February 2018 Discoveries Magazine

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N e v a d a

DISCOVERIES NSHE Sponsored Programs and EPSCoR | February 2018

Teaching solar concepts at West Prep High School DISCOVERIES | 2017 REVIEW


Nevada System Sponsored Programs and EPSCoR WELCOME TO OUR NEW WEBSITE Visit our site with all new features! -Easier to navigate -Spin the wheel service selector (Yes! it really spins) -Funding opportunities now open -Read about our latest news and events -Mobile device friendly

Give it a spin at epscorspo.nevada.edu






We’re excited to announce the Pathways to STEM Nevada website. Pathways to STEM Nevada (formerly Nevada STEM Pipeline) addresses Nevada’s compelling need for education and workforce training for its citizens in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The online resource outlines the potential pathways, via state programs and institutes, to a STEM career. The focus is on increasing the number of students interested in pursuing STEM college degrees, and the ultimate goal is to strengthen Nevada’s future workforce and economic development.

Develop a STEM interest Go to college in a STEM field Find a career in STEM

A complete pathway for a successful STEM journey right here in this great state of Nevada. 4






Find hands-on STEM activities and programs at Pathways to STEM Nevada.





The earlier you start thinking about and preparing for college the better. Go To College Nevada can help.



The Nevada STEM Mentor Network is committed to connecting Nevada Students and Faculty to research opportunities.

Nevada STEM Hub has the answer. Find best match careers in STEM.



Career Path Nevada is loaded with statistics. How do you get ready for jobs in Nevada? Follow the data.







Enter the Nevada STEM Workforce. Access career opportunities.




Mighty Microgrids: Improving Grid Power Quality Nexus researchers create a test bed to prepare for future SMART grid technologies BY JANE PALMER Although the U.S. electric grid is an engineering marvel with more than 9,200 electric generating units connected to more than 600,000 miles of transmission lines, it is rapidly running up against its limitations. Consequently, the Department of Energy (DOE) has a vision of a future “smart” electric power infrastructure with a goal of creating a more resilient grid through the use of cutting-edge technologies, equipment, and controls that communicate and work together to deliver electricity more reliably and efficiently. Nexus researchers are helping contribute to this mission: Engineer Dr. Yahia Baghzouz of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and his graduate students have created a small “microgrid,” a localized grid that can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously. This mini-grid acts as a test bed to investigate the various devices that will be needed for the smart grid and technologies that will ultimately help with the integration of renewable energy resources into the grid infrastructure.

”The microgrid is a valuable outdoor facility to conduct field tests on new concepts pertaining to grid modernization,” Baghzouz says. The DOE Smart Grid Research and Development Program considers microgrids as a key building block for a smart grid as they can, when needed, function independently of the main electrical infrastructure. In critical times, such as power outages, it is envisioned that the future “smart” grid could break down into these microgrids, which individually could continue to serve customer needs. Such microgrids would also facilitate integrating renewable sources of energy into the electrical infrastructure.




Such microgrids would also facilitate integrating renewable sources of energy into the electrical infrastructure. A major challenge in using renewable sources of energy in the grid infrastructure is the frequently intermittent supply of energy from such sources: The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, for example. Microgrids can use and manage energy from a variety of sources and can

accommodate such, sometimes unpredictable, sources of energy. As such, they pave the way to longterm and sustainable integration of solar and wind energy into the national energy system. “Microgrids can strengthen the grid resilience which is becoming increasingly important in the face of the increased frequency and intensity of power outages caused by severe weather due to climate change.” Baghzouz says. Microgrids also prove valuable in preparing for the smart grid. At UNLV, the team uses the microgrid to test out various devices and technologies that will be needed for the smart grid and also to build a strong education facility for training the electrical engineers and scientists that will help make the smart grid into a reality.

Experimental microgrid on the UNLV campus –Y. Baghzouz Photo

“The microgrid allows us to induce real, rather than simulated, voltage and frequency disturbances as well as controlled power quantities at the inverter terminals,” Baghzouz says. “Advanced inverters are proven to assist electric utilities in mitigating operational problems associated with such abnormalities.”

“The NEXUS project allowed us to gain expertise in designing and building a microgrid with a portfolio that encompasses a full range of enabling technologies including conventional and renewable power generation, automation, grid stabilization, grid connection, energy storage and intelligent control technologies” Baghzouz says. “Further, the hands-on experience gained by numerous students involved in the construction and operation of the microgrid is very rewarding.”

