On November 9th, 2010 staff from UVM Communications traveled the campus talking with students in an effort to learn about their experiences working at UVM, pursuing knowledge and making discoveries. At 2:51 pm. Courtney Giles, a Ph.D. graduate student was working in the Hill Lab of Votey Hall with advisor Dr. Jane Hill when the UVM film crew walked in to ask how things were going. Read the original article here.
Courtney, a Jeffords Fellow, is originally from Schenectady, New York. She received a BS in Chemistry and a BA in Environmental Geochemical Science from the State University of New York (New Paltz, NY) in 2007 and she plans to complete her doctoral degree in May 2012. Her research focuses on improving plant nutrition in regions with nutrient-poor soils, decreasing the use of non-renewable rock phosphate fertilizers and minimizing nutrient-pollution and surface water eutrophication. To accomplish this, she is studying how microorganisms (specifically Pseudomonads) contribute to the cycling of organic phosphorus (P) compounds in soils with the goal of developing sustainable phosphorus fertilization strategies (a.k.a. green fertilizers). The specific goal of her research is to understand how organic acids produced by Pseudomonads influence organic P cycling and plant-availability in soils. Her future research plans involve traveling to Australia to work with Dr. Alan Richardson, an expert in the field of plant nutrition, to complete the final stage of her thesis research. Upon completing her degree, Courtney hopes to continue this research as a post-doctoral associate. To contact Courtney, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The initial spark of interest in Electrical Engineering for me began with my interest in robotics. From a young age I was fascinated by the thought that, through some esoteric art, an amalgam of mechanical elements, wires, and electrical components could be brought to 'life'; to move, to navigate, to explore, to build. UVM's EE department though has taught me so much more than simply the means to bring together the parts and pieces necessary to bring my own robotic creations to life. Here I've learned to look at the world and our technology with new eyes: from learning to understand and work with transistors more than one-thousand times smaller than a human hair, to learning to program and control embedded microcomputers, to learning about the ways our mobile phones use radio waves, which ripple through space, to carry our voices, thoughts and ideas to the farthest corners of the Earth, and beyond; all of this and more I've learned here. Through UVM I've worked with NASA's Intelligent Robotics Group, researchers doing cutting edge research at IBM, and am surrounded by numerous opportunities and networks in and out of the classroom. And for all of my disparate passions and interests in the world of things electrical/electronic, for each aspect there is an expert faculty member here more than willing to open their door to me to share their time, experiences, insights and knowledge, as well as to encourage me in my own exploration. UVM's priority to focus on research, and emphasis on supporting the research of its students, has allowed me to really pursue my own academic and professional interests and goals, while consistently challenging me to expand not only my knowledge base, but also my perspective.
My initial desire to be an engineer was rooted in wanting to make the world a little bit better through applied science and technology. In my research at UVM, I'm working with a local national park to design and install a user-friendly intelligent energy management system. Our project helps me further understand the intersection of engineering research and practical application, and it will allow us to educate park employees and visitors on energy usage.
UVM's focus on transdisciplinary research and cooperation between departments allows me to incorporate complex systems, classic electrical engineering and power systems engineering classes without applying for a special program. Best of all, my professors are all accessible and very dedicated to ensuring the education of their students.
I believe within the Energy Systems group we do research that is highly related to our daily life as citizens. For instance, most people from small and large communities have questions about renewable sources of energy, fossil fuel sustainability and/or smart grids. My particular interest is to obtain insights regarding the structure and dynamics of power grids in order to understand how to reduce the frequency and size of blackouts. In approaching that goal, we are utilizing innovative techniques inherited from other vibrant research fields such as biology or social sciences.
I chose to study at UVM because it has the engineering research resources available at larger institutions in a smaller school environment. The size of classes and departments provide the chance to learn from and collaborate directly with internationally recognized professors. It is exciting to know that the author of the last paper describing the most cutting-edge approach to your research may be next door.
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