Undergraduate Research Projects at UofM by STEM Discipline

Biology

Biomedical Engineering

Chemistry

Civil Engineering

Computer Engineering

Computer Science

Earth Sciences

Electrical Engineering

Mathematics

Mechanical Engineering

Physics

 Statistics

Research Projects Abstracts


Biology

Biomedical Engineering

Chemistry

Civil Engineering

Computer Engineering

Computer Science

Earth Sciences

Electrical Engineering

Mathematics

Mechanical Engineering

Physics

Statistics



Research Projects Abstracts

Biology

Research Project: Oocyte physiology of the zebrafish

The Lessman lab is studying oocyte physiology of the zebrafish, an NIH-sanctioned model organism (http://www.nih.gov/science/models/zebrafish/ ). Oocytes are produced via oogenesis in the ovary. The female germ cell or oocyte has fundamental importance since it is the immediate precursor to the fertilized egg. The fertilized egg or zygote is, in turn, significant because it gives rise to the individual and as the “mother of all stem cells” gives rise to all the different cells that constitute the individual. Therefore, understanding the oocyte’s physiology is key to understanding embryonic stem cells and the formation of the individual. Current work is focused on the ovarian cycle and linking genetic markers to female fish with different ovarian periodicity or fecundity. In addition, the intracellular signaling pathways that elicit oocyte maturation are being probed by the use of specific inhibitors and activators of cell signaling. An in vitro system, developed at the University of Memphis, is used to assess oocyte maturation (Lessman et al., 2007). Oocyte maturation is the process of converting the meiotic prophase I stage oocyte to the meiotic metaphase II stage egg and is the final step in oogenesis.

Lessman, C. A., Nathani, R.,  Uddin, R., Walker, J. and Liu, J. (2007). Computer-aided meiotic maturation assay (CAMMA) of zebrafish (Danio rerio) oocytes in vitro. Molecular Reproduction and Development 74:99-109. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.20530 

Contact for more information:
Charles A. Lessman, Ph.D.
Professor

Dept. of Biology
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152

(901) 678-2963
FAX (901) 678-4457

Main lab page http://umpeople.memphis.edu/clessman
http://biology.memphis.edu/clessman.htm


Biomedical Engineering

Research Project: Atrial fibrillation (AF)

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening heart disorder that affects two million people each year in the US alone.  In AF, the two small upper chambers of the heart, the atria, quiver and are not able to effectively pump blood out of the chambers.  Blood clots are likely to form in the atria.  The clots can leave the atria and can ultimately become lodged in an artery in the brain and cause a stroke.  Approximately 15% of all strokes occur in patients with AF.  In patients with atrial fibrillation, defibrillation therapy is often given in the form of a strong electric shock to revert the atria back to normal activity.  The electric shock is delivered to the patient through two electrodes placed on the chest.  We have previously developed a physiologically realistic computer model of the human torso for simulating defibrillation.  The goal of this project is to use our existing computer model to simulate atrial defibrillation.  Specifically, we will explore new electrode placements to determine the configuration that can defibrillate with the lowest shock energy.  This will require the student to work with both PC and UNIX workstations.  The student will:  (1) develop and visualize new electrode placements with computer graphics, and (2) input the new electrode placements into the computer model to calculate defibrillation shock energy.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Some experience with programming languages is helpful, but not required.  The student will be trained to use existing programs.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy Curry, Biomedical Engineering, amy.curry@memphis.edu


Research Project:   Electrically Augmented Antibiotic Delivery for Bacterial Biofilm Abatement

Bacteria have the ability to form biofilms which protect them from the body’s defense mechanisms and from antibiotics.  Injuries, implants, and chronic wounds that become infected with bacterial biofilms are extremely difficult to treat and can lead to limb amputation or loss of life.   Researchers have discovered a phenomenon in vitro termed “the bioelectric effect”, in which electric fields combined with antibiotics increase the efficacy of antibiotics against biofilm bacteria.  In these studies, various waveforms, namely, direct current, alternating current, and electromagnetic fields have been shown to be effective in reducing the concentration of antimicrobial or antibiotic dosages required to kill biofilm bacteria to levels that typically only affect planktonic, or free-floating, bacteria.

