The Sophomore Scholars Program is an extension of the First-Year Scholars Program. Students and faculty receive funding to continue their project into the student's second year. Below are the Sophomore Scholars for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

    • Mentor: Sohyun An, Professor of Social Studies Education

      Still Racist, Sexist, Classist, and Ableist: Analysis of Children's Books

      Children's books are an invaluable source of information and values. They reflect the attitudes in our society about diversity, power relationships among different groups of people, and various social identities (e.g., racial, ethnic, gender, economic class, sexual orientation, and disability). The visual and verbal messages young children absorb from books (and other media) heavily influence their ideas about themselves and others. Depending on the quality of the book, they can reinforce (or undermine) children's affirmative self-concept, teach accurate (or misleading) information about people of various identities, and foster positive (or negative) attitudes about diversity. Children's books teach children about who is important, who matters, who is even visible.

      Therefore, carefully choosing and using quality children's books is an indispensable educational and child-rearing task. It is important to offer young children a range of books about people like them and their family's as well as about people who are different from them and their family. All of the books should be accurate and appealing to young children.

      Fortunately, there are some good anti-bias children's books, which are available as a result of the ongoing activism of many individuals and groups over many years. However, while choices have improved over past decades, the lack of quality multicultural kids books currently being published has frustrated many communities. The number of children of color in the United States continues to rise, but the number of books published by or about people of color stays the same or even decreases.

      This research analyzes the recently published children's books and investigates if the books reproduce or challenge societal biases and prejudices on different groups of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, economic class, disability, and sexual orientation. The goal of the research is to report the current state of children's books regarding its role to teach children anti-bias understanding and, ultimately, to educate children better with anti-bias education. 

     

    • Mentor: Giovanni Loreto

      Sustainable Building Materials of the Future: Architectural Forms and Structural Design

      What will cities look like in 30 years from now? What is the future of building materials?
      This research project seeks to bridge the gap between material science and construction, looking at sustainable approaches in designing new buildings and infrastructures. It can take decades for a breakthrough in engineering from a lab to a building site. This research embraces the need for innovative architectural forms while building upon structural design principles to create a new generation of smart materials.

      Students working on this research project will investigate the use of sustainable approaches in building materials of the future to (1) achieve more economical construction, (2) improve sustainability and resilience, and (3) advance architectural forms and forces.

      The goal is to advance our fundamental understanding of cementitious materials and their construction in an effort to marry architectural form and structural design. The last hundred years in architecture and civil engineering have been widely dominated by the use of concrete, which became the second most consumed commodity after water. Although concrete and cementitious materials have a low embodied energy (of approximately 0.90 MJ/kg), they are used in vast quantities. In 2019, cement production amounted to approximately 3.2 billion tons, with production and usage accounting for almost 8-9% of total global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

      This research aims to impact the embodied energy and the carbon emission associated with new concrete constructions by possibly saving up to 30% in concrete volume compared to an equivalent strength prismatic member. This research thus offers exciting opportunities for engineers and architects to move towards a more sustainable construction industry.

    • Mentor: Kun Suo

      Building Modern Services with Security Assurance in the Edge Infrastructure

      This project aims to address these critical security issues by using adaptively data-driven execution model in the cloud-edge systems, including various IoT devices, and revisiting how they affect resource management and energy consumption. It also helps in learning and usage of resource control as the IoT devices should be capable of running two or different applications on the same time. The goal of this project is to explore the possible solutions to improve the security of the modern edge services and propose solutions to advance the reliability of the edge infrastructures.

      Specifically, this project will help you achieve the following outcomes: 1) Understanding the techniques and concepts of using these IoT devices for better implementation; 2) Analyzing the semantic gaps in the cloud and the edge, and design augmented abstractions to bridge the gaps; 3) Using the data-driven execution model to provide effective, efficient, and secure components; 4) Increasing the fundamental understanding of cloud-edge systems in resource management and energy control.

