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Extraordinary Opportunities: PSE Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Guest blogger: Dr. Lokendra Pal

With a focus on sustainability, human health and industry 4.0 topics, a team of young Paper Science & Engineering (PSE) researchers worked diligently over the summer on interdisciplinary research projects. They demonstrated tremendous resilience and discipline during these challenging times and we’d like to highlight their accomplishments.

It was a big task to manage such a large group of REUs during the pandemic, but I put together a robust mentoring plan that included peer-to-peer interactions and support from graduate students, faculty, staff members, and industrial partners. I made sure that each of my REUs was able to reach me anytime they needed any kind of help. We held weekly group meetings, where students had the opportunity to present their research and learn from each other’s experiences. Each participant gained invaluable research experience both in terms of depth, by independently working on their assigned project, and breadth, by interacting with their peers.

By the end of the summer, every student had developed a research report. All of this would not have been possible without the strong commitment and dedication of these young researchers and amazing support from many faculty, graduate students, staff members and industrial partners.




Sustainability Champions

Kathryn Clayson

Project Title: The Trash Tragedy: Major Obstacles in Solid Waste Management and Smart Solutions
Keywords: Waste Management, Automation, Source Separation, Landfill Diversion, Sustainability, LCA
Project Description: This project aims to reduce mounds of waste going to landfills today by developing automated solutions. Sensors and RFID technology can be used to separate waste efficiently at the household level increasing composting and recycling rates.

Michael Litavecz

Project Title: Materials for 3D Printing and Sustainable Alternatives
Keywords: 3D Printing, Sustainability, Biobased Powders and Filaments, Cellulose, Lignin
Project Description: This project explores materials used in 3D printing, their environmental impacts and biobased materials alternatives.

Peter Janecek

Project Title: Single-Use Plastics Pollution and their Environmental Remediation Strategies
Keywords: Single-use Plastics Pollution, Sustainability, Industrial Applications, Sustainable Products Adoption.
Project Description: This project examines single-use plastics’ persistence within various industries and evaluates their alternatives and how to adopt them. Such alternatives include biobased products.

Seanna Miller

Project Title: Invasion of Single-Use Plastics and Microplastics in Everyday Life
Keywords: Single-Use Plastic, Plastic Pollution, Waste Management, Sustainability, Microplastics, Plastic Alternatives
Project Description: This project focuses on single-use plastics elimination with viable and sustainable alternatives, technologies, and practices, as well as the prevalence of microplastics in everyday life and the dangers associated with these minuscule particles.

James Lewis

Project Title: Prospect of Industrial Hemp Valorization in US
Keywords: Sustainable, Economics, Bioproducts, Renewable, Fibers, Industrial Hemp Production
Project Description: This project focuses on finding a sustainable, economical, practical, and effective use for hemp hurd waste biomass in bioproducts and biochemicals

Mason Broadway

Project Title: Industrial Hemp Fibers Development for Hygiene and Other Applications
Keywords: Hemp Fibers, Green Chemistry, Tissue and Hygiene, Packaging, Molded Products, Sustainability
Project Description: This project focuses on quantifying process and application inputs and outputs for industrial hemp production and applications in bioproducts such as tissue and hygiene and others.

Human Health Champions

Bennett Surrett

Project Title: Innovation in Discrete and Sustainable Feminine Hygiene Products
Keywords: Menstrual Cup; Bacterial Nanocellulose; Human Health; Discrete
Project Description: This project focuses on producing a biocompatible, sustainable, and discrete menstrual cup by utilizing cellulose and nanocellulose materials via FDM 3D printing and mold casting.

Heaven Davis

Project Title: Advances in Feminine Hygiene Products Sustainability and Test Methodology
Keywords: Hygiene Products, Test Development, Sustainability, Human Health
Project Description: This project focuses on feminine hygiene products design and testing with sustainable and low cost alternatives.

Kaitlyn Pittman

Project Title: Surface Modifications to Repel Coronavirus and Molecular Modeling
Keywords: Spike Glycoprotein, Aerosol, Surface Stability, Temperature, Relative Humidity, pH, Nanoparticles
Project Description: SARS-CoV-2 spreads via droplets and aerosols that land on surfaces, exposing people to the dangerous virus. This project focuses on the virus’s surface stability, possible surface modifications to repel the virus, and molecular modeling to identify effective solutions.

