University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Available Undergraduate Research Projects

Updated 11/08/2017

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. I have moved the full projects to the bottom of the page.

If you are interested in joining the group, please email me with which project you are interested in joining, your year in college, and the number of credits you are interested in taking. Please also specify if you are in the honors program.



Estimating pollutant deposition to different North American biomes: Air pollution can have a significant impact on ecosystems, particularly when it deposits on land and water. Using air pollutant deposition estimates from the CAMx regional air pollution model in conjunction with biome classifications from the U.S. Geological Survey to determine biomes that are in the most danger due to pollutant deposition. Group Size: 1-2 (2 openings) Status: Ongoing Project

Applying mechanism reduction techniques to enable more accurate modeling of atmospheric chemistry: As we understand more and more about the chemistry in the atmosphere, we need to develop new ways to model the increasing complexity for air pollution regulatory purposes. This project will use mechanism reduction approaches common to other fields of chemical engineering to efficiently reduce the complexity of the master chemical mechanism which includes thousands of reactions and species. Groups Size: 1-2 (2 opening) Status: Ongoing Project



Monitoring nitrogen deposition in Connecticut: Starting in early 2018, we are deploying passive nitrogen samplers at locations throughout Connecticut. Students interested in this project will participate in the collection of samples, outreach at the sampler locations (schools and parks), and in the data analysis from the collected samples. Group Size: 1-4 (4 openings) Status: New Project

Using machine learning to “correct” modeled air pollutant concentrations: Scientists have used a variety of approaches to assimilate data with modeled concentrations. New approaches in machine learning may open the doors for new and improved assimilation approaches. Group size (2 openings) Status: New Project

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. Group size: 1-2 (2 openings) Status: New Project

Emissions from food trucks: This project will investigate the air pollution impacts of the food trucks on campus. This will include both modeling and monitoring. Group Size: 1-2 (2 openings) Status: New Project

Modeling emissions from ships: Ships emit much higher level of pollutants than other modes of transport due to the lack of sufficient international regulations on fuel use. This project will strive to develop an approach to model the emissions plumes from ships in transit. The long term goal is to apply this to estimating the potential of impacts from increased shipping in the Arctic due to decreased summer sea ice. Group Size: 1-2 (2 openings) Status: New Project

UConn air quality assessment: This team will carry out an air pollution assessment on the UConn Storrs campus throughout the semester.  The goal of the assessment is to estimate (1) air pollution emissions amounts and locations using activity data, (2) carry out small scale monitoring at anticipated hotspots, (3) survey the community about their perceptions about air pollution, and (4) compile existing data on air pollution in the area. The assessment will result in a written report identifying hotspots, the current state of air pollution, and recommendations moving forward; a brief policy memo; and a presentation to the UConn Office of Environmental Policy. This project will lay the groundwork for future assessments of neighborhoods in Hartford, CT. Group Size: 1-4 (4 openings) Status: New Project



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. Groups Size: 1 (full) Status: Ongoing Project

Estimating pollutant deposition to different North American watersheds: (similar to the biome project) Air pollution can have a significant impact on watersheds as it deposits on land and water. This project will use air pollutant deposition estimates from the CAMx regional air pollution model in conjunction with watershed classifications from the U.S. Geological Survey to determine watersheds that are in the most danger due to pollutant deposition. Group Size: 2 (full) Status: Ongoing Project

Developing a low-cost approach to test passive nitrogen deposition monitoring samples: We hope to partner with schools throughout Connecticut to increase the spatial resolution of nitrogen samples. To fully capitalize on the outreach potential of this project, it would be ideal to have a low-cost, simple approach for students at the school to run initial tests on the samples. The goal of this project is to develop this approach. Groups Size: 2 (full) Status: New Project

Designing and calibrating a low cost gaseous air pollutant monitors: In the last couple of years, a variety of different low cost gaseous sensors have started to enter the market.  Many of these sensors are aimed at applications like citizen science and use by community groups.  These low cost monitors also have the potential to provide high spatial and temporal information for air pollution researchers and practitioners for much more reasonable costs.  This project involves developing a small, demonstration gaseous pollutant system to add to the particulate matter monitor in project #1. This includes developing the circuitry for the air pollutant sensors, calibration techniques against regulatory grade instruments, and data management approaches. Group size: 4 (full) Status: Ongoing Project

Comparing air pollution exposure to runners in different cities: (similar to school locations) While it is widely accepted that running, biking, active commuting are beneficial to individuals health, many individuals also exercise or commute along fairly busy roadways which can lead to increased pollutant exposures. The project will compare the potential near roadway air pollution exposure to runners in different cities using route records that are publicly available on RunKeeper combined with ArcGIS (a powerful spatial analysis tool). Group size: 2 (full) Status: Ongoing 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. Group size: 2-4 (full) Status: Ongoing Project



Developing an air pollution workshop for middle and high school teachers