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Research Projects

Projects for 2017 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 2016 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:


Impact of mass flow rate monitoring and control in continuous tablet manufacturing

Research categories:  Chemical
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: Gintaras Reklaitis
Preferred major(s): chemical engineering
Desired experience:   completion of ChE 37700, ChE 32000
Number of positions: 1

The pharmaceutical tablet manufacturing process involves particulate handling and processing. Measurement and control of particulate material properties and the process variables of the constituent unit operations in continuous flow is a challenge for the effective implementation of real time product release. The tablet hardness and weight have to be maintained at the desired throughput and it is essential to determine the appropriate hopper levels at steady state to ensure seamless operation. The aim of the project is to study the effect of hopper level on the quality of the tablets and the effect on different process variables of the tablet press. The undergraduate student in this project will learn techniques used in the characterization of particulate material and tablets in the continuous tableting line.
Suggested Reading
[1] Ierapetritou M, Muzzio F, Reklaitis G. “Perspectives on the continuous manufacturing of powder-based pharmaceutical processes”, AIChE Journal, 62:1846-1862 (2016)

[2] Lee S. L., O’Connor T. F., Yang X., Cruz C. N., Chatterjee S., Madurawee R. D., Moore C. M. V., Yu L. X. “Modernizing Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: from Batch to Continuous Production”. J Pharm Innov. 2015


2D nanostructures for energy application

Research categories:  Chemical, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Chemistry
Professor: Libai Huang
Preferred major(s): Chemistry, Chemical Engineering
Number of positions: 1

Energy transport will be studied across multiple length and time scales to in 2D semiconductors for solar energy applications. Exciton populations and dynamics following photoexcitation will be investigated using time-resolved spectroscopy.

The main goal of the SURF project will be on using 2D nanostructures as light absorbers for solar energy conversion devices such as solar cells. These 2D nanostructures are extremely efficient light absorbers and emitters. The student will carry out optical spectroscopy and microscopy measurements to study the electronic and optical properties of these materials. The student will also analyze data and present results at group meetings.


3D Printed Hydraulic Systems

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Sadegh Dabiri
Number of positions: 1

The project’s main goal is to build a light and compact portable hydraulics and fluids mechanics kit to build robots and machines to promote the use of fluid power in schools and as an outreach tool for community engagement. The student will help in building 3-D printed prototypes of various hydraulic components to assemble with the kit for advancing education in: 1) hydraulic systems and 2) general fluid mechanics phenomena. The kit and curriculum will be used in workshops held at local high schools and, or community events in the greater Lafayette area and possibly the neighboring region. The project provides a great opportunity for students to have hands-on experience in design and 3D printing components and learning about hydraulic systems.


Additive manufacture of oral drug products

Research categories:  Chemical
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: Gintaras Reklaitis
Preferred major(s): chemical engineering
Desired experience:   CHE 37700, ChE 32000 or equivalents
Number of positions: 1

Project Description
In the past decade, changes in domestic/global market growth, desire for new drug therapies (with faster time to market), and pressure to minimize drug cost in healthcare expenditure have prompted revision of operational strategies/technologies in the pharmaceutical industry. Concomitant with improvement to current technologies, there has been interest in development of novel methods for drug product manufacture; additive manufacturing (of which 3-dimensional printing is a subset), has received considerable attention, due in part to the precision afforded the user by the process’s incremental production method. In our lab we have ongoing work which furthers the development of process modeling and monitoring capabilities for a dropwise pharmaceutical manufacturing technology capable of processing non-colloidal suspensions. The interested student would be engaged at drug product manufacture and in the characterization of the resulting dosages. Specifically this would involve printing and characterization of drug products from 4 new “micronized” active pharmaceutical drug powders.
Suggested Reading:
Icten, E., A. Giridhar, L.S. Taylor, Z.K. Nagy and G.V. Reklaitis, “Dropwise Additive Manufacturing of Pharmaceutical Products for Melt-Based Dosage Forms”, J Pharm Sci. Vol. 104-5, 1641-1649 (2015)


Advanced characterization of persistent slip bands in fatigued Ni-based superalloys

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Material Science and Engineering
School/Dept.: MSE
Professor: Michael Titus
Preferred major(s): MSE
Desired experience:   Basic knowledge of: crystallography, dislocations, fatigue in metals, electron microscopy (not required, but appreciated)
Number of positions: 1

The student will use scanning electron microscopy in combination with electron channeling contrast imaging to characterize dislocations and persistent slip bands in fatigued Ni-based superalloys. The student will gain hands on experience using state-of-the art electron microscopy equipment. No prior experience is necessary but is appreciated.


Assessing Mineral-Organic Matter Interactions in Soil using Pyrolysis Mass Spectrometry

Research categories:  Agricultural, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Professor: Timothy Filley
Preferred major(s): Chemical Engineering, Agronomy, EAPS, Biology
Desired experience:   Chemistry, Soil Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry
Number of positions: 1-2

This project is part of the National Science Foundation funded Intensively Managed Landscapes Critical Zone Observatory (IML-CZO). This particular subproject is an effort to identify some of the fundamental controls in the fate of plant, microbial, and incompletely burned (i.e. black carbon) in shallow (0-10cm) and deep (to 10 m depth) soils. The student will investigate how strong soil aggregate and mineral binding removes organic matter from being accessible to microbial decay creating stabilized soil carbon structures. The student will work with a graduate student and Prof. Filley as they apply molecular forensic tools such as pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry. The student will exposed to concepts in mineral chemistry, soil science, isotope biogeochemistry, and mass spectrometry. The student will join four other undergraduates engaged on various aspects of the IML-CZO work and will also take part in a multi university meeting among the IML-CZO participants (Univ. of Illinois, Purdue Univ., Northwestern Univ., Indiana Univ., Univ. of Tennessee) and field sampling campaign.


