Earth and mineral sciences grad students lauded at annual research exhibition

Liam Jackson
April 06, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five graduate students in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) received honors in the 33rd annual Research Exhibition, hosted by The Graduate School at Penn State. Preeya Kuray, materials science and engineering, and Devesh Kumar, energy and mineral engineering, received second- and third-place honors, respectively, in the Engineering category. For the second year in a row, geosciences graduate students swept the Physical Sciences and Mathematics category, with Kalle Jahn, Kirsty McKenzie and Josh Woda receiving first, second and third place, respectively. The event was held March 23 and 25 on Penn State's University Park campus.

Preeya Kuray: Second place in Engineering category

Kuray, a third-year doctoral student, studies electrolyte materials in hopes of creating safe, efficient batteries for an array of applications. She's investigating how changes to the molecular structure of two different types of polymerized ionic liquids affect the conductivity of each material.

"It feels great to receive this type of recognition for my research! This year, I've started to recognize the great importance of communicating science effectively," she said. "Events like the Graduate Exhibition are great ways to practice honing our skills as communicative scientists so that our audience can be as receptive as possible to what we have to share."

Preeya Kuray, materials science and engineering graduate student, stands next to her research poster

Preeya Kuray, materials science and engineering graduate student

IMAGE: Chuck Fong / Penn State

Devesh Kumar: Third place in Engineering category

Kumar, a third-year doctoral student, focuses on models that simulate the flow of fluids, such as oil, gas or water through and around subsurface rocks. He is interested in developing better algorithms that inform these models, which can be used to improve decision making in many fields, including hydrology, oceanography, climate sciences and meteorology.

"I feel honored by this recognition," he said. "Being able to compete with high-quality researchers has given me confidence and motivation to further my research. Additionally, at the event, I was able to interact with researchers of various backgrounds, which was a reward in itself."

Devesh Kumar, energy and mineral engineering graduate student, speaks with a judge at the 2018 Penn State Graduate Exhibition

Devesh Kumar, energy and mineral engineering graduate student, speaks with Brian Redder, a judge at the 2018 Penn State Graduate Exhibition

IMAGE: Chuck Fong / Penn State

Kalle Jahn: First place in Physical Sciences and Mathematics category

Jahn, a second-year doctoral student, investigates predictive models of water flow in hopes of improving scientists' ability to forecast how the transport of fertilizers in soil might be affected by future climate and land-use change. He is specifically interested in how the development of croplands in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado regions may increase the transport of dissolved fertilizers into nearby streams.

"It feels wonderful to have members of the broader Penn State community recognize the importance and relevance of my research," he said.

Kalle Jahn, Geosciences graduate student, stands next to his research poster

Kalle Jahn, geosciences graduate student

IMAGE: Penn State

Kirsty McKenzie: Second place in Physical Sciences and Mathematics category

McKenzie, a second-year doctoral candidate, is interested in how major subduction zone earthquakes cause deformation in the upper plate, via surface faulting. Her work has implications for earthquake- and tsunami-related hazards around the world. She uses remote sensing techniques to characterize surface deformation and numerical modeling to investigate how geological structures in the upper plate respond to subduction zone earthquakes.

"I am honored to have been recognized for my research at Penn State, especially in its preliminary stages," she said. "Being able to discuss my research with those outside my immediate field of study is vital in the research I do."

Kirsty McKenzie, geosciences graduate student, stands next to her research poster

Kirsty McKenzie, geosciences graduate student

IMAGE: Chuck Fong / Penn State

Josh Woda: Third place in Physical Sciences and Mathematics category

Woda, a second-year master's degree student, researches the potential effects of natural gas leakage on nearby groundwater aquifers. He is investigating how possible leaks from gas wells may affect the chemistry of an aquifer, and he hopes that his work can inform regulators and homeowners in understanding what changes may be expected if natural gas enters a water well or stream.

"It's humbling to receive this kind of recognition," he said. "It's important for scientists to be able to explain their research to audiences not directly in their field. Presenting at events such as the Graduate Exhibition is great practice for that."

Joshua Woda, geosciences graduate student, stands next to his research poster

Joshua Woda, geosciences graduate student

IMAGE: Chuck Fong / Penn State

 

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Last Updated April 09, 2018