Author(s): Katie Lawton Environmental Sciences Victoria Bennett Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Victoria Bennett Environmental Sciences Mark Demarest Biology Becky Johnson Environmental Sciences
Location: Zoom Room 3, 12:30 PM
To understand wildlife ecology, one common strategy is a technique known as telemetry. This technique involves attaching radio-transmitters to animals. For volant species, such as bats, transmitters are attached to their backs with an adhesive. However, one issue is that it is easy for the bats to remove the transmitter. The loss of transmitters early in surveys is not only costly, but limits the amount of data that can be collected. Thus, there is a real need to extend the length of time a transmitter remains on a bat. To address this, we conducted a two-part behavioral observation study in the bat flight facility at TCU. In part 1 from April to September 2019, we tested 1) two currently available transmitter brands and 2) three different prototype designs to determine if the overall shape and size of the transmitter impacted the length of time they remained attached. We found that regardless of transmitter brand or design, the antennas incurred a significant amount of damage, suggesting the bats used the antennas to grab and pull them off. Thus, for part 2 from August to September 2020, we conducted a series of trials to establish the effectiveness of three coatings at preventing bats from damaging the antennas. We found that transmitters did not remain attached significantly longer with cayenne pepper, nail-biting deterrent, or Tabasco sauce on the antenna, suggesting that either 1) bats were not deterred by the three coatings we selected, or 2) bats may not be chewing the antennas or putting them in their mouths to provide leverage to remove them. Overall, our study revealed that bats can and will remove transmitters by grooming them off using the antennas and recommend that future research focuses on integrating the antenna into the body of the transmitter as a preventative measure.
Author(s): Meagan Alexander Environmental Sciences Benite Ishimwe Environmental Sciences Olivia Jones Environmental Sciences Manyiel Mel Geological Sciences Montreal Taylor Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Omar Harvey Geological Sciences
Location: Zoom Room 6, 01:10 PM
(Presentation is private)
Agricultural soils require the presence of three basic plant nutrients: Nitrogen, phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK). Each nutrient has its role in plant growth and their deficiencies have adverse effects. Therefore, detailed analysis was required to analyze whether soils from a lake were sufficient in terms of these nutrients and could be suggested for use as an agricultural soil amendment on a particular plot of land. Experimental study by way of specific chemical analysis methods (LOI, spectroscopy, etc.) looked at water content, pH, EC, SOC (Soil Organic Carbon), phosphorus and nitrogen content in the lake sediments; these values were used to determine what contents/nutrients in the lake sediments would need to be optimized for crops of interest. Results from the concluding experimental procedures would allow the property owner to effectively make use of their resources.
(Presentation is private)
The Louisiana coast is prone to power tropical storm systems, known as hurricanes, which commonly cause significant damage to the environment and financial infrastructure in coastal states, such as Louisiana. Using landsat data acquired from the USGS, determining land cover degradation from seasonal low-pressure storms that span different decades can be made possible. This GIS-based study also takes into account elevation models (DEMs) to provide an accurate portrayal of how coastal vegetation influences the impact of these storms, as well as how storm intensity influences the morphology of coastlines.
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Hawaii’s most active volcano, Kilauea, poses many threats to the surrounding infrastructure of the Big Island. Surface deformation from eruptions and underground magma tunnels have produced a growing lava lake within the Eastern Rift Zone, located on the Southeast tip of the island, since 2018. Using remote sensing techniques and GIS, I will use recent data collected from Kilauea’s eruptions and Halema’uma’u lava lake to create a volcanic hazards map of the region. A volcanic hazards map gives us insight to where the safest place are to inhabit on the surface of the island.
(Presentation is private)
There are many major geologic units that outcrop in various regions of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. A major unit that will be discussed in the current study is the Eagleford Shale. Previous studies have generated geologic maps that illustrate where this unit crops-out within the study region. The goal of this study is to create a modern geologic hazard zonation map of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex focusing on areas where the Eagleford crops-out. On this map, I will include the spatial distribution of discovered Eagleford outcrop locations and will integrate photographs that illustrate the stratigraphy of this formations using GIS.
