Reinemann-Goss Returns to Alma Mater as Faculty Member

Accomplished alumna is newest assistant professor in burgeoning biomedical engineering program

Nikki Reinemann-Goss, a 2012 UM alumna, returns to her alma mater as assistant professor of chemical engineering in the new biomedical engineering program. Submitted photo

Even before Dana Nicole “Nikki” Reinemann-Goss graduated from the University of Mississippi, she sensed that one day she would return to her alma mater – not as a student but as a faculty member.

Starting Aug. 17, the university’s 13th Barry M. Goldwater Scholar will be an assistant professor of chemical engineering in conjunction with the university’s new biomedical engineering program.

“I applied for this position for a number of reasons,” said Reinemann-Goss, who earned bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry from UM in 2013 and her Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Vanderbilt University last May. “The prospect of building the new biomedical engineering program at Ole Miss from the ground up was an exciting opportunity I could not pass up. In addition, I would be able to return to my home state and alma mater to pursue exciting scientific areas.”

Reinemann-Goss’ research interests include probing the intersection of biology, physics and engineering by investigating higher-level cytoskeletal architecture and its constituent motor proteins.

“These are important for vital life processes such as cell division and motility,” the Batesville native said. “We can start probing how cell environmental factors or potential cancer drugs alter a certain cellular system and thus potentially make more effective therapies in the future.”

Starting this fall, Reinemann-Goss will teach a course, Biological Transport, for juniors. Her short-term goals include being effective in the classroom, establishing a biomolecular engineering lab and being a mentor to the BME students. Her long-term goals are helping the BME department develop its final curriculum, involving students more heavily in research across campus and publishing results (from both undergraduate and graduate students) in high-impact journals.

“I plan on achieving these goals by really getting to know my students and recruiting them early to work in the lab,” Reinemann-Goss said. “By obtaining and retaining students starting in their sophomore (or even freshman) year, they have time to develop really substantial experimental results that are publication worthy by their junior or senior year.”

Reinemann-Goss said to be an author on a journal article as an undergraduate is quite an accomplishment and could help foster love for continuing down the research track.

“Even if they ultimately don’t chose that path, this experience would be invaluable in applying for national scholarships, graduate school or medical school,” she said. “At the end of the day, I want to help my students be as successful for their chosen career path as they can be.”

Hiring Reinemann-Goss was a ‘rare opportunity,’ said Dwight Waddell, associate professor of electrical engineering and the BME program’s director.

“Not only is she incredibly qualified having graduated with her Ph.D. from a prestigious biomedical engineering program at Vanderbilt, she comes to us already attuned to life at Ole Miss and Oxford,” Waddell said. “Dr. Reinemann-Goss has expertise in biomolecular engineering, which will be immediately put to use through a shared research agenda with multiple departments on campus including biochemistry, biomolecular sciences in the School of Pharmacy as well as chemical engineering. We are thrilled to have her back, and we hope it still feels like home.”

Reinemann-Goss’ former professors recalled her academic achievements and dedication.

“I had the privilege to mentor Nikki from her first day in college,” said Nathan Hammer, associate professor of chemistry. “Because of her dedication and unique aptitude in chemistry, I recruited her to work in my research group.

“From day one in the lab, her natural abilities to perform high-level science were evident. She developed her research project on her own without any assistance and has operated on the level of a graduate student for the past few years. She’s a brilliant young scientist who has a bright future ahead of her. Her success is due not only to her intelligence and aptitude for science but also her unparalleled work ethic.”

Charles L. “Chuck” Hussey, chair emeritus and professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry, echoed those sentiments.

“Nikki is a multidimensional, exceptionally talented student,” said Hussey, now associate dean for research and graduate education in UM’s College of Liberal Arts. “She sees and understands concepts that most of her peers may never understand. We are very lucky that she chose to seek a degree in chemistry with us. She is destined for a great career in science or engineering.”

A Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College alumna, Reinemann-Goss also held memberships in Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and American Chemical Society. Conducting research under the supervision of Hammer, she presented at the 242nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society and the 41st International Conference on Environmental Systems of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Her extracurricular activities included serving in the Society of Women Engineers and the university’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, and playing trumpet in the Pride of the South marching band.

