Spring 2022: OU Engineering Presents Dissertation Excellence Awards

Ten students from the Gallogly College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma were selected to receive this semester’s Engineering Dissertation Award, a $5,000 award created to encourage doctoral students to graduate with excellence. The award helps scholars who are near completion of their Ph.D., says Zahed Siddique, the college’s associate dean for research who heads the committee. 

Established in 2018, the Engineering Dissertation Award is made possible by the Thomas Ira Brown, Jr. Endowed Scholarship. Brown (1926-2016) created a new market for electronic control of industrial gas turbines. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electric engineering from OU in 1950.

Spring 2022 recipients are:

Brandon Abbott,  School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering

Recommended by Keisha Walters, Professor, University of Arkansas

Dissertation Topic: Synthesis of Polymer-Inorganic Nanocomposites with Well-Defined Structures and Chemistries for Water Remediation Efforts

In his words: ““Growing socioeconomic demands for water, coupled with current climate change uncertainty, necessitate reevaluation of dynamic water-food-energy processes and innovative paths to attaining water security. Advances in nanomaterial engineering and surface science provide promising platforms for mitigating water contamination issues. Nanoadsorbents such as functionalized iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) possess unique properties such as their high surface area to volume ratio, facile recovery/regeneration, and well-studied surface modification routes, which provide the capability to customize MNPs for targeted contaminants. Strategically tailoring these nanomaterials allows one to control interfacial interactions and ultimately fabricate smart materials for advanced separation and water remediation efforts.”

Mohammad Abshirini, School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Recommended by Mrinal C. Saha, Professor, OU

Dissertation Topic: Synthesis and Characterizations of Lightweight, Highly Flexible Porous Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) Structures with Piezoresistive Strain Sensing Capabilities Using Solvent Evaporation Technique

In his words: "Highly flexible, deformable, and ultralightweight conductive polymer nanocomposites are required for advanced sensing applications such as wearable electronics and robotics. I have developed dual-scale porous structures by combining 3D printing of polymer solution ink and the phase separation technique. The proposed material showed up to 900% improvement in flexibility and 67% enhancement in sensing sensitivity."

Reza Alizadeh, School of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Recommended by Janet K. Allen and Farrokh Mistree, Professors, OU

Dissertation Topic: Managing Computational Complexity Through Using Partitioning, Approximation, and Coordination

In his words: “My long-term goal is to make it possible for retailers such as Walmart and Amazon to move from a push economy to a pull economy. The key issue in facilitating this transition is managing computational complexity. I address this issue through mathematical partitioning, approximation, and coordination. To verify the computational framework, I use an example of designing a multi-channel, multi-echelon, green supply chain in Puerto Rico. The framework is generalizable to address other network problems such as health care, climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.”

Nawaf Almuqati, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Recommended by Hjalti Sigmarsson, Associate Professor, OU

Dissertation Topic: Ultra-Miniaturized, High-Q and Multi-Mode Loaded Cavity Resonators and Filters

In his words: “In my dissertation, ultra-miniaturized and low-loss substrate integrated filters technology has been investigated and developed. This work allows for more than 99% size reduction for microwave filters compared to non-miniaturized filters. For example, this filter technology can have an area of 4mm2 in the 8-12 GHz range, a common satellite frequency band. In addition, the designed filters have low weight and high-quality factor performance, which ranks them as a high potential candidate for the new modern wireless systems.”

Devin Laurence, School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Recommended by Chung-Hao Lee, Assistant Professor, OU

Dissertation Topic: The Tricuspid Valve: Mechanics, Microstructure, Modeling, and Simulation

In his words: “My research has focused on synthesizing novel experimental and computational methods to improve our biomechanical understanding of the tricuspid valve. These include biaxial mechanical characterizations, experiment-informed constitutive modeling, and finite element predictions of the tricuspid valve function in healthy and diseased states. Recently, my work has focused on developing a novel bioreactor system for characterizing tissue growth and remodeling properties and linking the experimental data to the heart’s configuration in the body. These investigations lay the groundwork for developing a patient-specific simulation platform for predicting the valve behavior in healthy, diseased, and repaired configurations."

Zhi Li, School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science

Recommended by Yang Hong, Professor, OU

Dissertation Topic: Advancing Flood Predictability Using Remote Sensing Data and Models

In his words: “My dissertation hopes to advance and utilize state-of-the-art tools for flood prediction, as well as improve our scientific understanding of flood-generating mechanisms and future flood characteristics under climate change. In doing so, we aspire to build community flood resilience at present and be well-prepared for future flood risks.”

Parisa Marashizadeh, School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Recommended by Yingtao Liu, Associate Professor, OU

Dissertation Topic: Multiscale Modeling of Hybrid Structural Composites Enhanced by Aligned Zinc Oxide Nanowires

In her words: “The applications of composites in industries have been increased rapidly due to their special properties such as lightweight, high stiffness, and high strength. The performance of the structural composites depends on the adhesion properties between fiber and polymer matrix. In this research, a computational multi-scale framework, including Molecular Dynamics simulation and finite element analysis, has been developed to evaluate the interfacial properties in hybrid composites. The results showed that the fiber/matrix adhesion properties can be improved by 98% by incorporation of ZnO nanowires.”

Nicholas Shepherd, School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science

Recommended by Russell Dutnell, Adjunct Professor, OU; Robert Nairn, Professor, OU; and Brian Stanila, Environmental Programs Manager, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

Dissertation Topic: Development of Ecological Engineering Solutions to Mine Water Biogeochemistry and Hydrology Challenges

In his words: “My past and present research revolves around mine drainage at the Tar Creek Superfund Site. My work ranges from the physical and chemical characterization of mine drainage to the biological impacts on receiving aquatic ecosystems. I have spent over a decade conducting research within the Tar Creek Superfund Site, beginning in high school.”

Wen Yang, Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering

Recommended by Stefan Wilhelm, Assistant Professor, OU

Dissertation Topic: A Novel Polysaccharide-based Surface Engineering Strategy for Nanomedicines

In her words: “Our work suggests that certain polysaccharides are an effective surface modification technology for nanomedicines to target specific innate immune cells safely and efficiently. This thesis research will guide the translation of polysaccharide-based nanoparticle surface engineering to enable nanomedicine-based immunotherapies, such as vaccines and CAR-T therapies.”

Fan Zhang, Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering

Recommended by Han Yuan, Associate Professor, OU

Dissertation Topic: Mapping Resting-State Functional Connectivity with Whole-Head Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

In his words: “In my dissertation that aims to establish fNIRS as a routine tool in the clinic, I have developed a denoising method for fNIRS signals, established a neurovascular coupling framework to correlate cerebral hemodynamics with neuronal activity, validated the capability of whole-head fNIRS in mapping large-scale network, and investigated the aliasing effects due to insufficient sampling rates on functional connectivity. Functional connectivity has become of great interest in neuroscience research and been used as biomarkers of neurological and psychiatric diseases.”

Learn about the Gallogly College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma.

By Lorene A. Roberson, OU Gallogly College of Engineering

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