Biosensors for point-of-care applications

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Life Science
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: Chongli Yuan
Preferred major(s): Chemical Engineering/Biomedical Engineering
Number of positions: 1

The large number of people affected by infectious diseases in the developing world puts an enormous burden on the health system. Infected patients, which now have global access to therapies, require constant disease management and regular visits to clinics. This burden creates a great challenge in low-resource areas with a limited number of trained medical personnel and constrained diagnostic and monitoring methods. A consequence of such limited resources and restricted monitoring of therapy is the development of drug resistance, a major hurdle to patient care worldwide. A point-of-care tool that enables rapid detection of drug resistance mutations is of pressing need to meet the increasing health-care demand in developing countries. This application thus aims to develop a cellphone-based detection device for drug resistance.


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

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computational/Mathematical, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Nuclear Engineering
Professor: Ahmed Hassanein
Desired experience:   Minimum GPA 3.5
Number of positions: 3-4

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

1. Ion beams and plasma interaction with materials for various applications
2. Magnetic and Inertial Nuclear Fusion
3. Laser-produced plasma (LPP) and Discharge-produced plasma (DPP)
4. Nanostructuring of material by ion and laser beams
5. High energy density physics applications
6. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS)
7. Plasma for biomedical applications
8. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography
9. Computational physics for nuclear fusion, lithography, and other applications

Research of undergraduate students at CMUXE during previous SURF programs has resulted in students acquiring new knowledge in different areas and led to several joint publications, participation in national and international conferences, seminars, and provided experience in collaborative international research.

Several undergraduate and graduate students working in CMUXE have won national and international awards and have presented their work in several countries including Australia, China, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and Russia.

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


Creation of electrical breakdown experimental facility

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: Alex Shashurin
Desired experience:   AAE 590 Electric Propulsion or AAE590 Plasma Discharges are preferable
Number of positions: 1

Application of an electric field between two electrodes filled with gas may cause an electric breakdown if voltage applied to the electrodes exceeds certain critical level (breakdown voltage). The breakdown means initiation of electric current flowing between the discharge electrodes separated by originally nonconductive medium, i.e. gas-filled gap.

In this project student will be working on creation of electrical breakdown experimental facility. This includes design of vacuum chamber, choice of pumping system, design, assembly and connection of discharge electrodes, and testing of the overall system operation.


Cylindrical shells based phase transforming cellular materials

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Lyles School of Civil Engineering
Professor: Pablo Zavattieri
Preferred major(s): Civil, ME, AAE Engineering
Desired experience:   Mechanics of Materials and Structures, CAD, Matlab/Phyton/C (some coding required)
Number of positions: 1-2

Active materials like shape memory, ferroelectric and magnetostrictive alloys obtain their characteristic properties due to phase transformations. In these materials, phase transformations occur by changing the packing arrangement of the atoms in a process that resembles multistable mechanisms switching between stable configurations. A similar behavior has been observed in folded proteins in which a change in configuration (e.g. from folded to unfolded) provides the mechanism through which biological materials obtain remarkable properties such as combinations of strength and toughness, superelasticity and shock energy dissipation, among others. Phase transformations can be extended to cellular materials by introducing materials whose unit cells have multiple stable configurations. Each stable configuration of the unit cell corresponds to a phase, and transitions between these phases are interpreted as phase transformations for the material. It has been demonstrated that phase transforming cellular materials (PXCMs) offer innovative advantages for energy dissipation without relying in the inelastic behavior of its base material making PXCMs attractive for many applications like: automobiles, protective gear, or buildings.

In this project we propose to develop a new type of PXCMs based on cylindrical shells. The new PXCMs will be designed using computer-aided design (CAD) modeling software and fabricated using a 3D printer in combination with other fabrication techniques. Compression and tension tests will be conducted on testing machines to evaluate the performance of these new PXCMs. The test results will then be analyzed using scripts in any number of computer languages (e.g. MATLAB, Python, or C).


DNA Nanotechnology

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Jong Hyun Choi
Number of positions: 1

Besides being the genetic material for various forms of life, DNA also has emerged as a promising engineering material for nanotechnology. Based on its excellent ability to recognize its complementary sequence, the binding of DNA can be programmed by sequence design. This idea gave birth to the field of structural DNA nanotechnology. This project will focus on designing and constructing self-assembled synthetic DNA nanostructures (such as DNA origami) as well as understanding their thermodynamic, kinetic, and mechanical properties.


Developing the high-speed noninvasive thermometry of reactive flows based on coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Innovative Technology/Design, Physical Science, Other
School/Dept.: ME
Professor: Mikhail Slipchenko
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Aerospace, Physics, Chemistry
Desired experience:   Physics and mathematics courses
Number of positions: 1

Acquiring the temperature information at high-speed on the order of 100s kHz is critical to understand the energy release and coupling to acoustic modes in hypersonic reacting flows. The undergraduate research assistant will be involved in development of the state-of-the-art laser system under supervision of the graduate research assistant and research faculty involving hands-on experience with aligning optical systems and generating complicated time sequences to operate the high-speed camera acquisition system. The undergraduate research assistant will gain unique experience in optics as well as participate in data acquisition and data analysis with potential high impact publication as the results. Such lab experience will help to establish research interest and motivate undergraduate research assistant to continue academic carrier.


Dual-tuned traps for common-mode current suppression in multi-nuclear MRI hardware cabling

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Electronics, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Joseph Rispoli
Preferred major(s): Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   CAD modeling, proficiency with hand tools and soldering, and a general understanding of AC circuits
Number of positions: 1

The research is important for conducting multi-nuclear magnetic resonance imaging experiments on humans, e.g., obtaining sodium MRI visualizations of the brain in addition to typical hydrogen-based MRI. The goal is to produce a prototype device that may be reproduced and used in multiple experiments, publish a paper demonstrating the results, and the design potentially may be adopted at other medical research sites.

