University Honors Program

Live, Learn, Achieve

Winter 2007

Cross-disciplinary undergraduate research projects were initiated by faculty members from across Cal Poly for Honors Students and Cal Poly scholars during the 2006-07 academic year. Below is a list of projects and their descriptions. Contact us if you are interested in joining this experience.

The Solar Powered Office

Dr. Tom Bensky

This project aims to implement a very visible use of alternative energy by building a small solar powered generator to supply 100% of the electrical demands of T. Bensky's physics department office at 52-E19. Students will have a 3 part experience in this project. The first is to learn the principles of solar electric generator; the second is to build and test the system in the flexibility of a research lab. The final phase is to move and integrate the system into the office.

Drugs for the Sea: Medicinally Active Compounds from Marine Sources

Dr. Jennifer Carroll

The primary objective of this project is to identify novel compounds from marine invertebrates which show activity against human diseases. Samples of marine sponges and tunicates will be collected by SCUBA and returned to Cal Poly campus for workup. At Cal Poly each extract will be tested for cytotoxicity by simple and inexpensive bench-top disease bioassays such as the Artemia sp. lethality test and the potato disk assay. Samples will also be submitted to collaborators at the University of Mississippi, National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) for extensive bioassay screening in anti-cancer, anti-microbial and anti-malarial assays.

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Rocket Science is Fun Outreach Program

Dr. Dianne DeTurris

The goal of this project is to use a high power rocket as a platform for having undergraduate college students teaching aerospace systems technologies to high school students. The overall goal of the program is to promote and encourage education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through hands-on design, construction and testing using aerospace applications. This project will also look how to bring this project to the market as well.

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Optical Coherence Tomography Using Single Chip Tunable Lasers

Dr. Dennis Derickson

The first stage of research is focused on design and construction of a high speed optical coherence tomography (OCT) using single chip wavelength tunable lasers. The second stage of research allows the OCT system to be modified for specific samples under test including the correlation of meat tenderness versus the subsurface structure.

Water Availability and Usage for a Livestock Grazing System at Swanton Pacific Ranch

Dr. Brian Dietterick

This group will work in a hands-on environment requiring time in the field and laboratory will help gain technical skill sand increased understanding of management issues relevant to natural resource management in an agriculture/livestock management setting.

Investigation of the Polarization

Dr. Katharina Gillen

This group will focus on modifying an existing Mathematica code to include the polarization dependence of the trapping potential and will calculate the potentials seen by atoms in certain internal states. The outcome may reveal a new way of enabling the performance of 2-qubit gates.

Elucidation of the Interaction between Proteins and Lipids of the MFGM

Dr. Derek Gragson

This research project's ultimate goal is to explore the molecular level structure of monolayer films, bilayer films, and bilayers in vesicles so a comparison and understanding of the role each component plays in the structure and function of the MFGM can be drawn. MFGM is composed of a complex mixture of proteins, triglycerides, sterols, phospholipids, and fatty acids and acts as an emulsifying agent, suspending milk-fat in the aqueous milk plasma thus preventing coalescence and flocculation of the milk-fat.

Temperature and Gas Conditions at Municipal Solid Waste Landfills

Dr. Jim Hanson

Research is being conducted on 5 different landfills around the world. Data is being documented, and this group will be involved in analyzing the field data as well as development of numerical models to quantify and predict field response.

Expression of Proteins for Non-Food Applications in Transgenic Plants

Dr. John Howard

This project involves using a biochemical enzyme assay to quantify the reporter gene in various tissues. The best promoters will then be used to drive proteins for specific applications such as ethanol production.

Usability Evaluation of Tablet PCs

Dr. Franz J. Kurfess

The goal of this project is to identify examples from different disciplines that demonstrate measurable improvements in usability for tablet PCs in comparison to conventional laptops.

Interaction between Humans and Robots

Dr. Franz J. Kurfess

The goal of this project is to explore examples of interaction between humans and robots in different disciplines, such as the use of robots in manufacturing, for household chores, or in medical settings.

CSU Honors Program Directors Survey

Jennifer Merriam

The purpose of this research is to conduct a survey of Honors Program Directors throughout the CSU system. The findings will be used in guiding the program expansion of Cal Poly's Honors Program.

Hybrid Rocket Motor Development

Dr. William R. Murray

The goal of this project is to design a solid fuel geometries to optimize combustion performance in a rocket motor. This optimization process will require iterative cycles of design and testing.

Speaking With Hands

Dr. Saeed Niku

This project involves the design and manufacturing of a multifingered hand, conversion of text data to signal data, conversion of signal data to finger motions, and a controller. This is to help aid deaf-and blind individuals who can only communicate with finger-spelling.

Drop Testing Reliability of Lead-Free Solder Interconnections

Dr. John Pan

The objective of this proposal is to investigate the drop testing reliability of lead-free solder interconnections. This proposal consists of two parts. The first part is intended to develop a high-speed resistance measurement system that is capable of measuring the resistance of solder interconnections at a scan frequency of 50KHz and greater with a 16 bit signal width. Both hardware and software will be developed in this project. The second part of the proposal is to conduct drop tests.

Vestibular Stimulation Apparatus for Cerebral Palsy Therapy

Dr. Brian Self

Vestibular profiles about multiple axes would provide much greater stimulation to the child and could result in greater improvements in motor control, arousal level, reflex development, and possible even behavioral and mental development. This project will focus on designing and building a prototype rotational system used for Cerebral Palsy therapy. This group will also test the prototypes effectiveness using patients in the local community.

Solar Powered Wireless Access Point

Dr. John Seng

This project hopes to further facilitate the cause for providing web access to communities by developing low-cost, solar-powered wireless access points (WAPs). These WAPs could operate as self-contained units that operate independent from the power grid, and act as relays to broaden the effective WiFi coverage of an existing wireless network.

Physics at the Nanoscale: Optical Tweezers and Bacterial Adhesion

Dr. John Sharpe

The overall aim of this project is to measure the force of bacterial adhesion to a number of biologically interesting membrane proteins. We do this using optical tweezers which can manipulate microscopic objects with nanometer positioning resolution.

Integrating Technology into Physical Education

Dr. J. Kevin Taylor

This group will work with Kinesiology students and faculty to develop units of instruction for teachers in the public schools. Students will teach Math and Science using technology through movement activities and games.


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Heat Pumps in CA Greenhouses

Dr. Ilhami Yildiz & Prof. Virginia Walter

This project focuses on reducing natural gas, electricity, and water consumption in California greenhouses introducing renewable energy heat pump technologies to both open and confined greenhouses in California.

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