Graduate student, Christopher Hicks at control panel (top) and at monitoring station (bottom) --Y. Baghzouz Photo DISCOVERIES | 2017 REVIEW


Dr. Erica Marti Meet Dr. Erica Marti. Thanks to new hire funding from the NSF EPSCoR Solar EnergyWater-Environment Nexus in Nevada project (Solar NEXUS), she was recently hired as an Assistant Professor, for the Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Marti previously taught high school science in the Clark County School District. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She also has a Master of Education and B.S. in Chemistry. Dr. Marti enjoys the opportunity to engage with K-12 teachers and students in advancing STEM education in Nevada. She coordinates several workforce development and education activities for the Solar NEXUS, a few are highlighted below. Dr. Marti is making a difference in K-12 students lives by fostering a desire to enter STEM careers in Nevada.

The solar kits may help some students find a fulfilling career, without having to leave the sunny state of Nevada, Marti hopes. “Some people think that if you’re going to get a job as an engineer, you’ll have to move,” she says. “But in this case, Nevada is one of the top places where you could get a job in solar energy.”

Solar Kit at West Prep High School --D. Niskar Photo

Solar Kits

The Nexus Solar Kits project illuminates solar energy concepts for both teachers and high school students. Nexus researchers have designed a portable solar energy classroom kit, the Sol Traveler, which can be used to teach both engineering and solar energy concepts to high school students in Nevada. It is a fully functional solar thermal water heater kit that can be used for actual experiments in the classroom.

”The goal is to provide a resource for teachers,” says Dr. Erica Marti, “so that they can engage and interest their students in both solar energy and engineering design.”



Summer 2017 Summer Research Experience (REX) first day at the UNLV Office of Admissions --E. Marti Photo

Summer Research Experience (REX)

The Summer Research Experience (REX) wrapped up a successful inaugural program in August 2017. Fourteen local, Las Vegas students spent six weeks working in laboratories under the mentorship of UNLV faculty in engineering, science, and social science. The students attended the College of Southern Nevada or had recently graduated high school. This program was tailored for students who are considering a career in STEM and who have no previous formal research experience. Gaining early research experience and balancing the need to earn money can be difficult for students, especially those at community colleges or who come from disadvantaged backgrounds; thus, the need for REX!

”The REX program, honestly changed my life. When I was a senior in high school, all I wanted was to be a doctor. I was going to major in biology and go to medical school. However, after my experience, I realized that I really like research. So, I changed my major to my true passion, geology. I hope I will be able to continue doing research in my major.”

Student Interactions with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (SISTEM)

High school students in southern Nevada have the opportunity to learn about various STEM careers from some of the best STEM leaders in southern Nevada. SISTEM was created to increase awareness and excitement about the STEM disciplines as a whole through a diverse set of talks and hands on experiences that are truly one of a kind. It’s free for high school students and is held each semester. Students hear about amazing scientific adventures, like collecting ice cores from Artic glaciers and the fast-changing world of technology where items 20-30 years in the future seem like an impossibility now (predicting cell phones and tablets in the 1960s as compared to predicting the ability to stop humans from aging in 2040). Students also hear first-hand experiences about overcoming personal challenges and the reality of dealing with setbacks in research.

”This program was a great and helpful program that helped me learn a lot about STEM careers.” Spring 2017 SISTEM Participants --J. Batista Photo DISCOVERIES | 2017 REVIEW


Summer 2017 Research Team Members at Xi’an Jiaotong University-D. Nobles-Lookingbill Photo

The Benefits of a Globally Engaged Workforce Advancing science, engineering and technology solutions to environmental challenges requires collaboration between nations in the 21st century. Given this necessity the National Science Foundation’s Office of International Science and Engineering seeks to ensure that U.S. institutions and researchers are globally engaged and are able to advance their research through international collaboration.

Collaborating Across the Continents

The NEXUS exchange program seeks to embody this mission by facilitating exchanges of students and faculty with universities in South America and Asia. In doing so, it provides international research opportunities for U.S. students and researchers and encourages international collaboration.

To encourage such collaboration and prepare the next generation of scientists to think globally and conduct research internationally, many U.S. universities have exchange programs between their universities and ones on other continents. Now, the NEXUS program is facilitating the exchange of students between the University of Nevada and universities in Brazil and China.

