Sustainability Research

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SMU's high quality of research is one of the main reasons for the universities continuing success.  Both graduate and undergraduate students work together with SMU faculty to explain the unexplained and discover paths to a brighter future.  Federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation(NSF) and National Health Institute(NIH) depend on the brainpower of SMU to conduct the research they deem necessary to improve the country and the world.  As the world becomes more conscious of how we depend on our planet, more and more research has been requested to find ways to lessen our negative impacts on the environment.  SMU has proudly answered the call and taken on many sponsored sustainability related projects, spurring more students to independently choose to peruse sustainability related projects.  

Sustainability at Research Day 2018

SMU students are invited and encouraged to present results of ongoing and completed SMU-based research. The goal of this event is to foster communication between students in different disciplines, give students the opportunity to present their work in a professional setting, and share the outstanding research being conducted at SMU with their peers and industry professionals from the greater Dallas community. The above link highlights sustainability related research from both undergraduate and graduate students at SMU. 


Sponsored Research

Nation’s electric grid — a complex mathematical system — is dramatically changing

Dr. Barry Lee

Argonne National Laboratory

Our nation’s electric grid is changing dramatically due to deregulation of electric markets, the introduction of renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power, and the emergence of new technologies such as the smart grid and electric cars, according to Barry Lee, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at Southern Methodist University, Dallas.  Dr. Lee's research will help incorporate renewable energy into our power grid while reducing the amount of energy lost and the risk involved.  This research will ultimately help increase efficiency and reduce the need for more fuel burning power plants in the future.  


Network Performance Monitoring and Distributed Simulation to Improve Transportation Energy Efficiency

Dr. Khaled Adbelghany

US Department of Energy

Transportation accounts for more than 25% of total energy consumed in the United States. Efforts to minimize energy use have predominantly focused on improving vehicle fuel efficiency and expanding use and availability of public transit. However, other factors impact transportation energy use such as traffic congestion, stop-and-go traffic, and limited information on available routes. Now, due to increasing availability of real-time data on traffic flows, transit scheduling, parking, local weather, and activities linked to transportation use, it is additionally possible to empower individual travelers to meet their transportation needs in ways that reduce energy use. To address these opportunities, new methods of modeling real transportation networks, new network optimization approaches and personalized incentive strategies can be used to deliver individuals the information they need to make choices that provide them with quality of service while reducing energy utilization in our transportation systems.

Understanding Human Impact on North Texas Earthquakes

Dr. Heather DeShon


Earthquakes triggered by human activity have been happening in Texas since at least 1925, and they have been widespread throughout the state ever since, according to a new historical review of the evidence published online May 18 in Seismological Research Letters.  The earthquakes are caused by oil and gas operations, but the specific production techniques behind these quakes have differed over the decades, according to Cliff Frohlich, the study’s lead author and senior research scientist and associate director at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin. SMU seismologists Heather DeShon, Brian Stump, Chris Hayward and Mathew J. Hornbach, and Jacob I. Walter at the University of Texas at Austin are co-authors.


 EAGER: Integrated Planning and Operation of Electricity-Transportation Networks for Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging

Dr. Mohammad Khodayar

National Science Foundation

Several cutting-edge technologies are expected to fundamentally change the way engineers would plan, design and operate the highway infrastructure system. Among these technologies are electric vehicles with in-motion wireless charging capabilities. Unlike the widely available plug-in electric vehicles, the new technology enables vehicles to charge wirelessly while traveling via charging pads installed along the highway links. This emerging technology is expected to increase the travel range of the electric vehicles, and hence improve its social acceptance, which ultimately leads to reducing dependence on conventional fuel resources for transportation. This EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) project is motivated by the need to develop an integrated framework for policy making, planning and operation management of wireless charging technology in urban transportation networks. This framework addresses several conceptual and methodological complexities inherited in the interconnected transportation-electricity infrastructure systems, and provides necessary tools to design and operate such complex infrastructure systems. The successful completion of this EAGER is expected to advance the development of sustainable transportation infrastructure systems characterized by reduced greenhouse gas generation and improved urban mobility. The interdisciplinary research involves the collaboration of expertise in the areas of planning and operation of electrical power networks, transportation network modeling and traffic operation management, and operations research and system engineering. The collaborative environment leads to rapid dissemination of knowledge and discovery results to the research and education community, and stimulates educational development in sustainable transportation.