Thursday, July 2, 2015

OU Day Celebrated at Tsinghua University

CEES faculty members David Sabatini, Robert Nairn, Yang Hong and Naiyu Wang represented CEES as part of an OU delegation to Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) led by VPR Kelvin Droegemeier.   Faculty from OU Microbiology and Plant Biology, and Meteorology were also present.  June 9 was declared "OU day" on the Tsinghua campus and included a full day of research presentations by OU and Tsinghua faculty as well as a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the universities to facilitate scholarly collaboration.  Further discussions identified several areas of mutual strength in the Environmental Sciences and developed preliminary plans for more formal research partnerships, student and faculty exchanges, and establishment of an OU presence in Beijing. 

Soltani Receives Nancy L. Mergler Dissertation Completion Fellowship

CEES doctoral student Hoda Soltani was recently selected as one of seven recipients of the inaugural Nancy L. Mergler Dissertation Completion Fellowship for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Soltani’s research is guided under the direction of professor "Muralee" Muraleetharan and concerns analysis, modeling, and prediction of the lateral response of single piles in soft clay where the top layers of the soil have been improved by cement deep soil mixing. In the future, this work has the potential to lead to more cost effective and safer design of pile-supported structures in weak soils. It can also be applied in retrofitting of older buildings and bridges. After graduation, she plans to seek a full-time position in industry or academia where she can continue working on assessment of the existing structures and ways of enhancing their performance against earthquake or other vibration-induced excitations.

Benjamin Toms Receives Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Award

Benjamin Toms, a double major in civil engineering and meteorology, was awarded a prestigious Astronaut Scholarship Foundation scholarship in June.  Nominated by CEES director Randall Kolar and CEES professor Yang Hong, Toms becomes the 10th recipient from the University of Oklahoma since the program inception in 1979.

Founded by the Mercury 7 astronauts and chaired by astronauts from the Apollo and Gemini missions, the prestigious ASF scholarship is currently the largest merit based undergraduate scholarship competitive for all STEM majors in the United States.  Thirty-eight students nationwide were recognized this year for their ingenuity in research and excellence in coursework.

Toms, a senior from Aurora, CO, is spending the summer working on two projects, one with  David Turner of the National Severe Storms Laboratory Forecast Research and Development Division researching the environment of convective precipitation during the nighttime. The second project is with Pierre Kirstetter, research scientist with the National Weather Center (Advanced Radar Research Center) and adjunct faculty member in CEES,  to place a mobile X-band radar within the Rio Grande National Forest in southern Colorado. His future plans include obtaining a Ph.D. in hydrometeorology and conducting research on terrestrial hydrometeorology while teaching at the university level.