“By participating in the international exchange program, our NEXUS students and faculty are doing their part in keeping Nevada and the U.S. globally competitive at the frontiers of knowledge,” says Dr. Gayle Dana, NEXUS Project Director.



Many of the great environmental challenges – the availability of clean water, access to sustainable energy sources, conservation of land, for example – are felt across the globe. And finding solutions to those challenges is more likely if nations join forces and work collaboratively.

Nexus Project Exchange Students

Danielle Nobles-Lookingbill

John Gonzales

NEXUS graduate student Danielle Nobles-Lookingbill had been collaborating, via email, with the power engineering research team at Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU), China, for over a year, so when the opportunity to meet with the team in person came up, Nobles-Lookingbill jumped at it.

John Gonzales, a UNLV graduate student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, is no stranger to different cultures and international travel. Originally from the Philippines, Gonzales has lived in the United States for the past 10 years and has already realized the value of visiting another country, both professionally and personally. So he was enthusiastic about the opportunity to visit the University of Sao Paulo, Pirassununga, Brazil as an exchange student.

“I believe positive professional relationships are the building blocks for lifelong research collaborations, and there is no better way to build professional friendships with colleagues than to appreciate their culture first hand,” says NoblesLookingbill, a student in the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering at UNLV who is supervised by Dr. Robert Boehm, the NEXUS Solar Energy Lead. Nobles-Lookingbill’s research investigates the design of an innovative technology, known as a supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton power cycle, which will ultimately lead to greater efficiency in the concentrated solar power systems. “I am looking forward to the internationally collaborative journal publications that will follow as a result of this experience,” Nobles-Lookingbill says, “And I have learned that I would like to continue collaborations with this university and my Chinese colleagues throughout my career.”

“I met the professor personally that I would be working with in Brazil. He is very enthusiastic about his laboratory and his research, so that also motivated me to do research with him,” Gonzales says, who is supervised by NEXUS scientist Dr. Jacimaria Batista for his graduate work at UNLV. Gonzales’ research focuses on chromate, a form of chromium that can occur in drinking water and poses health hazards. Gonzales’ project is investigating the influence of nitrate in the chromium reduction process. The exchange program also opened Gonzales eyes to challenges outside of his sphere of research. “The entire experience made me aware of other global issues that need to be addressed in the scientific community,” Gonzales says. social perspective,” Gonzales says.

Kaipo Kekaula NEXUS graduate student Kaipo Kekaula’s motivation to be part of the international exchange program was both to further international collaboration but also to get first hand experience of the similarities and differences in cultural and research practices abroad. “I think the highlight of this trip was the time spent with some of other students and researchers in China,” says Kekaula, a student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UNLV who is supervised by NEXUS scientist Dr. Yitung Chen. “The people there were so friendly and really made us feel welcome.” Kekaula’s research focuses on the development of dry cooling systems that use air instead of water to condense steam for water reuse in solar thermal plants. While he was in China, Kekaula also collaborated on a research study with his Chinese supervisor, Dr. Quiwang Wang and was a coauthor on a paper published in November in the journal Applied Thermal Engineering. “The exchange was a great learning experience all around,” Kekaula says. “I would definitely recommend this to another student, it was an amazing experience.”

Editor’s Note: A version of this story, written by Jane Palmer, originally appeared on solarnexus.epscorspo.nevada.edu November, 2017.



Nevada Space Grant Consortium Launches far-reaching program benefiting Nevada teachers and students Nevada teachers took part in a program to promote interest in STEM fields using drones. The project partners included Nevada State College (NSC), the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and Clark County School District (CCSD). 25 in-service teachers received Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) training The winning teacher received a funded field trip to NSC for her AP physics class to receive hands-on practice with UAS. The 21 pre-service teachers participated in a separate inclass UAS workshop. They used the programmable UAS as part of “EDU 214: Preparing Teachers to Use Technology.” They programmed and flew UAS, and discussed ways to incorporate UAS in their future classrooms. Four middle school lesson plans using UAS and materials to implement them will also be shared across Nevada through a circulating Green Box kit designed and managed by DRI. Teacher Jamie DeSoto (CCSD) accepts an award for her physics lesson incorporating UAS. With her are Dr. Sarah Bryans-Bongey, Principle Investigator and Assistant Professor from NSC, and Craig Rosen, CoPrinciple Investigator and Professional Development Administrator from DRI.

