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:


Analysis of Engineering Graduate Student Perceptions of the Necessary Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes for Career Success

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Engineering Education
Professor: Monica Cox
Preferred major(s): Engineering (any discipline), preferably, but not required
Desired experience:   Although no previous experience is required for this project, a student filling this role must be inquisitive, passionate about engineering and the ways in which engineers are trained, and highly disciplined and self-motivated with good time management skills. Basic computer skill competency is required (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, etc.).
Number of positions: 1

This research project seeks to further describe prior research on the significant knowledge, skills, and attributes that are required for engineering success as a Ph.D. in academic and industry careers. The scope of the research for the summer project will be interpreting survey results from current engineering Ph.D. students regarding their views on what skills will be necessary in their future desired career, and how well they feel they are prepared to perform those skills. This is important to the fields of engineering as a whole and Engineering Education as a discipline, because if Ph.D. students aren’t aware of the requirements of their future careers, and/or if they are not prepared to meet the expectations of their employers, then academic professional development strategies or engineering curriculum at the doctoral level needs to be reformed.

The undergraduate researcher’s contribution to this project will help a graduate student in Engineering Education collect and interpret data from this survey, as well as assist in creation of several deliverables. One such deliverable will be the creation of brief “industry report”-style pamphlets for outreach and education purposes. There is also potential for co-authorship on journal papers resulting from this research.


Analysis of Mechanics and Dynamics of Biopolymers in Living Cells

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computational/Mathematical
School/Dept.: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Taeyoon Kim
Preferred major(s): Biomedical engineering
Desired experience:   - Experience of computer coding using C or MATLAB - Experience of image analysis (preferred, not required) - Independent thinking and problem solving skills
Number of positions: 1

The project is involved with developing software that helps cell biologists and biophysicists to analyze microscope images taken from living cells. The function of the software is to automatically track individual biopolymers in the time-lapse images and calculate their contour length, location, and curvature so that their mechanical and dynamic behaviors can be evaluated without manual measurements. Since the biopolymers are highly dynamic and located in dense networks, these tasks are very challenging problems. To date, there is no software that can efficiently perform these functions, and thus successful development of the software will bring a large impact to relevant fields. Through the project, students will gain research experience of image analysis preferred by numerous laboratories for positions as graduate researchers and will have opportunities to actively collaborate with cell biologists in Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University.


Artificial Intelligence: Understanding and extending an implemented reasoning system

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor: Robert Givan
Preferred major(s): Any
Desired experience:   The ideal candidate will be very strong in both mathematical aptitude and computer programming skills. Candidate will learn the LISP programming language as well as formal mathematical logic. Ideal coursework background is ECE 368 and ECE 369. Candidates lacking this background may be considered but will spend more of the summer coming up to speed (perhaps even all of it).
Number of positions: 1

Humans mentally model complex and highly structured environments and effortlessly draw immediate conclusions from what they know about these environments. In this project, we have implemented a system capable of doing exactly these things, though not as well as humans. SURF researchers are invited to learn about this implementation, experiment with it, and propose/implement extensions to the system.

For project background information, go to this website:


Artificial vision with neural networks

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: BME
Professor: Eugenio Culurciello
Preferred major(s): BME, EE, ME
Desired experience:   skilled in programming, lua, torch, C
Number of positions: 1

Design an artificial vision system to learn from a dataset of images and report object class. Also learn actions in movies. ALso learn to play video games with q learning


Atomistic Simulations of Gold-Silicon Interface

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Chemical, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor: Michael Sangid
Desired experience:   Junior standing and ability to develop computer codes.
Number of positions: 1

The size of electronic devices has been decreasing steadily over the years and it is expected to continue that trend, as there is significant interest in the development to microelectronics and nanoelectronics for applications in the biomedical, sensing, data storage and high-performance computing fields, among others. With the increasing miniaturization of electronics, it is important to consider any effects that might happen in the interfaces at the nanometer scale, as the behavior of materials at this length scales may differ markedly from the behavior at the macroscopic scale. This project studies the interactions occurring in the interface between gold and silicon, materials selected due to their excellent properties as conductor and semiconductor, respectively, and their popularity in electronic circuits. The behavior of gold and silicon is expected to differ from the properties observed in the bulk and at larger scales, so it is crucial to analyze and understand the mechanisms of this behavior for the design and manufacture of microelectronic devices utilizing these materials. The research will involve Molecular Dynamics modeling of the gold-silicon interface. Additionally, this project will be complemented by other research opportunities in our lab.


CSS Explorer- a cyber-physical virtual reality environment for serious gaming

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: IE
Professor: Juan Wachs
Preferred major(s): Computer Science, Computer Graphics - Technology, Computer Engineering
Desired experience:   OpenGL, Java, C++. Experience in Computer Graphics is a MUST.
Number of positions: 1

The project consists of developing a virtual environment (using computer graphics) which represents a cyber physical system. The virtual environment is called CSS Explorer, and it is a tool for visualizing cyber-operations. It is composed of aggregated layers displaying information about the status of communication networks between the different components that constitute the networks, such as servers, physical locations of Air Force bases, tasks associated with a mission, etc.

This system will allow us to re-create cyber-attacks. Currently we have game based interfaces that we can use for interaction to respond to a simulated cyber-attack by identifying the threats and re-assigning cyber and
physical resources in order to keep the missions in place.


Catalysis in Petroleum Coking

Research categories:  Chemical
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: Enrico Martinez
Preferred major(s): Chemical Engineering, Chemistry
Desired experience:   Training in Chemical Reaction Engineering. Experience with Gas Chromatography is desirable.
Number of positions: 2

Petroleum Coking is a very relevant process in a crude oil refinery. The main objectives of this process are:
Recovery of lighter liquids and gasses from vacuum residue
Raw material is the bottoms of vacuum distillation, meaning larger amounts of contaminants.

Solid petroleum coke is a byproduct of the reaction.

Coking is a type of thermal cracking reaction usually performed on vacuum residue (bottoms from vacuum distillation). It breaks down larger hydrocarbons into smaller and more useful ones. The reaction can be conducted with or without a catalyst present and the main goal of our project is to test several types of catalysts to improve the yield of liquid hydrocarbon products.

The research is being done using the so called "Delayed Coking" process. Delayed coking takes the vacuum residues and heats them in a furnace before allowing the coking to take place in a coking drum. The process is semi-continuous because when one drum is full operation is switched over to another drum while the first one is cleaned. The typical Temperature is 482-516 degrees Celsius, while the pressure is 15-90 psig.

The experimental reaction system has already been setup in a lab at Forney Hall and is ready to be used in gathering data to develop kinetic models and screen different catalysts.


Center for Materials Under Extreme Environment (CMUXE) - Undergraduate research opportunities

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: NE and Center for Materials Under Extreme Environment
Professor: Sivanandan Harilal
Desired experience:   Minimum GPA 3.5
Number of positions: 3-5

The Center for Materials Under Extreme Environment (CMUXE) is looking for undergraduate research students for the following areas:

1. Ion beam and ultrafast laser beam nanostructuring
2. Characterization of ultrafast laser ablation plumes
3. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy
4. Computational modeling of laser and discharge produced plasma and fusion devices

Position is open to undergraduates in all engineering and science disciplines. High level commitments and participation in group meeting are compulsory. Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the center website below for further information.


