Each year, the Summer Scholars Program awards funding to a select group of rising juniors and seniors from across Tufts academic disciplines, to carry out ten-week independent research projects. This summer, we’ll be profiling three engineering students as they work on their projects.
Name: Jenny Skerker
Hometown: Lexington, MA
Major: Environmental engineering, E17
Faculty mentor: Associate Professor John Durant
Project: Over the last several years, you might have seen a Tufts RV driving around Boston. That RV, operated by Tufts CEE graduate students and equipped with fast-response air pollution monitoring equipment, was collecting data on air quality throughout the city. Skerker will bring some of that data into an analysis program called AERMOD to model air dispersal patterns from the northbound and southbound Central Artery Tunnel exits beneath downtown Boston — a particular focus that hasn’t been studied before. “My question that I’ll be trying to answer,” Skerker says, “is: where is this pollution going [when it exits the tunnel]? Does it affect neighboring communities? What’s the downwind direction?”
More information: Big road blues
Congratulations to Civil and Environmental Engineering doctoral candidate Tyler Marcet, who won Geosyntec’s seventh annual student paper contest for 2016. The contest is open to graduate students attending select universities in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Denmark, and it “recognizes and rewards students performing cutting-edge research related to the assessment and treatment of chemical contaminants in soil and groundwater.”
Marcet’s winning paper was titled “Impacts of Low Temperature Thermal Treatment on the Activity of PCE-to-ethane Dechlorinating Consortium.”
Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor and Chair Kurt Pennell has been elected fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for “his contributions to the development and advancement of in situ remediation technologies designed to treat contaminated soil and groundwater.” Fewer than 3.5% of ASCE members hold the honor of being an ASCE Fellow. Pennell’s research has advanced the fundamental understanding and mathematical modeling of contaminant fate and transport in porous media, including the processes governing organic vapor sorption, deposition of engineered nanomaterials, and alteration of soil-water relationships in the presence of surfactant adjuvants. Learn more about his work at http://engineering.tufts.edu/cee/sustainabilitylab/.
Chameleon with fly on tongue
Associate Professor Luis Dorfmann contributed to research that built a mathematical model to explain the dynamics of the quick release of a chameleon’s tongue. The model could potentially have applications in designing elastic materials. Read the article from BBC News and the full paper as published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A.
Professor Dan Kuchma, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Dan Kuchma discussed offshore installations and siting as part of the 2016 Wind Energy Research Workshop, sponsored by National Science Foundation, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Tufts University, and UMass Lowell which was held March 15-17.
Kurt Pennell, Professor and Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Engineered nanoparticles could improve oil and gas recovery by acting as contrast agents to detect, image, or modify subsurface conditions of oil and gas reservoirs. However, nanoparticle mobility can be limited by saline solutions and porous materials. Chemistry Views magazine reports on Professor Kurt Pennell and colleagues’ examination of the ability of polymers and surfactants to enhance the mobility of polymer-coated magnetite nanoparticles.
Improved Mobility of Magnetite Nanoparticles at High Salinity with Polymers and Surfactants,
Anthony A. Kmetz, Matthew D. Becker, Bonnie A. Lyon, Edward Foster, Zheng Xue, Keith P. Johnston, Linda M. Abriola, Kurt D. Pennell, Energy Fuels 2016.
Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths
Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths, a professor Tufts University School of Medicine, adjunct professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and former chair of the EPA’s Drinking Water Committee, Science Advisory Board, says when it comes to tracking lead, he says, “there’s no way you can say we’re doing an adequate job.”
The Environmental Protection Agency requires utilities to test water for high levels of lead, but “what’s clear to us now is that the amount of lead testing that’s being done isn’t enough, and the method itself isn’t very good,” Griffiths says. “Things can fall through the cracks when it comes to what the state has the capacity to do.”
Read more about lead contamination and testing in Mother Jones.
Linda Abriola, Civil and Environmental Engineering
University Professor Linda Abriola was named one of five Science Envoys by the U.S. Department of State.
As a Science Envoy, Abriola will engage internationally at the citizen and government levels to develop partnerships, improve collaboration, and forge mutually beneficial relationships between other nations and the United States to stimulate increased scientific cooperation and foster economic prosperity. Science Envoys travel as private citizens and help inform the White House, the Department of State, and the scientific community about potential opportunities for cooperation.
Abriola will focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and engineering in the Middle East and North Africa and South and Central Asia.
Professor Steven Chapra, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Steven Chapra received the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute’s 2016 Wesley W. Horner Award for his paper “Sed2K: Modeling Lake Sediment Diagenesis in a Management Context.” Chapra also received this award in 2015, making him only one of two first-author recipients who has received the award in consecutive years. The paper, co-authored with Rasika K. Gawde, Martin T. Auer, Rakesh K. Gelda, and Noel R. Urban, was considered to have “the most valuable contribution to the environmental engineering profession” in the past year.
Daniele Lantagne, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Assistant Professor Daniele Lantagne comments on a new PLoS study by Yale researchers that suggests if United Nations peacekeeping troops had taken a $1 antibiotic pill before they were deployed to Haiti, it may well have prevented the 2010 cholera outbreak. “Based on DNA evidence, this outbreak was probably started by one or very few infected, asymptomatic individuals,” says Lantagne.