NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium (CTSGC) is excited to announce recipients of its Fall 2019 Call for Proposals.  Award recipients include 8 faculty members and 26 graduate/undergraduate students, and are from 12 NASA CTSGC academic affiliate member institutions. Below are the names of all recipients of the Faculty Grants, Graduate/Undergraduate Grants and Scholarships. Congratulations to all the awardees!




Faculty Research

Ameh Fioklou
University of Hartford
Agave Fiber-Reinforced Concrete Mechanical Properties Evaluation

       Composite materials have gained applications in many industries including aerospace. The current research project deals with improving the tensile capacity of concrete through the addition of agave bers. This study will investigate the mechanical properties of agave ber-reinforced concrete as a composite material. The effects of agave ber proportion on the mechanical properties of the composite will also be investigated. The mechanical characterizations will be performed using fourpoint bending test (exural testing) in accordance with ASTM C1609, split tensile strength test, and compressive test in accordance with ASTM C39.

James Greenwood
Wesleyan University
Weathering of Venus basalt

       We propose an experimental study of the weathering of Venus basalts under Venusian conditions. This work is compelling because of recent discoveries of weathering minerals from Magellan radar emissivity data (Gilmore et al., 2019). We will be testing the hypotheses that 1) chlorapatite can be formed as a weathering mineral on Venus, and 2) if pyrite can be formed as a weathering mineral on Venus. This work is directly relevant to Strategic Goal 1 of the 2018 NASA Strategic Plan, as it seeks to expand human knowledge through scientific discoveries in order to understand the Solar System 

Jessica Smith
Central Connecticut State University
Investigating the Physiology of Anaerobic Iron Respiration by Early Earth Microorganisms

       It is known that early Earth was devoid of oxygen, and that the earliest organisms that inhabited the planet respired insoluble metals including Fe(III). Furthermore, it has been proposed that Mars and other iron-rich planets are suitable for extremophilic Fe(III)-reducers. Regardless, little is known about the physiology and evolution of metal-breathing species. In this study, we propose investigating mechanisms of iron-respiration in extremophiles using genome sequencing, comparative transcriptomics, and laboratory adaptive evolution techniques with extremophilic microorganisms. Results from this research will aid in NASA’s goal to explore the “origin of life on earth and the search for life elsewhere”. 

Bryan Weber
University of Connecticut
Investigating the Atomization Process of a Modern Pressure-Swirl Aero-Engine Injector at Engine Relevant Pressures

       Despite the impact of the performance of modern liquid fuel injectors on the design and effectiveness of advanced aero-propulsion systems, the breakup processes of conical-lm injectors are not well understood. The proposed research focuses on improving the prediction of the spray cone angle and breakup length of a pressure-swirl fuel injector at elevated ambient pressures up to 15 bar. High-speed and high-resolution back-lit imaging will be utilized to capture the atomization behavior under various fuel ow rate and ambient pressure conditions, with multiple aviation fuels being utilized for testing. The experimental results will be then contrasted with established spray models.



Faculty STEM Education Programming

Harvey Hoffman
Fairfield University
Afterschool Robotics with Wakeman Boys and Girls Club

       The Afterschool Robotics at Wakeman Boys and Girls Club is a service learning Robotics course offered at Fairfield University in Spring 2020. The program aims to build a STEM pathway through mentorship between undergraduates and middle school students. The project will introduce approximately 15 undergraduate engineering students at Fairfield University to the knowledge and skills to engage in robot building and then mentor approximately 15 middle students from Wakeman Boys and Girls Club. The undergraduate students will apply their learning and demonstrate leadership in conveying technical knowledge to young learners to encourage their interest and capabilities in STEM.

Edward Moran
Wesleyan University
The 2020 Sturm Memorial Lecture

       The Sturm Lecture is an annual public event that is designed to bring the excitement of astrophysics and space science to members of the Wesleyan campus and the greater Middletown area. A diverse audience of 200-250 people is expected.

Faculty-Student Research

Miad Faezipour
University of Bridgeport
ECG-Based Cardiac Assessment for Microgravity and High Altitude Atmospheres

       This research project focuses on the electrocardiogram (ECG) signal characteristics and introduces novel methods to identify certain types of arrhythmia and/or the onset of heart attack with high accuracy. This is especially important as fatal heart episodes have been reported in connection with takeoffs and landings as well as high-altitude atmospheres. Signal processing techniques will be employed to identify ECG characteristic feature points and then machine learning will be applied to classify the signal into healthy or classes of irregular ECG beats. The proposed techniques are intended to conveniently assist monitoring the heart functionality in conditions such as aerospace environments. 

