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CEEES Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities in Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences for Undergraduates

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Organic Geochemical Reconstruction of Past Ocean Circulation

Description: The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 361 drilled six sites on the southeast African margin and in the Indian-Atlantic ocean gateway, southwest Indian Ocean. The sites, situated in the Mozambique Channel were targeted to reconstruct the history of the greater Agulhas Current system over the past ~5 million years. The Agulhas Current is the strongest western boundary current in the Southern Hemisphere, transporting some 70 Sverdrups of warm, saline surface water from the tropical Indian Ocean along the East African margin to the tip of Africa. Exchanges of heat and moisture with the atmosphere influence southern African climates, including individual weather systems such as extratropical cyclone formation in the region and rainfall patterns. Recent ocean model and paleoceanographic data further point at a potential role of the Agulhas Current in controlling the strength and mode of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) during the Late Pleistocene. Spillage of saline Agulhas water into the South Atlantic stimulates buoyancy anomalies that act as control mechanisms on the basin-wide AMOC, with implications for convective activity in the North Atlantic and global climate change. The main objectives of the expedition were to establish the sensitivity of the Agulhas Current to climatic changes during the Pliocene–Pleistocene, to determine the dynamics of the Indian-Atlantic gateway circulation during this time, to examine the connection of the Agulhas leakage and AMOC, and to address the influence of the Agulhas Current on African terrestrial climates and coincidences with human evolution.

Student involvement: All levels of the research including sample preparation, analysis, and clean-up.

Preferred discipline(s), expertise, lab skills, etc.: Attention to detail and excellent communication/ability to work well with current undergrads and graduate students are musts for this position. Laboratory experience preferred but not required. The research blends geology, organic chemistry, and paleoclimatology and so a wide range of disciplines may be applicable.

Contact: Assistant Professor Melissa Berke, 164 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574 631-4857  (Melissa.Berke.1@nd.edu)
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

Effects of Temperature on Uranyl Peroxide Nanoclusters

Description: Over the past decade the Burns Research Group has discovered and characterized a new class of uranium materials known as the uranyl peroxide nanoclusters. These clusters are composed of uranium in the hexavalent oxidation state, peroxide and hydroxide, and other cations for charge balance. The clusters range in diameter from 1-4 nm and a variety of over 100 clusters have been made. This project will look at the effects of temperature on the clusters using hydrothermal heating and Raman spectroscopy to see if the clusters remain or break down.

The REU student would work closely with a graduate student in the Burns group to synthesize clusters of interest, run the experiments, and analyze collected data.

Preferred disciplines are chemistry, geology, chemical engineering, or any other closely related field. Dates for the REU project are May 30 through July 28, 2017.

Contact: Professor Peter Burns, 574 631-7852 (pburns@nd.edu)
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

Effect of Cations on Uranyl Peroxide Nanocluster Solubility

Description: Over the past decade the Burns Research Group has discovered and characterized a new class of uranium materials known as the uranyl peroxide nanoclusters. These clusters are composed of uranium in the hexavalent oxidation state, peroxide and hydroxide, and other cations for charge balance. The clusters range in diameter from 1-4 nm. This project will look at how the concentration of cations in solution enables higher solubility of the clusters. Experiments will try to reach the maximum solubility limits of how much uranium can be put into solution by cluster formation.

The REU student would work closely with a graduate student in the Burns group to run the experiments and analyze collected data.

Preferred disciplines are chemistry, geology, chemical engineering, or any other closely related field. Dates for the REU project are May 30 through July 28, 2017.

Contact: Professor Peter Burns, 574 631-7852 (pburns@nd.edu)
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

Calorimetric Studies on Uranyl Peroxide Nanoclusters

Description: Over the past decade the Burns Research Group has discovered and characterized a new class of uranium materials known as the uranyl peroxide nanoclusters. These clusters are composed of uranium in the hexavalent oxidation state, peroxide and hydroxide, and other cations for charge balance. The clusters
range in diameter from 1-4 nm and a variety of over 100 clusters have been made. This project will look
at the energetics of the clusters using drop solution calorimetry to calculate heats of formation.

The REU student would work closely with a graduate student in the Burns group to synthesize the clusters of
interest, run the experiments, and analyze collected data.

Preferred disciplines are chemistry, geology, chemical engineering, or any other closely related field. Dates for the REU project are May 30 through July 28, 2017.

Contact: Professor Peter Burns, 574 631-7852 (pburns@nd.edu)
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

Reinforced Concrete Shear Walls with High-strength Rebar and High‐strength Concrete

Description: This project is conducting numerical and experimental research to determine the effect of highstrength materials on the lateral load behavior and design of reinforced concrete shear walls.

Student involvement: Mostly hands‐on laboratory work involving large‐scale reinforced concrete shear wall specimen construction, set‐up, instrumentation, and testing.

Preferred discipline(s), expertise, lab skills, etc.: Civil engineering, with structures focus

Contacts: Professor Yahya “Gino” Kurama, 156 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574 631-8377, (Yahya.Kurama.1@nd.edu)

Assistant Professor Ashley Thrall, 159 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574 631-2533, (athrall@nd.edu)
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences