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Department of Energy Honors Rocha as Part of “Women@Energy” Series



The accolades continue to roll in for Andrea Rocha, a postdoctoral research fellow on the team of UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair Terry Hazen.

Rocha was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for its “Women@Energy” series, detailing inspirational women in STEM fields and is meant to highlight what inspired the women to pursue their careers.

The overall goal of the Women@Energy program is to get women to consider STEM-related courses in college and in the workforce.

“As a young girl, I was always fascinated by the natural world around me. I wanted to know why and how things happened,” Rocha told the DOE. “When I started college, I followed my passion by pursing a degree in the biological sciences.”

Rocha went on to explain how her undergraduate research experiences prepared her for further studies and cemented her desire to explore environmental microbiology.

As a doctorate fellow under Hazen, who is also the head of UT’s Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment, Rocha is part of a multi-institutional collaboration known as ENIGMA, the Ecosystems and Networks Integrated with Genes and Molecular Assemblies.

She helps investigate particular bacterial species and conducts field sampling efforts at radioactive areas at the Oak Ridge field site.

“The best part of my job is working with a dynamic and interdisciplinary group of researchers—both within my research team and across Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” Rocha told the DOE. “Another exciting aspect is the ability to mentor undergraduate researchers in the field and in the laboratory. Mentoring students and helping them develop a passion for their research motivates me to pave a path for future generations.”

She was recently chosen by Hispanic Engineer and Information Technologymagazine as one of 32 women worldwide to be profiled in the magazine’s “Latinas at Tech Giants” edition.

Her interview for the DOE’s story, including her tips on women in STEM education, can be read here.



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CEE faculty receive NSF award to study connected vehicles

Asad KhattakShashi NambisanAn interdisciplinary team of faculty members at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) has been awarded a $399,793 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The team comprising of Drs. Asad Khattak, Subhadeep Chakraborty, and Shashi Nambisan was selected by NSF’s Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation for their research proposal titled “Study of Driving Volatility in Connected and Cooperative Vehicle Systems.” Recent technological advances enable Vehicle-to-Vehicle and Vehicle-to -Infrastructure communications.
These technologies allow wireless exchange of critical safety and operational data between and among vehicles and infrastructure system elements. These include location, heading, speed, and acceleration data attributes. The research aims to study the role of wireless connectivity and how information from modern sensors can be integrated, processed, and disseminated to offer innovative solutions to address major societal challenges related to safety, mobility, energy, and emissions. The proposed activities are important to advancing knowledge and understanding in areas such as travel behavior, control systems, information technology, and complex transportation systems. The research will integrate educational and outreach activities. The research will provide interdisciplinary training to students, with special efforts made to recruit minority students through UT’s Engineering Diversity Program.

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Senior Design Project Sponsored by Electric Power Industry

A faculty team lead by Drs. Jenny Retherford, Khalid Alshibli, and Qiang He have won an award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to sponsor a capstone Senior Design. A student team consisting of Jason Patterson (team leader) Greg Haerr, Samantha Hightower, and Chelsea Thompson will seek to determine if a waste byproduct from an air pollution control process can be incorporated into recycled building materials through experimental research. More specifically, the team will explore the possible use of Dry Flue Gas Desulphurization (DFGD) byproduct in building modular blocks for Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) wall systems. DFGD is a process for removing sulfur dioxide from power plant stack emissions. The DFGD process produces tons of the byproduct on a daily basis, which is currently landfilled.

Along with EPRI, addition industry partners in this project include Alstom and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Jian Sun Awarded AWMA Scholarship

Jian Sun.jpgJian Sun, a Ph.D. graduate student working with Dr. Joshua Fu in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was selected as one of the two winners for the 2015 Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA) Southern Section Scholarship. The competition is among universities in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. As part of the award, Sun was also invited to present his research at the 2015 Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA) Southern Section Conference: Planning for the Future at Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia on August 19-21. Mr. Sun presented a summary of several recent papers he has published with Dr. Fu about cost estimates and pollutant-related health benefits of emission controls in the electric power in the context of climate change. Conference participants came from environmental protection agencies, government divisions, consulting companies, and universities in the region.

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