The University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing is proud to announce that Gerri Botte, ’98 and ‘00, and Olga Agafonova, ’15, have been named the 2021 Distinguished Graduate Alumna and Outstanding Young Alumna award winners.
Each year, the CEC picks alumni who have given back to their alma mater and who have achieved great accomplishments in their field to receive the annual awards. This is the first time the CEC has given out an award specifically for a graduate program alumna.
“Our graduate alumni go on to be leaders in industry, higher education and research. We are so excited to premiere this honor alongside our other alumni awards,” said Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the CEC. “Gerri and Olga are breaking down barriers as women in STEM and are wonderful examples for our students here at the CEC and other alumni across the world.”
Although the annual homecoming celebrations for the CEC were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the college will still present Botte and Agafonova with their awards in a private ceremony and honor them in-person at the 2022 homecoming events.
Gerri Botte: Distinguished Graduate Alumna
Botte currently serves as a professor and the Whitacre Department Chair of the chemical engineering department at Texas Tech University. During her time at South Carolina, Botte worked under the direction of Ralph White earning her Ph.D. and master’s in chemical engineering. She has over 22 years of experience in the development of electrochemical processes and advanced water treatment systems. Botte has served in leadership roles for the Electrochemical Society and is currently the second vice president of the Electrochemical Society and the past chair of the Electrochemical Processes Engineering and Technology Division of the International Society of Electrochemistry.
“I will always be thankful of the support and the education that I received at UofSC,” said Botte. “Faculty in the Chemical Engineering Department were wonderful, particularly my Ph.D. advisor Dr. White. He has been my mentor and role model. At the CEC, I discovered my passion for research and that is priceless!”
Olga Agafonova: Outstanding Young Alumna
Agafonova earned her degree in computer science from the CEC in 2015. She currently works as a web developer for the SC Judicial Department. Outside of work, Agafonova was a founding member of the CEC Young Alumni Board, where she’s mentored multiple students and participated in several community events.
"It is an honor to receive this award and to be a UofSC College of Computing and Engineering graduate,” she said. “I hope to be able to continue supporting our students and alumni in the future."