Characterization of Stomatal Development Genes

Research categories:  Agricultural, Bioscience/Biomedical, Environmental Science, Life Science
School/Dept.: Horticulture
Professor: Mike Mickelbart
Preferred major(s): Biology, biochemistry, or related majors
Desired experience:   Biology and genetics
Number of positions: 1

Stomata are small pores on the surface of leaves that regulate gas exchange with the environment. The genetic determinants of stomatal density (SD) changes in response to intrinsic or extrinsic factors are largely unknown. We screened a large population of Arabidopsis thaliana and identified genetic regions correlated with differences in stomatal density. Within these genetic regions, we have selected candidate genes that may be involved in stomatal development. The goal of this summer project is to utilize plants that have mutations in genes of interest to determine if they affect stomatal development. Natural genetic variation will also be used to assess differences in expression of these genes in a diverse set of plant material. The student will gain experience in DNA and RNA isolation, gene expression, DNA sequencing, growth measurements, and leaf anatomical characterization using light microscopy.


Characterizing fiber reinforced composite materials

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Chemical, Civil and Construction, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor: Michael Sangid
Preferred major(s): AAE, ME, or MSE
Desired experience:   Willingness to do hands-on work
Number of positions: 2

We are looking for a motivated, hard-working student interested in experimental composite materials research. This position is on a team investigating fiber orientation and length measurements in thermoplastic composites. These long fiber composites have a direct application to replace steel and aluminum structural alloys in the aerospace and automotive industries. Our team is comprised of Pacific Northwest National Lab, Autodesk, Plasticomp, Magna, Toyota, University of Illinois, and Purdue. Applicants will work under the mentorship of a graduate student and faculty member. The position includes hands on specimen preparation, in the form of extracting and polishing samples for fiber orientation measurements and melting samples and isolating the pertinent fibers for length measurements. Applicants should be undergraduate students interesting in composite materials.


Cloud Computing Research

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor: Sanjay Rao
Preferred major(s): Computer Engineering or Computer Science
Desired experience:   Strong programming background. Courses like C-programming, Python programming (ECE 264, ECE 364) would be important (though strong programming background in 1 or 2 languages more important than which specific language). Background in topics like OS, Networking would be a plus.
Number of positions: 1 or 2

While cloud computing offers many attractive advantages, architecting latency sensitive cloud applications remains a challenge. In this project,you will conduct research on cutting-edge cloud technologies, and learn
about and experiment with real cloud platforms such as Amazon EC2.

We also have opportunities on research combining smartphones and the cloud.


Comparison of the Accuracy of Traffic Counting Devices

Research categories:  Civil and Construction
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: John Haddock
Preferred major(s): Civil Engineering
Desired experience:   n/a
Number of positions: 1

This project will compare three types of traffic counting devices to determine their accuracy in recording vehicle volume, speed and classification. Under guidance, the SURF student will conduct all of the research, including field tests, data compilation, statistical analysis and reporting of the results. This research will be valuable to traffic engineers and local transportation agencies.


Constructing Large Scale Representative Social Networks

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Educational Research/Social Science, Industrial Engineering, Life Science, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Mario Ventresca
Desired experience:   At least one student with object-oriented programming, data structures, algorithm analysis, as well as familiarity with at least basic discrete mathematics, statistics and probability (graph theory, distributions, hypothesis testing, regression, etc). Experience using MPI/parallel computation would be highly advantageous, but not necessary. Familiarity with Linux and R would also be useful. A student with a background in epidemiology or applied mathematics would also be very strongly considered.
Number of positions: 1-2

Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and LinkedIn are well known examples of cyber-social networks. However, social networks obviously exist outside of that domain and can represent the connections we make with the people around us. Unlike cyber-world social networks where the connections people make are fully known and observable, real-world networks must be inferred from limited statistical information as well as reasonable assumptions about human behavior. In both instances, a representative social network allows for the study of not only the network topological properties but also diffusive processes acting upon it, such as information spread, influence, disease, etc. There exists a gap in our ability to reconstruct real-world networks from partially observed, noisy and limited data.

This project will aid in developing efficient and scalable algorithms for constructing real-world social network representations at different scales and abstractions (up to global). An extensive literature review of existing capabilities and known social behaviors/mixing patterns will be conducted as part of the project, as will data acquisition and analysis.


Continuous Analysis of Many CAMeras (CAM2)

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor: Yung-Hsiang Lu
Preferred major(s): Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   Computer Programming (C, C++, or Python)
Number of positions: 2

The project will retrieve data from publicly available cameras on the Internet and analyze the data. The system currently has more than 30,000 cameras worldwide. Cloud instances are used to analyze the data. The project intends to answer the following questions:

(1) Can cloud computing handle the large amount of streaming data? What parameters would affect the performance?

(2) How to reduce the cost in using cloud instances when analyzing the geographically distributed streaming data?

(3) What useful information can be obtained by analyzing the data from thousands of cameras simultaneously?


Crystal Engineering of Organic Crystals

Research categories:  Chemical, Computational/Mathematical, Material Science and Engineering, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Industrial & Physical Pharmacy
Professor: Tonglei Li
Preferred major(s): chemistry, chemical engineering
Number of positions: 1 or 2

Crystallization of organic materials plays a central role in drug development. Mechanistic understanding of nucleation and crystal growth remains primitive and scantily developed despite decades of investigation. Of the same organic molecule, distinct crystal structures can be routinely formed. The intricacy of the so-called polymorphism largely originates from the rich and unpredictable supramolecular tessellations supported by intermolecular interactions. The subtleties in strength and directionality of the interactions are controlled by structural diversity and conformational flexibility of molecule. In fact, it is these molecular interactions that make organic crystal structures fascinating as it is unlikely to predict crystal structures of a given organic molecule a priori.

In this project, the student will learn how to grow drug crystals, characterize them, and connect the structural outcome with crystallization conditions. It is expected that the student will conduct both experimental and computational studies in order to understand formation mechanisms of drug crystals.

More information:


CyberMech: A Novel Run-Time Substrate for Cyber-Mechanical Systems

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Arun Prakash
Preferred major(s): Structural Engineering, Civil, Mechanical, Aerospace, Computer Science, Electrical
Desired experience:   A strong background in the following areas is preferred: Mathematics, Computer Programming, Mechanics, Physics
Number of positions: 1

This project is also a joint collaborative project between myself, Prof. Shirley Dyke from Mech Eng., and faculty from Computer Science at Washington University (St. Louis). In this project, we are developing a computational platform that enables Real-Time Hybrid Simulations (RTHS) of complex structural systems. As opposed to a pure numerical simulation, a hybrid simulation is one where we have a physical specimen of a particular structural component (say a magneto-rheological damper - that is used to control vibrations of structures such as buildings, bridges, automobiles, air-planes, or space structures), that is combined with a numerical model of the entire structure (in real-time) to simulate how this component would behave / control the oscillations of the full structure. This is a handy approach, because it is difficult and expensive to do actual full-scale testing of the component on large scale structures. The challenges associated with this project are first to devise effective coupling mechanisms that allow 'simulating' the physical component (MR damper) as if it were connected in-place within a large structure, and then to develop a computational platform that enables fast, real-time, control and testing of the component combined in different ways with the numerical model of the entire structure.


