Scientists and Applications

CS4760 & CS5760 Scientists and App Ideas

Below is the list of scientists and their potential applications for collaborative CS4760 & CS5760 teams.

Kristen Bretz – Stream Ecologist & Biogeochemist

Contact Information

Email: kabretz at
Phone: (336) 413-3878
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg VA

App Idea: Streams and Trail Conditions app

The town of Blacksburg has been building new recreational trails on a recent purchase on the side of Brush Mountain. While the trails are primarily designed with the avid mountain bike community in mind, they will be multi-use for biking, running, hiking, and horseback riding. Simultaneously, a stream that drains the trail property is being studied by several Virginia Tech researchers interested in hydrologic processes, stream health, and biogeochemistry. The town is also very erosion-conscious and wants to minimize adverse impacts of trails on the stream. When trails are wet and muddy, they should not be used –especially with bikes and horses. Therefore when the trails officially open in 2021, we are interested in 1) monitoring their usage and condition and 2) establishing a connection between stream gauge (or how much water is flowing through the stream) and trail conditions. We would like to leverage the recreational community to provide us with trail condition data through this app. The app would use a map interface where people could log trail problem areas at certain spots, or just make a general condition report. Researchers and land managers would also be able to access the app to provide stream level and health parameters. Stream level sensors are already in place. The long term goal is to eventually build a predictive model between stream gague and trail conditions; this would let users check in on trail conditions before heading out on a ride and know whether it’s ok to use the trails. Note I don’t expect this class to build that predictive model! I’m just telling you about the goals for the data that the app you build will collect.

Similar apps:

Initial Meetings

First Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/19/2021 at 4:00 pm EST
Second Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/26/2021 at 4:00 pm EST
Prefer to use Zoom for meetings.

Nayeli Holguin – Civil Engineer

Contact Information

Email: nholguin3 at
Phone: (915) 875-6071
Civil Engineering
The University of Texas at El Paso

App Idea: Water Matters App

The soft path to water is an alternative way to meet water needs through conservation measures, collection and use of rainfall, local water treatment, and decentralized waste management. This method is an alternative to the hard path that relies on centralized infrastructure that uses single-pipe distribution networks and centralized waste collection. The water matters app will help colonia residents to improve their water management by teaching them about conservation measures and rainwater harvesting. Colonias are unincorporated communities lacking basic infrastructure such as potable water and sanitation systems. There are currently 2,177 colonias across the U.S Mexico border. An estimated nearly 269,000 residents either lack water and/or sewer services or have issues like not having enough water. The outcome will be an easy-to-use bilingual app divided into two sections: conservation and rainwater harvesting. It will include a clickable library of text, links, videos, images, and graphs. The app will also have a calculator that will aid in determining how much rainwater can be collected.

Initial Meetings

First Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/19/2021 at 3:30 pm MST (5:30 pm EST)
Second Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/26/2021 at 4:30 pm MST (6:30 pm EST)
Prefer meeting by Zoom

Kevin Trewartha – Assistant Professor, Department of Cognitive & Learning Sciences and Department of Kinesiology & Integrative Physiology

Contact Information

Email: kmtrewar at
Phone:  (906) 487-3206 and Learning Sciences
Harold Meese 211
Michigan Technological University

App Idea: Spatial Memory Test

It is estimated that by the year 2030, nearly 20% of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65. Even in healthy aging, cognitive abilities like memory decline, with widespread implications for the performance of everyday tasks. An important challenge is to develop cognitive assessment tools that can be administered quickly and easily to evaluate the cognitive status of older adults. Such tools can aid scientists and clinicians in identifying individuals who are experiencing cognitive decline. A web-based app for memory assessment would allow us to reach a broad audience of older adults, including those living in rural communities. This app will provide a brief assessment of spatial memory by having the user watch a series of images appear at various locations on the screen. During a test of their spatial memory, the user will then identify the location at which they remember seeing each image. The accuracy and reaction time of the user’s responses will be recorded and sent to the researcher or clinician to provide an estimate of their spatial memory ability.