The student would be tasked to design a removable cable trap to suppress common mode currents at two different radio frequencies. Common mode currents are those induced on the outside of a coaxial cable's shield, are not part of the desired MRI signal, and in some situations have caused injury to MRI subjects who were mistakenly in contact with the cable while scanning.

Execution of the project will require prototyping of a simple electrical circuit, and as such will require some work with wire, cable, electrical components, and soldering. However the greater challenge may be the mechanical design of the circuit, given the geometry will affect the operation and the device must easily be clipped on and off cables.

The student is expected to lead this project, under the guidance of a graduate student and faculty member. The student is also expected to prepare a poster presentation on the results, and author a research paper if the desired results are achieved.


Extraterrestrial Habitat Engineering

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Mechanical Systems, Other
School/Dept.: ME and CE
Professor: Shirley Dyke
Preferred major(s): CE, ME, AAE or Planetary Science
Number of positions: 1-2

There is growing interest from Space agencies such as NASA and the European Space Agency in establishing permanent human settlements outside Earth. However, even a very cursory inspection of the proposals uncovers fatal flaws in their conceptual design. The buildings may not be able to support the load demands, which should include potential impact from meteorites and/or the seismic motions induced by such an impact, and perhaps most importantly, the materials used as cover for radiation protection may be radioactive themselves. Ongoing research interest focuses on mitigating astronauts' health and performance in space exploration and has neglected the largely unexplored needs regarding the habitat and infrastructure required on extraterrestrial bodies. Their design and sustainability represents a multidisciplinary engineering and scientific challenge for humanity. In a context of extreme environments, it is especially important to design buildings whether for habitation, laboratory or manufacturing, that are capable of responding to prevailing conditions not only as a protective measure, but also to enable future generations to thrive under such conditions.

Participating undergraduate researchers would be tasked to design and develop the following areas:
- design and build a prototype habitat for a permanent human settlement on the Moon as a preliminary proof of concept.
- develop concept experiments to assess critical issues such as the challenge of pressurizing rock openings or for a cavern to survive a meteorite impact.

Construction, assembly and experimentation will be done in the laboratory, using Purdue's expertise in the emerging field of real-time hybrid simulation (RTHS). RTHS uses sub-structuring, feedback control and real-time parallel computing to break a complex system into several computational and physical subsystems, realistically allowing testing of systems that are too large to fit in a laboratory.

We are looking for students to play key roles in this project, under the guidance of a graduate student and faculty members. The students are also expected to prepare a poster presentation on the results, and author a research paper if the desired results are achieved.


Fluid Dynamics of Bacterial Aggregation and Formation of Biofilm Streamers

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Computational/Mathematical, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Arezoo Ardekani
Number of positions: 1

Bacteria primarily live within microscopic colonies embedded inside a self-secreted matrix of polymers and proteins. These microbial biofilms form on natural and man-made surfaces and interfaces and play important roles in various health and environmental issues. Previous experimental studies have indicated the significance of bacterial motility mechanisms in the colonization process and the subsequent biofilm formation. In particular, flagellar mediated swimming is crucial in approaching the surface and initiating the adhesion process. Understanding the swimming strategy of bacteria in confined geometries is shown to be a decisive factor in identifying the adhesion rate and elucidating the subsequent colonization process. However, majority of studies focused on the swimming behavior of motile cells in complex fluids have been conducted assuming the cells’ habitat to be an unbounded domain and thus, the boundary induced effects, such as surface trapping and wall accumulation, are poorly understood. The student will investigate the motion of microorganisms in complex fluids near boundaries.


Functional Brain Imaging of Traumatic Brain Injury

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Life Science
School/Dept.: Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Yunjie Tong
Preferred major(s): ECE, BME
Desired experience:   The student is required to have good analytical skills and familiar with Matlab or Python.
Number of positions: 1-2

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), even the mild one, has been demonstrated to have long term negative effects on the brain. The impact is even more devastating for the developing brain. Purdue Neurotrauma Group (PNG) has collected many brain imaging data (MRI) to assess brain function, perfusion, white matter integrity, structural and functional connectivity for the young football players with TBI or mild TBI. The undergraduate student in this project will work closely with Dr. Tong and PNG. He/she will analyze the brain imaging data (e.g. fMRI) based on the new hypothesis to deepen our understanding of TBI. The student is required to have good analytical skills and familiar with Matlab or python. The student will learn the skills in MRI data quality-control, data analyses, time series analysis.


Heterogeneous Deformation and Strain Localization as a Precursor to Failure in Aerospace Materials

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Computational/Mathematical, Material Science and Engineering
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: Michael Sangid
Preferred major(s): AAE, MSE, ME, CS
Number of positions: 1

The research we do is building relationships between the material's microstructure and the subsequent performance of the material, in terms of fatigue, fracture, creep, delamination, corrosion, plasticity, etc. The majority of our group’s work has been on advanced alloys and composites. Both material systems have direct applications in Aerospace Engineering, as we work closely with these industries.

We are looking for a motivated, hard-working student interested in research within the field of experimental mechanics of materials. The in situ experiments include advanced materials testing, using state-of-the-art 3d strain mapping. We deposit self-assembled sub-micron particles on the material’s surface and track their displacement as we deform the specimen. Coupled with characterization of the materials microstructure, we can obtain strain localization as a precursor to failure. Specific projects look at increasing the structural integrity of additive manufactured materials and increasing fidelity of lifing analysis to introduce new light weight materials into applications.


