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CEE Professor John Schwartz Publishes Results of Research Project Focused on Rural Appalachia Region’s Water Access

CEE professor John Schwartz has published a paper about a rural Appalachian region’s access to clean water. The Appalachia Community Health and Disaster Readiness Project was a 3-year funded research project by the US DHHS and headed up by the College of Nursing, partnered with the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, and the College of Architecture and Design. Additional authors include Erin Arcipowski, doctoral student in the College of Nursing; Lisa Davenport, project director for the Appalachia Community Health and Disaster Readiness Project; Meghan Hayes, Clinical Instructor in the College of Nursing and Project Manager for the Project; and Tracy Nolan, Directory of Community Outreach at Red Bird Mission in southeastern Kentucky, the region in focus.

The research began with the testing of collected water samples, which revealed 15 of 16 sites contained fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, or both. Because of the findings, the team and community key informants collaboratively developed interventions, such as relaying findings to community leaders, developing a WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene)-related education program, and improving access to clean, safe water through the design and construction of a water kiosk. With the design and construction of a water kiosk, Jenney Retherford, PhD, in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department managed two groups of senior design students collaborating with architectural and nursing students during this effort. Outcome of interventions included greater awareness and knowledge of WASH related topics, improved access to clean water sources, and sustainable solutions to enhance overall quality of life, health and well-being.

Click here to read the full research paper.

CEE Doctoral Student Receives First Place in Student Poster Competition at UT Watershed Symposium

Micah Wyssmann, CEE doctoral student whose research is in water resources, won first place at the 6th Annual UT Watershed Symposium held on September 26. The interdisciplinary symposium received about 15 poster entries from CEE, Architecture and Landscape Architecture departments and UTIA. Wyssmann’s poster was entitled “Modeling the Stream Restoration Impacts of Boulders: Applying the Bedload Virtual Velocity Concept,” which focused on a numerical model that he is developing with his advisor, CEE Professor Thanos Papanicolaou.

The goal of this research is to improve the physical understanding of sediment transport so that we can develop predictive tools that can function in different types of rivers and streams. In mountainous streams in particular, such as in the nearby Smoky Mountains, sediment movement is difficult to predict because large boulders modify flow characteristics and can provide shelter to mobile sediment. Mimicking this natural environment, stream restoration practicioners have also artificially placed boulders to manage flow and sediment transport in a river reach. Wyssmann’s hope in the development of this model, is to simultaneously provide new scientific insights into sediment transport mechanics and produce a practical prediction tool that can be used by river restoration engineers.

CEE Professor Thanos Papanicolauo’s Research Featured in Editors’ Vox, Perspectives on Earth and space science: a blog from the AGU’s journal editors

CEE Professor Thanos Papanicolaou’s research on soil in U.S. Midwest, which is known for intensive agriculture and high crop production,  is featured on Editors’ Vox, Perspectives on Earth and space science: a blog from the AGU’s journal editors. In the post entitled “Stories on the Soil,” Papanicolaou outlines how his research seeks to unravel how past human activities and climate have led to the current state of soils used for agriculture, how current activities continue to affect the soils, and how future climate is likely to interact with human activities to affect future soil states. Included in the blog post is a link to a video at Clear Creek in Iowa, which features a typical rainfall experiment designed to specifically mimic natural rainfall effects on landscapes with different soil types, management, and topographic properties.

CEE Assistant Professor Jon Hathaway Partners with UT College of Social Work on NSF Funded Stormwater Research

Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Jon Hathaway and U.T. College of Social Work Professor Lisa Reyes Mason, are investigators on a $1.8M grant from the National Science Foundation.The multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional grant, titled Overcoming social and technical barriers for the broad adoption of smart stormwater systems, will be led by the University of Michigan. The proposal grew from a concern about urban flooding and climate change and will investigate social and technical barriers to the adoption of smart stormwater systems in four cities (including Knoxville) in a three-year study.

The goal of the project is to enable the next generation of smart and connected stormwater systems, which use sensors to anticipate changes in weather and the urban landscape, and adapt their operation using active flow controls (e.g. gates, valves, pumps). This will drastically improve community resilience to floods and water quality impairments, which have been increasing due to expanding urbanization and changing weather patterns.

