Rayan Hassane Assaad

Civil Engineering

DATE: Tuesday, May 11, 2021

TIME: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

LOCATION: https://umsystem.zoom.us/j/92152755508?pwd=Y0FLKzBEL1NUR3ArUVpDdjFqb21Pdz09

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Islam H. El-adaway

DISSERTATION TITLE: Innovative Management and Modeling of Infrastructure Systems, Engineering and Construction Operations, and Offsite Construction Technology Using Computational Analytics


The construction industry has been facing considerable challenges due to the inadequacy of the traditional methods in executing, managing, and modeling infrastructure and construction projects. While many techniques have been developed to improve the decision-making process in the industry, there is no evidence of sufficient and continuous improvements in the industry’s adoption and implementation of innovative techniques as related to new management approaches, modern modeling methods, and emerging computational analytics. To this end, the goal of this research is to address some of the recent challenges faced in the industry with a focus on infrastructure asset management, construction engineering and management operations, and offsite construction technology. The research goals and objectives were achieved through multiple management, modeling, and computational analytical methods; including artificial intelligence and supervised machine learning algorithms, mathematical and risk modeling, statistical and multivariate time series analysis, clustering techniques and unsupervised data mining algorithms, and surveys and industry panel meetings. The research has numerous intellectual merits, methodological contributions, and practical implications as it addresses critical research areas that have not been investigated before and strengthens areas which needed in-depth examination and further advancements. The findings, outcomes, and conclusions of this research will contribute in further improving the cost, time, productivity, and safety considerations in the industry; leveraging innovative management, modeling, and computational analytics in infrastructure and construction projects; devising data-driven decision-making processes, and administrating and preparing the workforce of the future.

Yaqi Zhu


DATE: Tuesday, May 11, 2021

TIME: 11am-1pm

LOCATION: https://umsystem.zoom.us/j/95021092873?pwd=OEVJTlhFa1lneXd4TGU3QVh5NUk3dz09

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Jonghyun Park



Lithium ion batteries are one of the most promising energy storage systems for portable devices, transportation, and renewable grids. To meet the increasing requirements of these applications, higher energy and power density, long cycle life, low-cost and enhanced safety for lithium ion battery (LIBs) are urgently needed. Interfacial phenomena are critically important for battery performance and operation, therefore, battery engineering involves nano/micro-scale engineering, such as ultra-thin coating, which directly modify the interfacial physics, and three-dimensional (3D) structured electrodes, which effectively change the overall interfacial reaction sites. These techniques are advanced and efficient in improving the interfacial properties in batteries. However, the fundamental mechanism, optimal design, and their connection to cell level performance are not known. Model-based optimization is an effective tool to get a deep understanding of these techniques and reveal their mechanism. Furthermore, it provides insights on how to effectively control battery operations, such as charging. In particular, an extreme fast charging requires a careful operating condition to avoid polarization and serious cell degradation induced by side reactions such as Li plating and solid interphase layer (SEI) formation and growth. This work focuses on studying the interfacial phenomena in advanced battery engineering techniques and developing a new charging algorithm by model-based optimization. The research topics are divided into six topics and each topic is reported as a form of journal publication. The first topic provides a new aspect of how ALD coating improves the lithium ion diffusion at electrode particles. The second topic explains the mechanisms by which 3D electrodes enhance battery performance and reveals guidelines for optimized 3D electrode designs by a 3D electrochemical-mechanical battery model. The third topic investigates the electrolyte concentration impact on SEI layer growth and Li plating, especially under high charge rates. The fourth topic proposes an optimized charging protocol for fast charging which is based on controlling Li plating current via a full order electrochemical model. This protocol effectively reduces the charging time with minimal degradation. The fifth topic reports a comprehensive degradation model which includes SEI layer growth and Li plating at anode, and Mn dissolution at cathode. This model is designed for degradation estimation and life predication of energy storage system (ESS). The sixth topic is a study of temperature-dependent state of charge (SOC) estimation for battery pack. 

