CEMS SUMMIT 2022

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FINDING

CEE’s Matt Scarborough is tackling Climate crisis using organic waste.
FALL 2022
& BUILDING THE WAY FORWARD

ORGANIC POWER

CEE’s Matt Scarborough is tackling the climate crisis using organic waste.

Matt Scarborough, who started at UVM’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department in 2019, researches the application of microbiomes (also known as microbial communities) to protect the natural environment and public health. His work is garnering praise, as evidenced by his four new awards—two from the National Science Foundation, one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and one from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The grants will support many graduate and undergraduate students in his lab.

“We're looking for ways to take organic waste—things like food waste and cow manure, two big things in Vermont— and we're looking to convert those into something valuable,” Dr. Scarborough said. “The conventional route for doing that is something called anaerobic digestion.”

Anerobic digestion is the process by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material like food waste in the absence of oxygen.

“You basically have a giant large tank called a bioreactor, you feed it with organic materials, sometimes a food waste slurry, sometimes brewery waste, sometimes cow manure, sometimes several things mixed together,” Dr. Scarborough said. “A microbial community will break down all this complex organic material that's in it and you'll ultimately end up with something called biogas, which is just primarily a mixture of methane and CO2."

That biogas can then be used in several ways; however, one of the most common ways is to burn it to generate electricity. Biogas can also be converted into pipelinequality natural gas. The Northeast’s largest anaerobic digester is here in Vermont, at the Goodrich Farm in Salisbury.

Read more about how Scarborough and his team will continue their important work and develop a recently established pilot program with teachers at Winooski Middle School that incorporates food waste science and engineering into their curriculum.

Above: Matt Scarborough. Photo: Dana Ambrose
UVM.EDU/CEMS

A NOTE FROM THE DEAN

Dear Alumni and Friends of CEMS,

It is a thrilling time in the College of Engi neering and Mathematical Sciences! We – and the University – reached a record in new research dollars received and spent. Our faculty and students are thriving. And I am happy to share that the undergrad uate class of 2026 is the largest and most competitive ever admitted to UVM. Our graduate population is also growing!

To support that growth, the University is building graduate housing in South Burling ton. Read more at go.uvm.edu/newhousing.

I hope you enjoy this new format of SUM MIT. You can scan the QR code associated with each story to read more – and you can always access all of our stories at uvm. edu/cems. Our quarterly newsletters are posted on our homepage as well. We hope you enjoy reading about what’s going on and encourage you to keep in touch!

INNOVATING WITH MEDIDATA’S SENSOR CLOUD NETWORK

A reduction in the number of falls that multiple sclerosis patients experience could someday be among the outcomes of the University of Vermont’s participa tion in Medidata’s Sensor Cloud Network.

“We are leveraging the tools and tech nology available in the Medidata Sensor Cloud Network to advance and acceler ate our work in the development of fall risk detection algorithms in the multi ple sclerosis population, a disease that affects 2.3 million patients worldwide, 50% of whom will experience a fall that negatively impacts their quality of life,” said Ryan McGinnis, director of UVM’s M-Sense Research Group, which develops innovative health technologies with part ners in engineering, medicine, mental health and movement science.

UVM, along with eight other highly innovative organizations, is joining the Sensor Cloud Network as part of Medi data’s rapidly expanding approach to patient care.

ARC STUDENTS PRESENT THE NEXT GEN OF SOLAR TECH

Led by UVM seniors Skylar Bagdon and Sarah Horrigan and driven by both the UVM Entrepreneurship Club and UVM Innovations, the Academic Research Commercialization (ARC) program takes technology developed by UVM research ers and faculty and brings them to the mainstream, conducting customer discoveries and pitching the ideas to a real-world audience.

Students involved in the ARC program— including CEMS’ Mason Tuff—made their pitches during UVM Innovation’s 2022 Invention2Venture (I2V) Conference, a yearly event that pulls together dynamic experts, academic researchers, students, entrepreneurs and business leaders from across Vermont and New England to talk about how to protect, develop and finance the next generation of ideas.

One of the ideas ARC students presented was that of Verde Technology’s thin-film solar panels. Verde Technologies is the product of professor and physics depart ment chair Randall Headrick and post doctoral student Richards Miller.

Scan QR codes to find out more about each topic. Or visit us online at: www.uvm.edu/cems

UVM SUMMIT | FALL 2022
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Cheers, Linda S. Schadler DEAN AND PROFESSOR OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES
QR CODES

Packetized Energy, a University of Vermont spinoff company, has been working since 2016 to bring to market patented technology for improving the responsiveness and resilience of power systems. Its technology was the result of research initially conducted by electrical engineering professors and compa ny co-founders Paul Hines, Jeff Frolik and Mads Almassalkhi. The company’s success in the quickly growing field of distributed energy resources (DERs) has now led to its acquisition by EnergyHub, one of the nation’s leading providers of distributed energy resource manage ment solutions (DERMS). EnergyHub announced the acquisition today.

The technology, known as packetized energy management, is built on the fundamentals that underpin electrical engineering at UVM: power systems, control systems and automation, and wireless communications. “The acqui sition today is proof that academic research matters and is a testament to UVM’s small, but mighty electrical engineering program and to Vermont’s successful ecosystem for clean energy innovation,” said Almassalkhi.