In addition to having been a Goldwater Scholar, Reinemann-Goss’ said her most gratifying personal achievement was to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

“Receiving this funding allowed me to pursue the research path I wanted throughout graduate school and thus helped shape and build my scientific toolbox that I plan to use at Ole Miss,” she said.

She was also involved in the Engineering Ambassadors Network at Vanderbilt.

“Through this organization, I co-coordinated an Engineering Day at Vanderbilt for local eighth-grade students who come from low-income, high-risk environments to expose them to a variety of engineering disciplines,” Reinemann-Goss said. “They chose three disciplines and then performed related hands-on activities led by graduate students. Seeing their confidence in themselves and in STEM work grow throughout the day was an outstanding experience.”

Reinemann-Goss is married to Timothy Goss, a band director for the South Panola School District in Batesville. The couple has a son, Will, who starts first grade this fall. Her hobbies include spending time with her family and playing trumpet in local ensembles and at church.

 

 

Undergraduate Students Conduct Summer Data Science Research

Students use data science to combat sexual harassment and make complex data easier to consume

Undergraduate students involved in the Mississippi Experimental Research Laboratory have been using the summer to hone their research skills. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Thanks to an internal grant to the University of Mississippi’s Department of Computer and Information Science, five computer science majors are conducting paid, faculty-mentored projects as part of the new Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

Each student is spending 10 weeks conducting a data science-themed research project. By the end of the summer, all of the students should be able to describe the fundamental concepts and techniques of data science, analyze real-world problems and model them for application of data science techniques, and document and effectively communicate methodology, results and observations of the project.

Naeemul Hassan, UM assistant professor of computer and information science, wrote the grant proposal that led to the funding, and is serving as the mentor for one of the student projects. Hassan and Amrit Poudel, a junior from Nepal, are developing tools to identify online cries for help from those who may have experienced sexual harassment or mistreatment.

The duo has collected more than a million sexual harassment-related tweets from Twitter. Using natural language processing techniques, they have identified 15,000 of the tweets as sexual harassment outcries.

“The problem is the current design of the social network systems does not have any mechanism to bring these harassment reports to the attention of authorities or support service providers,” Hassan said. “We are working on developing tools to make social media a more supportive place for victims to talk about what they have experienced.”

Four other students are conducting separate mentored research projects under the summer data science program. Under the mentorship of professor Conrad Cunningham, Hao Zhou, a junior from China, is developing a tool that can take a common input format and create documents in multiple output formats that are accessible to a wide range of readers – including those with disabilities.

Under the guidance of professor and chair Dawn Wilkins and professor Yixin Chen, seniors Garrett McClure of Madison, Mississippi, and Abigail Garrett, of Birmingham, Alabama, are evaluating and developing tools to reduce the size of large unwieldy datasets to just the most essential features needed for the task at hand. And senior Khoa Anh Tran of Vietnam is doing research toward the development of virtual reality visualization tools for three-dimensional data; this project is being mentored by assistant professor Adam Jones.

Naeemul Hassan, assistant professor of computer and information science, is directing student Amrit Poudel as part of an Undergraduate Summer Research Grant he received for his Data Exploration and Research Laboratory. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“The mentors have a diverse set of data science expertise including machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, software architecture, data mining and virtual reality,” Hassan said.

“As artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality are being incorporated in an increasing number of knowledge domains and practical applications, we can only imagine the demand of data science increasing in the foreseeable future.”

Indeed, for the third year in a row, data scientist has been named the best job in America, based on earning potential, job satisfaction and the number of job openings. according to Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America for 2018 list.

The funding for this summer’s program was in the form of a competitive internal seed grant, with initial monies coming from the Provost’s Office and matching funds provided by the School of Engineering and the CIS department.

“We believe that the sooner we can expose students to the research and applications in their chosen fields, the more likely they are to continue research in graduate school,” said Greg Easson, UM professor of geology and geological engineering and associate dean for research and graduate programs for the School of Engineering.

“The Department of Computer and Information Science was early into undergraduate research, having already developed the C-REX (Computer science Research Experience) program last year. With this support from the Provost’s Office, they have been able to do even more with students.”

