Research Projects

Student Research Projects

The University of New Hampshire College of Engineering and Physical Science (CEPS)
Innovation Scholars Program provides first-year CEPS students with the opportunity to engage in hands-on, research-based activities. By working closely with CEPS faculty, staff, and graduate student mentors, students develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills throughout the fall and spring semesters and employ these skills by conducting innovative student-led research in the spring semester. In the Ocean and Environmental Sensing Cohort, students gain a basic understanding of how to program microprocessors and simple environmental sensors, how to solder circuits and circuitry components, and how to collect environmental and oceanographic data. Collecting environmental data related to sunny day flooding in Hampton, New Hampshire, has been the particular focus of this cohort for the academic years of 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, two student groups designed, fabricated, and tested instruments to collect water and wave data. The first group designed a “water quality” sensor, which measures variables like water temperature, pH, and salinity. By deploying this instrument in locations where sunny day flooding occurs, we can understand the physical characteristics of the floodwaters and speculate what effect the water may have on surrounding structures. The second group designed a waverider buoy, which measures the buoy’s orientation and acceleration in response to wave forcing. From these data, wave height and period can be calculated, revealing information about the wave climate in the vicinity in which the buoy is
deployed. Observations of wave action before, during, and after flooding may allow us to determine how waves of different heights and periods may contribute to the elevation of floodwaters.

During the 2021-2022 academic year, four project groups continued and expanded upon the work done by the previous cohort of students. One group continued to work on the 2020-2021 wave buoy, upgrading its code, housing, and circuitry. A second group designed and constructed a weather station, capable of measuring wind speed and direction, air temperature and pressure, relative humidity, light level, and rainfall. Supplementing floodwater data with localized weather data will provide further insight into how influential different weather conditions are on the frequency and severity of flooding. Lastly, two groups collaborated on a water pressure and temperature instrument, whose goal is to measure the elevation of floodwaters as
they infiltrate residential neighborhoods. One group designed and fabricated four pressure housings to hold the sensors, circuitry, and batteries. The second group programmed the instrument’s sensors and constructed its circuitry. By deploying multiple of these instruments along residential streets in Hampton, the students will be able to understand the spatial variably of the flooding as a function of time.

The following presentations are by the students in each group, describing their work:

Instrument Housing Group


Wave Bouy Group


Weather Station Group


Water Quality Group


Wave Bouy Group


Instrument Circuitry Group


Microplastics in the Hampton-Seabrook Estuary

Microplastics, defined as plastic particles less than 5mm in size, are an emerging environmental concern due to their pervasive and persistent presence in marine environments. With an estimated 80% of marine plastics originating from land-based sources, estuaries are key locations of study due to their position at the intersection of terrestrial and aquatic environments. Hanna Mogensen, a master’s student at the University of New Hampshire, has focused her research on assessing microplastics in estuarine environments. Through sampling surface waters and beach sand within the Seabrook-Hampton Estuary, Hanna is looking to quantify microplastic presence, abundance, and the factors that influence it within this dynamic estuary.

The following presentation is Hannah Mogensen’s research:

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