Tyler Warlow

Project Title: Surfaces and Environmental Study to Repel Coronavirus
Keywords: SARS-Cov-2, Nanoparticles, Surface Coatings, Silica, Spike Glycoprotein, Antiviral
Project Description: This project aims to examine the environmental stability of SARS-CoV-2 on various surfaces and methods to potentially repel/attract the virus.

Michael Tozer

Project Title: Critical Review of Antimicrobial Technologies for Food Packaging
Keywords: Ready To Eat, Antimicrobial, Food Treatment, Nanoparticles, Food Safety
Project Description: Ready To Eat (RTE) foods are a vector of transmission for illnesses. This study summarizes various treatments for food products and proposes an experiment for developing bio-based films for use on meat products with the study of their mechanical, antimicrobial, and application-based traits.

Devin Wyatt

Project Title: Panicked and Unprepared: The Shortcomings of Facemasks Employed in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Keywords: COVID-19, Respirator, N95, Sustainability, Ergonomics, Human Health
Project Description: This project seeks to evaluate the performance, ergonomics, price, manufacturing, sustainability, and wearability of face masks used in the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a more comfortable, affordable, sustainable, and biodegradable face mask.

Industry 4.0 Champions

Trevor Hinshaw

Project Title: Development of Digital Twin Model of Wolfpack Baby paper machine
Key words: Simulation; Mathematical Modeling; Paper Machine; Lean Six Sigma
Project Description: This project seeks to develop simulation tools and digital twin model of the paper machine for effective learning in the classroom.

Ian Peterson

Project Title: Data Archiving and Visualization to Create a Better Learning Experience
Key Words: Data Archiving, Data Analysis, Data Visualization, Cloud, Industry 4.0
Project Description: This project focuses on developing effective data archiving and visualization strategies for the Pilot Paper Machine and how we can use the many different features to create a better learning experience for students.

Kyle Broadbelt

Project Title: Industry 4.0: Recent Technological Advancements and Opportunities for the Pulp and Paper Industry
Keywords: Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing, Sensors, Pulp and Paper Industry, Digital Technologies
Project Description: This project seeks to analyze digital technologies, specifically sensors, within the paper industry, where there are opportunities for improvement in terms of cost, safety, and reliability.

John Bedard

Project Title: IIoT: Sensing Technologies for Industrial Process Automation
Keywords: Process Automation, Controllers, Sensors, Wireless, Optimization, Industry 4.0
Project Description: This project focuses on sensors and process automation for the pilot paper machine to enhance energy efficiency.

Rukmini Arcot 

Project Title: Multivariate Analysis and Modeling of Big Data from Paper Machine
Keywords: Multivariate Analysis, Principal Component Analysis, Clustering Analysis, Multivariate Regression, Artificial Neural Network, Advanced Process Control

Project Description: This project evaluates multivariate analysis methods and explores their practical application on a real mill’s data set.

Tanner Evans

Project Title: Multivariate Analysis and Modeling of Big Data from Paper Machine

Keywords: Multivariate Analysis, Principal Component Analysis, Clustering Analysis, Multivariate Regression, Artificial Neural Network, Advanced Process Control

Project Description: This project evaluates multivariate analysis methods and explores their practical application on a real mill’s data set.

Peter Gough

Project Title: Intelligent Tools to Enhance Worker Safety During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
Keywords: COVID-19, Proximity Sensor, Thermography, Contact Tracing, Influenza-Like Illness, Social Distancing, Personal Protective Equipment
Project Description:This project focuses on the overview of the viruses and at-risk groups, outlining specific methods ranging from proximity sensors to thermal cameras to help protect an area from or mitigate the spread of infectious disease, specifically COVID-19.

A very special thanks to:

Dr. Med Byrd, Dr. Lucian Lucia, Dr. Hasan Jameel, Dr. Melissa Pasquinelli, Dr. Martin Hubbe, Dr. Richard Venditti, Jennifer Piercy, Paula Harrod, Brittany Hayes, Michele Serrano, Barbara White, Melissa Rabil, Dr. Sachin Agate, Samaher Salem, Heather Starkey, Erica Trump from OSIsoft, Dr. Anand Singh from IBM, Tim Shope from Avid Solutions, Clay Campbell from Kemira Chemicals, Brian Mock from ECS, Evan Musten from IBS Paper Performance Group, the Department of Forest Biomaterials, PSE Pulp and Paper Foundation, the Provost’s Professional Experience Program (PEP), the College of Natural Resources, BioResources Journal, the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), Bill & Belinda Gates Foundation (BMGF),  International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and many more for their direct and indirect support of our program.