Sustainable Urban Water Transdisciplinary Research Program for Undergraduates

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Summer 2016 will be the first year that the Urban Water Innovation Network offers an Undergraduate Research Program (URP). Ten students will be given the opportunity to perform cutting edge, transdisciplinary research of immediate relevance to people in urban areas. Where possible, pairs of students, one in the social sciences and one in the natural sciences / engineering will be placed with a team of mentors in each of the six study regions of the Network: Front Range of Colorado, Mid-Atlantic, Tucson-Phoenix Sun corridor, South Florida, California, Pacific Northwest Cascadia.

The 2016 UWIN URP program will engage students in three strands of activities:

Cutting Edge Independent Research Projects

Working closely with mentor scientists, students will delineate a research question and hypotheses, develop and implement a project, analyze data, give an oral presentation in a formal symposium, and write a research paper.

Reflective Practice and Training Activities

Skill building workshops and seminars will support student learning. Students will participate in virtual scientific writing workshop, transdisciplinary science activities, and online sessions in ethics in natural sciences and engineering, strategies for effective presentations, and future options in study and work.

Transdisciplinary Research Activities in Urban Water Sustainability

Students will explore how to promote sustainable management of urban water systems by working with a team of disciplinary experts. Students will be encouraged to look beyond their own discipline as well. They will participate in workshops and seminars led by experts from different fields. A Forum on Opportunities in Urban Water Sustainability Research and Applications will showcase examples of natural science, engineering, and social science in action.

Students in the 2016 program will receive a stipend of $4,000 plus on-campus or nearby housing, and a food allowance of $400 for the 8 week program. Funds are available for students to get to the kickoff meeting at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Co, and from there to their research site. A small pool of funds is available to help defray the costs of travel back home for those students in need of assistance.

Projects with Meggers CHAOS team:

Urban Energy Water Nexus. Forrest Meggers, Princeton University.  One student. The built environment generates the vast majority of both energy and water demand, and the rise in urban populations has concentrated those demands in cities. These demands are intertwined in many complex ways, including the latent energy inherent to water phase change (evaporation and condensation) This is a ripe area of investigation where better characterizations and understanding can make great reductions in the environmental impact at this critical urban energy water nexus. One of the largest energy and water demands is for heating and cooling systems, and these systems are directly impacted by changes in climate. There are many overlooked opportunities to address how local energy and water conditions in urban microclimates both influence and are influenced by climate change. Building and interstitial urban spaces cause in major shifts in temperature and surface and air moisture contents. The UWIN URP student will use novel thermal imaging, distributed sensing, and energy modeling to characterize these variations for the cooling case during the summer looking at the urban fabric of the local campus at Princeton, and also in New York City and Philadelphia. The student will work with Architecture design grad students on methods to render the data in three-dimensional models, as well as developing new techniques to stitch together wide-angle views and photo-spheres of thermal images, a technology currently limited to rather narrow field-of-view lenses. Grad students in engineering and architectural technology will also assist in energy analysis and simulation to estimate and validate the impacts of the temperature and image data recorded on overall energy and water demand for energy systems. The result will be a better characterization of cooling demand and its impact on energy consumption, condensate water production, and latent energy storage and surface exchanges.


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