Public Impact Fellow Scott Sellars is developing a better way to predict precipitation
Scott Sellars was consulting with the South Carolina Ports Authority when he recognized just how important weather data is to the safety and efficiency of the agency’s operations. If the wind blew above 30 knots, the massive mobile cranes used to load and off-load the ships’ cargo would start to roll down the dock, jeopardizing workers, equipment and vessels.
Because the South Carolina coast experiences highly variable weather – including violent thunderstorms, hurricanes and even tornadoes – the Ports Authority had hired Sellars, a meteorologist, to provide up-to-the-minute forecasts. When high winds were anticipated, the cranes could be locked down in a stationary position, minimizing risk.
Today, Sellars is a doctoral candidate in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. He’s attempting to develop a better way to predict precipitation. His research focuses on atmospheric rivers – large plumes of moisture transported from the tropics – affecting the West Coast.
Civil and environmental engineering doctoral student Andrea Thorstensen has been awarded a 2013 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. Sponsored by the Department of Defense, the competitive fellowship covers Thorstensen’s tuition and provides an annual stipend for three years.
Thorstensen’s research involves using data assimilation techniques on soil moisture information captured by satellites. She intends to use a high resolution hydrologic model to provide a soil moisture profile, which could have applications for agriculture, flood forecasting and ground-based military operations.
Anima Anandkumar has been awarded a 2013 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship. An assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at UC Irvine’s The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, Anandkumar is one of seven from around the world to receive this support.
"It is a great honor to receive the Microsoft faculty award,” says Anandkumar, whose interdisciplinary research spans machine learning, statistics, signal processing and optimization. “The past winners of this award have gone on to do cutting-edge innovative research, and it inspires me to follow their lead.”
Sina Poorkasmaei, a Samueli School graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, presented innovative engineering research at the Broadcom Foundation University Research Competition sponsored by Broadcom Foundation, a non-profit public benefit corporation funded by Broadcom Corporation. Poorkasmaei’s project “Differential Space-Time Modulation for Multiple Access Channels with Two Users” studied the technical challenges posed by improving the quality of information exchange between portable devices.
Poorkasmaei, who is working with Chancellor’s Professor Hamid Jafarkhani, was among 12 student finalists from 12 universities from around the globe competing in a poster session at Broadcom’s annual Technical Conference June 5-6. The finalists, who were chosen by a select committee comprised of preeminent engineers, shared insights into their engineering research and how its future application can improve lives and contribute to society. More than 400 distinguished Broadcom engineers were on hand to judge the entries on technology innovation and presentation.
UC Irvine biomedical engineering student Michelle Sangalang credits her senior design classes for helping her win a statewide business plan competition. She and her partner Andrew Ekelem, a UC Berkeley bioengineer alumnus, brought home the grand prize of $5,000 in their age category (18 to 27 year olds) in the Youth Entrepreneurship Program’s Boost Business Plan Competition.
Sangalang and Ekelem attended high school together. Their business is called Chariot Mobility, and its focus is to make the best in-class customized manual wheelchair that uses an advanced propulsion system and materials. They are creating the first manual wheelchair to be maneuvered solely from a lever system.