Institute Research

The Institute’s goal is to help identify and build on key research themes in STEM education for which Georgia Southern University will become nationally recognized. We will build on the strengths in STEM research and STEM education at our university to create regional/national/international research collaboration that are funded through external grants. View collaborations with the Institute here and funded programs here.

Examples of Interdisciplinary STEM Research at Georgia Southern University:

Cooling residential attics with a metal roof and thermal barrier assembly

Arpit Patel – undergrad exhibit / Marcel Maghiar adviser

Attic temperatures in residential homes can be up to 20 Degrees F to 30 Degrees F hotter than ambient temperatures. Changing the methods of installation can reduce the difference in temperatures and reduce the energy needed to cooling costs. The primary climate this research will be based is on the coastal regions of Georgia and Florida which are prone to high summer temperatures. Traditional roofing shingle or metal panel is directly attached to the plywood with only a water barrier. The main change to the traditional methods of installation would be to use a metal or shingle roof with a thermal barrier between the plywood and the panels. Adding the insulation will reduce the thermal conduction between the attic and roofing panel. The major aspect will be to select an insulation that can withstand extreme temperatures and be cost effective to install. Lower attic temperatures will correlate to lower temperatures in the house and therefore reduce cooling costs, saving also energy in the respective communities.
Cooling Residential Attics

Investigation of Trihalomethane Formation Potential (THMFP) of Filtrates from PreBiofilters in Surface Waters

Tommy Brown – grad exhibit /George Fu adviser; David Williams co-adviser.

Trihalomethanes (THMs) are formed during the disinfection process when a chlorine-containing disinfectant combines with organic matter in the water, forming a disinfection by-product (DBP). Trihalomethanes are regulated DBPs that are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be probable human carcinogens. Along the coastal regions of Georgia the Upper Floridan Aquifer has become over utilized, resulting in significant drawdown and even saltwater intrusion. Permitting restrictions and regulations has caused these areas to start looking into other alternatives such as using surface water for industrial and domestic usage. This study aims to investigate the pretreatment of surface water by biological filtration using biological granular activated carbon (GAC) filters (PreBiofilters) as a supplement to conventional surface water treatment processes. A study completed by Dr. George Fu along with continued research by Mr. Tommy Brown shows that the PreBioFilters are promising pretreatment methods to lower TOC/DOC turbidity and color in surface water. However, the direct objective of the research is the potential of using these PreBiofilters to lower or eliminate trihalomethane formation potentials (THMFPs). The study results show that PreBiofilters can remove THMFP from raw water by about 20-60%.

Investigation of Trihalomethan Formation Potential

Color Removal from Pulp Mill Effluent Using Coal Ash Produced from Georgia Coal Combustion Power Plants

Christopher Willet – grad exhibit /George Fu adviser

Georgia Power Company (GPC) has a number of coal combustion power plants. They generate large quantities of coal ash every year. It is necessary to investigate beneficial uses of coal ash in environmental engineering. On the other hand, the pulp and paper sector is one dominant industry in Georgia. They discharge a large volume of brown colored effluent each year. The brown colored effluent makes water aesthetically unpleasing, affects water transparency and gas solubility in water bodies, and may affect aquatic life. Color from pulp mill effluent must be removed. It will be an ideal solution to use wasted coal ash to remove color from pulp mill effluent, which are two serious regional, national and global environmental problems. In the proposed project, coal ash from coal combustion power plants of (GPC) will be used to remove color from pulp mill effluent produced in Georgia. The objective of the project is to determine if coal ash can effectively remove color from pulp mill effluent in a laboratory setting. The project will include batch adsorption study and continually operated column study.

Color Removal from Pulp Mill Effulent

Structural Analysis of Biological Material

Cory Glasner, Scott Hippert & Matthew Rewis – undergrad exhibit / Shaowen Xu & Aniruddha Mitra advisers

Biological materials have significant influence in the design of structural materials. Over time these materials have proven themselves to be structurally ideal and sustainable for the environmental conditions they are subjected to. Bamboo is a biological material that is ideally designed to fit its environment. It is a composite material that is reinforced by disk shaped knuckles that act as rigid supports. A three point bending experiment was performed on bamboo to analyze the effect of the knuckles. A test was performed on the bamboo both with and without knuckles. It was repeated with various types of Bamboo. The Young’s Modulus was found to be 5-6% higher with the knuckles. A model is being created in ANSYS to simulate this effect using FEA. Future study will involve creating synthetic composite materials to replicate this effect.

