Funded CARET Abstracts

2019-2020 Recipients

  •  College of Architecture and Construction Management

    F.A.B.R.I.C.S. (Flexible Architectural Basis Reinforcement In Concrete Structures) 

    The last hundred years in civil engineering have been widely dominated by the use of concrete and cementitious materials. They became the second most consumed material after water. Although the technology has improved providing stronger and more durable concrete, the construction techniques have not changed. Historically, concrete and reinforced concrete structures have been constructed using rigid formwork, mainly relying on the use of either steel or timber to generate the required temporary support structure. The aim of the proposal is to advance the fundamental understanding of non-rigid concrete formworks in an effort to marry architectural form and structural design. This research project titled Flexible Architectural Basis Reinforcement in Concrete Structures (F.A.B.R.I.C.S.) will investigate the use of formwork in concrete structures with varying degree of flexibility to achieve: (1) more economical construction while improving sustainability and resilience of concrete structures; (2) conform to varying architectural forms; and (3) the adoption of advanced concrete materials (such as Ultra High Performance Concrete, Engineered Cementitious Composites, etc.) in constructions. 

  • Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

     Reusable 3D Carbon Seawater Filter 

    The research study develops a seawater filter that is made of novel 3D carbon nanostructure synthesized by nanoscale 3D printing. The printed 3D carbon nanostructure proposed here will filter seawater efficiently because of their multiple layers with holes of tunable sizes. As shown in other carbon-based nanomaterials such as graphene, 3D carbon nanostructure is also expected to show high water current and high salt rejection rate, enabling the desalination of water at reduced power. The structure is designed to be flexible, allowing mechanical deformation during daily use. The 3D carbon nanostructure will still possess excellent thermal property, enabling easy recycle through a simple heating process. 

  • Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology 

    Design and Development of Flexure Hinged Soft Robots  

    Traditionally, when engineers design mechanisms, they prefer rigid links connected by revolute joints or hinges. However, when we look at nature, we see an entirely different idea, most of the things are flexible and bend. The motion is generated through the deflection of its members rather than the relative motion between two links. The arising question is that as engineers, can we mimic the nature to design flexible but also durable and strong mechanisms if we apply the lessons learned from nature?

    The use of compliant (flexible) mechanisms is catching on since they provide better and new solutions to traditional rigid mechanisms as the technology advances and offer new materials and fabrication methods. Compliant mechanisms transfer the input force, displacement or torque through the deflection of its flexible members. There are several advantages of comprising flexible systems; such as reduction in number of links, less weight, no friction, reduced cost, no need for lubrication and simplicity in design. They find application areas in MEMs (micro electro mechanical systems), energy harvesting, designing medical devices, exoskeleton joints, bio-inspired smart structures and flexonic systems like soft robots along with embedded distributed sensors and actuators. Since they provide large deflection, a compliant mechanism will have a large workspace compared to its rigid counterparts. There are also some challenges associated with the initial design and obtaining lumped dynamical model possessing highly nonlinear elliptic integral solutions.

    Ayse Tekes has developed compliant translational double dwell mechanism, compliant five bar, compliant swashplate, compliant suspension mechanism and an adjustable load deflection test bench. Her Dynamics and Control Group has recently developed monolithic translational double dwell mechanism (under review), bistable mechanism (under review) and rotational dwell mechanism incorporating pinned-pinned buckling beams. 

    This collaborative research between mechanical engineering and computer engineering programs aims to design, fabricate and test two compliant flexure mechanisms that could impact several research fields mentioned above:

    • Trajectory control of 2 DOF underactuated, flexure-based robot: Several studies have been performed regarding knee exoskeleton actuated by elastic series actuators (SEA) however there is no monolithically (single piece) manufactured compliant knee joint mechanism to the best of our knowledge. The proposed two degrees of freedom mechanism consists of rigid four links and two flexure hinges providing large deformation and large relative motion between upper and lower legs. Flexure hinged knee joint will be actuated using a geared servo motor. Proposed design has a potential to replace the complex geared rigid five bar mechanism designed for prosthetic knee joint. The framework proposed for this research combines modelling, established nonlinear control synthesis tools, exploring parameter optimization techniques which can be utilized to provide best ankle trajectory and gait stability for prosthetic knee exoskeleton.

    The technology and the design approach that will be developed at the end of this research would lead to implement in prosthetic knee systems which could benefit to significantly improve the mobility and quality of life of the amputees and stroke patients.

