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Symposium Proceedings


Note: Presentations are grouped by the student’s area of research (based on the faculty mentor’s academic department), not the student’s academic major.


Poster Session D: 

10:30 - 11:30 am

Architecture, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Physics (44 posters)




D-01     Beckett Carroll

Research Presentation Title:  Cove Base: Patterns

Faculty Research Mentor:  Keith Peiffer, Architecture


Cove base is the rubber or vinyl strip found along the base of walls. It provides a tolerance for the rough bottom edge of drywall, protects the bottom of the wall from kicks and bumps, and allows for easier cleaning of the floor. This material is found in nearly every building on Oklahoma State University’s campus, and all across America. Despite being such a highly utilized product, few people know its name, let alone the origin of the material. Objects that surround us everyday, are forgotten about, taken for granted, or ignored due to their prevalence, however, still shape our lives whether we acknowledge it or not, as supported by Sigfried Giedion in his 1948 book Mechanization Takes Command. For this reason, cove base deserves study. This first look into cove base is a chronological evaluation of its origin, in order to understand how the material has evolved both in substance and perception. The most prevalent textual source that we have for the study of the origins of cove base are advertisements found in architectural trade journals such as: Journal of the American Institute of Architects (1899-1976) or The American Architect (1875-1938). Archives of these publications span over a century, and thousands of issues. In order to understand the material and the companies that produced it, four major avenues were explored: When the material first appeared on a mass market level, how it was talked about, how frequently it was advertised, and how it has changed over 60+ years. This study shows the changes in the material itself, the prevalence of advertisements of the material, the starting time frame of its advertisement in trade journals, how it is perceived by the companies who advertise this product, and the target audience of these advertisements. This investigation into the trends of cove base advertisements yields a far greater understanding of the material and how the perception of it has changed across time, going from a new, innovative design, to a tired and worn out essential in every building. 


D-02     Mattie Farve

Research Presentation Title:  Utilizing Natural Strategies in Building Skin

Faculty Research Mentor:  Jay Yowell, Architecture


A major problem architecture has always had lies with the skin of the building. This is mainly due to the fact that the skin is the barrier of the building that constantly has contact with outside forces. One of these forces being the sun. Keeping a building's temperature regulated is a complicated task with countless methods of doing so. Especially when it comes to areas of the world with diverse climates. The purpose of this project is to seek how natural systems can potentially solve architectural building skin problems and to open up new design opportunities to create a more unique and environmentally friendly building. Regulating heat is a skill many parts of nature excel at. Whether it can handle the extremes of a climate or the shifting seasons, they all have unique ways of surviving the environment they reside in. With these biological models, methods of building skin could arise from them. One of them being the snail. A snail's shell can have various shapes, sizes, pigments, patterns, and textures depending on the climate it lives in. The shell can allow a snail to thrive anywhere from hot and dry climates to cool and humid climates. Even frogs can actively change their pigments to cope with harsh sunlight and even lie dormant until the climate is favorable. These examples of nature can help solve similar problems when it comes to building skin. The research done over numerous species of these snails and frogs could bring ideas of how to design efficient or environmentally friendly systems in architecture. The topic of material, pattern, and texture is already prominent in the world of architecture, but these biological models could lead to a deeper understanding of this conversation. Whether it's looking at the exterior or internal systems of a building skin, looking to nature for inspiration can open the door to countless methods of regulating a building's temperature.


D-03     Jesus Fuentes, Will Martin

Research Presentation Title:  Concrete Teaching Tool: Understanding Reinforcement Through 3D Fabrication

Faculty Research Mentor:  Christina McCoy, Architecture


This research project is about understanding concrete reinforcing among students through the development of 3D printed models showcasing details of steel reinforcement. The project focuses on exploring different types of resin and 3D fabrication techniques to create accurate representations of reinforcing elements, offering students a physical and visual learning tool to comprehend the complex concepts of reinforced concrete more effectively. The opening phases of the project involved experimentation with different 3D printing materials to identify the most suitable option for representing the reinforced components. Through testing and analysis, optimal materials were determined to ensure both durability and reliability to represent the reinforcing elements. Additionally, the research went into experimenting and analyzing different types of resin. By making test molds constructed with acrylic and using a pressure pot, the project aimed to determine which resin was best fit to represent the concrete but also be transparent enough for students to able to see the steel reinforcement clearly. This process allowed for the making of accurate representations of concrete and reinforcement, enhancing the overall accuracy of the 3D printed models. The goal for the future is to develop highly detailed 3D printed models that accurately represent concrete reinforcing. These models will serve as important educational resources, providing students with hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of concrete reinforcing principles. Ultimately, this research contributes to the advancement of teaching methods of structural engineering and creates a deeper understanding of complex concepts in concrete reinforcement.


D-04     DShaun Merriweather

Research Presentation Title:  Wind Loads on Glazing Panels and Visible Transmittance through Glass

Faculty Research Mentor:  Khaled Mansy; Bodhisatta Hajra, Architecture


A façade that typically separates the building’s exterior from the interior, can be made up of various materials including wood, vinyl, glass, and sheet metal. Among various façade materials, double or triple glazed curtain walls are being increasingly used on commercial buildings due to their aesthetic appeal. These glazed panels experience high wind pressures leading to glass failures, especially in hurricane prone regions of the United States. Wind loads are generally higher in corner regions of the building due to higher suctions (negative pressure) caused by airflow around the building. Another aspect of glass is its visual transmittance (VT) which represents the amount of visible light passing through glass. While higher VT can reduce the need for artificial lights, it may cause excessive glare and discomfort to a building’s occupants. Therefore, the location of the glass on a building can greatly influence daylighting and the wind induced loads experienced by the glass. For instance, a south facing window may have a higher contribution to daylighting, but if located on the corner of the building, it would experience higher wind pressures leading to structural damage of glass. Examining these aspects requires a collaborative effort from a structural engineering and building science viewpoint. To address these issues, this study examines the wind induced stresses and deflections for double and triple glazed windows of different sizes using the ASTM E-1300 standard. In addition, experiments for selected cases will be performed to evaluate daylighting performance at the Daylighting Laboratory at Oklahoma State University. The study will consider wind velocities and solar intensities of selected cities in the United States. The results of this study will be used to determine the optimum glass size and location on the building, for a given US city, that can experience minimal wind induced stresses on glass, while providing sufficient daylight to building occupants. Future research focused on improved glazing materials that can sustain wind induced damage, besides being able optimize the design for daylighting, would be an interesting endeavor. 


D-05     Nicholas Morey

Research Collaborators:  Jay Yowell

Research Presentation Title:  The Architectural Possibilities of Euplectella Aspergillum (Venus's Flower-Basket)

Faculty Research Mentor:  Jay Yowell, Architecture


As urban density increases, the effects of extreme development become more pronounced, not the least of which is façade decay and structural aging. In New York City alone, millions of dollars of public money are used to inspect facades, while an uncounted fortune is used to repair any defects. Although it is a large investment, it is a necessary one, as multiple individuals have been struck and killed by falling masonry as they traveled on the city sidewalks.  While inspections and repairs are a good treatment for this ongoing issue, they are not sustainable as a long-term solution. To better construct long lasting architecture in dense urban environments, it seems obvious to look to nature for solutions. While the scope of this research began with a variety of plants and animals, the Euplectella Aspergillum (Venus’s Flower-Basket) variety of sea-sponges was chosen for more detailed investigations. A variety of factors set the Euplectella Aspergillum apart from other organisms. It is made of a hierarchical structure of brittle silica compounds, which would not be completely unrelated to materials such as steel and concrete. The organization and arrangement of the individual strands, or spicules, of the silica compound are arranged to transfer forces to the ground extremely well, as well as affect the fluid dynamics of the surrounding atmosphere.  By defining the issue of façade decay and researching the Euplectella Aspergillum, there is promise to apply the lessons learned from the sea-sponge to the built environment and improve the longevity of buildings. By combining design with scientific research, this project hopes to reduce the risk that high rises pose to pedestrians in urban areas. 

