CEE Sponsored Awards

Recent Awards

Samitha Samaranayake, National Science, Foundation, “CAREER: Algorithmic Foundations for Demand-Responsive Transit Systems - Creating More Equitable and Sustainable Cities through Better Transit”

Click to Open

This Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) project will address fundamental research questions related to designing and operating transit-centric transportation systems, with the aim of enabling an efficient, sustainable and equitable transportation system for all. While the past decade has seen enormous advances in transportation technologies such as ridesharing and self-driving cars powered by, for example, artificial intelligence, mobile phone adoption and new business models, it remains unclear whether these innovations alone can lead us toward a future that is sustainable and equitable. This project argues that fundamental progress in this regard is best achieved via hybrid transit systems, services that seamlessly integrate the efficiencies of mass transit with agile, demand-responsive modes related to ridesharing. The technical focus will be on algorithms for designing and operating such systems, an area with key research gaps. The research will be conducted through the lens of Algorithm Engineering, which focuses on developing theoretical insights from successful data-driven and heuristic approaches, and heuristics from theory. Collaborations with stakeholders, such as transit agencies, technology providers, community groups, and policy makers will enable an understanding of practical and societal needs, model calibration using real-data, and validation through simulation and deployments. The project aims to broaden the renewed national focus on transit infrastructure to innovations in service modes, and will involve community outreach and education efforts targeting high school students, college students and public agencies.

Samitha Samaranayake Group

April Gu, Carollo Engineers (Water Research Foundation), “Impact of Pre-Chlorination and GAC Treatment on DBP Formation and Overall Toxicity in Drinking Water”

Click to Open

Water systems in the U.S. unable to meet the Stage 1 and 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection By-Products Rules (D/DBPR) through enhanced coagulation or softening, or other lower cost optimization options (e.g., moving the point of chlorine addition, or optimizing pH) may implement additional treatment such as oxidation with chlorine dioxide or ozone, total organic carbon (TOC) adsorption with GAC, or change from free chlorine to chloramines for maintenance of a distribution system residual. However, treatment processes designed to reduce the formation of one DBP class can enhance the production of other DBP classes (Li and Mitch, 2018). The objective of this project is to investigate the impact of GAC with and without pre-chlorination on DBP formation and the resulting toxicity of drinking water using appropriate bioassays.

April Z. Gu Group Website

April Gu, Hampton Roads Sanitation District, “The Kinetic analysis and Acclimation to Low Dissolved Oxygen Conditions For Biological Nutrient Removal”

Click to Open

The overall goal of this proposed study is to conduct mechanistic and pilot testing for investigating: “The Kinetic analysis and Acclimation to Low Dissolved Oxygen Conditions For Biological Nutrient Removal.” We will collaborate with HRSD to evaluate how the low-DO operation and control will impact the key design kinetic parameters, and the acclimation of various functionally-relevant populations such as AOB, NOB, PAOs, GAO, et. The outcome will provide a mechanistic understanding of Low DO Operation Develop repeatable kinetic testing techniques to identify parameters for activated sludge model (ASM), help for parameterization of nitrifier (AOB & NOB) populations when acclimated to low DO conditions, and establish best methods for specific parameters. It will provide greater understanding on how AOB and NOB groups acclimate differently using kinetic testing strategies and examine heterotroph adaptation and associated connection to SND rates. In addition, PAO and GAO competition is an important consideration to this work and results will help to bridge gap between existing Low DO and SND research.

April Z. Gu Group Website

Jacob Mays, Arizona State University, “PSERC M-43 Project: Integrating RTO and Utility Processes in Planning and Cost Allocation”

Click to Open

We address resource and transmission (R&T) investment planning methods, focusing on four objectives: (1) Determine ways new software tools can facilitate long-term planning while exploring interdependencies within RTO interconnection queues, transmission expansion processes, capacity markets, and interregional transmission considerations; (2) Implement a reliability evaluation tool that coordinates with a long-term expansion planning application, explicitly accounting for utility-scale renewables, storage, and DER. (3) We will test an implementation of our tools using large-scale industry-size models, developing results to illustrate relationships between investment robustness, resource adequacy, and operational flexibility. (4) Develop a new cost allocation approach which incorporates investment robustness in identifying benefit.