Subsequently, I will use the map to calculate the area of all Eagleford surficial deposits within the study region. This shale is a mudrock that is primarily made up of soft-sediments and clays and can pose a geological hazard where it reaches the surface due to shrinking and swelling. This can cause major foundation issues to infrastructure that is built on this unit. Therefore, this map can be used for the purpose of taking precautionary measures when planning the construction of new buildings and road networks within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
The Lower Cenomanian Maness Shale is an argillaceous mudrock that occurs between the Buda Limestone and Woodbine Sandstone in the East Texas Field, and was originally placed within the Washita Group based on its biostratigraphy. It regionally extends throughout the East Texas Basin in tandem with the overlying Woodbine Group and displays considerable thickness and facies variations. The Maness interval is significant because previous studies indicate that it may be a hydrocarbon source rock.
Although this mudrock has been studied for several decades, the sediment source of the Maness remains in question. Prior studies have indicated that the sediment comprising the Maness could have come from multiple sources, one of them being the southern side of the Sabine Uplift. In the current study, I will correlate well logs through the south side of the Sabine Uplift from Polk and Tyler counties through Rusk county. I will then generate an isopach map of the study area and will compare thickness trends to those shown on the composite isopach map constructed by English (2020). Lastly, I will examine a core from Tyler or Polk counties that could potentially reveal clastic sandstones occurring within the Maness. The findings will be used to test my hypothesis that the Maness Shale is sourced from the southern portion of the Sabine Uplift.
The Atlantic Forest, which extends over 17 Brazilian States, is one of the richest biomes in the world. Historically it has been a hot spot for biodiversity including endangered and endemic species. Despite this, only 15% of the forest’s original range remains. This loss is disproportionally distributed as 4 of the 17 states accounts for 90% of the loss. The source of this deforestation can be attributed primarily to logging developments and eucalyptus plantations. Through using public geodatabases, satellite imagery, and ArcGIS Pro we will show this forest loss and fragmentation in a visually accessible way.
Hardness, defined as resistance to surface deformation, is an intrinsic property of all materials including sedimentary rocks. The variables responsible for a sedimentary rock’s hardness are not completely understood. By understanding which variables control hardness, we may gain a better understanding of related rock strength. Rock strength, defined as a rock’s resistance to plastic deformation under loading, is an important parameter for many industries such as mining, civil engineering, and hydrocarbon exploration.
Numerous tests such as triaxial tests or uniaxial tests are used to quantify rock strength, but are often expensive, time consuming, or require substantial investment in laboratory setup. To circumvent these issues, other devices have been employed to determine rock strength. For example, the Proceq Equotip Bambino micro-rebound hammer (Bambino) has been used for decades to test the hardness of materials such as concrete, steel, and ceramics. These hardness values have been used to determine material strength. Selected studies on rocks empirically correlate between Bambino-derived hardness value (called Leeb hardness) and uniaxial compressive strength (UCS). However, significant scatter in the data suggest that certain intrinsic (e.g., density, bulk mineralogy, etc.) or extrinsic factors (e.g., sample volume, surface the sample rests on) need to be considered for a better correlation.
In this study, I examined the relations between Leeb hardness and UCS values, while examining lithologic variations and other properties such as bulk mineralogy, water loss, volume, density, and effective porosity. I found that bulk mineralogy, density, effective porosity, and water content correlated with a sample’s mechanical hardness. Also, a sample’s UCS is related to its density, effective porosity, and mechanical hardness. Ultimately, these data validated previous studies and shed new insight on the controlling properties of a rock’s hardness and strength.
The Kittanning coal seams run underneath West Virginia, southeast Ohio, and southwestern Pennsylvania. It is part of a sequence that underlies the Freeport and Pittsburgh coals. All three seams are of Pennsylvanian Age. Of the seams in the Northern Appalachian Basin, the Kittanning has the among the largest extents. For that reason, it will most likely be the greatest influencer on population patterns. Since the early 1800s, the people of the region mined and used coal to produce their energy. As such, it is the goal of this research is to determine the spatial relationship between the economic coal sources and population centers.
