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List of Mentors Seeking Fellows or Trainees

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See this alphabetical listing of research topics of UH mentors seeking students
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MENTORS (listed alphabetically)


Dr. Dulal Borthakur
Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering (MBBE), Ag. Science Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-6600
email: dulal@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Biotechnology
We propose to develop bacterial capsules for space transportation. Keeping bacteria alive during long space travel may be challenging. The student will be involved in our research to develop bacterial capsules suitable for space transportation and other commercial use. The outer coat of the bacterial capsule will be produced using exopolysaccharides from bacteria. Qualified students should have background in chemistry, biochemistry, and biology.


Dr. Qi Chen
Department of Geography, Saunders Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-3524
email: qichen@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Projects: Remote Sensing
I am looking for students who can help with the processing of airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data for large-scale vegetation mapping. Qualified students should have taken Geography 470: Remote Sensing or have equivalent experience.


Dr. Monique Chyba
Department of Mathematics, Keller Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-8464
email: mchyba@math.hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Applied Math / Control Theory
Rocket flights in an inverse square law field have been studied extensively in the literature; however, orbit transfer (for instance Earth-Mars) with minimal time is still an open problem. This project concerns the application of geometric optimal control theory to the analysis of planar orbit transfer with minimal flight time. Our analysis of optimal trajectories is based on the maximum principle, the main tool of optimal control theory. The student will be involved in numerical and theoretical investigations to determine or not the existence of conjugate points along extremals (crucial in any optimal control problem). This is an opportunity for the student to apply the theory seen in classroom to a concrete problem and to get a research experience in applied mathematics. Qualified students should have a strong mathematics background. Knowledge of ordinary differential equations and numerical analysis is desirable.


Dr. Sarah Fagents
Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), POST Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-3163
email: fagents@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Planetary Geology / Volcanology
Martian Lava Flows. The objective of the project is to assess the role of topography and cooling on the emplacement of different types of lava flows on the surface of Mars. The student's main contributions will involve: searching the Mars image databases to compile images of lava flows; processing and interpreting the images; making measurements of lava flow dimensions and morphologies; applying simple equations to the data collected. Desired skills include: numeracy, experience with Excel databases and calculations, image processing, Mars data sets, and/or ArcGIS.


Dr. Ali Fares
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resoaurces (CTAHR), Sherman Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-6361
email: afares@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Watershed Hydrology
I have two possible projects that satisfy NASA's goals of understanding Earth systems and applying Earth-system science to improve the prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards. (1) The main goal of the first project is to evaluate the performance of flood prediction model(s) for operational flood forecasting. Students will be involved in collecting spatially distributed field data (e.g., rainfall, soil moisture, temperature, net radiation and other weather parameters) suitable for input into flood prediction models for Hawaiian small, steep tropical watersheds with extreme rainfalls, e.g. Hanalei, Kauai and Manoa, Oahu. (2) The main goal of the second project is to help evaluate causes of sedimentation of Hawaii coastal coral reefs. Students will be working to identify ways to predict the occurrences of landslides and feral pig damage to Hawaiian watersheds that lead to sedimentation problems on the reefs. This work will have an integrated approach that involves extensive literature review, field data collection, and watershed modeling. Students will be involved in one or more of these approaches based on their interests. Qualified students should have interests in natural resources and environmental management and knowledge of basic science.


Dr. Jeffrey Gillis-Davis
Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), POST Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-5738
email: gillis@higp.hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Planetary Geology / Remote Sensing
The project I have available involves geologic mapping of the Moon using multiple remotely sensed data sets and data from the Apollo sample collection. Objective: to investigate correlations between sample chemistry and mineralogy with spectral and elemental data acquired from remote sensing missions (e.g., Clementine, Lunar Prospector, Lunar Orbiter). Correlations revealed in this study will serve as a basis for algorithms to map lunar surface compositions and mineralogy away from the sampling locations. The chemical and mineralogical distribution maps created in this study will provide critical information on the bulk chemistry of the Moon. Knowledge of and aptitude for computers, math, and geology is important.


Dr. Hope A. Ishii
Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), POST Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-7755
email: hope.ishii@higp.hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Planetary Science: Comet and Asteroid Dust
Objective: Study amorphous (non-crystalline) silicates in a range of comet and asteroid samples to understand how they are – and are not – similar. Available projects involve transmission electron microscopy analysis of analogs and bone fide amorphous samples returned by NASA Stardust mission to a comet and on amorphous silicates in interplanetary dust particles from comets and asteroids that drift into Earth-crossing orbits and are collected high in the stratosphere. There are no specific course prerequisites, but students should have an interest and aptitude for experimental work and attention to detail. Interested students should send me an email with their resume, including GPA, major (if declared), expected graduation date, prior research experience (if any), and career goals.


Dr. Robert Jedicke
Institute for Astronomy
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-8080
email: jedicke@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Near Earth Asteroids, Comets
My specialty is asteroids and comets, particularly telescopic surveys for objects that may impact Earth. I am currently looking for a student interested in helping me calculate the amount of water available in asteroids and comets that can be effectively 'mined' and delivered to lunar orbit. Water can be used as fuel, makes an excellent radiation shield, and can be consumed by humans, but is expensive to deliver from Earth's surface. We envision a 'depot' in lunar orbit to provide water to NASA and future for-profit space-faring companies.