To extend the data science program for future summers and students, Hassan and his collaborators in the department have their eyes on several external funding opportunities, including the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Meanwhile, the next steps will be guiding this summer’s students in writing and disseminating their discoveries and prototypes through poster presentations, conference presentations or peer-reviewed journal articles. Look for more on these students and their project outcomes in future editions of this newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UM Geologists Study Impact of Bonnet Carré Spillway on Mississippi Sound

Research findings offer insights into new water levels' effects on oyster production along Gulf Coast

Jarett Barnett, a UM geology and geological engineering graduate assistant, retrieves sensory landers from the Mississippi Sound as part of a study being conducted. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi scientists who are studying the Mississippi River’s ebbs and flows are trying to find out how changing water levels in the river can affect fishing and seafood industries in Mississippi.

With the rising water levels in the lower Mississippi River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway west of Lake Pontchartrain in early March. As the flooding continued, more bays of the spillway were opened and remained open through the month. The spillway is designed to channel water into Lake Pontchartrain and through the Rigolets Pass into Lake Borgne and ultimately into the Mississippi Sound.

“The opening of the spillway lowers the water levels flowing through the New Orleans area and lessens the pressure on the levees, pumps and other flood control structures,” said Greg Easson, UM director of the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute, professor of geology and geological engineering, and a co-principal investigator on the study. “As part of the Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence, we are supporting the redevelopment and restoration of the Mississippi oyster resources as a key action in the restoration of the Gulf Coast.

“Understanding the impact of the opening of the spillway on the water properties in the Mississippi Sound is an important component.”

Easson and Jarett Bell, a UM geological engineering graduate student from Bay St. Louis, have been collaborating on the project since before the student graduated from the university with his undergraduate degree last spring. Sensors are used to gather data about dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature and light from the water. Bell’s responsibilities include preparing, launching and recovering the sensor programs, offloading and interpreting the data.

“Another preparation is that we use hidden buoys so that our platforms stay out of sight for at least a week,” Bell said. “Once the buoys sit for the allotted time, we retrieve the landers, offload the data, return them back to Oxford and clean all the components.”

Preliminary graphs of dissolved oxygen and conductivity show the influence of a large freshwater influx and subsequent recovery.

“This information generated will have significant implications for oyster reef restoration and resilience on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Easson said. “It will provide critical knowledge related to acceptable sites for future oyster reefs that will support sustainable and productive oyster fisheries.”

The results of the study will be shared with MBRACE partners from Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University. It will also be the subject of Bell’s master’s thesis in 2019, and an eventual journal article.

This project was paid for [in part] with federal funding provided through the University of Southern Mississippi under the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality by the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The statements, findings, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality or the Department of the Treasury.

 

3 Alumni Honored with Engineering Awards

Albert Hilliard, Jeff Rish III and Catherine Grace Norris received recognition at awards banquet

Albert L. Hilliard (left) accepts the 2018 Engineer of Distinction award from UM School of Engineering Dean Alex Cheng. Photo by Clay Cavett/UM Alumni Affairs

Three University of Mississippi School of Engineering alumni were honored for their hard work, service and humanitarianism during the annual engineering awards banquet in April.

Albert L. Hilliard, IT/OT services program manager at ExxonMobil, was presented the Engineer of Distinction Award. Jeff W. Rish III, retired from federal service as technical program manager at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, received the Engineer of Service Award. The Gregory Gomez IV Humanitarian Service Award went to Catherine Grace Norris, a 2017 graduate who works as a Peace Corps volunteer.

“Once a year, we have this warm gathering to celebrate the accomplishment of our students, alumni and faculty,” said Dean Alex Cheng. “I am pleased that over and over again we see the highest level of creativity and service demonstrated by this group. This is a wonderful and proud Ole Miss family.”

The recipients reflected upon their honor.

“I was surprised since I didn’t know I was even being considered,” said Hilliard, who is responsible for digitally transforming ExxonMobil’s industrial IT environments around the world. “I felt so honored to be included in such a distinguished group of University of Mississippi alumni engineers. This is a dream come true.”

The Hernando native, who earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the university 35 years ago, said it is very gratifying to be recognized by the school that launched him on his successful path as a computer scientist/engineer.