    • Monolithic designed compliant dwell and constant force mechanism: The monolithic design of a novel semi-compliant translational double dwell mechanism integrating buckling shapes of the pinned pinned beams will be investigated by 3D printing the entire mechanism as a single piece. MSC Adams Flexi simulations, Elastica deformation of pinned-pinned buckling beams using elliptic integrals and topology optimization of the mechanism will be investigated to obtain a desired dwell time and output force. Constant force mechanisms (CFMs) have attracted many researcher’s attention in recent years. CFM provides a nearly constant output force over a range of input displacements. Unlike helical springs and other elastic structures, a CFM does not obey Hooke’s law. Unlike conventional force control technology by using force sensor and controller, which leads to a complicated algorithm design and higher cost, the CFMs can provide a near constant force output by using the property of mechanical structure itself. A CFM is useful when an unknown deflection is applied to a device the reaction force of which must be a specified constant regardless of the deflection. CFMs can be widely used in overload protection, biomedical application, and robot end-effectors for providing a friendly interaction with the environment as well as micromanipulation for protecting the micro-objects from being damaged.

    One particular application of CFM is robot-assisted 3D ultrasound scanning system. In this system, a linear ultrasound probe generating 2D images scanned over the target tissue to reconstruct a 3D image of a large part of the body by combining the 2D image sequences. This is especially used for abdominal and breast scanning where detail 3D ultrasound could provide greater detail of the anatomy and more realistic view of entire organs which leads slice-by-slice evaluation for detecting cancer tissues. The challenge here is to provide perpendicular, constant and stable contact between the ultrasound probe and the human body during scanning of the soft tissue to ensure image quality without making the patient uncomfortable. General approach to perform the automated scanning is using complex robotic arms together with cumbersome tracking and control mechanisms to maintain the alignment and contact force of the probe on the skin. A monolithically fabricated, light-weighted and cost-effective constant force CFM based robot end-effector would be significantly valuable for these applications to simplify the control mechanism with self-adjusted contact angle due to its nature using less number of sensors.   

  •  College of Humanities and Social Sciences

    Reducing the Intergroup Sensitivity Effect (ISE) Among Racial Groups and Impacts on Behavioral Intentions

    Working with undergraduate students on research is more than adding bullets to their CVs – it is about developing skills that will serve them well regardless of the career path they choose. The proposed research would involve four undergraduate psychology majors in multiple phases of scientific research – IRB submission, data collection, data analysis, conference presentations, and manuscript preparation. The topic of this research is the intergroup sensitivity effect (ISE). The ISE refers to the tendency for people to respond more negatively when their group is criticized by someone outside their group (outgroup member) versus someone who belongs to the group (ingroup member). The ISE has been observed for nationality, religious, and professional groups, and manifests in both individualistic and collectivistic cultures. Our lab recently replicated the ISE among racial groups, and we are currently extending this research to examine, 1) the impact of outgroup criticism on intentions to engage in corrective action, and 2) the relative effectiveness of different techniques for reducing the ISE. By the end of this semester, we will complete data collection from a college student sample, but funds are needed to collect data from a representative community sample. Funds are also requested to cover students’ expenses to present at a psychology research conference. From this experience, students will improve their abilities to locate/critique high-quality information, make ethical decisions, coordinate data collection, use the SPSS software package, draw meaningful conclusions from research results, and communicate arguments both orally and in writing.

2018-2019 Recipients

  • College of Science and Mathematics

    Synthesis and Characterization of Manganese Oxide Cathode Materials for Aqueous Rechargeable Zinc-ion Batteries

    Ever-growing energy demands, environmental concerns related to the combustion of fossil fuels and safety risks of nuclear power plants have caused an urgent need for the utilization of sustainable and renewable energy sources such as wind and sun. However, renewable energy sources are inherently intermittent and therefore electricity production from the renewable sources varies significantly depending on the time, weather, season, and location. Hence, excess energy needs to be stored while available in large quantities during peak conditions for later use in grid scale batteries. Despite, current Li-ion battery technology is dominating the consumer electronics (cell phones, laptops, wearable electronics), electrical vehicle and house hold battery markets, Li-ion batteries are not suitable for grid scale energy storage. Li-ion batteries have short lifetime, high cost, and poor safety. Aqueous rechargeable Zn-ion batteries (ARZIBs) have been acknowledged as a promising aqueous battery type for grid-scale energy storage due to its long lifetime, low cost, and enhanced safety. This proposed work aims design, synthesis, and characterization of nanocrystalline manganese dioxide (MnO2) cathodes with tunable physicochemical properties for enhanced electrochemical performance in ARZIBs. Development of cathode materials with tunable physicochemical properties has critical importance for achieving highly efficient battery systems and bridging the gap between theory and experiment. MnO2s are low-cost, high voltage, environmentally benign. However, their practical usage is limited by slow-ion diffusion, structural instability, high polarization, and cathode dissolution. This proposed research aims to improve the performance and mitigate the shortcomings of MnO2s by synthetically modifying the materials properties. More specifically, we will investigate the effects of crystallite size, surface area, pore size, surface composition, and morphology of the MnO2s on the functional electrochemistry in ARZIBs.

