Dissertation Defenses

Doctoral students who have an upcoming dissertation oral defense are posted here. So why not take this opportunity to learn about the research that our graduate students are doing!

Dissertation Defense for Rui Zhang


Department Contact Email: CEE.Graduate@unh.edu

Defense Title: Smart Buildings:An Integrative Double Skin Facade Damper System for Safety and Energy Efficiency

Defense Date and Time: 11/28/17 2:30 pm

Defense Location: Kingsbury W189

Defense Advisor: Dr. Erin Bell/Tat Fu

Defense Abstract: A smart building is an intelligent living space that elevates energy efficiency, comfort
and safety. The word “smart” implies that the building would have a decision making system that
can sense its conditions and reacts to them in an automatic and effective manner. Modem
buildings contain many subsystems and, thus, to achieve automation, sophisticated sensing
networks and robust control systems must be installed. The proposed research focuses on
integrating several building systems — structural health monitoring (SHM), and structural and
environmental controls — and explores synergy among them to improve efficiency and
sustainability of buildings.
More specifically, an integrative, smart building system is developed by combining
double skin façades and mass dampers in buildings to improve both safety and energy efficiency.
Double skin façade systems protect and insulate buildings with two heavy glass layers between
which air is allowed to flow for ventilation. By enabling movements in the outer façade skin, the
façade can be used as a mass damper that reduces structural vibration and damage during
earthquakes and wind storms. The added mobility also leads to innovative ways to control
ventilation rate and improve energy efficiency by adjusting the gap size between the outer and
inner skins.
In this dissertation research, the energy impact of the integrated system was first
investigated. Then both passive and active structural control strategies were experimented and
analyzed on a six-story shear building model. Results indicated the proposed system can
significantly reduce structural response under the earthquakes excitations. In addition, the sensor
networks and actuators introduced by the active structural control system were utilized for
structural health monitoring purposes. The actuators provided harmonic excitations while the
acceleration data were collected by the sensor networks to perform damage diagnosis.
Finally, since typical SHM systems require large networks of sensors that are costly to
install, this dissertation research also examined using smartphones as alternative sensors. Using
the aforementioned six-story experimental structure, a sensing system consisted of six
smartphones was tested and proven effective in detecting structural damage. The experimental
result demonstrates that further developments of smartphone SHM can lead to cost-effective and
quick sensor deployment.


Dissertation Defense for Carla Evans


Department Contact Email: todd.demitchell@unh.edu


Defense Date and Time: 11/29/17 11:00 am

Defense Location: Morrill Hall

Defense Advisor: Suzanne E. Graham

Defense Abstract: The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 authorizes a pilot program that allows up to seven states to develop innovative assessment and accountability systems. Prior to the official pilot program launch, the U.S. Department of Education approved one pilot program—New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE). To implement the PACE pilot, the New Hampshire Department of Education received a 2-year waiver (2014-2016) from federal statutory requirements related to state annual achievement testing and was granted additional waivers for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. The purpose of this study is to investigate the average effect of the PACE pilot on 8th grade student achievement outcomes in mathematics and English language arts during the first two years of implementation. This study also examines the extent to which those average treatment effects vary according to student characteristics and among PACE schools. PACE students are compared to non-PACE students with similar probabilities of being selected into treatment using propensity score methods. Multi-level modeling is then used to estimate the average treatment effect for students receiving either one or two years of treatment. Findings from this study provide preliminary evidence that the PACE pilot is having a positive effect on 8th grade student achievement outcomes in mathematics for some students starting in the second year of implementation and no effect in English language arts. Findings also suggest that students with disabilities that attend PACE schools tend to exhibit substantially higher achievement outcomes in comparison to students with disabilities in the non-PACE comparison group in both subject areas. This results in a narrowing of the achievement gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities in the PACE group. Although results are descriptive not causal, findings could be used to provide assurance to key stakeholders that PACE students are provided an equitable opportunity to learn—especially findings related to effects by disability status. Also, because the focus of PACE pilot is on performance assessments used throughout the year, this study provides initial evidence that the learning gains on performance assessments may carry over to the more traditional state standardized tests. Implications for research, policy, and practice are also discussed.


Dissertation Defense for Mahmoud Abdalrahman


Department Contact Email: cindi.rohwer@unh.edu


Defense Date and Time: 12/01/17 2:00 pm

Defense Location: Parsons Hall, Room W131

Defense Advisor: Professor Roy Planalp

Defense Abstract: Rational ligand designed for complexation of metal ions in solution spans many applications such as catalysis, therapeutic agents, metal ion sensors, imaging and diagnosis of the human body, and others. The key elements to tailoring the right ligand for a particular metal ion is ensuring selectivity over other metal ions and binding with high enough affinity for the intended purpose. The first part of this work focuses on the development, and characterization of a 2,2':6',2''-terpyridine-based bifunctional ligand (terpy2). This ligand is intended to act as a receptor for Cu(II) in a fluorescent polymer-based ratiometric sensor for weakly bound Cu(II) in environmental waters. Solid state and solution studies validated the suitability of this ligand as a Cu(II) receptor and showed selectivity over various environmentally relevant metal ions. The second part focuses on the development, and characterization of a 2,9-dimethyl-1,10-phenanthroline-based ligand (dmpd-6). Dmpd-6 is aimed to be incorporated in the Cu(II) sensor in order to reduce potential Zn(II) interference. Density functional theory (DFT) computations and solution studies validated the ligand design and showed enhanced selectivity of dmpd-6 towards Zn(II) relative to Cu(II). Although dmpd-6 was found to form coordination dimers in solution, this should not be an issue once it is copolymerized with the sensor in a dilute fashion. The third part of this work presents a new octadentate bifunctional ligand for Zr(IV) that is based on the iron overload drug desferrioxamine B (DFO). The ligand (abbreviated DFO-8) is intended to enable radiolabeling of monoclonal antibodies with 89Zr to allow for extended positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of slow biological processes. DFO-8 was synthesized in an efficient one-step synthetic route and characterized by DFT computations and potentiometric titrations. Aqueous speciation studies demonstrated superior chelation to Zr(IV) compared to the parent molecule DFO.


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