Jeff Rish III (center) receives the 2018 Engineer of Service award from Dean Cheng (right) and is congratulated by David Carroll, 2016 Engineer of Service recipient. Photo by Clay Cavett/UM Alumni Affair

“I grew up poor in rural Mississippi and was a first-generation college student,” Hilliard said. “I entered the University of Mississippi with raw talents/skills, strong family support and dreams of making a difference. The University of Mississippi helped mold me into a computer scientist, helped me to focus and challenged me to make a difference as a computer scientist and responsible citizen.”

Hilliard also has a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Dayton and an Executive MBA from Baylor University. His wife, Harriet, earned her bachelor’s degree from Ole Miss and her medical degree from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The couple has two sons.

Rish said he was gratified to learn that he had been selected to receive the Engineer of Service Award. He was a member of the UM Engineering Advisory Board from 2004 to 2014, and interacted with the school on a number of topics and issues during that time.

“This award is personally meaningful to me because it says I impacted leadership within the School of Engineering, and the EAB believes that my involvement impacted the school in a positive way,” Rish said.

Rish earned bachelor’s degrees in both civil and mechanical engineering, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in engineering science from the university. A Pontotoc native, Rish is a member of the adjunct faculty at Florida State University’s Panama City campus, where he teaches Engineering Thermodynamics. He has been teaching this undergraduate course there since 2005.

He and his wife, Patricia (or “Patti”), reside in Lynn Haven, Florida, but maintain strong ties to his alma mater and Mississippi roots.

A 2017 general engineering graduate, Norris joined the Peace Corps and works in Zambia. Her work has involved meeting with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, a rice nongovernmental organization, to discuss hosting a workshop in Luapula Province. She frequently hosts demonstrations on how to make compost fertilizer and smaller projects involving animal husbandry, women’s empowerment and hydrogeology.

Like Hilliard, Norris said she was surprised by the award.

“I have been living very disconnected from the U.S. and didn’t know I was eligible for such an award,” she said. “I am both humbled and elated to accept this reward. Peace Corps has been an idea of mine for almost 10 years, and thanks to the engineering school and especially Ms. Hank (Ducey), I’ve gotten to achieve something I feel is truly great. 

Catherine Grace Norris, a Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe, was presented the 2018 Greg Gomez IV Humanitarian Award in absentia. Hank Ducey, administrative assistant in the engineering school, accepted the award on Norris’ behalf. Photo by Clay Cavett/UM Alumni Affairs

“I have always been heavily involved in volunteer work, and being a Peace Corps volunteer, riding on buses, in the backs of cars, down dangerous roads, has become a way of life. Hearing about Gomez and how his story and passions are being honored is beautiful. … He has set a great example, and I hope fellow Ole Miss students and alumni can follow it.”

 Also honored at the awards banquet were Lei Cao, Outstanding Faculty of the Year; Alex Yakovlev, Senior Faculty Research Award; Esteban Urena-Benavides, Junior Faculty Research Award; Adam Smith, Faculty Teaching Award; Hunain Alkhateb, Faculty Service Award; and Aubrey Bolen, Staff Award. The school also honored Harleigh Huggins with the Mississippi Engineering Society Outstanding Senior Award.

Five students received the Engineering Outstanding Senior Award. They are Huggins (mechanical engineering), David Rozier (chemical engineering), Colbert Lehr (electrical engineering), Zach Mitchell (general engineering) and William Garrett (mechanical engineering). The David Arnold Engineering Award was presented to Colbert Lehr. Farzin Rahmani (chemical engineering) and Amrit Kharel (electrical engineering) received Graduate Achievement awards, and 15 engineering students received the Taylor Medal, the university’s most coveted honor.

 

 

NCCHE Software System Provides Real-Time Solutions during Floods

Cutting-edge technology used to predict flows and estimate consequences when dams, levees fail

Members of the National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering research team collaborate on the latest user request on the DSS-WISE Lite software the team created for dam and levee failure projections. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A cutting-edge software program developed by scientists at the University of Mississippi is proving beneficial in dam- and levee-breach flood predictions and preparations across the country.

Researchers at UM’s National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering created DSS-WISE Lite, a web-based, automated and fully geographic information systems-integrated, two-dimensional dam- and levee-break flood modeling and mapping system.