(Presentation is private)
Anxiety related to academics, especially with regards to testing, is a rapidly growing mental health issue impacting all undergraduates at TCU. High levels of test anxiety have been shown to inhibit memory recall, reduce exam scores, and promote poor study habits. Expressive writing is a form of test anxiety intervention consisting of a type of free response developed to allow students to release their minds of anxious thoughts and emotions related to exams. Expressive writing has been shown to reduce test anxiety and improve exam performance. However, the effectiveness of expressive writing may be mitigated by a students’ level of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions. In order to better understand the connection between emotional intelligence and expressive writing, I conducted an exploratory mixed-methods study using quantitative survey data to inform our selection of interview participants and the initial development of my interview protocol. Initially, to gain insight into students’ responses to the expressive writing prompt, I collected and coded expressive writing samples from GEOL 10113 students during the Fall of 2020. Prior to the beginning of the semester, I asked the students to complete a Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-Short Form (TEIQue-SF) to assign a numerical value to their approximate emotional intelligence levels. Next, I stratified students by quartiles into high (Q3), medium (Q2), and low (Q1) emotionally intelligent groups. Then, GEOL 10113 students were asked to participate in focus group interviews, and volunteers were subsequently grouped by their TEIQue-SF score into three focus groups relating to the high, medium, and low emotional intelligence bins. Finally, using the focus group interview data and the selected student’s responses from the initial expressive writing exercise, I found that all of the student responses showed consistent differences between the three focus groups. Highly emotionally intelligent students had more positive experiences with the expressive writing exercise while lower emotionally intelligent students tended to have neutral or negative experiences with the activity. Overall, these data suggest that the level of emotional intelligence relates to how willing students were to convey their thoughts and emotions during the activity, which helped the higher emotionally intelligent students to have positive experiences with the writing exercise. The implications of my study are that while the efficacy of the expressive writing exercise is assumed, emotional intelligence is a confounding variable. Students must engage with it in some sort of authentic manner if they are to benefit from the exercise.
Solar energy is a significant contributor to the renewable energy mix. Many urban developments are making investments to install solar systems across feasible areas. The allocation of solar systems relies on the land’s geography and the amount of solar radiation received. The purpose of this study is to apply to determine the best sites for solar installations in urban areas. Using the TCU area of Fort Worth, Texas as a case study, this study will use ESRI’s ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro to estimate the solar power potential of different residential rooftops. The results will be useful in showing what households are most suitable for solar installation based on their expected energy yield.
Landslides may be caused naturally or triggered by human activities and have enormous societal and economic impacts. Detecting and mapping landslides through the generation of landslide susceptibility maps (LSM) and understanding the factors that trigger these processes will be helpful in land use planning and risk assessments. Moreover, it will also assist landslide mitigation efforts by controlling anthropogenic-led processes that induce landslides. This study deals with the analysis to identify slow-moving landslides in Travis County, Texas. It combines geographic information systems(GIS) and remote sensing datasets and techniques to generate an LSM of the study area and identify ground displacements. Remote sensing data provide key information about the topography and land uses, combined with controlling factors for a landslide occurrence such as slope, geology/soil and geological structures, and vegetation/land uses to perform an empirical approximation to map and assess landslide susceptibility. Once the susceptible areas are identified, analysis for ground displacement is applied using a Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometric (InSAR) technique referred to as the Small Baseline Subset (SBAS) and field-based multitemporal Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS measurements.
The Ouachita Trough is a basin that formed along a passive margin on the southern border of Laurentia caused by the Precambrian–Cambrian rifting of Rodinia and the opening of the Iapetus Ocean. The collision of Laurentia and Gondwana and the closing of the Iapetus Ocean thrust sediments from the Ouachita Trough onto the southern portion of the North American craton to form the Ouachita Mountains. The Ouachita Trough transitioned from a sediment-starved basin into an area of rapid sediment accumulation during the Mississippian. The Stanley Group, of interest in this study, was deposited prior to the collision of the encroaching Gondwana continent to the south. Although there have been many previous studies aiming to determine the provenance history of the Stanley Group, the results are inconclusive. In this study, nine samples from turbidite deposits of the Stanley Group were processed using both U-Pb age dating and core rim analysis. Laurentia and Gondwana have similar aged terranes that are difficult to differentiate. Using core rim analysis allowed us to date both the age of the core and rim of individual zircon grains. We were then able to correlate zircon grains of similar ages to their sources. By analyzing a large area of the Ouachita Mountains, this study shows that the Stanley Group consists of sediments sourced from both Laurentia and Gondwana terranes to the south.