Equipping stormwater systems with low-cost sensors and controllers will provide a cost-effective solution to transform infrastructure from static to adaptive, permitting it to be instantly “redesigned” to respond to changing system needs, as well as help minimize impact on aging infrastructure.

“Civil engineering, by its nature, has a big impact on humanity,” said Hathaway. “We do work that has an impact on society, so I think having our colleges work together is a natural pairing, and one with real world consequence. Together, we can hopefully break some of the barriers that have kept this idea from becoming adapted in a more widespread way. Water issues are an increasingly important topic, and one that our colleges are poised to tackle.”

“Understanding the social aspects of smart stormwater is a brand new area,” said Reyes Mason, adding some of the questions guiding the research: “What does the public think about these systems? What are the barriers to adoption? How do experiences with flooding or trust in local government matter? By forming an Advisory Committee and carrying out survey research in different cities, we hope to answer these questions and start to identify directions for policy and decision making in this critical area.”

This research proposal was in part motivated by the Grand Challenge of the National Academy of Engineering to “restore and improve urban infrastructure” as well as the College of Social Work’s Grand Challenge, which is to “create social responses to a changing environment, and aims to lay a foundation to empower communities to transform the way they handle runoff and flooding.

Environmental Engineering Doctoral Student Jiani Tan Receives A&WMA Scholarship

Jiani Tan (3rd from left) and Laura Wilson of Vanderbilt University (2nd from left) receive the A&WMA scholarship presented by Andrea R. Gardiner, Southern section Chair and Scott Freeburn, A&WMA President.

Environmental Engineering doctoral student Jiani Tan was awarded one of two A&WMA (Air & Waste Management Association) Southern Section Ph.D. Scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year.

Tan was invited to speak at the Southern Section Annual Conference in Nashville on September 20-21 and gave a brief summary of her current and past research on air pollution modelling. She talked about her previous study on the assessment of the cost and benefit in air quality control and introduced her current study on global deposition of nitrogen and sulfur.

The $1,200 scholarship helps fulfill the mission of A&WMA, which is to assist in the professional development and critical environmental decision-making of its members to benefit society.


E-Bikes Add to Walking and Conventional Bicycles as Forms of Exercise

Knoxville, Tenn – Researchers from the Southeastern Transportation Center (STC) in Knoxville, including CEE Professor Chris Cherry, have published a paper in the Journal of Transport & Health that finds that e-bikes still provide health-enhancing physical activity, much like walking and riding conventional bicycles.

Some have suggested that e-bikes are “cheater bikes” compared with conventional bicycles. This paper helps expand the notion that e-bikes can in fact be useful machines for exercise, not simply faster transportation.

The study describes field trials of 17 users of a bikesharing system at the University of Tennessee and investigates physical activity metrics on identical trips made by these three different modes of transportation. Heart rates and human power output were monitored along with the GPS for the hilly 4.43 km route. The e-bike results showed that riders still get moderate-intensity, and even at times vigorous-intensity, physical activity depending on the terrain.

“Reasons people use e-bikes are to travel farther and reduce the very hard work associated with cycling hilly terrain. E-bikes moderate the spikes in exercise that turns away many non-athletic bicyclists while still providing much-needed moderate exercise levels for the whole trip”

While the study required users to choose the highest power setting, users can choose lower power settings to get even more exercise benefits from an e-bikes. As e-bikes become more popular in transportation systems and are adopted at higher rates, e-bike use can certainly contribute to meeting the physical activity recommendation of acquiring an equivalent of 150 minutes of modertate-intensity physical activity.

The Southeastern Transportation Center (STC) is a consortium of nine universities in US Department of Transportation Region 4; it is led by the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee. Operating under the theme Comprehensive Transportation Safety, STC funds research that improves public health and safety by reducing transportation-related fatalities and injuries. These Opportunity & Exploratory Grants provide faculty and students the opportunity to engage in safety-related research within their areas of interest and expertise. O&E Grants provide seed funding to explore new and emerging concepts, technologies, and methods with promising safety enhancement applications. All O&E Grants are competitively awarded.