This research follows the framework of the biomimicry design spiral; defining the issue, translating it into biological terms, and discovering organisms that solve this problem, abstracting the methods used by the organisms, emulating them with architectural methods, and evaluating the outcome of the research. This process has great potential to provide a better balance between the artificially built environment and the forces of nature.


D-06     Emily Smith

Research Collaborators:  Keith Peiffer

Research Presentation Title:  Unveiling the Marquee: Discovering the Architectural Typology as a Catalyst for Communities

Faculty Research Mentor:  Jared Macken, Architecture


The interest in the iconic “Marquee” theater sign derived from an analysis of ordinary forms within architecture. As research has occurred over the last several months, with the overseeing of my professor, the Marquee sign begins to shape the identity of the said researched towns. The Marquee originally derived its name from the English definition of a “permanent metal canopy”. The idea of permanence has existed since its creation. However, the Marquee as we know it has taken on several different identities in relation to the space it inhabits. Through research, the first step was to discover where the Marquee was born. The Marquee has always been applied to any sort of elegance: a woman’s hat, an official, or a ring shape. Another characteristic of the Marquee is its need to protect the object or person at hand. Whether it be to protect individual’s equipment at a camp site, worn on top of a woman’s head, or even protecting people from the weather before they enter the theater, the characteristics carry through every interpretation of the word. More significantly, the Marquee provided physical protection for communities outside a theater and emotional protection. The Marquee Sign was a symbol of the growth of a community. Regardless of how the Marquee was attached to the building, it provided a way to recognize smaller towns' contributions. The Marquee was a means of leveling the playing field. It allowed communities to be seen and heard. Through the analysis of the Marquee sign, the goal of the research is to display the contribution of the Marquee, as well as recognize how this typology can be utilized in the 21st century. We often associate the Marquee with the film scene and the industrial revolution. However, the Marquee sign has provided an avenue for gathering spaces and highlighting communities. How can this same experience be replicated in a technology driven society and bring together the people we interact with daily? What role, or lack of role, does the Marquee play in our lives? 


D-07     Gabriel Tew

Research Collaborators:  Jay Yowell

Research Presentation Title:  Leveraging Biomimicry to Improve Building Skin Systems

Faculty Research Mentor:  Jay Yowell, Architecture


The natural world has been referenced, and often idealized by architects since the inception of architecture. The purpose of this research is to create a building system which can improve the efficiency of a building’s skin while remaining environmentally friendly. This will be done by studying biology strategies, simplifying their strategies, and implementing them on an architectural level. Current building practices often neglect water collection, instead placing focus on the protection of other building systems physically from the water, as well as the protection of the building systems’ validity. This leads to a layered approach within buildings’ skins, with different layers providing protection from different elements from the natural world, where water vapor may surpass many layers before reaching a vapor barrier, where the water vapor will condense, leaving water to spread through the layers of the buildings’ skin. To effectively study biological systems, the architectural problem must be translated into biological terms. This stage of research is known as biologizing and allows the problem to be described as the need to capture, expel, store, or distribute water. Studying Namib Beetles, Cribellate Spiders, and young Fish-Pole bamboo led to the discovery of many biological systems and phenomenon that may help to inform building systems for desired results.  Generalizing these biological systems allows for a transition of scale, from a spider’s use of lap-lace tension and surface energy gradients to directionally collect water vapor, to a generalized systematic tactic. Using generic wording while describing biological systems allows the research to focus on architecture and design. Emulation of this/ these biological systems in architecture may prove useful in creating environmentally friendly systems to be substitute for today’s approach and tone towards water in architecture. While scientifically studying a wide range of flora and fauna, I have found many of their strategies to collect, store, expel, and distribute water do not conform to the approach contemporary vernacular architectural systems take. It is against this norm that I hypothesize that a biological system will inform a skin system that more effectively utilizes water vapor while minimizing damage to its context.


D-08     Elijah Brown

Research Collaborators:  Brandon Lee, Audrey Dagnell, Xuejuan Tan, Robert Matts, Yong Cheng

Research Presentation Title:  Development of a new drug for cystic fibrosis patients with non-tuberculous mycobacterial infection

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease affecting at least 100,000 children and adults worldwide.  CF is caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, which codes for a cell-surface chloride ion channel protein. The mutations reduce the protein’s activity, negatively impacting chloride ion secretion and causing individuals affected by CF to produce a viscous mucus that can trap bacteria in their airways. Chronic infections of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) and resulting pulmonary disease are becoming increasingly common in patients with CF and most of the morbidity and mortality in CF patients are due to microbial lung infections, yet there are no reliable and effective antibiotic treatments for these infections. It is therefore necessary to develop novel and effective antibiotics or antibiotic adjuvant therapies for CF patients with NTM lung infections. We are studying three potential antimycobacterial drugs that were identified by screening a library of compounds from the National Institute of Health. One compound (Cpd #3) significantly inhibited the growth of Mycobacterium avium, one of the most common NTM species found in the airway of CF patients with NTM lung infections, and the combination of Cpd #3 with clarithromycin (CAM) significantly improved the treatment efficacy. Our data further indicate that Cpd #3 has a low toxicity in macrophages (cell tolerance up to 25 µg/ml) and that Cpd #3 significantly reduces bacterial growth in mouse macrophages. Taken together, our results suggest a potential application of Cpd #3 as a novel antibiotic for CF patients with NTM lung infections. 


D-09     Kaela Byers

Research Collaborators:  Jeeva Senthil Kumar 

Research Presentation Title:  Endogenous CTRP6 Expression During Macrophage M1 polarization

Faculty Research Mentor:  Xia Lei, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Obesity, characterized by increased body fat and dysregulated lipid metabolism, is intricately linked to chronic low-grade inflammation. Given the widespread prevalence of obesity and its associated disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, understanding obesity-related chronic inflammation has become paramount. In obese adipose tissue, pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages predominate, contrasting with the anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages found in healthy lean adipose tissue, and are implicated as drivers of the pathology. However, the precise mechanisms underlying this M1 bias remain elusive, presenting opportunities for novel therapeutic targets against obesity. C1q/TNF-related proteins (CTRPs), known regulators of glucose and fat metabolism with modulatory effects on adipose tissue inflammation, have garnered attention. Among these, CTRP6 demonstrates increased expression within macrophages of obese or diabetic adipose tissue and is associated with insulin resistance and heightened pro-inflammatory responses. Thus, investigating the role of CTRP6 in M1 polarization holds promise for understanding the pathological polarization observed in obesity. To address this, we designed a study to examine CTRP6 expression during M1 polarization of mouse macrophages, aiming to elucidate its role in the polarization cascade. Using the RAW264.7 cell line, we induced M1 polarization with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon-gamma (INF-γ) treatment for 24 hours, followed by total RNA extraction using the TriZOL method. Subsequently, mRNA was reverse-transcribed into cDNA, and CTRP6 mRNA levels were quantified via real-time PCR. Our findings revealed a significant decrease in CTRP6 expression over a 24-hour period under M1 polarization conditions, indicating the intricate involvement of CTRP6 in the polarization cascade. Further investigation into CTRP6 holds great promise for potential therapeutic interventions and the management of obesity-related chronic inflammation. 


D-10     Olivia Clark

Research Collaborators:  Carlyn Guthrie, Xuejuan Tan

Research Presentation Title:  Effects of cystic fibrosis epithelial cells on macrophage activation

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Cystic fibrosis is a human genetic disorder caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene which codes for chloride channels on the apical surface of epithelial cells. Because of the CFTR’s role in regulating chloride and ion transfer over cell membranes, dysfunctional channels lead to accumulation of thick mucus that disrupts respiratory, urogenital, and digestive tract functions. Because of this characteristic, cystic fibrosis patients are more susceptible to lung infections; however, the mechanisms between cystic fibrosis and disrupted immunity remain unclear.

Recent studies show that micro-vesicles released by mammalian cells initiate inflammatory responses in neighboring immune cells, such as macrophages. More research is needed to understand how macrophages and micro vesicles can induce an immune response. In this study, the interactions between macrophages and microvesicles derived from CFTR mutant human bronchial epithelial cells are being investigated.