Rapid industrialization and global population growth have increased the number of people living in urban areas worldwide. Developing countries, have seen tremendous increases in their industries over the past decades, which generated both positives and negative effects on their people, environment, and economy. One of the negative impacts of industrialization is industrial pollution and the increase in the number of pollutants released into the environment_ in this case, heavy metals. Heavy metal contamination is an alarming problem that many Developing countries are becoming aware of and trying to address. Heavy metal direct or indirect consumption may result in several health effects in the body, including damage and alteration of normal functioning of organs such as the brain, kidney, lungs, liver, and blood, which later result into acute or chronic diseases. This case study will look at heavy metal contamination cases in Rwanda in different drinking water sources. The focus of this case study will be on some common heavy metals released from industrial waste: Lead, Manganese, Iron, Cadmium, Zinc, and Chromium.
(Presentation is private)
Teachers have experimented with the idea of virtual learning and its’ effects on student achievement. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many schools and universities transitioned from traditional classroom-focused learning to asynchronous online learning. Asynchronous online learning is a type of instruction where online learning is not happening at the same time or place. Consequently, TCU made the abrupt transition in the Spring of 2021 to fully online asynchronous courses. To understand the magnitude of how remote learning can effect students’ academic success, my research project looks at what factors, including remote learning, can predict final grade utilizing GEOL 10113 student performance data and survey data from the spring semester of 2020 surveys. To investigate the impact of online learning, I tested several linear models to determine what confounders have a significant role in predicting students’ success in online and in remote learning. These models investigated which factors, ranging from demographic information to GPA, are significant predictors of both final grade and remote grade. I started the linear model selection process by testing a complex linear model, which had all the possible factors including interactions that can impact final grade or remote grade from the surveys. Once I knew which factors were significant from the complex model, I eliminated non-significant variables and created new models, comparing each model by their AIC values until I found the best-fit linear model for final grade and remote grade. AIC is a measurement of how well a linear model fits and the lower the AIC value the better fit the linear model has. After testing each linear model: GPA, students’ lecture section, remote grade, and exam average were significant to final grade. These models suggest that while remote grade is a significant predictor of final grade, no variable measured in this study is significant enough to impact remote grade. Differing from previous research, my results showed that there were no gaps in achievement amongst gender and underrepresented minority students. Although statistically no variable significantly impacted remote grade, there are trends amongst demographic variables and remote grade, suggesting some potential relationships that could be explored in future studies.
(Presentation is private)
The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect is characterized by the differential heating of densely populated urban areas in comparison to surrounding areas. Increased temperatures caused by buildings and other man-made infrastructure have a wide range of human and ecological impacts. One emerging methodology to combat UHI effects is the implementation of urban green spaces and trees. Trees can provide two main functions that aid in cooling; shade from the sun provided by the canopy and cooling through the process of evapotranspiration. This project aims to identify which species of tree best suits the ecoregion of Fort Worth, how much feasible green space Fort Worth can provide, and project the cooling the green spaces could provide if they are planted with trees.
(Presentation is private)
The use of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) to analyze the deformation of the Earth's surface has become an increasingly important tool for monitoring earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, and land subsidence. This process works by calculating the phase differences of radar signals reflected from the Earth's surface over a period of time. If the land has uplifted or subsided, the phase of the two radar signals will interfere. The image this phase difference produces is known as an interferogram, which shows the ground-surface displacement of the target area across the two time periods. This technique has been used extensively to survey Mexico City, which has been an area of concern since the beginning of the 20th century due to its dramatic rate of ground subsidence.
