A core element of Dr. Dean’s work has been to engage students below the graduate school level with challenging and meaningful projects. Dr. Dean has provided mentored research & inquiry experience to over a dozen GSSM students since 2008 and over 150 Clemson undergraduates through Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program. Current student projects include designing medical devices for the developing world, collaborating on biomedical engineering innovation with students in Tanzania, testing radiation for biomedical applications, using magnetic nanoparticles to reduce the need for arterial stent implants, and applying human factors engineering to medical device design. 

The Randall M. La Cross Distinguished Research Leadership Award is presented to Dr. Dean by Dr. Tyler Harvey. Dr. Harvey is a GSSM Class of 2011 graduate. As a rising senior at GSSM, he conducted his mentored research & inquiry experience at Clemson University under Dr. Dean. He returned to Clemson, earning his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. while continuing research with Dr. Dean. Dr. Harvey is currently a Lecturer in Bioengineering at Clemson University and has contributed to the development of GSSM Outreach & STEM Foundations programs.

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.