Engineering Student Earns Travel Award to Present Research
Jessica Morris in the world's largest ultra-low-speed wind tunnel at the U of A's Chemical Hazards Research Center.
The 2017 Chemical and Biological Defense Science & Technology Conference has awarded University of Arkansas student Jessica Morris a travel award to attend and present her research at the upcoming bi-annual conference. Morris, a chemical engineering doctoral student, is one of only 20 students selected to receive the award.
Morris' research focuses on the effects of along-wind dispersion on the release of hazardous gases into the atmosphere.
"Once a chemical is released in the atmosphere, it cannot be cleaned up," Morris said. "If there's a release of hazardous material, whether accidental from an industrial plant or intentional from chemical warfare, models predict the consequences of the release and are used to develop guidelines for emergency response measures based on the cloud's projected travel."
Morris conducts her research at the University of Arkansas' Chemical Hazards Research Center, which houses the world's largest ultra-low-speed wind tunnel. She pairs analysis of previous field data and original experiments, performed in the wind tunnel, to study how to model the effects of along-wind dispersion.
In addition to her work in the lab, Morris works for DNV GL, a global company in the safety and sustainability field. She spent the first half of 2017 at DNV GL's London office implementing along-wind dispersion models into PHAST, the organization's hazard analysis software.
Though she's only been working on this research project since January 2015, Morris believes she is close to finalizing an overall equation predicting along-wind dispersion. Her presentation at the Chemical and Biological Defense Science and Technology Conference will center on the development and testing of the equation.
"This research will more accurately model atmospheric releases, which will improve planning and emergency response to protect the public," she said.
Morris, who is advised by Tom O. Spicer III, said certain components of her research have been challenging, such as making sensitive concentration and turbulence measurements. However, other challenges of her research and of her graduate student experience she's come to enjoy.
"I love the challenge of communication — taking a complex topic and explaining it in a way others understand," she said. "It's a fun opportunity to get others excited about engineering."
Amanda Cantu, director of communications
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