    • Mentor: Melanie Griffin

      Molecular cargo delivery into bacteria; delivering the goods

      Common bacteria are very easy to grow and study in a research lab.  They are interesting because many have useful abilities such being able to degrade toxic waste products, producing antibiotics or for food production, such as yogurts and cheese.  It is also relatively easy to manipulate bacteria to do even more useful things we want them to through genetic engineering.  Of course, there are also some bacteria that are harmful to humans.  Our lab is investigating a molecular approach that may allow us to modify good bacteria or selectively target harmful ones for destruction.
      The Griffin lab has recently demonstrated that a cell-penetrating molecule called TAT-CaM, developed in the lab of Dr. Jonathan McMurray at KSU for mammalian cells, can be used to deliver cargo proteins into eukaryotic fungal cells.  We want to now determine if this molecule can also be used in bacterial cells.  We seek to determine the diversity of the cargoes accepted for delivery and the limitations of what can be moved that are both beneficial and toxic.  This is of particular importance if this system is to be used for industrial and biotechnology processes as well as for the potential therapies against medically-relevant bacteria.

    • Mentor: Martin Hudson

      How to make a brain in three easy steps

      The Hudson lab at Kennesaw State University is broadly interested in: (1) understanding how cells in the body become neurons; and (2) how neurons connect to one another to make neural circuits and how those circuits control an animal's behavior. To do this, we primarily use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for these studies. Nematode worms have many advantages for studying the nervous system. First, they have an invariant cell lineage, which means that whenever a cell divides, we know exactly what its daughter cells are going to be. Second, they're see-through, which means that we can actually see neuronal cell bodies and axon bundles without having to dissect the animals. Third, we can use fluorescent reporter genes to label individual cells in the worm's brain. Finally, we can use genetics to change the underlying genes required for nervous system development and function. By creating mutations that change the fate of a neuron or the shape of an axon, we can figure out which genes are required for making the nervous system and how that affects behavior. Is this relevant to humans and human neurological disorders? Oh yes! The genes required for shaping the worm's nervous system are the same genes required to shape the human nervous system. As such, we can look at the worm version of human disease genes and understand what the consequences are for mutating that particular gene and how it affects nervous system development and function. We have two main projects on-going in the lab. The first one is to examine a class of proteins called transcription factors to figure out how they affect whether a cell becomes a neuron or something else. Second, we are examining how sensory neural circuits connect together, and whether defects in nervous system connectivity lead to behavioral defects.

    • Mentor: Glenn Young

      Environmental Impact on Decision Making in Ecological Communities

      Evolutionary game theory (EGT) is a mathematical framework through which we can study decision making in ecological communities. As the name suggests, EGT borrows ideas at the heart of game theory, which can be very generally defined as the study of decision making in competitive situations. By considering interactions between individuals occupying the same ecological niche as games, we can utilize the extensive toolset offered by classical game theory to understand when these individuals should cooperate or when they should "defect" as the terminology goes. Researchers have made great strides over the past 50 years both expanding the mathematical understanding of EGT, and applying it to study a wide range of biological systems, from bacterial communities to social vertebrates to cancer cells.

      This project will focus on a recent branch of EGT that couples game theoretic decision making with a simple model of the surrounding environment. These so-called "ecol-evolutionary" models allow us to study environmental impact on ecological interactions, and helps address important questions related to environmental uncertainty due to climate change, over-harvesting or overgrazing, or simply environmental effects of the seasons. Students will help develop mathematical models, study systems of differential equations both analytically and using computer software (MATLAB), and possibly study simple stochastic systems (if interested!).

    • Mentor: Jessica Stephenson

      Building a Digital Database to Document Photography and Carved Ivories 

      Establishing an organized database is foundational to documenting, preserving, presenting and interpreting historical materials. For this project, the student will collaborate with the faculty member in the ongoing development and analysis of a digital database to record photographs and carved ivory sculptures produced during the late 19th century in the Congo, Central Africa. These materials are housed in archives and museum collections throughout the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. While a single or digital images may capture an archived photograph, each carved ivory sculpture is documented through hundreds of digital records that collectively capture the details of each. With thousands of carved ivories housed in museum collections, the digital database continues to grow. While travel restrictions due to Covid-19 has put a temporary halt on onsite production of digital records by the faculty member, the organization, refinement, cataloging and analysis of already collected records continues.