Internal gear pumps: advanced modeling and experimental validation

Research categories:  Agricultural, Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Ag & Bio Eng. / Mech. Eng.
Professor: Andrea Vacca
Preferred major(s): AA / ECE / ME / ABE
Desired experience:   Fluid mechanics (required). Hydraulic control systems (preferred). Knowledge of C++ ; LabVIEW, CAD modeling
Number of positions: 1

The Purdue's Maha Fluid Power Research Center is the largest academic research lab in fluid power in the nation. During the last years, the research center is particularly dedicated in advancing the technology of positive displacement pumps, to achieve units more compact and energy efficient. This project particularly aims at improving the performance of Gerotor units. Gerotor units are particularly successive in automotive (as transmission or fuel injection pumps) and in fluid power (charge pumps). In this project, the student will join a team of graduate students to assist the development of CFD based fluid structure interaction models for the simulation of the gerotor units. During Summer 2016, a novel test rig will be developed at Purdue for the model validation. The student will also contribute developing the test rig and its data acquisition system.


Irradiation Effects on Material Structure, Properties, and Functionality

Research categories:  Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Other
School/Dept.: Nuclear Engineering
Professor: Janelle Wharry
Preferred major(s): Nuclear Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering
Desired experience:   Introductory course in Materials Science & Engineering (e.g. Callister book level).
Number of positions: 1-2

Our research group studies how irradiation alters the structure, properties, and functionality (i.e. performance) of a wide variety of materials, especially those metals and alloys used in nuclear energy systems. This project will specifically focus on nanoscale clusters of solute atoms, which are embedded in metallic alloys. Irradiation introduces significant instabilities to these nanoclusters, and the students will be tasked with understanding these instabilities. Work will involve both hands-on experiments on a variety of state-of-the-art materials characterization tools and microscopes, as well as data processing, analysis, and computational model-building.


Laboratory characterization of unsteady boundary layer turbulence and flow structure

Research categories:  Civil and Construction, Environmental Science, Mechanical Systems, Physical Science, Other
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Cary Troy
Preferred major(s): Civil, mechanical, or aerospace engineering
Desired experience:   Should have taken a first course in fluid mechanics; Matlab experience is necessary; and experience on the water is desirable but not required. Students who are good working with their hands, tools, and the machine shop are also very welcome to our lab.
Number of positions: 1

The objective of this project is to produce and analyze preliminary data associated with unsteady, oscillatory boundary layers. Unsteady boundary layers are ubiquitous in the environment, including tidal flows, water waves, and the atmospheric boundary layer. They are also important in a variety of engineered flows over surfaces. The successful student applicant will be in charge of designing, setting up, carrying out, and analyzing experiments in two of our large-scale water flow facilities: (1) a 10m long research flume; (2) a 50m long wave basin, which is a brand new Purdue facility that has not been used. Students will perform measurements on turbulence and velocity structure using a range of state-of-the-art instruments, including acoustic Doppler current profilers.


Laser Diagnostics Applied to Reacting Fluid Flows for Propulsion Devices

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Chemical, Mechanical Systems, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Terry Meyer
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Aerospace, or Chemical Engineering; Physics; Chemistry
Desired experience:   Physics, chemistry, and mathematics courses
Number of positions: 1

Propulsion, transportation, and energy systems rely on the turbulent mixing and efficient chemical reaction of fuels and oxidizers. Such reactions can take place in the liquid, gas, or solid phases and are investigated using sophisticated imaging and spectroscopic techniques. The undergraduate research assistant will work with graduate students and research faculty to assemble and operate flow hardware, align and test optical diagnostic instrumentation, and help collect and analyze data acquired using such techniques. The flows are designed to simulate conditions that are present in a variety of practical devices. The student will gain valuable hands-on experience and theoretical background that will be of use in a variety of fields related to mechanical, aerospace, and chemical engineering, as well as gain insight into potential areas of research for graduate study.


Lets replace this outdated E-Textbooks with something that works and is inexpensive!

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Educational Research/Social Science
School/Dept.: EAPS
Professor: Greg Michalski
Preferred major(s): Computer science; Computer Engineering
Desired experience:   HTML, JAVA, PHP programming languages
Number of positions: 1-2

I am seeking Computer Science and Engineering students who are interested in creating a new digital learning tool that will replace E-textbooks. We will build a cloud-based platform that will allow teachers, professors, or other individuals to produce multimedia pages with embedded text, sound, video, quizzing, web-links, and external apps. This product is then published online and availed for purchase by students as a more effective and low cost alternative to traditional textbooks or e-textbooks. Student would need to be competent in one or more of these languages: java, html, php, Mysql.


Life Cycle Analysis of Consumer Goods

Research categories:  Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Thomas Siegmund
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   A basic materials engineering course, a basic design course
Number of positions: 1

Materials are central to nearly all engineered systems humans use. Our selection of engineered solutions is dependent on and influenced by material availability and material selection.

Using examples of plastic vs. paper grocery bags, bottled vs. tap water, single serve coffee vs. drip coffee we will investigate material use choices, subsequent energy and CO2 balance. Based on these outcomes we will build new and improved design solutions.

More information:


Lyophilization Research

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Computational/Mathematical, Life Science, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: Alina Alexeenko
Preferred major(s): Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and other Engineering majors; Math/CS, Physics
Number of positions: 1-2

Freeze-drying, also called lyophilization, is widely used in manufacturing of injectable pharmaceuticals, vaccines, biotech products, chemical reagents, food and probiotic cultures. The research during the summer undergraduate project will involve experimental studies of novel lyoprotectants and/or computational modeling of heat and mass transfer in R&D lyophilizes. The summer undergraduate researcher will be involved in developing research methods as well as collecting and analyzing data.

More information:


MRI-compatible neural stimulator and recorder

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics
School/Dept.: Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Zhongming Liu
Preferred major(s): Electrical and Computer Engineering, or Biomedical Engineering
Desired experience:   Electronic circuit design and implementation, programming
Number of positions: 1-2

Tissue stimulation presents many challenges and thus a unique opportunity to develop an insight into how to interface electronics with the nervous system. This project will focus on creating a robust and dynamic user interface for a prototype stimulator in the Laboratory of Integrated Brain Imaging (LIBI). This interface will give researchers the ability to actively modify stimulation and recording parameters to meet their experimental needs. The skills required for this project include prior knowledge of microcontrollers, C programming language, and communication protocols such as UART and SPI. The student will additionally develop a deeper understanding of the stimulator and recorder hardware to better create the user interface and assure safe stimulation and recording in animal models. Specific applications will be brain stimulation and recording during concurrent magnetic resonance imaging.