With resolutions from 20 feet to 200 feet, the free system is being accessed by users from the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, 10 FEMA regional offices, stakeholder federal agencies and state dam safety offices.

“Since its startup 10 months ago, the system handled more than 1,800 simulations,” said Mustafa Altinakar, NCCHE director and research professor. “There are currently 200 users from all over the U.S., and the number of users is growing fast.”

By using the web-based system, vetted users can easily set up and run simulations of varying scenarios in the event of a dam or levee failure and obtain outcomes. The results, including fully GIS-compatible maps, are being returned to the user within a half-hour in 73 percent of the cases and within two hours in 90 percent of the cases.

“The challenge is to get these calculations in real time in order to best facilitate emergency action plans,” Altinakar said. “This is a truly unique system. There’s no system like this anywhere else in the world.”

An example of the system’s use is when a steady barrage of storms in early 2017 resulted in serious damage to the Lake Oroville spillways north of Sacramento, California, which included a concrete failure on the lower chute of the gated flood control spillway. The California Department of Water Resources used DSS-WISE Lite extensively during the incident to generate emergency flood mapping so it could prepare appropriate emergency response plans. 

NCCHE is partnering with Argonne National Laboratory in the U.S. Department of Energy to add a new module to the DSS-WISE Lite system for estimating potential human consequences of dam- or levee-break floods. This new module provides population-at-risk and loss-of-life analyses – based on the USBR method – and flood-risk mapping.

“This system is so well designed that you don’t have to be an expert engineer in order to set it up and run it,” said Marcus McGrath, a research associate at NCCHE. “It literally won’t let you make a mistake.”

Computational models forecasting the effects of flooding on Texas should various categories of hurricanes strike played a major role in dealing with Hurricane Harvey and several earlier disaster forecasts.

“The system can compute many different dam- and levee-failures scenarios very quickly,” said Vijay Ramalingam, NCCHE research scientist. “It has proven to have the necessary computational speed to serve during actual emergencies.”

Because DSW-WISE Lite involves multiple web connections, the research scientists carry out frequent penetration tests to prevent cyber attacks. The system also is designed to suspend computations and then resume them in event of electrical power outages on campus.

“Our team conducts tabletop exercises and teaches short courses on how to use the system,” said Paul Smith, coordinator of computing facilities at NCCHE. “So far, we have four different locations scheduled for courses in 2018.”

During the 2017 hurricane season, Altinakar and his team were busy assisting various federal and state agencies by running emergency simulations and responding to technical questions.

“Our team is truly dedicated,” Altinakar said. “Whenever we receive a call for our help, we respond on the dot, knowing that accurate and timely information yielded by the system can literally save lives.”

UM Professor’s Research Highlighted in Ship Technology Publication

Waheed Uddin shares insights into how infrastructure improvements can protect ports during coastal disasters

Waheed Uddin is a civil engineering professor and director of the Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

A University of Mississippi civil engineering professor’s research about how infrastructure improvements can help protect ports from the effects of coastal disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis was featured in a technology publication recently.

Waheed Uddin, director of UM’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology, was featured in a story appearing in the digital magazine Ship Technology on Nov. 9, 2017. Uddin conducted a study that uses computer modeling and geospatial analysis of natural disaster risks to identify the priority measures that ports can take to build a comprehensive resilience management strategy. Two of Uddin’s civil engineering graduate students assisted in his study: Quang Nguyen (PhD 17) and W. Tucker Stafford (MS 17). Uddin and Nguyen presented the results for Vietnam’s port city at an international infrastructure and disaster resilience conference in Seoul, Korea, in July 2017.

To read the Ship Technology article, visit http://www.ship-technology.com/features/protecting-ports-global-warming/

 

UM Professor Leads Dinosaur Track Preservation Project

Findings from discovery and digital reconstruction of trackway site result in journal article

The team preserved the tracks, created by dinosaurs that roamed near an ancient sea, at an Arkansas gypsum quarry. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi geologist’s collaboration with researchers at the University of Arkansas has yielded the discovery and digital preservation of the first tracks of carnivorous dinosaurs ever found in Arkansas.