UVM undergrads Will Jeffries, Connor McCormack, Joe Consorti, and Olivia Mead took first prize in the interna tional Engineering and Commerce Case Competition, ENGCOMM, hosted by Concordia University, competing against other undergraduate teams from around the world.

“It’s not theoretical,” explains senior Will Jeffries ‘22, a mechanical engineering major in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. “These are actual problems, being brought by real compa nies who are looking for solutions.” In the fierce and heady world of new product development, gaining the imaginative insight of talented young people can be a powerful advantage for companies—but they also want to protect their intellectual property and place in the market.

The students worked as a team, solved complex technical problems, presented to senior engineers and business leaders, and impressed an international panel of judges by how well they brought together their skills in engineering and business— and made a true team.

NEW TOOL FOR CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION PLANNING

Land use planners and researchers in Vermont now have access to maps that show how floods of different sizes are expected to spread across surfaces within river valleys. Created to show a simplified representation of what different severity flood zones might look like across the landscape for conserva tion and land-use planners, each color on the maps represents how water that spreads out from riverbanks might look for eight storm sizes, from 2-year to 500-year flood probabilities.

Researchers at the University of Ver mont, Dr. Rebecca Diehl (Department of Geography) and Dr. Kristen Under wood (Department of Civil & Environ mental Engineering), have generated a continuous map of topographically defined floodplains for Vermont’s Lake Champlain basin rivers that drain more than two square miles.

This work contributed to Vermont’s Func tioning Floodplain Initiative (FFI) to de velop methods and mapping to identify, restore, and protect high priority stream, wetland, and floodplain functions.

UVM SPINOFF ACQUIRED BY ENERGYHUB MAKE IT WORK, MAKE IT GREEN, MAKE IT PAY
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NSF FUNDING AIMS TO REDUCE TRANSPORTATION EMISSIONS TEAM BUILDS FIRST LIVING ROBOTS THAT CAN REPRODUCE

Reducing the environmental impact of travel in small and rural communities will be necessary to meet U.S. climate goals. To address this need, The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the University of Vermont funding for a threeyear project to engage in transformative research aimed at strengthening America’s infrastructure. Dana Rowangould, Assis tant Professor in the College of Engineer ing and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), is the project’s principal investigator.

Rowangould, along with her CEMS col leagues Greg Rowangould and Liz Doran, are working with Jonathan Rubin from the University of Maine as part of Strengthen ing American Infrastructure (SAI), a NSF Program. Effective infrastructure provides a strong foundation for socioeconomic vitali ty and broad quality of life improvement.

Strong, reliable, and effective infrastruc ture spurs private-sector innovation, grows the economy, creates jobs, makes public-sector service provision more efficient, strengthens communities, promotes equal opportunity, protects the natural environment, enhances national security, and fuels American leadership.

Scientists have discovered an entirely new form of biological reproduction — and ap plied their discovery to create the first-ev er, self-replicating living robots.

The same team that built the first living robots ("Xenobots,” assembled from frog cells — reported in 2020) has discov ered that these computer-designed and hand-assembled organisms can swim out into their tiny dish, find single cells, gather hundreds of them together, and assemble “baby” Xenobots inside their Pac-Manshaped “mouth” — that, a few days later, become new Xenobots that look and move just like themselves. Then these new Xenobots can go out, find cells, and build copies of themselves. Again and again.

“With the right design — they will sponta neously self-replicate,” says Joshua Bon gard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont who co-led the new research. And the team sees promise in the research for advance ments toward regenerative medicine, among other applications.

SEED ing STUDENT SUCCESS

The annual Engineering Design Night, was back in person this year! This event is the culmination of students’ work on their Senior Experience in Engineering Design (SEED) projects, funded by indus try and other local partners.

“It’s great to be back in person,” said Dustin Rand, Senior Lecturer in the College of Engineering and Mathematics (CEMS) in the department of Mechanical Engineering. “The students are happy, and it’s wonderful to see how proud they are of having worked hard and seen their projects through.”

Many of the 35 SEED projects connected seniors to local industry, non-for-profits, and UVM-based research groups looking to solve problems or innovate materials or machines. The fantastic solutions the students develop is a testament to the hands-on learning they have received at UVM.

UVM.EDU/CEMS
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COVER: SCARBOROUGH’S

LAB GROUP 2022: From left to right: Matthew Scarborough, Yiota Stamatopoulou (3rd Year Ph.D. Student), Leandro Conrado (3rd Year Ph.D. Student), Amy DeCola (2nd Year M.S. student), Peyton Lienhart (1st Year M.S. Student/ 2nd year AMP Student) in the lab.

Yiota Stamatopoulou sampling from a bioreactor converting food waste to medium-chain carboxylic acids as part of a Vermont NASA EPSCoR funded project. Yiota is also funded by a fellowship from the UVM Food Systems Research Center.

Photos: Dana Ambrose

COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES 109 VOTEY HALL, UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT 33 COLCHESTER AVENUE, BURLINGTON VT 05405 (802) 656-3392 | info@cems.uvm.edu
www.uvm.edu/cems UVM Campus with the beautiful Green Mountains on the horizon. Photo:
Andy Duback
WE’RE SO PROUD OF OUR GRADUATES! Visit our Facebook page to view the commencement image album at: FACEBOOK.COM/UVMCEMS
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