Mechanics of Cutting

Research categories:  Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Thomas Siegmund
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering
Number of positions: 1

Cutting materials is an fundamental human activity. In this project we aim to develop, build and test an instrumented cutting experiments. We aim to measure the cutting forces and cutting blade wear. There is an industry relevant application as well.

More information:


Metabolic Engineering of Cyanobacteria for Chemical Production

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Life Science
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: John Morgan
Preferred major(s): Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, ABE
Desired experience:   Biochemistry
Number of positions: 1

Cyanobacteria are single celled organisms that utilize sunlight to drive the reduction of CO2 into all the organic chemicals necessary for life. Hence, they are a potential alternative to petroleum as source of chemicals. Compared to plants, these bacteria grow significantly faster, require low nutrient input and are easier to process than plants. Cyanobacteria are also readily genetically engineered with foreign DNA. The goal of this project is to insert a foreign pathway consisting of several genes into a cyanobacteria to manufacture a valuable chemical. The student will also analyze the effects of light and CO2 on the amount of chemical produced.


Methods to Control the Atomic Arrangement of Zeolite Catalysts

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

Zeolite catalysts have innovated catalytic technologies in the energy and chemical industries and in automotive pollution control, because of their diverse crystal structures and compositions. In this project, we will develop new methods to control the atomic arrangement of catalytic active sites in zeolites, which will open new opportunities for innovation in these industries. The undergraduate student on this project will learn techniques to synthesize and characterize catalysts with different atomic arrangements.


MicroRNA Involvement in Cancer

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Life Science
School/Dept.: Biological Sciences
Professor: Andrea Kasinski
Preferred major(s): Biology or Biochemistry
Desired experience:   Molecular biology background.
Number of positions: 1-2

Our lab works on non-coding RNAs, specifically microRNAs and their involvement in cancer. We work to identify novel RNAs, gain an understanding of their biogenesis and misrepresentation in cancer and then utilize this knowledge to develop RNA-based therapies. There are multiple potential summer projects in the lab. Please visit our lab website and contact Dr. Kasinski for more information.


Mobile Microrobotics

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Innovative Technology/Design, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: David Cappelleri
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering / Electrical & Computer Engineering
Desired experience:   Must be US citizen for this project. ME students should have programming and electronics experience.
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 have also created 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 work with graduate students and a post-doc to design and test new mobile microrobot designs with various in-house magnetic manipulation systems for advanced manufacturing and biomedical applications. The student should be proficient in C-based language programming, Matlab, image processing, hardware interfacing, and 3D printing.

More information:


Multi-hazard design Optimization of Civil Infrastructure

Research categories:  Civil and Construction
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Amit Varma
Preferred major(s): Civil
Number of positions: 1

The student will work with our research team to investigate the differences in the structural response and failure of different building systems subjected to cascading multiple hazards.


Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) / nanoHUB

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; Chemistry; Physics; Computer Science
Desired experience:   Serious interest in and enjoyment of programming; programming skills in any language. Physics coursework.
Number of positions: 16-20

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 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. To learn about this year’s research projects along with their preferred majors and requirements, please go to website noted below.

If you are interested in working on a nanoHUB project in SURF, you will need to follow the instructions below and be sure you talk about specific NCN projects directly on your SURF application, in 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 that asks about your “understanding of your role in a project that you have identified”, you may discuss up to three NCN projects that most interest you. For each NCN project, be sure to tell us why you are interested in the project and how you meet the required skill and coursework requirements.

Faculty advisors for summer 2017 include: Arezoo Ardekani, Peter Bermel, Ilias Bilionis, Marcial Gonzalez, Marisol Koslowski, Peilin Liao, Guang Lin, Lyudmila Slipchenko, Alejandro Strachan, Janelle Wharry, and Pablo Zavattieri. These faculty represent a wide range of departments: ECE, ME, Civil E, MSE, Nuclear E, Chemistry and Math, and projects may be multidisciplinary.

Examples of previous student work can be found here:


Operation of Hall Thruster

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: Alex Shashurin
Desired experience:   AAE 590 Electric Propulsion or AAE 590 Plasma Discharges is preferable
Number of positions: 1

Hall thrusters are widely utilized for spacecraft propulsion. The technology has been originally developed in Soviet Union and got adopted on the West in 1990s. In Hall thruster neutral gas propellant is ionized and accelerated by the cross-field accelerator to reach high propellant exhaust velocities in the range 10 - 50 km/s.
In this project student will work with Russian Hall thruster TAL D-55. The project will include assembling thruster on the vacuum chamber, connecting power and pneumatic lines to the thruster, and operating the thruster.


Pilot performance considerations for sensor technologies

Research categories:  Industrial Engineering
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Steven Landry
Preferred major(s): Industrial Engineering
Desired experience:   Statistics, including experiment design, experience would be very helpful. The ability to program flight simulator displays, which use XML, would also be very helpful.
Number of positions: 1

This project will investigate important human performance implications of displaying the output of new sensor technologies on the flight deck, with a primary focus on taxi, takeoff, and landing. The primary focus will be on light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and millimeter wave RADAR (MWR) technologies, but other multi-sensor IR and real-time imaging technologies will be considered. These technologies can be used for synthetic, enhanced vision, or combined vision systems, and can also be used for sensing and displaying meteorological phenomena such as winds, turbulence, and cloud cover. The effectiveness of displays of these technologies are expected to be impacted by information quality factors such as time lag, accuracy, and resolution, as well as aspects such as display location, symbology, and flight conditions. The work will consist of development of a simulator version of displays and a set of human factors studies on the issues mentioned above.