Kristen Wyckoff’s Summer Studies in Beijing

After spending a summer in Beijing, China, as an EAPSI Fellow (East Asia Pacific Summer Institute), I can easily say it was one of the best and most

Jacob Gardner, Steven Anderson, Alex Titus, Courtney Wagner, Kristen Wyckoff, and Cecelia Springer outside the National Art Museum

productive summers I have ever had. The program brings a group of Americans over to various countries to work on a research topic of their choice. All projects for the China fellows were approved by both the National Science Foundation, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Since my academic advisor at The University of Tennessee has a contact at Tsinghua University in Beijing, I was able to use him as a host for my summer research. One of the attached pictures is of the three of us outside the School of Environment on Tsinghua University’s campus. This summer I took my stormwater, rooftop runoff research to a new level by adding locations in China. This work will be a part of my dissertation which I plan to defend in the next few months.
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CEE Professor Joshua Fu is Awarded the John D. Tickle Professorship

Joshua FuThe Tickle College of Engineering has awarded Professor Joshua Fu one of the first John D. Tickle Professorships for his exemplary scholarly research and publication record, as well as his teaching and service record. The professorship was created as a result of the investments made by John D. Tickle, a UT alumnus and graduate of Industrial Engineering, and his wife, Ann. Some of the Tickle’s other investments include investment in the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, the new engineering complex and the naming of our college.

“Joshua’s prolific and impactful scholarship related to air quality, energy and climate change over the past decade has elevated his own reputation as well as the reputation of the department as a whole,” said CEE Department Head Chris Cox. “I was so pleased that the college was able to recognize him as a Tickle Professor. Professorships play a vital role in retaining talented and successful faculty such as Joshua.”

Fu is a highly published faculty member and is engaged with researchers throughout the United States as well as internationally in studying the effects and impacts of air pollution and climate change,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the college. “The college is pleased to recognize his accomplishments with the John D. Tickle Professorship.”

The focus of Fu’s research work includes climatic changes, air pollution modeling, air quality impact assessments, the impacts of severe weather on health, the impacts of transportation planning and energy usage on air quality, land use (satellite applications) and emissions, diesel track emission effects, and energy optimization planning.

“It is my great honor to be named a John D. Tickle Professor,” said Fu. “I appreciate Mr. Tickle’s generosity and investments in our college and his devotion to the University of Tennessee. I have been a faculty in the department since 2000 and always treasure every growing opportunity that Dean Davis and my Department Head Chris Cox have provided over the years. Establishing scholarly research, making contributions to the literature, improving the quality of life (through better air quality), being inspired by other researchers, and educating students have brought me great joy. I look forward to working with wonderful students, colleagues, and researchers across our campus and across the nation and globe continuously.”

Fu is also an Inaugural Professor of the UT-ORNL Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education Energy Science and Engineering PhD program, Faculty Affiliate at the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, and holds a Joint Faculty Appointment in the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

El-adaway Named Fellow of the ASCE

Islam H. El-adaway

CEE Associate Professor Islam El-adaway was recently honored with the distinction of being named a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). This distinction is only granted to about one percent of the organization’s 150,000 members in the civil engineering profession.

El-adaway is also the Director of the Civil Infrastructure System-of-Systems Interdependency Laboratory (CI2SI-L), and his research focuses on mitigating the management challenges associated with the sustainability of infrastructure systems. In June he and CEE doctoral graduate Mohamed Saeid Eid were awarded the ASCE 2017 Journal of Management in Engineering Best Peer Reviewed Paper Award for their paper entitled “Sustainable Disaster Recover Decision-Making Support Tool: Integrating Economic Vulnerability into the Objective Functions of the Associated Stakeholders.” This research has implications for post-disaster recovery efforts in regard to reducing the economic vulnerability of the affected community.

ASCE stands at the forefront of a profession that plans, designs, constructs and operates society’s economic and social engine – the built environment – while protecting and restoring the natural environment. It is a leading provider of technical and professional conferences and continuing education, the world’s largest publisher of civil engineering content, and an authoritative source for codes and standards that protect the public.


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