These in vitro studies show much promise, but much work is required before clinical application of the bioelectric effect against bacterial biofilms is possible.   Because the electric field itself does not cause the bactericidal effect, the presence of antibiotics and specifically a biomaterial delivery system is necessary.  Chitosan, a polysaccharide derived from the exoskeletons of crustaceans, has well documented properties in drug delivery and in healing.   Material properties of chitosan are easily modified by changing molecular weight, weight percent, solvent acid, and other fabrication techniques.  Electrical properties of chitosan can be modified through the addition of carbon nanotubes with conductive properties.   In this project, students will investigate the influence of chitosan formulation and carbon nanotube loading on electrical conductivity and on drug release profile.  Investigations of bactericidal activity and cellular compatibility may also be included.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Warren Haggard
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Phone: (901) 678-4346
Email: whaggrd1@memphis.edu


Research Project: Electrochemical Characterization of Microfabricated Electrochemical Sensors and Sensor Arrays

In the Department of Biomedical Engineering we are working on the development of short turnaround time (STAT) point of care testing devices (POCT) for the detection of cardiac proteins (for the diagnosis of heart attacks), monitoring anesthetic agents  (for feedback controlled automated anesthesia), or for assessing hydrogen peroxide concentration in the breath (for the diagnosis of bacterial infection). All these devices are based on microfabricated structures. These are silicon or glass chips patterned with gold, platinum or carbon coated sensing areas.  These sensing areas are interconnected or individually addressable micro-discs, or micro-bands that are connected to bounding pads with insulated lead wires. In general, these patterned surfaces are converted into chemical sensors (microelectrodes and microelectrode arrays) by coating their surfaces with analyte specific layers. However, before they are transformed into chemical sensors they must be fully characterized.

The research project is to characterize microfabricated disc arrays, and interdigitated electrode arrays by electrochemical methods.

Dr. Erno Lindner


Research Project:  Open Source Biomechanical Simulation Tools for Orthopaedics

Simulation of human motion is being used to help design and understand how to improve the performance of total joint implants that replace the mechanical function of human joints. Research in this area encompasses forward and inverse dynamic modeling of activities such as gait, stair climbing, kneeling, squatting and chair rise to understand the role of muscles and ligaments in controlling motion. A variety of commercial software packages have been used to create and analyze models of the lower limb and upper limb, cervical spine, lumbar spine, and knee joint and hip joint. While these models are implemented in different modeling packages, many include similar model parameters.

One of the challenges in computational biomechanics and simulation is to define modeling standards and promote interchange between modeling packages. Furthermore, commercial packages, such as SIMM, Visual 3-D (C-Motion Inc.), Anybody (Anybody Technology), LifeMOD or LifeMOD/KneeSIM (LifeModeler, Inc.) do not provide complete access to source code, which makes it difficult for biomechanics researchers to extend modeling capabilities. Recently, new open-source software engineering methods have emerged that over time will enable biomechanics researchers to establish cause-effect relationships between the muscle forces, external reaction forces, and motions of the body that are observed in the laboratory, to explore research questions that were previously only accessible to users of costly and highly sophisticated commercial software.

Project goals will be achieved through testing of various open-source software applications for developing and analyzing muscle-driven simulations. In particular, we will explore GaitSym (University of Manchester), BodyMech (Free University of Amsterdam), and OpenSim (Simtk.org, Stanford),

Contact for more information:

Dr. John L. Williams
Professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering
330 Engineering technology Building
Memphis, TN 38152
john.williams@memphis.edu


Research Project: Tissue Engineering and Drug Delivery for Bone Regeneration.