Ke Li

Chemical Engineering

DATE: Tuesday, May 11, 2021

TIME: 1:00 pm

LOCATION: https://umsystem.zoom.us/j/99890210184?pwd=YSsxaCtVNm10MGJVSFc1V0t4M2w0UT09

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Daniel Forciniti

DISSERTATION TITLE: Studies on Protein Solubility


Solubility is a critical factor of protein-based drugs during processing and patient administration.  Proteins have 4 level structures that contribute to solubility to different degrees. The surface charge, a glycan group, and a proper buried hydrophobic core are important to maintain protein solubility. This study focused on two aspects of solubility: one was the poly (ethylene) glycol (PEG) precipitation of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and another was crystallins aggregation that is associated with cataracts. Protein precipitation by PEG, which lowers the protein solublity, is a common technique for downstream processing. The effects of pH, ionic strength and depletion force on the protein precipitation by PEG were extensively studied, but the effects of glycosylation on protein has not been examined. The protein aggregation is not only a problem in downstream processing, but it is also related to diseases. In 2015, lanosterol and 25-hydroxycholesterol were reported to dissolve protein aggregates in cataract lenses. Researchers focused on dissolution of lens protein aggregates, but the effects of those two sterols on the formation of aggregates were not investigated. The objectives of this dissertation were: 1) to determine the role of glycosylation in the precipitation of mAbs by PEG, and 2) to study the effects of lanosterol and 25-hydroxycholesterol on the α-crystallin aggregation. The glycosylated mAbs showed higher solubility than non-glycosylated mAbs. However, the available solubility models cannot correlate the effect of glycosylation. The lanosterol and 25-hydroxycholesterol failed to prevent α-crystallin aggregation. A concentration of 125μM of the two sterols promoted the aggregation of α-crystallin and of the α/γ complex possible by serving as nucleation sites. The secondary and tertiary structures of α-crystallin were not affected upon adding the two sterols. The α-crystallin chaperon activity and the capacity of binding with Cu2+ were not affected either.


Adriane Melnyczuk

Petroleum Engineering

DATE: Tuesday, May 11, 2021

TIME: 1:00 - 3:00 pm

LOCATION: https://umsystem.zoom.us/j/97437126981?pwd=ZlhTM0ZjMncrZ0dwT1drZ1djem1Pdz09

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Ralph E. Flori



Preformed particle gels are an established group of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies which requires further development to extend their polymer chemistry, gel properties, and customization for conformance control applications in oil reservoirs. This work introduces a novel monomer-comonomer combination in the polymer gel system N,N-dimethylacrylamide-N-(hydroxymethyl)acrylamide (DMAA-HMA), and a newly developed methodology—the screening process (SP) and the boundary finder method (BFM)— for developing, modifying, and extensive assessment of new preformed particle gel polymer systems. The successful creation and application of the SP-BFM methodology in three sequential stages of iterative development led to the formulation of two polymer gel subsystems and four new millimeter-size gel product series in the DMAA-HMA polymer gel system. Each was developed and customized under the SP-BFM methodology to five properties: dissolvability, and resistance to temperature, pH, salinity, and CO2. These new products are expected to excel in conformance control applications for mature carbonate reservoirs. The new DMAA-HMA gel system is highly customizable and capable of further modification through a "convergence stage" to generate a product series with high gel strength and self-healing ability, a highly desirable property combination for conformance control applications. The SP-BFM is widely applicable and can be utilized in future work to new polymer gel systems, providing an innovational pathway for evolving preformed particle gel technology to target a breadth of conformance related problems in oil reservoirs.