(Presentation is private)
The reusing, recycling, and reduction of waste streams is seen as a viable sustainability strategy. One major waste stream is coffee grounds with about 11.5 million kilograms being generated per day in America of which 90% is landfilled. This waste stream can be repurposed into usable carbon-based materials to address issues of climate, pollution, or engineering applications. For my research, I am converting spent (used) coffee grounds into biochars, a type of carbon-based material, with different charring (burning) temperature to measure the removal of lead (Pb2+) from contaminated water. The charring temperature was changed in order to determine the optimal charring temperature for water treatment. This presentation will go into the maximum amount of lead the biochars can remove, how fast the biochars can remove the lead and the properties of biochars that allow for such removal. Further results, methodology, and modeling applications will be discussed in the presentation.
Nanomaterials are the new technologies reforming industrial activities. They are used to improve energy efficiency and storage, to cheaply store and process information in every internet server and personal computer, to facilitate bio-imaging and drug delivery, and in environmental remediation. These materials’ nanometric dimension, 1/100000 the width of a human hair, allows them to have novel characteristics such as strength, electrical resistivity, and conductivity, and optical absorption compared to the same materials in bigger sizes. Due to their widespread and incorporation into consumer products, it is important to understand their interactions with other elements in the environment. I used flow experiments, to understand the effects of the core and terminal groups chemistries of 3 sets of nanomaterials on their interaction with ferrihydrite, a very common and reactive mineral in the environment. The nanomaterials used in this study, namely Graphene Quantum Dot (GQD), PAMAM G4-OH, and PAMAM G3.5-COOH, have comparable sizes, 6nm, 4.5 nm, and 3.5 nm, respectively. When the experiments were conducted under acidic and circumneutral pH, the quantities of GQD and PAMAM G4-OH sorbed were equivalent and less than the quantity of PAMAM G3.5-COOH sorbed. In my presentation, I will go over the quantities and kinetics results from the interactions of the 3 sets of nanomaterials onto ferrihydrite over environmentally significant pH values (range 3-10).
Land surface temperature is a major factor used in the assessment and understanding of several processes including global climate, hydrological, geo-/biophysical, urban land use/land cover (Avdan and Jovanovska, 2016). Since the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957 there have been about 8,900 satellites from more than 40 countries launched in space that have opened possibilities to understand the earth using remote sensing. Specifically, LANDSAT 8’s thermal infrared sensor Band 10 data has been successfully used to map land surface temperature. The specific algorithm used to derive land surface temperature from LANDSAT 8’s thermal infrared sensor Band 10 showed standard deviations of 2.4°C and 2.7°C on the first trial and second trial respectively (Avdan and Jovanovska, 2016). In my project, I used land surface temperature in addition to secondary data (geologic features, volcanoes, faults, change in cities' extents) to locate and deduce the potential geothermal plays in Rwanda. I also compared the potential geothermal plays obtained using remote sensing to those obtained using ground measurements to assess how accurate remote sensing tools are in determining geothermal plays.
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Mount Rainier is a stratovolcano within the Cascade Arc situated southeast of the cities of Seattle and Tacoma. This region of Washington has undergone substantial population growth while being situated in the shadow of a large stratovolcano. Historically lahar flows, volcanoclastic debris flows, from the volcano have reached as far as Tacoma and could still pose a risk to Seattle and other smaller communities. Seismicity and annual precipitation are large contributors into predicting an eruption event as well as eruption severity. Using ArcGIS Pro and implementing various types of data including historic lahar deposit extent, population growth, seismic activity, and other contributions that can peer into a future volcanic eruption, it can be possible to assess the volcanic hazard Mount Rainier poses on nearby communities.