Initial Meetings

First Team-Scientist Meeting: Wednesday, 1/20/2021  at 5:00 pm EST
Second Team-Scientist Meeting: Wednesday, 1/27/2021 at 5:00 pm EST
Prefer meeting by Zoom

Mary Ellen Miller – Environmental Engineer & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Contact Information

Email: memiller at
Phone: (734) 994-7221
Michigan Tech Research Institute
Michigan Technological University

App Idea: Soil Infiltration App

Create an App to assist citizen scientists, farmers, soil scientists, engineers, and hydrologists to measure infiltration and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity (K) of soils using a minidisk infiltrometer.  Measuring soil’s ability to transmit water is important for many applications including agriculture, geotechnical engineering, and hydrology.  One especially interesting application is for assessing the hydrological impacts of wildfire.  The combustion of organic materials in a wildfire can create a hydrophobic layer in soils, which can result in increased runoff and erosion.  To assess soils after a wildfire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams will sometimes use a minidisk infiltrometer to measure unsaturated hydraulic conductivity.  The instrument requires users to measure and record changes in water volume over time.  Keeping track of both time and water volume change can be challenging for a solo user.  Having an App that assists the user by keeping track of time and performing calculations would be a great help!

Initial Meetings

First Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday 1/19/2021 at 5:00 PM EDT (4:00 PM CDT)
Second Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday 1/26/2021 at 5:00 PM EDT (4:00 PM CDT)
By Michigan Tech zoom meeting

Elizabeth Veinott – Associate Professor of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Contact Information

Email: eveinott at
Office Phone: (906) 487-2171 
Office: 204 Meese Center
Michigan Technological University

App Idea: Premortem Project

Premortem Project:  One problem affecting management planning teams is overconfidence– an inflated belief that a plan will be successful. The Premortem is a lightweight process designed to support a variety of teams from students, to project teams, to military teams, and disaster response teams in their planning efforts. A Premortem (Klein, 2007) is an exercise conducted around the premise that a program or plan or project has failed. The team generates plausible reasons for this failure, and these  reasons become the basis of a plan critique.  The Premortem is an evidence-based approach, leveraging cognitive theory and has been validated in a few randomized, controlled experiments.  However, no tool exists to support the Premortem.  

Tool:  This project would entail developing a website or app to support the Premortem 5-step process by providing instructions and locations to store the information generated for a distributed team.

Initial Meetings

First Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/19/2021 at 4:00 pm EST
Second Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/26/2021 at 4:00 pm EST
Prefer by Zoom.

Leo Ureel – Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Contact Information

Email: ureel at
Phone/Text: (906) 487-1869
Office: Rekhi 209
College of Computing
Michigan Technological University

App Idea:  Cellular Automaton: Infectious Disease

In the project, we will develop a cellular automaton to help middle school students understand how a hypothetical disease. A cellular automaton is a collection of cells on a grid that evolves according to a set of rules based on the states of neighboring cells. The most famous example of a cellular automaton is Conway’s Game of Life. We envision three types of cells: Stationary Surfaces, Air, and People. Each of these can support a population of virus ranging from 0 (no virus contamination) to 10 (massively infected). As the People cells move about the grid, they can become contaminated and spread the disease. Middle school students should be able to setup the initial configuration and tweak the rules in ways that allow them to discover the key factors affecting the spread and containment of the disease. The finished project will be used by middle school teachers and students across Michigan.

Initial Meetings

First Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/19/2021 at 4:00 pm EST
Second Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/26/2021 at 4:00 pm EST
Via Zoom:

Dan Allen & Albert Ruhi – Stream Ecologists

Contact Information

Dan Allen
Email: dcallen at
Phone/Text: (405) 325-4392
Department of Biology
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

Albert Ruhi
Email: albert.ruhi at
Phone/Text: (405) 325-4392
Wellman Hall, office 319
Dept. Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 

App Idea: Wet-Dry Mapping

Our idea is an app to map wet and dry sections of streams.  This app is part of an active collaborative stream ecology research project called StreamCLIMES.  The goal of StreamCLIMES is to study how drying impacts stream ecosystems in different climates of the US.  Researchers across the southern US are studying streams in CA, AZ, OK, KS, AL, GA, and TN.  Several of these researchers are university faculty who teach Stream Ecology classes to undergraduates.  This app will be used by these faculty as part of these courses. Students will go to some of these research sites and map the wet and dry sections of these streams, collecting data that they will then use to study how connectivity of wet stream reaches is ecologically important for aquatic organisms. The goal is to repeat this this exercise over multiple years so students in successive classes can build a long-term data record to analyze as part of the course.

First Team-Scientist Meeting: Wednesday, 1/20/2021, at 11:30 am CST (9:30 am PST) (12:30 pm EST)
Second Team-Scientist Meeting: Tuesday, 1/26/2021, at 11:30 am CST (9:30 am PST) (12:30 pm EST)
Prefer meeting by Zoom. Invite both Dan Allen and Albert Ruhi