More than 1.5 million bone graft procedures are performed annually to repair bone damaged due to accident or injury (e.g. automobile or military) or lost due to disease (e.g. cancer, birth defects). While typical medical procedures use a patient’s own bone from the iliac crest of the hip or from a rib  to try and repair injuries or defects, the amount of bone available is limited and multiple surgeries are required which complicate recovery times. Therefore, much research is aimed to develop alternative therapies. Tissue engineering represents a field of materials, mechanical and biological research where materials are combined with cells and or therapeutic agents (growth factors, antibiotics, etc) to help regenerate and restore the function of the missing bone tissue. The goal of bone tissue engineering is to have a material to provide a 3D porous structure or scaffold to allow bone cells to grow and fill in with bone tissue and to eventually be degraded and replaced with normal or regenerated bone. In addition, the scaffold material can be used to delivery growth factors like bone morphogenetic protein, BMP, as it degrades to stimulate bone healing and tissue regeneration.  The scaffold material may also be used to delivery antibiotics to help prevent infection especially in patients with traumatic injuries such as those suffered in military conflicts.

A promising scaffold material is the bio-polymer, chitosan. Chitosan is a polysaccharide derived from the exoskeletons of crabs, shrimp and other arthropods and is very biocompatible, biodegradable, and non-toxic. Also because it has some chemical similarities to components of natural bone tissue, it has shown much promise as a material for supporting and stimulating bone tissue healing and formation. One of the goals of the research to use chitosan as a scaffold and or drug delivery material for bone tissue engineering is to optimize its degradation.  Degradation can be modified through the use of different solvents used to make chitosan materials, and or by changing polymer properties such as molecular weight. In this project, students investigate the degradation of a series of modified chitosan materials under simulated physiological conditions. Degradation will be based on the change in molecular weight of the chitosan polymers using chromatography techniques, compatibility of the chitosans will be determined in bone cell cultures and the ability of the chitosans to release drugs or growth factors may also be investigated.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Joel D. Bumgardner
Associate Professor
Biomedical Engineering
University of Memphis
Herff College of Engineering
Joint UT-UM Biomedical Engineering Program
Memphis, TN 38152
jbmgrdnr@memphis.edu


Chemistry


Civil Engineering

Research Project:  Freight Demand Modeling

Much research has been conducted regarding passenger travel demand modeling (TDM).  However, the same is not true for the freight component of the transportation system.  In many cases, the aspect of TDM for the latter is completely overlooked.  As freight vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has been increasing at a higher rate than for passenger vehicles (a trend predicted to continue), significant advances are needed in the arena of the former so that practical models providing adequate forecasts for the freight component of the transportation system are available.  Without consideration of freight movements in TDM, the levels of service of the different transportation facilities will be significantly underestimated as their operational will be under or over estimated (i.e. density and capacity).  Freight models are by nature more difficult to build than passenger models due to the limited data availability and the complex nature of freight transportation.  Thus, it is important to identify: a) the aspects of freight forecasting present in the current literature, b) the mechanisms currently used to address the issue of limited freight data availability, and c) the types of existing modeling approaches.  To this end, a literature review will be conducted that examines the following:

Types of available data for freight demand modeling and their applicability to existing freight demand models (e.g. methods for dealing with sparse data, data requirements)

Additionally, a new predictive vehicle-based freight demand model will be proposed. A case study will be used to compare the proposed method to freight demand predictive models found in the literature. Students working on this project will have the opportunity to develop portions of the literature review and be involved in the model development/testing.