D-11     Phoenix Hollenbeck

Research Collaborators:  Jeevotham Senthil Kumar

Research Presentation Title:  Endogenous CTRP6 Expression During Macrophage M2 Polarization

Faculty Research Mentor:  Xia Lei, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Obesity is a global health concern due to its association with chronic, low-grade inflammation, leading to complications such as insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction. Common comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease, contribute significantly to global mortality rates. Consequently, there is an urgent need for advanced treatment modalities for obese and diabetic individuals. In the context of obesity, adipose tissue undergoes infiltration by macrophages, with a predominant shift towards the pro-inflammatory M1 phenotype compared to the anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype observed in lean states. It has been indicated that impaired induction of the M2 phenotype is associated with unresolved inflammation in the obese state. Induction of the M2 phenotype in vitro can be achieved through stimulation with cytokines like interleukin-4 (IL-4). C1q/TNF-related protein 6 (CTRP6) emerges as a promising candidate linking obesity to chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Whether CTRP6 is involved in macrophage polarization, especially M2 polarization, has not been elucidated yet. In this study, we aimed to investigate the endogenous expression of CTRP6 at the mRNA level during M2 polarization induced by IL-4 treatment over a 24-hour period. Utilizing the RAW264.7 mouse macrophage cell line, we cultured cells, induced M2 polarization, extracted total RNA via the TriZOL method, and subsequently reverse transcribed mRNA into cDNA. Real-time PCR with CTRP6-specific primers facilitated quantification of CTRP6 mRNA levels. Our findings revealed no significant variation in CTRP6 mRNA levels over time during IL-4 treatment, suggesting that CTRP6 may not directly involved in macrophage M2 polarization. However, the alternation of CTRP6 expression at the protein level remains unexplored. Considering the elevated CTRP6 levels observed in obesity, it is plausible that CTRP6 may influence macrophage polarization, warranting further investigation. The untapped potential of CTRP6 as a target for obesity-associated inflammation underscores its importance and suggests it could lead to the development of enhanced treatment regimens against obesity. 


D-12     Brandon Lee

Research Collaborators:  Yong Cheng, Jason Brown, Audrey Dagnell, Xuejuan Tan, Robert Matts

Research Presentation Title:  Investigating New Antimycobacterial Drugs In Cell Culture

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that severely damages the digestive system, lungs, and other organs within patients. CF is caused by a defect in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. The CFTR gene codes for a cell-surface chloride ion channel protein. Mutations in this gene negatively impact chloride ion secretion, producing a thick mucus in the patient’s airways. This mucus leaves patients more vulnerable to bacterial infection. There is an increasing number of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections within CF patients. This increase in NTM within CF is problematic as having the presence of both raises major health threats. As of 2016, roughly 9% of CF patients were infected with NTM – that number is regularly increasing. This is worrisome as most morbidity and mortality occurs due to NTM infection and there is a lack of reliable and effective treatments for these infections. Thus, there is an increased need for the development of new antibiotics or adjuvant therapies. We identified 3 potential antimycobacterial drugs from a compound library from the National Institute of Health. A disk diffusion assay showed that one compound (Cpd #1) significantly increased the effectiveness of clofazimine, a common antibiotic, against Mycobacterium abscessus, one of the most common NTM species infecting CF patients. These results suggest the potential application of Cpd #1 as a new antibiotic for NTM infection in CF patients. We will continue the study on Cpd#1 in the future research. 


D-13     Amber Meeker

Research Collaborators:  Carlyn Guthrie, Ashton Self, Xuejuan Tan

Research Presentation Title:  Understanding Immune Interactions Between Epithelial Cells and Macrophages during Mycobacterial Infection

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Mycobacterium abscessus, a nontuberculous mycobacterium, is known to afflict nearly every organ, particularly causing respiratory infections in many cystic fibrosis patients. Microvesicles, membrane-bound vesicles released from mammalian cells, though poorly understood, play a crucial role in cell-to-cell interactions. Unraveling the significance of microvesicles could be pivotal in devising solutions for combating this disease. The primary objectives of this study are as follows: i) Isolation of microvesicles produced from M. abscessus-infected and uninfected epithelial cells; ii) Analyze macrophage activation after microvesicle treatment; (iii) Investigate microvesicle-carried proteins identified in mass spectrometry based proteomic analysis; (iv) Visualize microvesicle uptake by macrophages. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of isolating microvesicles and determining their protein concentration, average size, and particle concentration. Notably, we have discovered that infected microvesicles enhance M. abscessus survival within macrophages. Furthermore, mass spectrometry results identified two proteins likely contributing to diminished intracellular bacterial clearance. The purpose of this study is to understand the mechanism how airway epithelial cells regulate the function of macrophages via released microvesicles during M. abscessus infection in cell culture. We will continue the research by proposing the following three main experiments: i) Analyze macrophage activation after microvesicle treatment using quantitative reverse-transcription PCR; ii) Investigate the microvesicle-carried proteins that were identified by mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis and determine their role in macrophage activation and mycobacterial intracellular survival in cell culture; iii) Visualize microvesicle uptake by macrophages using a confocal microscope. Understanding the interactions between epithelial cells and macrophage activation could lead to therapeutic breakthroughs for CF patients.


D-14     Amelia Paquin

Research Presentation Title:  Enzyme Explorers

Faculty Research Mentor:  Ashely Mattinson, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


As technology continues to dominate our economy, developing skilled workers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields becomes key to economic success. STEM education becomes paramount to creating a workforce capable of these jobs. The negative preconception of STEM education creates a challenge in establishing interest in the field. Many interventions are currently aimed at the middle and high school level in the traditional STEM fields of biology, chemistry, or engineering. The curriculum we are introducing is designed to engage younger individuals of 5-8 year olds. The introduction of a biochemistry topic at a young age will alleviate the stigma that science is hard and instead focus on the fun. This will generate interest and confidence in pursuing a STEM job in the future. The target of this study is enzymes. Enzymes will be broken down into three main topics: enzymes speed up reactions, the reuses of enzymes in chemical processes, and biochemical processes with which enzymes consume less energy. Simple experiments will show the students what happens with and without enzymes present. With the experiment portion of the study, there will be three experiments; each addressing one of the main topics being introduced. The second section of the lesson will focus on play-based learning through a game. Students will be given a role as the enzyme or the reactant and will demonstrate enzyme activity. It will showcase inhibition, catalysis, and the effect of no enzyme present. The interactive activity is designed to constantly keep the students engaged, and correlate what they visually learned with the experiment with a collaborative activity. The completed curriculum will enter the assessment phase in late spring of 2024. Data will be collected from a classroom setting to determine effectiveness. 


D-15     Aidaly Ramos-Leyva

Research Collaborators:  Charlie Vermeire, Xuejuan Tan, Yurong Liang, Lin Liu, and Yong Cheng

Research Presentation Title:  Investigate the Role of Macrophage-derived Microvesicles in the Mycobacteria-host Interactions

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Non-tuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) infections can be greatly dangerous to patients with cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis patients who get infected with NTM have a more severe reaction because NTM infection may cause hyperinflammatory damage in the airway. The goal of this study is to investigate the role of macrophage-derived microvesicles (MVs) in host response to NTM infection. MVs are extracellular vesicles that are released by mammalian cells and play an important role in cell-to-cell communication. These vesicles contain biological molecules from parental cells, including proteins, RNAs and DNAs. I performed a centrifugation-based MV isolation using mouse macrophages, RAW 264.7, in the Dr. Yong Cheng’s lab. After MV purification, a BCA protein assay was performed to quantify the total protein in the purified MVs, to determine the effect of M.ab infection on host protein trafficking into MVs in macrophages. The purified MVs were also evaluated using the Nanosight NS300 system. The morphology (size and shape) of isolated MVs was further investigated using Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) in the microscopy core facility at Oklahoma State University. Samples of the microvesicles were then sent off for mass spectrometry analysis and the results were analyzed using Perseus and Metascape bioinformatic software. My results indicate that macrophage-derived microvesicles are promoters of mycobacterial survival. My future study will focus on the effect of host MVs on macrophage activation during M.ab infection. I hope that our understanding of MV-mediated host immune response to non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections could lead to better treatments for cystic fibrosis patients with lung diseases.  


