University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown enjoys a rural environment high above the Conemaugh Valley, but the school shares the mission of innovation at the heart of Pitt’s urban campus. Pitt-Johnstown faculty are expanding advanced computing for research and teaching, and the Center for Research Computing plays a central role.
Lucas Mentch uses CRC resources to explore the intersection of statistics and machine learning, creating models for a wide range of fields – ecology, criminal forensics, and sports analytics among them. One project worked with bird population data about the migration of tree swallows from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s eBird project.
“eBird creates an amazing level of detail, so the migration presented many complex forms of local variation that contribute to a larger pattern,” Mentch explains. “The challenge was not only to build a model that produced accurate predictions, but also to develop testing procedures that would allow us to isolate the effects of individual variables.”
Yanni Mpourmpakis, one of CRC's’s most prolific collaborators, won the Bodossaki Foundation Distinguished Young Scientist Award, among the highest scientific awards given in his native Greece, presented by Greek president Prokopios Pavlopoulos in Athens on June 19. Mpourmpakis, Bicentennial Alumni faculty fellow and associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, works with the Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab in developing computational methods and simulations to design nanomaterials – including work on safe storage of radioactive waste, formation of kidney stones, and creating building blocks for plastics. Left, Mpourmpakis with the Bodossaki Award plaque in the Greek Nationality Room in the Cathedral of Learning.
Orbiting Jupiter almost 400 million miles from Earth is the moon Europa. Ice covers its entire surface and cracks in the ice are filled with a brown substance whose color matches salt samples bathed in the lab with Jupiter-intensity doses of radiation. Spectroscopic observations of Europa using the Hubble Space Telescope match the spectrum of the irradiated salts.The Galileo Jupiter probe and Hubble have detected plumes of water vapor erupting through Europa’s ice sheet.What’s under the ice? If a saltwater ocean, Europa possesses the essential ingredient of biological life. NASA plans to explore that ocean – and thanks to Center for Research Computing collaborator Matthew Barry and his team, the University of Pittsburgh is an integral partner in one of the most ambitious and potentially consequential space missions since the Apollo program.
Reducing CO2 emissions costs money. Existing technology of trapping CO2 and pumping it underground consumes a significant part of the power produced by the plant, raising the price of electricity.
J. Karl Johnson, Pitt CRC Associate Director and Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and other Pitt CRC collaborators work to develop technology that not only reduces emissions but creates incentives to reduce emissions by transforming captured CO2 into valuable fuels and chemicals, offsetting capture costs while creating a possible profit motive.