Faculty Contacts:

Dr. Mihalis Golias
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil Engineering
112A Engineering Science
mihalisgolias@yahoo.com

Dr. Stephanie Ivey
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil Engineering
106A Engineering Science
ssalyers@memphis.edu


Research Project: Engineering Properties of Loess

The principal surficial soil in Memphis is loess. It is thickest, up to 30 m (90 ft) near the Mississippi River on the western border of the state and it thins progressively eastward approximately 48 km (30 mi.). In southwest Tennessee, where Memphis is located, this distance has been reported to be 80 to 97 km (50 to 60 mi.). The loess near the ground surface is above the groundwater table and thus partially saturated, also referred to as unsaturated. The objective of this research is to summarize the current state-of-practice of selecting engineering property values for use in geotechnical engineering design and to consider unsaturated soil mechanics to better understand the behavior of loess for the purpose of advancing the state-of-practice in geotechnical engineering design and construction. The key engineering properties that will be evaluated are strength, compressibility, swelling, and permeability of both undisturbed and remolded loess under both static and dynamic loads.

Students selected for this project will perform the literature search, develop a database of engineering properties, perform statistical analysis of the engineering property values, and prepare a summary of the current engineering properties of loess.

Contact for more information:

Dr. David Arellano, P.E.
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil Engineering

110C Engineering Science
Memphis, TN 38152
Tel: 901-678-3272
Email: darellan@memphis.edu


Research Project: Recycled Polystyrene for Drainage Applications

One potential use for recycled polystyrene is for drainage applications. Recycled polystyrene used for the function of drainage consist of discrete pieces of aggregate also known as geosynthetic aggregate (GA). The aggregate is manufactured by melting post-consumer polystyrene, predominantly packaging material, and expanding the recycled polystyrene in a controlled manner into aggregate of a desired shape, size and density. Therefore, a key benefit of GA drainage systems is that their use can contribute to depletion of the current world-wide large quantity of post-consumer polystyrene waste while providing a drainage product that can provide consistent engineering properties. Two engineering properties that are important for design of GA drainage systems include the stress versus deformation and the flow rate versus stress behavior. The objective of this study is to develop a full-scale test chamber and to evaluate the mechanical deformation and hydraulic behavior under vertical stresses that would simulate the loading conditions from trench backfill and to develop design guidelines for their use in drainage applications.

Students selected for this project will be involved in the full-scale laboratory testing and in interpreting and analyzing test results. Students will also assist the principal investigator in recommending load, deformation, and flow values for design of recycled polystyrene drainage systems.

Contact for more information:

Dr. David Arellano, P.E.
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil Engineering

110C Engineering Science
Memphis, TN 38152
Tel: 901-678-3272
email: darellan@memphis.edu


Research Project:  Transportation Improvement Plan for Rozelle-Annesdale Neighborhood, Memphis, TN

As communities face issues with regard to transportation options, pollution, safety, and health, more are returning to the model of walkable neighborhoods to address many of these concerns.  Developing a walkable community involves providing accessibility, connectivity, and safe traffic operations for multiple modes.  In many cases, these objectives may be achieved through transportation network design focused on sustainable practices and consideration of pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular traffic.   This project involves a comprehensive inventory of traffic patterns and transportation networks in the Rozelle-Annesdale neighborhood to identify problems related to safety and efficiency of existing systems.

Project goals will be achieved through a series of neighborhood meetings/workshops, project newsletters, development of a project website, and data collection efforts by teams of University students and resident volunteers. The final product of the project will be a report defining existing conditions, identifying areas of need, and recommending changes to existing transportation networks that will improve the quality of life of neighborhood residents.  By including volunteers from the neighborhood in the data collection effort and holding meetings and workshops to identify perceived problems, it is anticipated that residents will have a stake in the results of the study, will work to implement recommendations, and will continue to evaluate neighborhood conditions after the project is completed.  The purpose of this study is to help Rozelle-Annesdale neighborhood residents develop a sustainable effort for community improvement.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Stephanie Ivey
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil Engineering
106A Engineering Science
Memphis, TN 38152
ssalyers@memphis.edu


Research Project:  Safe Routes to School, Memphis City Schools

The National Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) program was established in 2005.  It is a federally funded program, created through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Act (SAFETEA-LU), and administered through each individual state Department of Transportation (DOT).  The program was funded with $612 million dollars, to be administered over five Federal fiscal years.   The goal of the SRTS program is to provide support and funding for changes to communities through the 5 E’s (Engineering, Enforcement, Encouragement, Education, and Evaluation) to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and more popular activity.  Faculty in the departments of City and Regional Planning and Civil Engineering at the University of Memphis have been working with Memphis City Schools since 2006 to develop competitive proposals for SRTS projects within the city school system.