DARwIn Humanoid Robots

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor: Yung-Hsiang Lu
Preferred major(s): Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   Computer Programming (C or Python), Physics, Linear Algebra
Number of positions: 2

In the projects, we aim to answer these research questions:

(1) Can one DARwIn robot use the built-in cameras to recognize objects, use the on-board computer to decide how to lift objects, and then transport the objects? Figure 3 (a) shows an example.

(2) Can two DARwIn robots use the Wifi interface to communicate for lifting and transporting objects. Figure 3 (b) shows an example when two robots transport an object. In this example, the two robots move sideways. There are many other ways for the robots to move. For example, one robot walks forwards and the other robot walks backwards.

(3) How much energy does it take for computation and mechanical movements? What parameters affect the energy consumption? If the on-board computer is too slow, can offloading computation improve the speed in making decisions and thus reduce the energy consumption?


Design and evaluation of a data connection pathway and a new user interface between multiple online water quality models

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: ABE
Professor: Lawrence Theller
Preferred major(s): agricultural, natural resources or environmental engineering or software engineering or computer science
Desired experience:   One position is for a student interested in watershed scale management of soil erosion, pesticide loss in runoff, or nutrient management. One position is for a student with classwork or experience with at least *one* of these: HTML 5 development or REST Service - XML schema or Java applications or JavaScript web development or Android development.
Number of positions: 2

This team is investigating the possibility of creating water quality models which are programmed with open-source components (Web processing Services) that can read open format streaming data (Web Feature Services) from various servers, such as the EPA Exchange Network or USGS Realtime gauges. This team will be designing a web application, which is a server-side environmental analysis model. This model will use streaming REST data services as inputs and outputs into a database which then uses open-source software Geoserver to stream the results to the web to be displayed over a backdrop like Google Maps.
Students will work on a team which is testing the computational accuracy of some of our hydrologic modeling tools, and students will participate in refining the user interface of the tools. This will involve minor exposure to some python and javascript although one position is not expected to be doing programming, one intern will be providing user feedback to the (staff and intern) programmers in terms of functionality, ease of use, and accuracy of calculations. For example this intern will run hydrologic models in desktop and online GIS and compare the output results to known and expected outputs, in order to locate problems in calculations or in how the user interface is working. This will be a great position for students interested in watershed scale management of soil erosion, pesticide loss in runoff, or nutrient management.
Depending on background, the second intern will be involved with constructing (programming) either the data handling or computational aspect of an experimental effort to connect two online models to servers streaming water quality data from EPA databases. The project team is conducting research into methods to connect existing water quality models to new types of input data streaming from federal and private servers.


Designing of micro tools for a surgical robot

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Juan Wachs
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   CAD and experience machining small tools. Good programming experience. Interest in robotics
Number of positions: 1

The research project consists of designing and machining micro-tools for a surgical robot (the Taurus). The tools need to fit the tool tip of the existing robot, but be functional, exchangeable, and highly effective. We already have tweezers and a scalpel. We want to extend our toolset to surgical scissors, and a laser pointer. This project is in collaboration with SRI International in Menlo Park (some of the developers of the Da-Vinci).


Developing Brain Computer Interface for Hands-Free Movement Control

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Electronics
School/Dept.: Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Zhongming Liu
Preferred major(s): Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science
Desired experience:   Signal and System, Digital Signal Processing, Pattern Analysis, Machine Learning
Number of positions: 2

The student will be involved in developing a real-time brain computer interface system. Through this system, a human subject's brain signal will be acquired and analyzed in realtime to decode the subject's intention to move an object in a 2-D plane without involving his/her hands. The system will serve as a prototype for a new-generation medical device to facilitate disabled patients in motor control by only using their minds.


Development of Theranostic Drug Delivery Systems for Cancer Treatment

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: Industrial & Physical Pharmacy
Professor: Tonglei Li
Preferred major(s): chemistry, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, biological engineering
Number of positions: 1

Drug delivery for cancer therapy is far from being satisfactory. A significant portion of potential drug compounds fail to enter the clinic because they cannot be formulated and delivered by existing approaches. Many clinically used formulations are poorly designed, bearing significant adverse effects and limiting treatment efficacy. Over the last few years, nanotechnology has been embraced for developing novel drug delivery systems to combat diseases such as cancer and infection. In our laboratory, we have been developing multicomponent nanocrystals to deliver cytotoxic agents along with bioimaging probes to treat and detect tumors. In this project, the delivery system will be fully tested in vitro and in vivo in order to understand the pharmacokinetic and biodistribution properties and to further improve the formulation design. In particular, the student will be learning and conducting cellular uptake experiment and help graduate students in their animal studies. It is expected that the student will gain a basic understanding of drug delivery for cancer and comprehend the current challenges in cancer therapy. The student will also learn the underlying design principles of our delivery system and, hopefully, provide meaningful suggestions for improvement.


Development of a Nanomanufacturing Process

Research categories:  Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering, Birck Nanotechnology Center
Professor: Xianfan Xu
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Electrical Engineering or Physics.
Desired experience:   Senior standing (in Fall 14); Interested in experimental work; GPA > 3.5; US citizen/permanent resident preferred.
Number of positions: 2

This project is to participate research in the development of a laser-based nanomanufacturing technique. The SURF students will work with graduate students to investigate using laser processes to fabricate nanoscale patterns and nanoscale semiconductor materials such as nanowires. These materials will then be used for developing highly sensitive chemical and biological sensors.


Development of a Roundabout Manual for Local Agencies

Research categories:  Civil and Construction
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: John Haddock
Preferred major(s): Civil Engineering, Technology or Other
Desired experience:   Must be interested in transportation, and have knowledge of Excel, Powerpoint and Word. Must have current US driver's license. Must be a good communicator (oral and written) and able to work effectively with people.
Number of positions: 1

The number of roundabouts across the country and in the state of Indiana has increased significantly in recent years. Roundabouts increase safety by reducing serious crashes, reduce delay and emissions, and eliminate the maintenance and electricity costs associated with traffic signals.

Roundabouts may introduce special considerations for the agencies that operate and maintain them. Roundabouts may require special equipment to maintain them, and special techniques to keep them operating smoothly in all seasons.

This research project will conduct a literature search, and interview local agencies in Indiana that have roundabouts to identify practical solutions and best practices for operation, and document this information in a brief, easy-to-read guide for local agency personnel. This guide may include information such as design considerations, appropriate equipment, practices for snow removal and street cleaning, and sign placement.


Development of a new wind sensor

Research categories:  Agricultural, Electronics, Environmental Science, Innovative Technology/Design, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Professor: Jiqin (Jee-Chin) Ni
Preferred major(s): Electrical engineering; computer engineering; mechanical engineering
Desired experience:   Hands-on and technical writing skills, knowledge and experience in electronics.
Number of positions: 1

This project is to develop an innovative and compact wind speed and direction sensor. It is expected to have wide applications. The student’s contribution will be (1) select materials for the sensor and an electronic device; (2) build a prototype sensor and the device that acquires, converts, and displays sensor output; (3) test the sensor and the device; (4) assist in preparing an invention disclosure.