      Over the course of the year the student will contribute to the development of this database by editing, organizing and cataloging digital records and analyzing archival content to develop thematic clusters for conference presentation and potential publication. By conducting this work the student will contribute to the first-ever visual database on early colonial-era photographs and carved ivories from the Congo. This database serves as the primary source for the writing of a postcolonial African Congo history in counterpoint to established colonial narratives. The database will be utilized by source archives, museums and scholars in the field and serves as reference material for historical research and future publication. This is an opportunity for a student to gain experience in developing primary research skills relevant to archives, art history, history, anthropology, and museum collections management and to hone technical skills in image editing.

      Students interested in this project should be comfortable working with MAC computers and have a firm working knowledge of programs such as Excel, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Students in African and African Diaspora Studies, French, History, Anthropology, Art, Art History and Education are particularly welcome. Students should be able to work independently and under supervision through virtual meetings. An ability to read French is beneficial, but not required.

    • Mentor: Peter Fielding

      Broadening the Western Music Theory Canon

      Working with faculty, students will help survey a variety of print music sources of underrepresented composers and music genres in the Western Music Theory canon. Project will evaluate, identify, and classify musical examples and excerpts to augment existing introductory undergraduate music theory and aural skills course materials. In addition to assembling materials to augment existing KSU curriculum, materials will be shared through a wider academic and educational readership, as possible.

    • Mentor: Peter Fielding

      Broadening the Western Music Theory Canon

      Working with faculty, students will help survey a variety of print music sources of underrepresented composers and music genres in the Western Music Theory canon. Project will evaluate, identify, and classify musical examples and excerpts to augment existing introductory undergraduate music theory and aural skills course materials. In addition to assembling materials to augment existing KSU curriculum, materials will be shared through a wider academic and educational readership, as possible.

    • Mentor: Lara Smith-Sitton

      Internships and the Job Market: How Remote Work Impacts College Student Careers

      The National Association of Colleges and Employers defines an internship as "a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. . . .giv[ing] students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections . . . giv[ing] employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent" ("Position Statement" NACE). The American Association of Colleges and Universities and employers universally recognize that internships are valuable, even essential, experiences for college students with upwards of 96% of hiring managers opting to hire students with one or more internships on their resumes over those who do not. Yet, we are living in a changing world due to public health and economic concerns, especially during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted the global economy as well as internships. This has also brought up forward concerns for college students and employers about how to structure workspaces, who to recruit, and what jobs will exist in the future. There is a need to not only understand the scope of the changes to college internships in recent history as well as the landscape and opportunities for the future.

      Building on the research of Global Workplace Analytics, an organization that collects data about telecommuting and remote work, this project will consider current data that approximately 43% of the global workforce does a significant amount of work from home as well as predictions that over 30% of the US workforce will continue working offsite fulltime into the year 2021 . . . and into the future. This study seeks to understand the changes in student internships, discern trends for the future, and ascertain how to support students and employers engaged in remote internships. Through an IRB-approved research protocol with surveys and student interviews the project is guided by three key questions:

      1. What were the experiences and perceptions of KSU student interns during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those performing remote internships?
      2. What preparation and/or support would have strengthened their experiences, and how can this be incorporated into student internship courses?
      3. What is the likelihood of more remote internships in the future?


      The research gathered will be disseminated through a scholarly publication, including a journal article and book proposal about college internship program design. The student will learn how to develop survey instruments, conduct interviews, and analyze data. The student will also become an expert on the tools and practices that will help students thrive in remote work internships and jobs. The data is essential to help faculty and administrators, as well as students and employers, understand how to modify internships for the future. In short, if more employers will be hiring remote workers, students need to be prepared to work from home, understand how to get those jobs, and know how to succeed outside of traditional office spaces. In addition, more information is needed about best practices for remote internships and the future of the college internships.

    • Mentor: Anna Weinstein

      Women Genre Writers in Film and Television

      In this project, students will research women’s work in writing for film and television. Students will research some of the top-ranked films (and series) in each decade and the genres where women have found the most success. Students working on this project will be searching for interesting women writers whose work was influential, well-received, or in some way intriguing in retrospect, but whose names are not commonplace to those who create, consume, or analyze film and television.

