Statesboro, GA, United States
Statesboro, GA, United States

Georgia Southern University is a public university located on a 900-acre campus in Statesboro, Georgia, USA. Founded in 1906, it is part of the University System of Georgia and is the largest center of higher education in the southern half of Georgia offering 117 academic majors in a comprehensive array of baccalaureate degrees and master's and doctoral programs. The university is the fifth largest university in the University System of Georgia, with a fall 2012 enrollment of 20,574 students Georgia Southern is classified as a Doctoral and Research University by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and as a comprehensive university by the University System of Georgia. Georgia Southern University's intercollegiate sports teams, known as the "Georgia Southern Eagles," compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I and the Sun Belt Conference. Wikipedia.


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Patent
Georgia Southern University | Date: 2016-08-24

Disclosed herein are integrated processes for preparing useful materials from renewable biomass feedstocks. The materials include nanocellulose and bio-based carbon black. The processes are characterized by low energy input requirements. The nanocellulose and bio-based carbon black produced according to the disclosed processes have improved properties relative to nanocellulose and bio-based carbon black produced by more energy intensive processes.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RES EXP FOR TEACHERS(RET)-SITE | Award Amount: 524.71K | Year: 2016

This Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering and Computer Science Site, entitled Engaging Educators in Renewable EnerGY (ENERGY) at Georgia Southern University (GSU) aims to develop a diverse, competitive, and nationally engaged teacher workforce through activities and projects performed alongside graduate and undergraduate students, as well as faculty and industry advisors. The focus is on high-need rural areas in southeastern Georgia, in partner counties, that collectively are home to high populations of underrepresented minorities, economically disadvantaged and special needs students. Target participants include those who are from historically underrepresented groups in the STEM disciplines and those who teach in schools characterized by a high level of poverty and/or a high percentage of minority learners. ENERGY was specifically chosen as the research theme because it is a current national topic of direct interest to students and teachers, and it can be easily embedded in the high school STEM curriculum. In addition, there are regional industries involved in hands-on, cutting edge engineering research projects in energy-related fields. The research topics for the RET participants in ENERGY include: renewable and alternative energy (solar, wind, biofuels, thermoelectric), development of sensors and controls for energy applications, biologically-inspired wind turbines and solar collectors. As part of their engineering and scientific research projects, the teachers will be linked with real-world applications through collaborations with university and industry partners and will build upon long-term collaborative relationships between the participating school districts and the College of Engineering and Information Technology (CEIT) at GSU. This research experience will give participants the ability to immerse themselves into various engineering disciplines, expand their knowledge of engineering through research in renewable energy while giving them concrete hands-on examples and pedagogical methods of incorporating engineering into STEM curricula.

Over a three-year period the ENERGY RET Site will directly impact 30 STEM high school teachers, pre-service education majors, and community college faculty and approximately 4000 students. The goal of the ENERGY RET is to educate, engage, and inspire teachers to bring renewable energy to their classrooms through summer-term interdisciplinary STEM research experiences in the field of engineering and computer science. The educational objectives of this program are to: increase basic understanding of interdisciplinary concepts through hands-on learning, introduce STEM problem-solving skills and the ability to apply them in lectures and laboratories, and to increase interest in conducting STEM research. The program will develop the participants ability to collaborate and communicate effectively at both the interpersonal and presentation level all while part of a diverse team. RET participants, through fundamental energy-related research and transformational activities that are tied to industry, will leverage curricular approaches that allow them to transition this knowledge into highly inspirational STEM experiences for their students. The ENERGY participants, working with College of Education faculty, will develop activities and instructional practices that model and transfer their experience for integration of energy concepts into their classrooms during the academic year.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 118.48K | Year: 2015

Due to the ubiquitous nature of software in the 21st century there is a great and increasing demand for software developers and programmers in the US. Both Computer Science (CS) and Information Technology (IT) academicians and practitioners agree that a comprehensive strategy to improve the number and quality of 21st century CS/IT workforce is needed. This project will assist colleges and universities in producing more well-qualified software developers through the use of a cyberlearning environment that builds on and extends WReSTT-CyLE (Web-Based Repository of Software Testing Tutorials), a cyberlearning environment for software testing.

