Fairfield Physics Professor Awarded $10K NASA CT Space Research Grant

Fairfield Physics Professor Awarded $10K NASA CT Space Research Grant

Physics professor Robert Nazarian, PhD, and student collect ocean data for a faculty-student research project.

Assistant Professor Robert Nazarian, PhD, will lead undergraduate students in an innovative summer research study on the global impacts of ocean mixing.

The number of grants that have been funded for faculty-student research projects in the sciences and mathematics is staggering... I am so fortunate to be at an institution where faculty-student scholarship is so strongly encouraged.

— Robert Nazarian, PhD, assistant physics professor

The NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium (CTSGC) has awarded Fairfield University assistant physics professor Robert Nazarian, PhD, with a $10,000 faculty research grant to support a summer long study on the global impacts of ocean mixing in submarine canyons. The College of Arts and Sciences professor is one of only 10 faculty members and 27 graduate/undergraduate students in the entire state to receive a prestigious NASA CTSGC award during the Spring 2019 application cycle.

“Faculty-student research is a hallmark of the sciences at Fairfield University, and I am excited to participate in this tradition,” Nazarian said. “The number of grants that have been funded for faculty-student research projects in the sciences and mathematics is staggering and is testimony to the caliber of research being conducted at Fairfield. I am so fortunate to be at an institution where faculty-student scholarship is so strongly encouraged.”

Throughout the 2019 summer break, two undergraduate students from Fairfield’s Physics Department will participate in the research study alongside Dr. Nazarian, to perform data analysis using a high-resolution ocean topography map and computational model for energy fluxes, to calculate the total amount of ocean mixing occurring in submarine canyons located along the continental shelf. Often tens of miles long, submarine canyons are suggested to be regions of intense ocean mixing, a process that is responsible for sustaining the ocean’s circulation, as well as the global climate system (e.g. atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, heat distribution, weather patterns, and ice dynamics), and our regional ecosystems. The mixing is primarily due to internal waves (waves below the surface) that propagate throughout the entire ocean.

“A knowledge of ocean mixing is critically important for understating our climate system,” Dr. Nazarian explained. “Through this project, we will determine the total amount of energy that is lost in marine canyons, as well as the distribution of this mixing. Previous research has suggested that almost a quarter of the energy in ocean internal waves may be lost in marine canyons, but our work will be the first robust calculation.”

The NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium is a federally mandated grant, internship, and scholarship program that is funded as a part of NASA Education. The mission of the Consortium is to establish and promote NASA-related research opportunities that draw on the collaborative strength of private, academic, and government sectors and support education initiatives that inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The College of Arts and Sciences has long been the epicenter of groundbreaking research, scholarship, and creative work at Fairfield University. More than 300 research projects are conducted annually, and higher than 50 percent of those are presented at national scholarly meetings or published in professional journals and academic publications. For more information, visit fairfield.edu/casresearch.

Tags:  Top Stories,  College of Arts & Sciences

Last modified: 05-16-19 12:00 AM

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