Summer 2024 RCEU Proposals

Initial proposal project descriptions are broken down by area below and are sorted by project title. Students interested in a particular project are welcome to contact the proposing mentor for additional information via the included email. Students must officially apply to each proposal they are interested in using the links below before the closing deadline (Jan 12th, 2024 at 11:59PM).


Dr. Robert Thomson

Sociology |

    Black or Blue (Phase 3): A Study of Religious and Political Sources of Moral Attitudes towards Police and Protest

    A number of highly publicized police-minority violence events have recently thrust racial inequalities in policing into the national spotlight, especially the 2020 killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbury. Studies have historically shown that individuals affiliated with traditional religious communities also tend to favor strict punishment, but studies on attitudes about police typically do not include religious controls. The current study seeks to reveal how religious individuals draw from religious and political resources to interpret recent events related to police-minority violence and associated social movements such Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. As part of the RCEU project, the awardee will conduct a literature review, complete necessary CITI training, recruit subjects, perform interviews, and possibly conduct qualitative analysis (time permitting). We would seek to recruit from both predominantly White and predominantly Black conservative Christian churches in the Huntsville area.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Required: SOC 103, SOC 301; Preferred: SOC 100, SOC 320, SOC 330


Prof. Vinny Argentina

CAT Lab |

    In-Space Manufacturing Visualizations

    Work with the project mentor, other members of the Commercial Arts & Technology Lab, and subject matter experts to help create visualizations for in-space manufacturing. Visualizations will require some 3D modeling and animating, but will be primarily focused on creating stunning cinematic shots in Unreal Engine using available assets that show the lunar or Martian environment and systems needed for whatever manufacturing processes are being demonstrated. A good eye for staging, timing, composition, lighting, surface qualities (materials and textures), and environment design are all essential for the role.

    The CAT Lab is a collaborative lab between the Autonomous Aerospace Research Center (formerly Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Research Center) and the Department of Art, Art History & Design.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: At least one 300 level animation course or equivalent experience is required. Experience with Unreal Engine preferred.


Prof. Vinny Argentina

Art, Art History & Design |

    Interactive Installation Art

    The selected student will work with the project mentor to set up an interactive art installation using video projections driven by the Unreal Engine and other technologies as needed. The subject matter and content of the installation is to be determined with the selected student. Please come talk with me about your interests and ideas for the project!

    Prerequisites/Requirements: At least one 300 level animation course or equivalent experience is required. Experience with Unreal Engine preferred.


Dr. Robert Thomson

Sociology |

    Retribution or Reform? A Qualitative Analysis of Racial and Gendered Opinions towards Rehabilitative Justice

    This research project will include qualitative analysis of in-person and/or online interviews on the topic of rehabilitative justice, which is defined herein as an approach to criminal justice in which a convicted party receives cognitive and behavioral interventions for the purpose of preventing future recidivism. Specifically, the applicant will assess the degree to which gender (potentially with a focus on non-binary identity) and race pattern attitudes about rehabilitative justice practices as distinct from retributive justice practices, or those involving more punitive sanctions for the purpose of punishment. As part of the RCEU project, the awardee will conduct a literature review, develop a semi-structured questionnaire, complete necessary CITI training, pursue IRB authorization, recruit subjects, and perform interviews. We would seek to recruit from a variety of gender identities (including men, women, and non-binary) and racial identities.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Required Courses: SOC 103, SOC 301; Preferred: SOC 100, SOC 340, SOC 306. Applicants with research familiarity on gender nonbinary experiences also preferred.


Dr. John Saunders

Communication Arts |

    Rocket City’s Conflicted Public Memory

    The purpose of this project is to map, research the history of, and argue over the current state of Huntsville’s public memory sites. Huntsville has plenty to be proud of, but also has a few public memory sites that are problematic at a minimum. This project is meant to be a starting point for a much larger project that will attempt to accomplish the same goals for every county in Alabama. Since we are in Madison county, this is a natural place to start for the inaugural study.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: I will provide some readings on rhetoric and public memory. Students should have some experience doing historical research, and effective writing skills. There are no course prerequisites. Must be able to travel through Madison County to take pictures of public memory sites.


Dr. Molly Johnson

History |

    Ruth Heimburg’s Cookbook: Food, Gender, and Cultural Identity

    Ruth Heimburg’s Cookbook: Food, Gender, and Cultural Identity (with Dr. Molly Johnson and Charlie Gibbons)

    The student will work with the Karl Heimburg Collection in the UAH Archives and Special Collections, focusing on the WWII-era cookbook of Ruth Heimburg (1924-2021) from Darmstadt, Germany, as well as additional documents from her life in Germany and in Huntsville. Ruth accompanied her husband Karl to the US and later to Huntsville as part of “Operation Paperclip.” Widely celebrated as a cook, her obituary described her as “the maker of the best German Christmas cookies, herring salad, and beef rouladen in all of North Alabama.” The student will analyze the cookbook within the context of Ruth’s own biography, including her youth in Nazi Germany and immigration to the US. The student will also analyze the cookbook as part of the broader histories of gender and food in wartime and postwar Germany, as well as food, cooking, and US immigration history.

    Dr. Johnson will train the student to interpret historical documents, to use cookbooks as a historical source, and to prepare a bibliography of scholarly writings on food, nutrition, and cooking in Germany and the southern US. The student will also contact Ruth’s surviving family members, and if relatives are willing to be interviewed, the student will be trained by Dr. Johnson to conduct oral history interviews and by Mr. Gibbons to use UAH’s Digital Initiatives Lab to record the interviews.

    The project will culminate in a digital exhibit of the student’s research using Omeka Exhibit Builder, a plugin available as part of UAH Archives and Special Collections’ Digital Collections website. Mr. Gibbons will teach the student the technical aspects of Exhibit Builder and will guide the student to make creative and narrative choices to showcase their research. The student will have office space, technology support, and access to faculty mentors in the UAH Archives and Special Collections Digital Initiatives Lab.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: WLC 101G (Introduction to Foreign Languages 1: German) and at least 3 history classes


Dr. Christina Steidl

Sociology |

    Teacher Talk: Analyzing Complexity of Language and Content

    An extensive body of research has demonstrated that our language choices impact our ability to communicate effectively. The choices we make can determine whether what we say is understood by those around us, and the choices others make can determine whether we understand them. In this project, we’re looking at the intersection of language and content. Specifically, we are looking at the language that teachers use to explain more or less complex concepts in the classroom.

    Basically, we want to understand what happens with language when content complexity varies. For example, does language complexity typically increase as the content of a lesson becomes more complex? Do teachers tend to use expert language when explaining content to students, or do they use more accessible language? And what the heck makes language more or less accessible in the first place?

    In this project, you’ll be reviewing recordings of real-world teachers and analyzing the language that they are using in specific content lessons. The lessons will range from 6th - 12th grade material across core content areas (English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies). You will be trained to analyze the language and content of each lesson and rate them on scales based on commonly used frameworks. You will also get a chance to attend a 3-day training for ~150 content teachers from across the region and be involved in the refinement of a system for coding teacher talk.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: You don’t need to be in a specific field to be successful in this project. If you are interested in language, curious about what leads to success or failure in communication, and comfortable with the idea of watching videos and/or listening to audio recordings in order to attend to nuances of talk, you will be well positioned to contribute to the work of the project. Above all, you need to be inquisitive and attentive to the language being used and the ideas being communicated. Finally, because the content we are looking at is from K-12 settings (teacher talk), if you are particularly interested in helping improve pedagogy and design of language in the classroom, or if you have experience and interest in qualitative research methods and coding, those are pluses as well.


Dr. Dan Morrison

Sociology |

    The Christian University and the Legacy of Segregation: The Case of Abilene Christian University

    Part of a larger project documenting the historical and contemporary practices of racism and exclusion within Abilene Christian University, this project focuses on key moments in the university's efforts to acknowledge, reckon with, and repair relationships between the university and African Americans, including Black alumni, current students, as well as Black faculty and staff. Our work seeks to answer these questions:

    1) How have university presidents, boards of trustees, and other leaders attempted to make amends for decades of anti-Black racism, discrimination, and harm? 2) What progress, if any, has been made as a response to these efforts?

    Motivated by the recent turn towards examining the relationship between universities and enslavement, our research team (faculty, graduate student, and staff) aim to document the history of racism and exclusion of Black students at an explicitly Christian institution of higher education. We work with existing social science theory to help explain events and institutional changes, such as public apologies and scholarship programs. We draw on a variety of archival materials from print sources such as student newspapers and yearbooks, as well as community media from the early 1900s to 2022.

    The goal of this RCEU is to produce a well written, complete, sophisticated, and accessible chapter that makes a significant contribution to the larger co-authored book.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Any academic rank from freshman to senior. Sociology, History, Psychology, Political Science, and English majors are preferred, especially those with minors in justice and equity studies, and those with experience in archival research and nonfiction writing. Related disciplines will be considered based on the skills and qualifications of the student candidate.


Prof. Shuang Zhao

Political Science |

    Unpacking the Russia-Ukraine War: Implications for the International Community

    Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the international community, sparking extensive discussions, analyses, and predictions about the course of this conflict. Yet, it is crucial to shift our focus towards understanding the profound implications this war holds for the global community and, more importantly, how we can prevent similar conflicts in the future. This research project draws upon established theories and frameworks in international relations to delve into the root causes of such large-scale conflicts in our modern world. Under the guidance of Drs. Shuang Zhao and Larrissa Beavers, students will conduct research with three primary objectives:

    (1)Identify the Underlying Causes of Modern Warfare: This project will aim to uncover the key factors that drive contemporary conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine war. (2) Explore Broader Implications for the US, EU, and the Global Community: The consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war extend far beyond the immediate region. (3) Propose Recommendations for Future Conflict Prevention: Building on the insights gained from the research, the project will provide recommendations on how to prevent similar conflicts in the future. This will involve reprioritizing and redesigning existing international frameworks, such as NATO and the WTO, to better address the evolving challenges of the 21st century.

