Jason Zottola has been selected by the Executive Board as the Alaska University Transportation Center’s 2013 Student of the Year.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from UAF, Zottola is currently a Master’s student in Arctic Engineering with research interests focusing on the thermal effects of groundwater flow through roadway embankments underlain by permafrost. He has conducted field and laboratory work and is currently calibrating a nuclear magnetic resonance device that will measure the unfrozen water content in frozen soil samples, and provide computer modeling input data.
Zottola is also involved with an international research collaboration led by Dr. Margaret Darrow, Assistant Professor of Mining and Geological Engineering at UAF, and AUTC’s Canadian research partners. Their project focuses on the interaction of heat and groundwater flow through an embankment over permafrost. Little about this complex area of research is understood, yet it is connected to significant infrastructure and maintenance challenges for the state of Alaska and other cold region transportation stakeholders. The work in which Zottola has been involved requires coordinating and evaluating data from field work, laboratory testing, and computer thermal modeling to gain an understanding of the processes at work.
Zottola has made an impact as a student and researcher while balancing significant leadership and personal responsibilities. He has presented a coauthored paper at the 15th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Quebec City to a standing room only audience. Serving as the Secretary of the Alaska Alpha chapter of Tau Beta Pi and as Secretary and Treasurer for the civil engineering honor society Chi Epsilon, Zottola is also father of a young family, and maintains his study and research schedules—showing leadership while juggling many demanding tasks.
Like other AUTC SOY award winners, Zottola will receive a $1,000 stipend and an all-expenses paid trip to the Transportation Research Board meeting in January 2012 to receive his award at the CUTC Banquet.