Distributed Hybrid Simulation for Dynamical Systems to Natural Hazards

Research categories:  Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Shirley Dyke
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Civil Engineering; Computer Science or Engineering
Desired experience:   Matlab knowledge is very helpful. Experience with differential equations preferred.
Number of positions: 1

Real-time hybrid simulation (RTHS) is an emerging technique that allows for cost-effective testing of dynamical systems. HS combines physical experimentation with computational simulation to understand how structures and lifelines respond to earthquakes and other natural hazards. RTHS executes this class of test at the actual speed of the earthquake input by using embedded systems with real-time computing capabilities to communicate among experimental and computational resources. In this project we aim to advance the state of the art in RTHS through the use of distributed environments. Both the physical simulation (a building structure) and the computational (controllers and computational models) aspects of the testing require efforts to ensure that a test is conducted in a reliable and accurate manner. Students working on this project will be engaged in learning how to conduct physical experimentation and execute computational models to gain knowledge that will advance the state of RTHS.


Effects of climate change and nitrogen on woody plants and tallgrass prairie

Research categories:  Environmental Science, Life Science
School/Dept.: Forestry and Natural Resources; Biological Sciences
Professor: Jeff Dukes
Preferred major(s): Biology, Forestry, Environmental Science, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science, Environmental Engineering
Desired experience:   A knowledge of basic plant biology is desired, but not required.
Number of positions: 1

The Prairie Invasion and Climate Experiment (PRICLE) examines the effects of two global change factors, nitrogen fertilization and climate change, on plant community composition and ecosystem processes in tallgrass prairie. Particularly, PRICLE considers how more variable rainfall might interact with nitrogen addition to influence the spread of invasive or weedy plant species. Since its start in 2012, PRICLE has focused on grasses and wildflowers, but starting in 2014, the experiment will be expanded to include tree and shrub species. Students working on PRICLE will be tasked with collecting data on tree growth and prairie community composition in the field, as well as processing and analyzing materials in the lab. Over the course of the summer, students will conduct in-field measurements of plant growth and community composition, assist in the application of experimental treatments, and conduct elemental analyses of plant tissues and soils. Students will also be encouraged to design their own project within the larger experimental design.

While working on PRICLE, students will learn a suite of techniques relevant to in-field environmental measurements and in-lab analyses, and gain valuable experience in field ecology. PRICLE has hosted SURF students twice before (in 2012 and 2013), and students will work closely with the same Ph.D. candidate this year as in years past. Students working on PRICLE should expect to spend at least one day per week on average conducting research in the field, with remaining time spent conducting research in the lab.


Engineering Leadership Research, Curriculum Development, and Assessment

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Engineering Education
Professor: Monica Cox
Preferred major(s): Engineering (any discipline)
Desired experience:   We welcome engineering students with expertise across a wide range of research area including engineering education areas and methods, curriculum design, and technology in education. Students who have had experience in cooperative group work and/or team-based project are encouraged to apply. Basic computer skill competency is required (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, etc.).
Number of positions: 2

This research project seeks to advance Engineering Leadership research and support creation of an innovative curriculum being developed in Engineering Leadership @ Purdue (ELP). The successful student will work on creation and validation of a tool assessing engineering student’s leadership abilities as well as analyze artifacts (e.g., electronic portfolio, social media platform, etc.) that highlight engineering students’ past and current leadership skills.
The successful student will work collaborative with graduate students in researching and developing engineering leadership content. This position is especially suited for someone with an applied research background and for students with a highly integrated, forward-thinking approach to teaching and research in engineering leadership.


Enhancing the Resource Potential of Anaerobic Digestion

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Agricultural & Biological Engineering
Professor: Abigail Engelberth
Preferred major(s): Chemical or Biological Engineering
Desired experience:   Statistics, Biology, Chemistry
Number of positions: 1

Anaerobic digestion is an established technology for the treatment of organic waste and the production of energy rich methane, but there is an opportunity to use it for the production of volatile acids as well. Volatile acids are used in the production of plastics, solvents, and pharmaceuticals and are currently being derived from petroleum sources. The anaerobic digestion of organics in wastewater could provide a renewable source of acids for the production of goods in existing markets. The SURF student will conduct experiments to narrow in on the conditions which are optimal for volatile acid production. This work will aid in upcycling a waste source and moving the economy away from dependence on fossil carbon sources.


Evaluating Release and Uptake of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Biosolids

Research categories:  Agricultural, Chemical, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Agronomy/ESE/EEE
Professor: Linda Lee
Preferred major(s): Environmental Science/Chemistry/Engineering
Desired experience:   General Chemistry sequence
Number of positions: 1

We have a project that will evaluate the transfer of contaminants of emerging concern from biosolids into water, soils, and plants. These biosolids are used as fertilizers in urban gardens as well as larger scale land production. The focus of the research for a SURF student this summer involves quantifying contaminants of emerging concern in the biosolids. Students would gain experience in extraction, clean up, and analytical methods common to environmental samples including liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and development of associated analytical methods. In addition, the student will participate in studies targeted at evaluating plant uptake of targeted contaminants selected from the data obtained for the commercial biosolids particularly those derived from municipal wastewater treatment processes.


Evaluating the Maintenance and Diffusion of Water Conservation Best Management Practices in the Great Bend of the Wabash River Watershed

Research categories:  Agricultural, Educational Research/Social Science, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Forestry and Natural Resources
Professor: Linda Prokopy
Preferred major(s): no strong preference
Desired experience:   Prior experience with or knowledge of appropriate and sustainable water resource best management practices (BMPs) such as rain gardens and rain barrels a plus. Experience with outdoor field work also a plus.
Number of positions: 1

This project will characterize the adoption, maintenance and diffusion of water quality and climate change BMPs in the Region of the Great Bend of the Wabash River Watershed (Tippecanoe County). The project has three primary objectives. First, it will determine what motivates urban and suburban landowners to adopt and maintain stormwater conservation BMPs. Second, it will identify how stormwater conservation BMPs spread or diffuse throughout a community. Third, it will determine specific watershed management planning recommendations for setting adoption goals and reaching potential adopters for the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation (WREC), an environmental non-profit organization working in the Region of the Great Bend of the Wabash River Watershed.

To understand what motivates the adoption and maintenance of these BMPs in this watershed, an assessment of both the property owner/manager and the actual practice will be conducted. The SURF student will aid in the assessments of the actual practices. Implemented projects will be photo-monitored by the student to document project maintenance and physical assessments of the BMP will be conducted. These physical assessments will include the quality of practice implementation, plant growth and cover assessment, erosion or compaction issue identification, and notation of any issues or problems with the BMP that may reduce its effectiveness.


Evaluating the Performance of Concrete During Placement

Research categories:  Civil and Construction, Material Science and Engineering
School/Dept.: Civil
Professor: Jason Weiss
Preferred major(s): Open
Desired experience:   Should be willing to go to field construction sites to help collect data.
Number of positions: 2

During the summer of 2014 Purdue will deploy a mobile testing laboratory that will monitor the construction of concrete projects throughout the state and midwestern region of the US. The goal of this project will be to use the new laboratory to document the concrete being placed, to place sensors in the concrete and to use data obtained from this testing to perform life-cycle predictions for the built infrastructure. Innovative new concretes and placement techniques will be compared with conventional systems to document how this may impact life-cycle costs. During this project the student will be expected to visit construction sites with the mobile lab team, to document construction with photos and videos, to perform physical testing and to use data in computational simulations.