Mays Research Group

April Gu, DC Water, “High-Rate Biological Phosphorous Removal"

Click to Open

The overall goal of this proposed study is to fill in knowledge gaps and develop technologies to enable more sustainable nutrient removal and recovery, reduce energy and carbon footprint at DC Water wastewater treatment plants.

April Z. Gu Group Website

Greeshma Gadikota, U.S. Department of Energy, “Integrated Reuse and Co-Utilization of Slag, Sludge and Dust With Inherent Heavy Metal Capture and Nanoscale Calcium Carbonate Production as an Enhanced Fluxing Agent in Steel Plants (INSIGHT)”

Click to Open

The aim of INSIGHT is to develop an integrated technology to co-utilize slag, sludge and dust for producing useful products such as nanoscale calcium carbonate (CaCO3) for reuse as a fluxing agent, functionalized silica particles for heavy metal removal, and iron oxide for reuse in the steel manufacturing process. The project objective is to reduce the landfilling of slag, sludge, and dust materials, and recover value-added materials to enhance the overall efficiency of material use in steel manufacturing facilities. The technological impacts of INSIGHT include (i) creation of novel chemical pathways for synthesizing CaCO3 using recyclable solvents and flue gas generated at steel manufacturing facilities, (ii) recovery of silica and its functionalization for the separation of undesired metals (e.g., Pb, Cu, Ni, Cd, and Zn), and (iii) recovery of iron oxide for reuse in the steel manufacturing process. The goals of INSIGHT are to produce nanoscale CaCO3 with purity exceeding 90% and remove undesired metal constituents (e.g., Pb, Cu, Ni, Cd, Zn) in flue dust and sludge with a separation efficiency of 90% or higher. We will aim to recover > 85% iron oxide from sludge and dust, with the intent of reutilizing this material in steel manufacturing processes.

Gadikota Research Group

Greeshma Gadikota, Thistledown Foundation, “Envisioning a Low Carbon Built Environment through Innovative Electrochemical and Chemical Processing of Construction Materials and Enhanced Circular Reuse”

Click to Open

The GRA supported by this project will investigate the chemical and morphological features of the electrochemically synthesized silicate materials, develop carbon mineralization pathways to utilize the waste construction materials, and perform techno-economic and life cycle assessments for the proposed technology. The GRA will disseminate the findings from this project through peer-reviewed journal articles and conference presentations.

Gadikota Research Group

Thomas O’Rourke, University of Colorado Boulder (DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy), “Testing and Analysis for Rapid Encapsulation of Pipelines Avoiding Intensive Replacement (TA-REPAIR)”

Click to Open

The scope of work is divided into two major activities related to 1) definition of lining product failure mechanisms that will extend the service life of existing gas pipelines by a minimum of 50 years, and 2) large-scale testing of lined or otherwise enhanced natural gas pipelines.

Dr. Thomas O'Rourke's research website: Geotechnical Lifelines Large-Scale Testing Facility

April Gu, Environmental Defense Fund, “Postdoctoral Fellowship Award”

Click to Open

Cornell will use the grant funds to study the performance of a lab-scale ENRe reactor system using dairy anaerobic digestate as feed and conduct a feasibility study of the ENRe system at a dairy farm.

April Z. Gu Group Website

Patrick Reed, Pacific Northwest National Lab (U.S. Department of Energy), “Integrated Multisector, Multiscale Modeling (IM3) Scientific Focus Area”

Click to Open

Dr. Reed and his team will be responsible for broadening the use of sensitivity analysis and uncertainty characterization within the IM3 modeling teams through collaborative modeling efforts, training, and the development of guidance documents. 

