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Researchers explore solutions for shallow water energy harvesting

A group of University researchers, led by Assistant Professor of Engineering Shreyas Mandre, has developed a hydrofoil water wing that may allow for the harvesting of tidal power in shallow conditions, according to a University press release.

Use of tidal power presents promising opportunities in alternative energy, but until recently, shallow areas of water — often the best for harvesting tidal energy — were ignored due to concerns about wildlife, boats and logistics, according to the release.

The new water wing’s innovative shape is specialized for shallow water regions, avoiding some of these problems. While the wing is based on past models, it has a “secret sauce” — a computer algorithm that monitors the motion of the wing and directs its movements for maximum efficiency, Madre said in the release.

The researchers presented the preliminary laboratory results last month at both the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C., and the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change held by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I, and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

The researchers’ next step is to test the wing outside of the lab in ecologically valid conditions. They are “confident” their results will “scale with size” outside of the lab, Madre said in the release.

 

Salomon awards granted across disciplines

The Office of the Vice President for Research announced the 13 winners of the Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research awards earlier this month.

The awards of up to $15,000 are typically granted to junior faculty members based on the merit of their proposed research topics. This year’s winners were selected out of a pool of 27 applications and are spread across disciplines including the life and physical sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences, according to a University press release.

The program proves “innovative ideas of modest cost can be pursued by faculty that are distributed throughout the University, with the diversity of projects and the departments they represent a testament to the intellectual vitality among our scholars,” said David Savitz, vice president for research, in the release.

Funded projects this year include the creation of an exhibit of photographic collages, a study of the dynamics between hosts and pathogens in cottontail rabbits and an archaeological exploration in western Turkey, among others, according to the award’s website.

The office awarded a total of $192,839 in grants.

The winners will be recognized at the University Awards Ceremony in May.

The awards this year went to Theresa Ganz, assistant professor of visual art, Stephen Gatesy, professor of biology, Alex Gourevitch, assistant professor of political science, Christopher de Graffenried, assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, Jo Guldi, assistant professor of history, Amanda Jamieson, assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, Ed Osborn, assistant professor of visual art, Keisha-Khan Perry, assistant professor of Africana studies and anthropology, Lukas Rieppel, assistant professor of history, Felipe Rojas, assistant professor of archaeology and ancient Western Asian studies, Anita Shukla, assistant professor of engineering, Katherine Smith, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Stefanie Tellex, assistant professor of computer science and engineering.

 

Researchers explore communication methods

In order for teens to participate in studies regarding HIV vaccines or prevention, it is important they understand vital experimental concepts, such as randomization and placebos, according to a study led by Michelle Lally, associate professor of medicine and health services, policy and practice.

The study, published this month in the Journal of Adolescent Health, examined the efficacy of one- and two-sided persuasive messaging in brochures used for educating study participants.

In one-sided persuasion, participants are only given facts, whereas in two-sided persuasion, participants are presented with misconceptions and explanations as to why they are wrong. Researchers presented the messaging to 120 youth participants who were randomly given one of the two types of brochures, according to the study.

The researchers found that participants who were given brochures with two-sided persuasion were more knowledgeable about concepts such as randomization and side effects of the study than those given brochures with one-sided persuasion. Despite increased knowledge, participants’ willingness to participate in the study remained the same, according to the study.

In the future, researchers plan to determine whether these results also apply to at-risk youth participants in actual trials involving HIV prevention.



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