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UT ITE Chapter Wins 1st Place in SDITE Chapter Report Competition

DSC_0161The University of Tennessee Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) student chapter recently won 1st place in the Southern District ITE Student Chapter Report competitions. The recognition distinguishes the chapter as the best out of 20 chapters from nine states, and came with an award of $200. Receiving the award on behalf of the chapter was Kwaku Boakye, CEE graduate student and president of the chapter.

“I am excited that our student chapter is recognized as the best ITE Student Chapter in the Southern District for the 2015-2016 academic year,” he said. “This shows that we are doing a good job. It motivates us to do our best in serving our University community through our chapter activities.”

The chapter increased this year’s membership by 30 percent and engaged volunteer activities across campus, such as summer education programs for high school students and teachers. It also organized field trips and participated in several transportation conferences, including the Tennessee Section ITE Traffic Bowl, which the group won.

CEE Professor Joshua Fu Helps NASA Scientists Measure Arctic Gas Pollution

Joshua FuCEE Professor Joshua Fu is an atmospheric modeler whose research has helped advance the understanding of Arctic gas flaring pollution and climate. A new NASA study shows that the flaring of waste natural gas from industrial oil fields in the Northern Hemisphere is a potential source of significant amounts of nitrogen dioxide and black carbon to the Arctic.

Black carbon, also known as soot, is of interest in the climate change puzzle because it absorbs sunlight while aloft, which heats the air. Additionally, when it lands on the Arctic’s pristine snow it settles and warms the snow causing it to melt. Even relatively small amounts of black carbon make a big difference in the pristine environment of the Arctic.

The modeling community uses emissions inventories reported by governments as a starting point, but Fu pointed out to the researchers of this study that these are generally inaccurate. Measurements have shown that the government inventories don’t include all of the sources or underestimations of black carbon that end up in the Arctic, and gas flares in countries near the Arctic comprise the likely missing source.

To achieve a more accurate picture of the gas flares near the Arctic, researchers used night lights satellite data from NASA-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Department of Defense Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite over four known oil extraction sites and were able to pinpoint the solar flares by excluding light produced from electricity in nearby towns and roads.

When Fu added the gas flare locations into a model, the team could reproduce the amount of black carbon over the Arctic region that the measurements from ground stations and aircraft said should be there. This research is a good demonstration of how satellite data and modeling are especially useful when combined together.

“There are uncertainties in applying emission factors,” said Fu. “Modeling results have shown the role of black carbon in Arctic region and caused ice melting should be further studied.”  He also pointed out other sources other than gas flaring such as ship and port emissions are necessary to estimate.


CEE Professor Chris Cherry Publishes New Research on e-Bike Bikeshare System

chris_cherry_cee130CEE Professor Chris Cherry is one of four authors of research published in the June 2016 issue of Transportation Research: Part C, an international scholarly journal that addresses development, applications, and implications of technology in the field of transportation. The article, entitled “Factors influencing the choice of shared bicycles and shared electric bikes in Beijing,” discusses the results of a bikeshare experiment in Beijing.

Electric bikes (e-bikes) have limited integration into bikeshare systems, but are seen by many as the next technological advance. This is the only study of its kind to introduce the concept of large-scale e-bikeshare and to investigate the factors influencing the choice to use such as system in large markets like China. It used a novel stated preference approach to investigate a new bikeshare market, and quantifies the environmental variables, like weather and air pollution, that influence demand that are often discounted in existing studies.

“Including e-bikes in a bikeshare system could change the way bikeshare systems interface with other modes of transportation,” says Cherry. “E-bikes are more attractive for many types of trips and environmental conditions and could make bikeshare attractive to transportation users, ultimately increasing the performance of the bikeshare system.”

To read the entire research paper, click here.


CEE Graduate Student Wins Lifesavers Essay Contest and Receives Traffic Safety Scholarship

Reception Group ShotCEE graduate student Kwaku Boakye recently participated in the Lifesavers Conference, which is the premier U.S. highway safety meeting dedicated to reducing the tragic toll of deaths and injuries on our nation’s roadways.

As part of the conference, participants competed in an essay competition. Boakye was chosen as one of the 30 winners of the Traffic Safety Scholarships from participants across Universities in the U.S. and Canada to receive a $1,000 award.

The essay topic addressed how his field of study could be used to address the problem of deaths and injuries in motor vehicle crashes. As a transportation engineering student, his answer included discussion of design of safer infrastructure and incorporating road safety features into land-use, as well as transport planning, improvement in vehicle safety features, improvement of post-crash care for injured victims and public awareness and road safety education.

“Getting the opportunity to participate in this year’s lifesavers conference was an exciting and learning experience for me,” he said. “Not only did I get the chance to meet professionals in the transportation industry but the conference also provided me the avenue to learn about innovative research ideas, best practices, and a common goal of saving lives.”

Boakye said that the technical sessions were especially engaging and educational, and he enjoyed the discussions about how road safety education programs together with the media, enforcement agencies, the community and employers all have a big role to play. He is already looking forward to Lifesavers 2017 in North Carolina.


Environmental Engineering Student Wins Prestigious Award to Pursue Biofuel Research

hannah_woo_2014UT Civil and Environmental Engineering doctoral student Hannah Woo was recently honored as one of ninety students in the United States and Canada to receive a $15,000 Scholar Award from the Philanthropic Educational Organization Sisterhood.