  •  WellStar College of Health and Human Services

    Neuromuscular Determinants of Mobility and Fall Risk in Middle-Aged, Old, and Elderly Adults

    The focus of the proposed research project is to enhance our understanding of the neuromuscular determinants of poor mobility and fall risk in middle-aged, old and elderly adults. The age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, termed sarcopenia, affects 30% of community-dwelling older adults and is a significant predictor of disability and mortality. The vast majority of research on aging has compared young and older adults only, despite reports of
    decreased muscle strength and power in middle-aged adults and dramatic declines in neuromuscular function in advanced age. Thus, less is clear regarding the neuromuscular decrements that occur in middle-aged and elderly adults, and the influence of select neuromuscular changes on mobility. Additional insight on the neuromuscular changes that occur early in the aging process (i.e., middle-age) may highlight factors that should be targeted by
    interventions to delay impaired mobility later in life. Further, given life expectancy has steadily risen from 1975 to 2015, it is important to gain more information on neuromuscular impairments occurring late in life. In addition, we are interested in the association between c-terminal agrin, a recently identified blood biomarker of neuromuscular junction degradation, levels and select neuromuscular parameters. This biomarker has potential as a marker of sarcopenia, and thus may prove useful in the search for a clinically accepted diagnosis of sarcopenia. We will assess muscle strength, power, velocity capacity, and nervous system activation of the quadriceps and calf musculature in order to make age-related comparisons. Further, the association between these parameters and walking velocity, chair rise performance, and fall risk will be examined. Students will gain experience conducting laboratory and clinical assessments in addition to software and data processing skills.

  •  Bagwell College of Education

    Positioning Preservice Teachers as Researchers: The Case of Studying Culturally Relevant Mathematics Instruction

    Recent calls in mathematics education have highlighted the need for teachers to be prepared to incorporate culturally relevant pedagogy and social justice pedagogy into classroom practice. Moreover, as the demographics of today’s public schools are rapidly changing, teachers need to be prepared to serve the needs of emergent bilingual students. Instead of treating differences as deficits, a funds of knowledge approach asserts that ALL students possess rich experiences, both formal and informal, that should be used as the basis for instruction. Although pre-service teachers may be introduced to these ideas in their methods courses, enacting them in their student teaching internships proves to be challenging. Therefore, this research study seeks to examine the ways in which future teachers learn to take up these pedagogies with the goal of improving mathematics instruction for historically marginalized students. The research team will investigate the following research questions:

    1. In what ways do undergraduate students incorporate culturally relevant mathematics instruction into their practice?
    2. What challenges do pre-service teachers face when attempting to incorporate culturally relevant mathematics instruction?
    3. What supports do pre-service teachers need to successfully incorporate culturally relevant mathematics instruction into their practice?
    4. In what ways does the cycle of pre-conference, classroom observation, and post-conference support pre-service teachers in reflection?
    5. What is the potential trajectory that pre-service teachers travel as they learn to build culturally relevant mathematics instruction into their practice? 

    Student researchers will gain experience with reading and synthesizing research, preparing lesson plans, engaging in critical reflections, and learning to use students’ cultural resources to provide transformational mathematics instruction.

  •  WellStar College of Health and Human Services

    The Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation on the Leucine Threshold in Older Adults

    Aging is an inevitable aspect of the lifecycle, which often brings about a multitude of challenges. One of these challenges includes the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass, termed “sarcopenia”. The loss of skeletal muscle mass, even as low as a 5% loss, is associated with significant health repercussions, including increased fall-risk, fractures, decreased activities of daily living, increased hospitalizations, and increased rates of morbidity (i.e., heart disease) (Liu et al., 2014). Interventions for individuals diagnosed with sarcopenia continue to target nutrition and exercise. Therefore, our research seeks to examine the nutritional avenue, highlighting the use of fish oil supplementation (i.e., omega-3 fatty acids) in conjunction with varying dosages of the extremely potent muscle protein stimulating amino acid, leucine. Specifically, we seek to examine the effect of high dose fish oil supplementation (i.e., 6 grams) on the leucine threshold and the following muscle protein synthetic response to various leucine amino acid feedings (i.e., 1.8, 2.5 or 3.5 gram servings) in healthy older and sarcopenic men and women. Students will gain valuable experience in both the applied and basic aspects of data collection and analysis.