The project will: (1) investigate the impact that students use of WReSTT-CyLE, at a cross-section of academic institutions, has on their software testing skills; (2) develop a theoretical framework of learning and engagement strategies that best support improvement of students knowledge and skills in software courses for diverse student groups; (3) transform WReSTT-CyLE into a domain-independent cyberlearning environment for software and programming courses (SEP-CyLE) and repeat (1) above using SEP-CyLE for software courses; and (4) conduct biannual workshops to expose instructors to how SEP-CyLE may be used in the classroom to support pedagogy. The research in (1) will include mixed methods studies with both qualitative and quantitative components.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CROSS-EF ACTIVITIES | Award Amount: 398.30K | Year: 2015

To survive and persist, an organism must acquire food, be able to reproduce, avoid being eaten, and prevent infection. However, each of these important traits is costly to maintain, which can lead to tradeoffs among the traits. That is, investment into one trait comes at a cost to another. The researchers propose an experimental approach examining simultaneous tradeoffs among three important biological traits (e.g., immunity, reproduction, and body movement) that will provide insight into the role of multi-trait tradeoffs in shaping how animals survive. Given that trait tradeoffs are influenced by the environment, these studies will occur in a range of manipulated environments that simulate the dynamics of environmental change in North America. Under stressful conditions, investment into one trait can take precedence over investment into another trait. However, if individuals encounter favorable environments (e.g., unlimited access to food), two traits, such as reproduction and immunity, may be maintained, suggesting that tradeoffs may be dependent upon food availability. The effects of food availability are often influenced by other environmental factors that may accompany reduced food availability (e.g., heat waves), and interactions between food availability and temperature may profoundly influence tradeoffs. This research will be the first to characterize the interplay between environmental variability and animal life history strategies using a network analysis approach. This approach has proven to be a powerful tool for studying diverse phenomena, such as social interactions, the structure of the Internet, and for optimizing solutions to engineering problems. Much of this research will be performed by students from under-represented minority groups, and it will be complemented by a science outreach program designed to educate community members (particularly K-8 students) on the importance of insect biology.

The proposed research will use a manipulative approach in a wing-dimorphic field cricket to examine tradeoffs among investment into three life history traits of widespread importance: reproduction, immune function, and locomotion. Resultant empirical data will be used for a network analysis approach to characterize dynamic relationships among these traits through the determination of several network metrics (e.g., connectivity, betweenness, and modularity). They will also examine linkages between the life history networks and a network of underlying physiological traits (e.g., antioxidant defense and metabolic rate). Further, they will use a network approach to determine the independent and interactive role of two universal environmental constraints (food availability and temperature) in multi-trait tradeoffs and trait-trait interactions. Thus, the proposed study will use an integrative approach to better understand how complex trait systems develop and are maintained. It will have impact on multiple biological disciplines, including ecological immunology, ecological physiology, network analyses, and life history evolution. The researchers will provide extensive research training to students, many of whom come from under-served minority groups representative of both the region and the student body at Georgia Southern University (GSU). To complement their research goals, they will develop an outreach program designed to educate young people about insects, an important taxonomic group. They will create a website and an accompanying outreach exhibition at the GSU Museum that provides information about local insects. They will also construct and disseminate an educational module designed to meet the State of Georgias Department of Education performance standards; this will contain structured activities, informational handouts, and live crickets that K-8 students can use to develop scientific literacy.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HYDROLOGIC SCIENCES | Award Amount: 214.57K | Year: 2015

Forest canopy can reduce precipitation reaching the ground by up to 50% through interception, storage, and evaporation of droplets from leaf and bark surfaces. This process, called interception loss, impacts run-off, recharge, flood flashiness, erosion, etc., and cost of stormwater management. It is not well understood how canopy structure affects interception loss, particularly in urban forests. This research addresses this by monitoring interception loss variables for a common SE US tree species (the loblolly pine) across a natural-to-urban gradient in forest structure. Interception loss variables monitored include rainwater stored in and evaporated from the canopy, passing through the canopy (throughfall), and draining down the stem (stemflow) as well as air temperature, humidity, wind speed/direction, pressure, and incoming solar radiation during and after rainfall. These measurements will be related to new, high-resolution, non-destructive laser-scanning (LiDAR) techniques to address 2 questions: 1) how do stand structural changes ranging from natural conditions to common urban conditions affect interception loss processes; and 2) Will LiDAR-measured canopy structures and interception loss processes improve estimation and prediction of hydrologic processes and, thereby, improve water management and planning? The hypothesis is that, because tree stand conditions affect branching and leaf structures, interception loss and its underlying variables will vary in response to storm conditions. Inclusion of these responses in common models will have predictive value for water management concerning shifts in storm conditions . This is an RUI (Research at Undergraduate Institutions) project that will train undergraduate students in cutting-edge hydrologic science and be incorporated into educational outreach efforts reaching thousands of K-12 students, undergraduate students, high school teachers, and community members. Georgia Southern University (GSU) has a substantial African American student population (25.7% and 26.4% of undergraduates in 2012 and 2013), so the project will provide research experiences to underrepresented groups. Project data will be used to develop management practices on the GSU campus.