D-16     Amber Smith

Research Collaborators:  Owen Fleming, Blake Wilson, Xuejuan Tan, Yong Cheng 

Research Presentation Title:  Biomarker Discovery for Bovine Respiratory Disease

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Bovine Respiratory Disease, also known as shipping fever, is "multi-factorial syndrome" caused by bacterial or viral infections. This disease often presents after stressful situations or being hauled long distances, hence why it is also known as shipping fever. Bovine Respiratory Disease is often diagnosed by cattle being severely symptomatic. At which point the cattle are treated, but there are often secondary infections making their condition worse and complex. Bovine Respiratory disease is one of the largest causes of economic loss in the beef and dairy industries causing between 50 and 70 percent of deaths in feedlots. Early diagnosis of Bovine Respiratory Disease could save the lives of a sizable portion of cattle and reduce economic loss in cattle industries. However, there is no reliable diagnostic tools for early test of Bovine Respiratory Disease. In this study, we aim to identify new biomarkers for early diagnosis of Bovine Respiratory Disease. To achieve this goal, we developed the technique to isolate extracellular vesicles from blood samples that were initially prepared from healthy cattle and sick cattle with Bovine Respiratory Disease. Extracellular vesicles from blood have been found to carry biomarkers for human diseases. They are excellent biomarker carriers for Bovine Respiratory Disease. In the future study, I will analyze proteomics of isolated extracellular vesicles from healthy and sick cattle. 


D-17     Bennett Upton

Research Collaborators:  Trinity Austin, Torin Enevoldsen

Research Presentation Title:  Deleting INI-1 in the SWI/SNF Complex using CRISPR-cas9 Causes Significant Changes in Protein Expression

Faculty Research Mentor:  Donald Ruhl, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


To fit the billions of base pairs of DNA inside our cells, it is organized in a DNA, protein complexes called chromatin. Chromatin is made up of DNA wrapped around protein complexes called histones which gives chromatin its compact nature. Because this chromatin is so tightly compact, it poses a problem for transcription. Chromatin remodeling complexes are a class of protein complexes that are responsible for shifting the histones along the strand of DNA, hence, regulating what genes get transcribed. One of the more common chromatin remodeling complexes is the SWI/SNF complex which, when mutated, is associated with a plethora of cancers.  The gene INI-1 is responsible for producing the protein SMARCB1 which helps SWI/SNF bind to the DNA (Pierre et al., 2017). Deleting the gene INI-1 has a strong association with the pediatric brain cancer Atypical Teratoid-Rhabdoid Tumors (AT-RT) (Wang et al., 2016). When a cell has a non-functional INI-1 gene, certain cancer pathways get activated, which can be assessed by looking at the proteins produced by the cell. Protein levels within the cell can give us insight into what the cell is doing. For this lab, we took HeLa Cells and removed INI-1 via CRISPR-cas9. We then extracted the proteins of these cells and will separate the protein by size using an SDS-PAGE. This technique uses electricity and gel with pores to cause the protein strands to migrate through the gel. The larger pieces of protein will lag behind the shorter pieces of protein. After using the SDS-PAGE to separate the proteins, a Western Blot can be used to ensure that INI-1 was effectively deleted by CRISPR-cas9. Once we get an accurate SDS-PAGE and Western Blot, we will then send the gel to a mass spectrometer which will give us quantitative data on every protein within the cell. We can then assess the difference in protein concentration between the cells with INI-1 removed and the cells with INI-1 to determine the pathways that may lead to AT-RT formation. This will give us novel information about the formation of an aggressive brain cancer.


D-18     Kyle Van Pelt

Research Collaborators:  Stephen Kotey, Xuejuan Tan, Lin Liu, Yong Cheng

Research Presentation Title:  The role of host long non-coding RNAs in host-pathogen interactions

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a type of RNAs that are longer than 200 nucleotides but do not appear to encode for any particular proteins. Host lncRNAs have been proven to have a major role in regulating immunity to bacterial infections. For example, the host lncRNA MEG3 eliminates mycobacterial survival inside macrophages by activating autophagy. However, we still know little about host lncRNAs in host-pathogen interactions in the context of bacterial infections. Our current research suggests that host cell-released microvesicles, a type of extracellular vesicles, may carry a large amount of lncRNAs during bacterial infections. Microvesicles are extracellular organelles that are involved in intercellular signaling and the transfer of biochemical molecules. In this study, I am performing the experiments to understand how macrophage-released microvesicles regulates host cell function via carried lncRNAs from parental cells, and further understand the role of microvesicles and lncRNAs in immunity to bacterial infections. 


D-19     Charlie Vermeire

Research Collaborators:  Xuejuan Tan, Yurong Lian, Stephen Kotey, Janet Rogers, Steven Hartson, Lin Liu, Yong Cheng

Research Presentation Title:  Mycobacterium abscessus Extracellular Vesicles Increase Mycobacterial Resistance to Clarithromycin in vitro

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Although environmental exposure to non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) rarely causes infection in healthy individuals, exposure to NTM frequently results in serious respiratory infections in individuals with compromised immunity or pre-existing lung conditions such as patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Mycobacterium abscessus (M.abscessus) is one of the NTM species that are most frequently identified in the lungs of CF patients. Treatment of such infections is challenging due to the natural resistance of NTM species to many antibiotics. One possible mechanism of antibiotic resistance in M.abscessus may be regulated via extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by M.abscessus. In this study, we characterized EVs isolated from clarithromycin-sensitive M.abscessus that was untreated or treated with clarithromycin (CLR), one of the main antibiotics used in the combination treatment of NTM lung infections in patients with CF. Our data show that CLR treatment increases protein trafficking into mycobacterial EVs and upregulates EV biogenesis. Additionally, EVs derived from CLR-treated M.abscessus increase the resistance of M.abscessus to CLR in bacterial broth compared to EVs from untreated M.abscessus. Proteomic analysis further reveals an elevated level of 50S ribosomal subunits, the target of CLR, within EVs isolated from CLR-treated M.abscessus when compared to EVs from untreated M.abscessus. Interestingly, there is no significant difference in the abundance of these 50S ribosomal subunits in untreated or CLR-treated M.abscessus cells. These results collectively suggest that EVs play an important role in mycobacterial resistance to CLR. It also suggests that mycobacterial EV biogenesis may be a valuable therapeutic target for the development of novel drugs against M.abscessus infections.


D-20     Owen Fleming

Research Collaborators:  Stephen Kotey, Xuejuan Tan, Yong Cheng 

Research Presentation Title:  Characterization of Microvesicles from Senescent Macrophages

Faculty Research Mentor:  Yong Cheng, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Cellular senescence is a process in which certain cells cease the process of division and multiplication, but still continue to live. Cellular senescence is caused by irreversible damage to DNA in a cell. This damage can be caused by cytotoxic chemicals, radiation, or most commonly, aging. Senescent cells can be characterized by a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), as they secrete more proinflammatory cytokines than healthy cells. Microvesicles are extracellular vesicles that contain bioactive molecules important for cell to cell communication. Cellular senescence is one of the hallmarks of aging. Macrophages are immune cells that are an important part of the immune system that are able to regulate inflammation by secreting cytokines. The focus of my work includes the induction of cellular senescence in macrophage in cell cultures, and isolation of microvesicles to determine the effect of cellular senescence on macrophage-released microvesicles. I then characterized these microvesicles using a variety of biochemistry, molecular biology and immunology techniques, including differential centrifugation, quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR), confocal microscopy, and mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis. 


