CEGE duo awarded NSF Fellowships

Posted: May 1, 2020

Two Buckeye engineers from the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering were recently named recipients of the nation's oldest and one of the most prestigious graduate fellowships. Keoni Sanny and Garrett Tatum were each awarded a 2020 Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in April 2020, following a national competition among more than 12,000 applicants.

GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in STEM fields who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. The fellowship provides recipients with three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period— $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution.

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Keoni Sanny
Sanny, who received his undergraduate degree during Ohio State's recent virtual commencement event, submitted a proposal based on his research concerning how the structural performance of steel lattice transmission towers changes as they experience corrosion. Working with CEGE associate professor and director of the Risk Assessment and Management of Structural and Infrastructure Systems (RAMSIS) lab, Abdollah Shafieezadeh, Keoni sought to characterize the anticipated loss of structural capacity of these towers during hurricanes. "Studies such as this are important not only for design purposes but also for maintenance and policy decisions about where to invest in infrastructure as these structures age," he explained.

Sanny will continue his engineering studies this fall at the Colorado School of Mines. While he looked forward to engaging in new research interests in graduate school, he was grateful for the experiences he had as a Buckeye. "I never imagined I would have the opportunities I have today when I started," he recalled. "It would not have been possible without the guidance and support of Ohio State engineering faculty."

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Garrett Tatum
Garrett Tatum, a first year graduate student who received his bachelors degree from the University of Arkansas, is advised by Associate Professor Natassia Brenkus, a member of CEGE's structural engineering faculty. He submitted a proposal based on an investigation of the effects of wood rot on its mechanical properties and an ensuing evaluation of how these mechanical changes affect the performance of roof and wall systems to hurricane-level winds. "The populations in hurricane regions and the frequency of high intensity hurricanes (category 3 and above) are on the rise," he explained while alluding to the underlying subject of safety in the study. "Because most residential structures utilize timber framing, the increased probability of failure from wood rot initiated by moisture intrusion during hurricanes has high consequences."

Both students emphasized the importance of developing sustainable community resilience for the future and the pivotal role that civil engineeering played in their chosen professional paths. "Civil engineering seeks to answer basic, universal needs: clean water, safe housing, and reliable transportation networks," Tatum stated. Sanny agreed, adding "civil engineering is a profession that helps people in practical and yet profound ways – by designing the roads they travel on, the buildings they live and work in, and the supply networks that bring clean water and reliable electricity to their homes."

In turn, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program emphasized just how critical students like Keoni and Garrett were to its endeavors. "These individuals are crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large."

Categories: ResearchStudent