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01-14-2008

Six Clarkson Students Selected for Albany Undergraduate Research Exposition

Six Clarkson University students are among only 70 statewide who have been selected to participate in the inaugural "Independent Sector Undergraduate Research Exposition" January 22 at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, N.Y.

The one-day event will bring together college students, faculty, and New York State legislators to showcase high quality research posters. In addition to the display of student work, special presentations will take place during the day and a book with descriptions of the research projects will be provided to the legislators.

Czajkowski's research, performed with Prof. Kenneth D. Visser of the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, is evaluating the feasibility of novel vertical axis wind turbine using contra-rotating rotors as a means to supplement home heating requirements. A preliminary economic analysis has shown that it could be cost-effective for a homeowner to heat one's home using a wind-powered heating system and that this could reduce the estimated $2,246/year that the average household in the Northeast spends on heat. If the results of testing on the turbine look promising, a homeowner easily could install the CR-VAWT powered heating system on their property and reduce the cost of heating their home.

Vokaty's research, performed with Prof. Laura E. Ettinger, and Prof. Christopher C. Robinson of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, shows that the influence of a state-regulated, closed primary is preferable to a loosely followed open primary because of the positive effect it has on the voter and state politics. Vokaty compares Minnesota's open primary, which maintains the caucus/convention system, and New York State's closed primary, in which candidates for the general election are elected in a primary. Her research shows that New York's system, which turned out 10% more registered voters in 2006 than in 1950, is a better illustration of a public election process than Minnesota, where the primary turned out only 3% of registered voters in 2006. Vokaty's research demonstrates that Minnesota's open primary, which gives more power to parties than voters, and allows for cross-over voting, is the opposite of what primary election legislation attempted to do.

Watkin's research, performed at Dalian University of Technology in China with Prof. Ji Shunying, was a numerical simulation of sea ice rheology with granular flow dynamics. A granular flow model was implemented to simulate sea ice floe in the marginal ice zone of the Bohai Sea on the coast of northeastern China. Water and wind drag, Coriolis effects, gravity and ice interaction forces govern the floe dynamics. A soft particle, viscous-elastic-plastic (VEP) contact model represents the ice interaction forces. The plastic region of the contact model simulates ridging effects and allows the particle size and thickness to vary as the floe progresses. Satellite imagery and field data were used to simulate ice dynamics in the Bohai Sea.

Buchheit's research, performed with Prof. Ruth E. Baltus of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, studied the effect of water and light alcohols on the viscosity of a variety of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs). An RTIL is an organic salt that remains in a liquid state over a wide range of temperatures near room temperature. Because these liquids have no vapor pressure, they may provide a 'green' replacement for conventional volatile organic solvents. By replacing conventional solvents with RTILs, the need for protective breathing gear is eliminated and the worry about vapor releases no longer needs to be addressed. In order to develop industrial applications that utilize RTILs, physical and chemical property data must be known; but the current understanding of RTIL properties is limited. Buchheit's findings suggest a dramatic decrease in viscosity as a result of the addition of water and other light alcohols to an RTIL. Buchheit also found that RTILs containing specific anions were more sensitize to changes in viscosity than others.

The opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in state-of-the-art, faculty-mentored research projects is part of Clarkson University's commitment to providing real-world, hands-on learning experiences. Students gain experience in critical thinking and the skills needed to tackle open-ended problems. They also gain insights into career opportunities and enhance their professional credentials for future employment or advanced degree programs.

The Undergraduate Research Exposition is sponsored by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu), which represents the chief executives of New York's 100+ independent (private, not-for-profit) colleges and universities on issues of public policy. Member colleges compose the largest private sector of higher education in the world and confer most of the bachelor's degrees (56%), master's degrees (74%), and doctoral and first-professional degrees (81%) earned in New York State.

Clarkson University President Tony Collins is the vice-chair of cIcu's board of trustees.

Clarkson University crosses the boundaries of disciplines, nations and cultures in order for discovery, engineering innovation and enterprise to come together. As a result, faculty and graduates grasp the full impact of their calling, direct their research to the world's pressing issues and lead with confidence and distinction. One in seven alumni is already a CEO or other senior executive. Located in Potsdam, N.Y., just outside the six-million-acre Adirondack Park, Clarkson is home to 3,000 students preparing for rewarding careers through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, science, and health sciences, as well as unparalleled outdoor recreation and life experiences beyond the classroom.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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