Student researchers in Panama are studying water resources

Panama Studies

How do climate change, population change and economic factors affect water resources in Panama?

Seven students from a variety of disciplines at UAH are spending two weeks in Panama doing cross-disciplinary field research on sustainability and climate change to help answer that question.

The students arrived Sunday, June 8, escorted by UAH Earth Systems Science Center Research Associate Eric Anderson. On Thursday, June 12, Dr. Rob Griffin, assistant professor of atmospheric science, and Dr. Kyle Knight, assistant professor of sociology, will join them.

"We'll be going to a couple of small communities in the highlands," says Dr. Griffin, who will be on his fifth trip to Panama. The communities are Santa Fe and San Francisco, which are in the Santa Maria Watershed area that will be studied by the research team.


UAH student team tests catalysts at Oak Ridge

ORNL trip -3TN

Chemical & Materials Engineering students from UAH worked in shifts for 48 hours straight in late May at Oak Ridge National laboratory in Tennessee to advance basic knowledge of materials proposed for use as catalysts in lithium batteries and fuel cells.

Led by Dr. Yu Lei, a UAH assistant chemical engineering professor, the team worked in Oak Ridge's High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), using the facility's General Purpose Small-Angle Neutron Scattering Instrument to bombard 10 different materials with a high flux (>107 neutrons per cm 2 per sec) neutron beam. The scattering pattern resulting from the neutron diffraction provides information on the material's structure, giving engineers insight into which structures best fit their applications.

"Besides lithium battery materials research for energy storage, we were doing basic research for alternative fuels, looking for catalyzing agents that could be used to convert biofuels from biomass," says Dr. Lei. "We were also exploring advanced catalysts that could decompose methanol to make hydrogen for fuel cell use."


Zippy supercomputer helps UAH solar scientists answer questions

UAH Supercomputer Code

Talk about a mathematics hot rod – how does 13 quadrillion calculations per second grab you?

A scalable computer code developed at UAH that efficiently uses supercomputing power, plus important areas of UAH scientific inquiry, landed scientists at the Department of Space Science and Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) in the driver's seat for a highly sought chance to run complex equations on a blisteringly fast supercomputer.

The UAH effort using the Cray Blue Waters supercomputer supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the University of Illinois, where it is located, resulted in advances in understanding solar wind and the heliosphere.

"It's one of the fastest supercomputers in the world," says Dr. Nikolai Pogorelov, who works closely with co-principal investigators Dr. Jacob Heerikhuisen and Dr. Sergey Borovikov, and who recently returned from a Blue Waters Symposium at Illinois. "It is the fastest supercomputer that is hosted by a university in the world."


Lowly control systems vulnerable to hacks, according to UAH expert

North Alabama Cyber Security Summit

In the age of smartphones, gaming, apps and super-gadgets, the industrial systems that control elevators, heating and cooling systems, water treatment plants and the like just don't seem all that glamorous and they are often a low priority.

That's exactly why they are so vulnerable to takeover by hackers, as Dr. Ray Vaughn, vice president for research at UAH, knows all too well. Prior to coming to UAH, Dr. Vaughn and a research assistant helped nab one such miscreant.

Dr. Vaughn will speak June 4 on the "Top Ten Concerns with Security of Industrial Control Systems in Critical Infrastructure Applications" at the sixth annual North Alabama Cyber Security Summit being held June 4-5. Also at the conference, UAH Chief Information Security Officer Russ Ward will be part of a June 5 panel discussion on mobile device security.


UAH research scientist joins NASA tuna study


You can't see a tuna from outer space, but that isn't stopping NASA and UAH from lending a hand in efforts to protect tuna and their tiny larvae in the Gulf of Mexico.

Maury Estes, a research scientist in UAH's Earth System Science Center, is spending more than a week aboard the research ship F.G. Walton Smith prowling the gulf between Florida and Texas with a team of scientists led by NOAA's Dr. John Lamkin who want to know more about where Atlantic bluefin tuna spawn and other details of their private tuna lives.


UAH students on third-place team at Rocket City Launch


Providing prospective homebuyers and apartment renters with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to scout locations is the basis of a business developed by a team composed primarily of students from UAH that won third place in the inaugural Rocket City Launch competition at MindGear Labs.

Focused on digital fabrication, the inaugural competition provided an opportunity for beginning entrepreneurs of various disciplines to meet, dream and launch a new venture, all in the span of one weekend, as mentors provided wisdom, volunteers supplied tools and food, and experienced entrepreneurs provided feedback.


12 UAH researchers get total of $508,123 in infrastructure improvement funds


Twelve faculty and research staff have been awarded a total of $508,123 in infrastructure improvement awards by UAH Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR).

"I am pleased to announce the award of 12 infrastructure improvement awards to faculty and research staff," says Dr. Ray Vaughn, UAH vice president for research, who thanks the university's researchers for supporting and growing its research program. "This brings the total investment by OVPR in UAH faculty and staff to well over $1 million this year."


Professors, students cook up something cool with airship


Take two UAH professors with cross-discipline interests, add a group of enthusiastic senior aircraft design students, mix well and let them get cooking.

The result is a blimp-like airship that's the mother ship for a smaller quad-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and it may be the wildest thing to ever have been performance tested inside Huntsville's Von Braun Center.

The helium-filled airship has a remote-controlled capture and release docking mechanism that also charges the UAV from batteries aboard. The project recently won second place at the 65th American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Region II Student Team Design Competition in Memphis, Tenn.



Earth system science undergrads to spend summer in research

Earth system science undergraduates

A U.S. Navy veteran who spent a decade "helping needy people all over the world" is one of three Earth system science undergraduates who will spend this summer conducting research funded through the UAH Research and Creative Experiences for Undergraduates (RCEU) program.

As a heavy equipment operator for the Navy Seabees, Robert Rossell dug wells, helped build schools and cleared roads to isolated and impoverished villages from Africa to the Philippines. This summer, however, he will work with Cameron Handyside in UAH's Earth System Science Center to study the impact expanding irrigation in Alabama might have on water supplies in various watersheds.

"We're going to develop tools to help decision makers in Montgomery make better decisions," he said. "We want to be sure we're not expanding irrigation at the peril of surface water."


TV news browsing made easy by UAH student’s software

Daniel Woo

Soon it might be a lot easier to quickly scan for that TV news or entertainment story or perspective you wanted to see but missed.

Software that was developed by a UAH computer science graduate student aggregates network and cable TV news and entertainment stories to make topics more easily browsable and searchable. Guided by the UAH Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), it's in the patent and copyright process and heading toward the Alabama Launchpad competition.

"We've just finished the technology," says Daniel Woo, the company's CEO, who will receive his master's in computer science this spring and is still searching for just the right name for his invention. In the running are VidGopher and hoo.sed, among others. Advised by UAH associate professor of computer science Dr. Ramazan Aygun, who specializes in multimedia and data mining, Woo developed the software for his master's degree thesis.