Link Foundation Fellowships Newsletter

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Meet this Year's Fellowship Recipients

Link Fellowship Awardees For 2016

Ocean Engineering and Instrumentation

ImageName: Katherine Anarde
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
School:  Rice University
Project: Quantifying Morphodynamic Change of Barrier Islands during Extreme Storms
Research Advisor:  Dr. Philip B. Bedient (Rice University) and Dr. Jens Figlus (Texas A&M University)

Ms. Anarde is a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University. Her research integrates field experiments with computational models to investigate morphological changes to coastal barriers and tidal deltas during extreme storms. A Colorado native, she obtained a B.S. in Geology with a specialization in Geophysics at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. Katherine’s undergraduate research explored the use of Love-wave tomography, a subsurface imaging technique, in testing mantle plume theory off the coast of Hawaii. Seeking to live near the ocean, she moved to Southern California upon graduation where she spent several years working for an environmental engineering firm. Katherine returned to school in 2014 and is now studying under the supervision of Dr. Phil Bedient (Rice University) and Dr. Jens Figlus (Texas A&M University).

With the support of the Link Foundation, Katherine is designing and pilot testing a novel instrumentation array that can be rapidly deployed on the upper shoreface just prior to a hurricane attack. These instrumentation pods will feature pressure sensors and low-cost tilt-current meters to measure wave action, still-water levels, and current velocity. An unmanned aerial system will be used to create precise barrier-scale elevation maps to document topographic changes just before and immediately after the storm. The overarching goal of this research is to improve the accuracy of coastal sediment transport models in representing nearshore dynamics during extreme storms by comparing them against careful, and much-needed, field measurements. While her research focuses on a specific barrier island system, the Upper Texas Coast, the broader impact of this research is that it will improve our knowledge of barrier dynamics and coastal change worldwide.


ImageName: Jeff Colvin
Department:  Marine and Environmental Systems
School:  Florida Institute of Technology 
Project:  Measuring Wind-Driven Wave Properties in a Coastal Estuary
Research Advisor: Dr. Steven Lazarus


Mr. Colvin is a PhD student in the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). He received his Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics from Bridgewater College in Virginia. Jeff entered the Meteorology graduate program at FIT in 2012 as a Teaching Assistant. In 2014 he began working as a Research Assistant under Dr. Steven Lazarus on a NOAA Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research (CSTAR) funded project entitled, “An Ensemble-Based Approach to Forecasting Surf, Set-Up, and Surge in the Coastal Zone.” His work on the CSTAR project led to Jeff being accepted to give two talks – “Forecasting Wind Set-Up in a Coastal Estuary” and “Measuring Wind-Driven Wave Properties in a Coastal Estuary” – at the 14th Symposium on the Coastal Environment at the 96th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting held in New Orleans in January 2016.

The focus of his dissertation work is to improve wind-wave modeling within coastal environments. Wind generated waves in a shallow estuary are impacted by nearby land and bottom topography such that wave heights are fetch limited and constrained by the water depth. Atmospheric models often do not take this into account and may be misrepresenting the air-water interface. The goal is to develop and test a new surface roughness parameterization specifically for the estuarine environment. In part, this requires observations of the surface roughness, wave heights, and wind speed which can then be related to the fetch and bathymetry in order to parameterize the physical processes of the system. Jeff’s work centers around the Indian River Lagoon – a long, narrow estuary on Florida’s east coast. Instrumentation for measuring wave heights is sparse to nonexistent on the lagoon, making it difficult to validate model forecast wave heights.

Jeff has proposed a new approach to extract wave properties directly from a video camera. Previous methods used to measure the heights of breaking ocean waves have involved using a collection of control points – objects in the camera’s field of view of known height and distance from the camera. The Link Foundation’s support will allow him to pursue an approach that eliminates the need for control points by determining the location of the camera’s optical axis on the video frames. The procedure includes two steps – 1) camera calibration, and 2) timestack generation. The former corrects for radial and tangential lens distortion and determines the camera’s focal lengths and optical axis, while the latter is a time sampled collection of pixel columns from the video frames from which wave properties can be extracted. The novel approach yields a method of obtaining wave properties that is both easily portable and cost effective. The results of his research will directly benefit others who might otherwise be deterred by prohibitive costs (e.g., buoy), will improve high resolution hydrodynamic, wave, and atmospheric modeling, and will provide valuable insight to scientists conducting research in the coastal environment.


ImageName: Amir Kazemi
Department:  Ocean and Mechanical Engineering  
School: Florida Atlantic University
Project: Design and Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Bioinspired Wave Damping System
Research Advisor: Dr. Oscar Curet

Mr. Kazemi is a Ph.D. student at Florida Atlantic University working on a flexible bio-inspired mangrove structure. He intends to characterize the complex flow structure within the mangrove swamp. As an undergraduate student, he studied mechanical engineering and worked on optimizing the efficiency of a micro heat exchanger. He received his master of science in aerospace engineering degree from Tehran Polytechnic in 2011, worked on experimental measurement of micro jet engine performance parameters in unsteady condition. As part of this project, he implemented a novel non-nulling method in flow field measurement. This work sparked his research interests in experimental fluid dynamics, fluid-structure interaction, and data analysis. Prior to beginning the PhD program, he worked as a R&D engineer for testing Siemens gas turbines as well as a researcher in National Elite Foundation in Iran.  With a long-standing interest in fluid dynamics of bio-inspired systems he came to FAU in 2013 working under supervision of Dr. Oscar Curet.