    To achieve these objectives, students will engage in a multifaceted research approach that includes literature reviews, content analysis of both English and Russian sources, selected interviews, and case studies.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Literature search and review, interview skills, content analysis, Russian language skills is not required but will be a plus.


Dr. Larissa Beavers

Political Science |

    Unraveling Tensions: Exploring the Relevance of Frustration-Aggression Theory in the Israel-Hamas Conflict

    Motivation: The recent upheaval on the international stage, stemming from a sudden offensive by Hamas against Israel has garnered worldwide attention. This profound impact and heightened global concern serve as a compelling motivation for conducting further research into the underlying factors and implications of this crisis.

    Background/Goal: The geopolitical divide that separates Israel and Palestinian territories has long plagued the region with terror and violence. Nevertheless, the comprehensive scope of this division, along with its deeply rooted religious dimensions, is frequently overshadowed and undermined by political motives. The divide exposes polarized views: Israel’s legitimate right to exist as a Jewish homeland; support for Palestinian self-determination and injustices against the Palestinian people; Israeli government policies regarding the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Such contradictions desensitize and deny the root of the conflict between the two communities, hindering meaningful dialogue and reconciliation. While political factors are undoubtedly a vital component of this conflict, it is imperative to scrutinize alternative explanations that may offer additional insights into the nature of this protracted dispute. This study draws on Freudian concepts of displacement and catharsis, utilizing Frustration-Aggression theory to examine the 2007 civil war with Fatah and the recent 2023 attacks on Israel and Gaza. Under the guidance of Drs. Larissa Beavers and Shuang Zhao students will conduct research to identify alternative rationales for the violent attacks on Israel and, conversely, Israeli actions. Ultimately, the project aims to create a comprehensive poster that outlines the potential influence of the frustration-aggression theory on the dynamics of the current conflict in the region.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Project Details: Under the guidance of Drs. Larissa Beavers and Shuang Zhao, this project entails an in-depth examination of historical events leading up to the recent attack on Israel. It involves the compilation of historical data, archival data, and case studies, focusing on the Palestinian people's experiences and perceived injustices by Israel. Furthermore, this research seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of Israel's standpoint by scrutinizing the historical and geopolitical contexts in which it has faced challenges and injustices from organizations like Hamas. Ultimately, the project aims to create a comprehensive poster that outlines the potential influence of the frustration-aggression theory on the dynamics of the current conflict in the region. No required courses or Majors


Dr. William MacKenzie

Management & Marketing |

    Virtual Reality Situational Judgment Test

    Situational judgment tests (SJTs) present applicants with a scenario and typically asks them to select the response option that they feel would be best and worst given the scenario. The idea of this selection technique is it provides real world scenario to see how an applicant would respond in a job related situation. Some of these questions include situations such as angry customers or inappropriate coworkers. Reading a scenario is very different from actually experiencing a scenario. Using VR can create an immersive experience that more closely simulates the actual situation. For example, reading a scenario that states a customer screams at you is very different from an actually having a customer scream at you. The body has a physical response when put in this situation (e.g., respiration and blood pressure changes). This project examines using VR to closely replicate the physiological response seen in the "real world." This would lead to applicants selecting response options that more closely mirror how they would respond in the actual situation.

    I have filmed approximately 12 scenes with actors portraying different SJT scenarios using a 3D, 360 degree video camera. I need help with two things to begin collecting data on this project. First, I need someone to edit the videos - cutting pauses at the beginning and end of the scene and adjusting sound levels when possible. The second task is the more challenging and reason for the RCEU. I need a student to help create a way to record user responses to the video. I want participants to view a video scene and then see 4 or 5 response options (each would be about 1 sentence long). After viewing the response options the participant could select one option that is then recorded into a csv or some other file before displaying the next video. Each participant will need around a dozen responses recorded without having to exit the VR software. I have no preference as to the software that is used to accomplish this.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: A successful applicant would need to understand VR software and be able to write a simple program in VR that can play a series of 3D 360 degree VR MP4 videos, showing text after each video and record user responses (VR controller input). Computer Science majors would be preferred but I am open to other majors if they feel confident they can complete this task.


Dr. Hamsa Mahafza

Curriculum & Instruction |

    Bringing Imagination to Life: An Animated Tale of "The Arabian Cinderella and the Secret of the Woven Threads"

    My passion for multicultural children’s literature has motivated me to write my first children’s book: “The Arabian Cinderella and the Secret of the Woven Threads.” The message and moral of this book emphasize the value of cultural heritage and how to preserve it. One of the book's strengths is its unique storytelling approach, offering a different perspective. In this new version of the story tale, Cinderella’s embroidered scarf is ripped at a horse race, leaving her heartbroken and desperate to find it. Fortunately, the Prince finds the missing piece of her scarf, and in a beautiful union, they make vows to one another to continue keeping their cultural heritage alive.

    To take part in this project, your role is to create an animated video adaptation of the book, as a way to further captivate young audiences and bring the Arabian Cinderella's story to life. This project will provide an opportunity for you to showcase your creative talents and artistic skills as you work on various aspects of animation and production. The technical implementation of the project will be under the guidance and mentorship of Mr. Vinny Argentina, Associate Professor of Art - Animation & Game Design. This video serves as an innovative medium for storytelling, which plays a vital role in promoting literacy development and language acquisition. Importantly, the integration of storytelling and video animation can significantly boost the effectiveness and engagement of the entire educational experience.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Candidates should be creative and passionate about diversity and multicultural children’s literature. While this project is open to all students from all academic disciplines, students studying digital animation are preferred.


Dr. Hamsa Mahafza

Curriculum & Instruction |

    Celebrating Diversity: It’s Time to Lead a Mural Project on University Campus

    The UAH student population is increasingly multicultural, representing diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Research in higher education has revealed that the "lack of diversity within the university community limits the educational experiences available for students and compromises the ability of the institution to fulfill its mission” (as cited in Chen, 2017, p.18). As an advocate for diversity, I believe that it is only through greater awareness and faculty-student collaborations that our advocacy efforts for diversity can inspire meaningful change. For me, focusing on commonalities, rather than differences, is the key to achieving this goal.

    This action research centers on leading a mural project on our university campus. Your role in this project involves designing and painting a campus mural that authentically represents the diversity within our student body. For example, one concept under consideration is the creation of a mural artwork that incorporates flags from various countries, aesthetically weaving the word "hello" in languages associated with these flags. This artistic representation aims to visually celebrate the diversity within our student community. The utilization of mural art, as a creative intervention, is an excellent way to cultivate an inclusive learning environment, ensuring that students from these countries feel both welcomed and well-represented. Moreover, it provides an opportunity for all students to collaborate in displaying the beauty of our UAH campus and enriching our diverse community.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: While this project is open to all students from various academic disciplines possessing artistic talents, particularly in drawing and painting, students majoring in fine arts are preferred. Candidates should be creative, passionate about diversity and inclusion, and interested in World languages and learning how to conduct action research.


Dr. Sara Harper

Kinesiology |

    Evaluation of stair contrast markings for older adults and individuals experiencing low vision

    Our intent is to reduce stairway fall risk for older adults and those experiencing low vision by improving stairwell building code regulations and accessibility standards. While stairway falls are a multi-faceted problem, visual deficits increase the likelihood of a fall on stairs because vision provides critical information about stairway features commonly used to adjust foot placement and clearance. Potential solutions that address visual deficits, such as stair contrast markings, could assist an aging population and individuals with low vision to negotiate the stairway.

    To date, most approaches for evaluating the effects of visual impairment during stairs negotiation use simulated age-related visual conditions in otherwise young, healthy populations. Therefore, additional research on people experiencing these conditions is critical to determine stairway contrast marking frequency, width, and location or nosing positioning. The current goal is to conduct a pilot study evaluating stairway negotiation for older adults and those experiencing low vision. The results of this research will inform the development of future building code regulations regarding stair contrast marking frequency, width, and location/nosing positioning for older adults and persons experiencing low vision or blindness.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: While this project is open to all students from all academic disciplines, students studying Exercise Science, Art-Animation, and/or Engineering are preferred. Candidates should be interested in learning how to conduct research on human subjects and be willing to learn motion capture.


Dr. Allie Cramer

Curriculum and Instruction |

    Teacher and Administrator Perceptions of the Ethics of the Use of Restraint

    Individuals with disabilities who exhibit dangerous, threatening behavior are subjected to higher rates of physical restraint, a procedure that restricts an individual’s ability to move freely (Barnard-Brak et al., 2014). It is regrettable that eliminating the use of restraint has been ineffective, as there are many ethical ramifications that coincide with the use of restraint (e.g., access to education, injury; LeBel et al., 2010; Scheuermann et al., 2016). Furthermore, research on this subject is limited. This study asks what teachers’ and administrators’ current perceptions of the ethics of restraint are and asks what socio-demographic factors are associated with these perceptions. The main aim of the project is to analyze survey data, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, from teachers and administrators on their perspectives on the ethics of the use of restraint. The motivation and goal of the project is to better understand teachers’ and administrators’ perceptions of the ethics of restraint use and thereby be able to make recommendations to reduce the use of restraint with students with disabilities.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: This project is open to students from all academic ranks and disciplines. Candidates should be willing to learn new methods of research and data analysis and demonstrate strong work ethic.


