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Spring 2019 Research Projects

Stability of Amyloid Structures

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Tamunoemi O. Braide and Hunter Shearer

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Qing Shao, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Kentucky

Abstract: Amyloid structured peptides are responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease, a brain degenerative ailment and type II Diabetes. These proteins form a beta-sheet structure that makes the peptide very stable, especially in the human body environment. This research hopes to go a step closer to identifying which terminal or chain interaction is weaker in certain solutions of varying salt concentrations and temperatures using Molecular Dynamic Simulations. Data collected from the Molecular Dynamic Simulations will be used to calculate and compare the residue-residue interaction energy to pinpoint the strength and weak points of the peptide structure. This research will be beneficial to Medicine by replicating the conditions of the amyloid peptide dissociation during further treatment.

Improving the Awareness and Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease Using Computer-Aided Techniques

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Michelle Imarah and Lily Sutton

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Corey E. Baker, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Kentucky

Graduate Student Collaborator: Esther Max-Onakpoya, Ph.D. Student

Abstract: Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects the movement of the human body. It is marked by the death of neurons in the substantia nigra, causing a decrease in dopamine production. Susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease can vary depending on age, gender and ethnicity.

Early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease has been shown to slow down disease progression, reduce the extent of symptoms, diminish the rate of deterioration of patient quality of life, and reduce the cost of care. However, early diagnosis is very difficult, as most of its symptoms, such as tremors, rigidity, posture control and bradykinesia, are not unique to the disease. Unfortunately, this allows the disease to progress and worsen, resulting in further neuronal loss along with loss of motor functions.

Hence, the goal of this research is to create a diagnostic toolkit that would aid in early diagnosis of Parkinson’s. This toolkit uses a series of tests to analyze a patient’s posture, speech, handwriting, changes in walking, blinking and tremors. The results from the toolkit will be used to determine a patient’s likelihood of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. The toolkit would also leverage current technology as it will be presented as a self-diagnostic test that will be available for use on tablet devices thereby giving patients another way, other than visiting a doctor, to assess their risk of having Parkinson’s Disease.

Origami-Inspired Additive Manufacturing: Architectural Aerodynamics in Hurricane Wind Loads

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Morgan Baumann and Christopher Wheatley

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mariantonieta Gutierrez Soto, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Kentucky

Graduate Student Collaborator: Amanda Bellamy and Jonathan Boustani

Abstract: Hurricanes and natural disasters are among the largest construction challenges today. Providing an infinite amount of possibilities, origami-inspired structures can be applied to many complicated situations. By taking dynamic building envelopes designed using origami and kirigami principles, a more comprehensive structure can be built to sustain impacts by high winds. In this study, the aerodynamics of three different origami-inspired structures were analyzed. Although the use of origami itself may make the structure more aerodynamic, there is an unknown optimization for aerodynamic properties. Polymer designs were created using additive manufactured techniques, and models of varying sizes of each structure were printed and were tested in a wind tunnel. Structures were tested at a zero-degree angle and a forty-five-degree angle, allowing for testing of wind hitting directly on a side of each structure and on a corner of each structure. By combining a wind tunnel for small-scale simulation of hurricane conditions and computational analysis for full-scale buildings, a comparison can be made to find differences between experimental and computational data. By increasing the number of facets at an angle to wind flow, and decreasing the size of the facets, the size of the body direct to wind flow can be minimized and wind resistance can be decreased.

Machining and its Effects on Final Material Properties

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Trevor Nienaber

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Julius Schoop, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Kentucky

Abstract: During machining, a part undergoes immense forces that can alter its material properties and grain structure. Having the ability to accurately predict these changes prior to machining can vastly increase the efficiency of any process by eliminating the need for post-processing to obtain the desired material properties.

This research aims to develop more accurate models to aid in the prediction of material properties.  A high-speed camera will be used to observe the behavior of the material at the cutting zone using various tool heads to develop a deeper understanding of how each tool affects the material properties. These models will enable manufacturers to better determine what process and tool to use to get as close as possible to the final desired material properties eliminating the need for extensive post-processing.

Plastic Pollution in Kampala, Uganda based on Residential and Commercial Building Count

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Caleb Duckworth and Fernando Molina, Paducah Campus

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jeffery Seay, PJC Board of Trustees Engineering Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Kentucky Paducah Campus

Abstract: Developing countries like Uganda struggle with ways to clean up trash that accumulates all over the country. This results in trash piling up on the streets, at citizen's homes, and in our oceans. Overall, many developing countries suffer from major plastic pollution problems, however in response, plastic to fuel process has been developed to help tackle this growing issue. Before this technology can be implemented though, research must be conducted identifying the best possible locations to put the plastic to fuel contraption. Using high-resolution photography, the goal is to locate areas that suffer more heavily from the plastic pollution problem in Kampala, Uganda. Using the high-resolution images, the hope is to ascertain the residential and commercial building counts in Kampala, then there will be a determination to identify where there are more heavily populated areas that would output more plastic pollution. This will then allow for the determination of the best areas in which plastic to fuel-process would be most effective and beneficial. This is all in the hopes of relieving the problem of plastic pollution that is hindering Kampala’s land.

Layering Structure Formation in Ionic Liquids at Ionic Liquid/Vacuum Interface

Undergraduate Research Scholars: Austin Haley and Tadd Ausenbaugh, Paducah Campus

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sergiy Markutsya, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Kentucky Paducah Campus

Graduate Student Collaborator: Tyler Stoffel

Abstract: When Ionic liquids are introduced in a vacuum interface, it is observed that ionic liquid follows certain structuring. Understanding this structure is important for determining the properties of the ionic liquid. Calculations are performed to determine this structure. However, traditional calculations often neglect friction, which causes an error in determining dynamic properties. Applying the molecular modeling simulation approach for coarse-grain molecules will predict accurate structure and dynamics, because the simulations constantly model frictions and forcefields. Ideally, this structure will accurately match the structure and dynamics found through experimentation. Being able to accurately produce larynx structures and predict dynamics through simulation will aid application of ionic liquids across various projects, such as using ionic liquids to solve current limitations found in lithium-ion batteries, and in aerospace applications.