Category: Research

Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Research Showcased in Washington, DC

Several of Michigan Tech’s ongoing rail transportation research projects were highlighted in Washington, DC, in early January, either as part of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting, or as separate workshops and demonstrations.

Thomas Oommen (GMES) presented in a TRB workshop titled “International Perspectives on Strategies to Reduce Track-Caused Derailments,” and in a Track Support and Substructure Research Review organized by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences PhD student Tauseef Ibne Mamun (applied cognitive science and human factors) presented our early work, titled “Multi-Site Simulation to Examine Driver Behavior Impact of Integrated Rail Crossing Violation Warning and In-Vehicle Auditory/Visual Alert System,” to the TRB AR080 Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Committee.

Richard Dobson (MTRI) gave an update on the Crossing-i drone technology development for improving grade crossing safety.

Pasi Lautala and John Velat (CEGE/MTTI), in collaboration with Battelle, hosted a booth in the TRB Exhibition and organized a daylong event outside the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters to demonstrate the rail crossing violation warning (RCVW) technology.

For an RCVW technology introduction, visit our Rail Transportation Program website.

By Pasi Lautala, Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Pengfei Xue on Great Lakes’ Hydroclimate Projections

Satellite view of the Great Lakes by NOAA.
SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

Urban Milwaukee and Wisconsin Public Radio mentioned a Michigan Tech study in stories about advice from a panel of scientists that Great Lakes communities prepare for swings in high and low water levels in the face of climate change.

The study, led by Pengfei Xue (CEGE/GLRC), projected Lake Superior to rise 7.5 inches and the Lake Michigan-Huron system to rise 17 inches by 2050 due to climate change. From the study:

Climate modeler Pengfei Xue, of Michigan Technological University, and his team for the first time combined a high-resolution regional climate model and a 3D hydrodynamic model, along with hydrologic models to hone projections for lake-level rise.

“What we have built is a system that gives a better representation of the complexity of hydrodynamics and lake-atmosphere interaction and contributes to a more advanced modeling framework necessary for improving the Great Lakes’ hydroclimate projections. This is particularly evident through the markedly improved simulation of lake evaporation.”

Pengfei Xue, associate director of the Great Lakes Research Center and associate professor in Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

Read “Great Lakes levels are likely to see continued rise in next three decades” at Phys.org, by the American Geophysical Union.

Related

GLRC Appoints Pengfei Xue as Associate Director

Effective today (Oct. 10, 2022), Pengfei Xue (CEGE/GLRC) will become the Great Lakes Research Center’s first associate director.

Established in 2013, the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) has grown to include more than 100 affiliated faculty and research staff, achieving $9.2 million in new research awards and $7.1 million in research expenditures in fiscal year 2022. The GLRC’s portfolio includes core research in the areas of Great Lakes science and system processes, sustainability and marine technology adaptation.

Xue, an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE), will lead the GLRC’s Hydrodynamics, Climate, and Environment Research Team, and contribute to the center’s long-term strategy development.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to support Dr. Xue’s appointment as associate director,” stated Tim Havens, director of the GLRC. “His leading hydrodynamic modeling research has been a shining example of the high-quality research going on at the GLRC, and his commitment to the strategic growth of the GLRC is evident in his mentoring of new scientists and engineers in his group. I’m thrilled to welcome him to the GLRC executive team.”

“I am proud of Pengfei’s success and the impact his research has had. He is an expert in the development of numerical models and computer simulations for the Great Lakes, as well as environmental risk analysis, seasonal forecasting and regional climate change, ” said Audra Morse, CEGE department chair. “More importantly, the appointment acknowledges the impact Pengfei has had on his colleagues and the work he will continue in an effort to support his colleagues’ growth as scholars.”

By the Great Lakes Research Center.

Michigan Tech Team Recognized for Runway Safety Project

Interior view of a plane cockpit looking out onto the runway.
AlphaJet PAF Cockpit View

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine mentioned Michigan Tech in a press release announcing the winners of the 2021-2022 TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs.

A four-member team from the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering at Michigan Technological University placed third in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions Including Aprons, Ramps, and Taxiways category with its design titled, Thermal Detection System for Mitigating Runway Incursions at Non-Towered Airports.

The team included undergraduate students Clark Fadoir, Mary Ollis, Greg Porcaro, and Drew Vega.

Dr. Audra Morse served as faculty advisor to the Built World Enterprise at Michigan Tech.