Ryan Norbo Honerkamp

Civil Engineering

DATE: Thursday, May 13, 2021

TIME: 8:00 - 10:00 am

LOCATION: https://umsystem.zoom.us/j/96222696832?pwd=ZUlzdm4rQ1BWZHUyQXdmMnBWZmtnUT09

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Guirong (Grace) Yan

DISSERTATION TITLE: Reveal Wind Loading of Tornadoes and Hurricanes on Civil Structures Towards Hazard-Resistant Design


Extreme winds impacting civil structures lead to death and destruction in all regions of the world. Specifically, tornadoes and hurricanes impact communities with severe devastation. On average, 1200 tornadoes occur in the United States every year. Tornadoes occur predominantly in the Central and Southeastern United States, accounting for an annual $1 billion in economic losses, 1500 injuries, and 90 deaths. The Joplin, MO Tornado in 2011 killed 161 people, injured more than 1000, destroyed more than 8000 structures, and caused $2.8 billion of property loss. Hurricanes occur predominantly on the United States East coast regions and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, accounting for $21.2 billion in economic losses and 159 deaths on average each year ($19.4 billion per event). Data has shown that hurricanes have stricken coastal cities more frequently and more intensely. In 2020, 30 named storms formed in the Atlantic Ocean and 13 of them have progressed into hurricanes. The goal of this research is to investigate the true loadings of extreme winds on civil structures in order to design safer buildings and communities. To accomplish this goal, research has been conducted to properly model these winds using physical and numerical simulation (chiefly computational fluid dynamics simulation), investigate the wind characteristics of extreme winds, and determine how these winds impact civil structures (wind effects), which is required to conduct a hazard-resistant design.

Kailun Ba


DATE: Thursday, May 13, 2021

TIME: 10 am

LOCATION: https://umsystem.zoom.us/j/99557983135?pwd=a3dNbmxYMDlxRm9ZOTFRdTRLWUpaQT09

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Stephen S. Gao



The Australian continent is composed the of Precambrian cratons in the west and Phanerozoic orogens in the east. Despite numerous seismological studies, controversies remain regarding the structure, evolution, and dynamics of the crust and mantle beneath Australia. In this study, we used two techniques, receiver functions and shear wave splitting analyses, to investigate the topography of the mantle transition zone (MTZ) discontinuities and mantle seismic azimuthal anisotropy, respectively. We utilized P-to-S receiver functions to map the 410 and 660 km discontinuities bordering the MTZ. The discontinuity depths obtained show a systematic apparent uplifting for both discontinuities in central and western Australia. The abnormally thick MTZ beneath eastern Australia can be adequately explained by subducted cold slabs in the MTZ. A localized normal thickness of the MTZ beneath the Newer Volcanics Province provides supporting evidence of a non-mantle-plume origin for the intraplate volcanic activities. Application of the shear wave splitting technique revealed systematic spatial variations of seismic azimuthal anisotropy. The South Australian Craton and the orogenic belt north of it possess strong E-W oriented lithospheric anisotropy, while absolute plate motion (APM) induced N-S oriented anisotropy dominates in the North Australian Craton. The western, southern, and eastern margins of the continent are dominated by root-deflected mantle flow. The relative strength and approximate orthogonality of the APM induced anisotropy and frozen-in lithospheric fabrics provide a viable explanation for the puzzling observation of pervasive existence of weak and spatially variable azimuthal anisotropy in this fast moving continent.  

Anshika Kalra


DATE: Thursday, May 13, 2021

TIME: 10 am - 12 pm

LOCATION: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82780605090?pwd=YnIrMUx0QW9TYzlGSGlZeFFrcVNaQT09

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Pericles Stavropoulos

DISSERTATION TITLE: Development of Tripodal and Bipodal Ligand Frameworks and First-Row Transition Metal Reagents for Selective C–N Bond Construction Methodologies


