Creative Inquiry

Food Science, Nutrition, and Packaging Science – Together We’ll Go Far

Say you’re walking down the grocery store aisle and spot a nice, see-through package that reads “ORGANIC.” Just like that, you’re hooked. Do you actually know what organic foods are, or are you convinced because of the nature of the package? This mystery is what packaging and food scientists alike work every day to figure out. What drives a consumer to purchase a product? Is it the taste? Is it because its healthy?

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Here at Clemson University, Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences are three separate degree programs that are housed within the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences. Students in these majors take classes in one of the three fields and rarely cross; however, in the food industry, they may be as close as sharing an office wall. Nutrition professors Dr. Marge Condrasky; food science professor, Dr. Aubrey Coffee; and packaging science professor, Dr. Duncan Darby, advised this Creative Inquiry project.

This two-semester Creative Inquiry project was assisted by graduate student Alexandra Weeks, who took many different approaches for students to have a well rounded view of all steps used in the product development process.

The group started the research project by learning an introduction to each field aiming to learn the basics of product development. This particular product development project was meant to create healthy foods that would be attractive to children and marketable to their parents. Students began the first semester with lectures that covered each of the majors and what they specifically study. From there, they took an in-depth look at how industry professionals operate when developing a new product and completed ideation activities that started putting informative knowledge into practice. These ideation (thought) activities increased gradually with complexity and made each student— no matter their education background— think like another, forcing them to ask each other questions that they may not have otherwise thought to consider.

Throughout the course sequence, students were exposed to a number of experiences that both enhanced current study efforts and promoted long-term professional development. Students learned how to process more than 300+ ideas and find the best ideas that can be used for a product launch. They were also taught how a few perfected ideas are transformed from ideation through each of the stages of product development.

A trip to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen after learning how industry professionals approach situations solidified concepts taught in previous lectures. While visiting their Atlanta, Georgia facility, students were also able to attend a networking event with members of the Research Chefs Association—members who could potentially be future employers. At the Denny’s headquarters in Spartanburg, South Carolina, students were introduced to a different style of product development being that Denny’s is not considered a quick service restaurant.

After learning how to formulate ideas, perfect them, and develop them from an industry professional’s perspective, students were able to put their skills to the test. Members of the Creative Inquiry project spilt into groups and each developed products that could be used as healthy alternatives to poor eating habits practiced by elementary school children. The products ranged from included healthy versions of waffles to healthy cookies. Each group had a main focus of either packaging components or food development, while striving to make a snack as nutritious as possible.

Once completed, members of the Creative Inquiry partnered with a local school, Chastain Road Elementary, to run a sensory panel to test their new creations. After a failed attempt, students went back to the drawing board to perfect their designs and prepare them for a presentation with invited Clemson media, faculty members, and industry professionals from previously visited sites.

The beauty of this Creative Inquiry is that students were exposed to critical thinking skills, conditioning make them work as industry professionals in a team. This unique opportunity for professional development, and an expansion of their classroom is only a small luxury of Creative Inquiry. Students walked away with skills that are not only beneficial for future study, but skills that are attractive for professionals seeking to hire. This wonderful collaboration has proved to be an excellent opportunity and will be continued to engage students, creating new capacities for success.

So the next time you see that same see-through organic package, not only should you let your mind wonder on the what makes it or the product unique, but think of the dedicated individuals that worked hard to test and perfect something so delicious and healthy.

Find out more about FNPS at Clemson

Decipher Debut

Decipher Magazine launched its latest issue at the Decipher debut on Thursday October 9th. There was food, giveaways and poster presentations from 10 Creative Inquiry groups featured in the newest issue of the magazine. Decipher is written and designed by undergraduate students to highlight the extraordinary work accomplished in Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program.

Find current and past issues of Decipher here.

Join the Decipher Team – Apply By Aug 27

Only a few positions left on our Decipher team. Apply By Aug 27

We are still seeking talented Clemson students for the following positions for the Fall 2014 semester.

CI Partners with Student Opportunity Center

Creative Inquiry has partnered with the Student Opportunity Center (SOC) to bring all Clemson undergraduate students over 8000 presentation, publishing, internships, and funding opportunities. The SOC is a database and community platform where students are connected with academic engagement opportunities.

Opportunities in the SOC are specifically chosen and vetted for undergraduates and organized by over 79 areas of study and 11 areas of interest. University-wide access began August 1, 2014.

The Database lists thousands of events (conferences, meetings), publications (journals, blogs), and experiential learning opportunities (intern/scholar programs, grants). The Community Platform provides a way for students to create/participate in their own events & opportunities on institutional, local, state, and regional levels.