Purdue AirSense: Creating a State-of-the-Art Air Pollution Monitoring Network for Purdue

Research categories:  Agricultural, Aerospace Engineering, Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Educational Research/Social Science, Electronics, Environmental Science, Industrial Engineering, Innovative Technology/Design, Life Science, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Brandon Boor
Preferred major(s): Any engineering, science or human health major.
Desired experience:   Motivation to learn about, and solve, environmental, climate, and human health issues facing our planet. Past experience: working in the lab, analytical chemistry, programming (Matlab, Python, Java, LabVIEW, HTML), electronics/circuits, sensors.
Number of positions: 1-2

Air pollution is the largest environmental health risk in the world and responsible for 7 million deaths each year. Poor air quality is a serious issue in rapidly growing megacities and inside the homes of nearly 3 billion people that rely on solid fuels for cooking and heating. Join our team and help create a new, multidisciplinary air quality monitoring network for Purdue - Purdue AirSense. You will have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art air quality instrumentation and emerging sensor technologies to monitor O3, CO, NOx, and tiny airborne particulate matter across the campus. We are creating a central site to track these pollutants in real-time on the roof-top of Hampton Hall, as well as a website to stream the data to the entire Purdue community for free. 4-5 students will be recruited to work as a team on this project, which is led by Profs. Brandon Boor (CE) & Greg Michalski (EAPS).


Restructuring computer systems software for the IoT era

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: ECE
Professor: Felix Lin
Preferred major(s): CompE, CS, or related
Desired experience:   Have passion in hacking systems software
Number of positions: 1

While the mobile computers are still flourishing, we are quickly embracing a variety of new computing platforms, such as wearable devices, IoT, and augmentation reality headsets. These platforms challenge multiple fundamental assumptions made by today’s system software. In this project, you will involve in redefining the operating systems (OS) for these computing platforms so they can be smarter, faster and cooler.

This project will give you a lot of fun in hacking of OS, hypervisor, and various modern hardware.


Sensor Network for a Continuous Pharmaceutical Tableting Line

Research categories:  Chemical
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: Gintaras Reklaitis
Desired experience:   ChE 37700, ChE 32000 or equivalent
Number of positions: 1

Project Description
Continuous manufacturing and on-line process monitoring have the potential to improve product quality in the Pharmaceutical Industry [1]. In 2002 the FDA initiated Quality-by-Design (QbD) through Process Analytical Technology (PAT) tools. The goal of PAT is to augment the understanding and control the manufacturing process [2,3]. Through the implementation of QbD and PAT, the companies have to demonstrate understanding of how the operating conditions, process design and raw material variability affect the product quality [4].
On-line measurement of process conditions plays a significant role in continuous manufacturing implementation and its understanding. However, every measurement is subject to error. Therefore, having measurement redundancy and selecting the appropriate Critical Quality Attributes (CQAs) to measure are crucial steps in developing an effective system for process monitoring. It is by implementing appropriate sensors that we can obtain a better estimate of the actual state of the process. The objective of this project is to test different sensor network configuration and investigate the effect of each measurement in improving the values of process variables of our continuous tableting line.
[1] Ierapetritou M, Muzzio F, Reklaitis G. “Perspectives on the continuous manufacturing of powder-based pharmaceutical processes”, AIChE Journal, 62:1846-1862 (2016)
[2] US Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry, Q8 Pharmaceutical Development; Food and Drug Administration, 2006
[3] Lee S. L., O’Connor T. F., Yang X., Cruz C. N., Chatterjee S., Madurawee R. D., Moore C. M. V., Yu L. X. Modernizing Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: from Batch to Continuous Production. J Pharm Innov. 2015
[4] Rogers, A. J.; Hashemi, A.; Ierapetritou, M. Modeling of Particulate Processes for the Continuous Manufacture of Solid-Based Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms. Processes. 2013, 1, 67-127.


Structural Stability of Cylindrical Steel Storage Tanks

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Lyles School of Civil Engineering
Professor: Sukru Guzey
Preferred major(s): Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering
Desired experience:   Statics, Dynamics, Mechanics of Materials, Structural Analysis
Number of positions: 1

Cylindrical steel storage tanks are essential parts of infrastructure and industrial facilities used to store liquids and granular bulk solids. There are many procedures given in design standards to withstand the possible load effects, such as the hydrostatic pressure of the stored liquid, the external wind pressure, internal and external pressures due to process, and seismic events. Failure of a tank may cause catastrophic consequences.

The internal hydrostatic pressure due to the stored liquid results in tensile circumferential stress in the steel plates forming the shell. Because the resultant circumferential stress is tension and not compression, the yielding and tensile rupture criteria are the main concern. Analysis and design principles to account tensile stresses due to hydrostatic pressure is well established (Azzuni and Guzey 2015).

External wind pressure is also a load effect for the design of cylindrical storage tanks. When a tank is empty, it is vulnerable to buckling due to external wind pressure. This buckling failure mode is addressed by increasing the overall stiffness of the structure by adding stiffener rings to the shell. However, current design specifications in North America and Europe are overly conservative for the sizing of the stiffener rings (Godoy, 2016). The current design rules for sizing the top stiffener ring is based on intuition and experience. Although some researchers suggested some analytical justifications (Adams, 1975), these justifications are based on a number of assumptions which are based on the yielding criteria of the stiffener ring and not the buckling criteria.