Brian Platt, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at UM, was lead author of “LiDAR-based characterization and conservation of the first theropod dinosaur trackways from Arkansas, USA,” an article in the Jan. 2 edition of the journal Public Library of Science ONE. He was contacted by colleagues at UA after miners discovered the large, three-toed prints in a gypsum quarry near Nashville in 2011.

The footprints were preserved in a layer of rock that the mine had been blasting through to reach deposits of gypsum, a widely distributed mineral frequently used as a soil amendment and in making wallboard and plaster of Paris.

“When I first saw the footprints, I could barely contain my excitement – the entire surface of the site was completely trampled by dinosaurs,” Platt said. “I remember trying to follow one of the trackways by stepping in each footprint and I just couldn’t do it because the tracks were too far apart. It is thrilling to me to be able to step in the exact spot that a dinosaur stepped over 100 million years ago.”

The miners generously agreed to delay blasting so the team could examine the site before it was destroyed.

Because time was of the essence, the team applied for a special grant through the National Science Foundation that is designed for time-sensitive projects, called a RAPID grant. The University of Arkansas received RAPID funding for $10,000, and the UA vice provost for research and economic development and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences each provided matching grants, making the combined total funding $30,000.

To preserve the site, colleagues from the UA Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies used a method of laser scanning called LiDAR to create a digital replica of the site. LiDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, uses a pulsed laser to measure distances to the earth in tiny increments. Researchers used LiDAR because traditional methods would have taken too long.

“Once the site was preserved digitally, I could use the digital data to begin the time-intensive work of drafting a map of the site and taking measurements of the footprints,” Platt said. “I spent a lot of time working on the map during a 2012-13 post-doc, but there was so much LiDAR data to sort through that I needed to spend some time at the University of Arkansas to take precise measurements with the proper computer software.”

Platt’s 2014 travel was funded by a Southeastern Conference Traveling Faculty Grant, which the conference awards each year to enable SEC faculty members to collaborate with peers at other conference institutions. The award, which was supplemented with funds from the UM Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, allowed him to spend a week at UA over spring break to collect the measurements he needed.

Brian Platt, UM assistant professor of geology and geological engineering, displays models he uses in presentations about rare dinosaur tracks he and a University of Arkansas team uncovered and digitally preserved. Submitted photo

The tracks have since been destroyed, but the scans allowed the team of researchers to study the tracks and determine that they were made by Acrocanthosaurus, a large, carnivorous dinosaur. The findings extended the known range of the dinosaur 56 miles east, to what was the western shore of an ancient sea.

“It actually confirms that the main genus of large theropods in North America was Acrocanthosaurus,” said Celina Suarez, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at UA, who was part of the team that documented and studied the tracks. “It now has been found in Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Maryland – a huge range.”

The site had two different sized tracks, suggesting both adult and younger animals lived in the area about 113 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period. It also contained tracks made by sauropods, long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs.

“Now we know more about the ancient ecosystem, e.g., both sauropods and theropods lived together in the same environment,” Platt said. “On a broader scale, the rocks that contain the footprints tell us that the environment was once a large tidal flat or evaporative coastal basin that experienced very dry conditions.

“Ancient climatic information like this can be used to help us better understand the impacts of climate change on ecosystems.”

Platt earned a bachelor’s degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and master’s and doctoral degrees in geology from the University of Kansas. Before coming to Ole Miss, he worked for an environmental consulting firm in New Jersey and as an instructor and lecturer for the geology department at the University of Kansas.

After completing his doctorate, he spent a year working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Kansas Geological Survey. His research integrates sedimentary geology and paleontology.

Researchers also created a detailed, publicly accessible online map of the site and the tracks. The digital reconstruction of the trackway site can be viewed at the website for the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies.

To read the PLOS ONE article, visit http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190527.

UM Researchers Working on Acoustic Detection for Undersea Oil Leaks

Grant totaling $591,000 awarded to Zhiqu Lu, Likun Zhang and Lei Cao

Zhiqu Lu, senior research scientist at the UM National Center for Physical Acoustics, is leading a team working to develop technology to detect leaks in offshore deep-water oil and gas lines and production equipment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

(The following Ole Miss News article also appeared in USA Today and the Clarion-Ledger on Dec. 27.)