Evaluation of Teaching Practices within Undergraduate Engineering Courses

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Engineering Education
Professor: Monica Cox
Preferred major(s): Engineering (any discipline)
Desired experience:   Strong written and verbal communication skills, Excel analysis
Number of positions: 1-2

The Global Real-time Assessment Tool for Teaching Enhancement (G-RATE) was developed in an effort to provide multidimensional direct observational feedback to engineering instructors about their instructional interactions in a classroom. This study is based on the “How People Learn” (HPL) framework (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 1999). The HPL framework identifies four dimensions which are essential elements of an effective learning environment (1) learner-centeredness, (2) knowledge-centeredness, (3) assessment-centeredness, and (4) community-centeredness. After observing an instructor’s interactions in a classroom, a report is compiled for the instructor to provide feedback about o their teaching. The reports will provide the instructor with a deep insight into his or her pedagogical practices that they could then use to improve their teaching. Through this tool, we hope to investigate:
1.Does G-RATE feedback affect the development of instructors’ (i.e., engineering faculty and GTAs) pedagogical (teaching) expertise?
2. What is the relationship between this feedback and undergraduate student outcomes (e.g., grades) within observed environments?

The student researcher will engage in G-RATE commercialization activities and research over the course of the summer along with maintenance and editing of the G-RATE manual.


Global Engineering Competency: Definitions, Development Paths, and Situational Assessment

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Engineering Education
Professor: Brent Jesiek
Preferred major(s): Any
Desired experience:   Engineering and non-engineering students encouraged to apply. Previous coursework and/or experience in relevant social science fields (e.g., education, psychology, sociology) preferred but not required.
Number of positions: 1

In a time of intensified globalization, engineering educators and employers face the formidable task of preparing engineers to be more effective in diverse national and cultural contexts. Responding to this challenge, our current research aims to: 1) generate a robust definition and developmental theory of global engineering competency, and 2) create a high quality situational judgment test (SJT) that can be used to assess multiple dimensions of global engineering competency. The undergraduate research assistant assigned to this project will contribute directly to this ambitious and exciting work, including by supporting analysis and reporting of quantitative and qualitative data collected through survey instrument pilots and expert interviews. The student selected for this position will also have ample opportunities to be mentored by and learn from both the lead faculty investigator and members of his large and vibrant research group, the Global Engineering Education Collaboratory (GEEC).


Investigate the role of small heat shock proteins in meat tenderness development

Research categories:  Agricultural
School/Dept.: Animal Sciences
Professor: Brad Kim
Preferred major(s): Animal Sciences/Food Science
Desired experience:   Previous lab experience w/ handling chemicals would be desirable.
Number of positions: 1

Improving eating quality of US beef is crucial considering the fast growing demands for high value beef products from consumers in very competitive regional/international markets. Particularly, there is a strong need for the US meat industry to reduce inconsistent meat tenderness, which is often derived from so-called ‘intermediate pHu’ (pHu 5.8 – 6.19) beef. Although the role of proteolytic enzymes in myofibrillar protein degradation and tenderness development has been well understood, there is still a lack of knowledge on the specific biochemical mechanisms governing the variability in the eating quality of intermediate pHu beef. The recent findings from our lab show a possible involvement of small heat shock proteins in tenderness development of beef particularly the meat with intermediate pHu. Therefore, further elucidation and manipulation of biochemical/biophysical mechanisms regulating myofibrillar protein degradation enable greater utilization of bovine muscles. This will consequently increase the profitability and sustainability of the fresh meat industry and offer consumers more consistent quality.


Mobile Microrobotics

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: David Cappelleri
Preferred major(s): Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or related experience
Desired experience:   Proficiency in C-based language programming, LabVIEW, Image processing (OpenCV), and hardware interfacing (analog or digital I/O). Electronics experience would be helpful.
Number of positions: 1

Mobile microrobots offer unprecedented capabilities for observing and interacting with the world that are not possible with conventional macro-scale systems. A critical issue in the design of mobile microrobots is the generation of wireless power and methods of converting that power into locomotion. We have successfully used externally applied magnetic fields for the power and actuation of individual magnetic mobile microrobots. We have also come up with novel tumbling microrobot designs to overcome the challenge of large surface forces at the micro-scale. In the case of multiple microrobots, all the robots in the workspace will be exposed to identical control signals. Thus, in order to achieve different behaviors from individual robots needed for advanced manufacturing tasks, there must be either significant variation in their design or in the magnetic control signals applied to each microrobot. Therefore, we are working a specialized control substrate for local targeting of the magnetic forces at a fine resolution to be able to independently control multiple microrobots at the same time.

In this project, the SURF student will develop a custom program to control the various types of magnetic microrobots we are working with. Image processing to identify where the microrobot is and then logic to determine what magnetic coil to turn on/off will need to be determined and the appropriate control signals generated. The student should be proficient in C-based language programming, LabVIEW, OpenCV, and hardware interfacing (analog or digital I/O). The SURF student will work with a post-doc on the project.


Modeling Metabolic Flux for Bioenergy

Research categories:  Agricultural, Life Science
School/Dept.: Department of Biochemistry
Professor: Clint Chapple
Preferred major(s): biochemistry, plant genetics, chemical engineering or related area
Desired experience:   Biochemistry of metabolism
Number of positions: 3

The sun is the principle source of energy for our planet, and photosynthesis is the primary mechanism by which that energy is captured and stored in the form of reduced carbon. An outcome of these biochemical events is that plants represent a quantitatively important, sustainable, and carbon-neutral source of energy for humans. In order to maximize the utility of plants for this purpose, it is critical that we gain control of the processes associated with energy capture and storage, including the molecular mechanisms that allocate fixed carbon to the myriad biochemical pathways in plants, including the shikimate and phenylpropanoid pathways that together contribute to the biosynthesis of lignin, a polymer that comprises approximately 25% of plants’ biomass.

In this project, a student will work with graduate students and post docs to develop a kinetic model for the shikimate and phenylpropanoid pathways. Kinetic models provide insights into the distribution of flux control, thus permitting more intelligent, predictive and effective design of experiments to modulate fluxes towards pathway end products. The anticipated outcomes from our proposed kinetic modeling are two-fold: first, it identifies what remains unknown about the regulation and control of metabolic fluxes to lignin; second, the model allows development of strategies and predictions of what targets are the most promising candidates for alteration of metabolic flux to lignin. This meets the desired goal of designing modules for precise control of metabolic pathways in plants.

Other Purdue faculty members involved with this project are Dr. Natalia Doudareva and Dr. John Morgan.


Modeling and Control of a Hydraulic Hybrid Transmission

Research categories:  Agricultural, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ABE
Professor: Monika Ivantysynova
Preferred major(s): ME, ABE
Desired experience:   Matlab/Simulink, System Control
Number of positions: 1

The student participating in this project will be involved in the modeling and control of a new hydraulic hybrid transmission. Ongoing research at the Maha Lab focuses on investigating novel hydraulic hybrid transmission architectures for both on-road and off-highway applications. In previous studies fuel savings of 30 to 70% have been seen with hydraulic hybrid transmissions depending on application. To further this research a hardware-in-the-loop transmission test rig was built at the Maha lab.

