News & Events: November 14, 2011

Final CEAS Seminar, Nov. 16: Interactions of Electromagnetic Fields and Matter: Space, Medicine, Fracture

CSIS Seminar, Nov. 17: Mitigation and adaptation opportunities at the urban level: highlights from the Resilient and Sustainable Cities Project

Civil Engineering Assistant Professor David Mays explores how fractals and chaos could play an integral role in groundwater remediation

Students and faculty participate in national ASME IMECE conference this week

Please note that I will be out of the office on leave from November 17 until January 31. If you have an event or news item you’d like to share with the college community during this time, please send it to Petrina Morgan.


Final CEAS Seminar: Interactions of Electromagnetic Fields and Matter: Space, Medicine, Fracture

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
10 a.m., NC 2607/09

Interactions of Electromagnetic Fields and Matter: Space, Medicine, Fracture
Mark Golkowski, Assistant Professor
Department of Electrical Engineering

Although the four equations that define the fundamental properties of electric and magnetic fields were first published exactly 150 years ago by James Maxwell, the interactions of these fields with physical matter continue to be explored and exploited in new ways today.  In this seminar we explore fundamental physics and technological applications from the global to microscopic scales.  Extremely low frequency (ELF) waves interact with high-energy particles in the near-Earth space environment and affect global communication systems. Atmospheric pressure plasma discharges are shown to hold promise as a medical tool in elimination of resistant bacteria and pathogens.  Rock fracture in mining and earthquakes causes visible and radio frequency emissions that are still poorly understood.

Mark Golkowski received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in 2002 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA in 2004 and 2009, respectively.  He served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow  with the Space, Telecommunications, and Radioscience Laboratory, Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University from 2009-2010.  Dr. Golkowski  is currently an Assistant Professor at University of Colorado Denver in the Department of Electrical Engineering and also Bioengineering.  He actively conducts research on electromagnetic waves in plasmas, ionospheric physics, near-Earth space physics, characterization of antennas in reverberation chambers, hybrid imaging technologies, and biomedical applications of gas discharge plasmas.  Dr. Golkowski is associate editor of the journal {\it Earth, Moon, Planets}.  Dr. Golkowski was recipient of International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA) Young Scientist Award for Excellence in 2008, IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society Best Symposium Paper Award in 2011 and American Geophysical Union Outstanding Student Paper Award in Fall 2005.  Dr. Golkowski is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the International Union of Radio Science (URSI)- Commission H (Waves in Plasmas), and IEEE.


CSIS Seminar, Nov. 17: Mitigation and adaptation opportunities at the urban level: highlights from the Resilient and Sustainable Cities Project

The Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Systems (CSIS) presents: Paty Romero-Lankao, Deputy Director at the Institute for the Study of Society and Environment (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and “Mitigation and adaptation opportunities at the urban level: highlights from the Resilient and Sustainable Cities Project

CU Building, Room 490
, Nov. 17, 9 a.m.

Speaker Biography
Paty Romero-Lankao is a “multidisciplinary sociologist” by training leading the Resilient and Sustainable Cities Project at NCAR. Her work has focused on crucial intersections between urban development and the environment, including the carbon cycle, the climate system and the water cycle. In particular, she has studied key issues of (a) how particular cities attempt to meet the challenges of reducing emissions while improving their capacity to cope with environmental impacts (responses); (b) how urban development impacts the environment (drivers); and (c) what societal factors explain cities’ vulnerability/resilience to heat waves, atmospheric pollution, water scarcity and pollution, among other hazards (impacts). In addition to research supported by academic awards, she has participated in global and local endeavors promoted by IPCC, UNDP and UN-HABITAT. She was co-leading author to Working Group II of the Nobel prize-winning IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.

Remote Log-in
For those wishing to participate in the seminar via remote log-in, the directions are as follows:

  1. Go to the following link:
  2. Enter the discussion as a guest.  You will not need a password.
  3. If you have further questions regarding remote log-in, please contact Byron Boyle (

CU Denver’s Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Systems includes the interdisciplinary IGERT grant, and is presently a center created in partnership between the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Public Affairs. If you are interested in joining CSIS or would like more information about the center, please contact Anu Ramaswami. For information or comments on seminar, contact Zeljko Spiric.