      Student scholars will compile genres or categories of films or television shows that women often wrote for (e.g., soaps, afterschool specials, teen movies, rom-coms, romance) and gather information about the most compelling women from each decade.

      This is an excellent opportunity for students with an interest in film and television, screenwriting, or women’s representation in media to explore online archives and obtain critical research skills. Students should be comfortable working independently and under faculty supervision and should be willing and eager to conduct most research on their own.

      *Here are some interesting statistics about women’s work writing for film and television in the past few years:
      •2018: women accounted for 16% of all writers working on the 250 top-grossing films.
      •2019: women accounted for 19% of all writers working on the 250 top-grossing films.
      •2017-2018: women accounted for 25% of all writers working on broadcast network programs
      •2018-2019: women accounted for 35% of all writers working on broadcast network programs

      *Data from San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film’s Celluloid Ceiling Report and Boxed-In Report.

    • Mentor: Anisah Bagasra

      Perceptions of COVID-19 among Religious Leaders: Implications for Health Messaging in Faith Communities 

      The purpose of this study is to examine perceptions of COVID-19 among faith leaders, specifically:

      1. What is the prevalence of religious interpretations of COVID-19 (the illness as a result of sinful behavior, as a sign of the coming end of times/day of judgement, the illness as a test from God, karma, etc.)?
      2. Where do faith leaders turn to for information about COVID-19?
      3. What protective health behaviors are faith leaders engaging in to avoid contracting COVID-19 and what is their perceived risk of contracting the disease given their community role?
      4. How do faith leaders translate their own beliefs and external messaging into communications for their communities? To what extent do they view health communication as a responsibility within their position?

      This study will use anonymous surveys to examine perceptions of COVID-19 and health behaviors related to COVID-19 among faith leaders from various faith backgrounds. The second phase of the study will utilize virtual focus groups to discuss in depth how health policy and religious policies, as well as theological interpretations of illness and suffering intersect to impact how faith leaders communicate information regarding COVID-19 to the religious communities they lead. This mixed method approach seeks to gain descriptive evidence of the prevalence of religious and spiritual interpretations of the disease, as well as understand how these interpretations shape faith leaders' messaging, particularly health information and meaning attributions shared with their communities. This study will use a multi-modal, mixed methods approach. Initial descriptive research to measure perceptions of COVID-19, health protective behaviors used by faith leaders, and how they communicate with their communities during social distancing will be collected through an anonymous internet-based survey. This survey will be distributed directly to faith leaders via email and through religious community hierarchy (for example, a District Superintendent may be requested to share the survey link with their pastors, or an imam may be asked to share the survey with other imams). Additionally, participation will be solicited via Social Media, specifically Facebook by posting on the Investigators page, and sharing on pages dedicated to religious communities.

      The second phase of the study will involve conducting 4 different focus groups with 6-8 participants through Zoom. These focus groups will last approximately 40 minutes and allow for in-depth discussion of:

      1. how religious perspectives, public health policy, and other factors influence how faith leaders view Covid-19 and interpret the suffering caused by this illness
      2. how these interpretations translate into public communication with faith followers
    • Mentor: Kyung Hun Jung

      Self-driving cars are coming but you still need driver-training programs

      Summary: Self-driving cars are already on the road. However, they are not perfect. Human drivers are still responsible for monitoring the driving status of the vehicle and step in when it is necessary. Therefore, experts point the importance of research on effective monitoring of the driving status by human drivers and smooth transfer of control from a vehicle to the driver. In this driving-simulator project, we will examine how human drivers behave when self-driving cars are malfunctioning. Specifically, we will identify (1) the signs of malfunctioning/incapability of the self-driving cars that are frequently missed by human drivers and (2) undesirable responses that human drivers make when they attempt to regain control of the vehicle. Finally, we will (3) generate a list of recommendations for a driver-training program that improves the monitoring/handling ability of drivers.

      Developing a driver-training program for safer use of motor vehicles has evident importance considering the noticeably high fatality on the road: for example, an average of 101 people was killed in motor vehicle crashes per day in 2018. Motor vehicle fatality is also the leading cause of accident death among adolescents. This research project was developed to reduce fatality on the road in the era of self-driving cars.