Undergraduate research For my undergraduate thesis in atmospheric sciences at University of Nevada Reno, I worked on the project “Developing and Communicating Rain Shadow Science” with Dr. Ben Hatchett and Meghan Collins at the Desert Research Institute. We curated a blog and social media posts to communicate the effects of rain shadows from the Sierra Nevada, and tracked the dissemination of this information. Weather events affect our communities, so effectively communicating scientific findings for STEM audiences and the broader public is crucial. This project cultivated my science writing skills and taught me how to make an infographic, a medium not often included social media materials.

“The NASA funding allowed me to solidify an academic passion, and I hope to do similar work in meteorology in the future”. Zoey Rosen, University of Nevada, Reno 12


Nevada NASA EPSCoR New CAN Award A multi-disciplinary multi-institution Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) has been awarded to Nevada NASA EPSCoR for $750k federal + $375k state match. Co-PI’s Dr. Henry Sun, DRI; Dr. Brian Hedlund, UNLV; and Dr. Simon Poulson, UNR; the team will address high-priority NASA research and technology needs through “Life in Salts: a Multidisciplinary Investigation of Microorganisms and Biosignatures in the Death Valley Salt Pan” (2018-2021).

Advanced transport technologies for NASA thermal management/control systems Science PI: Miles Greiner (University of Nevada, Reno); Co-PIs: Kwang Kim (University of Nevada,Las Vegas), Ted Plaggemeyer (Truckee Meadows Community College), and Jackson Crews (Desert Research Institute); NASA Technical Monitor: Eric Sunada (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) Goal: Develop reliable, light-weight, low-power thermal management systems to precisely control the temperatures of critical NASA electronic systems. This research is developing a high-performance, two-phase mechanically pumped fluid loop (to maintain the temperatures of several components within precise limits, even if their heat generations vary greatly. This technology will enable NASA to meet its science objectives by achieving a precise spatial and temporal temperature stability. An example system requiring advanced thermal control is the Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) project, which is designed to acquire precise measurements of land hydrology and ocean circulation. The resulting data will help generate a global assessment of surface water resources and detailed ocean process mapping that can be used for climate modeling.

Improving snow cover estimates in forested terrain Science PI: Alison Murray (University of Nevada, Reno); Co-PI: Dr. Adrian Harpold (University of Nevada, Reno) Goal: Correct current overestimates of snow cover in the western United States by accounting for the effect of forest canopy. Currently, the snow cover algorithms applied to the satellite data assume that the fractional snow-covered area under the canopy is the same as that in the canopy openings. However, insitu observations indicate otherwise. Through strategic collaborations with NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory and the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer platforms, Dr. Adrian Harpold (Co-I from UNR) is leading the coordination of overflights with on-the-ground observations to compare snow cover both under and out of the forest canopy at Sagehen Experimental Forest in the northern Sierra Nevada in California.

Return on Investment (ROI) To Date New proposals funded: 13 for total of $3,312,270 (3:1 return) Peer-reviewed publications: 38 Presentations: 250 Students impacted, research experience and expertise: 24

National Academy of Inventors Dr. Kwang Kim, UNLV, NASA EPSCoR CAN recipient with > 7:1 return on investment for new funding, will be inducted as a fellow April 2018 in Washington, DC. DISCOVERIES | 2017 REVIEW


EPSCoR impact in Nevada Effecting lasting improvements and increasing research competitiveness




RETENTION in nevada

Since 1985

Since 1985


nasa EPSCoR rid (2012-2018)



Faculty, post docs, graduate students, undergraduate and administrators

Participants and 103 students involved


awarded for 173 scholarships From 2015-2017


proposals awarded Since 1985 Return on investment: $185.4M




New mexico

innovation working group across jurisdictions NSHE Council for undergraduate research (CUR) Institute for broadening participation in undergrad research assisted in the development of the unlv office of undergraduate research

Nevada EPSCoR FACULTY Success

Dr. Zachary Woydziak received an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) scholarship, and he is now a tenured professor at Nevada State College!

Dr. Scotty Strachan started as a technician and was recently appointed Director of Cyberinfrastructure at the University of Nevada, Reno!

Dr. Frederick C. Harris, Jr. just reached 100 co-authored publications with undergraduate students!