The chosen student will begin by working with a graduate researcher to develop a simulation model of the existing transmission. This simulation model will then be used by the student to investigate various power management strategies to maximize system efficiency. Next the student will develop an implementable controller based on the chosen power management strategy. Finally the summer will culminate with the student implementing their controller on the transmission test rig and measuring its performance.


New Materials to Reduce Losses in Hydraulic Machines

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ABE
Professor: Monika Ivantysynova
Preferred major(s): ME, ABE
Desired experience:   MATLAB, CFD, FEA, C++
Number of positions: 1

This project aims to improve the performance of axial piston hydraulic units. The undergraduate researcher will use an existing Fluid Structure Interaction model to simulate the piston/cylinder interface, investigating several material combinations. A set of material combinations will be defined for investigation, although additional combinations defined by the researcher are welcome. There may also be opportunities for model development throughout the project.

The project is well suited to an undergraduate student interested in fluid power, tribology, material science, and virtual prototyping. Previous experience or coursework with fluid power, fluid dynamics, tribology, MATLAB, C++, Computational Fluid Dynamics, and Finite Element Analysis is desired but not required.


Online Review Visualization

Research categories:  Industrial Engineering
School/Dept.: School of Industrial Engineering
Professor: Ji Soo Yi
Preferred major(s): Open to all majors
Desired experience:   Prior experiences in building anything just for fun will be required.
Number of positions: 1

Numerous online reviews, comments, and twits are currently being generated and consumed by online consumers. While searching for a good restaurant, a hair stylist, a doctor, or even a nursing home for a loved one, people want to know the truth from real people beyond deceiving advertisements. However, the (unfortunate) truth is that a consumer usually do not read more than 10 reviews per product. In other words, if a product has more than 10,000 reviews (not uncommon these days), more than 9,990 reviews are simply wasted. What a waste of human cognitive effort?

In this SURF project, we would like to come up with a way to help online review consumers make sense of a large chunk of reviews efficiently and effectively through information visualization and text mining techniques. I also hope that each individual review consumer's effort in reading reviews will be collected and recycled by other review consumers. Thus, the more review consumers read reviews, the easier to read reviews. After the system is implemented, we will conduct a series of human-subject studies to verify whether our technique is actually effective or not. This is an international collaborative project with researchers in University of Konstanz and Georgia Tech.

We will certainly implement some experimental websites using the cutting-edge web and visualization technologies (e.g., HTML/CSS, Ruby on Rails, and JavaScript/jQuery/d3.js) and data/text mining techniques. However, you don't need to know all of these. It is obviously good to know them, but we learned that you can learn very quickly if you are determined to do. Surely, we will help you.

Instead, we want you to have creativity, curiosity, and passion to tackle this interesting problem. We will work as a team, and it will be certainly fun to work together.


Optimization of antibody penetration for 3D tissue imaging

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Innovative Technology/Design, Life Science
School/Dept.: Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Sarah Calve
Preferred major(s): BME/Biology
Number of positions: 1

Recent advances in tissue clearing have increased the depths to which conventional confocal microscopy can image by at least an order of magnitude. Unfortunately, researchers are limited by the ability to only image endogenous fluorescence as passive diffusion of antibodies into intact tissues, to specifically label molecules of interest, can take weeks. Our lab is developing a method to actively promote the diffusion of primary and secondary antibodies into biological tissues to better take advantage of these new clearing techniques.

We are looking for a student to help optimize this method to better label key extracellular matrices expressed during tendon and muscle development in the mouse. The student will be directly involved in harvesting embryos from mice in which the muscle or tendon progenitors endogenously express green fluorescent protein, optimizing the active antibody staining protocol being developed in our lab and imaging the specimens using confocal microscopy. The overall goal of this research is to characterize the 3D composition of the extracellular environment during muscle and tendon assembly inform the design of artificial scaffolds to promote tissue regeneration.


Radiation Intensity Measurements and Data Analysis for Premixed Turbulent Lean Combustion

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ME
Professor: Jay Gore
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering
Desired experience:   Coursework in thermodynamics, heat transfer, and/or fluid mechanics is desired. Prior experience working in a laboratory or performing data analysis are strongly encouraged to apply.
Number of positions: 1

Turbulent combustion and the associated radiation heat transfer are important in most energy conversion, power and propulsion, and transportation applications. An accurate understanding of radiation transfer in turbulent reacting and non-reacting flows is critical for improving energy efficiencies and reducing emissions such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and soot. Experimental and computational studies of the radiation intensity from turbulent flows are being conducted to achieve these objectives. Example problems include: (1) Fundamental studies of turbulent premixed lean flames, (2) Using high speed Infrared (IR) camera to measure narrow band radiation intensity, (3) Using Fast Infrared Array Spectrometer (FIAS) to measure broad band radiation intensity, and (4) Statistical analysis and comparison of experimental infrared radiation data to computational results.

The SURF student will contribute to measurements and data analysis of radiation intensity from turbulent premixed lean flames at varying view angles and distances. A fast infrared array spectrometer and high speed infrared camera will be utilized. Image processing and inverse analysis techniques will be used to interpret temperature and gas species concentration distributions. Statistical analysis will also be applied to the radiation intensity measurements. In this project, the SURF student will learn the fundamentals of radiation heat transfer experiments in participating media such as turbulent flames.


Real-time Lake Michigan buoy research

Research categories:  Civil and Construction, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Environmental Science, Physical Science
School/Dept.: School of Civil Engineering
Professor: Cary Troy
Preferred major(s): CE, ECE, or ME
Desired experience:   Experience using Matlab is required; student should have some hands-on experience with tools; student should have strong written communication skills; student should like water (boat experience is a plus).
Number of positions: 1

The student will be working on a Lake Michigan buoy that transmits data in real-time on lake water temperatures and meteorological conditions. This buoy is an important source of information for boaters, anglers, and beachgoers along Lake Michigan's southern coast. In particular, the student will work on developing real-time visualizations of lake subsurface water temperatures on a buoy website. In addition, the student will utilize recently-collected buoy data to characterize lake water temperatures, their seasonal variability, and potentially their forecasted changes under various climate change scenarios.


Realistic Simulation of Jet Engine Noise using Petascale Computing

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor: Gregory Blaisdell
Preferred major(s): AAE, MATH, CS, ECE, PHYS
Desired experience:   Fourier transforms, computer programming, compressible fluid mechanics (desirable, but not absolutely necessary)
Number of positions: 1

We are currently developing a scalable parallel large eddy simulation code that can realistically simulate high Reynolds number jet flows from complex nozzle geometries. The motivation behind the project is to gain insight into the noise generation mechanisms in a turbulent jet, which is crucial for designing noise reduction solutions such as chevrons. Such high-fidelity simulations generate hundreds of gigabytes of flow-field and acoustics information. As a result, it becomes a significant challenge to extract meaningful information that will improve our understanding of the relationship between the turbulent jet flow and the far-reaching noise it generates. The SURF student will assist us in this effort by developing a set of tools that can help characterize jet noise sources.