OXFORD, Miss. – Snaking beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are thousands of miles of pipelines carrying oil and natural gas from offshore wells. They carry the fuel that keeps the American economy rolling, with Gulf production accounting for 17 percent of total U.S. crude oil production and 5 percent of total U.S. … Continue reading

 

 

Taiho Yeom Joins Mechanical Engineering Faculty

Assistant professor specializes in thermal-fluid sciences

Assistant professor Taiho Yeom brings his professional experience to the mechanical engineering department. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Taiho Yeom, the newest faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said the University of Mississippi is the right fit for him.

“Like most of others applying for jobs, I found the position from job searching online websites and immediately realized that I would nicely fit into the position based on my career and research backgrounds,” said Yeom, who began his employment this past fall. “The position at Ole Miss came out looking for exactly what I had been looking for. Then I applied, and, thankfully, Dr. (Arunachalam) Rajendran (chair and professor of mechanical engineering) contacted and offered me the position.”

UM’s academic reputation, long history and tradition as the flagship university of Mississippi all played a part in Yeom’s decision to accept the offer.

“I thought that this is the great place where I can start my academic career,” he said.

Rajendran said Yeom is a welcome addition to the department.

“Our students will benefit through Dr. Yeom’s teaching of a very important subject such as thermal management as applied to electronic devices and other applications,” he said. “A mechanical engineer with some thermal management background and training will be able to work in a wide variety of industries; I am indeed excited about this opportunity.”

Originally from Gwangju, South Korea, Yeom said Oxford’s climate is similar to that of his homeland. Having earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Ajou University in South Korea, he migrated to the United States to seek master’s and Ph.D. degrees. Yeom received the former from Oklahoma State University and the latter from the University of Minnesota. Both degrees are also in mechanical engineering.

“After my Ph.D., I joined Seagate Technology, one of the largest data storage companies, in Minnesota as a senior mechanical engineer,” Yeom said. “I worked on developing (a) next-generation recording head assembly that consists of elaborate micro-scale actuators and sensors focusing on improving structural and dynamic characteristics of the system.”

While Yeom enjoyed his experience at Seagate, he said he missed the research in thermal and fluid sciences he’d conducted in graduate school.

“I always wanted to go back to my original specialty area because I did not want to waste my skills and knowledge that I achieved during almost the entirety of my graduate school years,” Yeom said. “Since I had been struggling a lot in the very cold Minnesota weather for many years, the weather was another reason I wanted a change.”

When his wife, Sohye Lee, became an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Memphis right after he received the offer from “Dr. Raj,” Yeom knew he had to accept the position.

“That was the final stamp on our decision process,” he said. “Now, I am commuting from Collierville (Tennessee) for about an hour, twice per day, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.”

As a tenure-track assistant professor, Yeom is teaching Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer this spring semester. He expects to teach other courses in thermal-fluid areas such as Compressible Flow and Thermodynamics.

“My research interest lies in the area of thermal-fluid sciences with a special emphasis on developing novel methods of thermal management and energy conversion systems,” Yeom said.

“The research in thermal management will try to answer the question of how to effectively remove heat from various scales engineering systems employing a variety of cooling techniques, such as piezoelectric active air cooling, microstructured surfaces and multiphase interchip cooling. The research in energy conversion will focus on improving conversion efficiency of pyroelectric devices by employing nano-engineered novel structures.”

Yeom’s short-term career goals at Ole Miss are to initiate teaching activities, look for external funding opportunities and set up his research lab.

“I will try to publish (in) high-impact journals and expose my research to the relevant academic communities,” he said. “Seeking good collaborations will be essential in developing early stages of my research programs. I will put efforts in developing teaching materials and formats to provide improved quality of education to students.”

His long-term goal is to become a recognized researcher and educator in his field so he can contribute to elevating the reputation of the mechanical engineering department, School of Engineering and Ole Miss.

Of Yeom’s professional achievements, he said becoming a faculty member at Ole Miss is the most gratifying.

“It became a turning point in my life, which otherwise would have gone for a completely different direction,” Yeom said. “It will give me a variety of opportunities to achieve what I have been trying to do. I hope to get more great achievements, honors and awards as I walk through my career.”