The Reed Research Group

Qi Li, National Science Foundation, “Collaborative Research: Geoengineering of Urban Green Infrastructure to Improve Outdoor Livability”

Click to Open

Urban population in the United States is confronted with degraded air quality and elevated thermal stress, especially under heat waves. The joint human health implications of these two environmental stressors impose new challenges to urban livability. Urban green infrastructure (UGI), as an integral part of the built environment, has been considered as one of the effective mitigation strategies for potentially improving air quality and reducing thermal stress. Past research extensively evaluates the impact of UGI on either heat or air pollution separately but a few recent studies provided mounting evidence of non-trivial interactions between heat and air pollution. Such evidence raises the question whether a win-win situation for heat and air pollution mitigation is always achievable when implementing UGIs. Yet their joint impacts on heat stress and air quality have rarely been assessed. This project therefore aims to elucidate how UGIs impact the interactions between urban thermal environment and air pollution across multiple spatial scales. Secondly, we are motivated to develop a new method for evaluating the design strategies of UGI by considering the human health implications of heat stress and air pollution combined. In particular, we address two scientific questions: 1) How does the occurrence of extreme heat events affect the joint impacts of heat and air quality? 2) What mitigation outcomes are expected given different design strategies of UGI under normal and extreme heat conditions? To answer these questions, we will apply the Weather Research and Forecast model (WRF) coupled with chemistry (Chem) and urban canopy model (UCM) with improved representation of UGI. The model will be evaluated with observational data under normal summer and high temperature conditions (Task 1). The effects of the present UGI in both NYC and Phoenix in mitigating heat stress and air pollution will be quantified by considering the combined statistic Itotal (Task 2) that measures the joint health impacts. Different UGI implementations (spatially undifferentiated vs. targeted) at both the neighborhood and city scales will be evaluated (Task 3).

Dr. Qi Li's Research Group: City-CLImate-People

Samitha Samaranayake, Vanderbilt University (National Science Foundation), “SCC-IRG Track 1: Mobility for all - Harnessing Emerging Transit Solutions for Underserved Communities”

Click to Open

The Cornell team will participate in the following tasks:

  • integrating uncertainty and behavioral considerations to route planner
  • service and demand flexibility
  • studying scalable and sustainable operations
  • exploring integration with fixed-line planning

Samitha Samaranayake Group

Samitha Samaranayake, CARTA (U.S. Department of Energy), “AI-Engine for Optimizing Integrated Service in Mixed Fleet Transit Operations”

Click to Open

The Cornell team will participate in the following tasks:

  • integrating uncertainty and behavioral considerations to route planner
  • service and demand flexibility
  • studying scalable and sustainable operations
  • exploring integration with fixed-line planning

Samitha Samaranayake Group

Damian Helbling, Semiconductor Research Corporation, “Identifying Sources of per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in Photolithography Wastewater”

Click to Open

A recent SRC-funded study conducted by the PI (Task 2818.002) has demonstrated that wastewater generated during photolithography contains complex mixtures of known and previously unknown PFASs that are persistent and mobile. The proposed project builds on this previous study and aims to elucidate the sources of and mechanisms by which PFASs are introduced or generated during photolithography.

Helbling Research Group

Ruth Richardson, Sciencenter (Environmental Protection Agency), “Future Science Leaders: Youth Taking Action for Water Quality in the Finger Lakes”

Click to Open

Ruth Richardson will:

  • work with undergraduate and/or graduate students to train new and in-coming Future Science Leaders (FSL) in microbial testing methods including cutting edge molecular biological techniques like qPCR;
  • provide opportunities for mentoring, such as hosting field trips for FSL to at Cornell research labs;
  • guide a field trip about microbial life in nearby watersheds;
  • provide ongoing feedback and contribute to the Project evaluation​​​​

