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Research Projects

Projects are posted below; new projects will continue to be posted through February. To learn more about the type of research conducted by undergraduates, view the 2017 Research Symposium Abstracts.

This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. Please note that it is not a complete list of every SURF project. Undergraduates will discover other projects when talking directly to Purdue faculty.

You can browse all the projects on the list, or view only projects in the following categories:



Evaluation of the 1:2:1 Curriculum Project

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Chemistry and Engineering Education
Professor: George Bodner
Preferred major(s): chemistry or biochemistry

We are trying to understand the impact of a total revision of the chemistry courses taken by biology majors. Does it improve performance, attitude, retention or transfer of knowledge? Does it help students link more like a practicing biologist/chemist?


Modeling and Measuring Lead in Residential Hot Water Heaters and Drinking Water

Research categories:  Civil and Construction, Environmental Science, Other
School/Dept.: Environmental and Ecological Engineering and Civil Engineering
Professor: Inez Hua
Preferred major(s): Environmental and Ecological Engineering, Civil Engineering with Environmental Engineering concentration
Desired experience:   Prefer student who has had previous experience in a 'wet' lab, and studying engineering applications of chemistry. Prefer student with strong academic preparation (course work) in chemistry and environmental engineering.

In recent years, the presence of lead (Pb) in US drinking water supplies has emerged as a critical human health issue. This is due to the fact that a significant portion of pipes in the distribution system and fittings within premise plumbing contain lead which can then be released into the drinking water supply. To limit lead exposure, the US EPA set a 15 μg/L action limit for lead for drinking water through the Lead and Copper rule in 19911. Over the last 20 years, two major incidents in Flint, Michigan beginning in 2014 and Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2004 have magnified this issue as lead concentrations in these cities drinking waters began to exceed regulatory limits. Lead concentrations increased in these waters due to changes in the water supply or how the water was disinfected (moving from free chlorine to chloramine use). In Indiana, similar issues regarding lead contamination are of concern since approx. 8% of large drinking water distribution networks in the state contain lead pipes4. In fact, this percentage may be even greater when considering smaller distribution networks as well. To address this problem, certain Indiana municipalities reported that lead contamination is minimized due to their high hardness waters which induce pipe scaling whereas other municipalities have corrosion inhibitors. While this may solve some of the problems, it is clear that a greater understanding is needed to evaluate how lead enters drinking waters in the distribution system and subsequently reaches tap water supplies. One major unexplored area includes our understanding of how lead is affected within residential water heating systems, which are typically found in residential buildings to supply heated water to its residents. An undergraduate researcher will work on batch and flow-through experiments to characterize lead chemistry in systems that model residential homes.


Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) / nanoHUB

Research categories:  Chemical, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Other
Professor: NCN Faculty
Preferred major(s): Electrical, Computer, Materials, Chemical or Mechanical Engineering; Chemistry; Physics; Computer Science; Math
Desired experience:   Serious interest in and enjoyment of programming; programming skills in any language. Physics coursework.

NCN is looking for a diverse group of enthusiastic and qualified students with a strong background in engineering, chemistry or physics who can also code in at least one language (such as Python, C or MATLAB) to work on research projects that involve computational simulations. Selected students will typically work with a graduate student mentor and faculty advisor to create or improve a simulation tool that will be deployed on nanoHUB. Faculty advisors come from a wide range of departments: ECE, ME, Civil E, ChemE, MSE, Nuclear E, Chemistry and Math, and projects may be multidisciplinary. To learn about this year’s research projects along with their preferred majors and requirements, please go to the website noted below.

If you are interested in working on a nanoHUB project in SURF, you will need to follow the instructions below. Be sure you talk about specific NCN projects directly on your SURF application, using the text box for projects that most interest you.

1) Carefully read the NCN project descriptions (website available below) and select which project(s) you are most interested in and qualified for. It pays to do a little homework to prepare your application.

2) Select the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) / nanoHUB as one of your top choices.

3) In the text box for Essay #2, where you describe your specific research interests, qualifications, and relevant experience, you may discuss up to three NCN projects that most interest you. Please rank your NCN project choices in order of interest. For each project, specify the last name of the faculty advisor, the project, why you are interested in the project, and how you meet the required skill and coursework requirements.

For more information and examples of previous research projects and student work, click on the link below.