A popular model postulates that two distinct noise sources are active in a turbulent jet. One is the large coherent turbulent structures that radiate noise at shallow angles relative to the jet axis, and the second is the fine-scale turbulence that is more dominant in the sideline directions [1,2]. The SURF student will implement several statistical tools that will process the near- and far-field simulation data by computing correlations that are used for examining the source characteristics. These include auto-correlations and cross-correlations of the far-field pressure measurements, as well as correlations between turbulent fluctuations inside the jet and the far-field pressure. These tools will be applied to actual simulation datasets to study how well the noise estimated by our code agrees with the "two-source" model. Furthermore, results from two jet simulations with different boundary conditions will be analyzed to determine the impact on the noise sources.

The SURF candidate is expected to have an interest in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), as well as computer programming. They do not have to have had experience with Fortran, but they must have experience using a computer programming language and be willing to learn Fortran. A strong background in mathematics is also needed. The student will spend some time on the basics of Fortran. This will be followed with a review of the numerical methods used in the code, and the overall structure of the code. The student will then implement the aforementioned capabilities into the code. Finally, the student will apply his or her code to simulation datasets and examine the results.

[1] Tam, C. K. (1995). Supersonic jet noise. Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, 27(1), 17-43.
[2] Tam, C. K., Viswanathan, K., Ahuja, K. K., & Panda, J. (2008). The sources of jet noise: experimental evidence. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 615, 253-292.


Roll-to-Roll Robots

Research categories:  Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Rebecca Kramer
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   Desired skills include CAD design, control system design, machining, and a desire to learn.
Number of positions: 2

Our lab is focused on responsive materials and soft robotics. This field is limited by the small size of the substrates commonly used during the fabrication of a soft robot. We propose to develop a "roll-to-roll" system to provide semi-infinite substrates. The concept is to unspool a polymer film from one roll, over a processing bed, and onto another roll. This system must be mechanically compatible with several instruments in our laboratory, including a laser etching system, micron-scale 3D printer, and 3D optical microscope. The SURF students participating in this project will be responsible for designing, fabricating, and testing a prototype mechanism which we will use to perform proof-of-concept studies on the concept of "printed robots". This mechanism will be computer controlled, and will include position and torque control. Desired skills include CAD design, control system design, machining, and of course a desire to learn. We are looking for a small team of 2-3 students to work on this project. The team will work directly with Ph.D. students in the Fabrication Laboratory.


SLEEC: Semantically-enriched libraries for effective exa-scale computation

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Arun Prakash
Preferred major(s): Structural Engineering, Civil, Mechanical, Aerospace, Computer Science, Electrical
Desired experience:   A strong background in the following areas is preferred: Mathematics, Computer Programming, Mechanics, Physics
Number of positions: 1

This project is in joint collaboration between myself, faculty in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Purdue, and a Computational Research Scientist at Sandia National Labs (Albuquerque NM). What we are doing is trying to improve the performance of library subroutines that are commonly employed to solve problems in solid and fluid mechanics, using finite element methods on very large parallel computers, for instance. Most computational libraries are based on well-formulated mathematical operations, however, when researchers utilize these libraries in their own applications, they are unable to transmit this rich mathematical information to the library and to the underlying hardware. We are devising ways to allow researchers to add/annotate these libraries with useful mathematical information that will allow the computer system to make optimizations on the fly to improve the performance of large computational applications. The challenges associated with this project are first to come up with the right set of mathematical information that can enable such performance improvement, and then to find ways to encode into the libraries in a sufficiently general way so that researchers from different disciplines (solids / fluids) may be able to utilize these libraries to their application programs.


Single Particle Studies of Metal-Oxide Enhanced Biomass Gasification

Research categories:  Agricultural, Chemical, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Jay Gore
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Desired experience:   Software: LabVIEW, Matlab, Microsoft Excel GPA: >3.5 preferred Experience: 1) hands-on experience in laboratory settings preferred, 2) ability to commute to Zucrow Laboratories required
Number of positions: 1

Biomass gasification is a potential renewable energy technology for production of synthetic fuels. The gasification process, depicted below, converts solid biomass feed-stock into gaseous products by partial oxidation with CO2/H2O/O2 gas mixtures at high temperatures and pressures. An environmental benefit of biomass gasification is possible through recycling of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning power plants using the biomass gasification process. The drawbacks of biomass gasification as currently practiced in industry include: 1. intensive thermal energy requirements resulting in low process efficiency (<40%) and 2. unpredictable reaction rates attributed to the variation in chemical composition, particularly ash, of biomass feed-stock.

Ash is a trace (< 1 weight %) material consisting of minerals and metal oxides contained in biomass feed-stock. Prior studies have shown that trace quantities of mineral/metal-oxides can change the biomass gasification rates by orders of magnitude. Formation of a layer of ash and the concentrations of encapsulated catalytic minerals significantly impacts the gasification rates.

The proposed Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) project involves controlled experiments and modeling of the resulting data for future gasifier designs. The SURF student will contribute to the design of an experiment to study the effect of mineral/metal-oxides on the gasification reaction rate for biomass feed-stock. The student will acquire the knowledge to utilize laser absorption spectroscopy and gas chromatography for measurements of gas phase concentrations of major products that will enable calculation of reaction rates. The student will have the opportunity to learn data acquisition, control, and data processing tools along with hands on assembly, dis-assembly, and alignment work that would enrich his/her practical knowledge. The SURF student will work closely with a graduate student on all aspects of the project. Prior knowledge of software such as LabVIEW, MATLAB, and Microsoft Excel is desired.


Study on fluid structure phenomena

Research categories:  Agricultural, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ABE
Professor: Monika Ivantysynova
Preferred major(s): ME, ABE
Desired experience:   Matlab, C++
Number of positions: 1

The research goal of this research project is a study of the lubrication film between piston and cylinder of axial piston pump or motor using a custom-developed fluid structure interaction model, which captures the impact of macro and micro motion, fluid and material properties, heat transfer, surface shape and surface elastic deformations. This in house developed tool will be used to conduct numerous simulations to better understand the physical phenomena affecting the lubrication. This project also provides an opportunity to study new design ideas like surface shaping and material impacting on the performance of the fluid film.

This project is well suited to a student who is willing to have a deeper understanding of computational fluid dynamic analysis. Previous experience with Matlab, C++ and completed coursework in fluid power, fluid dynamic, heat transfer and lubrication is highly preferred.


Surgical Incision and Suture using the Tauros Robot

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Juan Wachs
Preferred major(s): ECE, ME, Computer Science
Desired experience:   Very good experience programming in C/C++. High GPA. Willing to work with cool robots!
Number of positions: 1

This project is about designing the framework for allowing our existing Taurus surgical robot to perform surgical incision and sutures on a simulator. Currently the system allows control using free hand movements and pedals controls. We are interested in shifting the control to shared (half autonomous, half supervised).
The potential impact of developing the framework for a mobile robot, small, and highly dexterous to support surgery is huge.

The student contribution will be specifically in modeling the surgical tasks, using modeling tools, machining new tools at the micro-scale, and the development of the code for controlling the robot.