Richardson Lab

Linda Nozick, National Science Foundation, “Collaborative research: Leveraging massive smartphone location data to improve understanding and prediction of behavior in hurricanes”

Click to Open

A major challenge in managing hurricane evacuations effectively and efficiently is the substantial uncertainty in population behavior (e.g., how many people will leave, when, where from, and where to). Although a great deal of research has sought to improve understanding of population behavior, gaps remain. Available statistical models of population behavior have limited predictive power. Differences in behavior across subpopulations and events, and the sequence and timing of events unfolding over the duration of a hurricane for different individuals are not well known. These gaps are largely a consequence of the limitations of the traditional types of data that have supported the research to date - surveys, interviews, and focus groups. In this project, we will capitalize on the availability of a new type of data - location information from smartphones - to make a leap forward in understanding and predicting the behavior of the population in hurricanes. Specifically, we will use smartphone location data to: (1) Test hypotheses that have previously been examined in the literature, but using an independent, much larger dataset of actual, observed behavior, and test new hypotheses developed based on the availability of a new type of data; (2) Develop a quantitative model of the sequence and timing of events for each individual during a hurricane; (3) Develop statistical models to predict the probability a person will evacuate at each time period and go to a particular geographic destination as a function of attributes of the individual/household, official events, hurricane, forecast, time markers, and past actions since the hurricane formed; (4) Test the route choice assumptions built into traffic models and determine the effects of road closures on traffic patterns during both evacuation and reentry; and (5) Identify new behaviors and questions for future traditional research using a general inductive approach.

Professor Linda Nozick

April Gu, Hampton Roads Sanitation District, “Practices to Enhance Internal Fermentation of Side-Stream Secondary Sludge and Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids for Biological Phosphorus Removal”

Click to Open

The overall goal of this proposed study is to leverage the recently awarded WRF project: “Practice to Enhance Internal Fermentation of Side-stream Secondary Sludge and Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids for Biological Phosphorus Removal” to identify the new PAOs that may play a role in the S2EBPR Process integrated with A-B stage Nitrite-Shunt/Deammonification process that is being piloted at HRSD to enable simultaneous N and P removal.

April Z. Gu Group Website

Qi Li, National Science Foundation, “Collaborative Research: Precursors of Long-Distance Aerial Transport of Microplastics from Urban Environments”

Click to Open

There is mounting evidence that microplastics (MP) are present in many terrestrial systems. These findings are prompting interest in the dominant mechanisms by which MPs escape from their main source and travel long-distance aerially. Cities are major sources of MPs because of the human activities that produce them. Establishing links between MP source distribution within urban environments, MP deposition rates, escape probability out of urban environments, and long-distance transport remain unexplored. Daunting challenges to be confronted are the complexity of air flow and intermittent releases of various MP types in urban settings, the interaction between urban canopy and deposition/escape of MPs, the MP particulate properties, and mesoscale forcing. To address the overall project goal, 3 inter-related science questions and 5 tasks are proposed: Q1: How MPs associated with urban emission sources get transported out of an urban systems? (Tasks 1-3); Q2: How do different characteristics of urban surface morphology (e.g. high-density urban center versus low-density residential areas) interact with the spatial configurations of MP source/sink distributions (street network) to impact their transport and deposition? (Task 4), and Q3: How to quantify the probability of MPs becoming air-borne in relation to urban surface morphology and mesoscale forcing? (Task 5).

