Over $400,000 in Project Grants Awarded to Assistant Engineering Professors Looking to Improve Safety

Sep. 19, 2018


UNLV professors seek solutions to improve Nevada’s water supply and structural health monitoring systems

Since committing to UNLV’s Top Tier Initiative in 2015, faculty and staff have worked endlessly towards achieving its goal by fostering a climate of innovation and stimulating economic development. As the fastest growing college at UNLV, the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering plays a vital role in promoting research, teaching, and community impact.

Among those paving the way are Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professors Erica Marti, Ryan Sherman, and Jee Woong Park. In August 2018, they were approved for two separate grants allowing them to fulfill proposed projects to conduct research on alternative water supplies and structural health monitoring systems.

Asking pressing environmental questions, these professors are working to find answers.

What do we know about alternative H20?

In face of water shortages, scientists have begun to turn to alternative water supplies (i.e. treated wastewater or stormwater) to help cities meet drinking and agricultural demands. However, using these resources has raised challenges, including concerns over the harmful effects that result from the chemical disinfection of the water. Assistant Professor and distinguished UNLV alumni Erica Marti is conducting research to uncover the effects in food, water, and health when using alternative water supplies. Her project, “RII Track-4: Advanced Techniques for Assessing Toxicity and Chemical Uptake in Plants in Water Reuse Solutions,” was awarded $189,945 by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Research studies will be conducted at George Washington University over two summers where she will spend time developing comprehensive bioassays and using LAESI-MS to monitor the chemical transformations in plants.

As Professor Marti’s research draws to a close, scientists will better understand the risks of using alternative water supplies for agriculture.

How do we measure disaster?

Seismic activity in Northern Nevada is common and poses a significant threat to infrastructure and public safety. In a joint effort, Professor Ryan Sherman and Professor Jee Woong Park were awarded $299,782 by the Nevada DOT Research Program for their project “Galena Creek Bridge Health Monitoring Instrumentation.” The project aims to design a permanent structural health monitoring system on the Galena Creek Bridge in Washoe County, Nevada capable of measuring structural response to traffic, wind, seismic, and thermal loadings. Should an earthquake occur, SHM can perform a rapid condition assessment via real-time warning messages, three-dimensional animation, and alarm notifications through SMS and emails.

As the third most seismically active state in the US, it is of vital importance that preventative measures are taken to reduce the scale of devastation. Through science and research conducted by our UNLV professors, they’re doing just that.

Congratulations to our hard-working professors for their outstanding achievements. Their continual contributions to research are a shining example of academic excellence and are helping our institution take a step further towards becoming a recognized research hub.

This article was written by undergraduate English student, Jocelyn Silva.