We present a family of anionic Mn(II) reagents supported by trisphenylamido-amine framework that offer guidance with regards to ligand selection for developing C─N bond construction methodologies (extensively used in the synthesis of petrochemicals, household chemicals) through nitrene- transfer chemistry. We subsequently extend the study to include the corresponding Fe(II), Co(II), and Ni(II) reagents, to gain insights in their comparative reactivity/selectivity patterns. Attenuated levels of electrophilicity of anionic complexes proved to be more suitable for discriminating aromatic from aliphatic olefins for aziridination purposes, especially for Mn(II) complexes. However, in the case of Co(II) reagents, we observe that additional stereoelectronic parameters can occasionally override the electron-affinity of the metal nitrene as the sole guiding force, which is established as the dominant factor for Mn(II) complexes. Indeed, cobalt nitrene species are more likely to transfer oxidizing equivalents to the ligand, and thus possess reactivity pattern that are more nuanced than those encountered with Mn or Fe. We conclude from experimental and computational investigations that carboradical intermediates are generated by initial rate-determining nitrene-addition to one of the olefinic carbons followed by fast ring closure to form the aziridine, with rates that largely depend on the ligand and metal choice.

This study was extended to start exploring intermolecular aziridinations of alkenes catalyzed by metal reagents (Cu, Ag) supported by the same triphenyl amine ligand but with rigid cyclic guanidinyl arms possessing chiral elements. Guanidines are known as powerful organic bases and act as organocatalysts in a variety of asymmetric organic synthetic reactions. In this study, we synthesized a series of cyclic chiral guanidinyl precursors and corresponding metal reagents which proved to have good reactivity, but still modest enantioselectivities, in the aziridination of styrenes. These results are expected to provide insights for further catalyst development.

Ashutosh Shrivastava

Geology and Geophysics

DATE: Friday, May 14, 2021

TIME: 9:30 am

LOCATION: https://umsystem.zoom.us/j/96866487610?pwd=OFBFcFFpNVY1R1AwTnJaeXhaanFIdz09

ADVISOR(S): Dr. Kelly H. Liu

DISSERTATION TITLE: Spatial Variations of Teleseismic P-wave Attenuation and Scattering Beneath the Southeastern United States and the Malawi and Luangwa Rift Zones in East Africa


Seismic attenuation is an important physical parameter for characterizing subsurface morphology and the thermal structure of the Earth’s crust and mantle. Additionally, seismic attenuation measurements can provide independent constraints on the interpretation of seismic velocity models. In this study, teleseismic P-wave amplitude spectra are used to examine the spatial variations of seismic attenuation in the crust and upper mantle beneath the southeastern United States and the Malawi and Luangwa rift zones of the East African Rift System. Seismic attenuation parameters (∆t*) obtained by the procedure based on the spectral ratio technique reveal a systematic contrast between the Appalachian Mountains and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain exhibiting high and low attenuation, respectively. Spatial coherency analysis of the ∆t* observations suggests that the center of the low-attenuation layer is located within the uppermost mantle at about 70 km depth. This low-attenuation anomaly lies along the Suwannee suture zone between Laurentia and Gondwana and approximately coincides with the east-west trending Brunswick magnetic anomaly. The origin of this low-attenuation anomaly can be attributed to low-attenuation bodies in the form of remnant fossil lithospheric fragments in the deep crust or the uppermost mantle. The contribution of scattering to the observed ∆t* is relatively weaker in the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain, which is suggestive of a more homogenous crustal and uppermost mantle structure. Furthermore, we compute the first regional-scale 3-D P-wave attenuation model of the crust and upper mantle beneath the ~800 km long N-S oriented Cenozoic Malawi Rift Zone (MRZ) which initiated with an onset of volcanism in the Rungwe Volcanic Province (RVP) at its northern terminus and the ~600 km long Permo-Triassic Luangwa Rift Zone (LRZ) of Zambia. The resulting ∆t* measurements reveal high-attenuation anomalies at the northern and southern tips of the MRZ and an elongated NE-SW strip of low-attenuation anomaly traversing central MRZ. The attenuation tomography results reveal a zone of high attenuation beneath the RVP in the upper mantle (i.e., down to 300 km depth), which can be associated with the decompression melting in response to continental extension. The prominent low-attenuation anomaly beneath the LRZ that traverses the central part of the MRZ suggests the presence of a relatively thick cratonic lithosphere and possibly advocates the southward subsurface extension of the Bangweulu block.