The team describes the process for developing their hypothesis:

The team utilized Design Thinking to develop an effective solution. First, the team communicated and empathized with aviation professionals to learn challenges and concerns they are experiencing. Next, the team used the feedback from professionals to define the problem of runway incursions at non-towered airports. The team then created two prototypes to decrease runway incursions and used a decision matrix to evaluate and eventually choose the most effective solution. The design was then sent out to professionals to provide feedback and suggestions.

Clark Fadoir, Mary Ollis, Greg Porcaro, Drew Vega

Participation at an All-Time High aboard the R/V Agassiz for Chassell Strawberry Festival

Interest in scientific excursions aboard the R/V Agassiz hit an all-time high this year at the 2022 Chassell Strawberry Festival on July 9! Hayden Henderson (Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, MTU 2017) was the captain and Kenny Larsen, a PhD student in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, was the chief scientist. Kenny presented a 40-minute program on “How scientists assess the health of the Great Lakes?” and “How can citizens be Great Lakes Stewards?”

Six 40-minute scientific excursions were conducted for a total of 110 participants (max 18 per excursion). There were 90 people on the waiting list who waited on the dock in hopes of getting on, plus 20 who had to cancel! A total of 220 people wanted to participate! This is an all-time record!

“We were sorry to not be able to serve everyone. I don’t remember ever being overrun with so many people and having a three-page waiting list!” observed Joan Chadde, event coordinator and Director of the MTU Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

Participants had lots to say about what they had learned. Some of their comments included:

  • How mercury and PCBs get into water
  • Lake turnover and stratification
  • How to keep our lakes healthy and be a better steward
  • How to sample and measure water quality.
  • How invasive species harm the lake.

And often, one is left with more questions, like this one:

Do fish smell like algae, or do algae smell like fish?

The Ride the Waves community outreach program is made possible with a grant from General Motors in support of the Agassiz and Great Lakes education/outreach.

Pengfei Xue Uses Simulation to Predict Lake Levels

Pengfei Xue
Pengfei Xue

Pengfei Xue (CEGE/GLRC) was quoted in a story published by Bridge Michigan on the expected rise of Great Lakes water levels heading toward 2050.

Xue’s research used advanced climate modeling with a 3D hydrodynamic model to simulate the lakes more accurately.

Great Lakes water levels could increase on average from 7.5 to 17 inches in next few decades, study says

New research into Great Lakes water levels looks farther into the future to predict how much climate change will increase lake levels in four of the five Great Lakes.

Presented at the Frontiers in Hydrology Meeting on Thursday and awaiting publication, the research – led by Michigan Technological University associate professor Pengfei Xue – used advanced climate modeling with a 3D hydrodynamic model to simulate the lakes more accurately. The modeling Xue used is more typically applied to oceans.

Michigan Technological University associate professor Pengfei Xue was the lead researcher on the modeling study looking into climate change impacts on the Great Lakes.

“We were able to develop a coupled modeling system that not only accounts for the interactions between the lakes, atmosphere and surrounding land, but also presented a more realistic and accurate representation of the Great Lakes hydrodynamic processes in climate modeling,” Xue said. “This is a necessary step to ultimately improve the long-term lake level projections.”

Read more at Bridge Michigan, by Natasha Blakely.

Future Rise of the Great Lakes Water Levels under Climate Change

The Great Lakes of North America are the largest unfrozen surface freshwater system in the world and many ecosystems, industries, and coastal processes are sensitive to the changes in their water levels. The water levels of the Great Lakes are primarily governed by the net basin supplies (NBS) of each lake which are the sum of over-lake precipitation and basin runoff minus lake evaporation.

First Author
Pengfei Xue, Michigan Technological University
Authors
Miraj Bhakta Kayastha, Michigan Technological University
Xinyu Ye, Michigan Technological University
Chenfu Huang, Michigan Technological University

Read more at Frontiers in Hydrology, by Penfei Xue, et al.

MTU Team Participating in NextCycle Michigan ROADS Innovation Challenge

A proposal submitted by Zhanping You (CEGE) earlier this year has been selected by NextCycle Michigan as one of the projects in the NextCycle Michigan ROADS Innovation Challenge Track.

You and his team will work on a project titled “The Marketing Development and Implementation of Recycled Glass for Asphalt Pavements.”

