Clay Wright, a senior physics and applied mathematics double major, has been named the 2018 McLean-Smith South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) Student of the Year. Wright received the award during the annual SCICU board meeting, which took place on the PC campus on Wednesday, September 26.
Wright was selected for SCICU Student of the Year honors from among nominees submitted by SCICU’s member colleges and universities. The Greenville-based Center for Scholarship Administration independently conducted the nomination process and submitted the name of the award recipient to SCICU.
Wright, a Clinton, SC, native, and the son of David and Ashli Wright, has pursued his passion for science and math since he’s been at PC. He has conducted research on granular physics in the PC Summer Fellows program as well as with the NASA / South Carolina Space Grant Consortium. He received an Undergraduate Research Award for the work he completed with NASA.
“From a research experience through NASA to receiving this award today, I have been encouraged by a one-of-a-kind community that I will always cherish,” Wright said. “That said, I would not be able to attend PC if it was not for the gracious support provided to me through the South Carolina Tuition Grant Program.
“It is important that students at independent institutions in South Carolina continue to receive this support so that they can experience the value that these organizations provide.”
This past summer Wright was selected to participate in the National Science Foundation TNEWS Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. He researched two-dimensional materials in the Quantum Device Lab at the University of Arkansas. Wright is currently researching the reaction mechanism of gold nanoparticles with PC physical chemistry professor Dr. Latha Gearheart.
Wright’s Campus Involvement
Wright serves as a member and president of the math honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon. He’s also a member of the Society of Physics Students and the physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma.
In addition to his work in science and math, Wright is a member of Bluefish, a student ministry at PC. He has served as a tutor at the South Carolina Empowerment Center and Clinton High School and is a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. He served as president of the fraternity in 2017.
“I would like to thank my professors Dr. Beasley and Dr. Owens for attending and helping me so much throughout these years,” Wright said during his acceptance speech. “I would like to thank Dr. Joy Smith (Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students) as well, who helped guide me through my freshman year here at PC.
“Finally, I would like to thank my mother. Of all the admirable people I have had the joy of meeting in my life, my mother is my biggest inspiration and supporter. She has always encouraged me to attain higher education, and I would not be the person nor student I am without her.
“Finally, I would like to thank SCICU for this incredible award.”
Daniel Professor of Mathematics Dr. Brian Beasley and Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. Eli Owens recommended Wright for the 2018 McLean-Smith SCICU Student of the Year Award. Wright plans to attend a Ph.D. program in materials science and engineering after earning his degree from PC in 2019.