Seminars & Workshops




Click here to view the Fall 2015 GIS Graduate Seminar schedule


Print Awareness Tool: Raising Awareness and Changing Behavior in the Corporate World with Gamification

November 2, 2015, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Fritz Ebner, Global Development Manager, Xerox; Jenn Kotler, Design Engineer, Xerox

Abstract: Customers of Print Services are increasingly requiring their suppliers to deliver solutions to reduce the cost and environmental impact of printing. Historically, solutions have tended to use policies and limits to reduce print, but have disgruntled end users. We take the opposite approach to addressing this problem by attempting to motivate users to print less using a set of gamification techniques. We will discuss our approach, the resultant tool, and discuss the efficacy of the solution.

Bios: Fritz Ebner is a Global Development Manager at Xerox, where he manages a small group of developers and engineers. His current initiatives involve developing products and offerings to reduce paper and print usage, manage energy consumption, and crunch and visualize data. He holds a Ph.D. in imaging science from RIT, MSEE from UR, and BSEE from Carnegie Mellon University.

Jenn Kotler recently graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology where she studied Medical Illustration and Game Design. She believes games, software, and art can break barriers and empower people, especially in education. She is passionate about using her design skills to work on meaningful projects. She currently works at Xerox where she is using her knowledge of game design to create more compelling software. You can check out more of her work at her website:


Using Smart Meter Data Analytics and Information Fusion to Catch Electricity Thieves

October 26, 2015, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Katie McConky, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering, RIT

Abstract: In many parts of the world, traditional analog electricity meters have been, or are in the process of being, replaced by digital smart meters. The modern smart meters transmit energy consumption data back to the utility at intervals as small as every 5 minutes. This interval energy consumption data provides insights into individual consumer behavior that were never before observable by a utility. After massive investment costs in new smart meter technology, utilities are actively seeking out novel applications to exploit their rich data source. This talk explores the results of an energy theft detection application developed by TROVE Predictive Data Science. The talk will highlight the value pilot programs brought to utilities, the challenges encountered and overcome in pilot executions, and the wide variety of data analytics applied to the project.

Bio: Dr. Katie McConky received her B.S and M.S in Industrial Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and her Ph.D. in Operations Research from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Prior to joining the RIT faculty, Dr. McConky worked as a research scientist for CUBRC Inc. for seven years. While at CUBRC she gained a broad range of experiences as a research scientist on military situation awareness applications and intelligence community data mining projects, as well as the opportunity to be the lead data scientist for energy data analytics start-up TROVE. (A flyer describing this seminar is available here)


Developing and Applying Social Costs for Air Quality and Human Health Impacts

October 19, 2015, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Elisabeth Gilmore, Assistant Professor School of Public Policy University of Maryland, College Park

Abstract: Policy and benefit cost analysis require credible estimates of social costs. For air pollution and human health, these costs are generally developed using models to convert emissions to ambient concentrations, quantifying the human health and ecosystem effects using concentration – response (C-R) functions, and applying willingness to pay estimates to avoid these outcomes. Since this is time and resource intensive, analysts frequently apply estimates in the form of benefits per ton of emitted pollutant. There is, however, limited guidance for selecting from the literature values. Here, I evaluate the variability and uncertainty in the social cost estimates that arise from different air quality models and C-R function. First, I conduct a critical review of the cost estimates in literature. Emission source and location as well as differences in the air quality model can result in substantial differences in the estimates. These results suggest caution in the application of literature values. Second, I evaluate different data synthesis techniques for characterizing the C-R relationship between exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and the risk of premature mortality. I consider trade-offs associated with validity, transparency, suitability to the policy problem and accessibility of three methods: systematic review, meta-analysis and expert elicitation. For all methods, acknowledging, eliciting and examining the implications of analyst judgment would be an important step forward.

Bio: Elisabeth Gilmore is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on: 1) the application of data synthesis methods and modeling tools, such as air quality and integrated assessment models (IAM), for decision-making and regulatory analysis; 2) the quantification of the costs and impacts of air quality and climate change on human health, electricity generation and armed conflict; 3) benefit-cost and policy analyses of integrating low carbon electricity generation in current and future markets. Prior to joining UMD, she held an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. She earned a dual Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy and Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She also holds a B.A.Sc and M.A.Sc in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from the University of Toronto, Canada. (A flyer describing this seminar is available here)


Environmental Characterization and Assessment of Contaminants in Geopolymer Concrete

October 2, 2015, 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Olanrewaju Sanusi, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

