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Undergraduate ResearcHERs: Abigayle Moser

Written By: Daphne Fauber (Guest Writer)

Abigayle Moser began her undergraduate research career several months after she started at Iowa State University as an Aerospace Engineering major. Now, she is a sophomore, and has been involved in several renewable energy-focused labs and research projects at two different universities.

Moser got into research through the First Year Honors Mentor Program, a program at Iowa State in which freshmen honors students have the opportunity to do research with a Iowa State faculty member as their research mentor. Through this program, she joined Dr. Hui Hu’s lab with the Iowa State Icing Wind Tunnel located in the Wind Simulation and Testing Laboratory. Moser tested various de-icing methods and ran flow diagnostics for use in the aero industry. The work Moser did in Dr. Hu’s lab introduced her to the exciting world of research, and she was able to present about the work she assisted in during her time in the lab.

“Getting into research felt natural because it’s a way to genuinely make an impact,” Moser explained, “and it's a way of being able to apply science in order to create change.”

However, while a foundational experience, working in the Icing Wind Tunnels was not the change Moser wanted to make. Part of the way through her first semester, Moser decided to go to a lecture from a visiting professor from Purdue University about his work using wind turbines as a means of creating responsible and sustainable power in low-resource areas. She strongly connected to the subject matter due to its focus on renewable energy and social justice. After his presentation, she approached him and asked for a job. Moser was working at the Purdue University Maha Fluid Power Research Center that Summer.

Moser’s favorite research project she has worked on so far is the project at Purdue University, for which she was able to travel to Peru and conduct research on providing renewable energy to impoverished areas through the development of microgrids. The trip lasted three weeks, and in those three weeks, she spent time in mountainous regions of Peru, areas that are traditionally relegated to be “off the grid” due to the difficulty of building and maintaining power infrastructure. The group worked with local universities and community members to develop and test microgrids that could provide power to these areas and help improve quality of life.

“I liked that project because of how interdisciplinary it was. We had experts from a variety of fields that were passionate about what they were doing and were all working together to make change,” Moser described.

Since then, Moser’s research portfolio has continued to diversify. She has worked with nanosurfaces, superhydrophobic coatings, particle image velocimetry (PIV), flow diagnostic methods, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). She doesn’t plan on stopping her work anytime soon.

Moser aspires to become a professor at a research university and continue being a part of interdisciplinary projects that are using renewable energy systems to make a difference in the world. Short term, Moser plans on continuing to do research and pursue her PhD, using her research as a means of attacking climate change and promoting sustainable energy.

For those who are considering getting into research, Moser has this to say, “The hardest thing about research is starting it…it’s about being able to push yourself to do something different.” She highly encourages undergraduates to seek out opportunities to contribute to their fields and have fun doing so.

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