The Effects of Angiotensin II Infusion into Apolipoprotein E-Deficient Rodents for the Creation of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical
School/Dept.: Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Craig Goergen
Preferred major(s): Biomedical Engineering
Desired experience:   - Previous lab experience, lab courses - Previous rodent handling - Experience with Excel and Matlab - Independent problem solving skills
Number of positions: 1-3

The overall purpose of this research is to better understand the effects of angiotensin II (angII) infusion into apolipoprotein E-/- (apoE-/- ) rodents as this often leads to the development of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). AAA rupture in humans is the 13th leading cause of deaths in the United States, causing approximately 15,000 deaths each year. Unfortunately, aortic aneurysms are often asymptomatic and are most often found during routine screenings. Because of this, our lab is dedicated to forming a better understanding of the cause of these aneurysms, which will hopefully lead to preventative treatment and better diagnostic techniques. This specific research project focuses on a apoE-/- mice and rats. These rodents will be infused with angII through an osmotic minipump, which causes vasoconstriction and creates hypertension. Aneurysms often form in the suprarenal abdominal aorta. The development of these AAAs will be tracked through the use of high-frequency ultrasound. The student research assistant will contribute to the study by helping to surgically implant the osmotic pumps, acquire the ultrasound data, and analyze the acquired images.


Tumor-Microenvironment-On-Chip To Mimic Tumor Heterogeneity

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Bumsoo Han
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Biomedical Engineering
Desired experience:   Fluid Mechanics, Heat and Mass Transfer, Biology
Number of positions: 1

This project is to develop and validate a new in vitro tumor model to study tumor heterogeneity. Tumor heterogeneity is one of the most significant and unmet challenges of oncology. Existing tumor models including animal models are not adequate to systematically study and understand its implication on the treatment outcome. In order to address this, my laboratory is developing a new tumor model using tissue engineering and microfluidic technologies which can mimic in vivo tumors of breast cancer. The SURF fellow will participate in this project to characterize the response of various breast cancers to chemotherapeutic drugs and their nanoparticle formulations.


Understanding How Deicing Salts Interact with Concrete Paving Materials

Research categories:  Chemical, Civil and Construction, Material Science and Engineering
School/Dept.: Civil
Professor: Jason Weiss
Preferred major(s): chemistry, civil engineering, material science, other
Number of positions: 2

Work at Purdue has focused on the development of improved models to predict the service life of concrete when the concrete is exposed to freezing and thawing and/or to the application of deicing salts. Specifically these models are a departure from the current US practice that specifies only air content. The model that is being developed is based on fluid saturation level, fluid composition, and fluid absorption rates. These models are leading to the development of alternative methods to improve freeze-thaw resistance such as the development of Soy-Based concrete sealants which have recently been patented. The student in this project will be expected to perform a series of carefully planned, innovative experiments that relate the salt chemistry with chemical reactions and pavement damage development. This work is currently being developed into a model for use on the national scale.


Using Stable Isotopes to Quantify Nitrogen Fates in Container Plant Production Systems

Research categories:  Agricultural, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Horticulture & Earth, atmospheric, and planetary science
Professor: Greg Michalski
Preferred major(s): Any
Desired experience:   Strong background in chemistry and math is important. Background in environmental science, ecology, and/or biology is beneficial.
Number of positions: 1

Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is increasingly important in the production of container plants as awareness of the environmental consequences of nitrogen (N) leaching increases and as regulations on nitrogen losses from nurseries tighten. Furthermore, N lost to the environment reduces the economic efficiency of container production. While N leaching is relatively easy to measure, losses due to nitrification have been difficult to quantify. The goal of this research is to demonstrate that fertilizer with unique stable isotope signatures of oxygen and N can be used to accurately quantify N fate following application. To quantify N uptake and loss, fertilizer containing 15N- and 17O-labeled ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) and potassium nitrate (KNO3), respectively, will be applied to red maple (Acer rubrum) plants growing in 2-L containers. Mass balance equations will be used to quantify N conversions and losses in the system.

Students participating in this project will learn analytical techniques in chemistry, mass spectrometry, plant physiology, and some basic horticulture skills. Students will also have the opportunity to visit commercial production facilities that this work will ultimately impact.

This is a joint project between Greg Michalski (Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences) and Mike Mickelbart (Horticulture). Students will work in and interact with other students in both labs.


VACCINE-Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Innovative Technology/Design
School/Dept.: ECE
Professor: David Ebert
Preferred major(s): Computer Engineering, Computer Science, other Engineering majors with programming experience
Desired experience:   Programming experience in C++, other as described below
Number of positions: 5

We are currently searching for students with strong programming and math backgrounds to work on a variety of projects at the Visual Analytics branch (VACCINE) of the new Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence in Command, Control and Interoperability. Students will each be assigned individual projects focusing on developing novel data analysis and exploration techniques using interactive techniques. Students should be knowledgeable in C++ on entering the program and will be expected to learn skills in R, OpenGL, and/or a variety of other libraries over the course of the summer.

Current project plans will include iPhone programming for criminal incident report analysis, incorporating local statistics into volume rendering on the GPGPU, and healthcare data analysis. If you have iPhone programming experience or CUDA programming experience or an intense interest to learn either of those, please indicate this in your application form. We also plan to have a project that will assist first responders in accident extrication procedures.

The ideal candidate will have good working knowledge of modern web development technologies, including client-side technologies such as HTML5, SVG, JavaScript, AJAX, and DOM, as well as server side components such as PHP, Tomcat, MySQL, etc. Experience in visualization or computer graphics is a plus. The project will likely be based on the D3 ( web-based visualization toolkit; prior experience using D3 or other visualization APIs for the web is particularly welcome.

Of the past undergraduate students that have worked in the center, five of their research projects have led to joint publications in our laboratory and at many of our areas' top venues. Our goal is to continue the center of excellence this summer. Sample projects include visual analytics for law enforcement data, health care data and sports data. Students will be assigned individual projects based on the center's needs which will be determined at a later date. To learn more about the VACCINE Center go to the website provided below.

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Visualizing Mechanics - Developing Instructional Videos for Mechanics Education

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Jeff Rhoads
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering or a related field
Desired experience:   Knowledge of basic solid mechanics and dynamics is essential. Video production skills are a plus, as is a desire to appear on camera.
Number of positions: 2

This non-traditional research effort seeks to build upon prior efforts by the PI and his research group via the development of additional YouTube-style videos for his Visualizing Mechanics movie series. Specifically, students will be tasked with concept development, experimental design, video production, and post-processing. Students will work hand-in-hand with faculty members and other students to successfully achieve stated goals.


nanoHUB Research in Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Other
Professor: NCN Faculty
Preferred major(s): Electrical, Computer, Materials, or Mechanical Engineering; Physics; Chemistry
Desired experience:   Programming skills in any language are a plus.
Number of positions: 12

Join the team and help build the growing set of resources being used in all Top 50 Colleges of Engineering (US News & World Report rankings) and over 240,000 annual users in 172 countries. nanoHUB provides over 260 simulation tools that users run from a web browser in a scientific computing cloud. The Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) operates nanoHUB.

You will work with one of the nanoHUB investigators, including Professors Klimeck, Lundstrom, Alam, Datta, and Strachan and others.

You will learn the Rappture ( toolkit that makes it quick and easy to develop powerful, interactive, web-based applications. You will work with nanotechnologists to put their applications and supporting information on You will test new capabilities in nanoHUB cyberinfrastructure. And you will be part of a National Science Foundation-funded effort that is connecting theory, experiment and computation in a way that makes a difference for the future of nanotechnology and the future of scientific communities. Other undergraduate researchers before you have each been able to literally impact over a thousand nanoHUB users (for an example, see; join their legacy and create something that will help your own skills and will help others.

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