Research Projects

This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. You can browse all the projects, or view only projects in the following categories:

Agricultural

 

Design and development of a low pressure drop and low flow rate airflow sensor

Research categories:  Agricultural, Electronics, Environmental Science, Industrial Engineering, Innovative Technology/Design, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Professor: Jiqin (Jee-Chin) Ni
Preferred major(s): Agricultural, mechanical, or electronic engineering
Desired experience:   Laboratory and hands-on experience on mechanical and basic electronic work.
Number of positions: 1

Measuring low rate of airflow with low pressure drop is important for some high quality research projects. However, commercially available sensors for these measurements are either expensive or not highly accurate. This project will involve designing an innovative airflow sensor that is suitable for low pressure drop (e.g., <50 Pa) and low flow rate (e.g., <50 mL per hour) airflow sensor. The principle of the sensor can be mechanical, electronic, or combination of the both. A workable prototype sensor based on the new design will also be built. The sensor will provide output signals that can be acquired to a computer for on-line and continuous airflow monitoring. The successful design can be disclosed as an invention to Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization.

 

Enhancing hardwood regeneration with select seedlings, fertilization and deer exclusion

Research categories:  Agricultural, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Forestry and Natural Resources
Professor: Michael Jenkins
Preferred major(s): Forestry, wildlife, or similar discipline
Desired experience:   Tree identification (dendrology), forest measurements
Number of positions: 1

The successful establishment and growth of planted seedlings is critical to forest restoration. Improved techniques are needed to increase the survival of seedlings under intense competition and herbivore pressure. In 2008, a study was initiated to examine the how seedling quality, slow release fertilization, and deer exclusion influence the growth and survival of hardwood seedlings. This study will help managers and landowners better understand the benefits of fencing, fertilization, and genetic improvement on four major timber species (red and white oak, black cherry, black walnut) in hardwood forests. We seek an undergraduate researcher to help remeasure seedlings, analyze data, and prepare a manuscript for publication.

 

Experimental Characterization and Modeling of Energy Efficient Fluid Supply Systems

Research categories:  Agricultural, Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ABE / ME
Professor: Andrea Vacca
Preferred major(s): ME - AAE - ABE
Desired experience:   Required class: fluid mechanics Preferred course work: hydraulic systems - fluid power Preferred programming skills: labview - simulink or amesim
Number of positions: 1

This project will consider a particular design of a fluid supply system (for a high pressure application or for a low-pressure automotive application), and will focus on its characterization on following aspect: energy efficiency (evaluation of source of power loss) and noise emission (evaluation of noise radiated by the system).

The student will learn how to model and experimentally characterize fluid power systems.

 

P-Band Satellite Remote Sensing Antenna

Research categories:  Agricultural, Aerospace Engineering, Electronics, Environmental Science, Mechanical Systems, Physical Science
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: James Garrison
Preferred major(s): AAE,ECE,ME,Physics
Desired experience:   Basic understanding of electromagnetism is desired, but not required. Experience with electronic hardware, either academically or through extracurricular activities (e.g. amateur radio, robotic competitions, etc … ), is strongly desired. Experience with metal fabrication is also strongly required.
Number of positions: 2

This project will build an antenna for receiving satellite transmissions in P-band (225-390 MHz). We are using these signals as a source of illumination in a “bistatic” radar configuration, comparing the direct signal observed along a line-of-sight to the satellite, with the scattered signal reflected from the land surface. Theory suggests that we can use this comparison to estimate the water content within the top 1 m of the soil (called the Root-Zone Soil Moisture, RZSM). This is a very important quantity for understanding the transportation of water from the soil into plant roots, and this measurement has applications to monitoring agricultural production and climate change. The project will require the design of an antenna for a specific satellite frequency, based upon an amateur radio handbook. Mechanical design and fabrication is also very important as the antenna will be installed outdoors and must withstand extreme weather (rain, snow, ice), large temperature ranges, and exposure to wildlife.

 

Quantification of metabolic rates in photosynthetic organisms for production of renewable chemicals

Research categories:  Agricultural, Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: John Morgan
Preferred major(s): Chemical Engineering or Biochemistry
Desired experience:   knowledge of biochemistry, enzyme kinetics, mass balances
Number of positions: 1

The overall reserach aim is to understand how metabolic pathways in photosynthetic organisms respond to changes in environmental stimuli. In this project, the student will participate in experiments in which microalgae are fed isotopically labeled substrates. The rates of conversion of these intermediates will be analyzeded by liquid chromatagraphy coupled to mass spectrometry. The specific aim of this project is the understanding of how photosynthetic metabolism responds to environmental changes such as light wavelength and intensity. This knowldege is critical to rationally design metabolic pathways for production of renewable chemicals.