Dr. Qi Li's Research Group: City-CLImate-People

Greeshma Gadikota, National Science Foundation, “Adaptive CO2 Capture and Storage Technology Using Alkaline Industrial and Mining Residues”

Click to Open

The aqueous alkaline amine looping (A3L) technology utilizes a novel and integrated CO2 capture and conversion approach to produce calcium and magnesium carbonates from industrial and mining residues. The process is designed to operate in a single step CO2 capture and conversion mode, and can be adapted to convert heterogeneous alkaline industrial or mining residues with varying compositions and capture CO2 from very dilute sources (e.g., air) to concentrated emissions (e.g., emissions from ethanol producing facilities). This process is a significant advancement over existing chemically or thermally intensive approaches to convert CO2 to inorganic carbonates starting from heterogeneous alkaline residues and naturally occurring minerals. The A3L process is unique in its adaptive capabilities such that it can be deployed as a modular technology with science that can be easily scaled up based on targets to reduce alkaline residues or CO2 emissions. Our laboratory scale results demonstrate high capture and conversion rates of CO2 to calcium and magnesium carbonates using the A3L technology. Our team is applying to I-Corps to allow us to further explore the market for such a process with a focus on customer discovery and the determination of the best market model.

Gadikota Research Group

Samitha Samaranayake, National Science Foundation, “Managing Epidemics by Managing Mobility”

Click to Open

Epidemiological models, such as the susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered (SEIR) model and its extensions, are essential to understand how infectious diseases spread throughout a population. While impacts of travel are indirectly accounted for within the parameters that describe the overall disease transmission rate, standard models do not explicitly represent mobility. As a consequence, mobility-restricting policies can only be coarsely understood. Recent experiences with COVID-19 highlight the significant coupling between personal mobility and the dynamics of disease contagion. This has sparked renewed interest in directly modeling transportation flows through the use of spatial meta-population models. However, these efforts still typically model mobility at a very coarse level and ignore many of the complex, local-scale travel patterns and their network effects. This work aims to bridge that gap and help address questions of the following nature: i) Which communities are most likely to accelerate disease propagation throughout the network? ii) Which recurrent travel patterns are most likely to become disease vectors? iii) What combination of social-distancing and travel restriction measures are needed to safely reactivate a region? iv) Where should preventive screening be administered (when resources are limited) to minimize contagion throughout the network?

Samitha Samaranayake Group

Mircea Grigoriu, National Science Foundation, “Data-Based System Reliability Design for Wind”

Click to Open

The project will develop a probability-based method for the analysis and design of linear/nonlinear structures subjected to Gaussian/non-Gaussian, stationary/nonstationary wind loads based on climatological data, wind tunnel time histories of pressure coefficients, and structural mechanical/aerodynamic characteristics. To promote and facilitate its use in practice, the project will deliver (1) an end-to-end realistic example, requisite data, and MATLAB functions with adequate documentation such that its output can be reproduced and (2) a computational module for wind design to the NHRI SimCenter. Work will be organized in three technical tasks. Task 1 will develop a new class of finite dimensional (FD) wind load models, i.e., deterministic functions of time depending on finite numbers of random variables. The models will match the sample properties of pressure coefficient time histories, in addition to their mean and correlation functions. Task 2 will develop efficient and accurate methods for calculating wind effect samples in linear/nonliear structures based on novel multi-fidelity models by using the FD wind load models of Task 1. The task will deliver large sets of wind effect samples within a reasonable computational budget. Task 3 will use the output of Task 2 to develop a conceptually simple method which will check ultimate and serviceability limit states simultaneously at all structural members, rather than member-by-member as in current practice. This system reliability approach constitutes a new direction in Wind Engineering.

Professor Mircea Grigoriu

Ricardo Daziano and So-Yeon Yoon, National Science Foundation, “RAPID Choices under Short-Term Threats and Behavioral Response to Social Distancing in the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Click to Open

The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing an unexplored dimension to microeconometric modeling of individual decisions under crowded conditions, where high density of people in public spaces poses risk of contagion. Intended work of this project is to collect and analyze time-sensitive choice and attitudinal microdata in the metropolitan area of New York City to better understand and model individual decision-making under threats to health.

Daziano Research Group

Patrick Reed, Wilson Water Group, “Climate Extremes for Colorado River Risk Management”

Click to Open

Technical services associated with investigating and modeling climate extremes for Colorado River Risk Management using Colorado’s Decision Support System model platform. 

The Reed Research Group