To get started simply use your Clemson email address to create an account at

CI students head to Africa

CLEMSON — A team of Clemson University students is traveling around the world to reach people in desperate need of medical equipment on the eastern coast of Africa. The group will spend two weeks in Tanzania as part of Clemson’s unique Creative Inquiry (CI) program-interdisciplinary undergraduate research combined with engaged learning.

CI students head to Africa

Assessing needs in Tanzania

The Designing Medical Devices for Developing Countries CI team is led by Clemson engineering professors Delphine Dean and John DesJardins. The team will research needs for new medical devices plus repair broken equipment in Tanzania hospitals and clinics. The team is crafting a number of medical products, ranging from a neonatal heating device for hospitals to an affordable glucose monitor for poor villages.

Jacqueline Veliz, a junior communication studies major, is among five students taking the trip with professor Dean.

Jacqueline Veliz

Jacqueline Veliz

“Our CI works to construct medical devices like grass woven neck braces, neonatal monitoring devices and glucometers for low resource areas,” Veliz said. “Our research involves talking to patients to assess needs and government leaders to develop strategies for marketing our devices and obtaining FDA approval in Tanzania.”

Tanzania’s lack of resources is one of the challenges the Clemson team will take head on.


Healthcare professionals in Tanzania

“These trips are very instrumental to providing motivation for students. Once you see the environment you are trying to change firsthand, it makes it more personal and helps push you to work through the design,” said Kayla Gainey, co-mentor for the Designing Medical Devices for Developing Countries Creative Inquiry.

In addition to conducting research, Veliz will file news reports from the field.

“I’m in the University Professional Internship/Co-op Program (UPIC),” Veliz said. I work as a student multimedia journalist for Clemson’s media relations department and this trip gives me the opportunity to deliver an international report and show some of the work Clemson students do around the world.”

Healthcare is a critical issue in many developing countries. The Designing Medical Devices for Developing Countries CI aims to create inexpensive, easy-to-use medical technology to help people who need it the most.

Reprinted from Clemson Newsstand

Apply for CI Decipher internships

Apply now to help create the next issue of Decipher – The Creative Inquiry magazine.

How to apply:

Go to and click “UPIC Internships in ClemsonJobLink”. Search for the term “Decipher” and you will see the following list of internships and descriptions:

  • Decipher magazine student editor
  • Decipher magazine student editor
  • Decipher magazine assistant graphic designer
  • Decipher magazine assistant graphic designer
  • Two Writers: one for STEM articles; one for non-STEM articles
  • Photographer

Students apply through the UPIC site. If you have any questions about Decipher jobs you may contact Tullen Burns ( or Dr. Barbara Speziale ( – but you must submit official applications through UPIC.

Click here to apply

9th Annual Focus on Creative Inquiry Poster Forum Winners

The 9th annual Focus on Creative Inquiry (FoCI) Poster Forum featured over 140 posters from various Creative Inquiry groups. Beyond the poster presentations this year’s activities included cooking, robotics, and technology demonstrations, food, prizes, and an engaging presentation from Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, Dr. Molly Kennedy.

Prizes were awarded to the top teams of students for both the popular and juried poster categories. The popular winners were chosen by attendees voting for their favorites using their smart phones or mobile devices. The juried winners were chosen by a group of over 80 volunteers made up of faculty, staff, and graduate students representing various academic areas.

Juried Winners:

  1. Just keep grazing: Parrotfish grazing and dietary selectivity in the Florida Keys
  2. The influence of rearing environment on life history and morphological traits of sailfin molly fish (P. latipinna)
  3. Determination of chemical weathering rates using mass balance equations and determination of weathering products using X-ray diffraction

Popular Winners:

  1. Brake assembly bench part set up and part presentation
  2. Freshmen/senior design and mentoring experiences in bioengineering
  3. Designing medical technology for developing countries

Tyler Ovington Wins Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize

The Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition is a nationwide search for the most inventive undergraduate and graduate students, with winning undergraduate teams receiving $10,000 in two categories and graduate student winners receiving $15,000 in two categories:

  • “Cure it!” for students with inventions that can improve healthcare
  • “Use it!” for students with inventions that can improve consumer devices and tools

Tyler won in the “Cure it!” undergraduate team category for his work in the Designing Medical Technology for the Developing World Creative Inquiry project. The other students associated with this team are Alex Devon, and Kayla Gainey. Kayla is now a Graduate student mentor to the team she joined as an undergraduate student.

