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:

Environmental Science


Contaminant transport in streams and rivers: streambeds, biofilms and water quality.

Research categories:  Agricultural, Computational/Mathematical, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Antoine Aubeneau
Preferred major(s): Civil Eng (Env. or Hydro area), EEE, EAPS, ABE, Forestry and Nat. Res., College of Agriculture (in general)
Number of positions: 2

Streams transport the products of erosion and weathering, as well as anthropogenic materials collected from industrial, agricultural and urban environments. While waterways are efficient transport networks, they are also important biogeochemical filters . Streams are known to efficiently retain and transform organic and inorganic nutrients. Microbial biofilms at the sediment-water interface purify the flowing freshwater. Streams are complex heterogeneous systems characterized by a tight coupling between the physical and biological template they inundate. This project will shed light on how dissolved chemical species move through riverbed sediments and their associated biofilms, with a focus on the nitrogen cycle and nitrate pollutions. Eutrophication of freshwater caused by fertilizers is a major societal issue. High loads of plant food lead to periodic oxygen depletion in receiving water bodies, causing major ecological and economical disasters. This project will inform sustainable management of water resources by providing a physically based explanation for the transport of solutes. The SURF students will work in the laboratory and/or in the field and they will acquire the hands on skills needed to complete a research project.

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Metal-exchanged Zeolites for NOx Pollution Abatement Catalysis

Research categories:  Chemical, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: Rajamani Gounder
Preferred major(s): Chemical Engineering
Number of positions: 1

Copper- and iron-exchanged zeolite catalysts are used commercially for the abatement of nitrogen oxide pollutants in lean-burn diesel engine exhaust. The structure and density of metal ion active sites in zeolites depends on the distribution of framework aluminum atoms that serve as anchoring points for the active metal species. This research project will involve investigating methods to synthesize and control the arrangement of framework aluminum atoms in zeolites, and to characterize the aluminum distribution using metal ion-exchange techniques. These findings will be used to tailor the structure and reactivity of catalysts used for environmental protection and pollution abatement strategies in diesel vehicles.