D-22     Matt Fries

Research Presentation Title:  Water Reuse in Oklahoma

Faculty Research Mentor:  Jeff Sadler, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering


Increasing droughts and water demand are putting growing stress on our water resources. Water reuse or reclamation has recently been looked at as an approach for more fully utilizing water resources. Despite the rise in attention given toward water reuse, there are still major challenges, including cost (economic and environmental) and negative public perception.  Additionally, in Oklahoma, there are but few publicly accessible informational resources regarding water reuse. This investigation includes researching and documenting existing solutions in Oklahoma, documenting other potentially useful approaches from outside of Oklahoma, and determining the costs, barriers, and benefits of these approaches to publish as an educational resource on water reuse in Oklahoma. The background research performed revealed that most of the water reuse projects around Oklahoma are utilizing this technique for industrial application or irrigation. Although these are the most prominent uses, there are currently plans for Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR). The application of reclaimed water ranges in type relative to the water quality category that the treated water meets. Although much progress has been made toward this range, there are many challenges still in front of water reuse for IPR as well as effective use in irrigation and industrial applications. In addition to these barriers, there is a common misunderstanding of water reuse in public perception. Despite these obstacles, water reuse is increasing in Oklahoma and time will result with even greater development and more full utilization of water resources.


D-23     Tatumn Kennedy

Research Collaborators:  Alok Pandit

Research Presentation Title:  Impacts of Changing Weather Patterns on Irrigation Water Demand in Oklahoma

Faculty Research Mentor:  Sumon Datta, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering


Oklahoma is experiencing more frequent severe weather events such as prolonged intervals between rainfall, high rainfall intensity, etc., due to changing climate. These occurrences disrupt the timely delivery of water to irrigated croplands, intensifying the demand for summer irrigation to fulfill crop water requirements and evapotranspiration. Despite the evident significance of this issue, Oklahoma lacks a comprehensive study addressing the evolving water demand for irrigation amidst changing weather patterns. This research endeavors to fill this gap by meticulously analyzing soil and crop data gathered from various irrigated regions in the state, coupled with weather data from the Oklahoma Mesonet. Over an extensive timeframe, data will be compiled to depict evolving weather patterns, illustrated through figures capturing average days without precipitation during the peak growing season and extreme events. Anticipated outcomes encompass a heightened demand for irrigation in the summer, revealing the implications of shifting weather patterns on agricultural water needs. The study aims to illuminate the challenges posed by the evolving climate and, crucially, contribute insights to formulate informed water resource management strategies for fostering sustainable agriculture in Oklahoma. 


D-24     James Lee

Research Collaborators:  Kaylin Hall

Research Presentation Title:  Nitrates in Oklahoma Well Water

Faculty Research Mentor:  Jeff Sadler, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering


Nitrate is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless chemical that is usually safe at low levels. However, levels that exceed 10 mg/L are dangerous and can lead to irreversible health effects due to nitrate’s ability to block oxygen carried into the blood. In babies at high enough concentrations, nitrates can cause blue baby syndrome making them appear blue. Our research samples wells across Oklahoma to let residents know what is truly in their water. We have various sampling events where we have people bring in bottles of their well water. Then we take it back to the lab and sample it for nitrate concentration, total dissolved solids, and pH. We then send a report to the residents to let them know what we tested in their water. Once data is collected, we compile a map to see where nitrates are the highest and what factors could cause abnormally high concentrations of nitrates. So far, we have discovered that the highest nitrate concentrations happen at animal facilities such as near a pig or cow farm. Our research will further explain how land use patterns could affect nitrate concentrations. Through our research, we hope to provide Oklahomans with knowledge of what is in their water and how they can protect themselves along with understanding the factors that could cause potentially high nitrate concentrations. 


D-25     Sarah Spring

Research Collaborators:  Jessie Payne, Danielle Bellmer

Research Presentation Title:  The Effects of Varying Humidity Levels on Bacillus Probiotics During Storage

Faculty Research Mentor:  Danielle Bellmer, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering


Since Bacillus probiotic strains have shown notable process stability, the food industry has increased research focused on adding probiotics into various food products. This study investigates the stability of Bacillus probiotic strains when stored in varying relative humidities (RH) over time. A selection of probiotic strains was baked into cookies and crackers and placed in desiccators modeling different RH storage conditions with salt solutions held at room temperature over 10 months. The probiotic strains, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus subtilis 1, and Bacillus subtilis 2 were baked into cookies and crackers, which have different water activities. The cookies and crackers containing each probiotic strain were evaluated over time while being stored at 45% RH, 75% RH, and at standard room RH. After 10 months, the B. subtilis probiotic strains reflected the highest average culture viability with <2 log reductions for cookies and crackers. The B. coagulans strain on average experienced 3.3-4.2 log reductions. L. acidophilus had the lowest survivability with 4.19-4.99 log reductions on average. The B. subtilis probiotic strains show potential for their placement in food products stored at different RH levels due to their high stability.


D-26     Ethan Biedenstein

Research Collaborators:  Nishan Khatri, A. Kaan Kalkan

Research Presentation Title:  Mie-resonator Nanofluid for Solar Thermal Desalination of Seawater

Faculty Research Mentor:  Kaan Kalkan, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Access to clean water is essential for human survival and civilization. Clean water is a basic human right, yet millions of people around the world lack access to safe drinking water. Seawater makes up 97% of all water in the world; distillation of this seawater is an alternative; however it is an expensive process due to the high energy demand. A promising solution is to exploit solar power.  The total solar power received on Earth is more than 100,000 times the electric power we consume today.  The goal of this project is to develop a proof-of-concept solar thermal absorber for desalination of seawater using cupric oxide (CuO) nanoparticles as Mie resonators. Mie resonators are sub-wavelength particles that trap photons efficiently, they act as optical antennas and convert the light energy to thermal energy.  To this end, we have dispersed CuO nanospheres with an average size of 50 nm in ethylene glycol at a weight percentage of 1% after 4 hours of ultrasonication.  The nanofluid was enclosed in an optical cell of 10-mm optical path length and its temperature was continuously monitored by a K-type thermocouple under simulated solar radiation at an intensity of 0.5 Sun and magnetic stirring at 300 rpm.  Impressively, we record a saturation temperature of 160 oC (after 30 minutes) while the thermocouple wire in air under the same exposure only reaches a temperature of 70 oC.  Currently, we are investigating the photothermal response with smaller and larger particle sizes.  We employed an analytical solver, MiePlot, to compute absorption cross sections of CuO nanospheres of varying diameters.  The 50-nm nanospheres are not optimal as they mediate the Mie resonance at ultraviolet-A, although the preresonance effect in the visible range alone yields a substantial photothermal effect.  With increased particle size, the Mie resonance can be shifted to visible wavelengths for maximal absorption of the solar radiation.  From our simulations, we predict an optimal particle diameter of ~240 nm.  Our short-term goal is to verify these theoretical predictions through experimentation.  In the longer term, we will demonstrate a proof-of-concept solar thermal desalinator.   


D-27     Mason Biliske, Dev Patel

Research Collaborators:  Cade Christison

Research Presentation Title:  Performance Effects of Various Oxidizer-to-Fuel Ratios on a Kerosene-Nitrous Oxide Liquid Rocket Test Stand

Faculty Research Mentor:  Kurt Rouser, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


This paper presents an analysis of performance effects of various oxidizer-to-fuel ratios on a kerosene-nitrous oxide liquid rocket test stand. The primary motivation behind this research is to discern the optimal performance configuration for liquid rocket engines. Specifically, this study focuses on comparing thrust and specific impulse as key performance metrics. By determining the correlation between the oxidizer fuel ratio and performance metrics, liquid rocket engines can be further optimized for their performance by selecting the most optimum ratio. The liquid rocket test stand was developed in-house and safely secured with its propellants to conduct experiments. Experimental results were collected at a range of oxidizer-to-fuel ratios (3-4), predicting that the optimum ratio is 3.6 with mass flow rates of 0.5 lbm/s and 0.14 lbm/s for oxidizer and fuel, respectively. Experimental data was collected using complex data acquisition systems and compared using graphs and data trends. The results alluded to an optimal oxidizer to fuel ratio of 3.6 as previously predicted. The conclusions drawn from this research can be used to improve the design of future liquid rocket engines. 