(Presentation is private)
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and triclosan are widely used and available in many pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCP’s). The concentrations of these drugs are increasing in public surface and groundwaters and is often linked to negative impacts on aquatic life. These impacts are due to the fact that PPCP’s bypass water treatment facilities since they are not typically regulated and water treatment methods at the facilities are not designed to remove them. My research focuses on removing PPCP’s using reactive environmental sorbents like nanocrystalline ferrihydrite. Specifically, I examined the interaction of two widely used PPCP’s (Ibuprofen and Triclosan) with nanocrystalline ferrihydrite of varying particle size (<125, 125-250, >250). Results thus far show that when Ibuprofen interacts with nanocrystalline ferrihydrite at pH 4.3-4.8; 28.29% was removed when the particle size was less than 125 microns; 45.89% was removed when the particle size was 125-250 microns; and 49.92% was removed when the particle size was greater than 250. While for Triclosan 40.55%, 54.7%, 23.80% was removed by nanocrystalline ferrihydrite with size <125, 125-250, >250 respectively. My presentation will further cover surface properties of nanocrystalline ferrihydrite controlling the sorption of ibuprofen and triclosan.
The changing climate as well as the cycling of nutrients and contaminants throughout our planet is heavily influenced by interactions involving plant biomass. For example, interactions of plant biomass with soil biota (specifically fungi)regulates climate and pollution by controlling 1) the quantity of CO2 released from the respiration of organic matter and 2) the movement of pollutants on land and in water. This study focused on 1) investigating fungal colonization of coffee grounds, as a model for understanding the fungi-plant biomass interactions in soils, and 2) studying how fungal colonization changes in the physical and chemical properties of coffee grounds after molding them for 0,3,4,5 and 7 months. The objectives of the next phase of this research will be to examine how the fungi-induced changes in physical and chemical properties of coffee grounds impact 1)carbon sequestering potential (i.e. ease of respiration to CO2) of the coffee grounds and 2) the capacity of the coffee grounds to bind Gentian violet dye (as a model for organic/cationic pollutant).
Synthetic nanomaterials continue to revolutionize how we do things industrially, medically and domestically. As we continue to utilize these materials, the inevitability of them entering the environment and the need to understand the associated consequences rises to the forefront. My research focuses on understanding the chemo-dynamics of interactions between polyamidoamine (PAMAM)-based nanomaterials (most commonly in the biomedical field through drug and gene delivery) and reactive minerals in the environment. Specifically, this presentation will cover the size-dependent binding (and debinding) dynamics of carboxyl-terminated PAMAMs (G-COOH) onto (and from) ferrihydrite (FFH), a form of naturally-occurring iron oxide mineral. Early results suggest that at pH 5, the smaller G1.5-COOH PAMAM binds to (and debinds from) FFH in higher quantities but at much slower rates that the larger G3.5-COOH PAMAM. The higher quantities of G1.5-COOH PAMAM being bound to (or debound) from FFH is attributable to its smaller size - facilitating access to internal micropore space in FFH that are inaccessible by the larger G3.5-COOH PAMAM. Difference in the accessibility of internal FFH micropore space by the different sized PAMAMs would also explain observed trends in their rates of binding and debinding. In future research, I will be targeting the confirmation of early results and the expansion of my study to include G-COOH PAMAMs larger than G3.5-COOH.
(Presentation is private)
Nitrate contamination of groundwater has been a growing problem in Texas and California from increased food demands, requiring growing agricultural inputs of synthetic fertilizer and manure. Pyrolysis of pistachio agro-waste is a promising method for reducing waste products and engineering biochar with the capacity to support zerovalent iron impregnation (ZVI). This study examined the efficiency of pistachio biochar for nitrate (NO₃-N) removal in water with and without ZVI. Pistachio biochar was functionalized through varied temperature pyrolysis (400-600℃) over three heating durations (0 min, 5 min, 10 min). Biochar samples from both 400°C and 600℃ pyrolysis were tested with and without ZVI impregnation over a 5 day period in a 20 ppm solution of NO₃-N. The biochar-nitrate solutions were recorded in intervals (1 hr, 3 hr, 7 hr, 24 hr, 68 hr, 96 hr, 120 hr) and Ultraviolet-Visible Spectroscopy was utilized to measure NO₃-N absorbance of samples at 400nm. The experimental data show that pistachio biochar with and without ZVI decreased nitrate levels from water; presenting a potential low-cost and sustainable option for repurposing agro-waste for water remediation.