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2019 OSU President’s Cup winners named

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Oklahoma State University campus.

A project promoting scientific literacy, another studying the potential impacts of Oklahoma earthquakes and an effort to reduce energy costs at wastewater treatment plants have taken top honors in OSU’s 2019 President’s Cup that celebrates creative, interdisciplinary approaches to today’s challenges.

The first-place entry was titled Promoting Interdisciplinary Inquiry Through Scientist-Teachers and Teacher-Scientists.

Given that teachers are often insufficiently prepared to lead students in science projects and students end up learning through lectures and teaching labs rather than engaging in scientific practices involving problem formulation, hypothesis generation experimental design and communication of the results, the project aims to remedy this gap in teacher education.

At the same time, faculty members who want to share how their research is impactful have little experience translating their research into engaging content that fits well within required student curriculum.

More than 2,500 middle and high school students have benefited from the more than 30 teachers who have gone through the OSU-Research Experience for Teachers training. The training brings teachers and faculty together through research experiences and professional development to improve high school science education and teacher effectiveness and to create new opportunities to make scientific research more broadly relevant.

OSU’s Department of Plant Biology, Ecology and Evolution; School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences; Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; and the Department of Integrative Biology partnered on the project. Dr. Andrew Doust, professor with the Department of Plant Biology, Ecology and Evolution; Dr. Julie Angle, associate professor with the School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences; Dr. Rob Burnap, professor with the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Dr. Jennifer Grindstaff, associate professor with the Department of Integrative Biology; and master’s student Tanner Bryan with the School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences collaborated on the project.

The second-place project, titled Integrated Framework for Quantifying Impacts on Induced Seismicity on Oklahoma Infrastructure, looked at the unprecedented swarm of seismic activity between 2012 and 2017.

The big question that remains unanswered is how well protected people inside buildings are if Oklahoma sees more swarms of earthquakes in the future.

OSU Civil Engineering and Geology researchers worked together to address the challenge and can now identify the risks of earthquake damage, leading to new criteria for designs and decisions.

OSU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Boone Pickens School of Geology and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics partnered on the project. Dr. Mohamed Soliman, assistant professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Dr. Priyank Jaiswal, associate professor in the Boone Pickens School of Geology; and researcher Dr. Jennifer Haase with the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the University of California-San Diego collaborated on the project.

Decreasing the Energy Use in Wastewater Treatment, the third-place winner, is about developing a machine-learning technology to decrease energy costs at wastewater treatment plants. While wastewater treatment plants remove pollution through an aeration process, they also consume approximately 1 percent of all electricity in the U.S. These facilities are often owned by companies that provide electricity and often waste energy by over-aerating. This project aims to reduce energy costs.

OSU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering; School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and the School of Entrepreneurship partnered on the project. Dr. David Lampert, assistant professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Dr. James Stine, professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; David Thomison, clinical professor in the School of Entrepreneurship; and Rabecca Wiseman, graduate research assistant in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, collaborated on the project.

President’s Cup projects are required to combine the information, ideas and approaches of two or more fields in imaginative, unexpected ways for instruction, research or service. The projects must involve two academic departments or schools within a college and could involve two or more colleges. The projects could be ongoing, or had to have been completed within the most recent calendar year. Each team had to include at least two OSU faculty members. First, second and third place won $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively, for professional development. They were chosen by a committee chaired by the vice provost and dean of the Graduate College. Fourteen proposals were reviewed with more than 100 OSU faculty, staff, students and partners participating.

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