Forest canopy rainfall interception loss (I) is documented to exert significant influence on run-off, recharge, flood flashiness, erosion and the cost of stormwater management infrastructure. However, it is not well understood how the forest canopy structure controls the components of I (storage, S, and evaporation, E), particularly in urban forests. No existing study has: 1) compared S and E behavior along a natural-urban forest continuum of differing canopy architecture or 2) incorporated terrestrial LiDAR (TLiDAR) measured canopy structures and the interaction of these structures with S and E dynamics into common I models. This study will do this along a natural-to-urban forest structure gradient on the Georgia Southern University (GSU) campus using a regionally dominant species (Pinus taeda, loblolly pine). The study will couple existing biometeorological monitoring methods (meteorological, stemflow, and throughfall measurements) with novel terrestrial LiDAR techniques (LaserBark and L-Architect) to compare S and E in urban forests with directly, non-destructively measured canopy structural metrics. This addresses two questions: 1) how do across- and within-storm dynamics of S and E vary for 2 urban forest structures, and how does this compare to natural tree stands, and 2) to what extent can inclusion of directly-measured canopy structures in urban stands alter I outputs, parameters, and even parameterizations for the most commonly used models (i.e., the Gash- and Rutter-type)? These findings will advance nearly all hydrologic models that simulate or include forest interception processes. Six undergraduates supported by this proposal will receive substantial research experiences spanning the breadth of research activities (including field instrument training, installation, and maintenance; data collection and processing; modeling and model evaluation; manuscript preparation; and presentation at national meetings) in a timely and critical subfield of water resource management. Data will also be used to improve: 1) the L-Architect model, which is being incorporated into Computree, a tool used by the Office National des Forêts (France) for national improvement of forest inventories; and 2) the sustainable irrigation practices currently employed on the GSU campus.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CIVIL INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS | Award Amount: 200.05K | Year: 2015

The construction industry has been suffering from the lack of real-time performance monitoring, holistic project management, labor efficiency, and waste-preventive tools. This has led to cost overruns in almost 90 percent of construction projects with an average of 28 percent higher than forecast costs. This research project is expected to facilitate a transformative change in the ways that construction activities and operations are tracked and monitored. It will play a significant role in future rapid, nonintrusive and cost effective data acquisition capacity due to the use of audio signals instead of active sensors or digital cameras. Eventually the incurred efficiencies, sustainability benefits, and reduced costs of an automated project monitoring system will significantly benefit the U.S. Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Facilities Management industry. Success in this project also promises significant impacts to engineering education. The projects educational activities are highly integrated and inter-related with the research activities. The research results will be used to create educational material and will be made publicly available to educators at other institutions. The research results will also be integrated into the outreach and engagement activities and will result in engaging minorities and underrepresented groups through various programs.

Despite recent advances in developing and implementing audio signal processing techniques for analyzing and modeling complex systems and processes, the real added value and potential applications of audio signals are still unknown to the civil engineering research community. This project is the first attempt to introduce audio signals as an alternative source of information for recognizing, tracking and monitoring construction operations at jobsites. Current approaches for recognizing and monitoring construction operations are either location-based or machine-vision-based, and implying audio signals is a significant leap to overcome their limitations. The framework provides the missing link between generic signal processing and construction performance monitoring. This project will expand the research horizons for academics in civil infrastructure systems as well as in digital signal processing domains. Particularly, this scientific breakthrough will set the stage for future research in automatically identifying and life-logging construction operations and equipment actions, estimating project performance indices, and creating corrective measures to keep the project performance as planned. This, in turn, will enable the future development of novel, automated applications for construction sequence analysis, productivity measuring, project monitoring and control systems, and maintenance decision making.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ENGINEERING DESIGN AND INNOVAT | Award Amount: 261.07K | Year: 2016