Dr. Craig Jensen
Department of Chemistry, Bilger Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-2769
email: jensen@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Chemistry
Metal hydrides have long been utilized for energy storage and conversion in rockets and satellites. The Sorption Cryo-cooler that was successfully deployed on the Planck satellite is a prime example of non-propellant utilization of this technology. The development of higher performance materials would allow more extensive use of metal hydride technology in spacecraft. Advanced hydrogen storage materials ranging from borohydrides to liquid organic hydrogen carriers, are currently under development in our laboratories. Students working on this project will synthesize advanced hydrogen storage media and determine the kinetics and thermodynamics of the reversible elimination of hydrogen from these materials. Qualified students should have taken or be concurrently enrolled in Chem 425 and Chem 425L. Prior experience in the synthesis of air-sensitive materials is not required but is desirable.


Dr. Kent Kobayashi
Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, St. John Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-7876
email: kentko@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Horticulture
NASA is keenly interested in and has been conducting research on growing crops in space as a source of food for astronauts. This proposed project involves growing crops under different kinds of artificial lighting. It offers a choice of working in several research areas: 1) comparing the effectiveness of fluorescent lighting and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting; 2) comparing the effectiveness of different LED lighting; and 3) growing different kinds of crops. The aim of the project is to provide the student with research and learning opportunities related to space biology, plant physiology, and horticulture. It is anticipated that results from this project would provide information on the effects of light quality on crop growth and the use of alternative crops in space. Qualified students should have an interest and background knowledge in botany or horticulture.


Dr. Weilin Qu
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Holmes Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-6332
email: qu@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Engineering
The increasing power requirements of new space technologies and missions lead to ever-increasing heat generation at the component, module, and system levels. The waste heat has to be effectively removed, as the reliability and life span of many devices/systems used in a microgravity environment are both strongly affected by temperature. Development of novel thermal management subsystems with significantly improved capacity and efficiency are therefore of critical importance for space exploration needs. The project will address this need through the design of a compact refrigeration subsystem that is capable of dissipating high-heat-flux from electronic/mechanical devices in microgravity applications. The subsystem will incorporate small size compressor, condenser, and micro evaporators, and will be able to operate in microgravity environments. Qualified students should have taken ME 311 (Thermodynamics), ME 312 (Applied Thermodynamics), and ME 322 (Mechanics of Fluids).


Dr. Norbert Schörghofer
Institute for Astronomy
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-0982
email: norbert@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Planetary Science: Mars
Various projects about the exploration of Mars or the study of Mars analogues are available. (a) Mars Image Analysis: The student will learn how to analyze images from spacecraft currently orbiting Mars. He or she will discover and document surface changes on the planet. (b) Mars analogue field studies in Hawaii: Students can be involved in the study of craters, lava tubes, or dunes on the Big Island of Hawaii. These studies investigate physical or astrobiological processes. There are no specific course prerequisites. Interested students should send me an email with their resume, including GPA, major (if declared), expected graduation date, high school graduation date, prior research experience (if any), and career goals. Many of my students have become co-authors on scientific publications.


Dr. Jian Yu
Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), POST Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-5873
email:
jianyu@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Microbial CO2 fixation in dark environment
It is well known that CO2 is fixed by high plants and microalgae/cyanobacteria under sunlight via photosynthesis as an important part of carbon cycle in the nature. In the past decades, however, more CO2 was released from human activities than those fixed in the nature, resulting in the increase of CO2 concentration in air and growing concerns over climate change. Ocean absorbs a huge amount of CO2. The dissolved CO2 reduces the pH of seawater and causes adverse impact on the marine ecosystem such as coral reef beaching. The increased CO2 concentration in seawater may promote CO2 fixation by microalgae/cyanobacteria under sunlight. The light availability in seawater, however, is limited and most of seawater is in dark conditions. Little information is available on the fixation of dissolved CO2 in the dark environment, especially at the bottom of deep waters. Prokaryotes played a crucial role in life evolution by adapting to their unique environments and respond to environmental change physically, chemically, and biologically. Some bacteria can fix CO2 as the carbon source by using energy-rich chemicals such as hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide. H2 is a common metabolic waste from anaerobic digestion of organic deposits at the bottoms of water bodies. This project investigates the CO2 fixation by an autolithotrophic bacterium under the extreme conditions: no oxygen, no light, very low concentrations of hydrogen (< 10 uM) and CO2 (<100 uM), and high pressures (1-100 bars). Specifically, we will investigate the integration of energy generation from hydrogen and CO2 reduction and the possible role of nitrate as an electron coupler. The research will be conducted in the laboratory reactors equipped with sensors of dissolved H2 and CO2 and/or operated under high pressures. We will monitor the cell growth, CO2 consumption, H2/CO2 molar ratio, and possible organic metabolites released from the prokaryotic cells by using instruments such as UV/Vis spectrophotometer, high pressure liquid chromatograph (HPLC), gas chromatograph (GC) equipped with detectors (MSD, FID and TCD). Qualified students should have an interest and some background knowledge in microbiology and biochemistry.


Eligibility
Full-time undergraduate students in the University of Hawai'i System campuses are eligible to apply for a Space Grant Undergraduate Fellowship or Traineeship. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and must be sponsored by a faculty member willing to act as the student's mentor during the award period.

For additional information about Hawaii Space Grant Fellowships or Traineeships please call the Manoa office for more information at (808) 956-3138.

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Hawaii Space Grant

http://www.spacegrant.hawaii.edu/
Communications: Linda Martel
Updated July 21, 2015.