Dr. Allie Cramer

Curriculum and Instruction |

    Training and Support on Implementing and Documenting Restraint Procedures: The state of Current Practice as Told by Teachers

    Physical restraint, a procedure that restricts an individual’s ability to move freely, is intended to be used in emergency situations where there is a risk of imminent physical harm to the individual or others. In many schools across the United States, these procedures are implemented by the school’s crisis response team, which is recommended to be provided with extensive training in order to implement these procedures correctly (Schonfeld & Newgass, 2003). Training across crisis intervention programs can vary (Couvillon et al., 2010); however, examining crisis scenarios, role playing, hands-on simulations, and practice drills have been found to be effective components of crisis intervention training (Brock et al., 2001; Pitcher & Poland, 1992). When examining perspectives of crisis intervention training, school psychologists report attending some form of crisis intervention training but express more training and practice would be beneficial to their school’s crisis response team (Adamson & Peacock, 2007). Though, teacher perspectives of crisis intervention training have not yet been explored. This study asks what teachers’ current experiences of training and support provided by building and district administrators on implementing and documenting restraint procedures are and asks what socio-demographic factors are associated with these experiences. The main aim of the project is to analyze survey data from teachers on their experiences with training and support they receive when implementing and documenting restraint procedures. The motivation and goal of the project is to better understand teachers’ experiences of the training and support they receive from administrators regarding restraint events, which will reveal recommendations to provide better support to teachers and ultimately reduce the use of restraint with students with disabilities.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: This project is open to students from all academic ranks and disciplines. Candidates should be willing to learn new methods of research and data analysis and demonstrate strong work ethic.


Dr. Amanda Giles

Curriculum and Instruction |

    "We are Better Together”: Collaborating for Increased Effectiveness and Productivity

    Isn’t working together more interesting and more fun than working alone? Isn’t working together to accomplish the same goal more motivating and rewarding? Of course! We are wired for relationships, and we are stronger together! If reading this sparks your own curiosity and interest, then this project is for you!

    This project aims to explore how collaboration to accomplish our goals can increase our own effectiveness and productivity. Current research shows that working with people to achieve similar goals (e.g., better health, exercise, teaching, and/or entertainment) can motivate us more to keep going when challenges arise and can actually help us achieve better results.

    In this project, undergraduate applicants will: -examine an academic article in a scholarly journal of their choice and analyze the article for components in qualitative research -participate in a qualitative interview about collaboration in their own contexts, transcribe, and begin to code the interview -create an action plan for collaboration based on their own goals of effectiveness and productivity

    This project seeks to explore the benefits and challenges of collaboration from multiple perspectives. This project’s background is situated in K-12 educational contexts from a qualitative research perspective; however, undergraduates from all fields of study are encouraged to participate. The project’s activities (e.g., journal article analysis, qualitative interview, and action plan) will be tailored to your own interests and areas of study. All activities will explore how collaboration can help us work smarter and achieve better results.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: All student applicants from all areas and backgrounds are welcome to participate. An interest and curiosity for collaboration across multiple disciplines is the only prerequisite. Applicants interested in teaching, learning, and collaboration across multiple educational contexts would also be fun to explore.


Dr. Andrea Word

Curriculum and Instruction |

    "What I'm going to need you to do is..." Analyzing Teacher Talk

    Have you ever sat in a class and thought everything made sense - only to get back to your room and sit down with your notes and wonder what the heck the instructor was talking about? Have you spent time in classes where it seemed like a lot of the talk going on was unrelated to the topic - or just plain unnecessary to get the message across? An extensive body of research has demonstrated that the language choices people make impact the (in)effectiveness of communication. One of the contexts in which clear communication is crucial is the classroom setting.

    In this project, the driving motivation is to improve communication in the classroom - in this case by looking at language choices teachers make when they deliver instruction. The end goal is to figure out whether we can help teachers design their language to make it more accessible for students, which should improve learning along the way. To contribute to the work of the project, you will view/listen to recordings of instruction in classes across 6th-12th grades. You will analyze/code the language that teachers use in specific content lessons, including English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. And, although attendance is not mandatory, you will also have the opportunity to attend a 3-day training for 150 content teachers from across the region - and be involved in the refinement of a system for coding teacher talk.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: You don’t need to be in a specific field to be successful in this project. If you are interested in language, curious about what leads to success or failure in communication, and committed to watching videos or listening to recordings in order to attend to nuances of talk, you will be well positioned to contribute to the work of the project. Above all, you need to be inquisitive and attentive to the ways in which language may be impacting the accessibility of the message itself. Finally, because the content we are looking at this year is within K-12 settings (teacher talk), if you are interested in helping improve pedagogy and design of language in the classroom, that is a plus as well.


Dr. Howard Chen

Industrial & Systems Engineering |

    A Wearable Sensor Array for Human Motion Analysis

    Inertial measurement units (IMUs) are ubiquitous in every-day life. These devices are used to sense motion in various devices including smart watches, cell phones, gaming councils, virtual reality headsets, and quadcopters. Despite its ubiquity, there is plenty of opportunities to improve this sensing modality.

    Given how inexpensive IMUs can be, many researchers have proposed using multiple IMUs attached to the same object to improve measurement accuracy. However, such a device is not readily available. The goal of this project is to make such a device to better understand its capabilities and limitations. For this project, we would like to use a microcontroller to acquire data from six IMUs simultaneously and broadcast the data to a computer using WiFi. If time allows, we will start investigating the algorithms to make this into reality from the software side. Our intent is to improve navigation capabilities for unmanned aerial vehicles as well as human motion analysis.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Experience working with micro controllers (e.g. Arduinos)


Dr. John Bennewitz

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering |

    Acoustically-Forced Droplet Combustion for Liquid Rocket Engine Combustion Instabilities and Detonation-Based Engines

    Acoustically coupled combustion instabilities have been a major challenge in the development of liquid rocket engines (LRE’s) and gas turbine engines over many decades. Large scale combustion instabilities are generally associated with a feedback cycle among temporal velocity oscillations u’, pressure oscillations p’, and oscillatory heat release q’ in the reactive system, resulting in enhancement of the instability when the latter two parameters are in phase, or nearly so, per the well-known Rayleigh criterion. Similarly, detonations are characterized by even more severe coupling between pressure of the leading shock and heat release of the reaction zone. These two oscillatory-coupling phenomena share extremely similar characteristics, as notably, high amplitude traveling combustion instabilities have even been noted to encompass “detonation-like” qualities (Ar’kov et al., JAMTP 1972). Therefore, further research is required to understand the fundamental coupling that occurs between flames and various types of acoustic forcing. This experiment will expose a continuously-fed liquid fuel droplet to various forcing conditions in an acoustic waveguide to quantify the flame-acoustic coupling through a combination of high-frequency pressure measurements and OH* chemiluminescence. This research project will entail the undergraduate researcher assisting with the laboratory work for the acoustically-forced waveguide, encompassing the following tasks: (1) facility/diagnostic design and construction, (2) data collection and processing, and (3) archival (i.e., publication) of the work. Previous experience performing research in a laboratory environment in combustion/propulsion related areas is desired, but not necessarily required.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: This position is suitable for undergraduate students pursuing technical degrees in engineering or science disciplines. Previous experience performing research in a laboratory environment in combustion/propulsion related areas is desired, but not necessarily required.


Prof. Agnieszka Truszkowska

Chemical and Materials Engineering |

    Computational modeling of resilience, failure, and repair of microreactor networks

    Traditional industrial production of chemicals faces many issues that impact its safety and efficiency. Moreover, many valuable compounds cannot be commercially produced because the costs and risks of their production make it impractical. Microreactors were proposed about 30 years ago as an alternative to traditional technology. Microreactors are tiny devices, commonly made of channels or tubes as narrow as the thickness of a single sheet of paper. Because of their small dimensions, microreactors are capable of overcoming some major issues of traditional industry and even making the production of new chemicals possible. Although they are safer, greener, and more efficient, microreactors still have a long way to go before reaching their true commercial potential. One of the obstacles to their advancement is their interconnection and synchronization. An industrial process would need hundreds or thousands of such small devices working in parallel but connecting them in an economical way and without large performance losses is not trivial. In this project, we will model a network of interconnected microreactors with up to tens of thousands of devices. We will study how different types of connections make the whole network more resilient to damage and how the failure of individual devices propagates to the other connected pieces. Finally, we will investigate ways to mitigate the damage and repair the network or at least bring it back to acceptable levels of performance. This project will result in both a new modeling tool for practitioners and researchers and theoretical insights into microreactor technology.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: The only requirement is that the major of the student should be in science or engineering. If a student outside of these majors has a sufficient background in science, engineering, and/or programming they are welcome to apply.


Dr. Nicholas Ginga

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering |

    Fabrication and Characterization of PDMS Based Materials for Stretchable and Flexible Electronics

    Research in the field of flexible electronics has experienced rapid growth in recent years due to their wide range of applications in sectors including consumer electronics, biomedical devices, and the defense industry. A specific elastomeric polymer that has been applied in this field due to its desirable and relevant properties of stretchability, biocompatibility and ease of fabrication is polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Two specific applications of interest for this flexible electronics research project are using PDMS to create tunable nanocracks/nanochannels and electrically conductive foam-like materials.