CE Assistant Professor David Mays explores how fractals and chaos could play an integral role in groundwater remediation

Fractals and chaos have numerous practical applications, ranging from computer animation, in which fractals make realistic-looking landscapes, to the design of fighter jets, where chaos allows rapid response to pilot commands. Fractals are self-similar structures whose geometric dimension falls between the integer values of 0 (points), 1 (lines), 2 (planes), and 3 (solids). Chaos is the idea that sensitive dependence on initial conditions can render deterministic systems—those without randomness—as completely unpredictable. These ideas were popularized a quarter century ago, for example by James Gleick’s (1987) Chaos: The Making of a New Science (Penguin Books). But how do fractals and chaos relate to groundwater?

Enter Civil Engineering Assistant Professor David Mays who studies groundwater in soils and aquifers, which store 99 percent of the world’s liquid fresh water, and are therefore a crucial component of our water supply—especially in arid states like Colorado. Unfortunately, gravity means that pollution often finds its way into soils and aquifers, necessitating the art, science, and multi-billion dollar business of groundwater remediation. Mays is currently the principal investigator (PI) for two related studies that address fundamental technical problems in groundwater remediation. “It turns out that fractals and chaos are two ideas we may need to make progress in this area,” says Mays.

The first technical problem is clogging. During groundwater remediation, injection of chemical additives to neutralize pollution changes the geochemistry, and operation of injection wells changes the speed and pathways of groundwater flow. These chemical and physical effects alter the structure of fine particles, mineral precipitates, or microbial communities in the soil or aquifer, which can cause significant clogging—by factors up to 1000. This clogging makes it difficult or impossible to operate groundwater remediation as an optimized system. To address this problem, Mays is working with graduate student Eric Roth, Electrical Engineering Assistant Professor Tim Lei, and two collaborators from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California to quantify the structure of fine particles in the pore space as a fractal dimension. This work, dating back to 2006, uses laser scattering in transparent porous media designed to recreate the structure of soils and aquifers in the laboratory. This innovative experimental technique was developed by Mays’s group using the Colorado Advanced Photonics Technology (CAPT) Laboratory at the University of Colorado Denver campus, and is currently being supported by a $150,000 exploratory grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. As Mays states, “The goal of this work is to test whether the fractal dimension [of the soil fines in the pore space] can serve as a simplifying variable, to summarize how clogging depends on chemical and physical stimuli, and as a metric to optimize the chemical additives and well hydraulics.”

Improving well hydraulics is the main thrust of a second study, which addresses another technical problem in groundwater remediation, namely the lack of turbulent mixing in soils and aquifers. The lack of turbulent eddies makes it difficult to blend chemical additives for groundwater remediation, which is why the National Research Council has observed that groundwater remediation reactions are usually confined to a narrow interface zone between the injected additives and the contaminated groundwater. This mixing problem stems from basic fluid mechanics, which teaches us that there is a spectrum from high velocity turbulent flows, dominated by inertia, to low velocity laminar flows, dominated by viscosity. Flow in soils and aquifers is generally very slow, meaning it is dominated by viscosity. “Think of a river of honey,” suggests Mays. “There is no whitewater, so there is not much mixing.” To tackle this problem, Mays and his colleagues are using a key result from the literature on fluid mechanics: Mixing in laminar flow can be optimized by flows that exhibit chaos. This work, dating back to 2008, is a collaboration with Associate Professor Roseanna Neupauer and graduate student Amy Piscopo (both on the CU Boulder campus) supported by a $355,000 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). As Mays says, “The goal if this work is to take the literature on fluid mechanics and turn it into an engineered sequence of injections and extractions at wells that, we hope, will provide a new paradigm for the hydraulics of groundwater remediation.”

Next spring, Mays will be recruiting an undergraduate student research assistant for the first of three summer internships supported by the NSF grant on well hydraulics (in 2012, 2013, and 2014), and would be happy to receive contacts from potentially interested students. Additional details on both studies are available via the Publications link on Mays’s website (


Students and faculty participate in national ASME IMECE conference this week

Beginning Friday, Nov. 11, almost 60 students from the CU Denver ASME chapter are volunteering at the 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition at the Colorado Convention Center. The annual ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition is a global conference that focuses on today’s technical challenges, research and innovations that are shaping the future of engineering. Students will have the opportunity to meet and work with engineers, scientists and technologists of all disciplines from around the world.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Department of Bioengineering Founding Chair Robin Shandas is a plenary speaker at the conference and will be presenting “Mechanical Remodeling of the Pulmonary Arteries in Children with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Are we Mice or Men?”

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