Students selected for this project will be involved in the development of the 2009 SRTS proposal to be submitted by the Memphis City Schools to the Tennessee DOT.  Student tasks may include many aspects of the project including literature review, data collection, GIS mapping, preliminary civil design, and proposal writing, based on student interests and skills.  Students selected to work on this project will focus on the engineering aspects of the proposal, and will work in conjunction with students from City and Regional Planning to develop the full proposal.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Stephanie Ivey
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil Engineering
106A Engineering Science
Memphis, TN 38152
ssalyers@memphis.edu


Computer Engineering

Research Project: Clustering for Improved Learning in Maze Traversal Problem

The maze traversal problem (finding the shortest distance to the goal from any position in a maze) has been an interesting challenge in computational intelligence. Recent work has shown that the cellular simultaneous recurrent neural network (CSRN) is able to solve this problem for simple mazes.  This research project focuses on exploiting relevant information about the maze to improve learning and decrease the training time. Plans include to cluster parts of the maze using relevant information such as current position of an agent in the maze, direction to the goal and Euclidean distance to the goal.  We hope to show that clustering the parts of the maze can improve the overall learning of the traversal problem for the CSRN. The outcome of this research may benefit applications such as search and recovery, disaster planning and autonomous navigation among others.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Khan M. Iftekharuddin
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Director, Intelligent Systems and Image Processing Lab
Institute for Intelligent Systems
206 Engineering Science Building
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152-3810.
Tel: (901)-678-3250; Fax: (901)-678-5469
Email: iftekhar@memphis.edu


Research Project: MR Imaging Database and Graphical Interfaces

The MR is a highly successful diagnostic imaging modality due to its ability to derive contrast from different physical parameters. The MRI tissue contrast is based predominantly on the spin lattice relaxation time (T1), spin-spin relaxation time (T2), and proton-spin density (PD) sequences of the tissues being imaged. The information (or features) retrieved from a combination of these MR sequence tissue parameters may play a vital role in automated tumor and hard-to-detect abnormalities detection in the brain. In the past, we have investigated different types of features to extract pediatric brain tumors. Often times it is desirable to handle a large amount of MR images for successful brain tumor detection. This requires handling these images in automated databases and graphical web interfaces. This project involves designing database and graphical web interfaces, including appropriate database and graphical interfaces for automated handling of large-scale MR images.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Khan M. Iftekharuddin
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Director, Intelligent Systems and Image Processing Lab
Institute for Intelligent Systems
206 Engineering Science Building
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152-3810.
Tel: (901)-678-3250; Fax: (901)-678-5469
Email: iftekhar@memphis.edu


Computer Science


Earth Sciences


Electrical Engineering

Research Project: Multimode Adaptive 3D Microscopy for imaging thick samples

Optical sectioning is a technique used widely in microscopy for the non-invasive visualization of three-dimensional (3D) samples labeled with fluorescence dyes. Optical sections are images acquired by focusing the objective (imaging) lens deep within a thick sample. However, imaging deep within the sample results in loss of image resolution due to defocus and other depth-induced spherical aberrations. Improved optical sectioning has been accomplished using either confocal microscopy or computational optical sectioning microscopy (COSM) and it has revolutionized 3D microscopy. The two approaches have different optical configurations. In a confocal microscope, scanned point illumination and a pinhole in an optically conjugate plane in front of the detector are used to reject the out-of-focus light due to defocus but data-acquisition is slow. The computational approaches on the other hand, are based on a wide field (WF) or non-confocal, non-scanning configuration with a high throughput. Because WF images are degraded by out-of-focus light they need to be processed by computational methods in order to achieve improved optical sectioning.