Amir investigated the effect of mangrove-like prop roots and their influence on tidal-dominated flow under controlled conditions. He modeled the roots of the mangrove swamp as arrays of circular cylinders that form a porous patch. He was awarded FAU Graduate Research and Inquiry Program (GRIP) which enabled him to extend his observations and specifically test the relationship of the porosity, spatial ratio, and flexibility on drag coefficient exerted on the patch of mangrove root-like cylinders. Moreover, he captured wake regions and measured streamwise water velocities at different locations behind the models by Acoustic Doppler velocimeter and presented his results in APS DFD meeting. Recently, Amir has been focusing on vortex dynamics and flow visualization by Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) technique.  He investigates the interactions among vortices of different size and shape and sees prospects to apply his research to the fields of turbulence.

The Link Foundation fellowship will enable him to continue the type of research he has been pursuing as a graduate student. He aims to design a mangrove-inspired structure that can damp the wave while it is oscillating with its natural frequency. He proposed that by using a flexible mangrove “feathered” structure, the area behind the wall can be optimized so that the damping area size will be determined from the required amount of wave energy dissipation. The application of the proposed mangrove-inspired wave breaker is to buffer the impacts of waves, storm surges, and tsunamis on coastal property and infrastructure by dissipating incoming wave energy. The Link Foundation fellowship will support him to conduct the proposed work and provide in-depth knowledge to advance the theoretical and practical understanding of integrating dynamic systems within a bio-inspired engineered shoreline and promote a signature theme in ocean engineering.


ImageName: Ane Joan Muvadgah
Department:  Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering  
School: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Project: A New Generation of Real-Time, In-situ Phosphate Sensors for Use in Commercial Sondes That Measure Ocean Water Quality
Research Advisor: Dr. Nikhil Koratkar

Ms. Muvadgah is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She hails from Cameroon in Central Africa. She is bilingual and speaks both English and French fluently. She is a passionate problem solver and a community activist in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Her pursuit of an engineering career in academia results from a challenge by her high school physics teacher that engineering was not a favorable career path for girls. She seeks to help increase the numbers of women and minorities in the STEM fields in both industry and academia by pursuing educational programs that will inspire students as early as elementary school to want to pursue careers in STEM when they go to college. It is in this light that she became the founding president of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) as well as a pioneering member of the Society of Women Engineers at the university. She now belongs to several other engineering professional organizations, in addition to the two mentioned above.

Ane came to Rensselaer from UCO after graduating magna cum laude at the top of her undergraduate engineering class. After serving as the NSBE chapter president at UCO, she went on to become the academic excellence chair for NSBE’s Region V, which included 10 U.S. states and several other countries. Her role as the academic excellence chair was to improve the academic programs at the chapter levels of the organization. She has received numerous scholarships and awards for her academic excellence and community activism. Along with her scholastic achievement, Ane has worked as an engineering intern for companies including Johnson Controls, Inc. and CDM Smith. Her extracurricular activities include reading, running, dancing, and traveling.

Ane’s research at RPI focuses on environmental sensors and systems applications, with the advisement of Dr. Nikhil Koratkar. In this research, ultraviolet photodetectors will be developed that have the ability to detect phosphates in ocean water. The current state of technology involves expensive commercial sondes (i.e., platforms that contain a variety of sensors) containing proprietary technology that quantifies only a limited set of parameters (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and chlorophyll). Ane’s research is to create research-grade sensors to quantify new parameters of water quality (i.e., phosphates) and incorporate them into a network of low-cost, modular, solar-powered, open source sondes. A major flaw in current technology used to measure water quality is the inability to measure phosphate in-situ. Researchers now quantify phosphates by collecting water samples from nature, bringing the samples to a “wet lab,” and waiting weeks for results.

Recent technological advances have offered the potential to develop real-time, in-situ phosphate sensors for the first time. Many natural inorganic ions and organic compounds exhibit strong absorption in deep-UV wavelengths (<300 nm; Guenther et al., 2001), so optical detection offers the opportunity to have real-time, reagentless detection of phosphates in aqueous environments. Ane will also investigate materials for solar energy harvesting, so the sensors are self-powered and can therefore be used in remote places, without need of charging, for long periods of time. The Link Foundation fellowship will support Ane to experimentally investigate the materials that will be used to make an in-situ sensor to accomplish the continuous, real-time monitoring of phosphates in ocean water, which is of particular importance, because phosphates are one of the key factors that cause harmful algal blooms, dead zones, and greatly reduced water transparency. As a result, the protection and management of ocean water quality are rapidly growing global issues.


If you would like to find out more about the Link Ocean Engineering and Instrumentation Fellows and projects that have been funded in the field of Ocean Engineering by the Link Foundation, please visit the webpage at