D-28     Thomas Colston

Research Collaborators:  Trevor Wilson, Braydon Revard

Research Presentation Title:  Analysis of Wind Speed Data from UAS and Other Sources to Improve Urban Windmapping

Faculty Research Mentor:  Brian Elbing, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Recent advancements in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) technology have sparked interest in their use in civil, commercial, and military sectors. In particular, multi-rotor UAS have unique flight capabilities that make them suitable for a wide range of potential applications. These capabilities include vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), six degree of freedom (6-DOF) maneuverability, and hovering. One important use for multi-rotor UAS is urban navigation, which is required for novel commercial services like parcel delivery. However, wind patterns around large urban structures pose challenges to UAS, which are often light enough for wind gusts to displace them from their flight paths. In order to prepare UAS for these environments, it is crucial to understand wind profiles around large structures. The current state of global atmospheric modeling is not sufficiently robust to provide the necessary data for lower troposphere profiling, particularly above the lowest 10 meters. Common methods for gathering wind data locally are tower-based measuring and the use of weather balloons, but these techniques lack spatial variability. This work expands on recent work utilized multi-rotor UAS for taking in situ measurements relevant to low-altitude flight. The aim is to analyze wind speed data from multiple sources at varying heights to find characteristics in the data that could improve the reliability of UAS for recording wind speed data. This presentation will report and compare data from anemometers (UAS and mast mounted) as well as LiDAR. 


D-29     Joshua Daniel, Aloura Kanell

Research Presentation Title:  Locating Unexploded Ordnances Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Radar

Faculty Research Mentor:  Jamey Jacob, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


One of the greatest threats posed to human life after a conflict is unexploded ordnances in the form of landmines, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and bombs. In 2021 alone it is estimated that over 5,500 people died from unmarked landmines, most of them civilians (Billy, 2023). The traditional method of landmine detection places human lives at risk, is slow, and is labor intensive. Current studies have used photogrammetry systems to map the locations of landmines but failed to detect fully covered explosives, are only 80% effective, and are limited in terrain uses. This project proposes a drone-mounted Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) unit that will be able to detect buried ordnances at greater depths and in a variety of topographies. Paired with photogrammetry, GPR can be used to detect more explosives and reduce the risk to human life. The system is designed to be portable, affordable, and used remotely, becoming a possible alternative to traditional methods of land mine detection. The project results are aimed at having a higher rate of landmine detection while leveraging rapid deployment and remote operation.  



D-30     Kyler Dennis

Research Collaborators:  Aaron Alexander

Research Presentation Title:  Determining the Charge and Frosting Conditions of HVAC Exchanger

Faculty Research Mentor:  Christian Bach, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


In the United States, electricity used for space cooling was equal to 16% of the total residential sector electricity consumption, which is 6% of the total U.S electricity consumption. Contributing to the efficiency of HVAC systems is the amount of refrigerant or charge in the system. Current methods used to measure the charge in an HVAC system require too much time and can result in measurement inaccuracy. Charge in HVAC systems is typically measured experimentally using either Online Weighing Techniques (fast) or sampling-measurement methods (high accuracy). This project proposes a new way to measure and determine the charge in an HVAC system through strain gage sensors. They supply a fast and effective method for charge measurement that could then be implemented with an artificial neural network to ensure optimal conditions for HVAC efficiency. Aside from refrigerant charge, another efficiency loss in heat pumps is caused by accumulation of frost mass on the air-side heat exchanger. Accurate knowledge of frosting status could enable better defrost controls which would increase heat pump efficiency. Our research questions is: “Is it possible to determine and differentiate mass of charge and frosting condition on heat pump heat exchangers during unit operation using strategically place strain gages?” In the project's preliminary stages, only the system's charge will be measured and used to validate refrigerant charge predictions. Testing will be conducted in a controlled environment using psychrometric chambers. Strain gauges will take measurements of the HVAC units’ heat exchangers. Next is an application to a larger commercial-sized HVAC unit to determine the charge amounts and frost buildup on the outdoor coils; here, we will subtract the predicted refrigerant charge from the total measured mass increase to obtain the frost mass.


D-31     Trey Dorrell

Research Collaborators:  Kurt Rouser

Research Presentation Title:  Enhanced Propulsion through Additive Manufacturing: Aluminum-Infused ABS Filaments for Hybrid Rocket Motors

Faculty Research Mentor:  Kurt Rouser, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


This paper presents an experimental investigation into the performance effects of aluminum powder additives in 3D-printed Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) filaments used in hybrid rocket motors. Hybrid rockets, utilizing a solid fuel grain and liquid oxidizer, offer enhanced safety in terms of storage, handling, and transportation but often fall short of the thrust-to-weight ratio of solid rockets and the specific impulse of liquid rockets. The inclusion of aluminum in the fuel grain aims to narrow these performance disparities, potentially aligning hybrid rockets closer to their solid and liquid counterparts in terms of efficiency and power. The scope of this study encompasses the design, fabrication, and testing of hybrid rocket motors with fuel grains composed of ABS plastic infused with aluminum powder, utilizing Nitrous Oxide (NOS) as the oxidizer. The experimental setup includes fuel grains of standardized dimensions, produced through additive manufacturing techniques to ensure consistency and repeatability across tests. Procedurally, the research employs a hybrid rocket test stand to conduct a series of controlled burns, measuring key performance metrics such as thrust, combustion pressure, and specific impulse. The test articles, specifically the aluminum-infused ABS fuel grains, are compared against baseline models of pure ABS and other standard materials to quantify the enhancements provided by the aluminum additive. The anticipated results will detail the impact of aluminum powder additives on thrust, pressure, and specific impulse in hybrid rocket motors. Data will soon quantify the expected performance improvements, providing a clear comparison to traditional fuel grains. The significance of this study lies in its contribution to the ongoing development of safer and more efficient propulsion systems. By advancing the performance of hybrid rockets through innovative material science and additive manufacturing techniques, this research offers valuable insights into the broader application of enhanced materials in aerospace engineering, with implications for the design and operation of future propulsion systems. 


D-32     Mary Dunbar

Research Collaborators:  Ritesh Sachan, Vikas Reddy Paduri, Soumya Mandal

Research Presentation Title:  LASER Pulse Simulations on Bilayer Thin Films for Optimal High Entropy Alloy Formation

Faculty Research Mentor:  Ritesh Sachan, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


High Entropy Alloys (HEAs) are a new class of material where particles are composed of five or more elements in approximately equimolar proportion. One of the ways to form these materials are by layering thin films of pure metallic elements and melting these nanofilms with a laser pulse. In a fraction of a second, laser pulse melts the element layers which coagulate into spherical nanoparticles of mixed composition, cool, and solidify into HEA nanoparticles. An optimal temperature must be achieved during laser irradiation; otherwise, the metals will not form nanoparticles or will be vaporized. The purpose of this research is to determine the optimal thickness and orientation of a bilayer Silver and Cobalt thin film system in order to form nanoparticles containing these two elements in equimolar proportion. This will act as the prototypical studies to expand on HEAs. Because laser irradiation is costly, both in time and material, COMSOL Multiphysics will be used to simulate the laser pulse-induced melting and solidification on Ag-Co thin films. Various combinations of layer thickness and orientation will be simulated under a laser pulse, and the maximum temperature of each film combination will be recorded. R will be used to analyze the data acquired in this study. Using the temperature data, the film combination for optimal nanoparticle creation of an Ag-Co bilayer system will be determined. The results of this research can be used to predict the ideal thickness and orientation of more complicated thin film systems, such as those with more or different elements. 


D-33     Luella Hollis

Research Collaborators:  Leila Rezaei, Sakib Nazmus, Aurelie Azoug 

Research Presentation Title:  Size Effects in the Mechanical Behavior of Liquid Crystal Elastomer under Compression

Faculty Research Mentor:  Aurelie Azoug, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) are soft polymers containing liquid crystal molecules. LCEs are active smart materials that exhibit two-way shape changes with the application of heat, light or magnetic field via reorientation of liquid crystal molecules in the microstructure. LCEs have gained attention because they exhibit a heat-induced actuation comparable to human muscle contraction in length and reversibility. LCEs also exhibit high dissipations of energy in compression when the liquid crystals reorient in the direction of maximum positive strain. Because of their unique properties, LCEs are envisioned to find applications in soft robotics, damping mechanisms, and in general soft actuators. 