Abstract: : In an effort to reduce the amount of coal combustion byproducts (CCB) that end up in landfill, CCB such as coal fly ash are used as supplementary materials in construction of roads and as starting material in the production of geopolymer which has the potential of replacing cement as binder in concrete production. This replacement of cement with geopolymer will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released from cement use in construction. The suitability of fly ash based geopolymer concrete as a replacement for ordinary Portland cement (OPC) concrete depends on the mobility of elements from the material. Due to the alkaline nature of geopolymer concrete, there is a strong potential for the release of oxyanion forming elements such as As, Cr and Se which are characterized by their high mobility in the alkaline environment found in cementitous materials. In this study, geopolymer concretes produced with varying amount of hydrated lime were subjected to tests that include pH dependence test, Dutch availability test, tank test, water leach test, mineralogical, microstructural analysis and geochemical modeling using PHREEQC/PHREEPLOT. The results confirmed that As and Se and other oxyanion forming elements exhibit higher mobility from the geopolymer concrete. Further investigation using the Dutch availability and tank test showed that As have the highest mobility from all the geopolymer concretes. It also reveals that mobility of As and Se was observed to be lowest in the geopolymer concrete with 1% hydrated lime which suggest that the addition of 1% hydrated lime lead to reduction in the mobility of As and Se. Cr on the other hand have the same low mobility from all the geopolymer, this suggest that hydrated lime addition has no effect on the mobility the element. Finally, PHREEQC/PHREEPLOT identified species belonging to As (5), Se (6) and Cr (6) in the alkaline leachate of the geopolymer concretes. These species; As (5) and Se (6) are the less toxic form of the elements whereas the Cr specie: Cr (6) is the more toxic form of Cr. The study revealed that although geopolymer concrete releases contaminants when in contact with water, the species of these contaminants elements are not toxic.

A flyer describing this seminar is available here


New York's "U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office: R&D Directions and Opportunities"

September 14, 2015, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Dr. Patrick Phelan, Emerging Technologies Program Manager, U.S. Department of Energy

Abstract: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) supports R&D, deployment, and regulatory programs aimed at reducing primary (source) energy consumption in US buildings. The Emerging Technologies Program within BTO supports R&D activities across a wide range of end uses, including HVAC, lighting, windows, the opaque envelope, water heating, appliances, and sensors & controls, and in addition supports the development of modeling tools such as EnergyPlus and OpenStudio. Funding is provided both through direct support for the national labs and through Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) that are generally open to all interested stakeholders. An overview is provided here of current research directions, as well as significant opportunities and priorities for future R&D support.

Bio: Patrick Phelan received his B.S. degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, his M.S. degree from MIT, and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, all in mechanical engineering. Following a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, he started his academic career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii in 1992. In 1996 he moved to Arizona State University (ASU), where he is a Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, and a Senior Sustainability Scientist. While on leave from ASU he served as the Director of the NSF Thermal Transport Processes Program from 2006 to 2008. He is again on leave from ASU, and is now the Program Manager for Emerging Technologies in the Building Technologies Office, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy. (A flyer describing this seminar is available here)


New York's "Reforming the Energy Vision"

August 31, 2015, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., in the GIS Auditorium
Ms. Laney Brown, Director of Smart Grids, Iberdrola USA

Abstract: : The New York regulatory proceeding "Reforming the Energy Vision" (REV) is changing the utility model and regulatory framework to leverage Distributed Energy Resources for a more sustainable and more engaged energy future. As part of the REV proceeding, utilities are partnering with third parties to develop a first round of REV demonstration projects. These projects will test new business models as well as help understand impacts of regulatory changes. Iberdrola USA has developed three projects including: (a) the development of an Energy Marketplace; (b) providing an alternative solution to interconnect larger-scale Renewables on the distribution grid; and (c) supporting community-scale renewable purchasing models The three demonstration projects and the impacts for utilities, customers and the State will be presented.

 Bio: Laney Brown is the Director of Smart Grid at Iberdrola USA. She is currently responsible for IUSA’s REV Demonstration projects as well as the DSP technology strategy as part of the REV Proceeding in NY. Prior to her current role, she was responsible for Smart Meter program at Central Maine Power and the development of Iberdrola USA’s Smart Grid strategy. Ms. Brown received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colby College and a double Masters in Business Administration with a focus on the Global Energy Industry from the University of Strathclyde Business School in Scotland and University Pontificas Comillas ICADE in Spain. She has been recognized as a top Smart Grid professional in 2012 and 2015. (A flyer describing this seminar is available here)


    Note: An archive of the Spring 2015 GIS Graduate Seminar schedule is available here.


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