Press Release - Distinguished Research Leadership Award

February 10, 2020

The Governor's School for Science and Mathematics Honors Dr. Caryn E. Outten of The University of South Carolina with Distinguished Research Leadership Award

Hartsville, SC - The South Carolina Governor's School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) honored Dr. Caryn E. Outten with its 2020 Distinguished Research Leadership Award during the School’s 31st Annual Research Colloquium Saturday, February 8, in Hartsville.

During the Colloquium gathering, 128 students presented their findings from scientific research conducted during their participation in the 2019 Summer Program for Research Interns (SPRI) international counterpart, the Research Experience Scholars Program (RESP), and GSSM’s Scientific Investigation class.

Dr. Outten is the Guy F. Lipscomb Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina.

Dr. Outten earned her Bachelor of Science from College of William and Mary and both her Master of Science and Ph.D. at Northwestern University. She completed her postdoctoral research at Johns Hopkins University in 2005. She is a member of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Chemical Society, and the Society of Biology Inorganic Chemistry.

Dr. Outten has received numerous honors and awards including the Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Garnet Apple Award for Teaching Innovation, the SC Governor's Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Scientific Research, the University of South Carolina Breakthrough Rising Star, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the NIEHS Transition to Independent Positions (K22) Award.

Dr. Outten has mentored GSSM research students since 2015, including multiple international students from RESP partner high schools. Mentorship is a core value of her research group, in which GSSM students are challenged with valued projects that require initiative, thought, and diligence while providing opportunities for members of the group to gain experience guiding younger scientist in the scientific method.

The goals of Dr. Outten’s research group at the University of South Carolina are two-fold: they seek to understand how cells maintain adequate levels of the essential metal iron and they study how the redox-active tripeptide glutathione is distributed and used throughout the cell. By using the single-celled eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) as their primary model system, they investigate iron and glutathione metabolism using molecular genetics, protein biochemistry, and cell biology approaches.

"Dr. Outten is not only an extraordinary researcher, but she has also fostered a culture within her entire research group that values the mentorship and learning that occurs through participation in scientific research projects," said Dr. Josh Witten, Director of Research and Inquiry at GSSM. "This culture is developing the next generation of researchers and scientifically literate leaders that will tackle the problems of tomorrow effectively and thoughtfully. We are incredibly fortunate to have had this unique opportunity to grow and develop in Dr. Outten's research group extended to so many GSSM students, as well as students from our international partner high schools in Germany and South Korea as part of the Research Experience Scholars Program."

SPRI and RESP are Capstone programs exclusive to GSSM. For six weeks between their junior and senior years, students conduct research at university or corporate research and development facilities under the mentorship of professional scientists, entrepreneurs or engineers, during which they deepen their understanding of the nature and process of research and learn the value research plays in our society. During their senior year, the students work with GSSM research advisors to share their research through oral presentations and in writing. The culmination of summer research is GSSM’s Annual Research Colloquium, during which students formally present their projects to their peers, mentors, families and GSSM faculty and friends.


Founded in 1988, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics is a nationally recognized school serving over four hundred of the state's most accomplished STEM students in the 10th through 12th grades through its residential and virtual programs. GSSM offers college-level courses and experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at its campus in Hartsville. The school also delivers virtual curricula in engineering and STEM disciplines to students in partner school districts throughout the state. GSSM’s dynamic outreach programs, including science summer camps and teacher training, impact over 5,000 K-12 students every year. Learn more by visiting

Back to News