Graduate Student Spotlights 

 

Bijay K C - Civil and Environmental Engineering

Bijay K-C received UVM’s 2020 Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year award in the laboratory instruction category. Since joining UVM in the fall of 2017, Bijay has been a teaching assistant for three different CEE courses with intensive labs that require a thorough understanding of the practical and theoretical aspects of the subjects, excellent organizational skills, and ability to plan. In all cases his student evaluations have been outstanding and faculty members look forward to working with him and praise his teaching abilities. Originally from Nepal, Bijay came to UVM to work with Prof. Ehsan Ghazanfari for his doctoral studies that seek toto understand the thermal-hydrological-mechanical and chemical processes impact on the permeability of the geothermal field. He uses experiments and data analytics to understand the reservoir processes that impact the energy production. His research has already resulted in papers in the Journal of Geothermics and Journal of Geophysics.

 

Leonardo Pockels - PhD Student

Leonardo Pockels is a second year Ph.D. student, working with Prof. Eric Hernandez. His research focus on reducing the seismic risk of urban areas by deploying mobile sensor networks that measure key dynamic parameters, to assess the current state of building structures (diagnosis) and predict their future seismic performance (prognosis). He has a Master of Science in Structural Engineering from Utah State University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering at Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC), in the Dominican Republic. Leonardo is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship from the Department of State of the United States of America.  Prior to coming to UVM, Leonardo worked for two years at the National Bureau for the Seismic Evaluation of Structures in the Dominican Republic, where he has been involved in the seismic performance evaluation of public schools, government infrastructure and hospitals.

 

Lindsay Worley - Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lindsay joined the PhD program as part of the NSF IGERT (National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program) Smart Grid Grant. She earned her BS degree in Civil Engineering from UM in 2013. Upon graduation, she worked as a consulting engineer first in solar and then in stormwater management. During the summer of 2018, she had an internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee as part of the IGERT grant. She worked in the hydropower department on the team concentrating on the Standard Modular Hydropower Project. Lindsay enjoyed her experience working at a National Lab and exploring Tennessee for the summer. She is currently exploring a specific research topic for her PhD dissertation with her advisors Professors Kristen Underwood and Donna Rizzo.

 

Panagiota Stamatopoulou – PhD student

Panagiota (Yiota) Stamatopoulou works with Professor Matthew Scarborough. Yiota's research focuses on production of medium-chain fatty acids from agricultural waste using anaerobic microbial communities. Previously, she did her MESc at Western University in Canada, focusing on the partial nitritation- anammox process for sidestream wastewater treatment using membrane-aerated biofilm reactor technology. She is originally from Greece, where she did her undergraduate studies in Environmental Engineering at the University of Patras followed by a MSc in Municipal Solid Waste management at the National Technical University of Athens. Yiota received a prestigious graduate research fellowship from the Gerondelis Foundation in November 2020. Yiota is also the first author on a recently published review of medium-chain fatty acid production.

Rachel Seigel – MS student

Rachel was selected as the 2020 Outstanding Student of the Year by the Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center (TIDC) at the University of Maine. TIDC’s member universities include the University of Maine, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of Vermont, and Western New England University. Rachel’s award was announced at the TIDC Student Recognition Night held virtually on October 21. For the past 29 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation has honored an outstanding graduate student from each active University Transportation Center (UTC) for the achievements and accomplishments in the transportation field during the year. Students are selected by each UTC based on their accomplishment in such areas as technical merit and research, academic performance, professionalism, and leadership. The selected students from each UTC are honored at a banquet each January in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the Transpiration Research Board’s Annual Meeting.


TIDC also held their first Annual Student Recognition Night and second Annual Student Poster Contest on October 21, 2020. Rachel’s poster (Bridge-Stream Network Modeling for Bridge Risk Assessment and Flood Mitigation) received the Judges’ Award for the Best Poster.


For her MS research with advisors Professors Mandar Dewoolkar and Arne Bomblies, Rachel is quantifying the dynamic interactions between a river and its surrounding infrastructure, particularly bridges, under highly uncertain, transient conditions to help assess a number of flood mitigation strategies including floodplain reconnection using two-dimensional hydrological models. Her research is funded by the TIDC and the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Stephen Montaño – MS student

The popularity of electric bicycles (e-bikes) has grown recently in Vermont, but little is known about how Vermonters use e-bikes and what cities and towns can do to increase their use as an alternative to driving. Master’s student Stephen Montaño hopes that his research with the University of Vermont Transportation Research Center with Prof. Greogory Rowangould will help answer these questions. Stephen has been doing bicycle research for several years during his undergraduate years at the University of New Mexico.  In both 2018 and 2019, Stephen was awarded a Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship to support his e-bike research as a graduate research assistant.
Stephen developed a survey to understand differences in how Vermonters using conventional and e-bikes choose their bicycle routes, the types of trips they make on bicycles, how safe they feel while riding and their preferences for different types of bicycle facilities and street designs. The preliminary analysis of the survey data indicates that some differences exist between e-bike and conventional bicycle riders regarding route choice and infrastructure preferences. Stephen’s next steps will be digging into the complete survey results and creating a statistical model to better understand the significance of the differences between conventional and e-bike users.  Although Vermont’s transportation system is designed primarily to accommodate cars, Stephen purports that Vermonters can take advantage of the benefits of bicycling if the system’s infrastructure is optimized to suit bikes and e-bikes as forms of transportation. He hopes that this research will help communities across the state improve the design of streets and paths so that riding a conventional or e-bike is safer, more convenient and enjoyable for all.