Earlier this month, April Gillens became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in environmental engineering and earth sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina. She had completed her studies in June and since then has been a graduate fellow with the Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy. There she works to safeguard the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
Dr. Gillens grew up in Eutawville, South Carolina, a small town 75 miles from the state capital in Columbia. She was valedictorian of the Class of 2006 at Lake Marion High School and Technology Center.
Dr. Gillens completed her undergraduate degree at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. She came to Clemson on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Nuclear Forensics Graduate Fellowship.
“I’ve always wanted to make a contribution to African-American history,” Dr. Gillens said. “I feel like I am setting an example for other students of color, other African Americans to obtain this highest degree.”