The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.

Students interesting in applying for this competition in 2015 can contact the Lemelson-MIT program directly at to find out further details on the application process.

Please join us in congratulating Tyler Ovington!

See the announcement or read about it in MIT News.

Win Thousands of Dollars To Help You Help Others Through Social Innovation…by Saturday

Have an idea to help others?

Clemson has a new I&E Community (Innovation and Entrepreneurship Community) that is focusing on engaging and empowering students to make impacts. It is powered by students and sponsored by Clemson’s Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. To celebrate Clemson’s Innovation and Research Month, Clemson’s I&E Community is hosting an I&E Week with pitch competitions for thousands of dollars all next week.

All you have to do is create 3 slides by Saturday to potentially win thousands of dollars to help you help others through social innovation. Every year Clemson’s Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership hosts Social Launchpad to reward and help students who want to help others.
More information at
Question and Answer Session to be held in the Brown Room of the library from 3:30-4:30 4/11

Like the Clemson I&E Community page on Facebook to stay in the know and join us in conversation on Twitter @ClemsonIandE


  • Monday, April 14th – Social Launchpad Pitch Finals
  • Tuesday, April 15th – App For That Pitch
    • Bring your invention idea and pitch it for $100 and a chance to be fast tracked to the LaunchpadSC finals.
    • 5:00pm in the Brown Room located in the entrance of the library
  • Wednesday, April 16th- Invention Convention
    • Bring your invention idea and pitch it for $100 and a chance to be fast tracked to the LaunchpadSC finals.
    • 5:00pm in the Brown Room located in the entrance of the library
  • Friday, April 17th – LaunchpadSC pitch competition

Saving Clemson’s Mascot

There are only 3,200 wild tigers left in the world. The enormity of this problem has not gone unnoticed by Clemson students. In 1997, Clemson students founded Tigers for Tigers, a student initiative to support tiger conservation around the world. As Tigers for Tigers president Sean Carnell explains, “There are over fifty schools out there with tiger mascots. Here at Clemson, we know how much pride these mascots make us feel for our school. So we decided to work with other schools to extend the pride from the football field to help real tigers in the wild.”

Initially, Tigers for Tigers aimed to create a national coalition and host the first national summit to promote collegiate awareness about the situation. The student group was able to gain the support of President Barker, who sent letters to other tiger mascot schools to enlist support for the cause. Collaborating with the 57 other tiger mascot universities was not an easy task. Tigers for Tigers advisor, Dr. David Tonkyn, and a group of dedicated students formed a Creative Inquiry team. After two years of hard work, the team made the dream of a national coalition become a reality, as the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition was formed. This united effort allows students across the country to work together through social media, advocacy programs and involvement abroad to help protect tigers. In April 2013, the team hosted a National Tigers for Tigers Summit. The purpose of the Summit was to establish a foundation for the national organization, develop a strategic plan for students helping tigers and promote student awareness of the issues associated with tiger conservation.

The 2013 conference was an enormous success. Featured speakers included Dr. Ron Tilson, a world premiere tiger biologist, Dr. John Fitzgerald, the senior policy director for the Society for Conservation Biology, representatives from the International Fund for Animal Welfare and many others. While sparking awareness and admiration in students interested in tiger conservation, visiting tiger experts also helped the Creative Inquiry team establish Tigers for Tigers as a national organization. Carnell explains, “we built wonderful connections with our partners. Especially at the conference, we worked with wonderful people who knew exactly what needed to happen to make a change. They showed us how national policies are developed. It was way more exciting than reading a textbook.”

Beyond the conference, Tigers for Tigers is working to improve its social media outreach program through developing a Facebook page and filming viral videos to spread awareness. And the Creative Inquiry group aims to promote the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, a federal bill banning the private ownership of big cats in the United States. Also, for the past nine years, Tonkyn and former Director of International Student Services Louis Bregger have offered an opportunity for students to visit India to see tigers in the wild and learn about their conservation. Such opportunities are important for the success of the coalition, Carnell notes, because “that’s where all the motivation started for us. We went to India, saw tigers in the wild, and came back excited to help.” The incredibly diverse number of projects Tigers for Tigers encompasses makes this Creative Inquiry project applicable to students with all sorts of interests including finance, marketing and biological sciences.

As Tigers for Tigers continues to grow and develop, the group hopes to expand on a national level. But as 11 schools are now united across the country, working tirelessly to help real tigers around the world, Tigers for Tigers has successfully made solid steps to saving Clemson’s beloved mascot: the Bengal tiger.