Woo focuses on environmental issues while studying under Governor’s Chair for Environmental Biotechnology Terry Hazen.

Specifically, she utilizes the latest DNA sequencing technology to identify and investigate microbes with plant-degrading enzymes in the deep ocean. Those enzymes benefit biofuels research by helping break down the waste product—known as lignin—resulting from the manufacture of such fuels.

“This award is an amazing honor,” said Woo, who also holds a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship. “I feel very fortunate to be recognized for my accomplishments and potential this early in my scientific career.”

The PEO Sisterhood was founded January 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College as a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women.

The awards were established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women of the United States and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree at an accredited college or university.

Recipients are chosen for their high level of academic achievement and their potential for having a positive impact on society, with priority given to women who are well established in their programs, study, or research.

Hydraulics and Sedimentation Laboratory Featured in Hydrolink Magazine

Thanos PapanicolaouThanos Papanicolaou, Professor and Henry Goodrich Chair of Excellence in Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director of the Hydraulics and Sedimentation Laboratory (HSL) has written an article for Hydrolink magazine about the HSL lab. The article titled “HSL – A Premier Laboratory for State, Regional and Global Research in Hydrolics and Sedimentation Engineering” discusses the features and uses of this state-of-the-art lab.

The research at HSL concentrates on the mechanisms of bank erosion and the role of soil, temperature changes and vegetation in this process. It’s focused on understanding the source and transport of sediment and nutrients in intensively managed landscapes. Already, the recently opened lab has fostered new areas of partnership with Tennessee Valley Authority on water and dam operations, as well as with ORNL on biogeochemical cycles and hydropower energy. Additionally, it’s gaining attention internationally through partnerships with public and private institutions in Australia, New Zealand, India and Europe.

“HSL with the help of several individuals within the department of CEE, COE and beyond has risen to a level of excellence,” said Papanicolaou. “The lab is suited to address statewide problems related to water resources engineering, agricultural engineering, and issues of national importance such as the hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, nutrient dynamics and infrastructure issues.”

CEE Graduate Student Receives Research Funding from National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes

Ththom_epps_cropom Epps, CEE graduate student, will be heading to Australia this summer to conduct his research, thanks to funding he received by the National Science Foundation’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes. Epps’s proposal was one of the 40,000 the foundation receives each year for research, education and training projects, of which only about 11,000 are funded.

Epps’s research involves the development of spatial analyses using GIS and Python scripting to better assess how impervious surfaces are connected in urban watersheds along piped stormwater drainage networks.  He is exploring different ways to assess this connectivity through methods that relate how runoff pathways effect measured runoff and water quality observations made in the stream.  By connecting the flowpath information with differences in stream quality, he will be able to determine critical source areas in the watershed that contribute most to runoff production and non-point source pollution. These areas can then be targeted for disconnected by employing infiltrative green infrastructure based on science instead of the currently utilized empirical methods.

“I am humbled and excited to have been chosen by the NSF to take my research onto the international stage to work with some of the best stormwater engineers in the world,” he said. “I am especially thankful to have the opportunity to strengthen and grow the existing relationship that Professor Hathaway has forged through his own research and collaboration with our Australian counterparts, and I am glad to be representing the University of Tennessee by conducting my research Down Under.

“ This program will allow me to validate models I have been developing that will help cities determine where green infrastructure installations such as bioretention areas can be placed within the urban landscape to best address runoff quantity and water quality issues in urban streams.”

CEE Professor Jon Hathaway was recently awarded the prestigious NSF CAREER award and cites Epps’s work as an integral part of the award. “Thom’s research functioned as a proof of concept in my CAREER award proposal, and offers a novel approach to improve watershed restoration and management,” said Hathaway. “This program gives us a jump start on the CAREER project by allowing Thom access to a unique experimental watershed worldwide to test and refine his programs. This honor is well deserved and I have no doubt he will represent the University well with our Australian colleagues.”

Assistant Professor Nicholas Wierschem Named ExCEEd 2016 Teaching Fellow by ASCE

????????????????????????????????????Assistant Professor Nicholas Wierschem was recently named an ExCEEd 2016 Teaching Fellow by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Wierschem will attend the ASCE ExCEEd Teaching Workshop at the United States Military Academy this summer. This is a six-day workshop specifically designed to help civil engineering educators improve their teaching abilities. “I am very excited to be named an ExCEEd 2016 Teaching Fellow and be able to participate in the ExCEEd workshop,” he said.  “This will be a great opportunity for me to hone my teaching skills in an environment specifically designed for Civil Engineering educators.”

Assistant Professor Tim Truster Receives 2016 Air Force Research Lab Summer Faculty Fellowship

Timothy TrusterAssistant Professor Tim Truster was recently awarded a 2016 Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Summer Faculty Fellowship. This award allows for a 9-week stay at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base AFRL in the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. Truster will be working with two AFRL staff member scientists to conduct research on crystal plasticity modeling of microtextured regions in Ti-6242 Alloy.

Professor Thanos Papanicolaou Co-Directs Intensely Managed Landscapes Critical Zone Observatory

Thanos PapanicolaouProfessor Thanos Papanicolaou is co-director of an interdisciplinary team of researchers from nine universities working with farmers to study land use impact, with eye on food and water security, and environmental sustainability. The team runs this Intensely Managed Landscapes Critical Zone Observatory (IML-CZO), which is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation. The observatory focuses on areas in the upper-Midwest where human activities have drastically changed the land over time.

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