Yeom and Lee have two sons, Jihoon and Jio. The family enjoys traveling, reading books, swimming, fishing and exercising.

 

Matt O’Keefe to Lead Center for Manufacturing Excellence

Expanded undergraduate program, new graduate program among goals for new executive director

Matthew J. O’Keefe has been hired as the executive director of UM’s Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Submitted photo by Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T.

OXFORD, Miss. — With decades of professional and research experience, Matthew J. O’Keefe was named the new executive director of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi.

A Rolla, Missouri, native, O’Keefe will start at CME Jan. 1. In addition to administrative oversight of personnel, facilities and operations, he is responsible for leading the academic unit of the CME (including curriculum development), providing leadership and strategic guidance for the center, and developing strong relationships within the university and with industry to enhance opportunities for students and faculty.

“I was very honored and grateful for the opportunity to be associated with such an outstanding program and university,” said O’Keefe, who earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees (both in metallurgical engineering) from Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Illinois, respectively.

William Nicholas, UM assistant director of Insight Park, who chaired the search committee, shared how important it was to find someone of O’Keefe’s caliber to lead the CME, which is a recognized asset for the future growth of advanced manufacturing in Mississippi.

“Matt O’Keefe brings exceptional experience and skills to ensure that the CME continues developing synergies with the business community resulting in long-term economic impact,” Nicholas said.

O’Keefe began his career as a manufacturing engineer at AT&T Microelectronics. He transferred to AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he conducted applied research and development for manufacturing locations. O’Keefe earned his Ph.D. while working for the Air Force Research Laboratory and continued in-house research and program management before taking a faculty position at his undergraduate alma mater.

Before joining UM, O’Keefe was an academic department chair, a research center director and assistant vice chancellor supervising the campus distance education program at Missouri S&T.

“In many ways, each of these positions have prepared me to lead CME,” O’Keefe said. “I applied for the position for many reasons, but the main one was that it is a unique program that provides an opportunity for students in accountancy, business and engineering to learn and work together in an area of national need: manufacturing. The curriculum that CME students experience provides a breadth to their major degree program that prepares them to have successful careers and enhance the manufacturing industry.”

O’Keefe’s goals include augmenting the existing program by increasing undergraduate student participation and developing a graduate program focused on helping to develop the local, state and national manufacturing professional workforce.

“People are the most important asset of any organization, and for educational institutions it is the success of students that is paramount,” he said. “To achieve student success and grow the undergraduate program, as well as initiate a graduate program, will take additional staff and faculty along with keeping the facilities state of the art.”

UM administrators are pleased to welcome O’Keefe to the university.

“Dr. O’Keefe is an accomplished engineering faculty member and administrator who brings valuable perspectives to the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We are fortunate to have him as the leader of this center, which has outstanding faculty and staff. We look forward to the CME reaching the next level of success under his leadership.”

“Over the years, the unique CME program has attracted and graduated many outstanding engineering students who are equipped with not only the traditional technical skills, but also the practical manufacturing experiences and business and management knowledge,” said Alex Cheng, dean of the School of Engineering. “It has been one of the most important resources that raised the quality of engineering education at the university. I am pleased that Dr. O’Keefe, a highly experienced educator and administrator, will take the helm of this important organization to further raise its level of success.”

CME was established in June 2008 to provide unique opportunities for students interested in manufacturing. The opportunities developed are considered distinctive to the CME and are not available to undergraduate students at other universities in the United States. The CME is developing interdisciplinary educational opportunities within an innovative academic learning model that provides students with the practical experiences, fundamental knowledge and creative skill sets needed to lead the world of modern manufacturing.

Though he has received many professional honors and awards, O’Keefe said he is most pleased to have received those that were student nominated or selected.

“It is great to be recognized by your peers, professional societies and institution, but student recognition is the most enjoyable and rewarding,” he said.

O’Keefe and his wife, Laura, have two married sons: Patrick (Megan) of Kansas City, Missouri, and Sam (Shelby) of Rolla, Missouri, and two grandchildren: Kennedy and Will. O’Keefe’s hobbies include golf and following sports. He is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals’ fan.