Eoin King
University of Hartford
Assessment of Aircraft Noise Abatement Strategies

       This project will examine approaches to environmental noise control at airports across the US and quantify the effectiveness of various noise abatement strategies. This will be achieved by i) conducting a large-scale survey of noise abatement strategies across 280 airports, ii) assessing trends in noise complaint data for selected airports, and iii) assessing overall trends in noise exposure data (where available). Research will be conducted by two undergraduate students with backgrounds in engineering and/or data analytics.

Graduate Research Fellowship

Cecelia Harold
Yale University
Defining a new understanding of breast cancer development in women for long-term space missions

       Radiation exposure astronauts face is a critical consideration for safe space missions. This is especially important for NASA’s plan to expand human presence in deeper space. A compelling aspect of risk assessment is to define the molecular determinants of gender-based cancer predisposition. One determinant is prolactin, important for breast development and lactation. Increased prolactin expression in pre-menopausal women increases predisposition to breast cancer. This project seeks to understand why prolactin predisposes women to breast cancer. This builds into the larger goal of 1
understanding how gender affects cancer occurrence to develop safety guidelines for not only astronauts, but the overall community. 

Laura Logozzo
Yale University
Illuminating riverine dissolved organic carbon dynamics and export using carbon age

       DOC is one of the largest carbon reservoirs globally, but its sources are poorly quantified. Carbon age indicates whether DOC is sourced from surface soils or deeper sequestered soils. I will estimate DOC age and flux on the Connecticut River seasonally and long-term using 14C. This will address when in the year older DOC is mobilized in rivers, and whether there is an overall trend towards older DOC. The project addresses NASA’s strategic goal “understanding the sun, earth, solar system, and universe,” since carbon is an essential element to life and climate, and this project will constrain riverine carbon sources.


Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Fallon Konow
Wesleyan University
Constructing a Survey of the Local Interstellar Medium using Hubble Spectra

       The cool gas and dust clouds that make up half of the visible matter within galaxies is referred to as the Interstellar Medium (ISM). Understanding the composition and dynamic nature of the local (within 100 pc) ISM (LISM) is extremely important because of its proximity and interaction with our solar system, and its necessity in ensuring other astronomical observations are accurately accounting for extinction. Because of their importance I hope to identify the presence of LISM clouds as well as determine clouds’ particular radial velocity and elemental abundance in order to make a more accurate survey of every LISM cloud. 

Nicole Karpinski
Central Connecticut State University
Uncovering mechanisms of direct metal-microbe iron corrosion by Geobacter metallireducens

       Microbial corrosion costs global industries billions of dollars a year, yet physiological mechanisms microbes use to induce corrosion are largely unknown. Recently it has been shown that electricity producing Geobacter species are capable of directly taking up electrons from metal surfaces and inducing bio-corrosion. In this study, gene and protein expression analyses, as well as laboratory adaptive evolution, will be used to identify extracellular components involved in direct metal corrosion by Geobacter metallireducens. Findings from this study will be useful towards combating, managing, and preventing corrosion, which is a focus for the NASA Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology Strategic Enterprise.

Aikaterini Stylianides
University of Hartford
Computational Aeroacoustics of a Coaxial Jet Engine Nozzle

       Jet noise is a major contributor to engine noise, especially during take-off. A typical multi-stream jet engine nozzle is annular with structural members (struts) holding various components of the nozzle together. Struts are designed to cause minimally disturb the ow, but may behave as bluff bodies with unsteady wakes. This research focuses on modeling a 3-strut nozzle using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Computational Aeroacoustics (CAA). The nozzle will be studied under varying ow properties and multiple acoustic conditions. This will allow for the validation of similar models as well as provide a tool for future researchers to utilize.



Student Projects

DeShawn Adams
Trinity College
Harvesting Useful Work from Ocean Waves

       The US government estimates that 71% of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, with the ocean holding about 96.5 percent of Earth’s water. This 96.5 percent of water produces waves full of useful energy. An average 4-foot, 10-second wave striking a coast puts out more than 35,000 horsepower per mile of coast, horsepower we can utilize. Our mission is to explore current designs for a system that converts energy generated from sea waves into useful work, and to synthesize these designs to develop a unique system that maximizes the work output at a reasonable cost for global distribution.

