University of Vermont

Barrett Scholarships Provide UVM Summer Research

2012 Barrett ScholarsFive 2012 scholarship recipients have received Barrett Scholarships for summer research at the University of Vermont’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS). 

Richard Barrett, ’66 UVM alumnus, founded the Barrett Foundation as a family nonprofit because his own career was boosted by his early undergraduate internship experience.  His vision for undergraduate student research is in its eighth year.  Each project is approved and designed to fit within a general environmental research area of an engineering faculty advisor.   Through CEMS faculty matching research funds, a total of five student research projects are funded for 2012.

“These undergraduate engineering students have the unique opportunity to pursue independent research and work with leading faculty scholars in their fields,” says Dr. Donna Rizzo, faculty advisor and P.I. for the Barrett Foundation scholarship grant.

Overviews of the 2012 student research projects are in alphabetical order below:

Analysis and Evaluation of Seismic Base Isolation Systems with Special Focus on Historic Structures

Kasey Cybulak (Advisor: Dr. Priyantha Wijesinghe)

The United States Geological Survey has 2000-2011 data showing an upward trend in the number of major earthquakes worldwide. This increased seismic activity and accompanying structural damage motivates our need to research the quality, overall performance and the efficiency of different base isolation systems that can be successfully utilized in historic structures. A base isolation is a collection of structural constituents, which act to significantly decouple a superstructure from its foundation, thus protecting the structure from damage causing earthquake forces.  Three main base isolation methods, commonly used in historic buildings, have been identified for analysis. These methods include 1) lead-plug rubber bearings, 2) elastomeric bearings, and 3) rolling pendulums systems chosen due to their significant difference in operating principle and successful use in other structures. Each method will be studied independently using computer models and earthquake time histories to analyze and select an optimal base isolation system for historical structures.  A new conceptual method or a combination of several existing methods will emerge as a result of these analyses. 

Effects of Riparian Vegetation on Streambank Morphology

Sebastian Downs (Advisor: Maeve McBride)

Severe flood events, such as those that occurred in the wake of tropical storm Irene, often have the greatest impact upon communities located along rivers and streams. As the streambanks flood, erosion, deposition, and debris wreak havoc on riverside communities, and will often alter the course of the river. However, the impacts of these flood events often vary greatly from one reach of the river to another.

Through a combination of scaled scour modeling in a controlled laboratory flume, historical aerial photograph analysis, and modern light detection and ranging (LiDAR), the impacts of impermeable stream obstructions, and riparian vegetation age and type on erosion and deposition will be evaluated. This analysis will provide a better understanding of how to improve streambank morphology, with an interest in remediating flood damage.


Applying  Bio-Mediated Soil Improvement to Erosion Prevention

Will Greenwood (Advisor: Dr. Mandar Dewoolkar)

Ground improvement is an integral part of many processes in geotechnical engineering. Not all sites contain soils that provide necessary stability to structures. Chemical stabilizers are used to bind soil particles together in order to strengthen their structure. However, these are toxic and degrading to the environment. Utilizing biological processes has been identified as an alternative. This involves using properties of bacteria to induce precipitation of calcium carbonate in the soil subsurface. The calcium carbonate acts as a stabilizer and improves the engineering properties of the soil. This process has shown great promise in previous studies investigating strength of bio-remediated soils, but many questions remain. This project aims to identify the effectiveness of biological remediation on erosion resistance. Laboratory submerged jet erosion tests will be conducted on highly erodible sand improved with bio-treatment. The results will be analyzed to assess the degree of erosion resistance provided by the bio-remediation. The research will identify the plausibility of using biological soil treatment to stabilize erodible soils.


“Earthquakes Rock!” – Using Precariously Balanced Rocks to Assess Seismic Hazards

Hannah Maloy Advisors: Dr. Eric Hernandez (UVM- primary advisor);
Dr. Paul Bierman (UVM-cosmogenic laboratory); Dr. Dylan Rood, Tim Johnson,
Emily Schultz-Fellenz (Los Alamos National Lab) and Aviva Sussman (Los Alamos National Lab)

Precariously balanced rocks, also known as hoodoos act as natural seismometers. Zones of these fragile features sometimes exist in seismically active areas, but studies have shown that they are not present in the vicinity of historically large earthquakes. This suggests that these rocks can effectively be used to put upper bounds on the ground motion that has occurred in these zones during their lifetime. In the Pueblo and Rendija Canyons of the Pajarito fault system located in Northern New Mexico, over 60 precariously balanced rocks were recorded. The presence of dark desert varnish on many of these features suggests that they have been in place for thousands of years. To confirm this, cosmogenic dating will be performed to determine the approximate date that these features became susceptible to earthquake motion. This, in conjunction with a probabilistic assessment of their structural stability will allow for evaluation of the seismic risk near the site of Los Alamos National Lab’s new chemistry and metallurgy research building.


Phosphorus in the Lake Champlain Basin

Lindsay Taylor - Advisor: Professor Arne Bomblies

Phosphorus runoff continues to be problematic in the Lake Champlain Basin leading to accelerated eutrophication (i.e., increased growth in algae and aquatic weeds).  Algae blooms deplete the lake oxygen supply needed for plants and animals affecting recreation, fisheries, drinking water, and industry.  The Vermont and New York Departments of Environmental Conservation have created phosphorus reduction goals for areas that do not meet water quality standards in Lake Champlain; over 90% of the areas do not meet the set goals.  Working in collaboration with Josh Tyler, this research will involve estimating evapotranspiration and infiltration from our study using meteorological data monitored over the summer period. Rating curves for each of the flow gauges along with a hydraulic mass balance for the four fields will also be determined.  The hydraulic mass balance will help determine how much runoff is going into the lake to help fix the phosphorus issue across the state.


Kasey Cybulak will be a senior in the School of Engineering, majoring in civil engineering.  Originally from Lincoln, Massachusetts and she attended Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.

Sebastian Cloyd Downs will be a senior in the School of Engineering, majoring in environmental engineering. Originally from New Hope, Pennsylvania and he attended Solebury School.

Hannah Viele Maloy will be a senior in the School of Engineering, majoring in Civil Engineering and Mathematics. She is originally from Loudonville, NY and attended the Albany Academy for Girls in Albany, NY class of 2009. 

Will Greenwood will be a senior in the School of Engineering, majoring in civil engineering.  Originally from Harpswell, Maine and he attended Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, Maine.

Lindsay Taylor will be a senior in the School of Engineering, majoring in civil engineering.  Originally from Langhorne, Pennsylvania, she attended Neshaminy High School.  


For more information and videos on the Barrett Scholarships visit:

For more information contact:
Donna Rizzo <>