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


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.


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.


Quantifying Groundwater/Surface-water Interactions in Tributaries to the Wabash River Using Radon-222 and Other Environmental Isotopes

Research categories:  Environmental Science
School/Dept.: College of Science
Professor: Marty Frisbee
Preferred major(s): EAPS, Hydrology-related, Geology-related
Desired experience:   Knowledge of hydrology, geology, geochemistry. Experience in field sampling techniques and lab analytical techniques preferred but not required.
Number of positions: 1

Surface water systems (streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands) are supported by a variety of sources of water representing a variety of flowpaths including overland flow, flow through the soil, flow through shallow bedrock, and deeper groundwater flow. Groundwater is the primary source of baseflow in most forested and pristine watersheds and plays an important role in aquatic ecosystem structure. However, it is very difficult to quantify the role of groundwater in agriculturally dominated watersheds because, in the case of tile-drained watersheds, a portion of the flowpath distribution that would naturally discharge to the surface-water system has been greatly modified and perhaps short-circuited.

In this project, the student will investigate groundwater/surface-water interactions using radon-222 and other tracers across multiple drainage scales in tributaries to the Wabash River in northern Indiana.