Structural Analysis of Bilogical Material

Experimental Study of Methyl Oleate as a Surrogate Fuel for Biodiesel, in a Direct Injection Diesel Engine

Martin Muinos – undergrad & Jabeous Weaver – grad exhibit / Valentin Soloiu adviser

This study evaluates the combustion and emissions characteristics of methyl oleate (C19H36O2 CAS# 112-62) produced by transesterification from oleic acid, one of the main fatty acid components of biodiesel. The ignition delay of ultra-low sulfur diesel#2 (ULSD) and its blends with methyl oleate (O20-O50), varied between 6.5-9.7 CAD, depending on speed, at constant load of 8 bar IMEP (100% load). The CN was 47 for ULSD and increased up to 51 for O50, which resulted in the start of combustion’s premixed phase being advanced by about 2 CAD while reducing the maximum apparent heat release of about 30%. The combustion duration varied in the range of about 56-67 CAD and the maximum total heat flux rate, presented values from 4.2 to 5.5 MW/m2, which correlate well with the increase of the convection flux because of the speed increase. The maximum cycle temperature was in the range of 2500K for the speeds from 1200 to 1800 rpm for both fuels. The mechanical efficiency decreased from 83% to 77% by increasing the speed from 1200 to 1800 rpm, while the thermal efficiency was around 33.5% for methyl oleate blends and reduced by 0.5% compared with ULSD. NOx displayed a maximum reduction of 20% for O50, and the unburned hydrocarbons (UHC) remained constant irrespective of speed or methyl oleate content. Soot emissions show low values for all fuels and maintain almost constant for all methyl oleate concentration, with a slight increase for O50 at 1200 rpm. The results suggest that methyl oleate has favorable combustion characteristics and is similar with that of ULSD, further supporting the investigations of methyl oleate as a surrogate for biodiesel.

Experimental Study of Methyl Oleate

Polyisocyanurate Insulation Sizing Selection and Simulation for Optimization of Electrical Power Savings for an Average House across the United States

Julia Christian, Tyler Hodgson, Tyler Mathis, Alejandro Rivero-Castillo & Christopher Sanderson – undergrad exhibit / Valentin Soloiu adviser

The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the optimum wall insulation thickness for house walls in the different climates of four states across the United States. By testing in-home climate variations based on each chosen region with a selected insulation thickness using the climate simulation software eQuest, parameters for insulation were predetermined. A house with a typical 2,500 ft2 floor plan was used as the test subject for this simulation. The house is based on a common single family floor plan with 4 bedrooms. The floor plan was selected due to its similarity to single-family residences around the Statesboro, Georgia area. Four identical houses were placed in different regions of the United States: The Pacific Northwest was represented by Portland, Oregon, the Southwest by Los Angeles, California, the Southeast by Atlanta, Georgia, and the Northeast by Boston, Massachusetts. In each location, the energy usage was simulated with three different thicknesses of insulation constructed from Polyisocyanurate; one inch (R-7), two inches (R-14), and three inches (R-21). Appliances were based on qualifications outlined by Energy Star in order to ensure a minimum impact on the effects of the insulation. The discrepancies in the climate of each region were the key factors in determining the amount of insulation necessary for cost and energy efficiency for each combination of home and insulation. Economic feasibility of insulation in each region was examined based upon the actual electrical cost savings achieved with each type of insulation. After completing the simulation, the cost and energy efficiency associated with each insulation type was determined on an annual basis. This simulation can be used as a starting point for families looking to choose the most effective, yet financially efficient insulation for their homes. This process can be especially beneficial to the Statesboro community in satisfying peaking interests in more environmentally friendly solutions for construction purposes.

Polyisocyanurate Insulation

Performance Analysis of Cottonseed Biodiesel

Sherwin Davoud – Statesboro HS exhibit, Tyler Mathis – undergrad exhibit / Jim Lobue & Valentin Soloiu advisers

One of Georgia’s Major agricultural exports is cotton and a byproduct of this process is large quantities of cottonseed. Because cottonseed is not a food crop, there is technically a plentiful supply of cottonseed oil usable for transesterification without interfering with food. Making biodiesel from crude cottonseed oil is difficult because transesterification doesn’t take place properly. Understanding the physical properties of the Methyl esters resulting from cottonseed transesterification is important for the future use of that fuel in Georgia. The purpose of this study was to analyze the performance and physical properties of cottonseed biodiesel To accomplish this, numerous tests were undertaken to determine the chemical and physical properties of cottonseed biodiesel. Hypothesis: Cottonseed biodiesel will be a viable replacement for diesel fuel due to its similar properties and the ease of crude acquisition.


Piloting a Service-Learning Option in Pre-Service Teachers’ Field Experience

Nancy McBride Arrington, PhD

This poster presents a pilot project in which pre-service teacher candidates enrolled in an introductory curriculum course in an Early Childhood Education (ECED) program were given opportunity to participate in a service-learning option in their field experience. The objective of the session is to investigate service-learning as a viable method to cultivate deeper understandings of course objectives, and to examine how a service-learning course can advance students “from a participant in this credit-bearing project to an intrinsically-motivated-oriented citizen” (Georgia Southern University, Service-Learning Course Designation Form, 2012).

Piloting a S-L Option-Poster-Arrington

Last updated: 7/14/2016

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Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education PO Box 8090 Statesboro, GA 30460 (912) 478-8650