      A self-driving car is a vehicle that can sense its environment and perform the dynamic driving task with little or no human input. As an example of the self-driving technology, a driverless-taxi service has been commercialized in the Phoenix metropolitan area since December 2018. As expected, the technology has been developed with a promise of offering safer and convenient travel. However, such promises have been betrayed by fatal crashes and unexpected handover of vehicle control from the car to the human driver especially when the driving conditions are difficult to handle.

      In the field of aviation, although the autopilot technology has been developed decades ago, human pilots are still required to monitor the status of the airplane and step in when it is necessary. Similarly, human drivers of self-driving cars are expected to recognize the signs of malfunctioning/incapability of the car and skillfully step in when it is necessary. However, there is not enough research for improving such abilities of human drivers.

      In this project, we will examine how human drivers behave when self-driving cars are malfunctioning using driving simulators with a steering wheel and brake/accelerator pedals. The simulators will present various scenarios of malfunctioning/incapability of the self-driving technology on computer screens where each scenario includes unique signs of the malfunctioning. Participant drivers will be asked to monitor the driving status of the car and step in when they believe it is necessary.

      We will identify 1) the frequently missed signs of malfunctioning/incapability of self-driving cars and 2) desirable/undesirable reaction patterns of human drivers when they unexpectedly step in and control the vehicle. Finally, we will 3) generate a list of recommendations for developing a driver-training program that improves the drivers ability to recognize critical signs of incapability of self-driving cars and how to react in such scenarios.

    • Mentor: Brian Moore

      Examination of Predictors of Resilience in Military Personnel

      Studies examining resilience as a protective factor typically occur following trauma exposure. Data were collected 1,000 deploying military medical personnel who were then tracked through their deployment and upon their return to their home station. The present project will analyze various psychological and social factors related to resilience and trauma exposure across the deployment cycle.

    • Mentor: Robin Smith Mathis

      Joking, Juries, and Jurisprudence: Informal Communication in a Formal Workplace Setting

      This project explores the use of humor to cope with workplace stress, particularly the legal profession. For the purpose of this project, the legal profession has been narrowed to the courtroom. Furthermore, we are interested in how judges, court reporters, and attorneys communicate to cope. The courtroom is a tense workplace. Humor has long been studied as a coping mechanism in a variety of demanding and emotionally draining work scenarios. The litigation field (courtroom law) has a high burnout rate. This project would frame an argument that informal communication and humor serve as survival skills to persevere in a challenging profession.

    • Mentor: Evelina Sterling

      Health Disparities: The Impact of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality on Health Outcomes

      Our main goal is to live a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, being sick is a part of life. Whether it is a sudden acute injury or a long drawn out chronic condition or a serious life limiting disease, we will all experience the consequences of illness in some capacity. While illnesses can be reduced to their biological causes and clinical treatments, there is much more to being sick. Social factors, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, and even issues like age, religion, and geography, also play an important role in promoting health and preventing disease. Moreover, social determinates of health, or conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age, significantly affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.

      My research projects are very multidisciplinary, combining aspects of biology, psychology, sociology, public health, nursing, statistics, human services, education, business, etc. These projects aim to shape how people think about and eliminate health disparities through investigating how social, economic, environmental, cultural and lifestyle factors contribute to differences in morbidity and mortality within certain populations and communities. I currently have three large-scale National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded projects specifically looking at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality on chronic conditions utilizing both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Additionally, I investigate how social issues related to systemic racism, poverty, sexism, and homophobia contribute to lack of appropriate healthcare access. I work with both patients and healthcare providers to identify and combat barriers to care for many underserved populations. My research projects also include research questions related to ethical decision-making, cultural competency, health literacy, and behavior change. Because you cannot separate mental and physical health, my projects focus on both as well as the influence of physical health on mental health and vice versa. Given the current opioid crisis, I also try to integrate the impact of substance use disorders on many health outcomes, which is even further compounded by issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Since KSU is located at the crossroads of urban and rural living, I also stress how geography contributes to people's experiences with health and illness.