In this study we shall investigate analytical, semi-analytical and computational procedures to obtain a more robust and resilient design of cylindrical storage tanks due to external wind loading. We shall use classical thin shell theory to obtain an upper bound buckling capacity of cylindrical tanks under wind loading. We shall use Raleigh-Ritz methods to obtain a simple semi-analytical buckling expressions. In addition, we shall investigate the storage tanks using finite element analysis with the use of geometrically nonlinear analysis including imperfections (GNIA). With the GNIA we shall establish a lower bound buckling capacity of these tanks. Finally, we shall compare our results with the available experimental physical testing of the cylindrical tanks and suggest a new design procedure. The undergraduate SURF student will work under the mentorship of Dr. Guzey and a graduate student. The SURF student compile a literature review, perform numerical simulations using FEA computer program ABAQUS, and write scientific research papers and conference presentations.

Azzuni, E. and S. Guzey (2015). "Comparison of the shell design methods for cylindrical liquid storage tanks." Engineering Structures 101: 621-630.
L. A. Godoy (2016). "Buckling of vertical oil storage steel tanks: Review of static buckling studies." Thin-Walled Structures, 103: 1-21.
J. H. Adams (1975). "A study of wind girder requirements for large API 650 floating roof tanks." Refining, 40th mid-year meeting, American Petroleum Institute, 16-75.


Synthesis, Characterization, and Reactivity of Low-Valent Uranium Species

Research categories:  Chemical
School/Dept.: Department of Chemistry
Professor: Suzanne Bart
Preferred major(s): Chemistry
Desired experience:   General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry lab courses completed
Number of positions: 1

Understanding of the fundamental chemistry of transition metal alkyl species has contributed greatly to the advancement of pharmaceuticals, materials, and fine chemicals. Comparatively we know much less about the types of reactions of which the f-block elements, more specifically uranium, are capable. The principal investigator’s laboratory is working to understand the synthesis, characterization, and reactivity of reduced uranium complexes for small molecule activation. Our initial findings have led us to understand the great chemical potential of uranium(III) and uranium(IV) alkyls and taught us how to effectively work with this electron rich metal, avoiding decomposition and disproportionation observed by others. Future work, proposed here, explores the hypothesis that low-valent uranium alkyls are useful synthons for elusive uranium targets. Experiments will be carried out to 1) obtain a family of uranium(III) alkyls with a variety of ancillary ligands, 2) understand under what conditions uranium can undergo two electron processes, similar to late transition metals, including reductive elimination, oxidative addition, and migratory insertion, 3) explore the utility of uranium alkyls for multiple bond formation. The work proposed here includes synthetic methods, spectroscopic analysis, and computational approaches to fully understand the reactivity of these compounds.

Although an underutilized element, uranium has many positive traits that make it suitable for metal mediated transformations. The principle investigator’s laboratory is studying how to control chemical reactivity at low- and mid-valent uranium centers in solution. These studies encompass understanding the stability and reactivity of organouranium species to determine their potential for new transformations. Efforts towards understanding how to make uranium perform two electron processes are also underway. Characterization of our uranium complexes through spectroscopic and computational methods will provide insight into uranium-element bonding. Uranium has been demonstrated to perform reactions unparalleled by transition metals, and there is no doubt that more exciting processes mediated by uranium will be uncovered.


The Role of Small Heat Shock Protein (HSP) in Postmortem Protein Degradation of Muscles

Research categories:  Agricultural, Life Science
School/Dept.: Animal Sciences
Professor: Brad Kim
Preferred major(s): Animal Sciences/Food Science/ABE/Biochemistry or closely related
Desired experience:   Basic chemistry/previous lab work experience
Number of positions: 1

Providing consistently high quality and wholesome meat products to consumers is crucial to the continued success of the US meat industry. The purpose of this research is to determine the role of small heat shock protein (HSP) in postmortem protein degradation of muscles. Anti-apoptotic functions of HSP have been well identified, but its potential impact on endogenous proteolytic enzyme activity is largely unknown. This study will determine the involvement of HSP in postmortem protein degradation of beef and/or pork muscles. Student will have hands-on experience by performing assays to observe and quantifying the presence of small heat shock proteins present in samples, and interpreting results. Student will assist graduate students in any way needed, especially as is relevant to studies in small heat shock proteins.


Thermodynamics of Coherent Structures near Phase Transitions

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Material Science and Engineering, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Ivan Christov
Preferred major(s): Engineering, Physics or Mathematics (any subareas of each)
Desired experience:   Knowledge of programming in MATLAB and/or a MATLAB-like high-level language (such as python). Experience writing own computer code and analyzing the numerical output. Basic understanding of partial differential equations. Basic understanding of thermodynamics and classical physics.
Number of positions: 1

Many phenomena in physics, engineering and material science can be addressed by "simple" mathematical models capturing only the essential behavior. Coherent structures are common to all areas of science, from synchronized oscillations of fireflies to Jupiter's red spot. "Simple" (also called phenomenological) models of phase transitions (abrupt changes in system behavior) also exhibit coherent structures and self-organized behavior. When large numbers of coherent structures interact in the presence of noise and/or external driving forces, a thermodynamic limit can be taken, describing the complex system by a single nonlinear partial differential equation for the "field" of coherent structures.

This project is aimed at numerically confirming analytical results obtained recently about such systems. The SURF student will work with the faculty member to further develop simple numerical simulations of partial differential equations using standard software such a MATLAB or Python tools such as numpy and SciPy. The SURF student will generate simulations spanning a large parameter space and of sufficient size and accuracy to compute long-time (thermodynamic) averages suitable for comparison to the theory. If successful, the theory-numerics comparison will yield an important journal publication.