Topology optimization is a computational design framework to idealize materials distribution of complex engineering systems. Uncertainties, unavoidable in manufacturing process and operating environments, often plague those engineering systems, thus need be taken into account during the design process. Conventional deterministic design approaches typically lead to inefficient and overly conservative designs that overcompensate for uncertainties, or unknowingly risky designs due to the inherent uncertainties. This award supports fundamental research on topology optimization of complex engineering structures in the presence of uncertainty. Specifically, it will develop novel methods to determine the ideal material distribution of complex engineering systems with low probabilities of failure corresponding to some critical failure mechanisms. The methods and associated numerical tools will be applicable to a broad, multidisciplinary optimization methodology. The findings will promote growth in additive manufacturing, especially 3D-printing, which is able to manufacture products with complex topology and thus demands efficient topology design methods to bring out its full potential. Other engineering applications include durable design for energy harvest devices, fatigue-resistant design for civil and aerospace applications, and reliable design for green energy industry. The education impact consists of attracting, engaging, and training K-12 and undergraduate students through extensive dissemination and outreach programs.

Technically, this research project aims to create new theoretical foundations and numerical algorithms for large-scale, robust topology optimization (RTO) and reliability-based topology optimization (RBTO) of complex engineering systems. Innovations include: (1) a new adaptive-sparse polynomial dimensional decomposition method designed for statistical moments and reliability analyses of ultra-high-dimensional, stochastic systems; (2) a new topology design sensitivity analysis for RTO and RBTO to enable concurrent evaluation of uncertainties and their design sensitivities; and (3) a new topology optimization algorithm integrating the level-set method for both fast convergence and clear geometry. In addition, proposed research will incorporate utility functions for developing new practical RBTO model for industrial applications. The project will deliver a novel, feasible paradigm-shifting advance toward solving large-scale topology optimization problems under uncertainty.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANALYSIS PROGRAM | Award Amount: 34.00K | Year: 2017

This award provides funding for the conference International Conference in Approximation Theory that will be held from May 8 - 11, 2017 at Georgia Southern University.

The conference focuses on recent developments in Analysis, especially in the field of approximation theory. A number of distinguished mathematicians have agreed to attend and speak at this conference. This award gives early career researchers, members of underrepresented groups, researchers not funded by NSF and the like an opportunity to attend and participate in this conference. The organizing committee will strive to make this funding opportunity known to target groups through a number of different activities. More information will be made available at: https://sites.google.com/a/georgiasouthern.edu/approximation-conf/


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH COLLECTION | Award Amount: 161.41K | Year: 2016

Herbaria are irreplaceable repositories of botanical diversity that catalog the occurrence of plants in the past and present. These collections serve as a foundation in plant science and science policy, especially those serving rural communities. In this setting, herbaria are especially important data sources because land managers require information on native and introduced species, as well as the effects of rapidly changing species assemblages. While serving the larger scientific community, regional herbaria also serve local residents, farmers, private and government policy makers, and land managers more specifically and thoroughly. It is therefore vital that herbaria accurately represent the past and present plant diversity. The Georgia Southern University (GSU) Herbarium holds 21,127 catalogued specimens and is housed in a state-of-the-art building. However, an estimated 26,500 vascular plant specimens (55.6% of the collection) are unorganized and in need of curation and integration to fulfill their scientific value and use. Most of this un-accessioned material comes from the Georgian Coastal Plain, a relatively poorly sampled region that harbors many rare and endangered species. This award will allow GSU to integrate two recently acquired orphaned collections and other backlogged specimens, doubling the GSU Herbariums holdings and assure the security of an invaluable scientific collection for future generations. Through this project, these specimens will be mounted onto herbarium sheets and data about the collections will be digitized, which will improve and secure the collection for research and education over the long-term. Furthermore, the facility will be updated with the necessary tools to provide researchers and students access to the most comprehensive collection of plant diversity in the region through loans, visits, and online databases.

