From solar panels to Caesar, student summer research shines at Union

More than a hundred students from across all disciplines engaged in research
Nott Memorial
Sunan Sun ‘20 works on the roof of Wold Center as part of his research learning about the applications of solar energy.
Lindsey Randle ‘20 and Adam Peterlein ’20 are using the wind tunnel in the College’s fluid mechanics lab to study turbulent flow over rough surfaces.
Working with Hans-Friedrich Mueller, the Thomas Lamont Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, Kyle Doney ’20 is developing an IOS app that will simplify and digitize an edition of Julius Caesar’s "Commentarii de bello Gallico" ("Commentaries on the Gallic War") produced by Mueller.
Ali Hamed, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is overseeing the research by Lindsey Randle ‘20 and Adam Peterlein ’20 .
As part of his research into solar energy, Sunan Sun ‘20 spends some of his days on the roof of Wold Center with Rich Wilk, professor of mechanical engineering.
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  • From solar panels to Caesar, student summer research shines at Union
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From solar panels to Caesar, student summer research shines at Union


  • Sunan Sun ‘20 works on the roof of Wold Center as part of his research learning about the applications of solar energy.Sunan Sun ‘20 works on the roof of Wold Center as part of his research learning about the applications of solar energy.
  • Lindsey Randle ‘20 and Adam Peterlein ’20 are using the wind tunnel in the College’s fluid mechanics lab to study turbulent flow over rough surfaces.Lindsey Randle ‘20 and Adam Peterlein ’20 are using the wind tunnel in the College’s fluid mechanics lab to study turbulent flow over rough surfaces.
  • Working with Hans-Friedrich Mueller, the Thomas Lamont Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, Kyle Doney ’20 is developing an IOS app that will simplify and digitize an edition of Julius Caesar’s "Commentarii de bello Gallico" ("Commentaries on the Gallic War") produced by Mueller.Working with Hans-Friedrich Mueller, the Thomas Lamont Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, Kyle Doney ’20 is developing an IOS app that will simplify and digitize an edition of Julius Caesar’s "Commentarii de bello Gallico" ("Commentaries on the Gallic War") produced by Mueller.
  • Ali Hamed, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is overseeing the research by Lindsey Randle ‘20 and Adam Peterlein ’20 .Ali Hamed, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is overseeing the research by Lindsey Randle ‘20 and Adam Peterlein ’20 .
  • As part of his research into solar energy, Sunan Sun ‘20 spends some of his days on the roof of Wold Center with Rich Wilk, professor of mechanical engineering. As part of his research into solar energy, Sunan Sun ‘20 spends some of his days on the roof of Wold Center with Rich Wilk, professor of mechanical engineering.

Deep in the bowels of the Science and Engineering Center, Lindsey Randle ‘20 and Adam Peterlein ’20 spend their summer days in the College’s fluid mechanics lab studying turbulent flow over rough surfaces.

To better understand the process, the students place simplified models in the lab’s wind tunnel and water channel. Using a laser diagnostic technique called particle image velocimetry, the pair characterize the flow changes and turbulence enhancement triggered by the roughness.

“We want to try and understand how fluid flows around different objects,” said Ali Hamed, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “Our results will aid in the understanding of complex turbulent flows over roughness. This understanding is essential for engineering systems that are more energy-efficient.”

Randle and Peterlein are among 112 students engaged in research this summer. Aided by 67 faculty representing 21 departments and programs, the students are part of the collaborative scholarly activity that is the staple of a Union education.

Mitchell Famulare ’21 is studying gothic art and architecture from the Middle Ages to the !9th century with Louisa Matthew, professor of art history. Sunan Sun ‘20 spends some of his days on the roof of Wold Center with Rich Wilk, professor of mechanical engineering, learning about the applications of solar energy. Jahnae Morgan’ 21, is researching black feminists with Deidre Butler, associate professor of sociology.

Most projects are funded through the undergraduate research program. The rest are supported by government or scientific society grants to faculty members, academic departments, and/or with foundation funding.

“This has been a great opportunity for me to get some hands-on experience to find out what it’s like to conduct research,” said Randle, a mechanical engineering major from New York City.

Last summer, Peterlein had an internship with a private sector company.

“I wanted to do something more on the academia side this summer,” said Peterlein, a mechanical engineering and physics major from New Gloucester, Maine. “I’ve enjoyed this a lot more.”

Working with Hans-Friedrich Mueller, the Thomas Lamont Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, Kyle Doney ’20 is developing an IOS app that will simplify and digitize an edition of Julius Caesar’s "Commentarii de bello Gallico" ("Commentaries on the Gallic War") produced by Mueller.

A staple of high school Latin classrooms, the work by Caesar, arguably the greatest general in Rome’s history, is no easy read. Doney's goal is to create an app that will display the Latin text along with explanatory commentary specific to Mueller’s edition. And tapping on a word will call up a dictionary entry that will define the word in context.

This should appeal to younger readers teethed on technology who are more likely to read on their device than to open a paper book.

A classics and computer science major from Lexington, Mass., Doney has been using Apple-produced software to design an interface and the code behind it. He and Mueller hope to have a prototype of the app ready by the end of the summer.

“Developing an app is a lot harder than I thought it would be,” said Doney. “I came in having very little knowledge of anything related to it. But it’s been a fun challenge.”

Students will get to showcase their projects during a poster session Friday, Aug. 3, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. in the MacLean Family Atrium in Wold Center.

“The summer research program is a great example of Union at its best: students working closely with faculty on projects they're passionate about, bringing together what they've learned from a variety of classes and applying it to solve problems big and small,” said Chad Orzel, the R. Gordon Gould Associate Professor of Physics and director of Undergraduate Research.

"Students taking part in research learn a lot about their disciplines, and more importantly they learn about their own interests and skills in ways that will shape their future lives and careers.”

To view a list of all students and their summer research projects, click here.

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