You’s team is comprised of Michigan Technological University teams with the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority (MCSWMA) and Dickinson County Road Commission. The collaborators will plan a construction section of recycled glass asphalt pavement in Dickinson County.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Arman Tatar Awarded 2022 Ammann Research Fellowship

Arman Tatar
Arman Tatar

Upon the recommendation of the Structural Engineering Institute, Arman Tatar has been selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) as the recipient of the 2022 O.H. Ammann Research Fellowship in Structural Engineering.

The award will allow Tatar to purchase the necessary parts and material to pursue his original research topic in addition to the research he is currently conducting under Dan Dowden’s supervision.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

MTU Researchers Active in Build and Broaden Indigenous Food Sovereignty Symposium

Michigan Tech student, staff, and faculty researchers planned, implemented, and attended the NSF-sponsored Build and Broaden Indigenous Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Symposium at Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Northern Michigan University from May 20-22, 2022.

Among the planning team were co-principal investigator (co-PI) Valoree Gagnon (CFRES/GLRC), Erika Vye (GLRC), Emily Shaw (CEGE), Shelby Lane-Clark (CFRES), Elizabeth Brown (SS) and Kate McGowen (CFRES).

The event was led by the Intertribal Agriculture Council (principal investigator Dan Cornelius); Northern Michigan University (co-PI Martin Reinhardt); Ferris State University (co-PI Scott Herron); and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The Michigan Tech team is currently writing the Proceedings document, which will be publicly available later this summer at food-sovereignty.com.

By College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

GLRC Represents MTU at Joint Aquatic Science Meeting

Several Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) affiliated faculty, research staff and students represented Michigan Tech on May 14 to May 20 at the 2022 Joint Aquatic Science Meeting (JASM) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. JASM is the world’s largest gathering of aquatic scientists, students, practitioners, resource agency staff and industry representatives.

This year, the GLRC was a Silver Sponsor for the event and had a booth in the exhibit hall. Those who presented include:

Oral Presentations

  • John Lenters (GLRC): “The Great Lakes Evaporation Network: Successes and Challenges of a 14-Year Binational Collaboration”
  • Jill Olin (BioSci): “Nutritional consequences of intraspecific diet variation in a marine carnivore”
  • Gord Paterson and Dalton Norris (BioSci): “Trophic ecology and Hg bioaccumulation among Lake Superior Lake Trout morphotypes” (IAGLR board administration)
  • Megan Berberich (BioSci): “Sediment microbial communities, organic matter, and methane biogeochemistry across multiple reservoirs in the midwestern United States”
  • Michelle Kelly (BioSci): “Habitat heterogeneity promotes linked C and N cycling in streams”
  • Ara Hakim (CEGE): “Using Ensemble-based Data Assimilation to Improve Hydrodynamic Modeling for Lake Erie Surface Temperature Short-term Forecast”
  • Ben Reuss (CEGE): “Modeling Metabolism in a Shallow, Hypereutrophic, Polymictic Lake”
  • Amy Marcarelli (BioSci): “Transforming Our Understanding of Nitrogen Fixation Across Aquacapes” (in collaboration with Robinson W. “Wally” Fulweiler, Boston University, and Thad Scott, Baylor University)
  • Erin Eberhard (BioSci): “Heterogeneity of Nutrient Limitation and N Cycling Across Wetland-Stream-Lake Interfaces of Lakes Superior and Huron”
  • Longhuan Zhu (CEGE): “Coastal Erosion along Lake Michigan under Climate Change”
  • Xing Zhou (CEGE): “Incorporation of microcystin production improves Lake Erie cyanobacterial bloom toxin forecasts”

Poster Presentations

  • Trista Vick-Majors (BioSci): “Physicochemical drivers of microbial ecosystems in Antarctic subglacial aquatic environments”
  • Maci Quintanilla (BioSci): “Impact of ice-cover on organic carbon biogeochemistry in a temperate freshwater system”
  • Vanessa Cubillos Tellez (BioSci): “Under Ice Photosynthetic Primary Production and Dark Carbon Fixation in a Temperate Freshwater System”

Sessions

  • Amy Marcarelli (BioSci) organized the symposium “Integrating perspectives on nitrogen fixation across the aquascape” and an integrative event called “Aquatic N2-Fixation Research Coordination Network.”
  • Jim Junker (BioSci) was a session chair for “NEON data: leveraging continental scale data to advance freshwater science.”

In addition, Michael Gretz (BioSci) attended as an executive committee and board of trustees member representative for the Phycological Society of America administration.

Other Michigan Tech representatives included GLRC Director Tim Havens (CS/GLRC/ICC) and Jamey Anderson (GLRC/MRAF).

By Great Lakes Research Center.