    To create tunable nanocracks in the surface of PDMS, the surface is first patterned with specific geometries using microscale replica molding. Next, the PDMS is exposed to a plasma oxidation process which creates a thin brittle surface layer on the PDMS. A tensile load is then applied to the PDMS to generate cracking on the surface. By engineering controlled nanocracks in the surface of the PDMS, the nanocracks can be used in a range of functions including nanoscale strain sensors for wearable electronics to track human motion, as flexible sensors to monitor structural health, or as microfluidic nanochannels and nano-valves. Additionally, PDMS can be used to create electrically conductive and compliant foam-like materials. This is done by mixing liquid PDMS with conductive nanoscale materials (i.e., carbon nanotubes) as well as a sacrificial material (i.e., sugar). After the polymer cures, the sacrificial material is dissolved to produce a conductive foam-like material. This material has applications as flexible electrodes for human health monitoring that are required to maintain contact with the subject’s skin even while moving.

    Overall, this project provides an opportunity for the student to gain research experience in the field of flexible electronic materials while obtaining knowledge in experimental mechanics, small-scale fabrication, and metrology.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Students applying to this project should be enrolled in the MAE department. There will be a preference to students who have taken MAE370 and MAE211 with a successful semester modeling project, have an interest and aptitude with hands-on fabrication and working with materials, conducting experiments, and demonstrate good communication skills.


Prof. Yooseob Song

Civil and Environmental Engineering |

    Finite element investigation of piezoelectric energy harvesting on a railway bridge: the effect of bridge types on output voltage.

    The piezoelectric effect converts kinetic energy in the form of vibrations or shocks into electrical energy. Piezoelectric generators (energy harvesters) offer a robust and reliable solution by converting normally wasted vibration energy in the environment to usable electrical energy. They are ideal in applications that need to charge a battery, super capacitor, or directly power remote sensor systems. In this project, the finite element implementation of the piezoelectric energy harvester subjected to a train-induced vibration of the railway bridge is investigated. Several types of bridges including prestressed girder bridge and steel box girder bridge will be considered to determine the best bridge type in terms of an output voltage. For deriving the electro-mechanical coupled framework, Hamilton’s variational principle is employed and the mechanical and electrical energy balance equations are also considered in conjunction with the suitable boundary conditions on the mechanical and electric fields. For the finite element implementation, the output voltage is considered as an additional degree of freedom together with the displacement field. The developed finite element model is then validated by comparing the numerical results of the current finite element model with the closed-form solutions. The characteristics of the moving train load and corresponding train-induced vibration data measured on the single- and double-span bridges are analyzed and the maximum vertical deflection is also evaluated for the safety assessment of the bridge. Lastly, the capability of the piezoelectric energy harvester as an energy scavenging devices on the railway bridge, the optimum location of the harvester, the optimum speed of the moving train, and the effect of resonance will be studied in terms of the generated output voltage and total energy.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: This project is open to Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) students at ALL-ACADEMIC RANKS. Students from underrepresented groups, women, and first-generation college students are encouraged to participate in. Experience with FEM software is preferred.


Dr. John Bennewitz

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering |

    Fundamental Detonation Physics and Performance Measurements for Small-Scale Rotating Detonation Rocket Engines

    Rotating detonation rocket engines (RDRE’s) have recently gained substantial interest as an alternative to traditional deflagration-based propulsion systems, with the theoretical potential to achieve overall engine performance gains. Specifically, rotating detonation rocket engines (RDRE’s) can exhibit an increase in chamber pressure, temperature and exhaust gas velocity for a substantially lower injection pressure through a constant-volume combustion process, compared to constant-pressure devices. During RDRE operation, one or more detonation wave(s) travel around the annulus supersonically by continuously consuming the incoming reactants while producing combustion products that exit the open end of the engine. To realize these engine performance benefits, fundamental research is required to advance the physical understanding of creating/controlling high-strength detonations in multiphase reactive environments. In addition, quantifying engine performance for small-scale RDREs will assist with establishing critical scaling parameters to serve as the foundation for a detonation-based engine scaling methodology. Presently, a new detonation science laboratory is being established at the Propulsion Research Center with multiple experimental facilities including a small-scale thrust stand and detonation tube. This research project will entail the undergraduate researcher assisting with the laboratory work for the detonation tube and small-scale thrust stand, encompassing the following tasks: (1) facility/diagnostic design and construction, (2) data collection and processing, and (3) archival (i.e., publication) of the work. Previous experience performing research in a laboratory environment in combustion/propulsion related areas is desired, but not necessarily required.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: This position is suitable for undergraduate students pursuing technical degrees in engineering or science disciplines. Previous experience performing research in a laboratory environment in combustion/propulsion related areas is desired, but not necessarily required.


Dr. Nathan Spulak


    High Speed Testing of Material Properties

    Many engineered devices are subject to loading at extremely high rates. Aerospace vehicle crashes, projectile impacts or orbital debris impacts, plus military armor and explosive ordnance containment structures are all applications where dynamic loading occurs. In order to accurately design devices for such scenarios, it is necessary to understand how the underlying materials will deform and fracture when loaded at high rates. The loading speed is characterized by the strain rate, or the amount of strain induced in the material over a given period of time.

    For this project, the student will design a new type of tension specimen that will experience loading at multiple different elevated strain rates at once during a single test. The initial design will be determined by computer simulations using the commercial finite element analysis (FEA) software LS-DYNA. The student will then fabricate the new type of tension specimen, and perform dynamic loading experiments on them using a split-Hopkinson bar (SHB) high rate testing apparatus. The experimental results will then be compared to the FEA simulations.

    Through this project, the student will learn how to perform FEA simulations and gain hands on experience with high rate experimental testing. This will include learning advanced experimental analysis techniques such as digital image correlation (DIC), where images are taken of the specimen as it deforms during the test and used to calculate the strain across the entire surface of the specimen. In addition the student will gain a deeper understanding of mechanics of materials, particularly how the material behavior changes at different loading rates.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: All students in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering are eligible to apply


Dr. Nathan Spulak


    Punch Test Fixture Design, Fabrication, and Testing

    Many engineered devices are subject to complex loading during use, where they experience loading from multiple directions at once. Examples include ballistic impacts of projectiles into armor, automotive vehicle crashes, and debris impacts against aerospace vehicles. In order to accurately design devices for such applications, it is necessary to determine how the underlying materials will deform and fracture when subjected to such complex loading.

    One method for experimentally characterizing how a material will deform under combinations of compression and multiaxial tension loading is through punch testing. For this project, the student will design and fabricate a fixture to hold a material specimen in place while a punch is advanced into it until fracture of the material occurs. The student will then perform experiments on different materials using the fixture. Primary emphasis will be on designing a fixture for low rate loading on a hydraulic load frame. However it is also desired to design a punch test fixture for dynamic high speed loading on a split-Hopkinson bar testing apparatus. The fixtures must be designed so that images of the material can be taken as it deforms during loading, so that these images can be analyzed using digital image correlation (DIC). The student will then perform finite element analysis (FEA) simulations of the tests and compare the results to the experimental data.

    Through the project the student can expect to gain experience using CAD to design the fixtures, with machining and fabrication techniques, plus hands on experience with experimental testing. The student will also gain a greater knowledge of mechanics of materials, of advanced experimental analysis techniques such as DIC, and learn the basics of FEA modeling.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: All students in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering are eligible to apply


Dr. Haiyang Hu


    Quantification of the Aerodynamic Performance Degradation of an Iced Wind Turbine Blade Model

    Wind energy is one of the most promising renewable energy sources for massive production of electricity. The U.S. Department of Energy has challenged the nation to produce 20% of its total power from wind by 2030. Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. However, it has been found that ice accretion on the turbine blade would decrease power generation significantly. Even light icing can produce enough surface roughness on wind turbine blades to reduce their aerodynamic efficiency, which reduces the amount of power they can produce. Therefore, it is highly desirable to develop innovative, effective anti-/de-icing strategies tailored for wind turbine icing mitigation to ensure safer and more efficient operation of wind turbines in atmospheric icing conditions. Doing so requires understanding the underlying aerodynamic performance degradation pertinent to wind turbine blade icing. In this project, an experimental study will be conducted to characterize the aerodynamic performance degradation of the iced wind turbine blades under different conditions (i.e., velocities and AOAs). The wind turbine airfoil model with an irregular ice shape will be 3D printed and tested at the low-speed wind tunnel at the MAE department. Both the force sensor as well as the PIV (Particle Imaging Velocimetry) will be used to experimentally quantify aerodynamic performance degradation. While the aerodynamic force was recorded through the force sensor, A high-resolution PIV system was also utilized to characterize the behaviors of the turbulent air flows over the iced wind turbine model. The detailed PIV flow field measurements will be correlated with the dynamic aerodynamic force data to gain further insight into the underlying physics for a better understanding of the effects of iced wind turbines when operating in cold weather.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: 1) Basic understanding of fundamental aerodynamics concepts and related sciences. 2) Basic knowledge and experience in MATLAB, Solid Edge/SolidWorks


Dr. Darlene Showalter

Nursing- DNP Program |

    Collaboration between the clinical and research doctorates: A Review of the literature

    The nursing profession has two predominant terminal degrees: the DNP and PhD; one is a clinical doctorate, and the other is a research doctorate. One is a translational science where the focus is on the identification and implementation of the best evidence to improve patient outcomes and health systems. The other poses hypotheses and asks questions in the spirit of inquiry seeking answers where there are none. This project primarily consists of conducting a review of the literature in search of documentation on the importance, relevance, and rationale for collaboration between the two degrees. The term "better together" fuels this search that will explore how the two might engage to make an impact on health outcomes. Students wishing to learn how to identify quality literature and conduct a meaningful review of the literature will benefit from this experience. This experience will serve as a strong foundation and promote readiness for graduate studies.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Applicants should have knowledge of Microsoft Word, and strong reading comprehension, writing, and analytical skills. The student will be coached in the process of conducting web searches and appraisal of literature. This opportunity is open to Nursing majors who have completed are are enrolled in NUR307 though other majors who have successfully completed a research class (or its equivalent) will be considered.


