The Kentucky NSF EPSCoR Program has recently made 21 awards through its annual academic year programs, aimed at bolstering Kentucky’s burgeoning research infrastructure. For more information on each of the awarded projects, please read below.
Enhancing Karst Groundwater Management through Real-time, Data-driven Public Outreach in the Bowling Green Metropolitan Area
Expanding Your Horizons: A STEM Conference for Middle School Girls
WKU South Campus Makerspace for Underrepresented/Underprepared STEM Students
Solar Science: A Workshop for Middle School Science Teachers in Preparation for the 2017 Solar Eclipse
Integrating Collegiate Ecological and Molecular Research into the K-12 STEM Curriculum
Seismic Communication in Chameleons: Form and Function of a Novel Signaling Mechanism
The purpose of our proposed project is to systematically examine potential communication in veiled chameleons via substrate-borne vibrations. The aims include examining the mechanisms of vibration production and reception. We will address the following questions:
1) What are the characteristics of veiled chameleon vibrations?
2) How are these vibrations produced?
3) How do veiled chameleons behaviorally and physiologically respond to these vibrations?
4) Do chameleons have specialized mechanoreceptors to detect these vibrations?
The Evolution and Function of the Allorecognition Determinant Across a Family of Marine Chordates
Allorecognition, the ability of an organism to differentiate self or close relatives from unrelated individuals, occurs throughout the tree of life. The colonial ascidian Botryllus schlosseri undergoes an allorecognition reaction when two individual colonies come into contact. If the two colonies share at least one allele at a gene called fuhcsec, colony fusion will result. If no fuhcsec alleles are shared, a rejection reaction will occur. Because each individual can discriminate kin from potentially hundreds of unrelated neighbors, fuhcsec is highly polymorphic. This project addresses both the function and evolution of fuhcsec. From a functional perspective, what is the role of fuhcsec in the allorecognition reaction? From an evolutionary perspective, which selective forces are maintaining the extraordinary polymorphism at fuhcsec in B. schlosseri and across the Family Botryllidae?
Risk Assessment of Plant-derived, Ecofriendly Gold Nanoparticles using an Animal System
Mechanochemical Synthesis of Transition Metal Catalysts and Liquid Crystalline Compounds
Microencapsulation of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids using Protein-Polysaccharide Complexes
Using Carboxylate Ligand Sterics to Systematically Control Cu Doping in ZnS Nanocrystals
Cation exchange (CE) is a post-synthetic strategy used to enhance the utility of NCs by altering chemical compositions to yield improved optical, electrical, and transport properties in the resulting NCs. For instance, ZnS NCs are attractive materials for solar hydrogen generation because of the material’s high conduction band energy, which is sufficient to reduce hydrogen ions in aqueous solutions. However, the wide ZnS bandgap (3.7 eV) limits the amount of sunlight absorbed. Cu-doped ZnS NCs absorb more of the solar spectrum and show improved photocatalytic activity, but because the extent of doping and the physical location of dopants cannot be systematically varied, it is difficult to fundamentally understand how these improvements are realized.
During CE, host nanocrystals are exposed to a solution containing cations (dopants) that can adsorb to the host crystal surface, diffuse into the host nanocrystal, and substitutionally replace some or all of the host cations. CE involves multiple simultaneously occurring processes influenced by a wide range of variables, but this work focusses solely on the dopant. Dopant adsorption to the host crystal surface is a key parameter influencing the extent to which CE occurs and/or the location(s) of CE. The extent of CE can be thought of as the percentage of host cations replaced by the dopant cations, while the location at which CE begins may be determined by the atomic spacing on an exposed crystal face of the host NC and the degree to which surface NC atoms are undercoordinated.
In this work, a series of Cu(II) carboxylate complexes will provide cations to dope ZnS NCs. Because these complexes have square-planar geometry, an association-like mechanism—where the complex first associates with the ZnS NC surface followed by the dissociation of carboxylate ligands from the Cu—is anticipated. Specifically, we hypothesize that the carboxylate ligand size, shape, and flexibility will impact cation adsorption by affecting the proximity of the Cu center to the host ZnS NC and by influencing the crystal face of the host ZnS NC to which the copper can most readily adsorb (Scheme 1). Any differences in the extent and/or location of Cu adsorption are expected to impact the CE processes that follow adsorption and ultimately the doping realized in the NCs.
CodeCloud: Software as a Service Programming Interface for Computer Science Education
Exploring Smart Yellow-Change Signal Control at Intersections: Towards Safer, Greener, and More Efficient Operations
The objective of the proposed research is to conduct a proof-of-concept research that will eventually develop a next-generation signal control system, named Smart Dilemma Zone Control System (SDZCS). SDZCS will be empowered by digital wave radar sensing technology which can track vehicles’ trajectories in real time during the course when they approach the intersection. SDZCS will also utilize the newly released Connected Vehicles technologies, i.e., vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to- infrastructure (V2I) communications, which will be equipped in all light vehicles manufactured after 2017.
Ambiguity and Context Processing in Young and Older Adults’ Causal Learning and Judgment
Large Area Deposition of Molybdenum Disulfide (MoS2) on Si(100) by Pulsed Laser Deposition with In-Situ Electron Diffraction Monitoring
1. Synthesis and characterization of MoS2 on Si(100) at different temperatures and laser wavelengths while monitoring the growth real time using electron diffraction.
2. Lowering the growth temperature using surface electronic excitation of substrate.
After determining the optimal experimental condition of MoS2 growth on silicon in Goal 1, surface electronic excitation of the substrate during the growth will be employed to lower growth temperature. The proposed research will allow us to obtain preliminary data for NSF Division of Material Research (DMR) proposal submission.
Removing Roadblocks to Make the Conversion of CO2 Emissions to Diesel and Jet Fuel Using Algae an Industrially Viable Process