      In addition to collecting both qualitive and quantitative data to better understand health disparities, I am also interested in actually developing and implementing new programs and approaches to promote health, prevent disease, and ensure health equity. This includes self-management interventions, educational programs, and policy improvements. Instead of being restricted to a traditional laboratory, the world is my lab. My research collects data from real people in the real world, allows us to pivot our research questions depending on the findings, and supports interventions and programs that will benefit people right now, contributing to a healthier world.

    • Mentor: Evelina Sterling

      Health Disparities: The Impact of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality on Health Outcomes

      Our main goal is to live a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, being sick is a part of life. Whether it is a sudden acute injury or a long drawn out chronic condition or a serious life limiting disease, we will all experience the consequences of illness in some capacity. While illnesses can be reduced to their biological causes and clinical treatments, there is much more to being sick. Social factors, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, and even issues like age, religion, and geography, also play an important role in promoting health and preventing disease. Moreover, social determinates of health, or conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age, significantly affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.

      My research projects are very multidisciplinary, combining aspects of biology, psychology, sociology, public health, nursing, statistics, human services, education, business, etc. These projects aim to shape how people think about and eliminate health disparities through investigating how social, economic, environmental, cultural and lifestyle factors contribute to differences in morbidity and mortality within certain populations and communities. I currently have three large-scale National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded projects specifically looking at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality on chronic conditions utilizing both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Additionally, I investigate how social issues related to systemic racism, poverty, sexism, and homophobia contribute to lack of appropriate healthcare access. I work with both patients and healthcare providers to identify and combat barriers to care for many underserved populations. My research projects also include research questions related to ethical decision-making, cultural competency, health literacy, and behavior change. Because you cannot separate mental and physical health, my projects focus on both as well as the influence of physical health on mental health and vice versa. Given the current opioid crisis, I also try to integrate the impact of substance use disorders on many health outcomes, which is even further compounded by issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Since KSU is located at the crossroads of urban and rural living, I also stress how geography contributes to people's experiences with health and illness.

      In addition to collecting both qualitive and quantitative data to better understand health disparities, I am also interested in actually developing and implementing new programs and approaches to promote health, prevent disease, and ensure health equity. This includes self-management interventions, educational programs, and policy improvements. Instead of being restricted to a traditional laboratory, the world is my lab. My research collects data from real people in the real world, allows us to pivot our research questions depending on the findings, and supports interventions and programs that will benefit people right now, contributing to a healthier world.

    • Mentor: Sara Doan

      Messages Gone Viral: How Infographics about CPVOD-19 Spread on Social Media

      Have you ever wondered why people share some visuals about COVID-19 online and not others? What makes a good message about COVID-19 to share on social media? Come and work with Dr. Doan to find out! You'll learn about what visual design principles encourage people to engage with health information online by gathering a collection of charts, graphs, and infographics from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You'll use nVivo, a software available through the university, to collect and tag these images. Next, you'll learn to sort these social media posts to understand what types of written messages (encouraging behavior like mask wearing, sharing statistics, etc.), visual design tools (like color, contrast, typography), and types of posts (an infographic, a chart, etc.) are engaged with most online. After we make our research categories into a formal codebook, you'll learn how to conduct inter-rater reliability, a way of testing our codebook with outside users to make sure that it makes sense outside of the original coding. Then, we'll write about, and hopefully publish, our results to help designers, public health officials, and people who run social media campaigns use our work to design more engaging posts about how to help people understand and stop the spread of COVID-19.

    • Mentor: Sandip Das

      On-board Wave Energy Harvesting for Sustainable Boats and Ships

      Ocean wave is an abundant source of clean energy which offers great advantages over other renewables, such as its availability during both day and night times and much higher energy density compared to wind and solar. Currently, there are no viable or commercial technology available to harvest wave energy by individual boats and ships. In the United States only, there are more than 87,000 commercial fishing vessels and more than 100,000 recreational fishing boats. The world fishing fleet exceeds four million vessels, most of which are gasoline powered and release tons of polluting, toxic and greenhouse gases into the environment. In this project, we propose a novel hybrid wave energy conversion (HWEC) device that can be easily integrated and retrofitted into a boat or a ship to harvest renewable energy from the ocean waves and produce on-board electric power. This technology will reduce the dependence on gasoline – thus reducing the polluting and greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the global warming effects.
      The aim of this project is to design and fabricate a prototype of the proposed magneto-piezoelectric hybrid wave energy conversion device by applying electrical engineering and energy conversion principles resulting in a low-cost, modular HWEC device that can be easily retrofitted inside a fishing vessel or any other types of boats or ships – mounted underneath the decks, onto the floors or virtually anywhere on the vessel to produce clean electrical energy. The technology is scalable and could be easily adapted to next generation of all-electric commercial vessels, as well as navy ships. The first-year research scholar will gain valuable knowledge on renewable energy harvesting techniques from ocean waves, receive hands-on training and develop important and useful engineering research skills through this project.