Dr. LaToya Patterson

Graduate Department |

    FOWE: Fighting Obesity With Education

    Background: Childhood obesity (CO) is a preventable public health crisis with catastrophic implications that carry over into adulthood (Dhuper et al., 2021; Schroeder et al., 2020; Cunningham, Kramer, & Narayan, 2014). Childhood obesity affects over 340 million children worldwide (CDC, 2021; WHO, 2020). As the percentage of children with obesity continues to rise, there are major concerns related to the development of life-long physiological consequences (Rajakumar et al., 2016; Renales & Whitted, 2021). Childhood obesity is a risk factor for diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, which are all precursors to premature mortality (Shrivastava, Shrivastava, & Ramasamy, 2016; Dhuper et al., 2021). Consequences relating to CO are not just limited to physical ailments (Hoying & Melnyk, 2016; Sahoo et al., 2016). Childhood obesity has been linked to anxiety, low self-esteem, and overall lower quality of life (Sahoo et al., 2016). Researchers suggest obese children have three times the risk of mental health diseases than children who are not obese (Hoying & Melnyk, 2016).

    Motivation: Although Alabama ranks fifth in the nation for CO rates (Alabama State Obesity Data (ASOD), 2019; Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), 2020), there are few studies that address this healthcare inequity. It has been estimated that approximately 17% of 14-18-year-old children in Alabama are classified as obese (ADPH, 2020). Existing research cites lack of education and poor food choices as contributory factors (Ayine et al., 2020; Millner, McDermott, & Eichold, 2018; Li, Carter, & Robinson, 2016).

    Goal: The goal of this project is to determine if the implementation of a nutritional program could assist children in identifying healthier food choices as demonstrated by pre/posttest.

    Proposed Project: The proposed project would occur during Summer (2024). Specific Project Details are TBD with the selected student.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: None


Dr. Thomas Donlon

Physics and Astronomy |

    Accelerations from Fast Radio Bursts and White Dwarfs

    Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are a recently-discovered astrophysical phenomenon, which still lack a theoretical explanation. One popular idea is that FRBs may be caused by neutron stars in binary systems. There are currently two known repeating periodic FRBs, which are thought to be located in other galaxies. Currently, observations of neutron stars (pulsars) in binary systems can be used to measure accelerations throughout our Galaxy -- however, if FRBs are due to binary neutron star systems, it may be possible to use FRB data in this way to measure the cosmological acceleration directly.

    The student will gather data for FRBs from the CHIME collaboration, as well as any other relevant publications. The student will analyze this data in order to calculate accelerations for the two known periodic FRB sources, assuming they are binary neutron stars. These observed accelerations will then be compared to the cosmic acceleration expected from the standard model of cosmology. . This would represent the first ever direct measurement of the redshift drift. The student will also forecast how many periodic FRBs would be required to discriminate between different cosmological models.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: The student is expected to have a sophomore-level or higher foundation in physics, astrophysics, and mathematics. Successful completion of AST106 and AST107 is required. Successful completion of PH301 and/or PH305 would be beneficial, but is not required. The student should be enrolled in the College of Science (Physics, Math, and CS majors are encouraged to apply), although applicants from the College of Engineering will also be considered. A basic ability to write code, preferably Python, is required.


Prof. John Mecikalski

Atmosphere and Earth Science |

    Analysis of Growing and Evolving Cumulus Clouds using combined Ground and Satellite Observations over the DoE AMF3

    The project will address research questions surrounding use of Department of Energy-Bankhead National Forest (BNF) ARM Mobile Facility-3 (AMF3) and GOES-16 satellite observations to study cumulus cloud characteristics, specifically how cloud base characteristics change over the course of the morning and early afternoon, and how these characteristics relate to the area (60 km2) cloud field (coverage, cloud type), as well as to cumulus cloud growth rates. The main datasets will be collected over and surrounding the BNF AMF3 on ~7-12 humid summer (June-July) days when cumulus clouds are present. AMF3 Doppler Lidar and ceilometer data will characterize cumulus cloud-base and lifted condensation level (LCL) heights, which will be compared to cloud-base vertical motion (wCB) estimates from the AMF3 Vertical-Scanning Radar/KAZR. The study will also rely on GOES-16 satellite cumulus cloud top cooling rate (CTCR) product data (2 km resolution, every 5 minutes), and 13 km Rapid Refresh (RAP) model LCL and boundary layer thermodynamic information. The paralax corrected CTCR data will be matched to the cumulus clouds observed over and near the AMF3, and several methods will relate CTCR to in-cloud updraft velocities. Statistical analyses will be done to compare ground- and satellite cumulus cloud observations. In addition, cloud type information will determine if more continuous fields of low clouds break up as the cumulus cloud growth rates change/increase, or if any other relationships exist between cloud growth rates and cloud type, with respect to lower tropospheric temperature, dew point, LCL and boundary layer height. The study will also determine if more rapidly growing convective clouds have stronger wCB values, and what if any relationship that may have to thunderstorm development later in a given day.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Strong programming skills are highly desired.


Dr. Tanya Sysoeva

Biological Sciences |

    Analysis of inhibition mechanisms by Lactobacillaceae isolates from human urinary bladder

    Lactobacilli are known commensals in the human urogenital tract (UT) and possibly important for the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Lactobacilli have innate defense factors that enable them to outcompete other bacteria, including uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) through production of toxic components, such as bacteriocins, peroxide, surfactants, and lactic acid. In an earlier project we isolated a set of 29 commensal lactobacillus strains from the human urinary bladder and performed whole genome sequencing on 3 of those isolates. Preliminary analysis of the sequenced lactobacilli genomes shows presence of several bacteriocin genes. In follow-up projects, we worked with 2 of these isolates and observed their ability to inhibit the growth of model UPEC isolates/strains in vitro in artificial media by a combination of whole-cell and acid factors. Comprehensive understanding of the specific mechanism(s) underlying these patterns of inhibition is currently lacking. Therefore, the goal of this project is to determine the mechanisms of UPEC inhibition by these isolates. We also plan to sequence representative lactobacillus isolates, proceed with the bioinformatic analyses, and attempt to do genetic modifications of the strains. Overall, we will use a combination of bioinformatic analyses, sequencing, and microbiological techniques such as anaerobic growth, well diffusion inhibition assays, CFU counting, and others.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Applicants (ranging from freshmen - juniors) should have completed some basic biology courses at UAH (i.e. BYS 119/120) or an AP Biology/Chemistry course. While a good academic standing is not a requirement, the applicant has to have a sincere interest in the general topic of microbiology or, in particular, an understanding of the implication of the microbiome on human health.


Dr. Thomas Donlon

Physics and Astronomy |

    Calibration of Binary Pulsar Spindown Rates

    Historically, studies of the Milky Way have relied on the positions and motions of stars to determine properties of our Galaxy. Pulsars periodically emit radio waves with temporal stability rivaling that of atomic clocks; this allows us to directly measure accelerations of these sources. These accelerations allow us to model the gravitational potential, and therefore the dark matter content, of the Milky Way in a novel way that does not rely on the assumptions of other kinematic methods. This could shed light on unknown properties of dark matter, which is a main goal of modern astrophysics. However, we are currently only able to use pulsars in binary systems (pulsars that are orbiting some other object) to measure accelerations. This is because a pulsar's spin rate slows down over time due to a poorly-understood magnetic braking term, while the orbital period of the binary does not depend on the magnetic braking term.

    The student will gather observed data for binary pulsars from online catalogs and publications. The student will then compare the accelerations measured from the binary orbital period and the spin rate of binary pulsars in order to determine the contribution of the magnetic spin-down term for each binary pulsar. By comparing these spin-down rates to theoretical models and other observed properties of the binary pulsars, it may be possible to determine the spin-down term for any given pulsar. This would allow us to use solitary pulsars to measure accelerations, which could potentially double the number of pulsars we can use to measure accelerations. The student may also calibrate dispersion-measured distances to pulsars, which could lead to a further increase in the number of usable pulsars. The student will produce a list of all pulsars with new acceleration measurements, which may be included in a future publication if the project is successful.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: The student is expected to have a sophomore-level or higher foundation in physics, astrophysics, and mathematics. Successful completion of AST106 and AST107 is required. Successful completion of PH301 and/or PH305 would be beneficial, but is not required. The student should be enrolled in the College of Science (Physics, Math, and CS majors are encouraged to apply), although applicants from the College of Engineering will also be considered. A basic ability to write code, preferably Python, is required.


Prof. Shanhu Lee


    Chemical Analysis of Atmospheric Species

    To use state-of-the-art mass spectrometers to analyze aerosol chemical composition.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Major in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering or Civil Engineering, with excellent GPA and work ethics.


