2011 Research Fellows
Claire Babineaux - Geosciences (Geology)

The altering of the continental shelf by dredging causes excess amounts of erosion putting coastal environments at a higher risk of exposure to coastal processes. As an alternative to dredging, recycled glass has been considered for use as a feasible and environmentally friendly material for coastal replenishment. A pilot study was conducted in Starkville, Mississippi to show there is a verifiable financial benefit to recycling companies and the ARMY Corps of Engineers for using recycled glass for beach replenishment.

   
Hannah Box - Organic Chemistry

My Ph.D. research is in the area of organometallics and will focus on the synthesis and isolation of α lactams. Currently I am working on a collaborative project on the synthesis of analogues of a biologically important natural product with the Emerson lab in the chemistry department. Our hope is to be able to control the selectivity of these compounds by varying the nucleophiles and metals in subsequent reactions. I am also interested in the development new rhodium catalysts and diazo compounds for the development of enantioselective carbene and nitrene transfer reactions.

   
Charlotte Buehler - Geosciences (Biogeography)

My research interests include biogeography, human geography, and research in geosciences education. For my dissertation I plan on investigating the spatial extent of the spread of the invasive Australian pine in Florida and its impact on the environment and population. I also plan on investigating how well the topic of invasive species (such as the Australian pine) serves as a unifying concept for integrating class concept in biology, chemistry, and geology in a 7th grade science classroom.

   
Emily Burtnett - Aerospace Engineering

MS in Aerospace Engineering: Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and studying the behavior of water droplets impacting a solid surface using Ansys Fluent, a CFD package, to simulate and verify experimental data. Research is supported by EADS-IW (European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company – Innovation Works) and is being used for the development of an anti-ice coating for aerodynamic surfaces.

   
William (Bo) Cherry - Geosciences (Hydrogeology)

My research focuses on hydrogeology at a proposed reservoir site in Smith County, MS with Dr. Darrel Schmitz. I am currently studying the effects of nutrient transport in streams as a result of various agricultural practices while examining the effects of karstification on water chemistry in surface water. I am using computer modeling to show possible mechanisms of these processes..

   
Shane Irvin - Agricultural & Biological Engineering

My graduate thesis is based on the integration of water quality parameter testing and geographical information technologies (GIS). Using multi-spectral aerial imagery, the goal for my thesis project is to provide a cheaper and more efficient way of water quality parameter testing. Using five by five cell grids on the aerial imagery, a spectral value can be found. These values are then compared to in situ tests results. The values found, via this comparison, builds a certain statistical accuracy that will help champion this form of testing in the future. While this type of study has been done before, my approach is cost sensitive and takes into consideration parameters sometimes not collected.

   
Matthew A. Lee - Electrical & Computer Engineering

I am a Computer Engineering PhD. candidate who specializes in signal processing and artificial intelligence. For my master's thesis, I developed an algorithm that could differentiate malignant and benign tumors using mammograms, which was able to achieve accuracies up to 80%. My PhD. dissertation is focused on developing a framework for methods of using spatial features for dimensionality reduction in hyperspectral images. Dimensionality reduction refers to reducing the number of features that need to be analyzed, which is often necessary for improving computational speed and target recognition generalization.

   
Cheryl McLaurin - Geosciences (GIS)

The focus of my research is to determine if there is a direct correlation between soil moisture and nearby stream gauge data. The variable of soil moisture is very important in environmental prediction modeling, yet very hard to quantify with accuracy--particularly in the Southeast. Being able to better define soil moisture, especially with such a widely available data set as stream gauge reading, would allow for more precisepredictions of events like wildfires, floods, and temporary wetlands.

   
Henry Stauffenberg - Geosciences (Geology)

For my thesis I am investigating pyrite and methylmercury (MeHg) in Weeks Bay, Al. My focus is determining what limiting factors (C, S, Fe) influence the degree of pyritization within the sediment and water column, and what implications those limiting factors would have on the Weeks Bay sedimentary environment and MeHg production potential. The aim of my research is to provide needed scientific attention to a complex coastal estuary known as Weeks Bay while generally determining the type of relationship between pyrite precipitation and Hg methylation.

   
David Wilson - Inorganic Chemistry

My research interests revolve around studying the function of metals in biological systems. My current project is aimed to substitute different transition metals into the human carbonic anhydrase and characterize their new reactivities. These enzymatic systems have been shown to support industrially important catalytic processes in an environmentally benign fashion. This is striking reactivity considering, the biological role of this enzyme is to activate water to attack and remove, ultimately, carbon dioxide from the blood.