    • Mentor: Yusef Mahmoud

      Minimizing Power Losses in Solar Photovoltaic Systems

      Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems generate electric power by converting sun light into electric power. Due to its cleanness and sustainability, there has been growing interest in building solar PV projects over the world replacing traditional fossil fuels-based power plants. One of the problems facing solar PV projects is their lower efficiency. A major factor limiting their efficiency is partial shading which occurs when part of a solar system is shaded by a tree, cloud..etc. This project is to reduce the power losses experienced by solar PV systems when they are partially shaded. The project uses a novel algorithm that optimizes power extraction during partial shading.

    • Mentor: Cyril Okhio

      STEM Mentor-Protege Program with Marietta Schools using the Texas Instrument TI-RSLK as a Tool

      With existing relationships with Marietta Schools and the Development assistance from Texas Instruments TI, this effort will use the Texas Instrument Robotic System Learning Kit (TI-RSLK), to foster and further develop the pathways for a STEM Mentor-Protege Program between the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department Students & Faculty, and the Marietta Schools' Teachers and Middle/High School students (especially Females & Minority students), to create and nurture a sustainable STEM-Pipeline. This can then be further developed to also provide a foundation for possible responses to RFPs from Agencies such as the National Science Foundation NSF, in the foreseeable future.

      In the broader sense, this Research effort will lay the foundation for a Sustainable Mentor-Protégé, STEM-Student-Pipeline (especially for Females and Minority students). Students working on this project would be exposed to both the foundations and deeper understanding of how electronic system design works. They will also be involved in the processes of affordable Design, Build & Test activities.

      The TI-RSLK will allow students working on this project to learn about Robotic Systems and the Engineering Applications associated with them. Texas Instruments will supply the Project with several TI-RSLK Robots for Hands-On activities throughout the effort.

      At the end of each Program period, students would have demonstrated the value of the following: Mentoring relationships and the role that gender plays in STEM mentoring, particularly cross-gender mentoring relationships and whether they encourage positive socialization to the field in the same manner as same-gender mentoring relationships.

      • Mentoring relationships and the role that gender plays in STEM mentoring, particularly cross-gender mentoring relationships and whether they encourage positive socialization to the field in the same manner as same-gender mentoring relationships
      • The role of gender in different types of mentoring models and in the terms of mentoring relationships (i.e., formal or informal). For instance, studies could examine whether males and females in STEM fields receive the same benefits through formal and informal e-mentoring programs or whether mentoring relationships that utilize the citizen model facilitate the retention of females within STEM disciplines
      • The elements of successful mentoring relationships formed by females in STEM disciplines to provide a more holistic picture of what factors need to be included in the design of such mentoring programs for maximum benefits
    • Mentor: Yizeng Li

      Mechanical responses of lipid vesicles under different hydraulic enviroment

      Mammalian cells are protected by a plasm membrane made of lipid bilayers. This membrane is highly deformable under various mechanical conditions, creating different morphologies for cells.  My prior studies have shown that the responses of cells are highly sensitive to extracellular hydraulic pressure, which is particularly prominent when cells reside in confined spaces. Although cells are living systems that respond actively to environments, they as enclosed vesicles respond passively to physical conditions in the first place. Differentiating the passive and active responses will help us better understand how cells adapt to environments and carrier out functions. It is challenging to differentiate the two types of responses in living cells; however, using liposomes will enable us to focus the study on the passive responses.

