2019 Tillman Scholar

Melissa McCullough

Clemson University
Ph.D., Bioengineering

“Do good work. Take care of your team. If you can make someone’s life better, do it.”

In a world where you have little control over what is happening and what is required of you, it is crucial to find the strength to persevere, get the job done and get it done right. Working in the Navy as an Electronics Technician instilled in Melissa the importance of attention to detail and quality of work in complex, dangerous environments. The most mundane tasks or simplest preventative maintenance checks, if not performed correctly, could result in equipment breakdown, mission failure and potential loss of life.

Adaptability and a mission-first attitude brought Melissa full circle, teaching the next generation of engineers to reach beyond their comfort zone, ask the difficult questions, and work towards a solution as a team. Working with researchers and students in the Clemson University Bioengineering Department gave Melissa a renewed sense of purpose in applying her technical expertise as an electrical engineer to global health research. She challenged students to find solutions for bioengineering problems they identify in the lab, in the U.S. and around the world where health care disparities exist.

Teaching by example, Melissa used her extensive experience working as an engineer in austere environments to instill a sense of urgency and esprit de corps amongst her students. These experiences  inspired Melissa to work towards a Ph.D. in Bioengineering, with a focus on global health technology and education.  Melissa planned on training the next generation of engineers and outreaching to those that are underserved in health care and education.

Melissa’s passing in October of 2021 comes too soon, but her passion and legacy will live on in our scholar community. She will be missed deeply.