Dr. Jie Ling

Chemistry |

    Development of Novel Ultraviolet Nonlinear Optical Crystals

    Nonlinear optical materials (NLO), which can alter the frequency of light, have a wide application in military and civil fields, such as telecommunication, quantum computing, and biodiagnostics, etc. Depending on the chemical and physical construct of the materials, NLO materials can combine multiple photons to generate shorter wavelength photons or split one photon into several new photons of longer wavelengths. To be NLO active, materials must adopt noncentrosymmetric (NCS) crystal structures, and simultaneously meet other requirements, including transparency, phasematchability, high optical quality, optical damage threshold and availability in bulk form. Currently, only limited amount of them is practical and their application is narrowed in the visible light range, while IR and UV NLO materials are much underdeveloped.

    To this work, the targeted materials include metal borates, iodates, and tellurites with NCS structures which are essential for nonlinear behavior and they will be synthesized using a suite of complementary crystal growth methods. And to increase the transparency and facilitate their application in UV, small halide ions, i.e., F- will be introduced into the structure by replacing partial of oxygen atoms on these NSC oxoanions which can blue-shift the absorption edge. This proposed work will expand the family of NLO materials, advance the understanding and knowledge on the correlation between crystal structure and optical property, and may develop novel practical optical crystalline products. By participating in this work, students will learn to design the synthesis of NCS compounds and grow high-quality crystals through hydrothermal and salt fluxes routes. They will also gain hands-on experience on single crystal X-ray diffraction, powder XRD, SEM-EDS, FTIR, UV-Vis-NIR which can be used to determine the crystal structure, composition and optical property.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: None


Prof. Sean Freeman

Atmospheric and Earth Science |

    Evaluating Weather Models with Cloud Tracking

    For us to trust our weather prediction models, we must be able to evaluate them. This is particularly important as we move into the era of high-resolution global models, which can now forecast the local impacts of individual clouds and storms globally. Traditional evaluation methods for weather models have primarily focused on broad-scale weather conditions rather than local-scale or have relied on incomplete local-scale surface observation datasets for comparison. In this project, we will use the existing operational weather radar dataset to evaluate today's high-resolution regional-scale operational weather models, such as the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model, to prepare for future high-resolution global-scale models.

    We will use the Tracking and Object-Based Analysis of Clouds (tobac) python-based cloud tracking package to track individual clouds and storms in numerical models and observations to compare the radar and model datasets. tobac has the unique advantage of allowing the tracking of storms on any input dataset, meaning that we can produce comparable output when tracking across both radar observations and weather models. With our two tracked datasets, we will evaluate, on a statistical scale, how storm-scale weather models perform on the local scale. This project will give us a unique look into how current weather models are performing on storm scales, provide us with tools to evaluate new weather forecasting models, and have significant consequences for weather forecasting today and in the future.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Some Python background, some knowledge of weather (AES majors preferred)


Dr. Mohamad Nassar

Computer Science |

    Explainable IP Flow Classification

    In the 21st century, botnets are becoming one of the most critical cybersecurity threats. Botnets are used to initiate Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, credential stuffing, spamming, and malware spreading. This motivated cybersecurity researchers to develop novel approaches that analyze botnets, detect them, and mitigate the attacks they perform. IP flows are sometimes the only and most important data source to identify botnets' IP addresses. However, most IP flow analysis techniques are still based on signature-based intrusion detection. This approach is ineffective since botnet signatures have become more complex and associated with evolving behavior. Researchers are experimenting with machine learning-based intrusion detection that can embed IP addresses in a hyperspace based on their behavior in the IP flow data. Embedding allows measuring similarities between IP addresses and clustering them according to their nature (Normal or Botnet). This project aims to provide an explainability layer on top of IP2Vec model. We plan to study and experiment with several explainability algorithms and report on their utility, expressibility, and performance.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Major: Computer Science, Computer Engineering or Mathematics. Required Courses: Intro to AI or intro to Machine Learning, Intermediate Programming, and Computer Networks. In addition, mathematical maturity is required.


Dr. Satyaki Roy

Mathematical Sciences |

    Game Theoretic Strategies to Optimize Global Healthcare Resource Distribution

    In the wake of the unprecedented health emergency of COVID-19, the necessity of efficient healthcare resource distribution cannot be overstated. Any global allocation strategy presents a multifaceted optimization challenge, encompassing an interplay of socioeconomic, demographic, and political dimensions. This complex task is further constrained by factors, such as budgetary considerations, clinical and epidemiological need assessment, and international relations. To tackle this complex problem, this study outlines four primary goals. First, it aims to optimize the supply chains for medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, with a keen focus on minimizing logistical costs. Second, it endeavors to utilize principles from game theoretic approaches to design multi-objective optimization strategies to incentivize the players to adhere to practices that are likely to result in equitable allocation based on long-term epidemiological and sociodemographic factors. Third, it aims to leverage behavioral economics to shape public health messaging and interventions, recognizing the pivotal role of human behavior in crisis management. Lastly, the study delves into international relations, analyzing vaccine diplomacy strategies to gauge how countries, organizations, and non-state actors utilize vaccines and drugs as tools for geopolitical influence. Validation of these approaches will be conducted through large-scale discrete event modeling and simulation experiments, capturing the effects of the policy recommendation. The goal will be to ensure that the optimization of supply chains, cooperative game theory, and behavioral economics models are not merely theoretical constructs but practical solutions that can enhance resource allocation, particularly during a major disease outbreak. In summary, this research project addresses the pressing issue of resources. It emphasizes the importance of needed resource distribution to overcome the time-critical and global humanitarian challenge.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Preliminary knowledge of optimization, game theory, and programming


Dr. Themis Chronis

Physics |

    Gamifying Physics

    The student will develop a curriculum for pre-college physics for Newtonian mechanics on the Simphy platform. They will design clever and unique experiments while working on the analytical solution (if one exists). Examples among others: Atwood machine, variable friction and forces, oscillating springs etc. The goal of the project is make physics problems more visually enhanced and comprehensible to a student of minimal or no background

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Very strong background on PH-111


Dr. Leiqiu Hu

Atmospheric and Earth Science |

    How to cool Huntsville in the summer

    Urban areas often experience higher temperatures during the summer compared to their surrounding rural areas, a phenomenon known as the "urban heat island" effect. Extensive research has demonstrated the detrimental consequences of this phenomenon on urban environments, particularly during the summer months. These consequences include heightened photochemical reactions, leading to reduced air quality, increased human discomfort, and elevated energy and water consumption. Various mitigation strategies, such as expanding urban forest coverage and employing lighter building surfaces, have been explored and tested in several cities.

    One effective mitigation strategy involves strategically planting trees and shrubs around buildings to provide shade, which directly reduces direct solar radiation and lowers daytime building and ground surface temperatures. Additionally, the evapotranspiration process of these plants can potentially cool the surrounding environment. However, the nighttime impact of urban forests remains inconclusive, particularly when the urban heat island effect is pronounced. Some studies suggest that tree canopies may trap longwave radiation in the urban canopy layer, thereby slowing the cooling rate of urban surfaces at night. Lighter-colored building exterior surfaces contribute to reduced solar radiation absorption, resulting in lower surface temperatures.

    The primary objective of this project is to assess the potential benefits of these mitigation strategies at a microclimate scale in Huntsville. To achieve this, a combination of thermal cameras and weather sensors will be deployed to monitor thermal environment changes in various urban settings within the city, including the UAH campus, greenways, downtown areas, and shopping plazas. The data collected from these observations will be used for statistical analysis, aiming to identify effective methods to enhance microclimate thermal comfort in Huntsville.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Students who are interested in this topic and have basic knowledge of math and image processing are encouraged to apply.


Dr. Bradley Kraemer

Biological Sciences |

    Investigating p75NTR Signaling Mechanisms and Associated Effects on Neurodegeneration Associated with Parkinson's Disease

    The proposed research project will investigate the signaling mechanisms through which a transmembrane protein termed the p75 Neurotrophin (p75NTR) influences neurodegeneration associated with Parkinson's Disease. The specific project details will be determined collaboratively with the RCEU student, but options include 1.) assessing whether disruption of p75NTR signaling protects dopaminergic neurons from oxidative stress-induced neurodegeneration 2.) exploring the effects of the p75NTR coreceptors sortilin and TrkA on oxidative stress-induced p75NTR activation or 3.) evaluating the role of JNK in promoting oxidative stress-induced p75NTR internalization. The student working on this project will use cell culture and/or mouse models, and the student will learn a variety of molecular biology research assays. However, due to the time required to learn the assays associated with this project, this project is best suited for a student who can commit to working on the project over multiple semesters. Thus, preference will be given to applicants who can work on this project over multiple terms (a one-year commitment is preferred), with the RCEU program serving as a funding source and training program for one term of a multi-term project.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Preference will be given to applicants who have achieved a grade of B or higher in a cell biology-related course (BYS 119, or a higher-level cell biology course) prior to the start of the RCEU project.


Prof. Don Gregory

physics |

    Laser Light for Propellant Ignition

    The research will experimentally determine what parameters are required for using an optical fiber (illuminated with intense laser light) to ignite solid rocket motor propellants. These fibers are inert and can be cast inside the propellant when it is formed. Initial testing has shown that scattered light from a properly etched fiber may be enough to ignite the propellant, but there is another possible method. With intensities easily achieved with a laboratory laser, it is possible to effectively melt the end of the fiber--and the melt propagates back toward the source, igniting the propellant in a controlled manner (by controlling the laser power incident on the fiber). This sort of control is not possible with conventional fuses and should lead to an improvement in rocket motor performance throughout the burn stage. The goal is to demonstrate ignition using the two methods above and to quantify the parameters required.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: The ideal student would be experimentally oriented with a basic knowledge of optics gained in the classroom or in practical situations. The student should have completed basic courses in physics and/or mechanical engineering and be competent in the analysis of experimental data.


