Available Undergraduate Research Projects

If you are interested in joining the lab for Fall 2021, please contact me by Friday, September 10.

The following are examples of potential undergraduate Independent Study Projects (CHEG 4989) with Professor Wagstrom.  If you have specific other projects that fall within the scope of the lab that you are interested in, those will also be considered. While prior experience is always helpful, you do not need to have any specific prior experience for these projects, just a desire to work hard and a willingness to learn.

If you are interested in joining the group, please complete the following application form: https://goo.gl/forms/1DMejPYvnAOv7ZK02. After you complete the application, email me to let me know so that I can check for it.

DATA ANALYSIS / COMPUTATIONAL PROJECTS

Designing a highly portable particulate matter monitor: This project will develop a highly portable set of low-cost particulate matter monitors that can be used for intensive monitoring along set routes. Skills you will learn: programming, hands on, Arduino, electronics, data management.

Estimating the societal cost of residential heating options in New England: Homes in New England have many options for the energy source for residential heating. These different options all have different costs to both the consumer and society at large. This project will quantify the societal cost associated with the current make-up of residential heating sources throughout the state. Skills you will learn: management of large data sets, programming, societal cost calculation.

Estimating the societal cost of airports and seaports in the US: Airports and seaports are both well know for high contributions to air pollution in the local communities. This project will quantify the societal cost associated with these emissions using many different data sources. Skills you will learn: management of large data sets, programming, societal cost calculation.

Quantifying the damage to crops in the United States from elevated ozone levels: Elevated ozone is known to cause damages to several important crops in the United States. This project aims to quantify the impact of elevated ozone levels on crop yield over the past few decades. Skills you will learn: management of large data sets, programming, image manipulation.

Quantifying environmental injustice over the last two decades: Environmental injustice is when one demographic or socioeconomic group bears an undue burden for certain environmental exposures. This project will use several decades of modeled air pollutant concentrations to quantify changes in environmental injustice over the last several decades. Skills you will learn: management of large data sets, programming.

Comparing air pollution concentrations at schools in Connecticut: Children spent a large fraction of their time in school and are therefore impacted by the air pollution concentrations at their school location.  Schools in poorer areas tend to be nearer to large roadways.  This project will use a combination of approaches to estimate the comparative air pollutant concentrations at different schools in Connecticut. Skills you will learn: management of large data sets, programming.

Impacts of the Cricket Valley Energy Center: The CVEC, a natural gas power plant, just started up in New York a few miles from the Western border of Connecticut. Many of the local towns are concerned about the potential health impacts. This project will include processes the data collected my several monitors placed throughout these towns and potentially collecting data through a “driving” monitoring study. Skills you will learn: data management, programming, community collaboration. (Community-engaged project)

HANDS ON / LABORATORY / MONITORING PROJECTS

Air Pollution Game: We are developing a game that we can play with community members to help “find” sources of air pollution that are not currently accounted for evaluations of different neighborhoods. Skills you will learn: game design, working with communities.

Monitoring nitrogen deposition in Connecticut: Atmospheric pollutants that contain nitrogen (NOx, nitrate, ammonia, ammonium) can deposit into watersheds to cause elevated levels of nitrogen in waterways. Starting in spring 2019, we deployed passive nitrogen deposition samplers at locations throughout Connecticut. The goal of this project is to supplement the extremely sparse deposition monitoring in the Long Island Sound Watershed. This information will help local planners adequately account for the contribution from atmospheric deposition and allow our lab to evaluate additional modeling results throughout the region. Work will include the collection of samples, outreach at the sampler locations (schools and parks), and analysis of data from the collected samples. Skills you will learn: communication, proper sample analysis and handling. (Community-engaged project)

Developing an air monitoring drone: In atmospheric chemistry, we often use flight studied to collect data on how pollutant concentrations vary in space and time.  These are extremely expensive studies as they involve fitting a jet with multiple pieces of equipment each costing upward of $50,000.  In addition, there is the cost of the time for the plane and the specialized pilots needed for these studied.  Taking advantage of low-cost, low-weight air monitoring options, this project explores the possibility of attaching a small air monitoring device to a quadcopter to create an air pollution drone to see if we can get reasonable data using this technique. This coming semester will hopefully include developing and carrying out a variety of test cases. Skills you will learn: programming, hands on, data management.

Impacts of the Cricket Valley Energy Center: The CVEC, a natural gas power plant, just started up in New York a few miles from the Western border of Connecticut. Many of the local towns are concerned about the potential health impacts. This project will include processes the data collected my several monitors placed throughout these towns and potentially collecting data through a “driving” monitoring study. This requires a willingness to drive to Western Connecticut several times for data collection. Skills you will learn: programming, hands on, data management. (Community-engaged project)

Monitoring air pollution in Hartford: Regulatory monitors, like those maintained by EPA and CT DEEP, provide detailed, reliable measurements of air pollutant levels at several locations throughout the state. Unfortunately, while the monitors tell a lot about regional air pollution, air pollution levels can actually vary on much finer scales than these monitors can provide information about. We are deploying a large number of monitors throughout Hartford to provide a better understanding of localized air pollution problems. Skills you will learn: programming, hands on, data management. (Community-engaged project)