You are here
Gas flow over an object when there are few molecules in a given volume must be studied with different equations than with “thicker” gases. Aerospace engineers must take this into account when they are designing spacecraft that will enter a planet’s upper atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. Assistant Professor Thomas Schwartzentruber (Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics) and his research group have developed a new molecular-simulation tool that allows modeling under these conditions. The image on the left, above, shows a sample of this molecular simulation result for hypersonic flow over a satellite geometry resembling the MIR space station. The image to the right shows a simulation of hypersonic flow over a reentry capsule, with the contours showing the temperature increase through the shock wave ahead of the vehicle. It also shows the degree of surface heating, a maximum near the capsule shoulder. An article about this research appears in the Spring 2012 Research Bulletin.
MSI researchers presented posters of their work at the 2012 MSI Research Exhibition on Friday, April 13, 1-3:30 p.m., on the fourth floor of Walter Library. The posters were judged by a panel of MSI Principal Investigators and prizes were awarded. Light refreshments were served. We are very grateful to our sponsors, Dell and HP, for their support of this event. More information, including pictures of the competition winners, can be found on the 2012 Research Exhibition webpage. The images here were taken at the 2011 Research Exhibition.
MSI researchers are studying food crops in order to develop strains that are hardier, more disease-resistant, and have better yields. Associate Professor Nathan M. Springer (Plant Biology; MSI Associate Fellow) studies variations among different lines of maize (corn). His group has profiled structural variation in the genome of different maize lines and expression differences among genotypes. They are now profiling the distribution of epigenetic marks (chemical additions to the genetic sequence) throughout the genomes of different individuals. A long-term goal of this research is to understand the contributions of epigenetic changes and structural changes to variations in characteristics within a species.
The production and use of biofuels or fossil fuels release differing amounts of air pollutants in different geographic locations at different times with associated ecological and human health effects that impose costs on society. Professor Julian D. Marshall (Civil Engineering, Institute on the Environment) and his group are using MSI to study the emissions tradeoffs between using biofuels and fossil fuels. His group uses the supercomputers to run state-of-the-science meteorological, emissions, and air-quality models. This research appears in the 2011 Annual Research Highlights. This image shows a map of annual average gridded emissions of oxides of nitrogen for the production and use of ethanol from a mix of corn and corn stover; temporal profiles are included to show variation by month of year, day of week, and hour of day.
Researchers in the group of Professor David Thomas (BMBB; MSI Fellow) study muscle proteins. The goal is to understand the fundamental molecular interactions responsible for muscle contraction or cellular movement, to determine the molecular bases of muscle disorders, and to apply the insights gained into therapeutic design. At the 2011 MSI Research Exhibition, Dr. Bengt Svensson was a finalist with his poster concerning investigations into the calcium pump in the sarcoplasmic reticulum membrane (SERCA) and phospholamban, its regulatory partner in the heart (see image). An article about this research appears in the Fall 2011 MSI Research Bulletin.