Prof. Sivaguru Ravindran

Mathematical Sciences |

    Prediction and Feedback Control of Epidemics

    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest in the mathematical modeling, analysis and control of epidemic spread. One of the most successful mathematical models of epidemics is the so-called susceptive-infective-recovered (SIR) models. In this project we study SIR epidemic models with feedback control to reduce contact rate, to reduce the cost of facilities etc. Feedback control will be designed using linear quadratic regulator approach. Computed feedback control will be employed in the nonlinear model to close the loop. By constructing a suitable Lyapunov function global stability of the disease free equilibrium and endemic equilibrium of the model will be investigated. We will investigate to find out by choosing suitable values of feedback control variables, we can make the desease endemic or extinct. The results from this project are expected to provide insights in understanding and controlling the epidemic.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: The student applications need to know differential equations (MA238 or MA465) and programming proficiency (e.g., MATLAB).


Dr. Roderick Davidson

Physics and Astronomy |

    Stimulated emission for generating quantum photonic states

    To develop a room-temperature, on-demand single photon source for quantum information processing using nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond that will be robust to realistic environmental conditions. This source will be able to optically control the wavelength and polarization of individual photons.

    Absorption events in an excited quantum system can trigger the premature decay of that system to a lower energy level and result in stimulated emission. Such emission from a singular defect site will have no two photons closer to each other than the duty cycle of the stimulating event. To separate the stimulating and stimulated photon, we propose to use intense femtosecond laser pulses to drive this transition into a virtual state instead of the ground state. The virtual state is not an eigenstate of the system and can only exist for a small amount of time before the defect finishes relaxing all the way down to the ground state. This intermediate state allows for single photon emission that is both non-degenerate and well correlated in time with the incoming laser pulse. Additionally, the conservation of momentum still dictates that the polarization state of the resulting photon must be determined by the state of the laser pulse. Therefore, we can control the phase, wavelength, and polarization of this single photon source at room temperature. NV centers in diamond will be the primary material for this research due to the well-known quantum optical properties and the large two-photon cross section of the system. The large bandgap of diamond (5.5 eV) shields the system from free electron interference and allows for efficient coupling of the system to an external cavity. The cavity will then allow for tunability across the broad range of emission of NV centers, 600-800 nm.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: 1. Become familiar with the theory of single photon generation and sub-poissonian statistics 2. Operate an HBT interferometer to establish single photon statistics from test samples 3. Test diamond samples to isolate single defect sites 4. Demonstrate stimulated emission based gain from NV centers in diamond


Prof. Ming Sun

Physics & Astronomy |

    Studying galaxy evolution with the data from the Hubble Space Telescope

    Galaxy clusters are the gravitationally bound structure of hundreds or even thousands of galaxies. Most baryons (or ordinary matter) in clusters are in the hot intracluster medium (ICM) with temperatures of ~ 10^8 K. Cluster galaxies soar through the ICM and the interaction with the ICM plays a vital role in galaxy evolution, through ram pressure stripping (RPS) of the galactic cold gas (ram pressure is a pressure exerted on a body moving through a surrounding medium. Think about the pressure you feel inside a swimming pool when you try to run). As the cold interstellar medium is depleted by stripping, the galactic star formation will eventually be shut down and blue disk galaxies can turn into red galaxies. Thus, RPS is an important process in galaxy evolution. Observational evidence of stripping in cluster galaxies has only started to emerge in the last 15 years and is growing fast. We are recently granted a large research program to study 28 galaxies and their stripped tails to study galaxy evolution. An important component of this multi-wavelength campaign is the studies on galaxies and the young star clusters in the stripped tails with the data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The HST data, with superior angular resolution, can map the dust distribution, the detailed galaxy morphology, the nucleus and resolve young star clusters in the stripped tail of galaxies. All these results provide important information on the evolution of galaxies during stripping. Our science goals are:
    1) Study the galaxy morphology and fit the HST images with GALFIT to search for any asymmetric features.
    2) Study the dust distribution as it provides important constraints on stripping.
    3) Study the nuclear region to examine the activity of the central super-massive black hole --- is it enhanced or suppressed by the ongoing RPS?
    4) Study young star clusters in the stripped tails.
    Our group has rich experience with the HST data and have in-house codes for the proposed research.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: The successful applicant should have a good academic record (GPA > 3.4) and have finished introductory math & computer classes. Introductory Physics and Astronomy classes are preferred but not required. The successful applicant should also have experience with python and programming.


Dr. Satyaki Roy

Mathematical Sciences |

    Temporal Disease Subtype Interactions: A Deep Machine Learning-based Investigation

    There is an increasing prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed comorbidities among hospital admissions. Late detection or undetected comorbidities results in delayed treatment and worsening health outcomes. It is imperative to identify and manage comorbidities as they directly impact treatment strategies, cost and resource allocation, and clinical outcomes. Existing models, which map the clinical features of patients to their observable phenotypic presentations, frequently prove inadequate in capturing the relationships between diseases and their many subtypes. This shortfall results in patient profiles that are, at best, incomplete and, at worst, inaccurate. This project aims to harness the expressive power of machine learning (ML) to enhance the clinical features with the interdependency among diseases and their subtypes in predictive analysis. Specifically, the project revolves around graph-based deep ML techniques to combine the physiological features at a patient level with interdependency information to improve inference. Such models have proven to be effective in tracking and visualizing complex interactions between disease entities. They scale to large datasets while being transferrable to myriad healthcare scenarios. They even take into consideration the temporal aspects of disease progression by modeling the evolution of the interaction among diseases and their phenotypic presentations. The ability to predict missing and future comorbidities promises to have a profound impact on the healthcare ecosystem, particularly in improving risk assessment, resource allocation, and cost management. Finally, a key takeaway from this study will be new ontologies, where diseases are classified by organ systems, symptoms, or pathological characteristics, leading to the identification of disease-specific biological pathways and drug targets. This could be a new stride in personalized medicine, where treatment will be tailored to a person’s physiological profile and risks.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Basic understanding of machine learning and biology


Dr. Phillip Bitzer

Atmospheric and Earth Science |

    The Effect of Lightning on Tropical Forests

    We currently are exploring how lightning affects tropical forests, particularly how different lightning strikes affect different tree types. Work done so far has included in-field investigations of trees struck by lightning, flying drones to assess lightning damage, and analysis of a camera network to identify the lightning that struck a tree. Our study area is in Panama, where we have several instruments that detect lightning in place. In this project, we will explore how different lightning parameters relate to how trees respond to the impulse. For example, we have found that lightning can kill anywhere from 3-7 trees from a single discharge, and damage around 20-30. One outstanding question from this work is how different types of lightning affect the tree mortality. Work to be done includes analysis of lightning data correlated with known struck trees. The ultimate goal is to produce a relationship between lightning attributes and the response of the trees in the forest. Besides the main goal, there is also an opportunity to conduct field work to collect more lightning and forest data, as well as opportunities in the laboratory to work with the lightning instrumentation.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Some experience with coding is preferred


Prof. Xiaomin Chen

Atmospheric and Earth Science |

    Thermodynamic Processes during Hurricane Intensification under Strong Vertical Wind Shear

    Strong vertical wind shear (VWS) is typically considered detrimental to hurricane intensification, as it can disrupt the core structure and introduce dry air into the hurricane circulation. Nevertheless, unexpected rapid intensification events were occasionally observed under strong VWS, sometimes just before landfall. These events underscore the critical need to comprehend the physical processes that counteract the impact of VWS and contribute to hurricane intensification. Gaining insight into these processes is imperative for advancing hurricane intensity forecasts.

    The proposed research aims to identify the critical physical processes that lead to rapid hurricane intensification under conditions of strong VWS. This will be accomplished by analyzing output data from NOAA's state-of-the-art hurricane forecast model, the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast Model (HAFS). The participating student will have the opportunity to become proficient in the data analysis of this cutting-edge hurricane forecast model and make meaningful contributions to the forefront of hurricane science.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Majors of Atmospheric Science or Meteorology are welcome to apply, and preference will be given to students with a strong interest in analyzing the hurricane model output. Experience of using Python or other data analysis softwares is a plus. The minimum GPA requirement is 3.0 but GPA is only one of the criteria used to evaluate applicants.


Dr. Marc Pusey

Chemistry |

    Thermofluor Screening for Protein Crystallization

    Crystallization requires stable protein in the solution conditions of interest. This project is to develop a protein melting curve (aka thermofluor) assay for protein stability determinations under crystallization conditions. The first step is the developing of assay parameters, specifically the protein, fluorescent probe, and precipitant concentrations. Model proteins, having previously determined crystallization conditions, will be used for this purpose.

    The thermofluor assay is where a protein is mixed with the solution conditions of interest, plus a fluorescent indicator dye. This mixture is then heated at a fixed rate, from ambient to ~100 °C, with the fluorescence intensity being measured at specific time or temperature intervals. As the protein denatures the dye partitions to the exposed hydrophobic interior regions, resulting in an increase in the fluorescence intensity. Analysis of this signal is used to determine the protein melting temperature under the assay conditions. This assay is typically carried out in 96 well plates using a rtPCR instrument, and usually takes ~2 hours to run.

    Once the assay parameters have been determined thermofluor measurements will be made with several proteins using up to four standard sets of crystallization conditions. The melting curves will be correlated with crystallization screening results for those proteins and sets of conditions. It is anticipated that the crystallization conditions are those that have higher temperature melting points. This will be tested with one or two new blocks of screening conditions, where the crystallization conditions testing will be made based on the outcome of the thermofluor assay.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Chemistry or Biology majors.