Much research has been conducted in COSM over the years resulting in both open source (http://cirl.memphis.edu/cosmos/) and commercially available software. The goal of this project is to develop new corrective methodologies for COSM that are suitable for imaging thick samples. Refractive index mismatch and heterogeneity within thick samples produce image distortions that worsen with imaging depth in conventional microscopes. These distortions not only reduce image resolution but also they result in image processing artifacts when the data are processed with algorithms (software) that are based on a thin sample imaging model.

The research is based on a novel and innovative approach that integrates computational development with a new imaging system design that includes adaptive optics and structure illumination. Specific research includes 1) developing mathematical models that can accurately predict data acquired with a WF imaging system; 2) developing and testing model-based data processing algorithms to estimate accurate fluorescence concentration in 3D images; and 3) developing a software package for the user community. Performance and utility of the new methods is being tested on data from test objects and biological samples.

Students selected for this project will have the opportunity to participate in different aspects of this interdisciplinary research based on student skills and interests.

Undergraduate funding is available for this project for summer 2011 and academic year 2011-12.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Chrysanthe Preza
Assistant Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Eng.
206 Engineering Science Bldg
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152-3180
cpreza@memphis.edu
http://cirl.memphis.edu/cpreza
 

 


Mathematics

Research Project: New algorithms for fractal forgeries of images

The Collage Theorem roughly says that any image can be approximated as closely as you like (close meaning in the Hausdorff metric) by an iterated function system. The trick is finding an IFS for a given image. There are some known algorithms for doing this. The student will try applying some of the known algorithms, in the process learning about iterated function systems. The project's ultimate goal will be to create new algorithms to facilitate "fractal forgeries" of a wide variety of images.

Besides being of interest mathematically, there is a practical side to the project. Typically (digital) images may occupy several megabytes of space, thus using a relatively large amount of bandwidth to transmit (compared to, say, text messages). However, the code for a fractal forgery *is* a text message, which may be efficiently transmitted, and then executed by the recipient, saving a tremendous amount of bandwidth.

Contact for more information:

Dr. James Campbell
Department of Mathematical Sciences
jtc@campbeljpc2.msci.memphis.edu
901-678-2493 (Office)


Mechanical Engineering

Research Project: Cryogenic Propellant Management in Low-Gravity

Long duration space missions will require new, reliable technologies in fluid storage and management. The feasibility of these technologies will be influenced by the ability to design an efficient cryogenic storage system.  Cryogen vaporization causes mass loss of the costly propellant and leads to pressurization of the propellant tank.  The pressurization process in cryogenic propellant tanks has been the focus of several past experimental and numerical studies as the need for on-orbit storage and transfer of propellant from one tank to another tank has been identified.  Cryogenic propellant tanks in space are exposed to incident solar radiation, which heats the liquid in tank over time.  The increase in temperature results in an increase in pressure as the liquid vaporizes, i.e. self pressurization.  Mixing and active cooling are techniques which have been investigated as means to control tank self-pressurization.  Reliable thermal control is a mission enabling technology which must be addressed in the design of cryogenic storage systems for long duration space missions. 

Contact for more information:

Dr. Jeffrey G. Marchetta
Assistant Professor
Engineering Science Building Room 322D
Email: jmarchtt@memphis.edu
(901) 678-3268


Research Project: High-Reliability High-Availability Hydrokinetic Power

Hydrokinetic power is the transport of energy in a moving fluid by virtue of its motion. Unlike many other sources of sustainable energy, hydrokinetic power is reliably available 24/7. Attempts to harvest this resource have escalated in intensity and frequency with recent increases in the price of petroleum. Unlike fossil fuel derived power, harvesting of hydrokinetic power holds the promise of generating large amounts of electricity with a near zero carbon footprint. The present project is focused on harvesting hydrokinetic energy at the air/water interface of a river.

