Three Texas Tech Professors Receive NSF Grants

Three Texas Tech University professors have been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation. Aranya Chakrabortty, John Schroeder and Ronald Hedden are receiving nearly $770,000 to further their research in various areas. Chakrabortty, an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, received nearly $300,000 to investigate how the complicated behavior of large power grids can be efficiently monitored and understood during critical disturbances using high-resolution power system data referred to as synchrophasors. “We will develop simple, yet informative dynamic models of very large-scale power systems using synchrophasor measurements,” Chakrabortty said. “Our models will allow power system operators to track the global health of an entire power network in real-time so that catastrophes such as blackouts and voltage collapses can be prevented. The study, in fact, will lead to an entirely new vision of monitoring and controlling the North American grid which is becoming more expansive, and, hence, more chaotic day by day.” Schroeder, an associate professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Geosciences, received about $280,000 to study the relationship between extreme thunderstorm winds and engineering design. Schroeder, the principal investigator for the study, said the research results will provide data for realistic simulation studies to evaluate thunderstorm wind-structure interaction, to develop appropriate design standards and to mitigate thunderstorm wind damage. “This project will deploy an arsenal of newly-developed, state-of-the-art mobile radar instrumentation directly in the path of thunderstorms,” Schroeder said. “The data will be analyzed to evaluate the differences between thunderstorm winds and those typically assumed for engineering design and wind tunnel testing.” Hedden, an associate professor in chemical engineering, received $190,000 for research on the elasticity of certain polymers. Smectic liquid crystalline elastomers (LCE) are rubber-like materials that possess the flexibility and toughness of a rubber-like polymer, but have layered molecular ordering at the nanometer scale. “Smectic LCE have unique mechanical properties that potentially make them useful as vibration-damping or impact-absorbing rubber coatings, or as soft actuators with properties similar to muscle tissue,” Hedden said. “The results of our study will broaden understanding of the mechanical behavior of rubber-like polymers, and possibly uncover broader insights regarding mechanical instability in polymers.” Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at www.media.ttu.edu. CONTACT: Leslie Cranford, senior editor, Office of Communications & Marketing, (806) 742-2136 or leslie.cranford@ttu.edu.