Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Winners

Every year Arkansas Department of Higher Education awards Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships to undergraduate students. SURF awards are intended to facilitate in-depth research by undergraduate students under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Visit for further details. For 2011, five systems engineering students have been awarded the SURF. Independently, the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority has awarded grants to deserving SURF proposals, funding for which was derived from the NSF EPSCOR award. While the first three projects received SURF awards the last two received EPSCOR Awards.

Student:  Noor Jabur

Mentor:   Dr. Lifeng Lai

Title: Compressive Sensing Based Malicious Activity Detection and Localization in Large Scale Networks

The objective of the proposed research is to develop novel statistics and signal processing tools with the goal of advancing knowledge of network theory for network analysis and response to attacks on network infrastructure. Through this study, novel network forensic algorithms will be developed to detect and predict rare malicious activities and to distinguish them from benign activities over the network.

Student: Billie N. Dickinson

Mentor: Dr. Radu F. Babiceanu

Title: Systems Engineering Approach to Lifetime and Reliability Prediction of Wireless Sensor Networks

Applications of wireless sensor networks (WSN) have increased tremendously in the last years enabled by their reduced cost and capabilities to collect data, perform simple processing, and transmit information to remote locations. Very little effort has been expended in the past in understanding the system design process of WSNs. Based on the systems engineering lifecycle approach, this research analyzes the lifetime and coverage of the deployment environment offered by WSN considering different system architecture alternatives and their resulting reliability.

Student: Bruce Stracener

Mentor: Dr. Nidhal Bouaynaya

Title: Design and Implementation of Synthetic Genetic Networks

In this project, we propose to design, analyze and implement genetic networks using analog circuits. Specifically, we consider the repressilator, which is a genetic network that exhibits oscillations in protein expression. We propose two different electronic circuits: An operational amplifier circuit, which reproduces the interactions between genes and proteins in a simple and intuitive manner; and a MOSFET transistor circuit, which would allow integration of a higher number of electronic repressilators. In both implementations, the goal is to reproduce the oscillatory behavior reported in the biochemical experiments. Furthermore, we propose to study the effects of coupling in a group of these oscillators, and analyze its influence in the coherence of the global oscillations.

Student: Mario Davis

Mentor: Dr. Nidhal Bouaynaya

Title: 3D Biofilm Modeling and Analysis for Medical Purposes

In this proposal, we focus on a potential therapeutic target in the specific context of biofilm-associated infections, such as Infective Endocarditis (IE).  A biofilm is an aggregate of microorganisms in which cells adhere to each other and/or to a surface.  Accurate 3D model of the structure of the biofilm is crucial in studies on bacteria straits that create biofilm in their development in living organisms. High dimensional modeling adds another layer of information, introducing special correlation between cross-section scans of bacteria cultures under development

Student: Eric Sullivan

Mentor: Dr. Guoliang Huang

Title: Design of Acoustic Metamaterials for Energy Harvesting

A metamaterial is a material that gains its properties from its microstructures rather than from its constituent material phases. One unusual behavior of this metacomposite is that when excited with frequencies near the local resonance frequency, the internal microstructure can absorb a large amount of energy from the external excitation. In this study, the function of the microstructure is extended to perform energy harvesting by converting its kinetic energy into electric energy. Experiments will be conducted to demonstrate that the acoustic metamaterial, which contain unit cells, can generate electricity and the voltage of the generated electricity is dependent on the driving frequency.