This study aims to determine the influence of the aspect ratio on the viscoelastic mechanical response of LCE specimens.  We synthesized 10 LCE specimens of diameter 5 mm and aspect ratios between 0.11 and 0.34. The aspect ratio is defined as D/4h, where D is the diameter and h the height of the cylindrical specimen. We performed Dynamic Mechanical Analysis tests on each specimen, evaluating the viscoelastic properties, i.e. storage and loss moduli, according to frequency between 1 and 100 Hz and strain amplitude between 0.01 to 1.5 % at room temperature. The storage modulus is a measure of elastic behavior while the loss modulus measures the dissipations in the material during deformation.  We compare the viscoelastic properties of all specimens of similar composition and various aspect ratio. The storage and loss moduli tend to increase with amplitude and frequency, indicating a nonlinear mechanical behavior. We observed an impact of the aspect ratio on the increase in moduli and hence, on the reorientation of the liquid crystal molecules in the direction of the maximum strain.  This study and results point to an unusual behavior that significantly impacts damping and energy dissipations in these materials. Further studies of the evolution of the microstructure's orientation will be needed to leverage these molecular movements for enhanced damping. 


D-34     Jenna Jones

Research Collaborators:  Wei Zhao, Mohammed Abir Mahdi, Josiah Huff

Research Presentation Title:  Rapid Material Testing with Robotic Arm

Faculty Research Mentor:  Wei Zhao, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Robotic arm assisted material testing automates the three-point bending test process for assessing mechanical properties such as flexural strength, stiffness, and ductility. Traditionally, this type of test has been conducted with an Instron machine, but using a robotic arm offers significant advantages, including improved flexibility, automation, and accuracy. Furthermore, it is capable of testing samples of a variety of sizes and shapes under a variety of loading conditions. Moreover, it has advanced sensors that facilitate the collection of data on a real-time basis. This study focuses on understanding the fundamentals of using UR16e robotic arm for conducting rapid material testing. The bending deflection of samples is controlled through programming the moving displacement of the UR 16e robot arm. Robotiq FT 300-S sensor embedded in the robotic-arm is used to record the force under each deformation. The force and the sample bending deformation are collected and used to obtain the bending stiffness and subsequent material Young’s modulus. A series of three-point bending tests will be conducted on the manufactured samples to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed rapid material testing development technique. 


D-35     Caroline King

Research Collaborators:  Jerome Hausselle

Research Presentation Title:  Motion Analysis of Pregnant Women for Musculoskeletal Modeling

Faculty Research Mentor:  Aurelie Azoug, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


The goal of this study is to collect data on the movement of pregnant women to assist in musculoskeletal modeling. Throughout pregnancy, the body experiences changes that affect how a person walks. These changes can increase the likelihood that a person will fall while pregnant. To explore these risk factors and possibly mitigate the risk of falling during pregnancy, models can be built. However, there is no musculoskeletal model of the pregnant woman to predict motion. A skeletal model has been built, but it remains focused on changes in mass and inertia. Our goal is to build a musculoskeletal model of pregnancy considering changes in muscle paths and activation patterns. This study aims to collect data from women of various BMIs since a large percentage of women in the United States are overweight and this could change how a person walks during pregnancy. Data collection consists of 3D scans of the body as well as motion capture while the person is standing and walking.  Once these measurements are collected, a musculoskeletal model can be validated to increase the understanding of how a body moves during pregnancy. 


D-36    Braeden Duncan

Research Collaborators:  Nathan Richardson, Sueng Ra, Evan McDonald, Chris Burchett

Research Presentation Title:  Design Build: Adaptive Reuse

Faculty Research Mentor:  Nathan Richardson, Architecture


In architecture, adaptive reuse is repurposing an existing structure or materials for new use, where buildings are designed to adapt to their environment. Adaptive reuse looks at the old bones of the structure and how it can be a resource for innovative ideas; it reduces financial costs and carbon footprint, environmental sustainability, and faster project completion time. In my design-build studio, we were presented with two projects. The first project’s goal was to reuse materials that were recycled and had no use, meaning that more than 80% of materials could not be found at a store. The second project gave us a minimal criterion of recycled material that we can use to develop a sufficient design that met certain standards. Throughout the many challenges faced, whether it was due to the constraints or the execution of the design build process, each concept came to life, and we were able to give purpose to reused materials. Even on a small scale, adaptive reuse was used for a sustainable and sufficient design.


D-37     Gavin Sockey

Research Collaborators:  Rohit Vupalla

Research Presentation Title:  Wind Field Prediction in Various Urban Spaces for UAS

Faculty Research Mentor:  Kursat Kara, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) ' safety in densely populated urban environments is a significant concern, primarily due to the challenging atmospheric conditions and turbulent wind flow produced around architectural structures. To effectively integrate UAS into existing aerial infrastructure, enhancing the predictability of these flow conditions and developing robust wind-aware navigation systems is imperative. In this study, we comprehensively investigate the impact of building geometries on the atmospheric flow field within a simplified urban layout. The geometrical configurations we consider are arrays of buildings at various spacings, all being crucial in understanding potential implications for UAS operations. A Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) is employed to probe the unsteady and highly coherent turbulent flow structures introduced by buildings under neutral atmospheric boundary layer flow conditions. The LES methodology yields critical insights into the intricacies of urban wind dynamics and contributes to a deeper understanding of the flow phenomena around urban architecture. These acquired insights subsequently inform the development of a deep learning model for precise flow field prediction. Integrating LES-derived data with advanced machine learning algorithms augment wind-aware navigation systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), demonstrating an initial, yet crucial, stride towards safely accommodating UAS within our bustling urban aerial landscapes. This research represents an integral advancement in ensuring UAS safety and operational reliability, potentially catalyzing broader applications of UAS in densely built-up environments.


D-38     Kate Spillman

Research Collaborators:  Taylor Swaim, Brian Elbing

Research Presentation Title:  Mitigation of infrasound noise on stratospheric solar powered balloons

Faculty Research Mentor:  Brian Elbing, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Infrasound is described as low frequency pressure waves that are below the threshold for human hearing (< 20 Hz). Due to their low attenuation, these waves can travel thousands of kilometers which allows for the remote sensing of seismic events, a known source of infrasound. Earthquakes are seismic events that can be monitored through stratospheric solar powered balloons, termed heliotropes, that float in the upper stratosphere. The balloon carries two sensors and floats along the path of the local winds where there is minimal relative speed between it and the local air. The sensors must be separated some distance to accurately resolve the direction of any incoming signal. The added separation between them increases the relative speed on the lower sensor, thereby generating excess wind noise. Identifying one method of wind noise reduction for the balloons here on Earth can translate to recording quakes via balloon-based infrasound sensors on the interior of other planets like Venus. Due to its extreme surface temperatures (~ 460 °C) and pressures (~ 90 atm), there are no direct seismic measurements on the surface of Venus. However, Venus has a much less severe middle atmosphere where the balloons could be deployed. The current work reports on further testing of the SunFoam windscreen, its ground-based testing, and the flight test of the windscreen on solar balloons. Sensors with multiple inlets were tested alongside regular, single inlet sensors to determine if directional dependence influences the noise reduction of the windscreen. Both filtered configurations had the same noise reductions (~ 15 dB) showing that the filter is already averaging the incoming signal and performs better than the unfiltered, multiple inlet configuration (~ 5 dB).


