Seminars & Workshops



Click here to view the latest Fall 2014 GIS Graduate Seminar schedule


An Emphasis on Simplicity: A Tale of Two Digesters

November 19, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Jacob Deyo, Environmental Services Professional Rochester, N.Y; Scott Fonte, Project Manager, Larsen Engineers, Rochester, NY

Abstract: Key points of discussion will center around comparisons between two 500 kW anaerobic digester projects. These will include: helpful tips for specifying equipment; effective methods for streamlining process flow; benefits of modular components; discussions about new engine options.

Bios: Jacob Deyo is a co-founder of In the City, Off the Grid ( ), a sustainable design-build collective in Rochester which focuses on grass roots efforts to incorporate green infrastructure, including solar technologies, and modular aquaponics and hydroponic farms. He graduated from RIT in 2010 with a Civil Engineering degree. He has worked as Project Manager on two anaerobic biogas digesters. Scott Fonte, PE is a Project Manager in Civil / Environmental / Municipal Engineering at Larsen Engineers in Rochester (


Novel Materials and Nanostructures for Photovoltaic Energy Conversion

November 12, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Seth Hubbard, Assistant Professor, NanoPower Research Labs, GIS

Abstract: Third-Generation Photovoltaics (PV) encompasses a broad area of solar cell research including high efficiency III-V materials, organic semiconducting materials and various types of nanomaterials. At RIT, our groups efforts seek insight into the material, optoelectronic and reliability aspects of using nanomaterials for application in III-V PV both for terrestrial and extra-terrestrial (space power) applications. Specifically, we are looking at incorporation of quantum dots and wells within III-V solar cells to provide higher efficiency, more favorable temperature coefficients and less sensitivity to changes in spectral distribution. This talk will give an overview of PV research at RIT, a discussion of the nanomaterials approach and specific results using quantum dot (QD) superlattices. The QD systems have been proposed as a means to harness the lower energy photons normally lost to transmission, extending the absorption range of solar cells and thus increasing the short-circuit current. Two specific applications for this effect have emerged, namely, bandgap engineering of multi-junction solar cells and as a miniband in the intermediate band solar cell. A key drawback to the QD approach has been both increasing the absorption cross section of the QD layers (and thus the photocurrent enhancement) as well as mitigation of the open circuit voltage loss often observed in QD solar cells. During the talk, we will show the effects of QD solar cell design on both absorption and open circuit voltage and discuss the nature of carrier escape and recombination paths inherent to QD solar cells. Finally, we will suggest alternative strategies to enhance both optical escape and overall absorption from QD solar cells using both new materials systems and novel device designs.

Bio: Dr. Hubbard received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 2005. His doctoral research consisted of studying the effects of materials properties and epitaxial device design on high-power heterojunction field-effect transistors grown using vapor phase epitaxy. Dr. Hubbard currently leads the NanoPower Research Labs'™ PV team, working on the epitaxial growth, fabrication and characterization of nanostructured solar photovoltaic devices. He has co-authored over 34 journal publications on quantum electronic and photovoltaic devices. Prior to RIT, Dr. Hubbard was a National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Research Associate at NASA Glenn Research Center. Dr. Hubbard also serves as an Editor of the IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics and the Publications Chair of the 38th IEEE Photovoltaics Specialist Conference. He is also a 2009 recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award.


Driving Pollution: Specifying and Estimating the Environmental Kuznets Curve

November 5, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Prof. Lawrence Rothenberg, Department of Political Science, University of Rochester

Abstract: Over the years, scholars have vigorously debated claims that an Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC), specifying an inverted U-shaped relationship between prosperity and environmental pollution, exists. Skeptics focus on two issues: problematic assumptions made in estimating the EKC curve and omissions of key, principally political, variables. While some have attempted to address methodological shortfalls, most notably using semi- or non-parametric techniques, and others have incorporated political variables to buttress explanatory power, research jointly dealing with such considerations is sparse. We bridge this divide and analyze the mechanism behind any EKC by estimating a Generalized Additive Model, including key political variables. Using data on Nox and SO2 for 155 countries between 1970-2008 we find that, while the income-pollution relationship is robust to estimation method and additional controls, income’s effect is contingent on democracy level, but not necessarily in a manner consistent with an EKC.

Bio: Lawrence Rothenberg (Ph.D., Stanford University) is Corrigan-Minehan Professor of Political Science and Director of the W. Allen Wallis Institute at the University of Rochester. He has also been a member of the Social Science faculty at the California Institute of Technology, was the Max McGraw Distinguished Professor of Environmental Management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School where he directed the Kellogg’s Ford Center for Global Citizenship, and was the Bradley Fellow in Political Economy at the Carnegie Mellon’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration (Tepper School). Rothenberg’s teaching and research have centered on various issues involving American politics, political economy, and public policy, with an emphasis on environmental policy, management, and sustainability. He has published extensively in a variety of relevant academic journals and has authored four books: Linking Citizens to Government: Interest Group Politics at Common Cause, Regulation, Organizations, and Politics: Motor Freight Policy at the Interstate Commerce Commission, Why Governments Succeed (and Why they Fail), and Environmental Choices: Policy Responses to Green Demands.


