Melissa Pilgrim Honored for Scholarly, Creative Pursuits

June 20, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Dr. Melissa Pilgrim

Each year the Committee for Faculty Excellence selects a recipient of the USC Upstate Award for Scholarly and/or Creative Pursuits

This year, the USC Upstate Award for Scholarly and/or Creative Pursuits was presented to Dr. Melissa Pilgrim.

Pilgrim’s timely, important and innovative research centers on radioecology – in particular, how stable radioactive substances migrate within different ecosystems and in food chains. Her work ultimately has major implications for monitoring environmental health as well as for dealing with a host of issues related to international nuclear contamination and the storage of nuclear waste.

Pilgrim received a substantial grant from the National Science Foundation to support her work at the Savannah River Ecology Lab and to help create a Radioecology Research Experience for Undergraduates. It is the only hands-on radioecology lab for undergraduates in the world. This achievement speaks forcefully to both the importance of her research and her commitment to involve undergraduates in her work.

To date, every USC Upstate undergraduate who has participated in the summer program has received a job offer or gone on to graduate school, and she regularly produces scholarship with student co-authors. Her work is a portrait of engaged research – it focuses on an underexplored yet deeply important subject, it involves students in practical, real-world hands-on science, and produces important and unique results.

As one reviewer noted, Dr. Pilgrim “has done a remarkable job of involving students in the core STEM related fields of study that we in the USA so desperately need, and she has done so by establishing USC Upstate as a leading regional university in the training of undergraduate students in the sciences.”