2017-2018 Recipients

  •  Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

    Far Field Wireless Power Transfer

    The proposed research is on the topic of charging power sources such as batteries wirelessly using far-field wireless power transfer. Currently, there is a form of wireless charging which is inductive charging, that requires wireless devices such as a smartphone to be laid on top of the wireless charger. These wireless chargers contain inductive coils, which emit magnetic fields that couple with the inductive coils in the smartphone or other wireless device. As the magnetic fields couple from the charger to the phone, the fields induce current and voltage in the phone, which charges the battery. However, this is near-field wireless power transfer, also known as NFC (near field communication), which requires very close proximity from the charger to phone. Far field wireless power transfer is a very hot topic in both research and industry, because of its potential impact on charging wireless devices from any direction and location. The aim of this research proposal is to investigate the feasibility of far-field wireless power transfer based on a new system comprising of a transmitter and receiver circuit design. The project includes designing and developing a novel receiver circuit and a transmitter circuit and to investigate the feasibility and efficiency of far field wireless power transfer. In this project, students will learn to use circuit simulation software, circuit board layout software, as well as hardware equipment for testing and measurements. The measurement equipment used to test the prototypes includes vector network analyzers, spectrum analyzers, and antenna measurement training systems. This research project will be beneficial for students because it will help the students gain software, hardware, and post-measurement analysis skills which can help further their careers in industry as well as help prepare them for graduate school.

  •  College of Humanities and Social Sciences

    Exploring Misogyny in American Culture

    This undergraduate research project grows out of my work as author-editor of Misogyny in American Culture: Causes, Trends, Solutions, a two-volume set currently under contract with ABC-CLIO publishers and set for publication in 2018. One of my primary goals for the project includes expanding and complicating definitions of misogyny in order to provide readers with a robust introduction to and understanding of the larger topic. Given our current political and cultural climate and the more frequent and widespread use of the term misogyny by various media outlets and among voters during the 2016 presidential election, this project has the potential both to contribute to ongoing conversations on the topic and, among its intended audience of advanced high-school/beginning college students and the general public, to inform a more recent shift in public conversation on misogyny. Notably, the two-volume set is interdisciplinary and engages in Boyer’s definition of the Scholarship of Integration, with connections between fields of knowledge and disciplines that contribute to a richer exploration of the pervasive role of misogyny in American culture. The undergraduate research portion of this project supported by CARET funding will include work on two specific chapter essays of 9000-12,500 words each: 1. Gender and Sexuality and 2. Radio and Journalism. Because this two-volume set will include reference essays, rather than critical essays, the project naturally lends itself to upper-division English and GWST students who are near-peers to the target audience and who have coursework in gender and sexuality studies, media studies, and critical and rhetorical theory, and with experience in advanced writing and research. Working collaboratively, these researchers will identify sources, engage key issues via discussion and collective analysis, draft texts to make content accessible to the target audience, give and receive critical feedback on drafts, and negotiate a collaborative process of revision with the group and with me as their mentor/editor. In addition to providing experience in collaborative research and writing for work outside of the classroom, participation in this project will also support the work of those students interested in applying to graduate programs. With the project already under contract with ABC-CLIO Publishers, students are effectively guaranteed dissemination of their work with the publication of the two-volume set in 2018.

  •  College of the Arts

    The Forgotten Bronzes of Buffalo

    The Buffalo Museum of Science owns a collection of about 100 ancient bronze artifacts, from the ancient Greek, Near Eastern, Egyptian and Roman world. Mostly acquired in the 1930s and 1940s, the bronzes range from statuettes of divinities, people, and animals, to jewelry, weapons, tools and other ornaments. This project ibronzenvolves students in study of this unpublished and neglected material. Student researchers will travel to Buffalo to examine and document these objects. They will then identify them and research their place and meaning in in the cultures that produced them. This student documentation and research will eventually form the basis of a published catalogue of the collection.


    Etruscan Kore


    Bronze Horse from Olympia