D-39    Tabitha Ellis

Research Presentation Title: Roof-Mounted Photovoltaic Panels: Assessment of Wind Loads and Energy Output

Faculty Research Mentor: Bodhi Hajra and Khaled Mansy


With growing interests in renewable sources of energy, roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) panels are being widely used in several parts of the world including the United States. These PV panels are typically attached to a building roof in an array and can convert solar energy into electrical energy to power a residential or a commercial building. However, being exposed to the exterior environment, wind speeds can create high suctions (negative pressure) on the roof, causing uplift and subsequent detachment of the PV panel from the roof. This can damage the building roof, besides disrupting energy generation from the PV panel. Examining these aspects requires a collaborative effort from a structural engineering and energy modeling perspective. To address these issues, this study examines the wind loads on roof mounted PV panels of varying sizes and inclinations, attached to a one-story low-rise residential building, using the ASCE 7-22 standard. Furthermore, a widely used online tool developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “PVWatts” is used to calculate the electrical output from the PV systems. Three different US cities, namely Miami, FL, Seattle, WA, and Minneapolis, MN were considered for this study, since each of these locations experience a different wind speed and solar intensity. The results of this study will be used to determine the optimum size and inclination of the PV panel on the building roof, at a given location, that can maximize energy output, while experiencing less wind suction and potential wind damage. With rising energy cost and increased greenhouse gas emissions associated with non-renewable energy sources, the results from this study will be particularly helpful for running electrical appliances in homes that can rely on PV panels, without being affected by wind-induced structural damage in high wind zones. Future research must focus on improved roof to PV panel connections that can prevent wind damage of the panels for buildings of varying size and roof geometry, besides advancement in PV technology to maximize electrical output.


D-40     Emerson Pummil, lJack Chartier

Research Collaborators:  Brandon Dang, Huaxia Wang

Research Presentation Title:  Auxetic Structures for Autonomous Pressure Sensing and Response

Faculty Research Mentor:  Chulho Yang, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


This research aims to improve comfort level and alleviate the pain caused by pressure concentration that passengers experience in autonomous vehicles when seated for a long period of time. To achieve this goal, a force-sensing cushion will be developed with auxetic materials. Auxetic structures are unique, as they have a negative Poisson’s ratio, meaning under compression, they buckle inwards rather than outwards. The structures have recently attracted attention for their mechanical properties and unique applications, and this research project aims to utilize these properties of auxetic structures as a tool to detect and relieve spikes in pressure. Furthermore, potent qualities of auxetic structures include their high energy absorption, impact resistance, and a uniform deformation when manufactured with Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU). The ideal configuration of an auxetic structure has been optimized through the investigation of multiple cell structures, which has allowed the team to create an effective piezoresistive sensor that can measure compressive force via the resistive change the part exhibits. It has been proven that these structures can be optimized to have a linear relationship between the input forces and the out electric signals. Using this ideal structure, along with the interpolation method Kriging and the generative AI method, Super-Resolution Using a Generative Adversarial Network (SRGAN), the team plans to generate low-cost pressure maps that accurately respond to spikes in pressure, which will be utilized in the medical and/or automotive industries. In conclusion, by using the mechanical properties of auxetic structures, the team can create an efficient and independent way to detect, read, and respond to high pressure spikes.  


D-41     Drywater Drywater

Research Collaborators:  Eric Benton

Research Presentation Title:  Investigating X-Ray Discharges During Lightning Storms

Faculty Research Mentor:  Eric Benton, Physics


Several research groups around the world have noted that there is an increased flux of

x-rays associated with thunderstorms and that these x-rays promptly disappear at the instant of a local lightning discharge. However, no one has observed these enhanced x-ray fluxes at lower altitudes, and no one has yet accurately measured the energy spectrum of this x-ray flux. This research project is built around collecting readings of these X-Ray discharges at ground level during lightning storms within Oklahoma. The primary objective of the project is to capture radiation readings into histograms to give us an accurate picture of the X-Ray and Gamma Ray radiation created by lightning’s interactions at ground level. The method of data collection we employ is a Sodium-Iodide scintillator connected to a photomultiplier, shaping amplifier, and a Red Pitaya STEMLab 125-14 signal processing board acting as a multi-channel analyzer. All components are contained in a weather resistant container so that it can withstand being left outside for long sessions of data collection. The project also included a real-time clock and temperature sensor being added to the RedPitaya so that data collected may be time stamped and temperature-corrected.


D-42     Nina Parvin, William Roche

Research Collaborators:  Rosty Bruce, Martinez Duque

Research Presentation Title:  Ab initio calculations of the threshold displacement energies in lead free inorganic halide perovskites

Faculty Research Mentor:  Mario Borunda, Physics


Perovskite materials have gathered significant attention in recent years due to their exceptional properties and potential applications for solar cells. Certain environmental risks, including toxicity and ground leaching, associated with lead-based perovskites have raised concern. Our research focuses on the investigation of tin-based perovskites as a promising eco-friendly alternative. We are particularly interested in understanding the radiation resistance of these emerging tin-based perovskites, a critical aspect of their long-term viability in space photovoltaics and agriculture. In space, materials are exposed to high radiation levels, affecting their performance. Therefore, predicting the radiation damage in such materials is desirable. Most currently available models that predict radiation damage in materials depend on their constituent atoms’ threshold displacement energies (TDE). The TDE is the minimum amount of kinetic energy that must be given to an ion in a solid to create a stable defect in the material's lattice. In this work, we use ab initio Molecular Dynamics (AIMD) to simulate the early radiation interaction stage and calculate the TDE in the halide inorganic perovskites CsSnI3, CsSnBr3, and CsSnCl3 in their cubic phase. The purpose of these calculations is to provide TDE values for these materials to improve the accuracy in posterior radiation damage simulations, and to compare our results among the three different perovskites to better understand the role of the anion in the radiation damage process of these materials. 


D-43     Xander Rouk

Research Collaborators:  Wenlei Chen

Research Presentation Title:  Leveraging luminosity distances of SNe Ia at Cosmic Noon to refine the estimation of the Hubble Constant

Faculty Research Mentor:  Wenlei Chen, Physics


This project aims to address the discrepancy known as the “Hubble Tension” by refining the estimation of the Hubble Constant (H0). We hypothesize that the Hubble Constant lies between the two current calculated values of 68 km/s/Mpc – defined by the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), and 74 km/s/Mpc – defined by Type IA Supernovae (SNe Ia). The Hubble Constant is essential to our understanding of the universe’s expansion rate and is fundamental to cosmological models like the Lambda - Cold Dark Matter model (ΛCDM), detailing the universe’s evolution. More specifically, we are focused on leveraging James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) data to measure and examine SNe Ia between redshifts 1.5-3, a period known as Cosmic Noon, which has been significantly less explored. This research plan consists of reviewing recent SNe Ia findings, identifying transient phenomena in JWST deep field images, and classifying them analytically to pinpoint additional SNe Ia occurrences within the proposed redshift. We will update the SNe Ia database with newly identified instances and measure their luminosity distances to refine the Hubble Constant's estimation. We expect to either narrow down the Hubble Constant to reconcile existing measurements or exacerbate the tension, finding a constant outside the initial interval. This will provide powerful insights into the universe’s expansion during Cosmic Noon. This research contributes to addressing fundamental questions in cosmology and may pave the way for new discoveries and discussions in understanding the universe's history and future trajectories. 


D-44     Garrett Thornton

Research Collaborators:  Tristen Lee, Conner Heffernan, Martin Yang, Eric Benton

Research Presentation Title:  Characterization of the Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation Tissue-Equivalent Dosimeter at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center

Faculty Research Mentor:  Eric Benton, Physics


We present the results of multiple neutron beam exposures of the Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation Tissue Equivalent Dosimeter (AirTED) at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE). AirTED is a low-cost ionizing radiation detector designed for dosimetry at aviation altitudes. I assembled the detector as part of my senior research project. It includes a tissue-equivalent proportional counter (TEPC) and a silicon PIN photodiode to cover the LET range of atmospheric ionizing radiation. Secondary neutrons account for the majority of absorbed dose received at aviation altitudes. The 30L neutron beam at LANSCE effectively recreates the secondary neutron energy spectrum, and one hour of beam time is comparable to 300,000 hours of flight time. Preliminary results indicate the detector performed as designed in a variety of exposure configurations.  

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