Leveraging Large-Scale Vehicle Registration and Inspection Data to Improve Understanding of Energy Use, Emissions, and Public Policy

October 30, 2014, 11:00-11:50 a.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Scott Matthews, Carnegie-Mellon University

Abstract: The transportation engineering world is undergoing significant changes in recent years as higher resolution data is available in support of decisions. For 30 years the main types of data on vehicle use have been from telephone or diary surveys of small samples of drivers. Results are seen in products like the National Household Transportation Survey. However, as state and federal government agencies increasingly move towards open data initiatives, datasets of similar information for each vehicle have been closely held are becoming more accessible. We have been working with data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to analyze registration and safety inspection data for vehicles. In this talk I will discuss two separate but related projects leveraging this data. In the first, I discuss an analysis of the safety inspection data with an expanded view of failures in annual passenger vehicle safety inspections. Conventional wisdom suggests that only 1 or 2% of vehicles fail these tests, which has caused various states to avoid or eliminate safety inspections. In the second project, we leverage the registration and inspection data to estimate annual VMT by zip code, and are able to compare results across urban-rural, low-high income, and other levels. Results from these studies are compared to what is available from the national level surveys, and newer in-vehicle technology will continue to promote emerging novelty in data and decision making.

Bio: Dr. Scott Matthews is the research director of the Green Design Institute and professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. The Green Design Institute is an interdisciplinary research consortium at Carnegie Mellon focused on modeling energy and environmental problems as systems, building decision support tools, and supporting robust policy decisions under uncertainty.


FXFOWLE Days Roundtable: GIS Post-occupancy Evaluation (POE) Panel
  Lessons Learned and Learning Lessons

Thursday, October 23, 2014, 12:30-2:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium

Representatives from FX Fowle, SWBR, M/E Engineering and RIT


Game Theory and Disaster Management

October 15, 2014, 3:00-4:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Jun Zhuang, Associate Professor, SUNY University at Buffalo

Abstract: Society is faced with a growing amount of property damage and casualties from man-made and natural disasters. Developing societal resilience to those disasters is critical but challenging. In particular, societal resilience is jointly determined by federal and local governments, private and non-profit sectors, and private citizens. We will present a sequence of games among players such as federal, local, and foreign governments, private citizens, and adaptive adversaries. In particular, the governments and private citizens seek to protect lives, property, and critical infrastructure from both adaptive terrorists and non-adaptive natural disasters. The federal government can provide grants to local governments and foreign aid to foreign governments to protect against both natural and man-made disasters; and all levels of government can provide pre-disaster preparation and post-disaster relief to private citizens. Private citizens can also, of course, make their own investments. The tradeoffs between protecting against man-made and natural disasters, specifically between preparedness and relief, efficiency and equity, and between private and public investment, will be discussed.

Bio: Dr. Zhuang has been a faculty (Associate Professor, 2014-present; Assistant Professor, 2008-2014) of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York (UB, or SUNY-Buffalo), since he obtained his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering in 2008 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Zhuang has a M.S. in Agricultural Economics in 2004 from the University of Kentucky, and a bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering in 2002 from Southeast University, China. Dr. Zhuang's long-term research goal is to integrate operations research, game theory, and decision analysis to improve mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery for natural and man-made disasters. Other areas of interest include applications to health care, sports, transportation, supply chain management, and sustainability.


Faculty Research Overview and Open Forum

October 8, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Eric Williams, Associate Professor, GIS


Faculty Research Overview and Open Forum

October 1, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Callie Babbitt, Assistant Professor, GIS


Faculty Research Overview and Open Forum

September 24, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Gabrielle Gaustad, Assistant Professor, GIS


Faculty Research Overview and Open Forum

September 17, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Thomas Trabold, Associate Professor and Director, Center for Sustainable Mobility, GIS


Faculty Research Overview and Open Forum

September 10, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Roger Chen, Assistant Professor, GIS

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Resulting from Alternative Fuel Vehicle Incentives in Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards

September 2, 2014, 5:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Alan Jenn, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Carnegie-Mellon University

Abstract: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Resulting from Alternative Fuel Vehicle Incentives in Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards

Bio: Postdoctoral Researcher Carnegie Mellon University May 2014 – Present. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Transportation Policy Research, Alternative Fuel Vehicles.


Introduction to Library Services & Resources

August 27, 2014, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the GIS Auditorium
Linette Koren, Engineering Librarian, Wallace Center

Abstract: Thesis Document Preparation

subramoniamBio: Linette Koren is the Librarian/Liaison for KGCOE/GIS and CAST/ET at RIT's Wallace Center.


    Note: An archive of 2013-2014 GIS seminars and workshops is available here.


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