Workforce DEVELOPMENT Education, Outreach, and Diversity Efforts Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) • •

Earn research experience as an undergraduate Scholarships available

Laboratory Experiences and Field Trips • • • • • • •

NEXUS Solar Labs Green Power Kits SCIP (Science Careers Investigation Program) and SISTEM (Student Interactions with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) NERDS (Nevada Educators Really Doing Solar) STEMBOPS (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Bilingual Online Peer Sessions) Summer Research Experience (REX) Program Cyberinfrastructure Days

Other Activities • • • • • • • •

Writing Workshops for Undergraduate and Graduate (proposal & applications) Graduate Students Writing for Publications Workshop Series Impact Awards for Publications Early Career Faculty Training BrightStars Workshops for PUI (Primarily Undergraduate Institutions) Peer Ambassadors - Grads working with Undergraduates on research Start Up costs for AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) UNLV student chapter and UNR student and professional chapter Advisory Committee for Broadening Participation in STEM

What STUDENTS are Saying

Danielle Nobles-Lookingbill University of Nevada, Las Vegas NSF Solar NEXUS Project

Laura Llanza Truckee Meadows Community College International Student from Brazil

Angela Garcia University of Nevada, Las Vegas NSF EPSCoR & NASA Space Grant

Due to the support of the EPSCoR program, I am not only a first generation university graduate, but am both the first in my family to soon achieve a doctoral degree and be part of a research team that is striving to create a cleaner tomorrow.

My experience in this [national ELSXVI] conference was amazing. I learned ways to do my experiment even better. Moreover, when I presented my poster, people understood me, they were interested in the experiment, and everybody was surprised that I was an undergraduate.”

Over the past few years I have coauthored seven published conference abstracts and will be coauthor on two peer reviewed journal articles that are currently in process. I also had a 2017 summer Mars research internship with Jacobs Engineering Group hosted a NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. DISCOVERIES | 2017 REVIEW


Nevada System of Higher Education Sponsored Programs

5550 W Flamingo Road, Suite A-2 Las Vegas, NV 89103-0135 nshespo@nshe.nevada.edu 702-522-7070 epscorspo.nevada.edu


From the director

Dr. Gayle Dana Nevada State EPSCoR Director NSF EPSCoR Project Director

The Discoveries magazine has evolved to what it is today. When I arrived to the EPSCoR office 14 years ago, we had a one page flyer printed on green paper with bullets highlighting successes. I am so proud to have been a part of all the amazing research and programs that our faculty and students are engaged in. This is my last Lori Ciccone Marcie Jackson Discoveries as director and it is bittersweet, yet I know that the Sponsored Programs and EPSCoR office will continue to support our faculty and students and continue to impact our great state of Nevada with research and STEM initiatives. My journey of working with faculty and building research in Nevada will continue at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and now I am excited to be handing over the reins to Marcie Jackson as interim director. Her dedication and leadership to the NSF EPSCoR program for the past six years will be such an asset in her role as director. She will continue to be a part of leading NSF and NASA EPSCoR, and GEAR UP and NASA Space Grant. Welcome Marcie! Thank you, Lori. I am excited to take on the role as interim director and continue the work you have done with the SPO/EPSCoR Office. You will be greatly missed; however, we are glad you are still a part of the Nevada team. Thank you for your leadership over the years! We have a strong team of research administrators and post-award professionals handling the awards in our office, so the transition should be seamless for our faculty, students, and financial colleagues. I cannot wait to expand my knowledge of all of the programs and to interact with all of the project teams. Please visit our new website at epscorspo.nevada.edu throughout the year to see stories about our programs’ successes. Warmest Regards,

Lori M. Ciccone, MBA Former Director System Sponsored Programs and EPSCoR

Dr. Jay Arnone NSF EPSCoR Associate Project Director Dr. Lynn Fenstermaker NASA EPSCoR and NASA Space Grant Project Director

Marcie Jackson Interim Director, SPO & EPSCoR Project Administrator, NSF Michele Casella Education, Outreach, and Diversity Administrator, NSF Mayara Cueto-Diaz Program Coordinator, NSF Gibran Chavez-Gudino Project Administrator, NASA EPSCoR and NASA Space Grant MinSun Park Research Administrator, Education Althea Sheets Editor, Communications Specialist Ashleigh Oglesby Post Award Manager

Marcie Jackson, MPA, CRA Interim Director System Sponsored Programs and EPSCoR

Bonnie Cryderman Grants Accountant Toni Woods Administrative Assistant Kaitlyn Matsuda Student Worker

Nevada NSF EPSCoR is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) awards #IIA-1301726. Nevada NASA EPSCoR is funded by the NASA awards #NNX15AK48A and #NNX14AN24A. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or NASA.

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