Contact for more information:

Dr. John Hochstein
Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Engineering Science 312A
jhochste@memphis.edu
901-678-2173


Research Project: Piezoelectric Pulse Generation

The development of a lightweight, high energy generation system for non-lethal weapons which can be utilized aboard unmanned surface vessel (USV) is of interest to the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC).  This system need to be designed such that it can be packaged in a transportable and possibly airworthy platform.  Simulations are currently underway to determine whether piezoelectric materials can be used as a source for shaped energy pulses.  This device will eventually be integrated onto an existing USV with a real mission scheduled for deployment in theater. 

Contact for more information:

Dr. Jeffrey G. Marchetta
Assistant Professor
Engineering Science Building Room 322D
Email: jmarchtt@memphis.edu
(901) 678-3268


Research Project: Rotary Fuel Cell

A viable water management system is critical in improving the overall efficiency of current fuel cell technology.  A novel concept, a Rotary Fuel Cell (RFC), is proposed which may significantly improve fuel cell efficiency.  In accordance with the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative (HFI) introduced in 2003 to further develop fuel cells and fuel cell components, the idea of using rotation as an unconventional technique to reduce flooding and increase ionic conduction in hydrophilic tubular fuel cells is investigated.  Preliminary experimental data supports the need for continued studies and development of the RFC concept.  Computational studies are being performed to investigate the feasibility of the RFC concept.

Contact for more information:

Dr. Jeffrey G. Marchetta
Assistant Professor
Engineering Science Building Room 322D
Email: jmarchtt@memphis.edu
(901) 678-3268


Research Project: Thermal Scene Modeling

Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems include military and other defense assets that aid or directly gain intelligence and information for military and defense purposes such as ground vehicles and planes.  The use of ISR systems to reliably detect objects of interest, such as an improvised explosive device (IED) has become a priority for the Department of Defense.  It has been shown that buried IEDs can be detected by sensing temperature differences between excavated and undisturbed soil.  However, temperature differences between the soil and the natural variations in the background, such as rocks and shadows, can make detection through remote sensing more difficult. The ability to accurately model thermal scenes and, subsequently, thermal signatures efficiently and reliably under a variety of heating conditions will permit further study of the relationship between the thermal signature of the disturbed earth and the surrounding clutter.  Thermal scene modeling may be used to identify whether the probability of detection increases at specific times during the diurnal cycle. 

Contact for more information:

Dr. Jeffrey G. Marchetta
Assistant Professor
Engineering Science Building Room 322D
Email: jmarchtt@memphis.edu
(901) 678-3268


Physics

Research Project:  AFM force-distance (F-d) studies of Mars analogue dust with surfaces of varying chemistry

Dust devils are a frequent sight on Mars and they are known to contain charged particles. The settlement, capture and adhesion of the ultra fine dust has caused serious problems in the past for some of the components on board Mars missions. For example, proper functioning of calibration targets on board Mars Rover and the Pathfinder rely on clear visibility of the chips and the color that they represent as seen by the panoramic camera, also on board the vehicle. Any amount of dust settled on these surfaces can render the targets useless. Preliminary data collected by a former student has shown that the interaction between the dust particles and the surfaces that they come into contact with can be determined reliably using an atomic force microscope (AFM) in the F-d mode. By controlling the environment in which the measurements are taken this interaction can be fully characterized. Once a protocol for the analysis of the interaction has been established this method can be extended to the interaction behavior of lunar dust particle-surface also. Understanding the forces involved, the range of interaction, and strength of interaction can serve as an invaluable tool for the design as well as protection of critical instruments and spacesuits for future missions.

The student appointed to this project will learn how to operate the AFM, interpret the F-d measurements, and assist with design and building of a low humidity chamber for the AFM. This work if successfully conducted along with previous data collected will form the basis of a NASA grant application that if funded, could continue to support the student involved.

Contact for more information:
Dr. Firouzeh Sabri
Instructor
Office: MH 219    Phone: 678-2126
Email: fsabri@memphis.edu


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