2018 Rasmussen Summer Research Projects

For the summer of 2018, four recipients (HMC students and faculty) were awarded support from the Rasmussen Summer Research Fund. You can view the project abstracts and proposals below. Final reports will be available in fall 2018.

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Intelligent air quality sampling via mobile sensor networks – Lelia Hawkins (chemistry) and Christopher Clark (engineering)

Abstract: We propose to continue work on our Algorithmic direction for mobile air quality measurements in summer 2018 with two undergraduate students. We intend to optimize both (1) route planning and (2) surface mapping algorithms through a combination of modeling and field studies conducted in the greater Los Angeles area in collaboration with UC Riverside Prof. David Cocker at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology. The proposed collaborative work brings together two fields that have largely remained isolated from one another yet stand to benefit from interdisciplinary research. To our knowledge, no mobile air quality measurements have incorporated these methods. Professors Hawkins and Clark bring expertise in atmospheric measurements and autonomous vehicle design and deployment as well as demonstrable experience supervising undergraduate students in research. The long term objective is to use the results of this work to create a network of autonomous vehicles for real time pollution monitoring throughout the Los Angeles megacity in order improve the spatial and temporal resolution of air quality measurements and to improve air quality predictions.

View: Proposal

Fish and Chips – Matthew Spencer (engineering)

Abstract: Tracking fish using electronic tags enables biologists to measure migration patterns, mating behavior and native habitat. These studies help to understand the ecosystems in which the fish live and can guide the design of policies to manage those ecosystems. This project seeks to replace existing electronic tags, which are battery powered and require three listeners to triangulate their location, with batteryless tags that can be monitored over longer periods of time with only a single listener. This performance improvement will be achieved by powering the batteryless tag wirelessly and establishing a low bandwidth communication link with the tag. The remote power will be delivered by an ultrasound transmitter, so a low-power energy harvesting circuit must be designed for the tag and a phased array of transducers must be designed to focus transmit power at the tag. In summer of 2017, students developed a low-power transmitter circuit, identified transducing elements for a transmitter and receiver, and verified a link model for communicating underwater. This summer, research student will modify the transmit circuit so that it drives a more powerful transducer, build a circuit capable of receiving power and data from the transducer, and improve the range of the prototype link.

View: Proposal

DNA barcoding of corals impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill – Andrea Quattrini (biology) and Catherine McFadden (biology)

Abstract: The Gulf of Mexico (GoM) has experienced numerous environmental catastrophes (oil spills, anoxic events) in recent history. The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, in particular, was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, impacting coastal, pelagic, and benthic communities. Deepwater coral communities, which harbor levels of diversity that rival shallow-water coral reefs, were among the benthic communities impacted by the DWH incident. The summer research project proposed herein is part of a larger project that will help to guide restoration efforts of deepwater coral species impacted by the DWH. The project, funded by the NOAA Restore Science Program, aims to address crucial gaps in the understanding of the processes that shape population connectivity patterns in deepwater corals in the GoM. During this summer, a student will learn a variety of techniques, including taxonomy, molecular methods, and bioinformatics, and identify deepwater coral species using DNA barcodes. Results will be directly disseminated to resource managers of the GoM, and therefore will contribute to better-informed management decisions in vulnerable, deep-sea ecosystems.

View: Proposal

Developing a Local Manufactured/Assembled Low Cost Solar Light
Kit for Remote Haiti Villages – Qimin Yang (engineering)

Abstract: The project aims to develop a local manufactured/assembled solar light kit for Haiti villages. In a recent trip to villages at Casawa, Andra and Calbassier in Haiti, we tested several small solar-based light sources including a prototype developed in HMC. The circuit efficiency and small package design provide an attractive solution. In the next phase, we would like to focus on extending its capability for local manufacturing or assembly. A successful design of such a light kit can provide job opportunities for the poor local families, while reducing the shipping and manufacturing cost of the light unit. Such development provides necessary needs for these villages and allows for a broader use of the light in neighboring regions in the future. Despite limited supplies, as much local materials as possible will be considered and incorporated. These constraints and challenges provide a unique opportunity for the students in the project, and it will provide the students an education much more beyond the technical training. The impact on these local community and on the education of the students are both valuable pieces of this project. We would like to explore the product development potential for the final assembly designs in addition to the prototype development. We will seek necessary collaboration with the design faculties in the HMC Engineering Department.

View: Proposal