The GSU Herbarium has 21,127 accessioned specimens, but an estimated 26,500 specimens documenting the regional diversity of southeastern Georgian Coastal Plain, including rare species, collections from sparsely sampled areas, and the orphaned Youth Museum of Savannah Herbarium and the Flora of Fort Stewart, are inaccessible for research and education. This impedes efforts to integrate contemporary collections, reorganize the collection, integrate nomenclatural changes, and other educational outreach initiatives, generating an urgent need to process the backlogged collection. The project will integrate un-accessioned specimens into the main collection by transferring collection book information into label data. Specimens will be mounted and filed, and the label data uploaded into existing online database repositories to increase their dissemination and use. In addition, reorganization and nomenclatural updates will secure the collection for future use and facilitate access. The award will greatly enhance and secure a unique, historically significant collection that documents the exceptional plant diversity of the Coastal Plain. Active-learning modules will be created to engage high school and freshman college students, while integrating STEM education. The award will further allow the Herbarium to engage and train GSUs diverse student community by participating in a mentored learning environment and gain experience crucial to pursuing STEM careers by actively assisting in curatorial practices. Results can be viewed on the GSU Herbariums website (sites.google.com/a/georgiasouthern.edu/gasherbarium/home) and data will be shared and made available through iDigBio (www. idigbio.org).


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: RES IN NETWORKING TECH & SYS | Award Amount: 76.54K | Year: 2016

Over the last several decades, we have experienced tremendous growth in the use of cellular telephones and Wi-Fi networks for home and office, as well as emerging wireless technologies geared toward different applications. The massive growth of lightweight hand-held devices used to access wireless networks has resulted in an exponential increase in demand for wireless services and severe wireless spectrum shortage. To overcome these problems, beyond spectrum sharing with licensed users, a new wireless architecture is needed to enhance network coverage, capacity and security. The research objective of this CAREER project is to significantly advance the field of wireless communications, with an expectation of opening transformative research directions, by a) devising a novel generalized wireless virtualization architecture, or Wi-Vi, to provide wireless services to users using Radio-as-a-Service where Wi-Vi architecture will enhance network capacity, coverage, seamless mobility and energy efficiency, and thus be able to support trillions of devices in next generation wireless systems; and b) by extending the scope of the proposed Wi-Vi framework for performance isolation, security and privacy while providing quality-of-service/experience to users in a diverse wireless environment. Moreover, this work will help researchers across many fields understand how wireless communications influences the emerging fields such as smart grid, eHealth, vehicular networks, next generation cellular networks, Internet-of-things, cyber-physical systems and secure cyberspace. The PI will train the next generation of scientists and engineers in the area of next generation wireless networks, and mentor researchers (including minorities and female) at undergraduate and graduate level, as well as inspire K-12 students in science and engineering fields at the early stage of their learning career through hands-on demonstrations.

This CAREER project focuses on the design, analysis and evaluation of a Wireless Virtualization (Wi-Vi) framework by combining different wireless resources and infrastructures, beyond spectrum sharing with licensed users, to be used as on-demand service over the network, with the goal of enhancing network capacity, coverage, energy efficiency and security. The PI will develop Wi-Vi architecture using systematic approaches to improve overall network performance. Specifically, the significance of the proposed research includes: 1) development of a generalized wireless virtualization framework that will help meet dynamic demands of wireless users by expanding or shrinking wireless resources of the virtual wireless operators; 2) study and implementation of optimal wireless resource sharing among coverage- and capacity-driven Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs); 3) development of systematic approaches for base station-level, MVNO-level and user level optimizations and Quality-of-Service (QoS) provisioning; 4) application of wireless virtualization in network security through dynamic network segmentation; and 5) validation and evaluation of the proposed novel techniques through extensive simulations and experiments in NSF-funded cloud testbeds such as ROAR, Chameleon, etc. The CAREER award will have a broad societal impact as wireless networks touch every aspect of our society, and will support enhancement of our national wireless capacity and cybersecurity. This project will impact many emerging areas in which wireless communication has applications - such as smart grid, eHealth, vehicular networks, next generation cellular networks, Internet-of-things, cyber-physical systems and secure cyberspace. The PI will train undergraduate and graduate students by disseminating knowledge to students through new courses and modules on wireless virtualization and next generation wireless networks. Focused efforts will be undertaken to interest underrepresented students (including females) in conducting the proposed research. Overall, the PI will establish an integrated research and educational program to train future scientists and engineers in the area of next generation wireless networks and to inspire young peoples interest (including K-12 students) in science and engineering fields at the early stage of their learning career.

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