Theo Evers
Yale University
Payload Rover

       Rovers and other unmanned vehicles expand the reaches of human understanding through exploration of areas inhospitable to human habitation. Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA) has in the past produced numerous vehicles of this sort but this project will be significantly different. YUAA will design and build for the first time a vehicle that will be deployed from a rocket. All of YUAA’s previous models were conveyed by hand to their mission sites. Deploying the rover remotely via rocket will add significant hurdles that our team must overcome. We will need to develop new strategies and designs to accomplish our task.  

Alexander Hoganson
Yale University
IREC Rocket 2020

      The Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA) is devoted to helping undergraduates pursue their passion for aerospace. The Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) at Spaceport America helps us achieve our mission. This year, we will be focusing research on designing our own solid fuel rocket motor, exploring the thermochemistry and physics of combustion. The objective of our student researched and designed solid fuel motor is to propel a lightweight, high-fidelity composite rocket built with innovative fabrication techniques to 10,000 feet above ground level, where redundant onboard electronics will deploy parachutes to safely recover the rocket and rover payload.

Scotty Parajon
Yale University
Developing a Guided Parafoil Payload Return System for the HAB to Create a High Altitude Experimentation Platform

       Prior YUAA experimentation with high altitude balloons has seen great success with launching, tracking, and collecting data at high altitudes. However, due to Connecticut’s geographical location, there is a high risk of losing our payload and instruments if they are blown into the Atlantic. Thus, to ensure ability to recover of the payload in all circumstances, I propose a guided parafoil system to allow the payload to land safely. This would also allow YUAA to take full advantage of the high cost-efficacy of balloon launches and to utilize them as a testbed for all future prototype high altitude scientific experiments.

Gordon Perrett
Central Connecticut State University
Solar Panel Design to Maximize Efficiency

       The project is to create a solar panel that will increase the efficiency of the panel without improvements being made to the solar cell. This project will utilize a combination of techniques to maximize the amount of light a solar panel can collect and minimizing the Panels footprint. The system will consist of three components: a system that will follow the sun, a system that will change the geometry of the panel to maximize light capture, and a cooling system.

Keith McHugh
Fairfield University
Device to Convert Plastic Bottles into Household Objects

       The use and disposal of plastic everyday is damaging to the environment as only 9% is recycled currently. The goal of this project is to design and fabricate a desktop device that will allow to remanufacture used plastic bottles for other applications like 3-D printing lament. The device is capable of taking in plastic bottles of varying sizes and turn them into long bands of plastic that can be used for other applications. This objective is in line with strategic mission of NASA for sustainable long term space exploration and is compact enough to be included in space missions.

Colette Scheffers
Trinity College
Quantitative Characterization and Model Design Analysis of Heart Murmurs

       We will mimic ow conditions contributing to heart murmurs to find quantitative data that will confirm the grade of the murmur. After creating simulations in COMSOL Multiphysics, we will design and build a pulsatile pump system to measure the ow’s acoustic movement and quantitatively determine murmur severity. This project applies to health monitoring and treatment, giving patients confidence in a correct diagnosis and allowing heart murmurs to be characterized in potentially remote locations. Specifically, this work could better determine the cardiovascular health of astronauts, provide risk reduction, conduct health monitoring, and help NASA ensure the long-term success of their programs.


Student Travel

Kyle Lingard
Central Connecticut State University
Gordon Research Seminar and Conference at Hotel Galvez

Mitchell Owen
Fairfield University
Federal Aviation Administration, William J. Hughes Technical Center

Maxime Parent
Eastern Connecticut State University
Butler University, Indianapolis IN

Hunter Vannier
Wesleyan University
Honolulu, Hawaii

Undergraduate Scholarship

Jack Breton
University of Hartford

Salena Hingorani
Fairfield University

Emma Hintz
Central Connecticut State University

Derek Kuldinow
Yale University

Maxime Parent
Eastern Connecticut State University

Gordon Perrett
Central Connecticut State University

Mason Tea
Wesleyan University

Community College Transfer Scholarship

Savannah LaPerriere
Central Connecticut State University

Adairez Nieves
Central Connecticut State University

Community College Scholarship

Nathan Benham

Northwestern Connecticut Community College

Angel Green
Capitol Community College

Stephanie Tripodi
Naugatuck Valley Community College