      In this interdisciplinary study, we will use both mathematical and experimental models to study the responses of passive liposomes. In particular, we will construct liposomes and observe their morphologies and motility under various hydraulic environments. The mathematical models will be developed on continuum mechanics and will be programed in MATLAB. The prediction from mathematical models will serve as guides to further design meaningful experiments.

    • Mentor: Philippe Sucosky

      Exploring the Effects of Spaceflight Microgravity on Blood Flow and Cardiovascular Disease

      Long-duration spaceflight poses multiple hazards to human health, including physiological changes associated with microgravity. A recent study reported the existence of blood flow abnormalities in the jugular veins of six astronauts participating in long-duration spaceflight missions aboard the International Space Station, and an occlusion in the vein of one more. Although the cause-and-effect relationships between microgravity, blood flow alterations and cardiovascular disease have not yet been elucidated, it is well known that the vasculature is sensitive to its surrounding mechanical environment. Abnormalities in the fluid stresses imposed by blood flow on the surface of blood vessels for example are known to trigger inflammatory responses that may lead to cardiovascular disease. In this context, the hemodynamic alterations resulting from spaceflight microgravity may trigger a biological response leading to disease. Testing this hypothesis requires the characterization of the stress environment experienced by the vasculature under microgravity. To address this research need, we propose to develop computational fluid dynamics models of the human carotid bifurcation under unit gravity and modeled microgravity conditions, and to quantify their fluid stress characteristics on the arterial wall. This work will enable future investigations of the risk posed by spaceflight microgravity on cardiovascular disease.

    • Mentor: Ayse Tekes

      Development of Wire Actuated Monolithic Soft Gripper Positioned by Robot Manipulator

      Robotic grippers integrated with end effectors have been widely used to pick and place targeted objects or assemble parts in the automation industry. Grippers are commonly attached as an end effector to the multi-link robots to change its orientation, and the performance of the gripping motion highly depends on the design of the gripper itself. Rigid mechanisms designed by traditional links and joints exhibit low performance compared to compliant mechanisms due to the friction, clearance, and backlash. A mechanism is said to be underactuated if the number of actuators is less than the degrees of freedom of the system and adaptive if the mechanism response adopts to the new environment.

      This project aims to design and develop an adaptive wire actuated compliant gripper mimicking human hand. The compliant gripper will be oriented through a 2D link robot. The configuration of the robot will be actuated by servo motors. The robot and the gripper will be 3D printed using polylactic acid (PLA) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). 

    • Mentor: Amir Ali Amiri Moghadam

      Development of soft fluidic sensor for body motion sensing

      Stroke rehabilitation is very important for recovery after stroke. The patients need to exercise regularly and their progress should be monitored. Thus, development of body motion sensors which can detect the motion and performance of patients would be very important. The sensor data can be sent to medical centers to monitor the progress of the patients.  This project aims to develop soft motion sensors which can safely interface with human body to measure large motions/deformations. 

      The proposed soft sensors generally consist of a patterned balloon and a fluidic pressure sensor. As the balloon being stretched and deformed the internal pressure of the balloon will change. Consequently, the pressure reading can be correlated to deformation of balloon to create a motion sensor. The balloons can be fabricated from thermoplastic materials or silicons by means of molding, and thermoforming.  Figure 1 demonstrates a prototype of a motion sensor as a hand motion detector.

    • Mentor: Muhammad Hassan Tanveer

      Biology to Biotechnology - Mimicking BATS sensing behaviors on Mobile Robots

      In mobile robot research, the robot needs to answer three main questions in order to make it navigate.

      1. Where am I?
      2. Where am I going?
      3. How do I get here?

      In order to address these questions on the Robotic Platform, we follow guidelines for the environmental model, for the interpretation and examination of the environment, for the location and condition of the system and for the planning of the movement.

      As we see, BATs navigation in the forest will resolve all the above questions by merely transmitting a sound wave and having to know the environment by hearing the echo.

      In the first part of the project, we will concentrate on creating a simulation environment like a forest and making our robot maneuver through acoustic laws. 

      The second step is to verify this strategy with a real robot and how fast the sensor is responding.
      But, on a larger scale, we can solve a lot of payload problems on robots and only set up a simple acoustic sensor to get to know the whole area.



©