Prof. Ming Sun

Physics & Astronomy |

    Understanding 3D data cubes from the Very Large Telescope

    We often say "a picture is worth a thousand words". In Astronomy, we also say "a spectrum is worth a thousand pictures". Nowadays with the advance of observational technology, we can further say "a data cube is worth a thousand spectra". Data cubes from spatial spectroscopy have become more and more common in Astronomy, from radio, sub-mm, IR, optical to X-rays. Data cubes provide spectroscopic information on every pixel of a picture. A world-leading telescope/instrument combo to produce data cubes with a high spectral resolution is the Very Large Telescope (VLT)/MUSE in optical, which is one of the most sought-after instruments in the world (typically only one of ten proposals submitted can be approved). The rich amount of information in data cubes has also brought a lot of challenge on data analysis and visualization, as source detection becomes a three-dimensional problem and kinematics often needs to be studied together with morphology.

    We are recently granted a large amount of the VLT/MUSE data to study galaxy evolution and feedback from super-massive black holes. While we have been using an IDL code to generate maps from the cube data, the code needs to be updated to python with more features, like adaptive binning with voronoi tessellation, parallel processing and more choices of available spectral models. Our group has started a project to have a new python code for the required cube analysis. In this RCEU project, the student, ideally already with python experience, will contribute to the project to have a new python code to generate maps of emission lines, gas kinematics etc. The student will also use the results to study the feedback of super-massive black holes on the surrounding medium and the accretion of materials to the super-massive black holes.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: The successful applicant should have a good academic record (GPA > 3.4) and have finished introductory math & computer classes. Introductory Physics and Astronomy classes are preferred but not required. The successful applicant should also have experience with python and programming.


Dr. Lavanya Ashokkumar

Atmospheric and Earth Science |

    Understanding climate change from glaciers

    The Intergovernmental panel on climate change has reported that the melting glaciers and thermal expansion of the oceans are causes of sea-level rise (IPCC, 2022). Globally, around 200 billion people are likely to be affected by increasing sea-level rise by the end of this century, with direct consequence for humans in the coastal regions. Excluding the ice sheets, glaciers play a prominent role in the increasing sea-level rates, which is about 10-30% of the total contribution from glacier melt. Even though this is a smaller proportion, mountain glaciers have significant importance in regional hydrology, and are considered as the most sensitive climate indicators in our warming planet. This is particularly relevant in the Arctic region since the environment is highly vulnerable to the effects of global climate change. Also, this region suffers from lack of field measurements due to inaccessibility in the polar (cold and arid) environments. Therefore, there is a need for better understanding on how much these glaciers are melting at spatial (geographical location) and temporal resolution (continuous time interval over the last 20 years).

    For this project, we will be using the techniques in remote sensing and geospatial methods to explore, analyze and interpret the glacier change. We will be utilizing the remote sensing datasets from NASA satellites, which are available from several open-source archives (listed in the background section). These datasets can be readily downloaded from the public repositories. In this way, we will systematically be considering glaciers in the Arctic region (Alaska, Northern Canada, Iceland) to understand how glacier melt in terms of ice thickness and/or volume from remote sensing and geospatial techniques. The project will also address the challenges in big data of remote sensing for climate change studies.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: For this course, it is important for the student to understand climate change and its effects to the environment. So, you should have taken a basic 100 level course in Environmental Earth Science or Climate in your Freshman or sophomore. It is preferred that the student has a background in the Atmospheric and Earth Science, but not a prerequisite for this project. If the student is not having a major or minor in AES, then the student should have taken programming course (Computer science or Mathematics) at 300 or 400 level. For AES Majors, you should have taken either two of these courses listed: AES 301 Introduction to Remote sensing, AES 313 Geographic Information System, or a programming course at 300 level.


Dr. Olaf Nachtigall

Chemistry |

    Use of Pulsed Laser Ablation in Metal Cluster Synthesis

    Clusters of ferromagnetic metals with zero-valent kernels are expected to possess unique electronic and magnetic properties and could be used in catalysis or quantum information science. In this project, intense laser pulses will be focused onto metallic targets in anhydrous liquids to ablate metal atoms and to form such clusters. In contrast to the synthetic procedures commonly used for laser ablation, all experiments will be conducted under inert reaction conditions as known from modern organometallic chemistry. Therefore, the water- and air-free samples will be handled in a dinitrogen-filled glovebox and Schlenk techniques will be applied.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: There are no requirements or prerequisites for this project. However, knowledge in the field of organic, inorganic, and/or electrochemistry chemistry, as well as spectroscopy and/or laser optics is preferred.


Mr. Drew Adan

Archives, Special Collections, and Digital Initiatives |

    Disc Golf Takes Off in the Rocket City

    Huntsville is home to three of the oldest disc golf courses in the world and hosted the Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships in 1983 and 1993 as well as the United States Women’s Disc Golf Championships in 2008 and 2012. According to the popular disc golf app UDisc, Huntsville is the 11th best destination for the sport in the United States and continues to draw players from all over the world. Disc golf is now one of the fastest growing sports in the world, but in the mid 1970s it was only played by select groups of disc sport enthusiasts and pioneers. How did an unlikely, small Southern city come to cultivate a disproportionately outsized interest in such a niche hobby?

    This project will trace the origins of disc golf and explore how Huntsville became an early epicenter of the emerging sport. Using oral history interviews and archival collections at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the International Disc Golf Center and Ed Headrick Memorial Museum in Appling, Georgia, this project will examine the interpersonal, demographic, and economic factors that created the perfect conditions for disc golf to take off in the Rocket City.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Any academic rank from freshman to senior. History, English, and Education majors are preferred, especially those with public history, technical writing, and/or exhibit preparation experience. Any discipline will be considered based on the skills and qualifications of the student candidate.


Mr. Reagan Grimsley

Archives, Special Collections and Digital Initiatives |

    Documenting Fantasy Playhouse

    Founded in 1961, the mission of the Fantasy Playhouse is to “Provide Theatre Arts Access Through Production, Education, and Outreach.” Over the past 60+ years, thousands of students have participated in camps, productions, and training offered via the organization, making it an important part of the local arts community. During this time the Fantasy Playhouse amassed a large amount of artifacts which need cataloging and preservation. UAH and Fantasy Playhouse are working together to plan a joint project to better preserve and make accessible these documentary materials. In Spring 2024 a collaborative project with UAH will have an intern digitize selected items for inclusion into an online archive. To showcase this effort, during the summer of 2024, an RCEU student will utilize this documentary evidence to design a virtual exhibit which highlights the unique history of the organization. The student will be based in the Digital Initiatives Lab, a collaborative media space in the UAH Salmon Library. Faculty mentors Reagan Grimsley and Charlie Gibbons will supervise the student, who will learn the basics of digital content management and exhibit building. Depending on student skills and interest, a student may also conduct oral history interviews, do further historical research, or digitize additional materials to assist in documenting the history of Fantasy Playhouse. Students will also visit the Fantasy Playhouse to learn more about its origins and development. The end goal will be to create a digital exhibit hosted on the UAH Digital Collections website documenting the history of the Fantasy Playhouse and the steps in preserving the documentary evidence.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Although there are no specific requirements or prerequisites for this RCEU project, successful applicants would benefit from classes or practical experiences in the performing arts, community theater, historical research, or technical writing.


Ms. Rebecca Brothers

Salmon Library |

    Faith-Based AIDS Response Efforts in Alabama, 1981--1990

    The successful applicant will explore primary resources, mostly in online archives, to create an online exhibit on the topic of faith-based AIDS response efforts in Alabama during the early years of the AIDS Crisis (1981--1990, approximately). Preliminary research has revealed an outsized Episcopal presence in Alabama's early response to the AIDS epidemic, but more research is needed to explore the scope and limitations of these efforts. If desired, the successful applicant is welcome to focus on faith-based efforts in general; on the efforts of a religious group other than Episcopalians; or on the efforts of one particular parish/congregation.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: The successful applicant will be a self-starter with good professional communication skills, particularly via email and phone, and should be assertive about chasing down leads. Reading large amounts of material will be required. The bulk of the duties will be performed indoors, at a computer or using print materials. A history major or minor would be an advantage, but it is not required. Training will be provided on the history of the AIDS epidemic in America, online exhibit creation software and procedures, and basic copyright.


Mr. Drew Adan

Department of Archives, Special Collections, and Digital Initiatives |

    Tracking NASA's Moon Trees

    In 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa carried hundreds of tree seeds in his personal kit as he orbited the moon. This was part of a joint project between NASA and the United States Forest Service to determine the viability of seeds exposed to the harsh conditions of space travel. Upon returning to Earth, these seeds were germinated and distributed across the world (mostly during 1976 in celebration of America’s bicentennial.) In late 2022, nearly 2,000 seeds orbited the moon on NASA’s Artemis I mission. These seedlings will be distributed to educational institutions and community centers over the next year.

    This project will examine the history of the Moon Tree program and create a digital product to showcase those findings. To date, an interactive map of confirmed Moon Tree locations does not exist. Using archival collections housed at various academic and governmental institutions, the UAH Department of Archives, Special Collections, and Digital Initiatives intends to create and publish an interactive map using Omeka Neatline maps that will share research findings and offer a collaborative space to track moon tree dispersal.

    Prerequisites/Requirements: Any academic rank from freshman to senior. History, English, Education, and Aerospace majors are preferred, especially those with public history, technical writing, and/or exhibit preparation experience. Any discipline will be considered based on the skills and qualifications of the student candidate.