More information:


Turbulence characterization in Lake Michigan

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Environmental Science, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Cary Troy
Preferred major(s): civil, mechanical, or aerospace engineering
Desired experience:   Should have taken a first course in fluid mechanics; Matlab experience is necessary; and experience on the water is desirable but not required. Students who are good working with their hands, tools, and the machine shop are also very welcome to our lab.
Number of positions: 1

This project aims to measure turbulence levels in Lake Michigan using an innovative combination of state-of-the-art flow measurement tools. The successful applicant will be in charge of coordinating a large field experiment involving multiple instruments that sample water velocity and turbulence levels at a coastal site in Lake Michigan. The motivation for this work is to improve our abilities to parameterize turbulence in large-scale, 3-D hydrodynamic ocean and lake models. The project will involve laboratory work setting up, testing, and modifying instruments, as well as days on the lake performing instrument deployment/recovery and intensive sampling.


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++, others as described below
Number of positions: 1-3

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 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 well versed in C++ upon entering the SURF program, and will be expected to learn skills in R, OpenGL, and/or a variety of other libraries over the course of the summer.

Ongoing project plans will include research that combines soil, weather and crop data from sensing technology to provide critical crop answers for California wine growers and producers, programming for criminal incident report analysis, incorporating local statistics into volume rendering on the GPGPU, healthcare data analysis, and analyzing customizable topics and anomalies that occur in real-time via social media networks Twitter and Facebook. If you have CUDA programming experience or an intense interest to learn it, please indicate this on 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. 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.

More information:


Wearable sensing for advancing human performance in surgery

Research categories:  Industrial Engineering, Other
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Denny Yu
Preferred major(s): IE
Desired experience:   Strong ability to work in clinician-engineer teams is required. Proficiency in Matlab and statistics. Occasional travel may be needed.
Number of positions: 1-2

Research will be focused on developing and applying sensors and sensor analytics to better understand surgeon performance in the operating room and in simulation. Available projects included the following domains: robotic surgery, veterinary care, and/or trauma teams.


Web-based Water Quality Status Tool

Research categories:  Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Professor: Margaret Gitau
Preferred major(s): Computer Science or related
Desired experience:   HTML, PHP, CSS, Javascript, Python, Git, CGI, C#, etc; web servers/server technologies, databases
Number of positions: 1

Currently, computation of Water Quality Indices (WQIs- indicators of water quality status) relies largely on a manual process with regard to extraction of driving data, determination of subindex values, and overall index computation which limits index application. The goal of this project is to develop and test a decision-support and management tool that automates the processes of extracting data from existing repositories, calculating WQIs, and generating interactive visualizations for use by water quality managers. The project will entail the development of a web-based user interface and testing across multiple devices and browsers. The result will be a dynamic web-based application that will complement on-going water quality work within the research group. The student will be expected to develop the web-based application including technology selection, WUI design, programming, and testing. The student will work closely with a graduate research assistant on the team to obtain algorithms for data processing and information on back-end databases that need to be incorporated in the application.


Wideband GNSS Reflectometry Instrument Design and Signal Processing for Airborne Remote Sensing of Ocean Winds.

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Environmental Science, Physical Science, Other
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: James Garrison
Preferred major(s): Electrical Engineering, Physics
Desired experience:   Linear Systems, Signal processing, computer programming (C, Python, MATLAB). Some experience building computers or electronics is desirable. A basic understanding of electromagnetism is also desirable.
Number of positions: 1

This research project will involve the assembly and test a remote sensing instrument to make measurements of the ocean wind field from the NOAA “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft. The fundamental operating principle of this new instrument is “reflectometry”, which is based upon observing changes in the structure of a radio frequency signal reflected from the ocean surface. These changes are related to the air-sea interaction process on the ocean surface and can be used to estimate the wind speed through empirical models. Transmissions from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), (e.g. GPS, Galileo, Glonass or Compass) are ideal signal sources for reflectometry, due to their use of a “pseudorandom noise” (RRN) code.

NASA will be launching the CYGNSS satellite constellation in November to globally monitor the tropical ocean and observe the formation of severe storms. CYGNSS will use a first generation GNSS-R instrument. This summer research project will produce a next-generation prototype taking advantage of the wider bandwidth of the Galileo E5 signal (~90 MHz vs. 2 MHz) for higher resolution measurements of the reflected signal.

In addition to hardware assembly and testing in the laboratory, this research project will also require the development of signal processing algorithms to extract essential information from the scattered signal. A “software defined radio” approach will be used, in which the full spectrum of the reflected signal is recorded and post-processed using software to implement the complete signal processing chain.

The goal of this summer research project is to deliver a working instrument, post processing software, and documentation to NOAA for flight on the hurricane aircraft during the 2017 hurricane season. There are two objectives of this experiment. The first is to demonstrate the feasibility of wideband E5 reflectometry measurements. The second objective is to collect the highest quality GNSS reflectometry data, under a wide variety of extreme meteorological conditions, to improve the empirical models that will be used for processing CYGNSS data and generating hurricane forecasts.

Students interested in this project should have good programming skills and some experience with C, Python and MATLAB. They should also have a strong background in basic signal processing. Experience with building computers or other electronic equipment will also be an advantage.

More information:


Worldwide Observation of Human Behaviors

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science
School/Dept.: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor: Yung-Hsiang Lu
Preferred major(s): Engineering or Science
Desired experience:   Computer Programming and Data Structures.
Number of positions: 1-2

Millions of network cameras have been deployed worldwide and they can continuously stream live video to anyone connected to the Internet (without any password). These cameras may be deployed in shopping malls, city centers, university campuses, street intersections, etc. Through these cameras, it is possible to understand and study Social interactions, Behaviors, and Economic activities (SBE) in different parts of the world and to compare the influence of cultures, environments, geographical locations, time, and so on. However, the vast amounts of data must be properly managed so that valuable information can be extracted. The purpose of this project is to create computer tools that can facilitate discovery of patterns of human behaviors from worldwide network cameras.

This project has four major parts: (1) discovering the network cameras that can provide data relevant to SBE research, (2) retrieving, saving, and organizing data from these cameras, (3) providing user interfaces for SBE researchers to visualize the data and observe behaviors, and (4) developing computer vision solutions to automatically understand human behaviors.